A Somber Reflection

A somber reflection:

Yesterday was September 11th, 2018

I was thinking back to that “day” of September 11, 2001.  I was teaching at Quinnipiac University, and in-between classes, most of the faculty were glued to the television in the hallway showing us what was happening.  There was great hatred that caused terrorists to try to cripple the United States that day.

That prompts me to think Will we always have wars?  Will we always have hatred in the world?

Is the world a better place or worst place since 9/11/2001?  Do we hate more or do we hate less? Can we co-exist? Can we learn to get along, forgive and love?

If you will excuse me, a Jewish teacher once taught “Love one another”; “Love your enemies as yourself”; “If somebody forces you to walk a mile with them, go a second mile”.

One of those teachings is this:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

And finally “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Reflection:  Can we love and forgive our enemies?  Is there hope?


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Blog Post #443 Stupidity

Don’t be stupid
Today’s post is about stupidity and I look at some possible scenarios:

Scenario 1:  Lexi (or any student really) is off to college.  She is away from home and away from her parents. She can set her own hours; she has a lot of freedom to explore the life that she didn’t have at home.  Early in her first semester, some friends invited her to a party. There was an abundance of alcohol and Lexi got drunk. She also found friendship. Since then two or three times a week Lexi binge drinks – she is drunk at least two nights a week.   Recently she killed four people from a family as she ran a red light and plowed into them.  

Scenario 2:  Charles (modeled after a previous student of mine named Charles) was an average student in high school.  In college, he is enjoying his computer classes and math classes but hates his English class and those other general education classes.  He finds a part-time job for a computer company – it pays well. Charles is also concerned about money. His parents divorced when he was eleven and money for college is an issue.  He doesn’t want to borrow for college. The part-time job pays well. His boss likes his computer work and offers him half-time work or 20 hours a week. It pays fairly good for half-time.  He will be able to save money for the second semester if he keeps this up. But, with twenty hours a week, something has to go, so he drops his English class. Weekends are spent catching up on his computer courses and his calculus class.   After mid-semester, he finds that his calculus grade is a B minus. He knows he could do better, but he has to keep working. He drops the calculus class on the last day to withdraw from a class. For spring semester, he registers for calculus and English and again drops them.  After his first year in college, he has completed eighteen credits. He decides it is not worth it and takes a full-time computing position. He is abandoning his goals. (** The real Charles went back to college at age 38, got a bachelor’s degree with all A’s; and is working on a master’s degree **)

Scenario 3:  Daniel also finds he likes to party in college.  At one party, a friend gives him some marijuana. Soon Daniel is smoking pot frequently and lately has started using cocaine.  He enjoys getting high. His classes also are suffering and his bank account is going down quickly. He finds he can sell some marijuana and cocaine to raise the money he wants and needs for more partying.  With his money, he buys a gun, he becomes paranoid and eventually gets kills on a drug deal.

Scenario 4: Kasey has joined a sorority and is doing well.  Her grades are very good as the sorority requires study hours and there are older girls who mentor her in her classes.  She likes the social events that the sorority sponsors and soon has a boyfriend and soon she finds out she is pregnant. She is on the verge of abandoning her goals.

No one comes to college with a goal of living under a bridge by the time they are 30 with a paper bag holding a bottle of wine – but it happens.

No one comes to college with the goal of getting married and divorced three times before he/she reaches 40 – but it happens.

No one comes to college with the goal of becoming an alcoholic, or drug addict, or a sex slave or a college dropout – but it happens.

It is stupidity.  DON’T GET TRAPPED!!!


  • Why students drop out of college.  While poor grades might be the ultimate factor, dig deeper and find the underlying factors.
  • What temptations might you expect in college?  How might you avoid them?
  • What are your thoughts on college life – and the very real ease of getting alcohol?  Is social drinking okay with you?
  • How do you learn to say “NO”?

Today’s quote – from the Christian prayer Lord’s Prayer also known as the Our Father – “And lead us not into temptation.”

What do you think?  Do you want to share some examples?


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Blog #442 Visualization

Coaching for life success – visualization:


I am a mentor to a middle school boy.  Frequently in the last few minutes of our time together, we play basketball.  He has a little game where it is the last few seconds of a game, and the home team is behind by one point.  He is visualizing the fans, the scoreboard and drives towards the basket and sees himself scoring the winning basket.  (And, if he misses, he gets the rebound and there is still enough time for another shot).

The concept of visualizing is a great way for goal setting as well.  Let’s say you can picture yourself walking across a stage at graduation wearing a black gown and receiving your diploma; (or wearing doctoral robe and colors as I visualized years ago) or seeing yourself in a wedding dress walking down the aisle to get married to the man of your dreams.  

Picture yourself receiving the award for ‘mother of the year’; or ‘employee of the year’.  Picture yourself with the CEO announcing that you have been promoted to some very important job.  

In those images, picture as much detail as you can.  What color are the walls, are there pictures on the walls, what else is vibrant in your picture.  

(Women) Again, picture yourself in your wedding gown.  What special features do it have? Where are you getting married?  In your home church, in a garden, in a destination location? What color are your bridesmaids dresses?  Can you see your mother daubing at her eyes as you walk down the aisle. [And, for mothers and fathers, can you visual your daughter in a beautiful wedding gown walking down the aisle?]

Then put emotions with that image – are you feeling so excited, so happy, with your heart overflowing at whatever recognition you are receiving?

You need to keep your goals fresh and in front of you.  Write them down and review them outloud. “OWN” them.

There is an old adage “It is hard to remember when you are up to your waist in alligators, that your goal was to drain the swamp”.  It you can keep your eyes, your brain and your heart on your goals, getting there will be easier!!!

What do you think?  Do you visual yourself reaching your goal?



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Blog Post #441 Goals – and Failure

Goals – and Failure

Okay, you have made some great goals, with very specific features, you can picture yourself reaching your goals, you have emotional ties to reaching that goal.  You see yourself very successful in what you set as a goal. You have a plan to reach that goal.

So, the date comes up – let’s say December 31, 2018 – and you didn’t make your goal.  Maybe you were close, maybe you weren’t close. You had put a lot of time and effort in reaching that goal.  You planned you worked at it, you put post-it notes on your mirror, you talked to yourself every day about that goal – and you didn’t make it.  BUMMER!!!!

Failure can be good, it can be very good, maybe even a ‘great’ experience!!

There are many stories of very successful people failing – Lincoln, Edison, and many others.  Let’s look at failure as a learning tool:

  1. That (experiment/test trial) didn’t work – cross it off the list and try again.
  2. Maybe you didn’t plan deep enough
  3. You had a plan and didn’t execute it well enough
  4. Factors beyond my control led to the failure.

Cross it off the list and try again:

Supposedly Edison tried many combinations before finding a solution to the electric light bulb.  It might be that a certain metal or alloy just wasn’t a good filament for a light bulb, or that the partial vacuum in the bulb wasn’t the right combination of oxygen, nitrogen, and other gasses.

Amazon was unprofitable for its first ten years.  Was that a failure?

Think of going through a corn maze.  As you reach a dead end, you can (should) mark that end off as a dead end and not enter it again.  Trial and error can be a successful tool if there aren’t all that many options.

So, if you failed, get up, dust off your pants (figuratively) and start again.  If there is a real solution, keep going until you find it.

You didn’t plan deep enough or well enough:

Did you consider all the variables?  What did you overlook? Is it possible that with a little more research into the situation, you might have a better plan?  For the early years of trying to climb Mount Everest, the ‘only’ route was through Tibet. But, when Tibet became part of China, that route was closed and climbers tried climbing from Nepal (and that was where the successful attempts came).  

You want to be in a professional orchestra.  You have practiced for years, you can play your parts so well.  When it came to audition for the New York Philharmonic, you didn’t make it.  So, do you throw your violin in the trash and apply to work at Walmart? No – you can try for the Cleveland Symphony, or the Atlanta Symphony or others.  It might just have been only one opening for a violin player with the New York Philharmonic – and the sister of one of the current players (whose father teaches at Julliard School of Music and is a big supporter of the Philharmonic) was selected.

You had a plan and didn’t execute it well enough:

If you are working as a team, maybe not all the team members have ‘bought in’.  Maybe you assumed it was going to be a snap and didn’t take the situation seriously enough.  Many sports example work here – where a team or individual didn’t take the competition seriously enough and got beaten.

Factors beyond your control:

Let’s face it, there are times when there are things you cannot control.  Obviously, you can’t control the weather. You picked a date six months ago for the company picnic and it rains.  You created a brand new product only to learn that Google took a very similar product to market two days ago. (and you didn’t know about it and couldn’t control it)

As you and your team approach a problem one of the vital team members gets sick or is in an automobile accident and that puts you behind and you end up failing.  

Things to think about:

  • Think about a situation where you either failed – or didn’t achieve what you expected.  What was the reason? What did you learn from that? What might you do to avoid it in the future?
  • Can companies like individuals become remarkable and can being remarkable help avoid failure?
  • When you have failed or done poorly, what was your attitude?  Did you whine? Or did you approach it with a positive attitude?

Quote for today – Sometimes by losing a battle, you find a new way to win the war.

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Blog #440 If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!!

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.

I have written about goals – especially SMART goals:  (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound).  

Now, let’s think about what to do after you set your goals.

But, first – an aside.  

Last spring (spring 2017), I planted my garden.  I have a nice raised bed system with great soil, peat moss, and fertilizer (manure).  I had tomatoes (always in my garden), spinach, green beans, and green peppers. My goal was to have nice vegetables.  Alas, I had aorta surgery in July and I did not maintain the garden. In central Texas (with an average of at least thirty days over 100 degrees) and the rest of July and August in the upper 90’s; you have to water plants and maintain them.  But, I didn’t!! I had a goal, but I didn’t follow through. After my surgery in July, the plants really didn’t get watered or hoed around.

Goals are great – then what?

You have to plan to reach the goals.  The adage is “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.

Some goal making websites say two additional things to your SMART goals:

  1. How you are going to achieve that goal
  2. How you are going to feel when you reach that goal.

Let’s take the easy one of “By December 31, 2018, I will weigh no more than 200 pounds”.  For me, that is a fairly easy goal – I weighed in at 210 this morning – so that is about losing 3 pounds a month.

So, let’s modify the goal:  “By December 31, 2018, I will weigh no more than 200 pounds, and I will weigh no more than 200 pounds until July 31, 2019.  To achieve that goal, I will eat a nutritious breakfast of eggs or oatmeal; I will eat salad for lunch, and I will eat sparingly for dinner.  I will cut out almost all sugar and sweets; I will cut out almost all bread. I will avoid extra salt and I will drink only water, black coffee, and unsweet ice tea.  I also will work out at the fitness center for at least an hour three times a week with aerobic and non-aerobic activities. I will weigh myself at least three times a week in the morning.  I will have a post-it note on my bathroom mirror reminding me of my goal and my progress.”

Okay, that goal is much more specific than the first goal.

Now to put the second part on it.  “<same long goal plus>. When I reach my goal I will feel so good, I will stand in front of the mirror and admire myself in the mirror.  I will buy myself a gift of <some item of clothes> in celebration.” (You can also reward yourself with dinner, ice cream, or something that you left off your diet while losing the weight.)

The more specific the goal with details, an emotional plus at the reaching of the goal.  Say it out loud, get it in your brain, post it on your mirror, on the dashboard of the car, in the kitchen – make it memorable.

How about this goal for your mind/intellect?  By December 31, 2018, I will have mastered all the modules in the Duolingo German application at the highest level.  I will be able to take any and all of the mastery tests missing no more than 10% of the questions. I will spend at least thirty minutes a day, generally between 6 and 7 a.m. When I have five or more minutes free I will pull out my iPhone and do a German lesson.  By December 1, 2018, I will read at least two children’s books written in German during the month of December 2018; and I will learn (relearn) Silent Night (Stille Nacht) and Oh Tannenbaum in German. Upon completion, I will buy a pair of lederhosen and proudly wear my lederhosen when I play in the Brushy Creek Brass Band in Walburg.  

Do you see what I am doing – fleshing out the goals with intermediate goals, daily goals, weekly goals, and an emotional ending at the completion of the goal.

What do you think?

Try writing a goal for yourself and posting it below.


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Blog #439 Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well

Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well


Yesterday, I used Zig Ziglar’s spoke lists for life:

  1. Physical / Health
  2. Personal / Social
  3. Work / Career
  4. Family
  5. Spiritual
  6. Financial
  7. Mind / Intellect

While I have looked more at your work and career – and that definitely is worth doing well.  The other points are valid as well.

How about ‘sharpening the saw’ (as Stephen Covey suggests)?  Are you investing in yourself, your learning, but also your mind and intellect?

I see too many men with potbellies (or ‘beer bellies’).  Health is important. You should be setting some goals for healthy eating and healthy activities and exercise.

But, not just ‘doing’ exercise (or work or other of Ziglar’s spokes) – but doing it well.  If you are serious about exercise (say jogging or running), then get a great pair of running shoes.  If you are serious (and passionate) about being passionate with your spouse; then do it WELL.

If you want to get ahead at work, find a mentor (and treat him or her to lunch or coffee).  If you are serious about your spiritual growth, find a spiritual guide for your beliefs.

You are known by what you invest in – and what you spend time with.  While it might have been more of a gender basis, but men seem to put a lot of emphases, time and physical investment on their work – sometimes to the detriment of their families or health or social life.

Invest in yourself.

Let’s think about time.  Do you spend three or more hours in front of the television?  Is that your passion – are you using your time wisely? Maybe you (or, really I) can invest my time on Saturday or Sunday by getting some exercise and listening to the audio version of my favorite football teams.  I rode the CapMetro bus to campus at the University of Texas. The busses were equipped with WiFi – and instead of just looking out the window, I could work on my lecture, plan my class activities out on the bus.

Investing in yourself – is an activity that is worth doing well.  So, examine yourself. What should you be doing better – and how do you get to that point in your life?

What do you think?


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Blog #438 Infrastructure #2

Coaching for Life Success – Infrastructure 2


Yesterday we talked (ever so lightly) of physical infrastructure) – roads, dams, power, dams, and more.  Today, let’s talk about your personal infrastructure.

So, following this course, I’m encouraging you to have a great attitude, set SMART goals and even BHAG goals.  I want you to be passionate, enthusiastic, great, remarkable and more.

But – that doesn’t just happen.

First – education.  My work was as a professor.  You have to have the right tools and education for your field.  But, more than that, you need to have critical thinking and creative thinking skills.  We talk about ‘thinking outside the box’. The jobs of the future are still developing.  Robotics will do more and more things people have done for years. For example, preparing to be an accountant with paper ledgers is out-of-date.  

For many of us, our last formal education ends with a college degree.  You walk across a platform in your cap-and-gown, shake the dean’s hand and say to yourself “I’m done with my education!”.  Unfortunately, that is not true. There is ALWAYS more to learn. In my computing background, I’ve learned seven-plus programming languages – but I don’t know the more recent programming languages.  And, speaking of languages, it would be great for you to pick up skills in spoken languages. I do daily lessons in German, have done a year plus learning Spanish. I haven’t started on Mandarin, I know a little Russian.  I need more skills in languages – both computer and spoken.

What else?  Business skills are always important as well – basic accounting, finance, accounting, economics, management, and manufacturing.  Computer skills, like artificial intelligence, data mining, and even some basic programming are good.

You need to invest in yourself.  You can take formal classes, online informal classes, go to seminars, watch TED talks – but keep learning.  We use the term “lifelong learning” – and that is true. If you stop learning, you will atrophy and die (maybe not physical, but die from the skills needed in your environment).  Playing ‘catch-up’ with job skills is not as good as being proactive and learning the skills that might be needed. Spend some time daily investing in learning – as Stephen Covey said we need to “Sharpen the Saw”.

Are you growing smarter every day?  Are you investing in yourself everyday?

More tomorrow!!

What do you think?



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Blog #437 Infrastructure #1

Coaching for Life Success – Infrastructure 1

A slight detour today, but to set up tomorrow’s coaching for life success posting.

We have just returned from a long trip – 15 days; 3000 miles; 8 states; 5 hotels (with 7 nights); 3 grandchildren; 4 major friends (and families); and driving in lots of rain!!!

I was reminded that there are a lot of things we don’t think about.  Some road crew(s) built the roads we were on. In Nebraska – somewhat uncharted in the 1860’s – crews laid rock and train tracks.  In the Mississippi River, crews but locks and dams so barges and boats could get up and down the river. Then you have all the infrastructure with electricity, plumbing, sewers, even traffic signals.  

Then, we have to think about updating the infrastructure for modern times.  Phone lines are supplemented with cell towers; and also are buried underground where storms had a harder time of disrupting (as with electrical lines).  We saw thousands of wind turbines (and more blades and units on the road heading to building sites) generating clean power (*although some birds are killed by the blades*).  

I remember dial-up computing – that has been replaced by gigabit transmission.  I remember black-and-white television with three stations that has been replaced by Netflix, Roku, Amazon, and zillions of channels.

We also saw infrastructure being updated and replaced.  Yes, we can kid about the two seasons in Minnesota – being winter season and road construction season.  And while driving through those road construction zones might not be pleasant, the ultimate goal is better roads, safer bridges, and happier drivers.

There is a lot that goes on that we don’t even notice (except maybe to grumble when it affects us).  And – it all goes to support our lifestyle. I don’t really want to like in a sod shanty in rural Nebraska.  I like having heat, lights, roads, running water – and indoor plumbing.

Maybe we should adjust our attitudes to thank those infrastructure workers – renewing, updating, and maintaining what we rarely consider.

What do you think?

Tomorrow – maintaining our personal infrastructure!

See you then!!



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Blog Post #436 Don’t live life small

Coaching for Life Success – Playing life small (or not) – dreams and goals


I like this quote by Nelson Mandela:  “There is no passion in playing life small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”

We all have dreams, but all frequently we leave them as dreams.  We tell our children they can be anything they want to be, but negate that by living our lives small.  Today is more of a challenge – are you living the life that you are capable of?

Another quote from the theater “There are no small parts, only small actors”.  A theater play may have many small parts (I had several small parts while I was acting in high school and college), but even those small parts keep the play moving.  

In recent days, I have blogged on good to great, being remarkable (like a purple cow); having goals – and even Big Hairy Audacious Goals; being passionate, and being enthusiastic.  Can you be a big-time player in a small role?

I remember a janitor – in the light of the world, a small role, but Steve made it a big role.  He was a day janitor for my office building. If I was in my faculty office, I could hear Steve coming down the hall.  He would stop and chat with each occupant as he came. He knew if you liked sports (he was a Yankee fan (or fanatic); but never talked down other teams; he was a fan of that University’s teams; he was always upbeat and a breath of fresh air to the faculty in their offices.  For the non-sport enthusiast, he could make refreshing small talk on almost any topic – but stayed away from politics. He loved his role and made it a big role for others. His passion for his role (cleaning, but also smiling and making life better for us stuffy professors) was notorious.  

We need to be thinking about what we are capable of doing.  What might stretch us farther? We are cheating ourselves for thinking we are nothing when we could be a Steve brightening everyone’s day.

The reality is “I CAN BE MORE”.  “I AM CAPABLE OF MORE”. Am I living the life I am capable of?  Can I make life better for others? What am I ‘called’ to do?

Sometimes I through in some Biblical thoughts.  Today I’m thinking of the parable of the talents.  The master gave three people a gift – one got 10 ‘talents’; one got 5 ‘talents’, and one got only 1 ‘talent’.  The one with ten talents went out and made 10 more; the one with 5 talents also went out and doubled the amount.  But the one with only one talent was unsure of today is “What are you capable of doing?”.  Are you living your life to the fullest? What is YOUR passion?

Back to Nelson Mandela’s quote “ There is no passion in playing life small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”  

Think about it, make goals, find your passion and play life BIG!!!



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Blog #435 Passion and Enthusiasm

Coaching for Life Success – Passion, Enthusiasm

In recent posts, I’ve written about being great and being remarkable.  

Going from Good to Great can make your life a success.  Yes, it takes work and it takes a strong attitude that says “I’m going to be GREAT”.

Seth Godin wrote about “Purple Cows” – sticking out, being remarkable.

Today, two more terms – passion (or being passionate) and enthusiasm (or being enthusiastic).

One of my favorite quotes comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”.  

Do you want to be a great, remarkable, passionate, enthusiastic <name-the-job>?  With the billions of people on Earth, that will make you stand out.

Do you want to be a great teacher?  Be remarkable in your teaching, be passionate about what you are teaching and who you are teaching, and be enthusiastic about what you are doing.

Do you want to be a great business leader?  Be remarkable in your work, find disruptive technologies that can jump your company ahead.  Be passionate about what you are doing – from sweeping floors to making major decisions, and be enthusiastic about your job and your life.  

Do you get up on Monday and scream “It is Monday, bring it on!!  I’m ready to rock and roll!!”. (By-the-way, if you don’t know me, I love using exclamation points!!!!!!!)

Do you want to be a great parent (or accountant, or scientist or musician or whatever)?  Be remarkable, be passionate, and be enthusiastic!!!

It is an attitude thing.  If you get up tired and crabby, your daily routine will be tough to get through.  Change your attitude and change your day and change your life!!!

Put that smile on your face; get the will to win and the expertise to succeed – and go for it.  

One of my other favorite terms is WOOOOOO!!!  I generally screamed WOOO when I entered my classroom.  Go for it.

Break out of the ordinary, be great; be remarkable; be passionate and be enthusiastic!!!  (And, be a success in whatever you do!!

What do you think?  


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