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What Are You Grateful For Today?

Did you take a moment to be grateful today? Gratitude consists of being fully aware of your current circumstances with all its worrying details, both big and small, and being able to recognize the good.

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In our modern daily lives, it is easy to take for granted the gifts we have been given by the many thousands of people who have gone before us. It is mind-boggling to try to fathom the effort that has gone into giving us the lives we enjoy simply by virtue of having been born in the 20th century.

Consider the desktop computer, laptop, handheld tablet or smart phone on which you are reading this post. Only a genius could fully comprehend all the details, the intricate science, engineering and technology used to develop and manufacture it. Try to imagine the time and effort that went into making each item of clothing you are wearing now – how the cotton was grown, and picked and spun and then woven into cloth, and dyed into interesting fabric. Think of the designers who envisioned the cut and style of the garments. Ponder the work of the people involved in creating and sewing the patterns. Contemplate the last meal you ate—even if it was only as modest as a can of beans or a bowl of ramen noodles. What about the  transportation you take each day? Could you reproduce any of these items completely on your own?

Reflect on the brilliant minds over thousands of years that devoted themselves to inventing and perfecting the modern comforts and luxuries we take for granted. Innumerable men and women cared enough to make their lives count for something, so that we can all enjoy better standards of living today. Life has given us so much more than we can ever return to it.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

I encourage you to spend just a few moments now and each day in quiet reflection on the good things in your life.
All day long, make a habit of noticing all the gifts around you, the people, companies and technologies that serve you. Think of your health. It may not be perfect, but focus on the miracle of the things that work – your eyes to see, ears to hear, skin to protect all your internal organs, legs to take you were you need to go. Take responsibility for consciously feeling grateful for all the gifts life has presented to you. Express your appreciation. Say “thank you” as often as possible, to as many people as possible.

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” — Meister Eckhart

I spent my time in gratitude this morning with my dog, Frisky, on Ffreyes Beach—just three minutes from my home. I stood in awe of the natural beauty that surrounded me, and felt overwhelmed with appreciation (as I always do), for this little island of Antigua, which I call home. I snapped a few seconds of video. Enjoy!

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49 Great Quotes from Zig Ziglar

The Human Exclamation Point

“Today is a brand-new day. And it’s yours.” These are the words of the late Zig Ziglar, the American motivational speaker who died in late 2012, at the age of 86. Zig Ziglar was sometimes called “the human exclamation point”. He was always brimming with enthusiasm and positive energy as he led his revival-like “success conventions” until his retirement at age 84. Zig’s pithy maxims were delivered with a characteristic upbeat demeanor and Southern drawl which to some may seem over-simplified and perhaps even shallow. But there is a tremendous depth to his “can do” philosophy of positivity that continues to out -live the man himself.

Zig Ziglar’s Life and Career

Zig Ziglar was born in Alabama the tenth of twelve children and grew up in Mississippi. Zig’s father died when he was only five years old and so he learned to work at an early age, selling vegetables and delivering newspapers to help keep the family fed. A World War II veteran, he served in the United States Navy Training Program while attending the University of South Carolina. In 1944, he met his life-long love, Jean. They married just two years later and remained happily married for sixty-six years. He celebrated his last wedding anniversary just the day before his death. Zig is also survived by two of his three daughters and his son, Tom.

Zig Ziglar’s motivational career began by accident in 1965 when he filled in at a motivational seminar for a speaker who did not turn up. By then, he had established himself in a successful career in sales. After years of constantly changing locations, Zig was soon to be appointed as Vice President and Training Director of an automotive company and settled in Texas permanently. In 1974, after becoming a born again Christian, he wrote his first book ‘See You at the Top‘. The book was originally rejected by over 30 publishers but went on to become his most successful work. He went on to write over two dozen more books with titles such as ‘Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World‘, ‘Staying Up, Up, Up in a Down, Down World‘ and ‘Born to Win‘.

A Lasting Legacy of Positivity

Zig Ziglar books, speeches and even his very life extolled the virtues of not just positive thinking, but the importance of positive action as a key to success and the advantages of living a balanced life. Zig Ziglar’s life was a living testimony of the wisdom of his words. He practiced what he preached; he was a loving husband and father, church and community leader and a successful business person. Zig Ziglar was an inspiration to many thousands and perhaps millions of people. I hope that you find the quotes I have selected don’t just make you feel good for the moment, but inspire you to working harder and living a happier, more purposeful and productive life.

 

Zig Ziglar on success:

“Success is not a destination, it’s a journey.” — Zig Ziglar

“It’s not what happens to you that determines how far you will go in life; it is how you handle what happens to you.” — Zig Ziglar

“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.” — Zig Ziglar

“Success is the maximum utilization of the ability that you have.” — Zig Ziglar

“Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on the “gotta have it” scale.” — Zig Ziglar

“Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be. If we do our best, we are a success.” — Zig Ziglar

 

Zig Ziglar on working hard:

“There is little you can learn from doing nothing.” — Zig Ziglar

“Motivation gets you going and habit gets you there.”

“The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing because you think you can only do a little.” — Zig Ziglar

“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.” — Zig Ziglar

“When you are tough on yourself, life is going to be infinitely easier on you.” — Zig Ziglar

“Every success is built on the ability to do better than good enough.” — Zig Ziglar

“Everybody says they want to be free. Take the train off the tracks and it’s free-but it can’t go anywhere.” — Zig Ziglar

 

Zig Ziglar on kindness and friendship:

“If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.” — Zig Ziglar

“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” — Zig Ziglar

“Be helpful. When you see a person without a smile, give them yours.” — Zig Ziglar

“Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.” — Zig Ziglar

“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.”

“The way you see people is the way you treat them.” — Zig Ziglar

“Every obnoxious act is a cry for help.” — Zig Ziglar

 

Zig Ziglar on motivation:

“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.” — Zig Ziglar

“Do it, and then you will feel motivated to do it.” — Zig Ziglar

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” — Zig Ziglar

“Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember ~ the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.”

“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.” — Zig Ziglar

“Outstanding people have one thing in common: an absolute sense of mission” — Zig Ziglar

“If you can dream it, then you can achieve it.” — Zig Ziglar

 

Zig Ziglar on attitude:

“You can succeed at almost anything for which you have unbridled enthusiasm.” — Zig Ziglar

“Ask yourself a question: Is my attitude worth catching?” — Zig Ziglar

“Life is too short to spend your precious time trying to convince a person who wants to live in gloom and doom otherwise. Give lifting that person your best shot, but don’t hang around long enough for his or her bad attitude to pull you down. Instead, surround yourself with optimistic people.” — Zig Ziglar

“Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.” — Zig Ziglar

“Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs.” — Zig Ziglar

“You are what you are and you are where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You change what you are and you change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.” — Zig Ziglar

 

Zig Ziglar on character:

“If you’re sincere, praise is effective. If you’re insincere, it’s manipulative.” — Zig Ziglar

“You cannot perform in a manner inconsistent with the way you see yourself.” — Zig Ziglar

“The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.” — Zig Ziglar

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” — Zig Ziglar

“Make today worth remembering.”

“Every choice you make has an end result.” — Zig Ziglar

 

Zig Ziglar on happiness:

“Happiness is not pleasure, it is victory.” — Zig Ziglar

“If standard of living is your major objective, quality of life almost never improves, but if quality of life is your number one objective, your standard of living almost always improves.” — Zig Ziglar

“Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.” — Zig Ziglar

“The more you are grateful for what you have the more you will have to be grateful for” — Zig Ziglar

 

Zig Ziglar on failure:

“If you don’t see yourself as a winner, then you cannot perform as a winner.” — Zig Ziglar

“Failure is an event not a person” — Zig Ziglar

“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now” — Zig Ziglar

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” — Zig Ziglar

“If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.” — Zig Ziglar

“Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.” — Zig Ziglar

 

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Considering the Balanced Scorecard Approach

“When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind…” William Thompson

As the leader of a relatively young organizational unit, I am always looking for innovative ways to measure and improve overall performance and achieve strategic goals. A few months ago, I stumbled upon the Balanced Scorecard approach.

The Balanced Scorecard Approach in a Nutshell

The Balanced Scorecard approach was developed around 1990 and a result of the extensive research of Robert Kaplan and David Norton. They developed a methodology of translating organizational strategy into a balanced framework which guides organizational energies toward achieving long-term goals. Kaplan and Norton’s framework transforms the company’s vision and strategy into a coherent set of performance measures and objectives. The system is designed to balance both short and long term desired outcomes, and hard financial measures against more intangible deliverables. In their book ‘The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action‘, they arrange performance measures into the following distinct perspectives:

  • Financial perspective
  • Customer perspective
  • Internal business process perspective
  • Learning and growth perspective

The idea of a balanced approach to developing performance strategies and achieving business goals resonates strongly with me. I am from a hard-numbers, public accounting background, and so making a profit is essential. On the other hand, I have a strong long-term vision for the company I serve. I want to make a difference in the lives of the people who use our products and services, and I want our organization not just to be a place to work, but a place that shapes the lives of its employees in a positive way.

Why Financial Measures Alone Don’t Work

More and more organizations are realizing that achieving profitability or even product and service quality is not enough to shore up the probability of long-term business success. In his book ‘Balanced Scorecard Step-by-Step: Maximizing Performance and Maintaining Results‘, Paul R. Niven gives five reasons why focusing on financial measures alone does not work:

  1. Overabundant use of financial measures is not consistent with today’s business realities. Since value resides in the ideas, relationships and cultures of people scattered throughout the firm, financial metrics alone will provide  little value in identifying opportunities with customers or employees.
  2. Financial KPIs only measure past performance, but have no predictive power for the future. Scores of great companies with excellent financial metrics virtually vanished from glory without warning.
  3. Financial statements are prepared by functional area. This approach is inconsistent with an organization’s cross-functional nature; teams come together to deliver value that is impossible to track via financial measures alone.
  4. Financial measures often sacrifice long-term success. Downsizing, for example, may provide the required short-term goals required, but may also have a hugely destructive impact on morale and the firm’s overall long-term value and future prospects.
  5. Financial measures are irrelevant to day-to-day tasks of employees at many levels of the organization. The measurement of strategic performance be interpretable in a meaningful way at every level of the organization.

Balanced Scorecard for the Win

While most companies have mission statements and vision statements, these are often no more than well-worded inspirational statements, equally as grand and unused as the foyers they are displayed in. Employees don’t understand them, managers don’t implement them, resources are not invested in achieving them; they are, in essence, devoid of meaning and impact. Rare leaders, such as Steve Jobs, do a remarkable job of keeping their companies focused on the overarching vision. In stark contrast, many companies are led astray, distracted by the alluring siren-song of ‘profit maximization’ to the detriment of their identity and purpose, and ultimately their survival.

The Balanced Scorecard approach has gained an impressive following in its twenty year history; it is estimated that up to 60 percent of the Fortune 1000 has a Balanced Scorecard in place. Indeed, the greatest argument for the Balanced Scorecard approach is its ability to bring organizational strategy to life, by interweaving a company’s definitive vision and strategy so that it is felt, understood and executed at every level of the organization.

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21 Inspiring Quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born the son of a minister in Boston, Massachusetts in 1803. After attending the prestigious Harvard College, Emerson initially followed in his father’s footsteps and became an ordained minister. While still a young man, however, he left the clergy to pursue a career as an essayist and public speaker. Over the course of his career, he became one of the most influential nineteenth century literary figures. His two most famous works, essays ‘Nature’ and ‘Self Reliance’ serve to clearly outline his distinct philosophy of life which emphasized optimism, individuality, the unity of all things, the difference between right and wrong and the power of human potential.

Here are 21 of his most inspiring quotes:

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On achieving your dreams

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Ralph Waldo Emerson – On optimism

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Ralph Waldo Emerson – On personal growth

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Ralph Waldo Emerson – On using time wisely

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting… Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Ralph Waldo Emerson – On recognizing greatness in others

“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.— Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On friendship and love

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Love, and you shall be loved.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On character.

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On gratitude

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On starting each day anew

“Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson – On not taking life too seriously

“Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Today I Am Inspired by: Benjamin Franklin

I am thrilled to have just started a new biography: ‘Benjamin Franklin: An American Life’ by Walter Isaacson. Isaacson, has also written biographies of Einstein (which I absolutely adore and highly recommend), Steve Jobs (which I have not yet finished) and Kissinger. So, I am excited to get started on the story of Benjamin Franklin. The publisher’s note describes him as “the founding father who winks at us”. Indeed, I have been fascinated with Benjamin Franklin since childhood.

Growing up on the Caribbean island of Antigua, two years of my early education were spent at a church-run school, St. John’s Lutheran. For better or for worse, the American-run school had the unusual feature of a 100% U.S. curriculum. In history class, we learned about the Unites States founding fathers. I read about Benjamin Franklin’s inventions and misadventures, and about his famous publication “Poor Richard’s Almanack”. A truly self-made man, Benjamin Franklin was a noted scientist, inventor, statesman and diplomat; he invented the lightning rod and bifocals, and was one of the Committee of Five that drafted the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

Born into a large Boston family in 1706, Benjamin Franklin focused early on the importance of developing character. As a young man, Franklin composed a list of thirteen virtues: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. He believed that these were the qualities to strive for in order to live a good life. He carried checklists of these virtues in his pockets for many years, and tried to live by them until his death at age 84.

Although he lived over 300 years ago, Benjamin Franklin‘s pithy wisdom continues to permeate modern life. He left a legacy of political, scientific and social achievement. He is noted as the first to outline the social concept of “paying it forward”. Having coined the slightly misquoted aphorism “a penny saved is a penny earned”, his image adorns US $100 notes today. He also believed in rising early (see my post about getting up early here). Who does not remember hearing his axiom “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”? .

In studying the life of Benjamin Franklin, we discover that he believed that being healthy, wealthy and wise lay not only in rising early, but also in doing good. His formula for success included starting each day at 5am and asking the essential question “What good shall I do today?”.  He believed that grand accomplishments are not achieved overnight, but take place by slowing building character by doing smaller daily good. What good will you do today?

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Today I Stand In Awe

In the hours since the breaking news of Whitney Houston‘s passing, I have seen a range of reactions. There have been expressions of shock and genuine grief from her myriad fans. There have also been reactions of a less supportive nature. Some have expressed confusion and disgust at the outpouring of sorrow.

Art, music and love are some of the inexplicable things that make life beautiful. Our ability to fully appreciate and experience these sublime delights makes us human. How dull life would be without music. When someone as gifted as Whitney reaches super stardom, their talents reach out, touching the lives of millions, on a level that is individual and not fully comprehensible. Through her music, Whitney walked with her fans through the depths of sorrow, heartbreak and betrayal and floated with them to the heights of infatuation, inspiration, and joy. And because of this, there is a felt connection.

I have also shed some tears because of Whitney Houston’s passing. I have cried selfishly; because her music has taken me through the decades. When I listen to her song “One Moment in Time’, vivid memories come flooding back.  I relive emotions from the historic 1988 Summer Olympic games held in Seoul, South Korea. Through the technological marvel of all-day cable TV coverage, the profound struggles and triumphs of the world’s athletes were set to music in a way I will never forget. Whitney features prominently in the soundtrack of my life.

I have also cried selflessly, as I reflect on the turbulence of Whitney’s later years. How could someone so gifted, whose talents touched so many have fallen prey to her own demons and thrown so much away? Is it that she didn’t know how much she was loved? Didn’t she know how much she mattered to so many people? Self-destructive tendencies are often inexplicable. And yet, in spite of all of this, her death should still be mourned.

Albert Einstein once said that “he who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed’. So today, I pause in wonder to listen and to appreciate the extraordinarily powerful range of an angelic voice. I stand in awe of the incomparable talent that was Whitney Houston. And I am grateful.

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Dalai Lama Morning Meditation

Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive.
I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.
I am going to use all my energies to develop myself,
To expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the
benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others.
I am not going to get angry, or think badly about others.
I am going to benefit others as much as I can

-Dalai Lama