Here is the thing… we could all sit around and rant about how our parents messed us up and blame them for all of our failures. For a period of time in my life, I did just that. Coming from a background that is less than squeaky clean, I found it much easier to point fingers.

A product of young parents I was the third to come in a matter of a few years. At the time of my birth, my mom was 21 and dad was 23. At a very young age, I embraced that I was a mistake and not something my parents had really wanted.

This wasn't a big deal. I knew they loved me and could live with how I came to live on this planet. By age two, my parents were going through a nasty divorce. My youngest sister was born when I was 14 and she was the 9th (yes, that's not a typo!) child to be born into this crazy family. There are five different moms and two different dads who contributed to this mix.

Growing up poor was okay, I didn't mind that so much. What took a toll on my life was the realization that my dad had never really taken responsibility for us. At 16, I watched my father go to jail for the first time (that I knew of). He is still in and out and it's all due to the inability to financially provide for his kids.

His debt to my mom is finally paid off, but I am 30 years old and have spent several of my hard earned dollars to bail him out so he can be there for my siblings. This means I essentially helped him pay my child support. Twisted right?

When I was 23 I took in one of my sisters and made sure she made it through high school as my dad clearly wasn't doing the job and her mom wasn't any better. Through that time I lost my relationship with my father and all respect that should naturally be given to parents.

For 3 years I didn't talk to him and blamed him for every mistake I ever made. I wasn't on a much better path and things needed to change. It all started with forgiveness and understanding. After several months of digging deeper I found the strength to accept my role in the life I was living. It wasn't all bad, but some things definitely needed to change.

During that time I began to view my dad through his eyes and came to realize that he did the best he could. I accepted his downfalls, embraced his good qualities and began to build a relationship with him again.

We are now closer than ever and my life has turned around in almost every single way. It all started with taking responsibility for my actions and knowing that none of it was actually his fault. There is success and happiness inside of us and its no one else's job to bring it out.

Father's Day is quickly approaching and I am excited to spend it with my dad. He has taught me a lot of things through his struggles and I am grateful to be able to call him my dad. I have decided that flowers are the perfect way to show him how close I keep him to my heart. I will need a reliable vendor to deliver them, someone like florist express the same day, as that will make it that much more special. Of course seeing my pretty face will be the real gift, but I figure something more tangible will bring light to the rest of his week as well.

It has taken us a long time to get here, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Our paths are our own. Once you realize that you will be better equipped to find the happiness that you never even knew existed. Remember, that you can't change your past, but you can make a better future.

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Wading through endless emails, voicemails, and texts, I find myself inundated with various forms of communication. I am constantly connected to the world through electronic devices, and my work requires me to have at least one social media site open, jumping in to comment, post, and share for clients and myself. I am in constant communication. And yet, I feel more disconnected than ever these days.

I know I am not alone in feeling out of touch with people while constantly communicating in one form of electronic chatter or another. I hear and read regularly of others struggling with these same issues. No matter how convenient and instantaneous our messages can be through electronic forms of communication, nothing could be better than communicating in person.

Maintaining a connection with others is a soul-satisfying experience, not to be replaced by electronic devices pinging us or perusing Facebook for updates. Seeing a facial expression, hearing a story with all the nuances and inflections from the speaker, holding a hand, or stealing a kiss-this all requires connecting in the real world, not the virtual one. While I enjoy the ease of convenience with sending a quick text to my fiancé, family, and friends, being with them in person is how a greater depth of connection occurs.

The challenge in the world we live in is making the effort to have these personal connections more often. Here are some tips for connecting (or reconnecting) with others:

  • Invite a friend out for coffee.
  • Schedule a date with your significant other.
  • Coordinate a group of friends for a casual potluck (less work and more time enjoying company).
  • Call someone to simply chat.
  • Invite a friend in the neighborhood to go for a walk.
  • Initiate a regular get-together (monthly book club, quarterly dinner club, etc) with a group of friends.

There are countless ways to be more in touch, but this list is a good start to spark a few ideas for a better connection with others.

Do you have additional ideas?

Share below!


Image credit: A Wild One Within

by Kelly Sajonia

Picture 3

It was suppertime, and there they were again:

Green.

Slimy.

Stringy.

My worst nightmare—yeah, it was green beans all right—again.

By the time I was a four-year-old kid, I had already sampled green beans and concluded they weren’t for me. The strings might as well have been wood chips, the way they caught in my throat as I tried to get them down.

Mom was my boss, and I was her newest employee. We had a real labor/management crisis going on. She begged, cajoled, and pleaded. But I was determined not to eat those green beans.

So I crossed my arms, frowned, and pouted, figuring she’d give up and forget about green beans, as she always had in the past.

But this time, Mom had a secret weapon. Now, there was something else on the table besides that dreaded green scourge.

“Billy Joe, if you eat your green beans you can have some…”

You guessed it.

“Ice cream!”

This sheer stroke of maternal genius changed my behavior forever. In a flash, I saw those green beans, not as an oppressive burden, but as a first-class ticket to that lovely ice cream.

Sure, Mom got what she wanted—a balanced diet for her four-year-old.

And I got ice cream.

Pretty cool.

(Thanks, Mom. You are the best!)

I’m not sure exactly when or how Mom pared back the ice cream, but somehow I came to terms with green beans and accepted them for what they are—pretty healthy and tasty by themselves (oh, Mom learned to buy stringless beans, and that didn’t hurt either).

Mom had learned how to change my behavior!
 

  • The 9-11-2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
  • The 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado.
  • Going “Postal”—a phenomenon named for the series of violent and lethal outbursts by disgruntled U.S. Postal Service employees during the 1980s and 1990s.

All of these events included a common factor: human behavior that shaped the world as we know it. After all, what is a country, a family, a school, a business? While the environment, buildings, equipment, and furniture are certainly important, it is the tapestry of human behavior that creates what we call “culture”

Culture is made up of many small behaviors and activities. Sometimes we say that the culture is “toxic” or “nurturing”. Many people assume that culture is what it is, and can never be changed. At best, they will say that culture change requires a long time.

I beg to differ. Ask Hosni Mubarak (Egypt’s strongman before the Arab Spring melted his power base) how fast culture can change.

Consider the sudden, unexpected collapse of the Soviet Union and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall.

Consider this common scenario in the business world:

A president unveils his new plan to turn around his failing company.

“It won’t work, sir,” comes the timid response from his staff.

“And why not?”

“The culture here won’t support it.”

“Culture! What’s that? A fuzzy word to hide a lame excuse!” retorts the frustrated leader.

Sure enough, his plan fails, torpedoed by culture.

The word culture is often hard to define. Here’s a definition I like: “Culture is a pattern of behavior which is encouraged or punished by the management system over time.”

In reality then, to change culture, all we have to do is change behavior. Attitudes follow behavior, just as my attitude about green beans changed over time, after my behavior changed.

But many have been misinformed. An old friend of mine, whom I’d not seen for 20 years, learned about my work in behavior change. In a telephone conversation, he offered up his two cents worth on the subject: “Bill, I remember my professor in psychology to this day. He told me that before you can change behavior, you have to change attitude.”

I swallowed hard. He was a good friend, and it had been a long time since we’d talked to each other.

“Crad,” I told him, “I hope you won’t be upset, but when I see you, I’d really appreciate it if you’d let me tell you why your professor was wrong.”

I guess he still likes me, because we went to lunch soon afterward, and I was able to explain to him that to change attitude, you simply have to change behavior. He even asked me to present to a group of 200 company leaders on the subject of positive reinforcement and behavior change!

No matter whether you are a parent, husband, wife, teacher, boss, supervisor, professor, cop, or anything else in life, what you often want from the people around you is the same thing: behavior change.

You want more production, quality, safety, and customer service from your employees; better test scores, homework, and study habits from your students; cleaner rooms and better grades from your kids. To get more from people, we need behavior change.

Everything we observe can be broken down into behaviors, activities, results, and culture. If culture is Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, then every note from every instrument can be likened to a behavior.

Results are achieved by a myriad of behaviors. Think of your favorite dessert. That dessert is the result. But the sugar, flour, butter and other items that make up the dessert are behaviors. When we get the behaviors right, we can cook up some amazing results!

Culture, like a dessert, can be toxic or nurturing. There’s nothing like luscious banana pudding to add warmth and flavor to a meal. But a notorious husband-killer in North Carolina—known as the Black Widow—used banana pudding laced with arsenic to do away with her spouses.

So how do we achieve that nurturing culture?

Can we really navigate the murky world of the human mind? B. F. Skinner, American behaviorist, social philosopher, and poet, once wrote, “Thoughts are behaviors we haven’t learned to observe yet.”

Until technology allows it, you can’t see inside my mind, and I can’t see inside yours either. This “black hole” of human logic means that if we believe attitude must change before behavior, then we will be waiting a very, very long time to see any measurable difference in human performance. Just ask the Marlboro man how many years he read the Surgeon General’s warning printed on every pack of cigarettes he smoked. Did those produce behavior change in him? It was not until he was in the hospital, terminally ill with cancer, that his attitude about smoking finally changed. Powerful consequences had forever changed his life, his behavior, and finally, his attitude toward smoking.

Since the complex world of human thought and attitude is at present not easily read, we need another tool to understand human behavior, one that we can implement easily in today’s business world.

That tool has existed for more than 70 years. It’s a science called “behavioral analysis”.

Using some simple and easy tools, we can crack the code that reveals why people do what they do. And we can empower ourselves and others to achieve performance we never thought possible.

This book is devoted to helping you do just that.


Green Beans and Ice Cream? At first glance, they don’t sound like they go together. But this groundbreaking new book from author Bill Sims, Jr. will change forever the way you deal with your family, customers, coworkers, students, and yes, even your spouse! In Bill’s thirty year history, he has helped design more than one thousand behavior change systems that have produced tremendous gains in performance and profits at America’s top companies including Disney, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, General Motors, and Dupont. Hidden in this book you will find Bill’s “secret sauce”, and the recipe for rapid, sustainable behavior change and engagement—Positive Reinforcement (PR+). The book explains why positive reinforcement is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. Use it wisely, and performance moves off the chart. Use it poorly, and the results can be disastrous.

Green Beans & Ice Cream analyzes over 100 years of research in the field of human behavioral science, and compares it to “real world, in the trenches” true stories that Sims recounts. It points out clearly that the thing we need the most, is the thing we often receive the least—positive reinforcement and feedback from those around us. Using the techniques outlined in this book, you can master the remarkable power of positive reinforcement, and make a real difference in the world around you. This book is for everyone who must lead others. Whether in the family, the school, or the workplace, it is a “must read” for anyone who wants to improve the performance of their team. With this first book, Sims has dropped a stone in the still pond of leadership. The waves will only get bigger.

Lost your zest for life? Having trouble staying focused on what's in front of you? Spending too much time worrying about the past or the future?

If you have trouble focusing on what you need to do and have a hard time staying in the moment, don't despair. You may just need an "urge booster"! Urges – believe it or not – are our friends. They tell us what is really going on inside us – our desires, our passions and our yearnings-and allow us to more fully experience every moment of our lives.

However, in reality, most people confuse real urges with "counterfeit" urges – those habits or behaviors we engage in for immediate gratification that don't bring us any real satisfaction – such as stuffing our face with chocolate, over watching television or impulse shopping. What's the difference? Real urges meet our deeper yearning and get you engaged in the moment. People who follow their urges are more satisfied and more productive. So be ready to recognize your counterfeit urges and embrace your real urges.

Here are 5 Ways you can embrace your urges and live more fully in the moment:

1. Ask yourself what you are feeling. Knowing your emotions will help you be more engaged.

2. What do you really want? Look underneath the urge to the deeper need that you could be meeting. In a deeper inquiry you may yearn for comfort, or to exist or to matter or to make a difference or to be loved.

3. Notice what beliefs are holding you back from expressing your urge. It could be that you think you'll look stupid or silly and be embarrassed.

4. Take a risk and follow your urge. Risks are a necessary part of full engagement in your life, leading to more satisfaction and fulfillment.

5. Notice what really satisfies you. Start to notice the difference between the counterfeit urges that keep you stuck in your ruts and routines and those that really give you a sense of satisfaction.


DR. JUDITH WRIGHT, www.judithwright.com, is a lifestyles expert, educator, coach, inspirational speaker, best-selling author, and corporate consultant. Author of Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living, The Soft Addiction Solution, and The One Decision, Dr. Wright has been called one of "America's Ultimate Experts" by Women's World magazine and has appeared on Oprah, ABC's 20/20, Good Morning America, Today, and over 500 radio programs.

As the founder of Wright, www.wrightliving.com, a transformative education organization based in Chicago and the Wright Foundation for Transformational Leadership, Dr. Wright coaches, guides, and trains individuals to live a spectacular live both personally and professionally. She is also the founder of SOFIA-the Society of Femininity in Action, a cutting-edge women's leadership and training organization.

Get TWO CHAPTERS of Dr. Judith Wright's book. Go to www.wrightliving.com/twofreechapters

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