Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Just Like Dad

This year’s 4th of July celebration for my family was incredible. Not only were we able to spend quality time with relatives, I was able to learn a great lesson from a 4-year-old boy who just happens to be my son.

We spend several weekends during the summer at my Mother-in-law’s cabin in the woods. Most weekends spent there are relaxing and fulfilling. This weekend was no different. We spent time working on the grounds and finishing a deck. We also spent a good amount of time relaxing on the deck and playing in the water. By the time Saturday night came around, all the kids were ready for fireworks. We had a good set of fireworks that surprised even the adults with some of the spectacular explosions. There were sparkling fountains, loud popping balls, colored smoke bombs, and rocket launches that burst into fiery colors in packs of 100. For a backyard show, it was pretty good.

As we finished our set, the neighbor across the street started his. We were somewhat humbled. His fireworks were like rockets shooting in the sky in this direction, then that direction ending with a big explosion of colors against the black sky. It was great to watch and I felt like I was back in town at an organized show. I took time to relax on Papa’s Deck and watch. I folded my hands behind my head, laid back on the deck and watched the color and sound show. Within in a few seconds, I felt a nudge on my side. I looked over and saw my son Carson laying next to me with his hands folded behind his head. He smiled at me and said, “Look Dad, I’m just like you.” Four simple words, “I’m just like you”, that brought back a sense of purpose to me. I felt a sense of pride and warmth as I thought about how my son wants to be like me. Isn’t that exactly what every dad wants? I picked him up, set him on my lap and watched more of the show with him. He watched the show, but I contemplated his words.

As much pride as I had, I also had anxiety. I started to think about my life and asked myself if I was living a life worthy of my son wanting to follow in my footsteps. Sure, he does now as a 4-year-old who just wants dad to play ball with him, take him golfing, get him snacks and hold him when he’s scared at night. When I set up the 10-foot pool in the backyard, I'm his hero. What happens as he grows and understands more about the world? Will he admire me when he’s 10 or 16? Will he still want to follow in dad’s footsteps? Better yet, will he still respect me and call me his hero, but know that I have taught him to follow his own path?

The questions for me became much clearer the longer I thought. The questions really are what do I have to continue to do and what do I need to change in order for my son and all my children to want to be “just like Dad?” I realized that a purposeful life is not just about fulfilling my dreams. It’s about helping those around me fulfill their dreams too. When I have a tough decision to make or wonder whether the current path is the correct one to follow, I can just ask whether my children will want to follow that path with me.

Let me know what your dreams are and let’s work together to fulfill them.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Gravitational Pull

I am fortunate to be part of a group called Rise Above. We conduct seminars for unemployed community members helping them find hope along with building their practical skills around networking, resume writing, interviewing and financial management. The concept is to first create a positive outlook, and then use that to take effective actions toward obtaining the next opportunity/job/career.

At a recent planning meeting for the group, we sat back and took a look at what we are trying to accomplish – an introspection. We asked ourselves what each of us was getting from this group; what was in it for us. There were common benefits mentioned like building skills, increasing our network, helping others, creating a legacy among others. One that was mentioned by our financial expert struck me. She said she liked the way people in the community are being attracted to us seemingly because of the good we are trying to produce. For some reason, the description gravitational pull came to me and I had to write it down.

My understanding of Isaac Newton’s principles is that gravity is caused by a combination of mass and movement. Specifically, any mass that spins will create a boundary of force drawing other masses to it. In the case of Earth, its mass and movement create a force equal to 9.8 meters per second. I’m not sure Mr. Newton would agree with my definition of pulling people to us, but I hope he would appreciate it.

Newton might have all the physical aspects correct, but I believe he is missing the human behavioral elements. We as citizens of the world can create our own gravity or attractive force by taking positive action. I don’t know that I can measure the strength of the force we generate, but it seems reasonable to me that the greater the good, the more powerful the attractive force.

Our Rise Above team set a mission to positively affect 100,000 people. Since our start we have attracted to us business owners, CEOs, community leaders, university deans, public speakers, authors, health professionals, networking and marketing gurus and more from all types of industries. From them we have been inspired and educated. We have grown professionally and personally from understanding more about all aspects of the people who make up our community. Each has a great story and we love hearing the stories.

When we set that mission, we knew what it meant to affect 100,000 people. I don’t think any of us imagined the positive affect we would have on ourselves or that we ourselves would be included in that 100,000. Gravity has a new meaning for me and that meaning helps me win the lottery.