Happy Birthday…(to Me)

Yes it is true.  Today is my birthday.  Another year has passed. I am a year older and (hopefully) wiser.

You may be thinking: That is great Carl, but what does that have to do with us?  Did you just do this so we would say “Happy Birthday?”

Answer:  Keep reading, I will do my best.  And what is wrong with saying “Happy Birthday?”  I am not going to make you sing today, but that would be cool…anyway I digress.

Birthdays for me are a time to reflect.  A time to think about the past year and answer a few questions.

1.  Did I live my sentence this year?

2.  Did I accomplish my goals?

3.  Have I made progress?  Both personally and professionally?

4.  Why or why not?

This process helps provide focus and direction the goals for the next year to begin to form. So as you may have guessed, it starts with more questions.

What do I want to be?  This one requires a little explanation.  I have noticed an interesting thing as we age, we stop asking this question.  As if once you reach a certain age, the rest of the story is written and you cannot try something new, change your career, or take a new risk.  I was talking to a friend recently and we agreed that as we get older, our behavior should become riskier…skydiving here we come!

What is the most important thing I could improve to be more effective with my wife, kids, co-workers, clients?

What is my greatest fear?  I will try to remember to write more about this one.  We give fear too much credit and far too great a role in our lives.

I was fortunate to grow up living next to my great grandmother.  We would regularly go over and hang out, talk and play games.  One thing I remember about her is this little saying that everyone saw when you walked in her door:

We get too soon old and too late smart.

I am often reminded of this little saying as I reflect on my life each year.  It is funny to look back each decade and realize how much your perspective changes and how much “smarter” you may have become.  We cannot control the fact that we are getting older.  We can control the progress we make each year.

She also had one more saying hanging next to the first one.

The secret to a long life is eating fresh vegetables and fruits for 85 years.

Thanks Gram.  I am almost halfway there.

A Few Moments for Yourself

I was meeting with someone the other day to help them understand who they are behaviorally.  A lot of what I do is helping people with their journey in life and work and how their particular behavioral style works for them (the good news) and how it doesn’t (the bad news).   

Coffee shops and bookstores with coffee shops are a great venue to deliver such news.  For no other reason, both options provide a great opportunity to people-watch while waiting for the other person to arrive.  The other fun thing about these public places is how often those around us appear to be so engaged with our conversations about how and why we live, work and communicate that they cannot help but eavesdrop.

During meetings with people I ask a lot of questions.

“How has your style become a barrier at work?”

“When was the time your style really worked for you?”

“How do others perceive you?”

During this particular meeting as we sipped lattes in that bookstore, another question came to mind.  Well, a lot of questions always do during meeting like this, but one kept bubbling up inside my head and I couldn’t shake it.  As I listened and heard more and more about how busy life for this person can be, I had to ask it.

“When was the last time you had a few moments for yourself?”

“What do you mean?”

“When have you ever stopped scheduling things for everyone else, and just went to a bookstore like this and just walked around?”


How often do you have a few moments for yourself?  If you are like most of the people I talk to…not very often.  Life is full of our work and managing our lives.  At the end of the day, you can lose yourself and the things you would like to do.  Maybe I think about this more because I am now half way through this life.  Between a pretty demanding job, a family, and a lawn that always seems to need mowing, time can just simply slip away.

It is ironic that someone will schedule time with me at one of these places, even if they won’t schedule time for themselves…at the same places.  It is tragic how many times everything else dominates our schedules leaving no time for us.

As our bookstore meeting was winding down, I couldn’t help myself.  I had to return to the matter at hand.

“So, we are already in a bookstore.  I am leaving.  You could take the next hour or so for yourself and just wander around.”



And they did.  I got an email a few days later describing how wonderful it was.  Life can be busy, especially when your job and situation requires you to constantly serve and coordinate everyone else.  What does your schedule look like?  Does your name appear on it?

Take a few moments for yourself.  Put YOU on your schedule.  

You are worth it.

Making a Difference

Are you making a difference?  Not just in the cosmic sense, but how about right now…today.  What is the one thing you can do this morning, this afternoon, or this evening that could positively impact your workplace, your home, or your community?

Does a coworker need encouragement?

Does a client need a call (and not just to sell them something)?

Is someone at work struggling; a peer, or maybe even your boss?

Is there a project you could assist with?

Is there an opportunity to lend a hand?

Is there something that is “not my job” that needs to be done?

Imagine if life was different.  Imagine if each day was given to you one day at a time.  To be given the next day you had to provide an answer to one simple question.

What was the one thing you did that made a difference today?

Would your answer earn a tomorrow?  The clock is ticking and I look forward to hearing your answer to the question.  

Go Make a Difference…Today.  You can do it!