Three Life-Changing Books
You probably thought I was going to mention one of my own 23 books, but like many writers, I am an avid reader and the most important books I’ve ever read are:
How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
See You at The Top (Zig Ziglar)
Unlimited Power (Anthony Robbins)
Honorable mentions: The Artist’s Way, Think and Grow Rich, The Power of Positive Thinking, and On Writing (Stephen King)
The Constant Reminder
I’m old school, I wear a watch. If you’re like me, you probably look at your watch dozens of times a day. I have a suggestion.
As we all seek to make changes and form new habits in the coming year, If you wear a watch, put a small dot on the face as a reminder of the change you intend to make.
If you don’t wear a watch, put a sticky dot on your phone. Or, wear a reminder bracelet, write on your hand, create a screensaver, or leave an object out as a way to stay on track for a few weeks until a new habit takes hold.
I had no idea what I was going to write about this month until I watched the tragedy unfold in Pittsburgh. I’m sure each of the victims of the shooting didn’t wake up thinking this was their last day on earth . . . but for eleven people, it was (some Holocaust survivors).
This is so obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. Many of us think we have all the time in the world to do this, fix that, or go there. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? By all means, plan for tomorrow, but live for today.
Attached is something I created for myself. It’s a balance sheet to make sure we pay attention to what we have right now. Sure, there’s the things we want, but there is also the things we already have that are often overlooked. Hopefully this will help you (and me) stay focused on what we have now.
Daily Balance Sheet
Real Fears This Year
In the past, people were afraid of speaking in public, spiders (and snakes), clowns, and death. I’m serious. Today, the top fear (according to a USA Today poll) is the corruption of government officials, followed by terrorist attacks.
The difference between the two lists are the things we feared most in “the good old days” were largely preventable–or within our control–don’t like clowns (and I’m with ya here) then avoid going to places where they are.
How do we avoid being a victim of a terrorist attack? Largely, we can’t, but the likelihood of it happening is slim. Government corruption? Again, not much WE can do, other than vote. So worrying about these two things doesn’t do any good.
A couple of things that made the lists from past and present include: Not having enough money for the future, identity theft, and becoming ill. Maybe we can’t completely avoid these terrible things, but there are steps we can take to make them less likely.
I guess what I am saying is, we should worry less, live more, and take control of the things we can control. In the 1950s, some families built underground bunkers in case of a nuclear attack. That took a lot of time and money and in the end, it wasn’t needed.
Living in the Here and Now
Some of you may know the story of how I came to write a book about Sunshine Blake—she knew she was dying and asked me to tell her incredible life story—which I did in the form of a novel. What you may not know—and what I would like to share is—how much our meetings meant and changed my life.
Sunshine was the eternal optimist. She believed that no matter you wanted, the universe wanted you to have it, and would provide for you if you went for it. She also lived without worry because she felt that no matter what happened to you (short of killing you) was supposed to happen, and would make you stronger and better because of it.
Even though I watched her whittle away from week to week due to her illness, she never complained, never asked for anything, and never let me feel bad for her. Instead, she uplifted me each time we met (Wednesdays at her favorite bistro). I learned so much from our time together, but one thing stands out as the most valuable lesson.
Sunshine taught me to not blame anyone else (or anything else) for whatever wasn’t working in my life. Instead, she said to go out there and do something about it. Trust that things will work out, but do the work–control the things you can control. Blaming others for our failures is easy. Owning it, and fixing it is harder, but doable.
My sons and I were getting a quick bite to eat and the total came to $18.03. I said to the cashier, “I have no sense, but I do have three cents in my car.” He replied, “I trust you,” and handed me two bucks back. Right away I went and got the pennies from my car—proving he could trust me.
This made me realize something, when you give people a good reputation to live up to, often times they will rise to the occasion. “I think it’s great you do your best to be on time,” you may say to the person who is chronically late. Sure enough, this person leaves a little earlier and arrives on time.
It’s the same thing with stating the positive outcome you desire instead of telling someone what you don’t want them to do. As a coach, I often tell my pitchers, “Throw strikes,” instead of, “Don’t walk this hitter.” It works . . . usually. You can do it to yourself, too. Years ago I said to myself, “I always remember my dreams.” Sure enough, I do.
As baseball coaches we sometimes sell kids short . . . literally. Sure, most kids aren’t going to make it to the big leagues–and those who will are likely to be the tallest ones. Yet, there are (and have been) plenty of players under six-feet tall.
Jose Altuve is 5’-6” “tall” and weighs 165 pounds, making him the smallest player in the big leagues. He is also the best hitter in baseball over the past six years, being chosen as an All Star and winning the World Series and Most Valuable Player Award in 2017.
When I was young ballplayer I was a Freddie Patek fan. Patek was an All Star shortstop with the Royals who led the league in several offensive and defensive categories. Freddie Patek was 5’-4” tall, but he played much bigger.
Patek once said, “I’d rather be the shortest player in the in the majors than the tallest player in the minors.”
It’s not just being small ion stature and bucking the odds, it’s being seen as less-than-others in some way and overcoming.