• In 1833, the birth and subsequent choices of one brilliant man made an enormously positive impact on the world.

    That man was Alfred Nobel, the creator of the most sought after and prestigious set of awards in the world, the Nobel Prizes.

    Alfred NobelA closer look however, at Nobel’s journey will surprise you; the road to this remarkable outcome was paved with one challenge after another reminding us that no matter how difficult and challenging things may be in life, “What Happens next is up to you.” In 1847, Nobel who was a student of science, chemistry and engineering met the inventor of an oily liquid substance that eventually became Nitroglycerine. While nitroglycerine had great benefits, it’s unpredictable and dangerous nature was cause for concern; however, the Nobel family including Alfred continued to investigate it’s potential for commercial and industrial uses.

    The results initially were tragic when Alfred’s younger brother Emil and several other people were killed in a factory explosion. These Disasters encouraged Alfred to try to make Nitroglycerine safe but unfortunately it didn’t come without more tragedy when an another explosion at a company facility took the lives of 15 more people.

    In 1867 after almost 20 years of failure and disappointment, Nobel invented an explosive that revolutionized the mining, demolition and construction industries and made him a very wealthy man; that invention was Dynamite! What makes this story different, intriguing and inspiring is what happens next. Through a calamity of errors and chance events, Alfred found out exactly what people thought of him and his invention. In 1888, after the death of his brother Ludwig, a local newspaper ran a long scathing obituary about him (Alfred) by mistake. This provided Alfred an opportunity granted to few people, to read their own obituary while still alive. He was scorned for being the man who made millions through the death of others, one paper wrote, “Rejoice, the Merchant of Death is dead!” You see what Nobel read in his obituary horrified him. The newspaper described him as a man who made it possible to kill more people more quickly than anyone else who ever lived.

    nobel prizeAt that moment, Nobel realized two things: the first was if he didn’t do something this was the way he was going to be remembered and second and more importantly that this was absolutely NOT the Legacy he wanted to leave behind. Of course, crumpling up the newspaper and those who wrote the article was one option; however, not for Nobel. For him it was time to take positive action and make a positive impact on the world. In 1896 one year before Noble’s death, he signed his last will and testament which set aside basically his entire estate to establish the 5 Nobel Prizes for outstanding achievement in Literature, Science Medicine, Economics and of course Peace.

    As I close this Blog, like Nobel I have two thoughts:

    • The first is thinking about how you want your obituary to read could motivate you to rewrite your life script and change the way you’re currently spending your life.
    • The second thought: no matter how bad things appear or how off course you are in life, it’s never too late to make a change, ultimately “What Happens next is up to you!”
  • I remember like it was today the day that my mother died almost 20 years ago.  The eulogy I gave at her grave site was emotional and heartfelt, however, I struggled to write it.  I share this with you today not as a melancholy reminder of the loss I encountered, but rather, to share with you a concept that I believe in and learned more about after reading the best seller by David Brooks, “The Road to Character.”

    Brooks, in his book, talks about the difference between résumé virtues and what he calls eulogy virtues.  While we spend a lifetime perfecting our résumé virtues, it’s those qualities that are discussed at our eulogy that a far more important, however not focused on, throughout our life.  Even our education system and a billion dollar self-help industry give us strategies to achieve career success, not build character.

 So, when I was asked to speak about my mom I was at a loss.  Why?  Because my mom had only an eighth grade education and had few, if any, skills that would even qualify her for employment.  She didn’t even have a driver’s license and struggled with simple math problems.  Yet, she was one of the richest, most successful people I know.  Why?  Because she possessed traits that are and should always be the measuring stick for greatness.

    CharacterIsTheRealFoundationThose traits or behaviors Brooks refers to as eulogy virtues.

 Today’s blog is simple.  I have taken the concept set out by Mr. Brooks a step further by looking at the word ‘character’ and using it as a guide or map to direct your life towards integrity and moral standards that impact your life and the lives of everyone you touch.  These are words that frankly will not show up on your résumé, however were very much a part of my mother’s eulogy.  I have often said that life is like a jigsaw puzzle; while you focus on one piece at a time, the ultimate goal is to see the big picture.

    Let’s take a look at a simple recognizable word and use it as our measuring stick for success moving forward.
    While there are many words that can be included here, starting with this list, the virtues that you would like for those awarded with the honor to present your eulogy will take you on a path that will lead to happiness and success for you and those around you.

  • Always Set SMART Goals » Knowing the Destination So You Can Reach It!

    In the movie “Alice in Wonderland”, Alice comes upon a Cheshire cat and asks the feline which road she should take. The cat responds, “Well that depends on where you’re trying to get to.” Alice quips, “I don’t know.” The cat responds, “Then any road will do.”

    You see, knowing where you’re going increases your chances dramatically of getting there, and there is no better way of GETTING THERE than by setting your goals and aspirations for the upcoming year. Think of your goals as destinations and the action steps as your GPS guiding and directing you.

    So why is setting goals so important? If you’re like me, for years you have resisted the need to set goals and even scoffed at the thought that setting goals, and, even more importantly, committing them to writing, makes a positive impact on your life. However, a closer look might convince you that setting goals is a prudent thing to do.

    In 1979 a class of Harvard MBA students was asked, have you set clear written goals for your future and set an action plan to accomplish them? The following will astonish you. Only three percent of the class had written goals and a plan in place, 13% just had goals, and an amazing 84% had no specific goals at all.

    Ten years later the members of the class were interviewed once again and the following results will no doubt answer that important question, “Why set goals?” The findings were that the 13% who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all. And the three percent who had clear, written goals with a plan to achieve them, well they were achieving a whopping ten times as much as the entire 97% combined.

    There are four primary reasons we don’t set goals, whether it be business related or personal:

    1.) We don’t understand the importance of goal setting.

    2.) We don’t know how to set goals.

    3.) We fear the inevitable failure in achieving our goals because the goals we set are overwhelming and many times unachievable.

    4.) We fear and resist change, and goal setting takes us out of our comfort zone.

    It’s important to note that while all of these road blocks are real they can be eliminated and overcome with a small measure of knowledge and understanding. It just boils down to how important it is for you to reach your destination by achieving your goals.

    Here is a simple acronym to remember when setting goals.

    Always set SMART goals. Goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time stamped!


    In my next blog I will discuss more specifically the SMART acronym and the areas to focus on when setting goals.

    Remember there are no shortcuts to personal and professional satisfaction; however, goal setting will increase your chances of arriving successfully to your destination.

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