Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why Worry?

For a guy that came from a family that didn’t value worrying… I am pretty good at it. My mom had no- and I repeat no worries in the world. Her personal philosophy of life was “Whatever bees, bees”. It was so frustrating at times when I couldn’t get my own mom to worry with me about my “Big” worries that I thought she might be absolutely clueless. My Dad wasn’t too far away on the worry scale. His coaching was “If I thought worrying would help, I would encourage you to do more, son”. “Life is round” he would say. “It goes up and down, and that’s just the way it is.”

So how did I become such an expert on worrying? For me there is good worrying and bad worrying. I guess being an overachiever with aspirations off the chart drives me to carefully analyze issues. I am always looking for the right answers to my questions and find myself constantly risk managing decisions. This is where good worrying enters. It motivates me. When I work harder to succeed, when I am truly aware of controlling my emotional worry, when I move forward with unyielding determination and focus… I successfully get out of my way and leave my comfort zone. Worrying drives me with a sense of urgency.

I lead by creating change; I achieve by positive action; I am fulfilled by having a sense of purpose.

So what’s the big “Secret of Life” here?

Write down what you are worrying about. List your worries large and small and track them for a year. My prediction is that none of those important worries from a year ago will be on your mind a year later. Whatever we are worrying about today is the most important thing in our life but where will these worries be a year from now? 99%of these worries will never happen.

We need confidence… better yet faith, that what we finish will turn out OK. My personal experience is more extreme. From the worst experiences in my life, from my deepest despair and worry, the very best results have ultimately prevailed. Repeatedly, life has turned out better than I have planned, better than I have worried.

What is unhealthy is to feel sorry for ourselves when our lives are turned upside down. Instead we need to confront our anxiety, fear, worry, and initiate action to meet the bumps in the road. In April of 2009, at one of the most challenging moments in my business career, I spoke intimately with two of my trusted advisors. I said to one, “K, I am worried about the business” and he replied, “Create Plan ‘B’”. Simple and direct. Stop worrying and take action.

My other advisor met me for lunch and when he recognized my sorry state of worry we proceeded to drink large quantities of wine. At the end of lunch “B” said to me, “This is just a giant, deep pothole in your journey... Look beyond this pothole in the road… You have to see that you will come out the other side.”

Exactly one year later (2010) all of those insurmountable worries were not on the list. Quiet the mind, take action, and have faith that whatever action we complete, whatever responsibility we fulfill will turn out better than we could have planned.

So, why worry?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Show Me Don't Tell Me

My Dad died. For the past three weeks I have been totally immersed in the emotional experience of life’s natural cycle… the passing of my last living Parent. For me it was loss of unconditional love, a Dad I affectionately and respectfully called “Boss”. The “Boss” was a sweet, gentle man who was a strong and wise teacher. Our relationship was always intimate and allowed my father to easily pass on to me… a willing and open student… many of his “Secrets of Life”. In honoring his journey, I wish to share with you my most valuable inheritance from Joseph J. Rothman.

My Dad was first and foremost a “Mensch”. He believed at his core that the most important value in life was to be a “Mensch”. I can best define a “Mensch” as a true, responsible human being with integrity. He taught me many lessons about how to deal with the ups and downs of life, about taking action “By the Numbers”, but the most important lesson he drilled into me… my Dad had been a master Sergeant in the US Army so he knew how to drill you… was “Show Me Don’t Tell Me”. He would stand tall, cup his hands and thrust them out at me and say, “Son, show me, don’t tell me”. It was a powerful teaching of accountability and perseverance… but more importantly it was his way of teaching me integrity.

“Show Me Don’t Tell Me” is “Walk the Talk”. And as a dear friend from Hong Kong described it… “Integrity of Tongue”. In life we must do what we say we are going to do. Our words need to take on a life of their own thru committed action. Who are we if we don’t honor our own voice with integrity… with honesty in carrying out our promises, our intentions?

If we analyze “Show Me Don’t Tell Me”… we see the depth and richness of this basic teaching. Several connecting lessons and life forces that flow through this simple, laser focused concept… awareness, accountability, and perseverance.

Awareness is being mindful before we speak. Thoughtfulness in the moment will bring clarity to our words, to our promised intentions.

Accountability drives positive action. If we say we are going to do something, than we must hold ourselves accountable to our words… responsible for our own voice. The more we discipline ourselves to be accountable for what comes out of our mouths… the more success, contentment, fulfillment, and integrity we create.

But awareness and accountability of what we say are only as effective as our willingness to persevere. If we can’t “Walk the Talk” or better yet survive with dignity and faith at what life throws at us, then we are not truly willing to hang in there to make it happen. Either we persevere or we betray our own voice.

My wise 92 year old Dad spent over four years, yes four years, on the front lines in Europe during WWII fighting daily for his life and the many men whose lives he was accountable for. As a fighting group they needed to be aware… Zig when they were required to zig and zag when the needed to zag. As a team they were totally accountable and bonded to each other for survival… and if they didn’t have the strength and commitment to persevere they put each other’s lives in jeopardy.

No wonder my Dad, my “Boss”, the Sarge, drilled into me the importance of “Show Me Don’t Tell Me”. It was core to his existence; it was his personal experienced “Secret of Life” to pass on to me, his son.

Dad at 92- dancing in the kitchen with his favorite Daughter-In-Law, Susan