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ALL IN!

ALL IN!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:

  • In my business I am grateful to have a passionate team that loves what they do as much as I do. We could make our motto: ALL IN!
  • This week I am away on holidays and we have had friends coming and going; dinners where there are not enough seats and far too many deserts. I look around at everyone and see the smiles and the laughter and I want to yell: ALL IN!
  • To my partner who helps me and goes above and beyond what I am expecting; I realize that I often do not see all the love and support that is always there from him and I see that his vision of us as a couple is always: ALL IN!
  • And when I finished my meditation this morning and I looked out over the lake and listened to the birds and the squirrels and I realized all I had to be thankful for, I thought to myself, that I am never alone, that all is well no matter what and I said quietly to myself: ALL IN!

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!

 

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Remember Me Fondly

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.

Fondly /’fondli/
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.

Did you take the dare?

GenerosityLast 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.

The Ride to Conquer Cancer Montreal 2013: Come Ride With Me!

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 it all started!

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

Going for the yellow JerseySam 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.
Photobucket

Take That First Step!

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.

What Do I Want To Do with My Life?

I want you to go and find a mirror, look at yourself and ask the question: What do I want to do with my life?

If your answer is:
Exactly what I am doing.
Then don’t read any further.

If that is not your answer then stop doing what you are doing. NOW.

Stop complaining.
Stop whining.
Stop being afraid.

Start working.
Start hustling.

Then kill it.
You heard me: KILL IT!

Are you going to wait until you are looking back on your life with your partner or your kids or grandkids and have regrets?

I can’t right now.
I have responsibilities.

Really?
To who?

Excuses.
If you have something you want to do, something that you know is going to make you the happiest person in the world, then why aren’t you doing it? It doesn’t matter what it is just DO IT!

Patience and passion
I worked for twenty-five years doing something I didn’t love. I hated looking in the mirror every morning. That’s the truth. I tried to quit many times and I was too afraid. I had too many responsibilities and too many excuses. I finally did it. I finally stopped whining and crying and blaming others and stopped being afraid.

Now I get up in the morning with a smile on my face and go to bed with a bigger one. I have never worked so hard in my life except I would never call it work. My days are absolutely perfect in every way even when everything goes wrong. Shit happens. Shit makes life fun. Life is fun. No, life ROCKS!

This isn’t anything new. Go back a few hundred years to our good old friend Shakespeare and his friend Polonius. He was telling us the same thing:

Polonius:
This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78–82

If you take care of yourself, and find the happiness that is there for each and every one of us, then you will pass that same happiness and love on to those around you.

Realize your perfection and live with it.

Now let’s start this day again. Go back to the mirror and be honest with that person starting back at you. It’s about time isn’t it?

Blow me one last kiss…..

As I have been on my Mr. Feisty journey I find I have been reciting the words to Pink’s latest song more and more:

Now this is some sort of a love song, or the end of a love affair but sometimes the words seem to be just right for what is going on in my day.

I think I’ve finally had enough, I think I maybe think too much…

You know what I mean? People driving you crazy? Lack of respect? People’s ego running rampant and it is all about them all the time?

Just when it can’t get worse, I’ve had a shit day
Have you had a shit day? We’ve had a shit day
I think that life’s too short for this, I want back my ignorance and bliss…

I mean how can everyone be like that? Why isn’t everyone doing things my way. Then everything would be so much easier. I mean I am so totally perfect all of the time.

I will do what I please, anything that I want
I will breathe, I will breathe, I won’t worry at all
You will pay for your sins, you’ll be sorry my dear…

Except you know what I found as I kept turning up Pink every time I heard her on the radio? I wasn’t happy. I was angry. Resentful. Anything but at peace.

Then for whatever reason I remembered these lines from the Lord’s prayer:

…give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us….

Where did this come from? Am I getting religious? Actually I wouldn’t call the Lord’s Prayer religious, more spiritual if you do a little study of it. It is something I don’t remind myself of often enough, or at least I haven’t been lately. In other words:

Whatever comes my way I will be able to handle and I hope those around me forgive me for my imperfections as I do the same for them….

I need to do the same for others….

But I don’t want to do that. I want to be right. I want to stand on my high horse and let those around me see me up there and have them bow to me. Really? No, not really. But sometimes that feels way easier and safer. I don’t want to remember that we all make mistakes and can be caught up in our own selves far too much. Who am I to judge others when I do the same?

I still turn Pink up on the radio but then I stop and remind myself it’s just a song that tells a story.
And I can choose what my story is going to be each day.
And then I do what may not be the most natural of things for me to do.
I forgive those who trespass against me.
And joy replaces anger and resentment.
And then the world seems to fall into sync……

Na na na na – da da da da
Na na na na – da da da da
Na na na na – da da da da

I Have Had Sufficient!

I have had sufficient.
You’ve gone fishing?
I have had plenty.
You’ve caught twenty?

And so it went on Sunday nights at our house when I was a child.
It could have been any night but that repartee between my father and us four boys and then my brother’s children seemed to be reserved for Sunday nights or holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving.
We were never allowed to say, “ I have had enough”, or heaven forbid, “I am full.”

It was that simple.

“I have had sufficient” was what you said if you couldn’t finish your peas, which I never could because I hated them, and then when you wanted to leave the table, you said, “May I be excused?”
If everyone was finished and the meal was done the answer was “Yes you may.” If everyone wasn’t and the meal wasn’t then you probably didn’t say it, because the dead silence only happened once.
Then there was the cry from my mother every once in a while of “ELBOWS OFF THE TABLE!”
But I have a feeling that all of that has gone by the way side with opening the car door or standing up for someone elderly (not old) on the bus. Although I must admit I have seen that a few times.

Where did all this come from?

I was having lunch today with a friend and the waiter knew that he shouldn’t clear our plates until we had both finished.

What do you mean?

Well, it is right up there with having sufficient and stacking dishes at the table which my friends always tease me about when they are stacking the dishes. It just isn’t done. It’s called common courtesy. It’s called being polite.

And I have had sufficient of a lot of things and somehow it all seems to go together:
• Thinking “Wassup” is another way to say hello.
• Texting when you are with someone, anyone, anywhere
• Checking Facebook on your phone when you are with someone, anyone, anywhere
• Taking a phone call when you are with someone, anyone, anywhere
• Eating before everyone is served at the table
• Going to the washroom during a meal
• And the list could go on ad infinitum

And the worst part is I have started to do all of that including the ad infinitum.

Change has to start with me I am told so next time you see me this just may be how it goes….

Hello!
How are you?
So good to see you.
How are things?
Good to hear!
Wait, let me get your chair for you.
No, I am sorry, my friend hasn’t finished eating, would you mind waiting to clear the table until we have both finished.
Oh no, I have had sufficient. Really, it was plenty……

From Juicy to Feisty!

A few years ago I wrote a post about being JUICY (Are you juicy? – June 2011), and I published it again here on this blog on Sunday.  I am finding these days that being juicy just isn’t enough.

feistyŸ/ˈfīstē/
Adjective:
1. Having or showing exuberance and strong determination
2. Touchy and aggressive

Juicy seems to be the first part of the definition of feisty. I thought it would be enough to get me through life with a smile on my face. These days I think I need to go to Step Two: Touchy and Aggressive. Except I don’t really think it is about being either Touchy or Aggressive, I think it is more about being honest and saying it the way it is.

I keep finding myself in situations where I WANT to say:
“You are going to talk to me like that and think I believe a word you are saying?
Or
“It has been three months since you got back to me, and now you are saying you want to work with me because business is a little tougher for you and you need my business?
Or
“You told me one thing last week and this week you are telling me something completely different and pretending that you never even had that conversation with me?”

And you know what?
I AM SAYING IT EXACTLY THE WAY IT IS! 

I am being respectful and honest and only using the F-word in my head (that is F-U-C-K and not F-E-I-S-T-Y) but interestingly enough the response is quite refreshing. Well actually there is a lot of stuttering at first, long pauses at the other end of the phone, and many lines of apologies in the e-mails with closings that have gone from “Kind regards” to “Let’s talk soon!”. The end result is a stronger relationship and the knowledge (and relief) that both sides may be straight up with whatever they need to say.

Here is my advise on being FEISTY:
1. Listen to what that voice in your head is telling you – that you are being given a line, played with, or given the run around.
2. ALWAYS BE RESPECTFUL, POLITE AND HONEST IN WHAT YOU SAY. Remember, you don’t want to play their game or be mean or rude or condescending.
3. Ease into feistiness. It is a bit addictive, once you start; it’s hard to stop.
4. Start with being JUICY. If you haven’t mastered that you will never be able to be FEISTY!

Have a FEISTY day!

Success: I found it!

“I failed my way to success.”  
Thomas Edison

That is certainly what it feels like sometimes. A lot of failures and not too many successes. Starting a new business with your own money is certainly differently from working for someone else. My life has been spent in start-ups. I didn’t always see it that way because I was in it and we didn’t call it that when I started working 30 years ago, they were just new businesses. Now we put a name on it: start-up, and give the whole thing this glamour and possibility of huge growth and an eventual IPO. In reality it is just a new company starting out and who knows where it will go. Even when you think you do or plan for it, it may not go where you think it will.

When I was working for these other start-ups, they weren’t mine. Often and always it was my blood, sweat and tears, well okay my sweat and tears that helped to build them, but it certainly wasn’t my money. Interestingly enough when it wasn’t my money those setbacks that we encountered along the way were never failures. They were just setbacks. There were lots of them and we always found a way out: with the sweat and tears and unfortunately too much yelling, but we got through them and turned them into what most of us call successes. Financial success equal success right?

Now as I find myself doing the same thing but for myself, it seems very different. Instead of having someone on top being the motivator, it’s me. If things are tough, I have to be THE TOUGH to get going. You know what else? It’s work. Hard work. Or it seems that way in my dramatic ol’ head. The reality is; if and when I am capable of stepping back, as I am doing right now, it is not hard work at all. It is a lot of fun. I have surrounded myself with an amazing team who all have the same drive and passion that I do and they want the success as much as I do. We laugh a lot, eat whenever we can, drink way too much coffee, don’t yell, care incredibly a lot (if that is English) about our customers and customer service and being THE BEST at what we do. We are wiling to learn and to learn again until we get it right. I have built relationships with vendors and suppliers who work as hard as I do and want success as much as I do. Not for the money or the fame (fame?) but for the fun of it. The ones that don’t see things like this don’t last long. They aren’t quite sure why I end those relationships when I do, because they just don’t get it.

DREAM BIG. WORK HARD. GET IT DONE. PLAY FAIR.
HAVE FUN. MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

I don’t think Thomas Edison got it either. There are no failures in business or in life. Unless you are so deep in them that you can’t see beyond the end of your nose.

When I left my career in the fashion business I vowed that when I got up every day I would see each day like it was the first day of a new job. Do you remember that feeling? When you are filled with wonder and excitement. Nothing less and often so much more that you just can’t describe it. That is success for me. I see that I found it.

How about you?

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