September 23, 2014

An Unexpected Wake Up Call

"Appreciate what you have before it becomes what you HAD." -Unknown

I read an article today by Frank Sonnenberg than hit me right between the eyes. That's because I tend to think of myself as a pretty grateful person overall. As I read the article, and Frank listed just a few of the more subtle blessings the majority of us have each day I suddenly felt like a complete ingrate. (Let's put aside the fact that I do guilt with Olympian gusto.)

In his article Frank points out that often we are so busy thinking about what we still want or what someone else has that we don't have that we tend stop noticing the many things right in front of us. Guilty as charged!

Another cause of ingratitude, Frank pointed out, is assuming. We assume that what we have, we have so we don't need to worry about it anymore - until we don't have it.  I remember a wise 100 year old woman telling me that the sweetest sound to a widow would be hearing her husband's snoring. I'm sure many a widow didn't feel that way during the snoring and yet what they would give or tolerate to hear it for even one more night.

Frank mentioned trust as one of our many blessings. It never occurred to me to be thankful for trust. There are people in my life that I can share my soul with and sleep soundly knowing it won't be posted on Facebook or Tweeted all over creation. That is a rare commodity and yet I am guilty of taking it for granted because I assume it will always be there.

Frank mentioned variety - specifically as it relates to all the options we have in the marketplace but it reminded me of something my friend Jim once said. "You know that God could have just created one kind of flower and we would never have known the difference." That one sentence opened me up to the beauty of even what we call weeds. Ever drive past an empty field and see all the "weeds" in their many varieties blanketing the area in a beautiful patchwork of colors and textures? It's breathtaking. We didn't plant it, or tend to it, and yet it's there for our enjoyment if we just take a moment to take it in.

Another thing we tend to take for granted is our health - until we're sick. Then once we've recovered we go right back to taking it for granted. Seldom do we change our lifestyles to maintain our health, but only to gain it back again - and there are a limited number of do-overs allotted to each of us. Who knows which one it will be?

Overall I guess I am grateful. I do take time to appreciate and thank for those things I notice. I was just stunned by how many things there are that fall from my awareness - or get drowned out by less important things that seem to scream louder for my attention. I'm going to make it my intention to be more aware and more thankful. I'm not keen on regret. I hope you'll join me.

You can read Franks complete article here.

September 17, 2014

Can Expecting Make You Happy?

"Blessed are they who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed!" -Unknown

That's a funny quote, with not so funny implications. It's true that not expecting anything is a sure fire way to keep from being disappointed when it doesn't arrive, but it fails to take into account the price we pay for our safety from disappointment. It's a high price. It's our happiness and fulfillment.

Another saying that comes and goes in popularity is "If you want to increase your happiness, lower your expectations." Funny! No, not really.

Our expectations are connected to our dreams and desires. They're messages sent from our soul encouraging us to aspire to our highest potential. When we ignore, disregard, and push back these messages, what we get instead is a feeling of hollowness. 

When was the last time your heart was set on steak and you decided a Spam sandwich would be just as good? Yes, sometimes in life, a Spam sandwich is what we can have - for now, and sometimes we even choose the Spam sandwich but that doesn't mean it takes the place of our yearning for a steak when a steak is what we really want. 

Expecting nothing is the ultimate sell out. 

In relationships it signals the beginning of the end. It's a sign of having checked out - disengaged from. To no longer expect anything from our friends, family or partner means to have lost faith in their willingness or ability to connect to our needs and desires. It's the beginning of disconnecting from our own needs and desires as well. It's like crawling into a hole and pulling the darkness in around us.

Further, expecting nothing from others is harmful to them as well. It's the opposite of inspiration. It sends the message "why bother" instead of "imagine what might be!" It tells them there is no need to be better or to strive. When we're not growing we're dying.

When we take into account that we are constantly teaching those around us how to treat us, expecting nothing pretty much guarantees that we will be left feeling lonely, unfulfilled, and unappreciated. In spite of what we would like to believe, the less we expect from those around us, the less we get. We may believe that we're just trying to be easy to get along with, or trying not to be a burden on others by our non-expecting, but how much of a burden on others is an unhappy person. Self assigned martyrs do not good company make.

Expecting nothing of ourselves is self confidence suicide. It's giving ourselves an excuse to fail without having given ourselves a chance to succeed. When we expect nothing of ourselves we're casting a vote against us. It's saying we can't - we're not good enough. It leads to things like living our lives vicariously through television, books, or others - any medium that will numb the deepening despair.

Yes, we can give up expecting but the one thing that we will still cling to is hope, and unfulfilled hope leads to hopelessness. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be disappointed!

I'm choosing expectation (along with it's possibility of disappointment!) I'm also encouraging you to  EXPECT! 

Expect miracles. Expect consideration. Expect to be well treated, shared with, loved, and remembered.

Expect the best of and from your loved ones. Don't let them slack off and be less than they can be. Don't let them wither and die on the "didn't bother" vine.

Expect the best of yourself and be willing to go the extra mile to deliver. Expect that you will sometimes fail and expect that you'll live to fight another day.

EXPECT! It's the surest way to insure REspect and SELF respect.

Who's with me?

September 11, 2014

I Don't Want To Remember

Today is September 11th. As few as 15 years ago, that didn't mean a lot to people unless they were born on that date, were married on that date, had a child or lost a loved one on that date. Now however the numbers 9 and 11 in sequence take on a meaning all their own.

EVERYONE has a "where were you and what where you doing when..." story, and it doesn't matter how mundane the answer to the question is, it becomes bathed in the kind of "frozen moment" significance that will make it completely unforgettable.

It seems that each year since, much emphasis is put on "remembering" the events that happened on that horrific day, but I for one, don't want to remember.

I don't want to remember how I was awakened by a phone call telling me to turn on the news. I don't want to remember the sleepy confusion of seeing the second plane hit. I don't want to remember the instant loss of innocence that had let me believe all my life that somehow living in America meant being isolated from horrible things of that magnitude.

I don't want to remember my first thought. "I have to make soup!" I knew that when my children came home from school that I needed them to return to something "normal." Eating a home cooked meal said normal to me somehow that day.

I don't want to remember the eerie silence in the sky as planes were grounded and I don't want to recall the horrifying sound of them flying overhead again. I don't want to remember not being able to go ANYWHERE without hearing people rehearsing the latest death tolls, or news stations playing their round the clock coverage of the havoc.

Maybe I'm alone in this, but I don't want to remember how many people's lives were shattered in a few hours by the actions of so few. Or how some people will never live the lives that would have or could have lived without this event marking the end and the new beginning.

I DON'T WANT TO REMEMBER - and sadly, just like the rest of you, I just can't seem to forget.

September 8, 2014

Life On Hold

Have you ever felt like your life was "on hold?"

You know, you have a great idea that you can't wait to implement. You've been dreaming and scheming and it's finally starting to gel when life throws a curve ball and your attention is suddenly redirected without your permission? OR You've saved and planned for a great vacation and have been looking forward to it for quite some time  and something happens unexpectedly and you need to reschedule? OR... and I could go on here for pages and pages and not include all the situations that can stall other things - put life on hold - or so I thought.

I'm finally realizing that life is NEVER on hold. All that happens, no matter when it happens is life marching right on. The idea that it's any other way, I believe, comes from our need to feel that we have some control of life - like it rises and falls on command and happens according to our careful or even haphazard planning. I for one am still surprised when it doesn't despite all evidence to the contrary.

One of my kids posted a sign on the refrigerator years ago that read "To have peace in your life, resign as general manager of the universe." Do you think they were trying to tell me something? I remember feeling perplexed at the time. I didn't believe for a minute that I was trying to control the universe. I guess all universal controlists feel the same way. 

I'm realizing lately, just how few things I really do have control over. It's been a bit bewildering actually. People eat when they want to and not as a result of our worry and pleading. The same goes for my dog. It rains when it rains regardless of my plans. People leave this earth whether I'm ready to let them go or say goodbye to them or not and the pace of passing time keeps speeding up no matter how hard I cling to it and try to slow it down by sheer will.

There are a few things I can control. I can control attitude about all these things. (Sometimes.) I can control how I spend the accelerating time. (Once in awhile.) I can control my emotions. (Almost never)

OR - I can just try to accept that life has a plan of it's own and once in awhile the things I want or plan fit nicely into it's schedule and try to learn from all else that happens around those things. Maybe I'll give more thought to handing in my resignation for universal control and try the peace route for a change.  Care to join me?

September 1, 2014

SPARKS: Moments Of Creation Vol. 5

Welcome to SPARKS. The sole purpose of this and every monthly issue is to celebrate dreamers who have taken bold action to move their dream from an idea to reality. My hope is that you'll find the inspiration you need to breathe life into your own dream. Your dream has the potential to change our world, and your own world without a doubt!

At the risk of sounding like a recording, I once again came across this month's featured guest on Twitter. (Good thing I opened a Twitter account! I can't believe how many wonderful people I'd never have had the opportunity to know!) Even though he's one of THE movers and shakers in the business social media realm, what first caught my attention about him was the open and friendly exchanges he shared with his followers.

He is the co-author of a brand new book  titled A World Gone Social (available for pre-order here ) and the co-founder of one of the top sites for business related topics on the web. I'm really excited to introduce you to:


"Leadership is not an accomplishment you check off your daily to-dos. At the heart of leadership is the omnipresent, bold belief that influence, relationships, dialogue and faith in people call forward our best leadership abilities." -Ted Coiné

I love this quote I found in a post from 2013. You get the idea that Ted is serious about leadership and what he's leading at the moment is a movement to bring awareness to businesses that to be profitable means remembering where it all starts and ends - with people and relationships. I hope you catch his vision in his answers to the questions below.

 How did the idea for Switch and Shift come about? 

 I’ve been an author and professional speaker since 2005. I launched my first blog in 2006 or so. Speakers blog to build an audience of potential clients, to demonstrate thought-leadership… this is a very well-trodden path by now. Meanwhile, Shawn Murphy has been a full-time consultant for most of his career; he’s blogged for exactly the same reason as me.

At some point we met on Twitter because we’re both passionate about promoting the Human Side of Business, the notion that because profits only come through the work of people (employees) and the patronage of people (customers), any company that wants success needs to treat these constituencies with respect. Sounds simple and perhaps even obvious, but one look at the business press will show you, most leaders haven’t caught on to this idea yet, and even those who have often are unclear on how to run their companies in a more enlightened, human-centric, and thus profitable way.

Already-long story short, Shawn was running a guest series on his blog, and he invited me to contribute. It was a very positive experience for me, for Shawn, and for his readers (and for my followers, who discovered Shawn’s blog through my promotion of the series). Even though he’s a consultant in California and I’m a speaker based in Florida, through social – and eventually the phone, then Skype – Shawn and I became friends.

At some point in there, I pitched him on the idea of starting a blog together. I figured I had a few hundred readers a month, and he had a few hundred more than me; together, maybe our co-blog would reach a thousand or so people a month. I thought it was an obvious yes, but it took him eight months to agree (I love to tease him about that!) But he did, and the result is Switch and Shift’s first blog post going live January 1, 2012.

We’ve grown steadily since, as the word continues to get out that there’s a home for this movement we call the Human Side of Business. In 2013 we earned the second most socially shared leadership blog on the web. In 2014, we’ll pass one million unique visitors for the year, and our reader survey confirms that these are highly educated, affluent people in leadership positions within their companies, so exactly the audience we’re writing for: the people who can bring change to their organizations right now, today.

Somehow, without intending to at all, we’ve gone from a humble co-blog to something of a media outlet. Most of that credit, without any question, goes to our guest contributors and especially our core thought leaders, our League of Extraordinary Thinkers. The talent who have found Switch and Shift and made it their home is beyond anything we could have imagined or hoped for. But the talent we have is attracting more top experts in business leadership, from CEOs to bestselling authors to well-recognized professors, famous speakers… it’s truly humbling to find myself in with this group!

How did you know when it was time to launch your dream?

I started my first (successful) business in 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11, when I lost my job and started teaching English to immigrants in our living room. In four years we were valued at $10 million – all of which started by just doing, not by having this grand vision.

My writing and speaking career, yes, those were entirely purposeful: I researched what topic would be in demand that I had some expertise in, I wrote three hours a day for months while still running my school. I wrote a book only because I knew it would earn me demand as a speaker, not as its own end. I gave 35 speeches at Toastmasters over a year and a half before I ever charged a cent for my first gig. So yes, launching my speaking career was intentional. Looking back over everything I’ve done since 2001, though, that is the only thing that was premeditated.

My social media notoriety? Absolutely not! If you had told me in 2009, when I signed up for Twitter, that I’d be ranked top 20, then top 10 in the world by Forbes magazine for my social influence in two short years, I’d have laughed in your face! That just happened.

And Switch and Shift, going from a little co-blog to the hub of a movement with a million people so far considering us their home base on the web…? If I ever claim to be some visionary genius who saw this in the stars and plotted the whole thing out carefully (or even at all), please show me this interview. It just happened.

But it happened because we started. That is the key to success in any endeavor. First, start. Second, experiment and change continually. Third, don’t stop. No matter what the endeavor, that’s how one achieves success.

What's been most rewarding for you personally?

The recognition is very fleeting. The thing that has lasted is all the deep friendships I’m making along the way. Shawn and our third partner, Mark Babbitt, are two of my best friends in the whole world by now. Mark’s also my co-author on A World Gone Social, that’s how much I admire his brain and enjoy his company. Many of our Leaguers have become good friends by now, as has our Senior Editor, Beth Nicoletto. Same with the people I interview for The Human Side TV, many of our guest contributors, and quite a number of the brilliant, thought-provoking readers who comment on the site, or who “speak” with me first on social, then sometimes by email, then phone, etc. It’s the human connections I’ve made that are most rewarding, hands down!

          What challenges have you faced?

Yikes, what challenges haven’t we faced? Without question, it’s being too slow to “monetize” our site. I hate that word, by the way. It sounds too transactional, too “What’s in it for me?” But cash flow problems can make any startup uncomfortable, so there’s nothing unique to us.

 Complete this statement: If I had it all to do over again, I'd...

Start Switch and Shift Consulting in 2012. Instead, we’re launching it in the later half of 2014 – as I write this, in fact. Duh, what were we thinking? Our tight inner circle includes some of the most well-regarded, seasoned consultants in the world, including Shawn and Mark. We’re just bringing all this expertise together under one umbrella now? Shame on us!  

Where would you like to see Switch and Shift head in the future? I noticed in a recent post you mentioned "teaching it to run."        

As stewards of this home for the Human Side of Business, it is our responsibility to not allow our own limitations limit the success and reach of this organization. We take this very seriously. There are millions of unhappy workers and under-performing, Industrial Age organizations out there that need actionable inspiration right now. Who are we to feel daunted by the task of speeding and soothing the birth of the Social Age, our term for the more human-centric replacement of old school management assumptions and practices?
What advice would you give to someone who has a dream but hasn't pulled the trigger yet? 

If the dream is to do something more rewarding, but you don’t know what, that’s the very first thing you must do: choose a direction. Until you do that, nothing else can help you. You must know where you want to go. (I also recommend knowing why you want to go there, but I’ll leave that up to you. Sometimes figuring that out comes later).

If your dream includes a specific endeavor? Then follow the three simple (though not easy) steps from question number 2, above:

Experiment and adjust continually
Don’t stop

My favorite success quote is from British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: “The secret to success is constancy of purpose.” Remember, you don’t lose until you give up. 

Thanks Ted for your time and insights. I'm looking forward to reading 
A World Gone Social! 
If you haven't had a chance to visit Switch & Shift, I suggest you check it out. There are wonderful insights there!

You can contact Ted at:

Ted Coiné
Chairman & Founder
c: 239-207-6508
t: @tedcoine

Ted Coiné

Ted Coiné

Keynote speaker. Author of A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive. Three-time CEO. Chairman and Founder of Switch and Shift. Ted Coiné is one of the most influential business experts on the Web, top-ranked by Forbes, Inc., SAP Business Innovation, and Huffington Post for his leadership, customer experience, and social media influence. Ted consults with owners, CEOs and boards of directors on making their companies more competitive by making them more human-focused. He and his family live in Naples, Florida.