Understanding the Tragedy At Newtown, CT

The words that come to mind are …

Compassion — An outpouring of love shown to families and survivors of the shooting locally, nationally and worldwide.

Gratitude for those whose lives were spared and for our children whom we embrace even tighter today because it could have happened anywhere.

Bravery — The courage of those who were the heroes some of whom lost their lives protecting innocent children from death.

Appreciation for how first responders fought through their tears while they did the toughest job in the world. 

Thankfulness that as grotesque as they are, senseless mass shootings are relatively uncommon even though several major incidents in the U.S. every year claim precious lives.

Brotherhood and sisterhood with others in harm’s way around the world who are also the victims of rage and murder – from war zones to school buses in the Middle East where children are targeted because of their political views.

The words I search for …

Why?

Now What?

The Dalai Lama reminds us of a saying in Tibetan: “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength”.

From strength comes ultimate acceptance although things will never again be the same for the families and town of Newtown, CT.

“The shattering of a heart when being broken is the loudest quiet ever” – Carroll Bryant

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Showing Appreciation At Work

I was inspired by a recent Wall Street Journal article about the do’s and don’ts of showing gratitude in the workplace.

It’s no surprise, according to the article, that the workplace ranks dead last among places people express gratitude.

If you work in the media business, it isn’t uncommon for employers to skip the compliments for fear that employees will ask for a raise.

So, here’s how to turn bad gratitude into good:

  1. The employer who walks around at the same time once a week to thank everybody is not as effective has catching employees doing something right, great or promising in real time.  
  2. Offering praise with the intention of getting an employee to work late is self-defeating.  Gratitude works best when it comes with no strings attached and that means no strings.
  3. Avoid the word “but” when thanking someone.  If you say, “you did a great job, but”, you might as well not offer the appreciation.  Believe me, the “but” is the only word the intended recipient will hear.
  4. Waiting before acknowledging a good performance is like eating stale bread.  Serve the compliment when it is fresh.

Employees like to work at places where they are appreciated and as we have said in this space before, appreciation is the number one employee demand – not money or anything else.

Appreciation.

A study of 815 managers by The Society for Human Resource Management reveals more than half of human resource managers say showing appreciation for workers reduces turnover and 49% believe it increases profit.

We may not be able to change someone else’s ability to appreciate the work of others but we are always in control of our willingness to begin and that makes us more powerful and kinder people.

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  • I’ve told this to people about using the word but”
     
    If you have to use the word but as a clarification which is totally incongruous with the original intent (praise, etc.), then you’re talking to the wrong side of the person! Turn them around and talk to their butt because that’s the side of that person who will be listening when you use but incorrectly. 
     
    Translated: Use “but” in a compliment and the other person may be thinking, “Kiss my a**.”

  • Great advice, Jerry. Something I need to work into my ethos more, I think. Thanks.

Conquering Fear

In the movie “The Impossible”, the actress Naomi Watts plays a woman vacationing in Thailand with her husband and three children when the tsunami of 2004 hits and separates them.

It’s a real life story that has been described by USA Today as impossible to watch on screen “and leave emotionally unscathed”.

Yet Watts has a fear of water from childhood when at 14 she and her family were caught in riptides.

Watts had to overcome her fear of water to be immersed in water tanks for close-ups and underwater scenes for the film which opens December 21.

Almost everyone has fears and as long as these fears do not paralyze us, we go on with life.

The best advice I ever heard about conquering fear is to do the thing you fear to do and the fear will go away from you.

Constantly step up and confront the fear as Naomi Watts did in the shooting of “The Impossible” so that it never gets the best of you.

This is often more difficult than it sounds, but there is no other way.  Otherwise, fear takes over and ruins lives. 

“I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.”

— Frank Herbert

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  • Cool story, Jerry!

Self-Gifting

There was a fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal about our holiday gifting habits.

We’re giving more gifts to ourselves!

The NPD Group survey cited 32% of consumers had already purchased gifts for themselves this season with a little more than two weeks before Christmas.

Before the recession, 12% of consumers admitted to self-gifting.  Last year 19% told NPD that they intended to buy gifts for themselves but after the holidays that number rose to 26%.

There is certainly nothing wrong with buying gifts for ourselves especially since most people push their budgets to also buy many gifts for others.  (Only 18% of those surveyed this year said they weren’t going to shop at all).

Self-gifting is not new.  What may be news is that it is on the rise.

But while we are considering that special holiday gift for ourselves, here are gifts that cost us nothing and bring benefits all year long:

  1. The gift acceptance that we are human therefore not perfect and will remind ourselves of it often in the year ahead.
     
  2. The gift of forgiveness not only to others but to ourselves as well.  Anger and resentment can fester inside.  It’s not worth it.  Let it go and be free.
     
  3. The gift of adventure.  If we were told we had only 3 years left to live, we would likely live it differently and more meaningfully.  Why wait?  See life’s ups and downs as an adventure because the lows accentuate the highs and the highs are the reward for the lows.
     
  4. The gift of time.  Given to others, it is a precious commodity these days.  When we give ourselves time to enjoy life, our friends and family we make everyone happy.
     
  5. The gift of appreciation.  No one can be depressed while they are in the process of appreciating others or something special that has happened to us.  Go ahead and give this gift as many times a day as possible.

“A hug is the perfect gift; one size fits all, and nobody minds if you exchange it.”

But let’s also remember to give ourselves a hug more often.

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The Bet That is Always a Sure Thing

I was out of work, out of money and out of luck.

That’s when Malcolm P. Rosenberg, a friend of mine in Philadelphia called me to his law office and handed me an envelope with $5,000 in it.

I said, “I can’t take this”.

He said, “You’re down on your luck but you are a winner and I’m betting on you”.

I left his office empty handed because I couldn’t see a way that I could repay my friend then or ever.

My mortgage payment was due at week’s end and I didn’t have the money to pay it.  Malcolm called me back to his Center City office and broached the subject again.

“It’s just a loan, if you can’t repay it, you don’t have to.  I’m betting on you”.

I shook his hand, took the money this time and was never asked to sign any paper that required that it be repaid.

You can probably guess the rest of the story.

I survived long enough to get my radio career back on track with a major market radio station.  I was able to repay my friend well beyond his original investment.

And I learned a life’s lesson.

Never bet against anyone – it’s a sucker’s bet.

Bet on people.

Bet on yourself when you are down because you’ve done it before and can do it again.

Then, push forward and do the same for someone else when they are down on their luck.

It’s not easy to admit to being so low that you had to take a handout to survive. 

But I had to do it. 

What I am proud of is not disappointing myself or the person who believed in me when my confidence wavered. 

“Luck is the residue of design” – Branch Rickey

Make your own good luck by betting on yourself.

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  • Excellent story and good advice. How refreshing to know that there are people out there…..friends who can be counted on in the least expected of times.

  • Excellent story and good advice. How refreshing to know that there are people out…..friends who can be counted on in the least expected of times.
     
    Jaime Sanchez

  • what a great story
    the thin about you Jerry is that you celebrate the spirit of Christmas all year round…
    pal joey 
    reynolds