From Hero to Zero with one Envelope

03.03.2017 News Comments Off on From Hero to Zero with one Envelope

The Oscar night fiasco is the best example yet of how quickly a reputation can take a hit.  Pricewaterhouse Coopers had a trusted name and solid reputation.   They’ve been tabulating the Oscar winners for 83 years.  But as it turns out in the new digital age, your reputation is only as good as the last Oscar category.  Like trust, your reputation is built over years, but is destroyed in milliseconds.

     

The moment Warren Beatty was handed the wrong envelope for Best Picture in front of an audience of millions, the monstrous accounting firm went from powerhouse to punchline.  Forget that this is a company that brings in $40 billion dollars a year.  Forget their dedicated 250,000 employees who toil over delicate tax figures and and uber-complicated corporate number crunching.

The fact that it took 2 minutes, (an eternity in TV time,)  and 3 separate acceptance speeches before someone from the company actually tried to correct the snafu only furthered their reputation troubles.  News travels fast these days and bad news always travels faster.   So here’s what we all can learn from this gaffe heard ‘round the world:

if you make a mistake, clean it up immediately  120 seconds is even too long, especially in this digital age and upon a world stage.  When your name takes a hit, it sends sound waves funneling out into the atmosphere.  The quicker you can deaden those sound waves, the better.  Once the information is imprinted on someone’s mind without a correction, it’s difficult to remove it.  Clean it up as soon as possible with all the facts available.

Silence is NOT golden  Your lack of acknowledgment will likely be seen as guilt.  Call in your troops.  Create a marketing and public relations campaign.  The right word from the right person can make all the difference.

You can survive a reputation hit.  But as quickly as the damage happens, is as quickly as you need to respond.  And as much as people love the drama of a juicy mistake, they also love to forgive.

People Will Forgive  Apologize for your wrong doing.  Tell people you know you made a mistake.  Think about Washington DC Mayor Marrion Barry.  He built a reputation as a civil rights activist, spoke at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, served as Mayor of Washington, DC and blew his reputation with 8 seconds of video showing him smoking crack.  And so he apologized.  He fell on the sword and said he used bad judgment.  And after serving time in federal prison, he was reelected mayor of DC. 

Protect your reputation.  But if it takes a hit, act immediately.

If you’re looking for help building and protecting your reputation or would like to schedule a seminar for your employees, check out Etiquette University.  The professors of protocol will be happy to assist you.And the Winner is-5 And the Winner is-6

How Do You Define a Hero?

02.18.2017 News Comments Off on How Do You Define a Hero?

He*ro —  a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal. 

I met a hero this week. His name is Dick Thelen. Dick was just 18 years old in July of 1945.  He was on board the USS Indianapolis which delivered the first atomic bomb to Tinian Island in the Pacific. He’d only been on the ship for 11 days. It was a Sunday night just before midnight. The ship was hit by two enemy torpedoes.

“ When that torpedo hit I went up in the air. I can’t tell you how high,” Dick shared with me this week. Now 90 years old, he still remembers every last detail of the attack. Dick described for me what it was like to be on the ship as it tilted into the Pacific Ocean.

“Everybody asks me, ‘Where were you on the ship when you jumped off?’  I didn’t jump off the ship.   The ship left me.  I just swam away.”

900 men went into the shark-infested water. Dick went in wearing only his underwear and holding a lifejacket. He was in the water for five days and four nights. 104 hours. During the day he would put his underwear on his head to protect him from the sun. He watched his shipmates drown in panic or get eaten by sharks. But Dick Thelen had made a promise to his father that he would come home and kept his promise.

“You would get so hungry and so thirsty,” Dick told me. “Then you would feel the poke of a shark’s nose. Why they didn’t take me, I don’t know.”

Dick tells his story at schools. He tries to get high school students to understand what real struggle means, true hardship and to appreciate what they have in America. Of the 900 men who went in the water, 300 survived. Only a dozen or so are still alive today. Dick Thelen received the Purple Heart , a military decoration for being wounded in combat.  He’s mighty proud of it. But Dick is quick to say, “I’m no hero. I just tried to stay afloat.”

Dick Thelen has been nominated as the 2017 Veteran of the Year in the Governor’s Fitness Awards. 

The Best Run in a Long Time

02.09.2017 News Comments Off on The Best Run in a Long Time
Wayne Roberts, 68, running for the first time since his hit and run accident.

Wayne Roberts, 68, running for the first time since his hit and run accident.

There’s a Finnish word “sisu” that roughly translates into guts or perseverance. My new friend Wayne Roberts has that word on his baseball cap and clearly has more sisu than most.

Years ago, Wayne was a smoker, overweight with bad genes. He saw two of his brothers and all of his grandparents die young from heart disease. He knew he was headed down the same path. Wayne decided to make a change. He started running.

On January 1, 1980 he started logging his runs. He ran every day— rain or shine or snow or blizzard for 13,459 days. His plan was to run every day for 50 years. Nothing stopped him. Not a sprained ankle or a two-foot snowfall. Not even a heart attack. When the doctor wanted to put in a stent for his heart, Wayne insisted the doctor insert it through his wrist rather than his groin so he wouldn’t miss a day of running.

Wayne’s wife of 49 years, Sandra, has supported him all along the way. She even sewed an oversized pocket on his running jersey so he could collect returnables strewn on the side of the road Those empty cans and bottles have paid for his running shoes and then some. (What’s the Finnish word for clever.)

Then, in October, Wayne went for a run and didn’t come back. Sandra got a call that he was found bloody and unconscious ln a ditch. Wayne was likely the victim of a hit and run driver but doesn’t remember a thing. He suffered brain damage, a life-threatening blood infection. He was in a coma for weeks. And he wasn’t able to fulfill his dream.

But because this man has what he calls sisu– he’s back on his feet. How privileged I felt this week to join Wayne for his first outdoor run since the accident. It was slow and brief, but Wayne was outside running.

“Thank you for getting me outside for a short jog,” Wayne just emailed me. “It felt fantastic that I could do it again. Thanks for holding me up and keeping me going.”

The truth is, Wayne’s determination and strength will keep me going for a long time. No, he wasn’t able to run every day for 50 years. That dream was hit by a car. But this cross country coach, father and grandfather will serve as an inspiration to so many. And he has a new dream. According to the dozens of log books he’s kept, he’s already run 76,851 miles. He now plans to run his way to 100,000 miles. And knowing Wayne Roberts, he’ll do it. He’s got sisu.

Wayne Roberts is a nominee for Michigan’s 2017 Governor’s Fitness Awards.

When Heroes Meet Heroes

01.30.2017 News Comments Off on When Heroes Meet Heroes

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WHEN HEROES MEET HEROES

This is a shout out to the Detroit Pistons. At a time when professional athletes are being criticized in record numbers for their off-court conduct, this week I got to see up close and personal some true athletic heroes at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Imagine what life is like when you’re an eight-year-old fighting cancer. Imagine what a joy it is to be able to get out of the hospital, away from chemotherapy and radiation, away from needles and doctors and nurses– and head out to meet an NBA basketball team. This past week ten children fighting life-threatening diseases were given that chance. They are among the super heroes of Kids Kicking Cancer, an organization that teaches breathing techniques and martial arts to children suffering with diseases many can’t even pronounce. And this week, super heroes met super heroes.

Imagine a child three feet tall standing in front of a 7-foot Detroit Piston teaching those breathing techniques, instructing world class athletes to “breathe in the light and breath out the darkness.” And when the children were done teaching the Pistons their heroic powers, the Pistons returned the favor. They actually lifted some of the tinier children into the air to help them sink baskets and made every effort to make sure each child felt like an athlete.

A hero is defined as “a person admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities. “ As President of Kids Kicking Cancer, I’ve spent nearly a decade in awe of the heroic children in our organization who face their illnesses with courage and optimism. These children willingly share their ability to fight pain and discomfort through power breathing with any one willing to listen. The Pistons opened their hearts to these amazing kids this week—proving some athletes do deserve to be called heroes.

How Old is Too Old To Learn To Snowboard?

01.16.2017 News Comments Off on How Old is Too Old To Learn To Snowboard?

I don’t care what anyone says… You can teach an old dog new tricks. So many people make the mistake of not learning new things— not because they can’t but because they don’t want to do it wrong and look dumb. Learning to live a more adventurous life involves trying things you’ve never done before. You have to be willing to make mistakes, fall, look foolish and not give a damn.

I’ve been skiing most of my life but decided to go to the dark side a few years ago and try snowboarding. While I loved the joy of gliding on two skis, I really relished the idea of testing my ability to learn a new skill. Can you learn to snowboard after 50? Absolutely as long as you have some fitness, are willing to take some falls and can think like a kid. When a child heads out on the slopes they go with an open mind and fewer worries. They’re not so concerned with making mistakes or looking foolish. We adults tend to think too much and over analyze. We don’t want to look bad. (And you’re going to look bad.)

I started slow, took some ridiculous falls, got up and tried again and again and again. Now I LOVE snowboarding and don’t think I’ll ever put skis on again. No there aren’t many senior snowboarders (“grays on trays”) but that makes it all the more special. I was definitely the only 50-something female snowboarder on the slopes today and I’m proud of that.

Children may learn things faster, but, if you’re willing to put in the time, you still can take up a new sport . You don’t have to be perfect. The biggest breakthrough comes when you give up looking good and just go for it.

If you want to make positive changes in your life you have to take some risks. And if you want to try a new sport— throw away the need to look good.  See you on the slopes!

Wanna Play?

01.09.2017 News Comments Off on Wanna Play?

Back in College my nickname was “Dr. Fun.” I was always looking for ways to make the day, the English assignment or just dinner in the cafeteria more of an adventure. I was constantly conjuring up plans to go sledding or hiking or bike riding. I’d instigate a late-night pillow fight in the dorm. My parents weren’t always so enthused when they heard about my escapades. They wanted to be sure I was focused on work, productivity, and a solid grade-point average. But actually, I think I was on to something at an early age that I haven’t let go of.   I love to play.

 

Just like sleep and good nutrition, play is crucial to our physical and mental health.   Having more fun was probably not one of your New Year’s resolutions but it should have been. There’s plenty of research that shows the value of being more playful in both your personal and professional life. Play is not a waste of time. It’s an investment in your well being. If you think you’re too old for play than it’s time to change your mindset.   That’s a dangerous outlook. A life without fun and frivolous activity is likely filled with too much stress, mental tension and more likely to engage in addictive behaviors. Play is what keeps you young and healthy. It’s ok to get older but adding play to your life will keep you from getting old. It gives you a feeling of vitality and energy.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. George Bernard Shaw

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My husband calls me the world’s oldest 8-year old since I can’t pass a slide at a playground without going for a ride. I’m always sneaking up on people or encouraging a game of hide and seek. If there’s a tree, I’ll climb it. If there’s a puddle, I’ll jump in it. If there’s a hoola hoop, I’ll take it for a spin. I bring three balls and juggle at the airport while waiting to board a flight. (I really do.) I give talks on how to add adventure to your life.   I explain the importance of creating an adventure every single day. Adventure is just a fancy word for play. It involves a bit of surprise and unpredictability.

 

Just thinking about play makes me happy. It keeps me optimistic. And the goofier the play, the better. You don’t have to organize a snowball fight…. (though that sounds fun to me!) Just get up and start to wiggle. Yes, wiggle. It’s hard to wiggle without a giggle. It definitely leads to instantaneous fun—especially if you do it in front of coworkers.   If you think that suggestion is silly, you’re right. I love silly.   In fact, the word silly comes from the German word selig which means to be blessed. When you are playful and silly, you are blessed.

 

Being more playful and having fun leads to so many positive outcomes. You’ll be happier. Your social life will improve. Your relationships will be better. And yes, you’ll be more focused, productive and successful. If you get your coworkers to be more playful, they’ll likely be more creative and cooperative.

 

As adults, Americans have less and less time to play. In the last 30 years we’ve increased the amount of time we spend on the job by 10 hours a week. And very few if any companies encourage playtime inside the work day. Just like my parents thought way back when, playtime is thought of as something unproductive. But playtime is crucial to productivity. You should have it on your schedule.

 

If you want to rekindle the spark in your marriage… play

If you want to create a stronger relationship with co-workers… set up a play date. Do something just for pleasure with no set goal in mind. And make sure it’s completely unnecessary. It’s the unnecessary characteristic of play that is the most necessary part.   Try to remember what you considered fun as a kid and do that. And when you choose your friends, choose playful ones.

 

How about a game of tag?   You’re it.

The Little Adventures That Turn Big

01.02.2017 News Comments Off on The Little Adventures That Turn Big

 

It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal adventure. I was just going for a calm, yawn of a kayak ride down Lake Worth near West Palm Beach. It was a beautiful January day, the sun shining, sparkles of light glimmering on the water. My husband and I were on our last day of vacation and looking for something to do together. I needed a little adventure. I got a little more than I bargained for.

We decided kayaking would be fun but our vacation condo had only one kayak. “No problem,” I said. “You drive down the road and rent a kayak and I’ll paddle down there to meet you.”
“But it’s close to 3 miles away!” my husband countered.
“No problem,” I assured him. “I can handle 3 miles in a kayak easy. I’ll call you when I get close.”

He started shaking his head as if to say “What is my wife getting into now?” But he agreed and took off. I stuffed my cell phone into the waistline of my shorts and thought to myself —I should have brought a plastic bag to protect my phone. But I was already in the water and eager to get moving.

I began with a gentle paddle south towards the center of Lake Worth making my way to the Lantana draw bridge. I could hear the fishermen shouting, “You got some muscles, girl!” “That takes strength.” I didn’t really understand what the fuss was all about. But as I made my way under the bridge, the current, the wind, the waves… everything changed. Imagine the kayak tossing and turning. My easy jaunt in a kayak was now a major workout. And this sudden change in conditions got my adrenalin flowing. Anyone with half a brain would have turned around. But not me. I never quit. But the fact is, sometimes you should. This probably was one of those times.

I had made a key adventure error. I hadn’t done ANY homework. I hadn’t asked any questions. Even Siri would have had enough information to let me know this was a bad idea. But Siri and I hadn’t spoken. The winds were blowing so hard, I had to keep paddling in order to keep the kayak moving even slightly forward. Otherwise the strong current would pull me into any of the huge wooden docks that lined the side of the waterway. Rather than giving up, the challenging conditions pushed me forward. I couldn’t stop paddling for even an instant. The waves were blowing over the kayak. I was soaked. My hands were quickly lined with blisters as I paddled with everything I had. I was kayaking against the current in gale-force winds. Yachts and pleasure boats were flying by, sending out huge wakes. My skin was wet and burning in the hot sun. My lips were chapped. And after a good 40 minutes I was so thirsty I felt faint. I had no water. My stubborn pride wouldn’t let me give up. My phone was so water-logged and my fingers so wet, I couldn’t get it to dial. So a rescue was out of the question.

In my defense, I started out thinking this was going to be a walk in the park. It wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a good challenge. Which is why I kept going for three full miles of pure torture. I started counting my paddle strokes to distract me. But a little bit of research would have at least protected my cell from salt water and my lips from the sun. By the time I reached my husband he had already been kayaking for an hour in a quiet inlet. He was happy as a clam and couldn’t understand why I looked like I had just fallen out of an airplane.

Sometimes little jaunts turn into major adventures. Savor those moments. They will be the memories that stay with you forever. Just make sure you learn the lessons. Heed the warnings of fishermen. And by all means, carry some chap stick.

How to Slow the Passage of Time

12.26.2016 News Comments Off on How to Slow the Passage of Time

Using Adventure To Add Years to Your Life 

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It happens to me every year at this time.  Life starts moving too fast.  I get this overly anxious feeling that the days, weeks, months and years are just passing me by.  Wasn’t I just applying for college? Now I’m midlife and feeling a lot closer to retirement.  It’s like someone pushed the fast-forward button. 

When this feeling shows up, the best way to counteract it’s intensity is to conjure up a good adventure.  When time seems to be flowing by like the rushing water of a river, it means we’ve gotten into a frenzied flow of days, errands, obligations and routines and we need to build a damm.  What do I mean by that?  Do something that interrupts your every day patterns.  Get uncomfortable.  Make it memorable.   Get out in the cold.  Work up a sweat.  Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.  Do whatever you need to do to get out of your comfort zone.

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When you do something new, the day can last forever.  You make note of it in your brain.  You build a memory.    As kids, we were building memories all the time… climbing trees, jumping off roofs, rolling down hills.  Time stood still in those moments.  Everything was new.  Everything was an adventure— sometimes thrilling, sometimes frightening but always more memorable. 

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Passing the half-century mark,  it’s easy to start thinking about all the career goals you haven’t achieved or the places you’ve always wanted to travel to and think time is running out.  And guess what?  It is!  Stop the flow by creating memorable moments.  Don’t go back to the familiar. While we can’t really stop time, we can make the best of it.  You don’t have  to hike the Grand Canyon (though that is one of my favorite adventures,) just go somewhere today you’ve never been before.

Thank You For Reading This

11.16.2016 News Comments Off on Thank You For Reading This

Let me start by saying thank you for clicking on this article.  Those two words –“Thank You”—are so important. We feel good saying them and it’s extra nice to hear them.

Thanksgiving is the traditional time to contemplate gratitude. It’s the one holiday we
have that reminds us to be grateful. But the truth is, we could use a good dose of gratitude every single day. Not only do others want to hear it, but our mental and even our physical health get a boost from those two simple words we don’t use often enough.

Just Say It
Study after study documents the health benefits of simple gratitude.  If you don’t believe me, pick up your cell phone and make a random call to someone, family or friend, and just say thank you for something they’ve done for you. Did someone inspire you? Did someone change your life? Did someone help you even in the smallest way? Don’t you owe them a thank you? Not only will it make their day, but you’ll instantly feel better. That kind of appreciation for someone else is the glue that connects you to others and improves your relationships and your sense of well being. One of the greatest contributors to your overall happiness and contentment is how much gratitude you show the world. And the more often you show gratitude, the more of a habit it becomes.

Smile More
Saying thank you is just one way to brighten someone’s day (and yours). Another is just to put a smile on your face and share it with others. It’s a silent thank you that just feels good and sends those feel-good chemicals to your brain.  Even a fake smile has the power to cheer you up. Try it. You may feel silly, but you’re starting to feel better, right?

Gratitude Moments
Start your day with a gratitude moment. Maybe you’re just happy to have woken up next to your spouse, or maybe you just love that first cup of coffee. Look around your room, look out at the sunrise and find something to be grateful for. Gratitude is a muscle you have to build like your bicep. The more you work at it, the stronger you feel both physically and mentally. It’s just a matter of counting your blessings.

Gratitude is all about being grateful for life just as it is rather than always wanting it to be different. It’s about appreciating what you have—whether it’s the 206 bones in your body that help you walk across a room or the miracle of a cell phone that can connect you with sounds and pictures from someone on the other side of the world. It’s about noticing the little things that make life more beautiful. It’s about seeing the roses, not just the thorns.   Remember there is always someone who has it worse than you.

Hiking for Health: Fighting Cancer One Step at a Time

10.26.2016 News Comments Off on Hiking for Health: Fighting Cancer One Step at a Time

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“Carrie can you hear me?” I bellow in to my walkie-talkie. “Carrie it’s Lila, can you hear me?” I had just finished the most strenuous and longest hike of my life across the Grand Canyon and back again.  While I have crossed this canyon before, this time I had taken the longer trail, the Bright Angel Trail, which added several miles to an already lengthy and grueling hike. The moment I reached the rim I radioed for Carrie to find out how she was doing. “Carrie can you hear me?” I practically screamed.

Carrie is a 57-year-old mother of two. She’s an avid hiker who, like me, has traversed this canyon numerous times.  She knows the challenge of starting in the middle of the night when it’s just 35 degrees and pitch black outside. This is the 17th time she’s loaded a backpack with 50 ounces of water, enough electrolytes and protein bars to make the crossing and headed down the narrow trail with only the light of a tiny headlamp to guide her down the serpentine switchbacks before the sunrise.  She’s well acquainted with the change in altitude, the heat, the dehydration risks, the 10,000-foot elevation change and the 50-degree temperature change.  She knows the endurance required to make it from one side to the other and the superhuman motivation necessary to climb back again. The majority of those who hike rim to rim will get a ride or take the shuttle back. Rim to rim is challenging enough. Rim to rim to rim takes a certain amount of insanity.

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The Grand Canyon leaves no room for sissies. There’s no opportunity to quit.  You can’t call 9-1-1. The moment you hike in, you have to count on your own ability to get yourself out.  In truth, the park rangers don’t recommend this hike, especially for those who haven’t trained properly. There are warning signs along the trail reminding those who think this might be fun that the distance, extreme heat and elevation change make it a serious life or death decision.

For years, Carrie has been my rock in this canyon. She has bandaged my blistered feet, made sure I had enough water and nutrition, the right amount of layers, and the right attitude to make it both in and out in one piece. She walks the entire way but knows how I love to run. And as I dash away from her, she’s always warning me to keep my eyes on the trail — one false step and it’s all over.

But so much has happened since the last time she and I made the trek 24 miles across the canyon and back again.  In the few years since I climbed this 7th wonder of the world, Carrie’s wonderful world has been turned upside down. She received the diagnosis one in 8 women will hear in their lifetime: Breast cancer.

Carrie’s been through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She lost her hair, her breast, several lymph nodes but not an inch of her grit and none of her grace. The moment she was able to bend over and lace up her hiking boots, Carrie was back on the trail. Less than a year after chemo, she was back. Her way of fighting breast cancer was the same method she has always used to cross the canyon:  One step at a time. Hiking is Carrie’s passion and she wasn’t letting a diagnosis of breast cancer take that away from her. She remained active which she says helped both physically and emotionally.

She started slow with easier hikes but in short order found her way back in the canyon. Yes there were modifications. She had to find a backpack that wouldn’t irritate any of the muscles impacted by the mastectomy and reconstruction. She gives herself more time than she used to. There’s no hurry. In fact, Carrie says she now is able to stop and savor any given moment in a way she never did before.

And if you ask Carrie, she’ll tell you that hiking has really been key to her recovery. I hike because hiking improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk for osteoporosis.  It improves circulation, energy levels and just makes you feel better.  And for Carrie, hiking has been an antidote to the depression and anxiety that come with a cancer diagnosis. And plenty of studies show hiking during and after treatment benefits cancer patients in a multitude of ways from improved fitness to reduced rates of recurrence and a longer life. Cancer patients who exercise have been found to experience less nausea and fatigue. While the chemo may have worked on Carrie’s cancer, it was clear that hiking helped her mind and soul.

But now I was getting worried.  She hadn’t responded.  Just when I really thought I needed to hike back down and find Carrie, I heard her voice crackle through the walkie-talkie.  “I’m just passed Three-Mile Resthouse,” she said.   “I’m right behind you.”

Thrilled to hear her voice, I waited impatiently for her to make it up the final and most difficult 3 miles of the hike.  I can’t even begin to describe her smile when she finally emerged at the trailhead atop the South Rim.   This was more than just another hike.  This was a major victory and we both knew it.  “I’m not going to lie,” she said breathily.   “It wasn’t easy.”

Carrie’s life has changed forever and spending this time with her has changed mine, too.  She doesn’t sweat the small stuff anymore.  She places a much higher value on experiences than possessions.  She doesn’t care if she’s slower, she’s just thrilled to be hiking, at all.  The fear of recurrence is always lurking, but Carrie decided early on that she was going to get busy living, not dying. Now she worries less and chooses happiness more.  Breast cancer gave Carrie that all important lesson:  There’s no time like the present.  And there’s no way to feel more alive than hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim.
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My friend Carrie S. Bell has chronicled her journey in a book called Grit and Grace:  Fighting Breast Cancer One Step at a Time.”  It’s available in paperback or as an e-book at Amazon.com.

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