Friday, February 29, 2008


I have always been captivated by change. There seems to be in each of us an internal flame that burns, igniting the desire to improve, grow, and get better. Traditionally the first of every year is one of those landmark points that make us think a little deeper about where we are, where we have come from and where we are going or becoming. I love this time. It is exciting to me to dream and look to the future. I get excited about who I can become. Yet, every year I continue to make only part of my goals and fall short on quite a few.

I heard a great saying the other day. “Change is easy unless not changing is easier”. That truly captivated my feelings. Each time I had pondered the changes I wanted to make in my life, the steps were easy to compile and realistic to implement. But not changing was even easier. So how can we change the odds to help us? How can we make the changes happen?

Three Steps to Change

1) Write down the desired change

2) Review the written statement daily

3) The Key – Accountability


A goal not written is a wish. Write it down. Something happens in the mind that makes it easier to fulfill and accomplish written goals. Also, write your goal in the form of the desired outcome. For example; if you desire to quit smoking, don’t write “I am going to quit smoking.” Instead write, “I enjoy the freedom of clean lungs.” The mind cannot focus on an opposite. If I say to you, “Don’t think about a Pink Elephant” can you do it? Focus on the positive outcome.


The constant reminder of your desired goal is mandatory. Our daily lives will weigh us down in discouraging events that will tend to pull us away from out goals. The daily reminder will help us keep first things first.


Maybe the hardest step is this. I believe it is FEAR that stops us from making accountabilities. We fear that if we fail, someone else will know about it. But this is the key. Being responsible and accountable to someone else keeps the flame under us to keep moving. There are three different levels of accountability. 1- Personal Accountability Partner. 2- Mentors. 3- Coaches. Each serves a different purpose and has a different responsibility. Depending on your goal, a different accountability is needed. A Personal Accountability Partner is a trusted friend that will push you and encourage you. Mentors are individuals who have made it to the goal you are seeking. Coaches are usually paid experts who help you implement the systems to get to the final goal.

Take time this wonderful holiday season to review your life. Evaluate your Spiritual, Family, Business, Financial, Emotional, and Physical areas of your lives. Set some goals to make 2007 even better than 2006. Write down your goals. Identify which accountability to implement. Then get it done. 365 days from now will be 365 days from now no matter what you do. But what you do in between now and then will make the difference of how your life will be. Remember it is all about the small details. It is the golfer who was one stroke less that won twice as much money. So believe that you can become better and achieve more in your life.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm Dying

The other day as I was listening to the radio, a song came on with a line, “live as you were dying.” I may not agree totally with the choices of the song writer, but I love the idea. A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of helping a gentleman find a home. While we were out looking, we began to discuss life. He shared with me that he had cancer that would eventually take his life. I wish each of you could have been there with me. His disclosure wasn’t one of seeking sympathy or compassion, but one of fact. He then immediately went on to talk about the benefits of his condition. He smilingly stated that he lives each day so that it counts, without regrets. I loved the answer.

Our tendency is to live each day out of habit. It is what we as humans typically do. We get in a rut, get comfortable, and trudge through doing the same thing until the end. We fail to stop and ponder our lives until one of the moments in life opens our eyes to “forced pondering”. These events could include the birth of a baby, the death of a family member or close friend, a class reunion, a visit to the doctor, and other situations. These events kick us out of our daily routine and open our eyes to life. We start to ask questions; deep questions. Recently I drove without the radio on. As I was thinking, I asked myself, “Does life have a purpose? If so, what is it?” It was a great experience. I didn’t want to arrive at my destination so I could contemplate that question longer. Many more questions came from that experience which lead to others and more thinking time.

So back to living each day with purpose. If we chose to live each day as if it were our last, we could choose one of two paths. 1) We could live under the creed that, “He who dies with the most toys wins!” or 2) There is a tally being kept and true joy only comes from living a life which is in harmony with eternal principles. One leads to a better world and the other to selfish elevation and destruction. We have all heard the comment that no priest has ever heard someone on their deathbed state that they wish they would have spent more time at the office. We each could insert many things into that statement as well.

So if you were dying, what would you change today? How would you live now? May I be the doctor and give you your prognosis? Today you are one day closer to dying than you were yesterday. Accidents happen and you may not live much longer. Right now is the only time you have. We each have a condition that will eventually end in death. That condition is being human. It is 100% mortal. Well, now that each of us have been given the prognosis, it is time for us to make the adjustments we need to make.

Here are a couple of ideas to help make the changes. 1) Take time once a week to think. Ask questions. Evaluate the previous week. Make plans for the next. Compare your actions to how you want to be. Write down the changes and plans as they come to you. 2) Share your plans and actions with those you love. Have them help you be accountable to the change. 3) Accept that it will take time and that things will slip to the old. Don’t give up. Regroup and move forward.

When that day comes that we are laying on our deathbed, and the priest comes to visit us, let’s look him in the eye and say, “What a great ride!”

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

(from a newsletter dated: Feb 13, 2006)

Two Profound Stories

This month I had intended on writing about a different subject, but I came across these two stories and knew that I had to include them in my newsletter. I don't know who authored the text, but have verified the stories as real. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.


Many years go, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegging booze and prostitution to murder. Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” He was his lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good. In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time. To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but also Eddie got special dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced in mansion with live-in help and all of the coneniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago city block. Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave a little consideration to the atrocities that went on around him.

Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had the best of everything: clothes, cars and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him rite from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man then he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name and a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al “Scareface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great.

So, he testified. Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he would ever pay.

Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, and a religious medallion and a poem clipped from a magazine. The poem read:

The clock of life is wound but once
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hand will stop,
At late or early hour.

Now is the only time you own.
Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in time.
For the clock may soon be still.


World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington on the South Pacific.

One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.

His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold, a squadron of Japanese aircraft were speeding their way toward the American fleet.

The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet of the approaching danger.

There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he drove into the formation of Japanese planes.

Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly.

Finally, the exasperated Japanese Squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relived, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival he reported in and related the event surrounding his return.

The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect the fleet. He had in fact destroyed five enemy aircraft.

This took place on February 20, 1942, and for this action Butch became the Navy’s first ACE of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29.

His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today. O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man. So the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying this statue and his Medal of Honor. It’s located between Terminal 1 and 2.


Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’s son.

My wife originally read this to me. When she read the last statement, my emotions got the best of me. The two key lessons I pulled from this story are: 1) An example can be a powerful influence. 2) Do the right thing and let the consequences come. Eddie never saw in his lifetime the full effects of his change, yet his change affected thousands of individuals in an ongoing generational growing number. I hope you enjoyed these stories as much as I have. Have a great month, and thanks for all you do.


(P.S. Last fall, on a business trip to Chicago, I was thankful to have a couple of hours prior to my flight to see the tribute to Butch. It rekindled the strength of the story to me again.)


Over the past few years, I have written a newsletter with stories about life. I believe that there is so much more to life than what we spend the majority of our time on. Yet, too often, it is the important but insignificant things that really consume the majority of our time and we leave the most important things in life to simmer on the back burner. This only leaves our lives filled with, "I should have..."
So my goal with these stories is to share inspiring thoughts that help each of us keep a perspective on things that are really the most important. We as human beings can be so much more, and it is my hope that sharing these thoughts will help you and me become more and help others along the way as well.

To start out with, I want to reprint articles that I have sent in my newsletters in the past. Many of these have been very profound to me personally and have opened my eyes to the potential that lies within me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. Please feel free to leave comments on the stories and thoughts that may inspire the rest of us as well.

Best wishes,