Be The Present

Christmas ornament. Hand carved pencil.
Photo copyright ©2018 David J Crone. All rights reserved. Ornament hand carved by Steve Wolfe

What is the best gift you have ever received?

It is mid-December as I write this. A season of giving. A time when many are making last-minute mad-dash scrambles to the shopping Mecca of their choice (including online retailers), trying to find just the right gift to show their loved ones how much they love them.

Is that what it takes?

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”

Dr. Seuss – “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”

Allow me to suggest an alternative.

The greatest gift we can give to others is our undivided attention.

When is the last time you sat down with your spouse, your child, your parent, or even a close friend, and gave them your full, undivided attention? No checking your watch. No glancing at your mobile device. Total, focused, connection with the person sitting across from you.

How long can you go? 5 minutes? 10? An hour?

For many of us, we can barely last as long as we can hold our breath under water. 30-45 seconds. 60 seconds tops.

There is much chatter in the media and among our friends about the frenetic pace of our world today. Everything is moving so fast!

What is your threshold of attention?

As we celebrate the end of another year of busy-ness, I challenge you to make time for those you love. Be wholly and completely present. Enjoy the time together. Put aside worries for what is happening next. Tomorrow will come, whether we stress about it or not.

Be like Winnie the Pooh.

“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today.” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day.” said Pooh.

A.A. Milne – “Winnie the Pooh”

First Place Is Overrated

Image of trophy that says "You Tried"
Image from Etsy. You can order this item here:

First place is overrated.

I have never subscribed to the philosophy that not winning is the same as losing.

Vince Lombardi said:

“There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place. … There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers.”

Don’t get me wrong. Winning is great. But, it is not everything.

My philosophy? There is a lot of money to be made in 2nd and 3rd place.

Look at the payouts for a pro golf tournament. Sure, first place takes a much larger purse. But, there are loads of players earning a darn good living despite never having won a major.

For example, Steve Stricker. Steve has never won a Major. However, according to Golf Monthly, as of December 2017, his career earnings were over $43 million. Still want to call him a loser?

To me, the greatest disservice we can do to our kids is to teach them that not getting the first place trophy makes them a loser. Yes, strive to be the best you can be. No, do not give trophies for showing up. But, learn to value yourself for more than a comparative ranking against others. The only ranking that matters is what you do vs what you are capable of doing.

Because of this predominant philosophy of you either win or you’re a loser, too many people stop trying. At some point you realize you’ll never get the first place trophy, so why even bother?

For some people, they never even start down a path. Others stop doing something that brings them joy because they don’t want to be viewed as a loser.

Julia Cameron, in her book, “The Artist’s Way”, encourages the reader to, “give yourself permission to do something poorly.” (paraphrased)

As Julia writes, it is only by being willing to make bad art that we can learn to make good art.

So it is with anything. We must be willing to fail in order to learn to succeed.

Or, in the context of the topic at hand, we must be willing to lose in order to have the chance to win.

Do not measure your success as a relative measure against the accomplishments of others. Rather, measure your success as a relative measure against what you know you are capable of doing.


Photo copyright ©2018 David J Crone. All rights reserved.

What knocks you off of your game? What is something you got into a routine of doing, it was a good routine, then something happened that caused you to stop and you found it difficult to get back to that routine, even though you knew it was good for you?

Perhaps it was going to the gym.

Perhaps it was practicing an instrument.

Maybe it was calling a particular friend on a regular basis.

For me, it was writing this blog.

Posting to this blog on a regular basis is quite helpful to me. Much like physical exercise provides energy, the exercise of writing regularly sparks new ideas that become new bits in my speaking and entertaining business. Sure, I hope that people who read it find something of value in it. Knowing that people read this blog provides an extra incentive to keep at it. But, ultimately, it is what I get from the routine of putting words on the screen that keeps me going.

Doing this blog on a weekly basis was good for my mind. Committing to post regularly created momentum. Once going, it was easier to keep going. That momentum carried me through many times of, “I don’t feel like it…”

So, what happened? What caused the break in the routine? What broke the momentum? My wife had a heart attack.

Not to worry, she’s fine now. In fact, she’s probably in better health now than she has been in years. Cardiac rehab and a return to regular exercise will have that effect. But, make no mistake, it was a huge break in the routine of our lives. It was extremely scary. We had to shuffle a few priorities. One of the things I set aside was this blog.

Just as the momentum of doing something right carries us through the times when we struggle, if we allow that momentum to fade, it can take a significant effort to get going again. Procrastination becomes a regular companion.

Eventually, if what we stopped doing was a good thing, the universe has a way of nagging at us until we figure out we need to get back to it.

With that, I am renewing my commitment to post on this blog regularly. Weekly. New posts will appear on Wednesdays mornings.

Sometimes we need help in sticking with our commitments. Sometimes that boss who drops by asking whether you’ve done your weekly status report yet is just what we need to make the time to do it. It can be annoying. But, once the task is completed, we feel better about having done it.

With that, I give you, my loyal readers, permission to be the nagging boss who asks me where the latest post is if I miss a week. Hold me accountable to deliver on my commitment to doing this weekly.

And as always, I’ll leave you with a challenge.

Where have you lost momentum? What is something that you used to do regularly, but have stopped doing? You can feel the universe nagging at you to get back to it.

Identify that thing, that activity, that practice, and get back to it. If you’re struggling, find someone who can give you the extra kick in the pants to make you do it.

Rebuild your momentum.