Archive for the ‘ Success ’ Category

The Mule and The Well (Weekly Inspiration #15)

Here is a great short story that illustrates how determination and perseverance can help us overcome adversity.  Enjoy!

Once there was a farmer who owned an old mule. One day the mule fell into the farmer’s well and the farmer heard the mule praying or whatever mules do when they fall into wells.

After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving.

Instead, he called all his neighbors together, told them what had happened and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

Initially, the old mule was hysterical, but as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck him. It dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back, he could shake it off and step up! This he did, blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up … shake it off and step up … shake it off and step up!”
He repeated this to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or how distressing the situation seemed, the old mule fought “panic” and just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up!

It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, finally stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well! What seemed like it would only bury him actually helped him … all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.

The Farmer had given up on the mule, but the mule had not given up on himself.  The mule realized that he could use the farmers attempts to bury him as an opportunity to rise above.  It was up to the mule to take the actions necessary to change his situation.  If he accepted the farmers assessment that he was not worth saving, he could have laid down and let the dirt bury him.

The lesson for me in this story is to think of the dirt as a metaphor for doubts, criticisms, artificial limitations, and other obstacles that might get in my way.  I can either accept them, lay down, and allow them to bury me, or I can shake them off and stay determined to accomplish my goals.  Adversity will certainly come.  How I handle it is up to me.

John Wooden (Weekly Inspiration #8)

Last week legendary basketball coach John Wooden died at the age of 99.  Few people have walked the earth, with more inspiration living inside of them than Coach Wooden.  It seemed every time he opened his mouth, a new inspirational quote emerged.  This weeks inspirational blog is in memory and in tribute to Coach Wooden.

Coach wooden often said that he did not believe basketball was one thing and life was another.  He believed that what made you successful in one would make you successful in the other.  For this reason he spent as much time teaching his players how to be good people, as how to dribble and shoot.  Did it work?  Hard to argue with 10 national championships including 7 in a row.  Here are some of his most famous teachings.  Read each one twice and reflect. Continue reading

Scary Questions

My colleague Todd Lile and I have started a new Blog at I wrote the following post for that blog but thought it fit well here too.  Check out our other blog and sign up for an email subscription.  That blog should get pretty good in the near future.  Here is the post: Continue reading

Choosing Happiness

My former students can tell you that I am a sucker for inspiration.  I collect inspirational stories, videos, quotes, and pictures to remind myself of the positive things in life.  Some of them are a bit abstract, but if they contain even a little nugget of truth, or if they make me think about something in a different light, then I add them to my collection. Continue reading

Starving For Good News Part 2

Now that the Olympics are over, I am ready to post Part 2 of Staving for good news.  I think the Olympic games are a perfect example of what I am talking about.  100’s of millions of  people from around the world tuned into watch the Olympics in Vancouver.  Why?  I will get to that in a moment.  First let’s look at two types of news.

The first type of news, I would call “Real news”. This is news that people actually need or should know.   This is news that has an real impact or potential impact on the people watching.  Political elections are real news because it informs us of the issues and agendas of those people who wish to make decisions and shape our lives for the next few years.  Economic news about interest rates, new credit card laws, housing markets, etc. help many people make personal choices.  Even the weather is real news because it can help people plan for their weekend or brace for disaster.

On the other hand is “Other News”.  This news has no impact on the general readership other than being interesting.  This is the type of news that TV, magazine, newspaper, and radio people choose to write about, talk about, and broadcast.  This is not real news.  Who is entering rehab in Hollywood, how many women Tiger Woods slept with, or the story about the guy who shot his neighbor’s dog when it would not stop barking, have no impact or bearing on any ones lives other than the people directly involved.

Other news is interesting.  There is a place for the human interest story.  My problem is on the percentage of other news that is negative.  Why do the media flock to the tragic human interest story rather than the triumphant?  I do not buy into the idea that bad news sells more papers.  The Olympics are a perfect example.

Yesterday Team Canada beat Team USA in Hockey.  This is not real news.  This is other news.  However, I am guessing that Canadians are out in force spending their hard earned Loonies on every news paper they can get their hands on to read this good news! (congratulations Canada on a great game and for hosting the Olympics!)  I think the appeal of the Olympics is the positive human interest stories or positive “other news” it generates.  Sure there is heart-break and tragedy, but I would argue that what most people love about the games is the feel good “good news” side of things.

During the Olympics we were distracted by good news.  Now the media can resume its relentless search for “other news” in all the wrong places.

Lies We Tell Children Part 3

I am having a little fun looking at some of the lies we tell children.  There are so many little ones that are harmless or maybe even helpful.  A good friend of mine has a daughter who has recently developed a fear of the monsters that live in her closet.  He and his wife have given her “Monster Spray” to use before she goes to bed.  This little lie helps her go to sleep at night and rest peacefully knowing the Monsters cannot get to her.

Other lies, and the ones I am more interested in, are the ones that seem to be for the good but have the potential to have horrible consequences.  In Lies We Tell Children Parts 1 and 2 we discussed the motivational lie that “You can accomplish anything you put your mind to”

Another favorite lie told by adults in an attempt to inspire not only children but other adults as well, is that the key to happiness is to “live each day as if it is your last.”  This is one part lie and one part advice but the potential result is the same.

I don’t think people are as likely to take this lie as literally as the first,  but it is still fun to play with the absurd nature of this lie and its implications.  It is a well intended lie that asserts  that we will not find happiness living in the past, nor will we discover fulfillment by only looking to the future and delaying our gratification until we reach “someday.”

The “greater truth” in this lie is that we should appreciate and take full advantage of right now.  To live in the present and enjoy the moment.  Not to wait until tomorrow but to seize the day to do the things you have always wanted.

But really does anybody really think this is a good idea?  If today were my last day on Earth and I was literally going to live it like there was no tomorrow, I would certainly not go to work.  Sure I might make sure I touch base with all my loved ones and make sure they know how much I love them, but I would not bother flossing my teeth.  The dishes in the sink could sit.  I have always wondered what it would be like to rob a bank and try to get away.  That might be an option.  I might as well try that dangerously addictive and life ruining drug I have always been warned about.  Maybe I would empty my bank account and go on a spending spree.

Imagine if the whole world decided one day to live it like it were the last. All the spending might be just the boost the economy needs right now but imagine the chaos.

What would you do?

Lies We Tell Children Part 2

“You can accomplish anything you put your mind to!”  This is the same as the lie in my last post “If you have a dream, and believe in yourself, and never give up, then you can do anything!”

Obviously neither version of this lie is true, yet audiences rise to their feet and applaud at the conclusion of a rousing and inspirational speech given by a person who overcame great odds, broke through impossible barriers, or ignored all the people who said “you can’t” and did it anyway.

We approve of this message for kids and hope that it will inspire them to follow their dreams and to persevere through hard times because “when the going gets tough…..”  But does this lie really foster drive, persistence, dedication, determination, and courage?  Do kids work harder and give up less often when they believe in this lie?  If so then maybe it is worth telling.

The alternative is to tell kids the truth.  But the truth is not nearly as dramatic and therefore less fun.

The truth is that each of us possesses a set of genetic, environmental, intellectual, and social limits or maximum potentials.  My genetic limits represented by my height, body make up and athletic ability, will probably not allow me to win the NBA slam dunk competition but if I worked hard enough, believed in myself, and really put my mind to it, maybe I could have touched the rim.

Personally I find discovering my limits within the tasks and dreams I choose to pursue incredibly rewarding.  I am under no allusions that I can do anything I put my mind to, but I know I can get better at the things I do through the same kind of hard work, desire, belief in myself, and determination the motivational speakers talk about.  But would children (and adults for that matter) be inspired by this message?

Several people commented yesterday on Lies We Tel Children Part 1.  I would highly recommend you read these comments if you are interested in this topic.  The replies deal with such things as cultural perspectives, greater truths, realistic goals, and the danger or equating accomplishing our dreams with happiness.  There is some great insight there!

In my next post I will look at another lie we tell children.  We all know this lie.  We have all heard it many times.  Most of us are probably inspired by it,  but if we all followed it, the world would descend into chaos!

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