Success Summer Style – 5 Beneficial Activities for Your Time Off

If you are a person who gets time off during the summer, you can choose to be summer lazy, or you can choose to utilize a small portion of your time off to increase your chances of being successful in your endeavors. Here’s five things that you can do during the summer to recharge your batteries and build your chances of making it to the top in whatever you do.

1. Work on creating good habits

Habits are the building blocks of success. One of the greatest leadership books of all times is “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by the late Dr. Stephen R. Covey. Do good things over and over until they start to happen without you even thinking about them. There are so many good habits you can build for yourself. Reading is essential to growth. Whether it is the sports page or books on philosophy, reading daily will keep your brain working and grow your vocabulary and writing skills, no matter your age. Exercising is another great habit that you can build over the summer. Even something as simple as a 30 minute walk regularly has great health benefits. How about journaling regularly? It helps you organize your thoughts, and it is a great way to record for you or your family the great things that happen. It is a proven fact that journaling helps your brain relive good events that happened to you and that has outstanding affects on your mood. My journal is actually a book of letters to my son. Hopefully, in years to come he will enjoy all of the great events in his life that I have chronicled for him. Maybe there will be smiles AND lessons in there for him. Spend your time off creating habits that will keep benefiting you for years to come.

2. Family time

As my son gets closer and closer to finishing up college, I am more and more aware that he is going to be heading out to start his own life soon enough and that means less time with me. Whether you are the child or the parent, you can drive more family time. A strong family is definitely one of the keys to success. Make sure you allot some time weekly to spend with the people you love the most. Share goals, successes and compliments. Every one will benefit from time spent together.

3. Learn a new skill

Isn’t there something out there that you have wanted to master. Get out there and do it. Learn to juggle, or play the guitar, or design websites, or learn to cook, or take up photography. There are countless “how-to” videos on the internet. Don’t know what it is that you want to do? Spend some time watching TED Talks, you are sure to find some inspiration there in the hundreds of talks they have online. There are sections and sections of books on every imaginable topic at your local bookstore. If you add one new skill each year, imagine the things you will be able to do in your life. My friend, Ed Kilgore, a former sports director in town climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro AND wrote a book, all after his 63rd birthday. Doesn’t matter how old you are, you can learn new skills.

4. Explore

Curiosity is one of the keys to great success. Take things apart and see how they work and then put them back together again. Go hiking or fossil hunting. Park your car and walk around new areas of your city or town. Visit museums and see things that are new to you. Eat ethnic foods that you have never eaten before. Drop your canoe or kayak in a place you’ve never paddled before. Exploration is a path to thinking and thinking is an ingredient to innovation and success. You don’t have to spend a lot money. There are also sorts of places to explore for free or cheap. Almost every town or city has nature trails or parks to explore for free. Get out there and see new things. You never know what you may find.

5. Volunteer

There are few more thought provoking or rewarding activities than giving back to your community. Even better if you can find an activity near and dear to your heart. There are not-for-profit organizations and church groups. You can participate in neighborhood clean ups, read books to young kids, or raise money for the local children’s hospital. Volunteering is also a great way to impress people and grow your network. This is also a great opportunity for family time. Working together, with the people you love, for a common good, is one of the most rewarding activities ever.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure that it grows your mind, body, or network of people you know. The one thing you don’t want to do with your time off is to waste it. No one ever gets better by  watching hours of television on beautiful days.



Another Trip Around The Sun

I have always liked Jimmy Buffett’s name for birthdays. “A trip around the sun”. Well, today marks the day that I finished my 48th and start my 49th trip around the gas ball. I always like milestones – birthdays, anniversaries, New Years, end of school years, beginning of new marking periods. They are reminders for me to take a few moments and reflect on where I am and where I want to go.

Well, the 48th trip had its share of both good and bad. I entered a new phase of parenthood, with my son heading off to college. It completely changed my life. I had to learn how to entertain myself all over again. I had to learn to move from a “hands on” parent role to a “only give advice when asked” role. That was a difficult transition, but I think we both survived. As we spent today packing up to return him back to academia tomorrow, I think we are both in a better place for sophomore year…because we both learned from our mistakes freshman year. (Someday I’d like to write that missing manual on parenting, since we flew blind.) The thing is that we have a relationship that is built on trust. I trust him to do the right thing, and he hasn’t disappointed me in that respect.

The 48th trip saw some employment changes. Big, scary, “what the heck am I going to do now”, employment changes. Well, the answer was “this”. This website, the book I am working on, and the chance to help other people learn from my experiences, is what is next. And I have gotten a remarkable reception. I hope that the enthusiasm I have seen so far, continues to grow and I am really looking forward to meeting new people and continuing conversations with old friends. I know I have a lot to learn and I learn the most from my awesome family and friends.

Here is a quick list of things I learned this past year…

1. If I really put my mind to things, I can achieve amazing stuff – At first I was paralyzed by the change of employment. Then I turned it into an energy to drive me. So far, I am really happy with the results. I learned a lot about the power of my mind from John C. Maxwell’s “Thinking For A Change”. I have read it a bunch of times and went back to it again this summer.

2. There are so many cool people in my life – Because I had time this summer, I got to spend more time enjoying and getting to know them and listening to their stories. Everyone has cool stories. Listen to hear and understand, not to respond.

3. No matter how much I play, I will not make it to the PGA Tour – I got to play a lot of golf this summer, and I listened to people who play better golf than me, and I learned a few things. I also learned that Rory McIlroy does not need to look over his shoulder for me.

4. If I don’t know how to do something or don’t have what I need, all I have to do is ask – I spent a lot of time on social media this summer, and I found that I have such a deep and experienced network. When I couldn’t figure something out, I just asked. There are so many apps and pieces of software to take care of tasks now, it is incredible what you can do yourself. You can start a business without a staff, and everyone is willing to help you find the right tools and help you get started. The cooperation I have found this summer has been amazing.

5. Some healthy lifestyles are fun and some healthy foods taste good – One of the things that I decided to do is to try to live a little healthier. I got in the habit of walking for 40-50 minutes a day and I tried to replace a lot of the chips and cookies with healthier alternatives. Turns out I kind of like grilled squash and nibbling on baby carrots is tasty too.

A few things that I have decided to make sure I include in my next year…

1. Do more things that I haven’t done before – I tried different foods this year. I listened to different kinds of music this year. I read books that I wouldn’t normally read this year. I went exploring around the region this year. And I really, really liked it. Next year I am going to do it more. Cool thing is that a lot of those things I did cost little to no money. I am going to make sure I fit in new things on a weekly and monthly basis. I really grew as a person this year.

2. Spend more time outdoors – I was really outdoors a lot this summer, thanks to time off and an amazing stretch of dry weather. I walked, I golfed, I hiked a few times, and interestingly, I feel much better after time outside. So, more of that. I look forward to walking right through the winter, if the weather cooperates.

3. Focus on a few things and do them well – I have spent the last 10 years being a jack of all trades. Unfortunately, everything suffered. I now have an opportunity to scale back the variety of things that I focus on. I am going to focus on the important things, and really do them well. It’s great to be well-rounded, but it’s better to be awesome at what you do.  My creative brain needs routine and focus.

4. Make a difference – I have gotten away from one of the major tenets of my life, and that is giving of myself to others who need. I will be looking for some volunteer opportunities that fit in with my values and I will be offering to mentor people. There is no greater gift you can give to society than volunteering and mentoring. If you have great things in your life, pay it forward and make the world a better place.

At the end of the day, bad things happened last year,as they do to everyone in the world. I’m going to focus on the great things that happened, and the great things that are possible if I make a plan and keep moving in a positive direction. Thanks to everyone. Make your next year great too.

Make Your Community Better

Each and everyone of us is a member of a community, multiple communities, actually. The community you live in, the community you work or go to school in, the community you worship in, or play sports in, etc. This morning, while I was taking my morning walk, I realized that even that was a community I was a member of.

Every day, I walk from my house to the far side of a county park next to my house and back. It’s a little over three miles and takes me about 45 minutes. I generally walk at the same time everyday, and there are 15-20 people who generally do the same thing. So, each and every day, I see some combination of the same people.

This morning, one of the Parks Department employees was pulling out of the lot where they keep the equipment he drives. He stopped at the road and looked away from me and waved to the three people and two dogs that I see every morning. He turned towards me and gave me a big smile and wave and then he drove off on his big mower to keep the park looking good. I don’t know his name, or the names of the three people and two dogs, but each morning we see each other and offer a wave and a cheerful “good morning”. We recognize each other and want to start off our days with positive greetings and well wishes  instead of keeping our eyes down and averting gazes.

Even when your involvement in a community is minimal, you can make it a better place with very small actions. Sometimes a smile or a nod of encouragement is all that it takes.

Five Great Habits to Create on the Road to Success

If you have ever met me, you know that I am a fan of habits. Ever since I started teaching Leadership skills to high school students, I have studied the powerful role that habits play in our daily lives. From the most mundane things, like brushing our teeth, to the more high impact things, like eating healthy, our habits are what push us in the direction of success or of failure. Continue reading