Archive for February, 2010

Don’t Worry…Be Happy!

Remember this simple little song by Bobby McFerin?  I still hear it occasionally…and smile… 

“Here’s a little song I wrote

You might want to sing it note for note

Don’t worry, be happy

In every life we have some trouble

But when you worry you make it double

Don’t worry, be happy

Don’t worry, be happy now

Ain’t got no place to lay your head

Somebody came and took your bed

Don’t worry, be happy

The landlord say your rent is late

He may have to litigate

Don’t worry, be happy

Don’t worry, be happy”

I remember when I first heard the song I just had to have it… I rushed out and bought the 45 (a smallish version of a record for all you “Gen Xers and Millennials”… What’s a “record”?…forget it…). Anyway, I just had to have a piece of what Bobby was selling, and I wasn’t alone! The same impulse in other listeners pushed the hit to #1 on every chart in just about every country around the world. “Don’t Worry be Happy” won the Grammy in 1988 for Song of the Year, and won McFerin the Album of the Year as Well! But why…how could such a simple little ditty take the world by such storm? Because it was a gentle reminder of what we are all about…what life is all about…to be happy! If not happiness, what then…what possible purpose could life have if not happiness? And if we agree that the whole purpose of life is to “live happily”, then the question becomes “how?”

I remember the title to a little film I saw years ago…”Man’s Search for Happiness”; Don’t remember much about the film – just the concept that man searches for happiness. Makes sense if that’s what life’s all about, but…where to look? Hundreds of books are written each year on the subject, and thousands of seminars are conducted in search of this elusive “happiness”. Millions of dollars are earned…and spent in its pursuit. Relationships are forged…and broken, and honors and achievements are attained just to lay claim on “happiness”. And when all is said and done, earned, bought, and sacrificed “happiness” continues to elude its seekers like a little shadow fleeing from its child. As C.P. Snow put it , “The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase; if you pursue happiness you’ll never find it” .

Then why is something so simple to understand (happiness) so difficult to find? Fortunately, the answer really is simple, but the truth behind it is hard. The answer is that when we are looking for a thing, when we are searching the horizon, our eyes are trained outward…to the landscape, to our surroundings, to those around us. That is not where we find true happiness. The only way to find happiness…to be happy, is to focus inward and there find the wellspring of our own happiness…ourselves, our attitudes and our perceptions. The hard truth is that happiness is a personal choice; It is a decision . As Abraham Lincoln said “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be” . The great news is that it is our choice…our decision… our creation, which means no one can take it away from us…but us. It is ours if we will it to be. No outside force, person, or circumstance can rob us of our happiness…only we can do that. And how do we do that? By not being true to ourselves and to the things we believe and feel deeply – our values. Mahatma Gandhi said “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” . We cannot fool ourselves, BUT…when we make mistakes we can forgive ourselves, get back on track, and live, work, and lead as we know we can and should. If we do as William Shakespeare penned in Hamlet, “ This above all: to thine own self be true” , and we decide to…”Don’t worry [about all that other stuff]…be Happy”, we can be.

And when we’re happy, those around us are happier…not because we give them happiness, but we make it easier on them by creating a “happy” environment. Have you ever worked with or for someone that never seemed to be happy? Kind of took the FUN out of work didn’t it? Did you want to be around them, talk to them, solve problems with them? Was it motivating in any way? Nope! You just wanted to stay as far away as possible.

With that in mind, how are you to work with? Are you a happy, energetic, and fun manager, leader, or salesperson? Or are you unhappy, cross, or negative? Organizational behavior experts have found that worker productivity relates far more to how workers feel than to what they know . You as a manager, leader, sales person, parent or friend set the tone for how others “feel”. Keep things positive, fun, even humorous and the energy level and productivity goes through the roof. Turn it off with a bad mood, or harsh or critical words or just a temporary fixation on your immediate problems, and it all comes crashing down.

“Ok” you’re thinking “that’s nice, but life is not that simple…it just isn’t a bowl of cherries… EXACTLY! Life can be rough! Disappointment and difficulty happens! And since it does… we might as well learn to handle it in a positive…even happy way! Beats the alternative all to heck!  In fact, in the middle of writing this, I took back to back phone calls from unhappy customers;  One was unhappy and the other was downright stark raving, maniacally, vessel popping, steam spouting mad! He was downright abusive! I got off the phone and had to laugh – not because I’m a model at what I writing about (I’m not), but because of the irony. Believe me, I was inclined to let this guy get to me…I had a choice…get angry or hurt and feel rotten, or maintain MY chosen course and BE HAPPY that… a) I’m not him, and more importantly b) because I know I have a choice – whether to be happy or not. I chose happy, and really had a good laugh…with myself.


” In every life we have some trouble

But when you worry you make it double”

……..Don’t worry, be happy”

Lead on…


February 25, 2010 at 10:27 am Leave a comment

DON’T Go With the Flow!

Some of my fondest childhood memories were of hunting and fishing with my father in the great Nevada outdoors. Dad and I frequently fished the Truckee River, which stretches 140 miles from mountainous Lake Tahoe, northward through Reno and on to Pyramid Lake in the high desert. I remember when I was very young climbing up on dad’s back as he carefully traversed the roaring Truckee River, fighting its sometimes overpowering current. Dad was a master at river crossing; He taught me to pick a spot on the opposite bank and to use it as a guide. The idea was to do everything possible to stick to that goal…fighting each step to hit the mark on the far side. If the river got the best of you and knocked you a step or two downstream a new target was selected, and you’d fight your way across ‘til you made the goal. As I grew older and I was ready to learn to make my own way across, I’d often slip from a misplaced foothold or be overcome by the current…and down the river I’d go…until I could swim to the other side or get a foothold in a calmer spot. On a hot day, or when I was feeling playful and wanted a break, I’d sometimes allow the river to carry me way downstream, just floating along with it’s flow… But whenever this happened it often meant a long hike back to the original target. Not a good thing in the long run, and certainly not an effective way to catch my limit of fish! In life we often find ourselves in a fight to meet our daily, weekly, and monthly objectives. We set our sites to accomplish a thing, and along come the “currents” of life that test us, at least, and occasionally bump us off course. When this happens we have two choices…1) just sit down and go with the flow, riding the waves wherever they’ll take us, or 2) get a [new] grip, adapt to the challenge, pick the next best outcome, and fight to get there.

Many of us have been knocked “off course” by a  challenging economy!  The question that lies before us is “how will we react?”  Will we sit down and let economic and business currents carry us along, however the will? Or will we get a grip, stand up to the challenge, reset our sites, and press forward to the next best outcome? …Hopefully the latter! Some will just wring their hands and say “it’s the economy, and there’s really nothing we can do about it”. But if WE decide NOT to “go with the flow”, if WE decide to meet, or come very close to, OUR objectives it simply requires we use our individual and collective creativity and resourcefulness. It means trying new things, talking to new people, and breaking new ground. It does mean NOT accepting the status quo! Instead, gather your team together, present the challenge, and let the ideas flow… Then put one foot in front of the other and cross the river. Through it all, reflect optimism and energy, making your customers AND employees feed off of your enthusiasm and believe in you! And then, once you reach the opposite bank, don’t forget to celebrate your successes! When the going gets tough, the tough don’t give in and “go with the flow”, they rise above the challenge… They get going…even against the currents that carry the rest away. So stand tough, set your sites, take charge in your market, and……. Lead on… Cliff

February 18, 2010 at 11:51 am Leave a comment

Shake It Off

Wow…  What a recession we’re having!  If you’re not feeling pretty whipped, or at least a little dazed by the effects of the economy,  you either weren’t here the last eighteen months or you’re just coming out of an extended comma!  It’s been tough and continues to offer a variety of challenges for all!  Reflecting on some of the struggles, obstacles, and challenges many of you have faced these many months, I was reminded of the old, but inspiring story of the donkey in the well.  

According to the story, a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well.  The animal cried and cried for hours as the farmer tried and toiled to get him out.  Finally he decided the animal was just too old and the well needed to be covered up anyway…it just wasn’t worth trying to save the donkey.  The farmer invited his neighbors to come over and help him bury the beast. They all grabbed shovels and began shoveling dirt into the well.  At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly.  In time, he quieted down.  The farmer and his friends kept shoveling.  A while later, the farmer stopped to peek down into the well…  He was amazed by what he saw!  With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Eventually, to everyone’s amazement, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!

There’s just no getting around it.  Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up…recognizing that each and every one of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can let them bury us…or we can use them to get out of even the deepest well.  It’s our choice…

 My suggestions:                     

NEVER give up!  (Be proactive…YOU are in charge of you)

 NEVER stop!  (Long enough for your problems to gather weight and over come you)

 Shake it off…  (Ask yourself “what can I learn from this?)

 Step UP!  (Look ahead…never back…focus forward!)

 Lead on…  Cliff

February 9, 2010 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

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