Including today, September 22nd you have 100 days left before the end of the year. What are you going to do to make this year, 2015, memorable, the best year ever, a year when you accomplished everything you said you would, the year you lived your dream?
I don’t’ know about you, but I have a lot of projects in the works and I can’t believe that there is only 100 days left until the end of the year to finish them. Projects that I had all planned to make happen this year.
Now some of you may be saying,
“So what, what I don’t accomplish now I will do next year.”
All well and good for you but I have this feeling that time is running out. You may be getting younger but I’m not. I have stores I want to open, new markets I want to ship to, more people I want to help in my community, more triathlons I want to complete, more sunsets I want to see and more walks along the beach I want to take. There is still time this year to make sure some of those things happen and at least get the wheels in motion with a clear plan to make the rest of them more than a possibility.
From Elba to Waterloo and back
Did you know that Napoleon, escaped from his prison in Elba, assembled 600 troops, recruited a regiment, marched to Paris, recaptured the government, built his army to 280,000, invaded Belgium, defeated the Prussians, was defeated by Wellington at Waterloo, abdicated again, and headed off to prison at St. Helena?
He did all of that in 100 days.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think any of us want to be Napoleon, but look at all that he did – and without a smartphone, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
What’s it going to take?
Everyday I get up with a plan. Some days I get through all that I want to accomplish and other days I get held up, put off, swayed from the path I want to be on. Sure sometimes that may lead me to a better path but more often than not I am allowing obstacles to get in my way instead of pushing them out of the way with a clear-cut path to where I want to go.
It only takes on average 60 days to get from Base Camp to the top of Mount Everest.
It’s simple isn’t it? There’s 100 days left until the end of the year and I have a choice if I want to follow my dreams. I can get out there and do what I want to do, or I can sit back and let excuses and fear hold me back.
On December 31st, 2015 I plan to be looking back and celebrating this past year as the best year ever, what about you?
We have all played musical chairs at some point in our childhood. You remember, that game where there is a circle of chairs, one less than the number of people playing, and as everyone walks around the chairs, music is playing. When the music stops, everyone tries to sit down in one of the chairs and the person who doesn’t have a chair is eliminated from the game. Then one chair is taken out and you keep playing until there is only one person left and he or she is the winner.
Listen For The Music
Lately I have found myself in everyday situations in my business, with my friends and family, walking down the street, when I am travelling or scrolling through the newsfeed on Facebook and I watch the arguments, I see the fights, I see the criticism and the anger and the self-righteousness. I see it in others and I see it in myself. I can be quick to criticize and quick to make judgements until I learn the whole story, or should I say the other side of the story. Or I see people fighting different battles: health issues, day to day struggles in their life brought on by circumstances beyond their control, living situations that I have no experience with and I see them do it all with a smile on their face and the knowledge that all is well and as it should be.
I don’t want to be the one always afraid that the music will stop and I won’t have a chair in the old game of musical chairs but perhaps there is a new game of musical chairs that we can play. A game that goes something like this…..
The New Musical Chairs
• You are in a meeting at work and you are not agreeing at all with the other person. All of a sudden you here music and when it stops, you have switched places and the two of you are sitting in each others chairs and seeing the other person’s point of view.
• You are with your partner and having a discussion, let’s be honest, it’s an argument and you are not seeing eye to eye. All of a sudden you hear music and when it stops you have switched places and you are seeing the situation through your partner’s eyes.
• You are walking down the street and see a homeless person on the street. You avoid looking at them as you pass by. All of a sudden you hear music and when it stops you are sitting on the street and looking up at passer-by’s.
• You are on the bus, or in the plane or on the train and you look over and see someone perfectly dressed and at peace with themselves and looking out the window. They don’t look like they have a care in the world. All of a sudden you hear music and you find yourself looking out the window and wondering how you are going to get through the day today.
• You are in a miserable mood. Nothing is going right. Everything is wrong and you look over and there is someone in a wheel chair smiling as they make their way down the street. All of a sudden you hear music and when it stops you realize that you can’t feel your legs as you sit in a wheel chair and you are grateful for all that you have at this very moment.
The minute I can put myself in someone else’s shoes instead of everything being always about me the possibilities seem endless – in my business, in my personal life and in my place in the community. This new game of musical chairs seems to only have winners…..wanna play?
Last weekend I completed a Sprint Triathlon (750M swim, 20KM bike, 5KM run) up at Mont Tremblant. There was a moment however when that wasn’t going to happen. It was just after 219 of us ran into the cold dark waters of Lac Tremblant in our wetsuits and yellow bathing caps. We were heading out to the first buoy and there was a lot of splashing and kicking as we all vied for space. I got out to just where you can’t stand up and I stopped, treaded water and said to my buddy who was next to me,
“I can’t do this.”
He looked at me with less panic in his eyes and said,
“Yes you can.”
I looked back at him, I looked at the shore and I put my head back in the water and did a few more strokes. Then I stopped again, treaded water, looked up at the sky and thought of all of the hours of swimming I had done over the winter, reminded myself that I had done three other Triathlons last year, one twice the length of this one, and I took another few strokes until I stopped again, treaded water, looked at the distance ahead of me, and a voice in my head said,
“You can’t do this, get out.”
I reached deep down inside and said to myself,
“Come on kid…one breath at a time, one stroke at a time….just do it.”
I took a deep breath and I started to swim. Swim like I had trained all winter for. Swim like I was a swimmer and a triathlete. Not like… I am.
I finally swam around the buoy at the halfway point and I saw the beach and I swam faster. It was like that whole moment of fear and wanting to get out and give up had never happened. I got out of the water, ran to the transition point, got on my bike and continued the race. But that moment has stayed with me. That moment of wanting to get out, that moment of wanting to give up, because I know that if I did it there in that lake, where else was I doing it in my life?
I had to ask myself: Am I always staying in the water?
Think about it, how often have you had a project to complete, a meeting to attend, something you wanted to do more than anything but instead of doing it, you gave up, or cancelled or walked away? You never do that? I want to be like you because I realize I do it all the time.
I finished 19 out of 36 in my age category and 152 out of 219 men.
I worked on a pro-forma and called the bank.
I wrote this blog post.
And all I had to do was ….STAY IN THE WATER.
ALL IN is an expression that I learned when I started cycling about a year ago. When we are riding in a group it is the last person at the end of the line of cyclists who yells out ALL IN when the group is a cohesive bunch of riders and we are ready to move out or if we have spread out riding up a hill and we are all back in line once we get to the top of the hill. The last rider calls out ALL IN! and we pass it forward so the leader knows we are all together.
There is safety in those two words for me; I know that I am not alone and that all is well. ALL IN has started to mean much more to me than just when our group of riders is all together, I have come to realize that those two words could be used in my daily life and there are times when I would like to be yelling it even when I am not cycling:
I am grateful to everyone that is on this journey with me and allows me to feel so safe, leads me when I need to be led, puts me in the middle when I need that, or allows me to be there and to watch and make sure that we are ALL IN!
A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s father’s funeral. He had died of cancer after a not so pleasant last few months but after a life, perhaps too short, but filled with family, a great love and much laughter, and passion. I had never met the man, but after hearing one of his son’s and grandson’s speak I knew enough about him to know that he had lived a beautiful life, one that as much as he didn’t want to leave, one I would have been more than happy to have lived.
Now I realize that is only my perception, but as I listened and all of us in the audience smiled, laughed and then held back or let go the tears, I thought of something.
What are they going to say about me when I go?
I have unfortunately been to a lot of funerals and heard some great eulogies; some I wondered if they were talking about the person they were burying, some sad ones, and others that made me want to change the way I was living. This last funeral was one of those.
Not because this man had done anything that special, well actually, that was exactly it, he had done so many very special things, but none that we would normally call special. There was no wing of a hospital named after him, there was no charity bearing his name, there was no business with thousands of employees wondering what would happen now that he was gone. He was simply a son, a friend, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a man – probably in that order.
The stories that were told about him didn’t mention his accomplishments as we would usually measure them, they were stories about his sports prowess as a kid, what it was like to go to dinner with him, his crazy sense of humour, and the love he had for his wife and family. It was clear this man would be missed for real by many and remembered fondly.
1. in a way that shows that you like and care about someone
a. with positive or happy feelings
2. in a way that is not sensible because what you hope or believe is unlikely to be true
We all start to wonder what will be said about us when we die, especially as we get older and the end of life starts to at least seem possible. I would like to write my own eulogy to make sure they get it right. But what if what I write is not how everyone saw me? What if the person I am, is not who I am to the world? At the end of the day, the only one I am going to be accountable to is myself after all.
Let ‘s give this a try….
My friend, Simon Tooley, was a great man. He worked many long days and nights and often on Saturdays. I would see him at lunch or dinner with his partner with his iPhone at his side texting or checking Facebook. He left early in the mornings to work out not taking the time to have breakfast with his partner. He loved his garden and started it each year with gusto and then let it go throughout the summer. He was involved in charity at one point on a regular basis in his life but as he started his own business he let that go telling himself that he would get back to it when he had more time. He did not have a lot of friends, but the ones he had were close. Although he didn’t keep in touch with them or spend time with them like he wanted to – Facebook seemed enough. He loved to write and had started a few books but never finished any. His family meant a great deal to him, but he didn’t make the time to see them as much as he would have liked. He adored his partner, the love of his life, and yet he didn’t always make the time. Well, they spent a lot of time together, but he was not always there. Simon was a great man, he ……
I would really like to continue this but I have to go turn off my iPhone, have breakfast with my partner, and get out in to the garden. I have to give my brothers a call to see how they are doing and there is an old friend that I haven’t spoken to in a while that I am going to get in touch with. I may even write a letter. I wonder where that manuscript is that I started five years ago; I bet it is right where I left it. And no I won’t be in the office next Saturday; I will be helping to raise money for a cause I believe in.
Why don’t you write your own eulogy and see what you come up with. Then let’s check back with each other in a few months and see if we can’t write another one with fondness.
I have not written here since December 2012, I have thought about it many times. But thinking about something and doing it is definitely not the same thing. What happened? Too busy? Writer’s block? Not interested anymore?
Those sound like excuses to me. And I am not big on excuses. I am way too hard on myself for that.
I was “chatting” with my friend Hivron on Facebook, I met Hivron through this blog a few year ago, and she said something that resonated with me:
You’ll know when you’ll start writing again. It’s all magic, the time will magically be there and it’s usually when there is an obstacle in your life presently that you’ve overcome and it won’t be taking that ‘space’ up any more.
And Hivron, was right, as she often is. There was an obstacle that was stopping me from writing and it was ME! I could put all kinds of names on it but in the end where does that proverbial buck stop? With ourselves. I don’t know about you but how many times have you put the blame on something or someone else, convinced yourself it was all their fault, and in the end, when you slowed down (and calmed down) long enough to be honest, and saw your part in the situation, that you realized you were the one who had caused the obstacle in the first place.
I own a retail store and one of the most important things we do is take inventory. How can you run a successful company if you don’t know what your inventory is? You need to know what is working, what isn’t working, what you need to get rid of, and what you need to stock up on.
Is it really any different in life?
I know that doing inventory in the store shows up the mistakes that I made in buying or it may also show me where we need to do a little repositioning to make something work. If I stop long enough to do that with myself, that magic that Hivron was talking about happens. Except it is not really magic, it is just slowing down long enough to be honest with myself and then willing to do what is needed to push that obstacle out of the way, find a way over it, or more often than not realizing that it was only there in my mind to begin with.
So….let’s see how well I do at keeping the obstacles out of my way. You will know before I do I have a feeling.
Last year on this date I posted I Dare You – click here to view the post, and I asked you and myself: What do you want to do?
The big picture answer.
I asked: If you were given the opportunity to do something that you have always wanted to do what would it be?
The only requirement was that it could not be about you, that you had to look beyond yourself and your own goals to a bigger vision.
If you look back over the year of 2012, did you do it?
I have always thought that unless I was out there saving the world in some way that my life had no meaning. So I tried that and I took a few years off and I did a lot of volunteer work. Did I save the world? No, as you can see it is still as messed up as before. Perhaps as my days were concentrated on working for a cause I felt better about myself but is that not just my perception? Is there not a way to take that same idea of giving and bring it in to our everyday lives no matter what we do?
At first glance it may not seem that easy to do, but if I look back over this past year I can see how I started to look at things differently. I run my own business and I am not out there saving the world in any way. We sell skin care products and perfume. But we have a choice in how we do that and I have a choice in how I work with my team, as well as our vendors and anyone I come in to contact with each day.
What is Generosity?
Generosity is about not only giving but also about generating. It is a creative act rather than a handout, an attitude or ethos rather than an exchange between someone who has too much and someone who has too little. From Being Generous Lucinda Vardey & John Dalla Costa
I love this quote because it reminds me that each day I have an opportunity to be generous. That I can look beyond my needs and wants to those I live with, work with and interact with and decide what my attitude will be and how I will give to them in whatever I do. I find that very hard. I don’t seem to be programmed to give naturally, I have to work at it. It may not always seem that way to those that know me, but it is constant work. I have to think about what the goals and passions are for those I work with to see if I can help them reach those goals. It means not taking for granted my friends and family and pushing myself to see them as people. For it is often those closest to us we seem to forget are people too.
What will I choose?
It is automatic and easy for me to make each day about financial goals and profit, but I have a choice if I want to do that. I can look beyond the obvious to what I may do to give back to my team, our customers and the vendors that we work with and in turn to the community that surrounds us.
As another year comes to an end, I look back with gratitude for all that I have learned and the people that are in my life. Each one of them has taught me something. Some of them made me angry and resentful. Those people are the ones that often taught me the most, if I was willing to let them. The ones that gave me love and friendship helped buffer me from the others, allowed me to turn to them for help, and allowed me in the end to give and be generous.
I see now that my dare was not something to be done once a year as we turn from one year to the next. It is a dare to be taken each day upon rising. The possibilities seem endless if we were all to take that dare to do what we have always wanted to do each day, one day at a time.
What do you think?
I dare you.
I am going on ride, a ride that is supposed to conquer cancer. Impossible?
I don’t know. The word impossible doesn’t exist in my vocabulary. All I know is that from July 6th to 7th in 2013 I will be riding from Montreal to Quebec City to raise money for cancer research and cancer care at the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and throughout Quebec.
How did this happen and why am I doing this? Well the short answer is I saw a post on Facebook from my friend Rob Callard, who is a cancer survivor himself and has done two of these rides, saying that he was looking for people to join his team called Gratitude & Hope 2013 and participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, and I heard myself saying: “Hmmmm….”. Actually, that is exactly what I wrote in the comments section of his post. Then Rob and I spoke, I signed up, and here I am.
The long answer is that a friend of mine, a very dear special friend of mine, Sam Pelc, did this ride back in 2009. But Sam died of cancer in the fall of 2010 and somehow when I read Rob’s post I felt that I owed this to Sam and I just had to do it.
For you see, Sam taught me everything that I know about charity and more importantly about giving. We worked together on different charity events and projects and I learned many things from him, and here are a few:
1. Impossible doesn’t exist
2. There is no limit to what you can do
3. Don’t be shy to ask for help or donations
4. Allow people the opportunity to give, they want to, it is in our very human nature
5. It is our responsibility to give back to our family, our friends and to our community with no questions asked, and for nothing in return, including applause
6. Allow whatever you do in your everyday life to include giving back, for that is our true reason for being here on this earth
Sam made this ride because he had cancer and wanted to help others. Here is a link to the blog that he wrote before, during and after the ride: GOING FOR THE YELLOW JERSEY. There is much to be learned from what he wrote for all of us to better understand what it is to live with cancer and what that journey was all about for him.
This journey will be very different for me. I started my training by attending a spinning class at the YMCA last weekend and as I climbed on that bike and started to pedal I knew that the next six months were going to be a challenge to say the least.
There is a lot ahead. I have to get a bike. Yes, I am not a cyclist, more of a runner than a cyclist, but I am up for the challenge of those tiny seats and funny shoes. I have to get into some spandex that makes me less than excited especially at this time of year after one too many Christmas cookies. I have to train and get myself into shape and ready for this ride, which to me will be the easiest part and the part I am looking forward to the most. I have to reach out to those around me to ask for sponsorship to help me reach my goal. I have to raise $2,500 to be able to participate in the ride, but I have set my goal as $10,000. Why? I guess $2,500 just doesn’t seem like enough, it’s as simple as that. If I read through those six points above, then my goal should have even more zeroes, or no end to them at all.
And so here I go and I hope you will follow along, because I know I am going to need you there with me. Then again, I know that Sam will somehow be there too as my journey for the Yellow Jersey unfolds…..
If you would like to donate, click here.
Down below, maybe I better start this again considering the subject matter, is a post that I wrote two years ago when I first participated in Movember. I didn’t participate last year because I found out that my father had prostate cancer at about this time of year and my father was a very private man and it would have been hard for me to have participated without mentioning that the doctors had found it and he was only given a few months to live. He was 91 years old when he passed away last January. He lived a full and incredible life, but if they had found the prostate cancer earlier who knows. It doesn’t matter now. My father had a moustache all of his life and I miss him.
I thought a lot about posting this because public versus private sharing of information like this was the one thing that my dad and I didn’t always agree on. I am pretty open and out there when it comes to helping and he always did it quietly. Perhaps that is the one thing I never quite got right from all that he taught me. A different generation you may say? I think though, that he would understand that I am telling all of you this because I just don’t want what happened to him, to happen to your father, or to happen to you. There is so much that can be done for prostate cancer now if it is caught early.
If you would like to help out, and I say it every time I ask for a donation for any charity, any amount helps. I am a member of the Movemboys team and my store Etiket has sponsored the team (all money goes to Movember) and my amazing staff at the store are participating as well. See them here: Etiket Bares All for Movember and then once they did ‘bare all’: We Did It For Movember!
Sponsor me: Simon Tooley
Sponsor the girls: Équipe Etiket Mo Sistas
Sponsor the team: Movemboys
For more information on the cause and where the money goes: MOVEMBER
The below post is from my old blog A Charmed Life post on November 3rd, 2010
Move over November, here comes MOVEMBER
For those of you who don’t know, MOVEMBER (the month formerly know as November) is a moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men’s health and specifically prostate cancer.
Why am I writing about it? You can’t tell by the Day 3 stubble on my upper lip?
Yes, I am participating! I am a man and I uh, well have a prostate.
(Dad, you were worried about me swearing? Watch me walk on eggshells with this one!)
I mean really, we talk about anything these days, but talk about ‘that’? Talk about, you know ‘what’. Because you know where ‘it’ is right? And you know what you have to do to get ‘it’ examined don’t you? Forget it. Let’s go back to another topic. My moustache.
I am thinking handlebar, except I only have a month.
A thin fine line a la Rhett Butler? Not a great idea as my facial hair is blond and you won’t see it? And how many people know who Rhett Butler is these days, he doesn’t have a Facebook page.
Then again, I could grow a gringo except I think I am a gringo.
Let’s go back to why we are here. We don’t want to talk about prostate cancer; we certainly don’t want to get examined for it. Above all, we don’t want to die of it. Plain and simple.
That means we need to talk about it. Get it examined and deal with it.
Now I am not going to go through the details because when I went to the Prostate Cancer Canada site I started to feel a little queasy. Then again, I am usually the one the doctor is looking after when I go to visit anyone in the hospital. It is us 6’2” 200 pounders that are the worst.
Go to the site yourself and check it out. Then get checked out. I am going to. And no, I won’t write about that. The reality is, these days there are different ways to test for prostate cancer. A physical exam is just one of them.
If you just want to watch the progress of my moustache that is okay too. Just do us men a favour and spread the word about Movember, you just don’t know who you may help. And if we don’t talk about ‘it’ we can’t help.
What do you think Felix Baumgartner felt like when he was standing there at 120,000 feet above the earth and had to take that first step?
I know exactly how he felt.
If you don’t know, then it’s time to get yourself ready because it will be the step that changes your life.
For me that first step was about seven years ago and I was at a Rapport Leadership course called Eagle Quest. Eagle Quest is a three-day course that teaches you many things, most of which you didn’t know you needed to learn but you do if you want to follow your dreams and your passions. The final day is a high ropes course and for someone like me who is terrified of heights, that alone was a challenge. Except the weekend was spent preparing us for that day on high and the truth of the matter was that what I though was a fear of heights was anything but that.
Let me take you right there to that moment.
I was about 40 feet above the ground with one foot on a horizontal telephone pole with my arms wrapped around a vertical one. Even with my fear, I was the second one up the pole and I was all strapped in with wires and a helmet and I knew in my head that nothing could go wrong. I stood there with everyone in the course down below watching me – some were getting ready to follow me and others were cheering me on. I put my foot out to take that first step with my arms wrapped tightly around that pole when a voice in my head said:
“You can’t do this Simon. Who are you kidding? Get down now while you can.”
I looked out, I looked down, I took a deep breath and I held back the tears and called down to the instructor:
“Can I climb down?”
There was silence as everyone looked up at me and then she said very quietly:
“You can do whatever you want to Simon….”
I stood with one foot ready to go and holding on to that telephone pole with all of my might and I couldn’t hold back the tears any more. I thought of all the other times in my life that I had climbed down.
I thought of all of the opportunities that I had let pass me by, the chances I hadn’t taken. I thought of all of the situations I had stayed in because it was easier and safer and all the things I had wanted to do, but I was too afraid to do.
Then another voice from somewhere deep inside of me said:
“You can do it Simon, it’s time!”
And I took a deep breath and I let go of that pole and I took a hold of the guide wire that would help me get across to the other side and I took that first step. And when I took that first step I let go of all of the times that I had held myself back. And I took a second and a third step and I walked across that pole and I never looked back.
There were two more courses to get across and I did them one after the other.
The final test was a 40-foot telephone pole to climb up and jump off of. I did that too. When I got to the top our instructor called up to me that I didn’t have to stand on it because at that point I think she knew that in my head I thought I could fly! At 6’2” to climb up and stand on a 40 foot pole was just too much and I had made my point to myself, I had let go of the fears that had been holding me back and I had unleashed the passion that I had buried so deep inside of me for so long.
I sat on the top of that pole, looked out as far as I could see and then I jumped. I was so free when I flew threw the air. Free because I had found the courage to take that first step.
The photo I have included here I keep on my desk at the office and when things get tough or I want to give up on anything, I look at that photo and I smile and I get the same goose bumps I got that day. I get them now as I am writing this. That day is anchored deep inside of me and I hold on to it with great joy. If I am not at my desk when fear starts to invade my head and “those voices” try to make themselves heard, I think of that moment and I move forward and once again I take that first step.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because these days I find myself in situations and doing things that I never thought I would have a chance to do or quite honestly was capable of doing. I find myself able to do all, yes all of the things that I have wanted to do in my life and some of which I never knew I wanted to because I was too busy holding on to a telephone pole afraid to take that first step.
I can tell you right now you don’t have to sign up for a high ropes course or launch yourself in to space. All you have to do is let go and take that fist step. Let those dreams and those passions you have buried so long ago come out and live where they belong to be shared with the world around you. If you have already taken that first step, then do everything in your power to help others to take theirs.
It may seem like the hardest, but I can guarantee you, that first step will be the one you won’t ever forget.