What is Real and What is Not?

We all gain nuggets of knowledge from our parents, yet sometimes they only gain relevance as we get older. The worry is that it’s sometimes like the flood gates have been shut for a number of years and then slowly they open up and we get a rush of those nuggets all at once. I am still very hopeful the floodgates will open earlier for my two girls than they did for me.

My father always said (and still does), “Every day you wake up on the right side of the sod is a good day.” A simple statement, yet one, that if acted upon, would improve the lives and outlooks of many people. My mother once told me, “Never wish the day to end, the years will fly by soon enough.” What is interesting about this statement is that, as you get older, time does feel like it goes by faster. Time also seems to accelerate when you are doing something you love to do. Two pieces of wisdom, not from world renowned philosophers, but two solid “plain folk” who live and practice what they have taught. They appreciate every day and, most days, they enjoy what they do. They have accomplished this in life by having a high filter system on what is important to them and, more importantly, what is not important to them.

There are so many distractions in today’s world that we lose focus of these important facts. We become pre-occupied with the Middle East, the U.S. debt crisis and, yes, even the weather. Issues that we cannot control and yet sometimes can prevent us from appreciating or, worse, from seizing the day and enjoying it. So make yourself a promise – maybe even a New Year’s Resolution – promise yourself that you are going to go back in your memory bank and remember a few key nuggets of knowledge that you have learned from your parents, and then integrate them into your life in 2013.

It might give you a needed jolt.

What is Real and What is Not?

At one time Survivor was the most popular show on television. It was followed shortly thereafter by a large number of new “reality” shows. Last year the number of reality shows doubled, and I recently read that there are 176 shows of this genre in pre-production. I believe that some people may be looking for an outlet that makes their own life look sedate or even normal. The truth is, in business and life we are looking for authenticity; not just “reality”. I grew up in a rural environment where there wasn’t much diplomacy, but there was a lot of authenticity.

Jack Welch, one of the most respected business minds in the last 30 years, stated, “Authenticity alone doesn’t make you a leader, but you sure can’t be a leader for very long without it.” The reason is simple. Authenticity means that you will respect another’s opinion and their right to question yours. The challenge is that some people feel that they are being authentic by being abrasive and direct. Another of Welch’s quotes states, “Candour without empathy is rudeness.” Empathy implies that a person has a certain level of humility.

Humility is also a trait fast diminishing in this world. If you combine authenticity with humility you will have two character traits, both of which are in huge demand and yet in short supply. If you are introduced to someone who exhibits both, buy them a coffee or even lunch because you are about to talk to a rare breed indeed.