December 15, 2017 1 comment

Today’s Task – December 15, 2017

Ordinary wisdom is about finding meaning in life and suffering.  It is about accepting, owning, and valuing our lives and our life-stories, including both unlived lives and untold stories.  Ordinary wisdom does not manifest once and for all, however, but in the form of a journey.  Moreover, it is a journey fraught with doubt and confusion, paradox and tension, ambivalence and fear.  As Sogal Rinpoche notes, anyone looking honestly at life will see that we live in a constant state of suspense and ambiguity.  Our minds are perpetually shifting, in and out of confusion and clarity.  If only we were confused all the time, that would at least make for some kind of clarity.  What is really baffling about life is sometimes, despite our confusion, we can also be really wise. – William L. Randall

One of my former students suffered the tragic loss of her beloved husband just as their collective lives was beginning to have clarity and meaning.  Suddenly, my young friend was thrust into a spiral of pain, anger, doubt, and confusion.  Life, as she knew it….and expected it would be….had taken a dramatic turn and she struggled with the raging battle of emotions inside.  She wanted to be strong for her children, but her spirit was weakened from her loss.  She knew she needed to move forward, but she struggled to let go of the past.  She struggled to find who she is because who she was, before the loss, is etched so deeply in her soul.  It has been a difficult year for her, but she is beginning find the ordinary wisdom of which William Randall spoke.  Her wisdom is growing out of her understanding that rather than fight against the pain and anger, she must embrace them as the road to clarity.  As she recently said to me, she understands that in order to truly understand life’s highs, she must be willing and able to experience life’s lows.  The journey of her past year has been a difficult one, but she is developing a deeper wisdom that will present her with an even richer future.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to understand that the story of your life, like that of my young friend, will be filled with love and hate, joy and suffering, doubt and clarity, and confusion and wisdom.  Ordinary wisdom comes when you understand that the more intensely you love, the more painful the loss.  The greater the joy, the deeper the suffering.  And the greater the doubt and confusion, the richer the opportunity for wisdom.  Life is truly a journey, and we can either be indifferent about the possibilities, shielding ourselves from pain, suffering and confusion, or we can embrace it, opening our hearts and minds to the love, joy, and clarity that will move us toward greater wisdom.  You choose!

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

December 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – December 14, 2017

The starting point for a better life is discovering that we have choices.  Sadly, many people never do.  They live in a country that offers more freedom of choice than any in the world, yet they live like prisoners, trapped by circumstances.  I am always amazed at some of the excuses people come up with for not taking advantage of life’s opportunities to make new choices:  not enough money, no time, wrong conditions, poor luck, lousy weather, too tired, bad mood, and the list goes on.  But the truth is that they just don’t see their choices.  It is like being locked up somewhere and having a key in your pocket that will set you free, but never using it simply because you don’t know it is there.  You have more choices than you ever dreamed possible.  The key is knowing that they are there….every day of your life.  We live by choice, not by chance.  It isn’t what happens that is most important.  It is how we deal with what happens.  It is what we choose to think and what we choose to do that are the most important.

The above is taken from Hal Urban’s Life’s Greatest Lessons and for me, is one of the most important lessons I have ever learned.  I understand that I make choices ever moment of every day.  I chose to get out of my warm, comfortable bed this morning.  I chose to take the opportunity to make a difference by writing this without any real knowledge that someone will read it or be moved by it.  In a few minutes I am going to choose to lace up my running shoes and go out in the freezing weather for a four mile run.  I choose these things rather than some other alternative.  Too many people get caught up in a “have-to” mentality.  They have to go to work, they have to go to the store, they have to get organized….the truth of the matter is they don’t have to do any of these things.  They choose to go to work over not going to work.  They choose to go to the store over not going.  They choose….well, you get the picture!

Today, no every day, I encourage you understand that you can alter the course of your life at any time that you want, because whatever you do, you do by choice.  You chose to take the time to read this today and you will choose whether the message has relevance or not.  You will choose whether to act upon the message or you will choose to ignore it.  And depending on the choice you make, you will have chosen the end result.  Once you realize that we do all things by choice, you will begin to accept greater responsibility for your life and take more effective control over it.   Game on.  How will you choose to play?

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

December 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – December 13, 2017

Perhaps the most famous question of our time is, “What is the meaning of life?”  Maybe another, more critical, way of asking it is, “What is the meaning of your life?”  No matter how you answer this question, I guarantee that it will cause you to think more about what you are doing and what your purpose is. Why do you exist?  Why are you here?  These are compelling questions that when answered, will lead you to a more enlightened and enriched life.

I recently read about an exercise you might find helpful in framing your purpose and in focusing your efforts towards achieving that purpose.  List ten things, in any order, that are important to you.  Then put those things in order of importance.  You might find this very challenging.  Some people take hours, even days, to get their final list.  The next step is to write a sentence beside each of these values.  In it, briefly explain what you do each day that proves it is important to you.  While the first step may be challenging, the second step may be the most enlightening.  For example: Many people list God and family as their top two priorities, yet they struggle when asked how they prove it by their daily activities.  We often find inconsistencies between our list of values and the things that occupy most of our time.  If you value good health and then smoke, eat poorly, and never exercise….that would be an inconsistency.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to take the time to try the exercise described above.  You just might find that you have acquired some negative values.  Taking the time to identify, clarify, and reorder your value system might just get you back on track and rejuvenate you.  Life is richer with meaning and purpose.  So, what is the meaning of your life?  And what are you doing each day to prove it?

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

December 12, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – December 12, 2017

It was not good for business….and then business got worse!  On Friday evening, some family and friends gathered at a local restaurant to celebrate my grandson’s birthday.  On Saturday, all but two of those in attendance became ill, the result of food poisoning.  We know this to be true because we all ate the same food.  Our discomfort continued through Sunday so I decided to make a courtesy call to the restaurant to inform them that they had served us some bad food.  I wanted nothing from them other than their assurance that they would correct the problem.  That’s when business got worse.  I spoke to a young lady and explained what happened and my concern that others might have experienced the same thing.  I also explained that I was calling as a courtesy so that they knew there was a problem.  The young lady’s response, after a brief silence, “Okay.  Thanks.”  No hint of concern in her voice.  No offer, even though I was not asking for anything, of compensation or reconciliation.

This business was servicing the public, primarily catering to children, and their seeming lack of concern was unacceptable.  What to do next?  I assumed it was not the intent of the restaurant to serve tainted food, but once informed, if they were not going to adequately address the issue, something had to be done.  My son suggested calling the Health Department, but I decided that I wanted to confront the manager of the restaurant….face to face.  When I arrived and asked to see the manager, two ladies appeared and I told them of our recent experience.  One of the ladies remembered us, saying that she was working that evening.  They both seemed genuinely upset that, not only had we become sick, but when I contacted the restaurant, they were not informed of that conversation.  I don’t know if this restaurant was cutting corners or if it was simply poorly run.  In either case, they assured me that they were going immediately to the kitchen and throwing out the meat.  I hope their words and actions are better than the experience to this point.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to approach your work with the highest level of care and integrity.  Certainly, it is possible that the tainted food we were served was an anomaly.  I can accept that.  What I was unwilling to accept was the response to my courtesy call.  My intention was pure and appropriate; to inform them of the problem so that no others would become ill.  I was asking nothing more in return.  When you are in the service of others, you owe them the very best you have, whether it is the food you are serving….or your efforts on their behalf.  Service is about the customer, not the profits.  Take care of the customer, and the profits will take care of themselves.

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

December 11, 2017 Leave a comment

December 11, 2017

Earning a good living, and having the money and things that come with it, is not the problem.  The problem is when that money and those things become too important.  When they do, we start suffering from a universal disease called “more.”  We can never answer the question, “How much is enough?”  I have known a number of people, as I am sure you have, who worked hard to earn a good living, but always had to have more.  While trying to get more, they ruined their lives and damaged the lives of others as well.

At some level, this basic human flaw of self-centeredness is taught to us when we are very young.  We think the world revolves around us and everyone else is here to make us comfortable and happy.  First, we get all our needs taken care of, and then we start getting things from these people.  Then we start getting more things, and soon, we can’t seem to get enough.  As we grow older we not only see all the things other people have, but we see and hear ads every day that tell us we should have more….and that we deserve it.  I am always amazed when the professional athlete who is making 25 million dollars a year, holds out for more money.  Really!  Twenty-five million isn’t enough for you to live comfortably?  I am not implying that they shouldn’t want to have nice things and live comfortably, but how much is enough.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to remember that as a young child, two of the first lessons you learned were, “NO,” as in “you can’t touch or have that,” and “SHARE,” as in “you can’t have it all yourself.”  As we mature, we come to realize that we are really not the center of the universe, even though we might like to be.  It also occurs to us that the people we like and admire the most are the ones who are caring, loving, and giving.  Another thought that dawns on us is that we would much rather be around these kinds of people than around uncaring, cold, and selfish people.  And somewhere along the line we are all faced with the important question, “Which kind of person do we want to be?”

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

December 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – December 8, 2017

The first three words in the highly acclaimed book The Road Less Traveled are “Life is difficult.”  This is one of life’s greatest truths because once we understand and accept it, we can live more effectively.  The problem with too many people, regardless of age, is that they either don’t understand or don’t accept the fact that life involves a certain amount of hardship.  They fight against it instead of adjusting to it.  One of the main differences between those who succeed and those who fail can be found in how they approach life’s difficulties.  Failures try either to avoid their problems or to work around them.  Successful people accept them and work through them, even when it includes some suffering.  It is this process of meeting our problems head-on and looking for solutions that gives life meaning.

As an educator, I made my students do two things teachers weren’t supposed to make them do; think and work hard.  I understood that once they accepted that life was hard, they would begin to grow.  They would begin to understand that every problem is also an opportunity.  It is during that time that they would dig down and discover what they are made of and who they are.  Instead of letting hardships defeat them, they welcomed them as a test of character.  I also understood that years removed from my classroom they probably wouldn’t remember the structure of the dorian mode, but they would remember that life is hard….and that they could overcome each hardship they faced.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to understand this fundamental truth.  We have all seen the bumper sticker which proclaims, “Life is hard….and then you die.”  In truth, you are looking at one of life’s most profound insights on the rear end of someone’s car.  Successful people accept life as it is.  In part, that is understanding that things worth achieving don’t come quickly or easily.  They come with a price.  They come as the result of time, effort, sacrifice, and pain.  Because life is hard!

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

December 7, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – December 7, 2017

….the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…. Yes, ‘tis the season.  It must be.  The stores have been decorated since the day after Halloween, I think I have heard every Christmas song at least a dozen times….and that was before Thanksgiving…., and the Hallmark Channel has been the channel of choice in homes across the country!  I saw how a kindergarten teacher had created a fake Santa cam which she wore around her neck each day.  Okay, so that was more about classroom management than seasonal celebration.  And there are a series of commercials currently running in our area in which kids are behaving appropriately and the “hook” is the naughty list is not an option.

Someone forgot to tell some pretty high-profile personalities about this naughty list is not an option thing.  Each year it seems Christmas starts earlier, and while I love the decorations, the music, and yes, even Hallmark movies, enough is enough.  I am voting however, that we have someone in the television industry, sports arenas, and government offices wear a Santa cam every day.  Who knows?  If it gets the kids in kindergarten to behave appropriately, maybe it will keep some of these people off the naughty list as well.  Clearly, we need to do something to teach people about the importance of moral and ethical values; about character and integrity.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to consider that we shouldn’t need a special season, or Santa cams, or a naughty list to make sure that people act in an appropriate manner.  In today’s technological society we worry about “big brother” watching us; about the loss of privacy and personal freedom.  Perhaps, if we would learn how to act with character and integrity, we wouldn’t need watch lists and ethics committees and of course, the all-important naughty list!  Just sayin’!

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

December 6, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – December 6, 2017

A man went into a Canadian store where there was a half-price sale going on.  He started looking at a leather coat marked 50 percent off.  He was the only customer in the store, but there were two salespeople and the owner-manager.  The manager said to the customer, “What a deal this is.”  Even though the customer was sold on the coat, he was concerned about the duty he would have to pay to take it back across the border.  The owner-manager told him rather than pay the duty, just wear it across the border like everyone else does.  The customer explained that he had signed the customs form stating that he must declare everything he purchased.  The owner-manager told him not to worry about it.  Interestingly, the customer responded, “Well, the thing that worries me most is that your two salespeople might begin to wonder how you deal with them on matters of commission, career training, and things of that nature.”

I once read that the key to the ninety-nine is the one.  If people know that you treat one person with respect then, under different circumstances, you would likely treat them the same way, even if there were some strain or pressure added.  This is a big deal!  In meetings, if we talk about people who are not in attendance in demeaning ways, undermining their credibility in the eyes of others, we are telling those in attendance that we would do the same thing to them if they were not there.  On the flip side, when you defend the integrity of a person who is absent, what does that say to those who are present? When other people are not with you, they are in the dark….they don’t know what is happening, what you are saying about them, and whether you are loyal to them.  And that’s when you show YOUR true character.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to consider the value of the idea that the key to the ninety-nine is the one.  When you treat one with respect and loyalty, you demonstrate to others that you treat all people that way.  I like what Dag Hammarskjold, the great Secretary-General of the United Nations said: “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.”  When we attend to the one, it shows our character, and affects the many.  How will you treat the one today?

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

December 5, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – December 5, 2017

It was not a pretty game.  Marred with crushing hits, missed opportunities, and questionable calls, it was a game in which both teams found themselves battling not only their opponent, but also the adversity that is so much a part of competitive sports.  In the first half, the Bengals played at a level that belied their season record, dominating the Steelers and forging a 17 – 0 lead.  Despite being outmatched for most of the first half, the Steelers did manage a positive drive in the closing minute to put 3 points on the board and perhaps set the tone for what was about to happen in the second half.

As it so often happens in competitive sports, the second half saw a change in game momentum; the dominated team of the first half, became the dominating team in the second, outscoring their opponents 20 – 3 and winning the game on the final play.  What really interested me was a phrase echoed by every Steeler player and coach interviewed after the game; “We never blinked!”   Each was asked about the feeling in the locker room at halftime and how they were able to overcome the adversity they faced.  Each responded with a calmness and assuredness that supported that catch-phrase.  Clearly, they had not blinked.  Even the announcers commented that they could sense an attitude with the Steelers that they knew something good was going to happen and that you could almost sense the Bengals saying, “Oh no, what’s going to happen next?”  It speaks to the importance of an organization’s culture.  Over the years, the Steelers have developed a culture and expectation that they are winners and as a result, they respond like winners.  The Bengals have found it more difficult to build a similar culture, often falling short of both their expectations and their talent level.

Today, no every day, I encourage you to consider the importance of a positive culture in the organizations to which you belong.  Recognize, of course, that it is not simply a mindset, but a way of life.  Positive attitudes are only successful when accompanied by positive actions.  You can’t think like a winner….and then act like a loser.  If you are a leader in your organization, it is your responsibility to not only set the tone, but to be the example.  If you want your organization to be positive, then be positive.  If you want them to be self-assured, then be self-assured.  If you want them not to blink in the face of adversity, well then, don’t blink!  Remember that it is not simply a mindset.  It is a way of life!

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized

December 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Today’s Task – December 4, 2017

For the longest time, it was all El Maestro did during their lessons.  Play.  Frankie sat in a kitchen chair, mesmerized, absorbing every note, watching the man’s fingers and wondering if his eyes were open or closed behind those dark glasses.  When at last the man would stop playing, Frankie would rise from the chair and leave; no sheet music, no assignments, no guitar.  Several times Frankie’s guardian asked El Maestro if the student shouldn’t be playing by now, only to be rebuked by El Maestro.  “You cannot write if you do not read,” the blind man said.  “You cannot eat if you do not chew.  And you cannot play if you do not listen.”  All told, it took a full year before El Maestro allowed the boy to touch a string.

The above is loosely taken from Mitch Albom’s wonderful book The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto and reminds me that to be successful in anything requires a set of fundamental skills that go well beyond natural talent.  During that first year, El Maestro “explained” music.  He believed the rhythm, syntax, and pitch of language helps us understand such things in music.  He demonstrated chords, scales, and voicings until Frankie could identify them by sound.  He made Frankie memorize the names of composers and compositions.  He laid the groundwork necessary for Frankie’s success.  It strikes me that our educational process today is in too much of a hurry, expecting students to take subjects earlier and earlier in their development without actually “explaining” them first.  Consider how many guitars are sitting in a closet somewhere because the student lacked the fundamentals and the foundations necessary to allow for their success.  That lack of fundamental skill and foundational substance made playing too difficult and frustrating, and so they gave up playing at all.  I wonder what happens to the students in our schools when they experience that same lack of fundamentals and foundational substance?  Do they set learning aside in much the same way the guitars are set aside?

Today, no every day, I encourage you to consider perhaps the greatest insight of Albom’s book; “Everyone joins a band in life, be it through music, family, friends, or lovers.  And those connections change the world.”  But what happens when we don’t acquire the fundamental skills and the foundational substance that will allow us to adequately build those connections?  Are you learning read so that you might be able to write?  Are you learning to chew so that you might eat?  Are you learning to listen so that you might play?  If Albom is right, and we all join a band in life, are you getting any gigs.  Or are the instruments of your band collecting dust in some closet because you never took the time to “explain” the music?

Make Today a Magnificent Day!

Mr R

www.todaystask.wordpress.com or on Facebook @ Today, No Every Day

Categories: Uncategorized