The Speeding Ticket

A few weeks ago, I received a speeding ticket while traveling to work. 

Picture from http://www.herbiemania.com/

I was running late because one of my boys was up all night, so I was severely dragging my butt.

I had no intention of speeding. But my fatigue, coupled with listening to a Zig Ziglar audio book, created less than optimal conditions for me to pay attention to the speedometer.

I was clocked at 71 mph in a 55 mph zone. Doh!

You might be wondering, “What’s your point, Joey? People get speeding tickets every day.” Which is true, but the incident became a milestone moment for me — it became a lesson in integrity. Both seeing it in someone else, as well as showing some of my own.

When the policeman gave me my ticket, he did a great job. He was courteous, informative, knowledgeable and professional. He made the experience almost pleasant (except for the hefty fine and license points). Not what I expected.

As he handed me a ticket, I decided to thank him for his kindness. This was not a tactic to have him rip up the ticket; I knew that wasn’t happening. I was sincere. I wanted to give this man, who could have easily been a rude turd, some positive feedback on a job well done.

After I drove away, at a legal speed on cruise control, I realized the import of what had just happened.

I had made no excuses. The incident was my fault and I took full responsibility for my actions. I didn’t blame my son for his sleepless night. I held myself accountable and exercised some integrity (in a surprising way). Since the ticket, not once have I thought (or said), “that jerk, why’d he give me a ticket? Moron!” No, he was doing his job and holding me accountable for my actions.

The real point of the story has nothing to do with me. It’s about all of us. It’s about the choices we make, how they shape us and what kind of example we set for our kids.

If we can turn a speeding ticket into a positive experience, brimming with integrity, imagine what we can do with the rest of our lives. Whether you know it or not, your integrity is there. It’s just a question of if you’re listening when it speaks.

And remember, you are not alone…

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Goals & Emotions

Goals are important.

Short-term or long-term, they have the ability to define who we are and what we do in our life (as long as we do our part to attain them).

I sure have plenty to work on, and with a 45-minute commute each way to and from work I have ample opportunity to listen to audio books on a variety of topics.

Lately, my CD player has been spinning tracks on leadership, inspiration, motivation and goals.

Although they’re very helpful, there is one aspect of the puzzle that’s missing — emotions.

The question is: how do we clarify our goals, let alone take steps to reach them, if our daily existence feels like such a struggle to survive?

Sure, there are some fantastic ideas on these CDs, many of which I use on a daily basis. Speakers like Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy really believe that each day can be chock-full of productive, goal-reaching actions. And they’re right.

But what about when we’re not feeling right?

I’m not talking about a bad attitude here, I’m talking about depression, exhaustion, anger or an upsetting matter that is weighing heavily on our minds — whether it’s a bad work environment, a sick family member or a personal illness — these are all issues that need addressing. They’re also issues that can very easily become obstacles to setting and acheiving goals.

Sometimes our day is full of coping. Whether it’s chatting with co-workers, surfing the Web, TV or some other distraction to get ourselves through the day (and night). So you could say that the immediate goal is to hold oneself together and survive, plain and simple.

Finally, the day ends. But will your sleep be peaceful? Will you wake up the next day feeling any different? Maybe, if your “problem” was a small matter that needed a day or two for you to let it go. But if the problem still exists, this routine can lead deeper and deeper into feelings of hopelessness.

Not good. It’s also not true — it’s just a feeling (albeit an extremely strong, oppressive one).

Like John Lennon said, “where there’s life, there’s hope.” I believe he’s right. I’ve experienced it. From almost dying of Crohn’s disease, to not being able to find a job, to ectopic pregnancies, I have faced situations that seemed unsolvable. But I was given hope by my lovely wife, and I am eternally grateful.

I know first hand that sometimes making it through the day is such a large goal, it feels like it’s all we can do.

But it’s not.

We have choices. The first of which is getting some positive thoughts into our heads to help us find some hope. Hope will lead to inspiration & motivation (that’s where these fantastic writers, speakers and loved ones come into play), which has the power to carry you out of just about any situation.

Second, if you need help, get help. Whether it’s depression, addiction, illness — whatever is bringing you down — get the help you need. Your life depends on it. Sometimes literally.

Just like I spoke about replacing bad habits with good ones in, The Four H’s of Self Destruction: When Hobby Becomes Habit, we need to do the same thing here. We need to replace a neutral or negative way of coping with a positive one.

Instead of taking 10 minutes to check Facebook or Twitter (which we just checked 20 minutes ago), or to kill time until 5 O’clock arrives, we can make a phone call to a specific person or organization that has the potential to help us move forward. Or we could read a few pages of a book that’s geared towards one of our goals.

If we don’t know exactly who to call or what to read, we can take that time to make a list or search the Web for resources. You get the idea. We’re still giving ourselves a chance to cope, but this option offers significant benefit, at the very least helping  us feel better about ourselves. I’m not encouraging you to avoid doing your work at work. But the law says you get a lunch hour. How you use it is up to you.

In my case, I started with small, manageable steps and then began to determine and place some of my long-term goals alongside this survival goal. When we do this, we move from surviving toward thriving.

Would you rather survive as a troubled person or survive as a triumphant one? I truly believe that if you make enough positive life changes, no matter how small, they will add up. Your life and your attitude will improve.

If we substitute real, focused goals for “water-cooler chit-chat,” then we’re really doing something about the current situation as well as our future. In other words, we can choose to kill time or use it to build a life.

Either way the time will pass, and we’ll accomplish exactly what we set out to do.

(Note: This blog is in no way meant to replace or substitute the help of a professional. I am not a doctor. Although I hope this article proves helpful, I do not have all the answers. But I do have lots of questions…)

And remember, you are not alone…

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Being Grateful Makes You Full of Greatness…

Thanksgiving week always brings about talk of what we’re thankful for in our lives.

Of course there are the basic answers like family, friends, food, a place to live, indoor toilets and any opportunity to eat massive amounts of pizza from NY.

The other day, as I tried to go beyond my usual list of things I’m grateful for, my thoughts turned into a question…

What are the results of being grateful vs. the results of being ungrateful? What are the different “side effects” or manifestations that occur on a physical, emotional and a cognitive level?

To clarify, when I say “ungrateful” I mean active complaining or ingratitude — in other words being negative.

“What you are thinking about, you are becoming.”
                                                 – Muhammad Ali

When we’re being ungrateful, we’re keeping in mind something that we’re not happy about  something negative, unwanted, bothersome or just plain annoying.

In this state of being, we get stuck in the mucky-muck of negativity. We use our energy dwelling on something we’re unhappy about instead of using that same energy to find solutions. And in doing so we help solidify what we’d really like to change.

When we’re grateful, the outcome is very different. We’re being positive, freeing up & refreshing our energy to move forward instead of holding ourselves back. Sure, there may be things we’re not happy about, but when we’re focusing on something positive, we’re letting go of being negative about something else.

I’m not saying to pretend to be grateful for something that just plain sucks. But why not think about something that doesn’t suck? Why not make a plan to make that particular issue less sucky, instead of just dwelling on it? Are humans so driven to misery that we can’t do this simple thing?

Muhammad Ali said it so beautifully. What we think leads to what we speak. What we speak leads to how we act, and in turn the reality we create.

There was a time when I was so unhappy with my job that I became physically ill and almost died. I was so ungrateful for everything good in my life that my personality became very negative, my soul spiritless. And in turn my body started failing me (I had Crohn’s Disease).

Getting sick turned out to be one the greatest gifts of my life. It woke me up (which was my body’s intention in the first place) and empowered me to make the changes I needed to make.

Although I am aware of the benefits of being grateful, that doesn’t mean I always am. It’s a constant battle to remain mindful about my thoughts (no pun intended).

I’d like to leave off with a question:

Can you allow yourself to be greatness? I’m not talking about ego here, but the greatness that comes with being grateful, positive and true to who you really are.

Anything is possible. The simple choice of being grateful just might change your life.

And remember, you are not alone…

Related links:
The Road to Nowhere: It’s Not Too Late to Recreate Your Reality
The Magic Quarter: Creating Your Own Reality
Anything is Possible
Out of Energy. Out of Time. Out of Luck?
Can You Let Go of the Need for Control? The Sedona Method, Part 3