Friday, February 25, 2005

Good News - #4

This week in good news takes us to the worlds of the economy, environment, and intelligence. While there is still plenty of disturbing news in the media, there is also plenty of good news, too. (Due to the dynamic nature of news I do not know how long any of the links will remain active).

The Commerce Department just released its GDP report for the most recent quarter. While economic forecasting is not an exact science, I always enjoy expectations being surpassed.

The murder of a 74 year old nun in the Amazon on February 12th was tragic. Out of this tragedy though, has come a new found commitment and cooperation among those who wish to stop certain criminals in the rain forest.

Here is a story that probably only an optimist will enjoy. It is about a special new member of the select few that make it into MENSA.

And there you have three nuggets of good news for the week. Thanks again for your suggestions, and keep them coming.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Luck, Genes, and Evil Means

"Must be nice!" is a common refrain in response to an unasked question of success. So often people will see the super-successful and assume they got successful through luck, genes, or evil means. Here are a few thoughts on each of these three things.

Luck is not what it really seems to the casual observer. Luck is not some commodity handed out by the Fates. So what is luck? To me luck, at the very least, is the condition of being receptive when an opportunity arises. This may require hard work and a determined drive. And that is exactly why people are so quick to attribute others' successes to this mystical force called luck. It keeps them from having to face their own shortcomings. In the words of Eddie Cantor: "It takes 20 years to make an overnight success".

Genes are neither a major nor a minor factor to being successful. History is filled with almost cliched stories of people who overcame poverty, abuse, broken-homes, crippling disease, learning disabilities, and physical handicaps to become huge successes. Once upon a time, way back in high school I was in a support group. One day in this support group I made the comment that my parents' divorce did not affect me. Wow! Everyone started accusing me of denial. I tried to clarify that while the divorce may have had some effect, it was not a limitation on what I did. That explanation still didn't please them, but I refused even then to allow others to make excuses on my behalf.

Evil means. Yes, it is a sad fact that some people do resort to evil means to get ahead. They may appear successful, but that's impossible. Success achieved this way is nothing more than an empty charade. Unfortunately our media loves to focus on what they call "fallen heroes". These people were never heroes in the first place.

Luck, genes, and evil means? No. Hard work, persistence, and honesty.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Basic Ideas About Success Pt. 3 - Enthusiasm

What is enthusiasm? For the most part it is one of those you know when you see it. If I were to come up with a definition it would be - Enthusiasm is a vibrant outward expression of your internal attitude. In other words, it is what people see, and react to about yourself. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Here is an example. At work I have a habit of saying "Good morning" to everyone. Well, there was one person (I will call her Mrs. X) who would basically ignore me day after day, even if I looked her right in the eye when I said it. To be honest, I was starting to feel resentment whenever I saw her. So, to remedy the situation, I decided that I would make her respond in a happy way to my "Good morning, Mrs. X". But how? Enthusiasm. The next morning I gave her a huge smile, waved, turned on my enthusiasm, gave a thumbs up and said "Good morning Mrs. X". I was practically dripping with enthusiasm. What happened? She was almost giddy in her response of "Good morning Mike!, how are you today?" Enthusiasm is contagious, and it had a lasting effect. Now I look forward to seeing her in the morning, and sometimes she even says an enthusiastic "Good morning" to me first.

Enthusiasm works. It comes through in the way you talk, your facial expressions, the way you dress, your posture, and any other number of ways. Think about this. Would you feel confident in purchasing a new car from a salesperson who talked in hushed tones, wouldn’t look you in the eye, had a weak handshake, didn’t smile, slouched, and dressed like a slob? I wouldn’t.

I’m not suggesting being phony, or being nauseatingly over-the-top. Just a real enthusiasm that comes from within. If you are not enthusiastic, there are ways you can start improving right away. First, you have to believe in what you want to be enthusiastic about. If you don’t believe in something, and you try to be enthused, you will come across to others as being phony. If you believe, your enthusiasm will be genuine.

Second, listen to your voice. Increasing volume, pitch, and speed when you talk improves your enthusiasm on the inside. Try it. Think of something you are enthusiastic about. Now talk about it quietly, in a lower pitch, and speak a little slower. Do you feel less enthused? So do I. Now do the opposite. Think of something you are not enthused about. Now talk about a little louder (you don’t have to shout), in a higher pitch, and a bit faster. Do you feel a little more enthusiastic about it? Probably.

Last, stand up straight, smile, give a firm handshake, and look people in the eye. I group all of these together because these are the ones you can practice anytime, whether you are enthused or not. I firmly believe that these things are good habits all of the time. They are also crucial for conveying enthusiasm.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Good News - #3

Here is another installment of good news for the week. I think the best way to counteract the bad news we are all exposed to is with good news. It can be a little tricky to find, but I find it is always a worthwhile exercise. (Due to the dynamic nature of news I do not know how long any of the links will remain active)

Last week we started off with a report about the benefits of sunlight on cancer. Well, this week caffeine lovers can rejoice. Seems there is a link between prevention and coffee drinking. The more you drink, the greater the effect.

There is also some late-breaking news (for this week anyway) in human rights and due process. Which country is holding its first public trial? Read this promising article about a country trying to head in the right direction.

And, finally for this week, is a medical marvel with a very happy ending. As much as I love coffee, this news story is my favorite one of the week.

Well, that's all for this week. Time to start getting to work scouring the news for next week. Remember, when you hear of any good news pass it along to us and the people you know.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Sing A Happy Song

Music is my thing. I love it. I drive people crazy with it at work sometimes, but it is something that is important to me. Today at work they played Lean On Me by Bill Withers, then I started thinking about other songs that have a positive or uplifting message. Here is my first attempt at a Positive Top 10 (Click the links for lyrics)

  1. 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) - Harpers Bizarre
  2. River Of Freedom - Deee-Lite
  3. Celebration - Kool & The Gang
  4. Winning - Santana
  5. Little Bit O'Soul - The Music Explosion
  6. High Hopes - Frank Sinatra
  7. While You See A Chance - Steve winwood
  8. Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel
  9. Keep The Fire Burning - REO Speedwagon
  10. Your Suggestion Here

What song would you add to complete the list. I know I am forgetting some very obvious songs, but I wanted to jot this first list down before I forgot. Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Financial Resources

One day at work one of my co-workers was complaining about his lack of money. It was a real hard luck case, and I listened politely. Then I asked him if he would like some advice on how to make a ton of money. He perked right up, and was practically salivating at the thought. I asked him if he was ready, really ready. When he could barely stand it no more I said ***Ok, here is the best piece of advice about money I can give you: Don t take my advice***

I went on to remind him that we both worked at the same place, and were basically financial equals. Why would he want my advice? So, instead of spouting well-proven theories, I told him to seek advice from those who were in the financial situation he would like to be. In that same vein, here are some links to sources that are more financially qualified than I am.

CNN/Money: Money 101 With 23 interactive lessons, this is a great place to start a journey on the road to financial success. The parent site is loaded with other financial goodies like calculators, planners, quotes, news, tips, investment advice, and more. Credit/Debt offers a method called the Accelerator Margin that shows you how to get free of all debt in 7.5 years. The related articles are also very helpful.

Better Budgeting has a free monthly newsletter with the main focus on saving and budgeting money. Saving money, and living below your means are sound financial principles regardless of income level.

The Dollar Stretcher is another site that focuses on keeping more of your money in your pocket. It covers a much wider range of topics than BetterBudgeting. It also has much more available to non-subscribers, and is updated weekly.

These four sites are my personal favorites. If you have any sites, or a favorite blog, related to financial success pass it along so we can all benefit.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Happy Mind Of A Six-Year-Old

We have a rule in our house "There is always time for a hug". I would like to think that rule makes a difference, it's a concrete rule in our home, and one I have to be reminded of from time to time. Anyway...before bedtime tonight, my six-year-old expressed the wish that every day could be a perfect day. I asked what would make a perfect day. Here, in the words of a six-year-old, is the answer.

"I wish every day could be a perfect day. All butterfllies, some rain for rainbows, no telling, no fighting, no bad words, no throwing, be nice to everybody, play with friends that no one else will play with, do fun things with everybody, do nice things even for people you don't like because they are probably nice in some way, give your friends nice letters, play together, give your friends presents, and pay them back, play at the park, plan fun things for the whole class, let your friends come over to your house, share your books, watch movies togehter, let people watch your movies with you, make things with your friends, helping people, making hearts, coloring and drawing for people, make them happy, share toys with your friends, spread nice things around the world, and make the world a better place."

I couldn't put it better if I tried.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A Positive Diet

A regular diet of the positive has many benefits. The greatest of which, in my opinion, is developing the ability to handle negative situations better.

Reading books, listening to tapes, and associating with positive people are some of the best ways to feed on the positive. Take some time to find, and reduce the negative influences in your life, and increase the positive. (I will be adding a regular posting on positive resources soon). What happens is that your thinking changes. The changes are almost imperceptible most of the time. Sometimes though I have read, or heard something that has had an immediate and long lasting positive impact.

At first the effects of positive are quite temporary, and may only last as long as you are exposed to them. After a while the effect lasts a bit longer, and longer. Eventually, with enough ongoing input, your attitude has been shored up to the point of handling negative situations with a positive response.

Over the years I have found it is crucial to make it a habit to feed myself a diet of the positive. When I slack off in this I also slack off in my positivity. Don't get me wrong, I have bad days too, and I don't always handle them the way I would like. But the more often I can react positively, the better I feel, which adds to feeling's an upward spiral.

To put it another way, I can chose to remain bitter (which happens if I slip in my positive habits), or I can chose to find the good in things and use my time here for better things. I chose the latter.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Good News - #2

Here is the second installment of Good News. It has been quite a week in the world, with plenty of negative news flooding various media. I hope you find that these three items have a more positive angle. (Due to the dynamic nature of news I do not know how long any of the links will remain active).

How about a bit of fantastic news for sun lovers everywhere? It seems the connection between sunlight and cancer is being looked at in a different light, thanks to some new studies.

Struggling communities in Kansas have found a way to make an offer some newcomers can't refuse. There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but how about free land and more?

From the world of sports comes an inspiring tale of a record breaking voyage.

Well, that's all for this week. I am already getting to work scouring the news for next week. Remember, when you hear any good news pass it along to the people you know.

A Quick Thought - 1st Impressions

It is far easier to maintain a good first impression than it is to fix a bad one.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Mind Your Manners

I was originally going to use this post to complain about the degradation of manners in our society. While that may allow me to blow of a little steam, it does not help anybody. After all, if someone agrees with me, it only reinforces a negative perception. And if they disagree, I would come across as being preachy.

So, instead of a litany of complaints, I just wanted to say something simple. When you do not mind your manners, I mind. I probably will not say anything, but poor manners do leave an impression, even if it is only at the subconscious level.

I try my best to exhibit good manners. When people comment on my politeness, I do appreciate it. What is sad to me is that good manners should be considered normal, not even worthy of comment. I am pretty sure there is a quote about manners, but I forget its source and exact wording. It goes something like 'Good manners are the grease that keeps civilization running smoothly'.

Good manners are not passe. They are not a sign of weakness. Good manners are a form of respect that can be afforded to friends, strangers, allies, and enemies. One more thing...Thank you.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

A Brief Look At Attitude

We all know people with different attitudes. Some are great, some are okay, and others are not even okay. Here a few thoughts on some of the different types of attitudes.

"I have a great attitude, unless things start going bad." This, in my experience, is the most common attitude of all. While this attitude may border on the self-delusional, at least it is a step in the right direction. That is to say that if someone thinks they have a great attitude only when things are going their way, then it is really not a great attitude at all. Kind of like being "sort of pregnant".

"I have a great attitude, good or bad, I might as well make the best of any situation." Yes! The group I would most like to consider myself a member of. Sure, people in this group hurt, fail, and blunder, but it is their choice of reaction to these events that creates a great attitude. In short, they develop character when they hurt, grow after they fail, and learn from their blunders.

"Why bother, life just beats you down. And besides when you have a good attitude, fate finds you and slaps you across the face. I have had a miserable life, and things will never change and BLAH BLAH BLAH..." You know the type. These are the people to which I say "Nice to see you instead of "How are you?". In a way I am defending myself as best as I can against their poor attitude. I try not to give them a chance to spew their negativity in my direction. Sometimes it cannot be avoided. When this happens I try to find the positive angle and reflect back some positivity in their direction.

Attitude can be a difficult thing to control, but I am convinced that I, or anyone else, can choose their attitude. It's just that sometimes there is a large stretch of time between negative circumstances and positive responses. Shrinking that gap of time will lead to a better and more consistent attitude.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Where IS That Proverbial 'Silver Lining'?

I had a bad day at work today. It happens, but this one seemed to last almost the entire workday.

I grumbled, I was easily agitated, I huffed and I puffed... Well, I think you get the picture. 'What caused it?' That's what I've been asking myself, and I think I have the answer: It does not matter what caused it.

What matters is how I reacted to it then and, more importantly, what can I learn from it now. To me it is a sign that I have to redouble my efforts to break away from my j-o-b. That does not mean I am quitting, but it does mean that my opportunity radar has been fully engaged.

So, while I was having my bad day, I don't think I ever could have found the 'silver lining'. Now that I have had some time to reflect, the 'silver lining' beginning to shine with a vibrant glow.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

I Complain. You Complain.

Here are two quotations that made me think a bit about problems and complaining. The first quote is one of those that sounds obvious, but is rarely acted upon.

"The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it." - Alan Saporta

Why this is rarely acted upon leads directly to the second quote.

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." - Albert Einstein

Some people may disagree, and that is up to them, but I would be willing to bet they are the ones who fall into a vocal majority. If I were to label this majority it would be called the "Chronic Complainers". We all have complaints on occasion, but if the intent of the complaint is to let people know how miserable you are, then things will not get better. Of course, if things do not get better for the "Chronic Complainer" it leads to more complaints, and it becomes a vicious cycle.

I complain, but with the intention of getting advice, feedback, or constructive criticism. That does not necessarily make me better than a "Chronic Complainer", but it does remove me from the vicious cycle.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Good News

I hope to make this a weekly feature at The Success Spot. I will try to come up with three new ones every week. (Due to the dynamic nature of news I do not know how long any of the links will remain active).

Fed up with hearing what seems like nothing but bad news? I am. Instead of complaining, I decided to do a quick search on the web for news stories from the past week that are more positive.

The technology sector is a great place to find nuggets of good news. Sure, there are takeovers, anti-trust suits, computer viruses, junk e-mail, but according to this article, there is also a new breed of techie on the horizon.

Amongst all of the reports of disease and flu outbreaks in the world, it is good to hear about one disease getting under control.

Crime seems to be a favorite for the purveyors of bad news. Did you happen to read about a gun law that was passed years ago is now effectively reducing crime?

That is all I got this week. I am sure there was a lot more than that. What did I miss? I would love to see your suggestions. Thanks!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

A New Direction?

Well, I am sure you can tell that it has been about two months since my last post. No excuses, except a lack of focus. By that I mean I am not 100 percent which direction I want to go. This is what I do know.

I want to help other people achieve the good things they want. I have co-workers who seem only to want to achieve the benefit of my pity for their situation. That is not going to happen. I also work with people who want to improve their situation. I will do what I can to help them.

The big question for me is how can this blog help the people who read it, and how can it help those who will not read it?

All of this is just a vague idea, but I do want to re-commit to contributing to the lives of others. How I do that with this blog may be an organic process, but it is a process that is restarting today.