Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nothing But The Radio On

Our radio host, Joe Fermano, on WNJC 1360 AM, was so excited we could hear him coming out of his chair. His interview about our book, Pathways to Greatness, was scheduled to run 30 minutes with one intermission for commercial break. He skipped the commercial break and went straight through until the music cut him off at the end of the show. "You have to come back, you have to come back" he insisted. Joe raved about the book, even on his YouTube video called "I am the greatest." Clearly he was excited to talk about greatness.

In Australia a friend listened in to the radio show online (technology is amazing) and IMd me afterward on Facebook. He loved the interview and thought it went really well, but he encouraged us to "get the message out about greatness." "We need to hear this, especially right now."

This morning, an entrepreneur friend heard about the radio show and sat me down to ask about it. After I filled in the details he said, "helping us all focus on greatness and how to achieve it is just what we need right now. How can you get this message out there?"

My question also. Every time we speak about greatness, people read our book or respond to this blog it creates excitement and energy. Just the opposite of what is currently happening. So how do we spread the research about greatness? How do we involve others in creating a movement to focus on greatness even in difficult times? A small AM radio station was a start, but where can it end?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wadda You Lookin At?

Have you ever had someone look at you? I mean really look at you, deeply, directly into your eyes? It can be disconcerting at times. In some places it can be a direct threat (I was born in New York City). Yet in the best of times it is a wonderful acknowledgement of the person you are. That direct, deep look fosters a connection which creates great moments of creativity, collaboration, intimacy and a host of other positive behaviors. When I connect in this manner, or someone connects with me, the ability to create something positive is almost effortless because by the simple action of looking someone in the eye, I acknowledge their personhood, uniqueness and contribution.

A principle found in Positive Psychology is that individuals and organizations tend to move in the direction that they focus on. Though this principle is not about eye contact, I think it applies very well. Think of the effect of two different experiences. In one conversation you attempt to explain your idea to someone, only to watch them looking at their Blackberry, glance at the paper, look at the floor, looking anywhere but at you. They are moving in a direction, but it is not toward you. How do you feel? How empowered are you now? Yet in a different conversation your listener looks directly into your eyes as you speak. They acknowledge the words you speak, even without saying a word. Since they are focusing only on you, it seems that they are connecting with you. Now how do you feel?

I don't know about you, but I want people around me who listen to me and look at me when I am speaking. They enliven me and make me feel that my ideas are valuable. But a more important lesson for me was learning to do the same for others. I am often distracted by my Blackberry, computer screen, or movement behind the person I'm listening to. They know it and I know it. So I use a discipline now. I make sure I see the color of their eyes. If I don't know the color of their eyes at the end of the conversation, I know I have not looked at them. Sound simple? Try it. You will find out how often you aren't really looking. More importantly, you will learn to look and connect, and those around you will want to speak with you because you make them feel great.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Why Don't We Change The World?

We are in a crisis of global proportions. No one denies this. We are at a turning point in history. Many people believe this. We can do something about this crisis moment to turn the world in a positive direction. Only a few people are doing something. So, what is the difference with this final group?

It has always amazed me that difficult times draw out diverse and often violently opposite reactions. There are those who look for fault, and wonder who is to blame. Others hide their heads in the sand and wait for the mess to pass. Some people anoint others to fix the problem and then wait for their heros to act. Then there are those who, without waiting for the government, church, corporation to either give them permission, or assistance, set out to fix the problem.

Ode Magazine, in the January/February 2009 Issue highlights 25 "intelligent optimists" who are doing something about changing the world. Their stories are powerful insights into individuals who don't just buck the system, they completely ignore it (or its obstacles) in order to bring new, creative, positive ideas to fruition. These aren't radicals, but dedicated men and women who did not wait for someone else to solve world problems, they tackled them on their own.

Looking at myself I wonder if I have the characteristics these people embody. Most times, even when I think of a positive idea, it languishes until something distracts me and I focus elsewhere. Or I bemoan the possibility of doing something new while simultaneously someone else is already doing it.

What can we learn from these people? Hey, I'm learning that if I want to change the world, I just have to go out and do something. Talking never accomplished anything by itself. Secondly, I'm learning to set my sights high. The dramatic changes listed in Ode are amazing and I'm sure everyone told these people they were going to be disappointed. Finally, most of them had help. Guess I'm learning that I can't do it alone. So, what do you want to do?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Another Chance

Those of us who were in New York City on September 11th as the World Trade Center Towers were attacked thought that life would never be the same. On Fifth Avenue, crowds huddled around cars with their radios turned up so everyone could hear the news and the only other sound was crying. We promised we'd treasure every moment, love our families, live the life of our dreams. Yet less than two months later, on a flight to California, I overheard someone say that they were tired of hearing about 9/11. When I returned to New York City, the horns had started again, the anger was back, people were running to make money, and it was as if it was all a bad dream. Very few people changed. What does it take to make us aware of what is important in life? What does it take to make us embrace our dreams and live the life we really desire?

A study of great individuals in history identified "trigger points." These were moments in the person's life, or events in history, that challenged them to think differently, to act differently, and change their behavior. In each of their lives, it was the catalyst that helped unleash their greatness.

All of us have another chance. We stand on the edge of a new awareness and this one can't be ignored by one group or another, it affects all of us. It can't be dismissed by different countries, we are all in this one together. The financial and business systems we fostered are flawed, not because of what they produced, but because they were driven by greed and excess. The majority of us went along with it because we also prospered. Now they have failed. It is a "trigger point" for all of us. We cannot live with business as usual. Now is the time to rethink how we go about our lives. We have the chance to ask the hard questions: what is important to me? Am I pursuing it? Am I living out my own personal greatness?