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Season’s Greetings

Kevin_Beach It has become a bit of a tradition for me to get up on
Christmas morning and think about my real gifts. As I take
inventory about the gifts for which I can be most grateful, it
always comes down to my family, friends, and the wonderful
people I have come to know throughout the year. I continue to receive so many blessing through meeting such wonderful people like you in my work and leisure.

Thank you for being in my life and for enriching it.

For some of you 2009 has been a difficult year–personally and/or professionally. But I want to encourage you to create and look forward to a year of promise and hope. Please know, if I can do something to support and encourage you to reach to new heights in your life, please know I’m standing ready to help.

I’d like to share with you something very special that I came across—or better stated, it came across me (some or many of you may already have experience what I about to share). Two nights ago, after falling asleep in front of the TV, I woke up at around midmight at the very moment this piece from a Christmas concert was beginning. I’ll tell you…even with sleepy eyes and a sleepy mind, I immediately recognized the blessing and gift that I awoke to.

So I went out to YouTube, found it, and now I want to share it with you. Before you listen, I encourage you to either put on a set of headphones (best) or to make sure you are in a quiet space with your speaker volume up. It is what happens when you bring together a simple but complete prayer, a beautiful song, an unbelievable vocalist, a great producer, and an amazing choir. Regardless of your religious affiliations, I promise you will enjoy this piece.

The song/prayer that many of you know is found in the new testiment of the bible (Matthew 6:9-13). During His Sermon on the Mount, which began with the Beatitudes, Jesus offered this prayer to His followers as a way to pray to God.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Best Wishes for the Holiday Season and Beyond.

Kevin

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Scene from Marathon Man

Okay…let me come clean, it’s not true, I don’t love root canals. Frankly, I don’t even like going to the dentist. But this morning was a different experience after I somewhat anxiously walked into my dentist’s office to have my teeth cleaned.

From the moment I walked into the Sinquefield Family Dentist, I was treated with such a genuine warmth and by every member I encountered. But I must say, my hygienist Rachel really impressed me and was the source of a simple act of kindness.

First off, while she did a thorough job, she was also very gentle as she probed and prodded around my teeth. And if you’ve ever experienced the “Marathon Man’s” version of dentistry, you have a huge appreciation for the soft-handed hygienist. But the thing that really struck me about Rachel was her interpersonal skills and mannerisms. She spoke so kindly and in such a genuinely friendly way, that I forgot I was sitting in the dentist chair. She asked about my family (each by name), and about my work and travels. Every word was so positive and uplifting–and again, spoken in a genuine way.

You know, anymore, we’ve gotten so busy and focused on the future, that taking time to speak kindly and be friendly to others doesn’t seem to be as prevalent. But it makes such a difference. My tendency is to be friendly, but I must admit, my experience with Rachel makes me want to try even harder.

I want to encourage you to go out of your way today to be friendly. It’s pretty contagious…and it’s a very simple act of kindness that will make the space around you a really good place to be.

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Ralph Marston once said, “There can never be too much kindness in the world.” Well normally I would agree until I saw this…

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Recently I was in Reno, Nevada conducting a workshop.  On the morning of my departure I was feeling kind of heavy…thinking about things from my business, faith, family, a book to finish…so much to do; just a lot of things that were weighing on my heart and mind.

I decided to have breakfast at the hotel’s breakfast buffet.  There was amazing spread of breakfast items categorized by international genres.  And while I enjoy international foods, when it comes to breakfast I’m all about the Pancakes.  I love Pancakes.  Feeling the way I did, and admittedly a bit of self-pity, I didn’t want to eat healthy, but to rebel and splurge on pancakes.

In any event, I stood in front of the pancakes with an empty plate trying to decide which ones looked just right for consumption.  I was thinking, they all look kind of dry so maybe I should just have eggs.  But then, from the other side of the buffet, a giant, fresh, hot-off-the-grill Pancake appeared and was laid onto my plate.

I looked up and there stood the chef who gave me the big fluffy pancake; and with a big smile on her face she said, have a wonderful day sir.  Slightly startled, I smiled back and very kindly thanked her.

It was such a simple act of kindness, but sparked an immediate warm and happy feeling inside.  It was a Pancake Cocktail from God…a big smile, a warm wish, and a fresh fluffy pancake.

It sparked a happy feeling inside that I carried the rest of the day.  Even more, it sparked a chain reaction of acts of kindness.  Not only had my “cloud” lifted, but the whole day I found myself looking for opportunities to be kind to others.

I’d like to encourage you to go out today and offer a simple act of kindness.

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Visualize your dream…

When it comes to pursuing your dream or life’s work, creating a “vision” to guide you is very important. There are two ways that you can develop and use a “vision”: Crafting a vision statement in writing; and developing a vision in your mind’s eye-i.e., “visualization.”

A great spot to dream and visualize

Today, I’ll blog about the basic concept of a “vision.” In subsequent blog entries I’ll address how to craft a vision statement and also how to use visualization techniques. Both
will serve you in realizing your dream.

So in this context, what is a “vision?” You’ve may have heard of the term “a visionary leader.” This is often used to describe a leader who is able to essentially “see” in their mind what they want to achieve. It’s probably the hallmark of a great leader. There have been many leaders over the years that have this great distinction-everyone from America’s Founding Fathers who visualized America to be what it has become to Martin Luther King, Jr. who saw a society where people of all colors could live together in harmony. They all had great visions that also inspired and guided masses of people toward the realization of their vision.

You should know that being visionary is in fact a leadership quality and characteristic, but it is not exclusive to those we typically think of as leaders, i.e., business, religious, or social leaders. It also applies to you as the leader of your own life.

But let me ask: Are you in fact leading your life?

I’m not asking are you simply living and existing, but are you leading your life deliberately and intentionally toward an end state or vision? There is a wonderful metaphor that comes out of the Alice in Wonderland story when she meets the Cheshire cat. She comes to a fork in the road where he is perched in a tree. She asks, “Would you tell me which way I ought to go from here?” He replies, that depends on where you are going. “I don’t much care where,” Alice replied. Cheshire then says, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go, either way will get you there.”

A vision serves as an inner compass, always helping you to stay on course.

If you want to achieve your life’s dream, goals and aspirations, you are much more likely get there if you have a clear vision of the outcome-and the more crystal clear, the better. Stephen Covey says in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “to begin with the end in mind.”

So until next time, think about your life’s dream or goals and try to visualize it clearly.

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Pursuing your dream, passion, career, or life’s work requires that you determine your own pace and speed—that is, in terms of how fast and hard you pursue it. And, the pace and speed much depends on the circumstance of your present life. It is important that you get a solid understanding and good perspective on this idea.

As an example, when I retired my career from the Air Force in 2000, I was 40 years old. I had the ill-conceived perception that I needed to hit the ground sprinting at full speed pursuing my dream. I felt this way because at this age I felt like the clock was ticking fast. I felt anxious, in my head almost running from task to task. Well it didn’t take long to figure out that pursuing my life’s work is not a fast sprint, but would be a long distance jog.

To strengthen the point, I’ll use the analogy of driving on the highway. In fact, I was thinking about this topic while in Europe and driving on the German autobahn. On the autobahn you have to be careful about the lane you occupy—particularly if it’s the left lane. If you are in the left lane and trying to hang with the “big dogs” you better be careful because they will run you over. Just last week I was driving toward Nurnberg in the left lane. I had gotten reasonably comfortable driving 100 mph in cruise mode. In doing so, I was passing the “slow” drivers doing 80 mph. And if I came upon one of those slow drivers in the left lane, I gave them a flash of my lights and over they moved. In doing so, you think you are one of the “big dogs.” Well, that was until one day I looked into my rear view mirror and saw a Mercedes approaching me at warp speed…I was like “what the heck!” and quickly moved over to the “slower” right lane. Well this guy passed me like I was standing still. I’m doing about 100…so he had to have been doing 130+. But that’s not even the good part of the story. Chime in next time for the rest of the story. 🙂

A lucky shot of Ferrari passing me on German Autobahn
A lucky shot of Ferrari passing me on German Autobahn

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Find Your Spot to Reflect…

In my previous post I said in regards to taking time to reflect on your life that “you don’t have to sit at the top of a Tibetan mountainside in order to reflect…” to meditate or pray.  Okay…it helps, but it can be anywhere.  The point is to be as alone as possible–either literally or in your thoughts at the very least.  There are times that I have sat in a cafe with headphones listening to soft music and reflected on an issue or question.  I will say however, there is something special about being in nature.  It does create a mindset and peaceful feeling.  It has an thought-inspiring affect. Therefore, if you can find a peaceful place to be alone in nature, it does make a difference.

Yet again, you need not travel to some far off destination to find such a place.  It would be great to have the ocean or Swiss Alps at our beck and call but this is not a reality for many.

I want to share something with you.  I’m in Italy at the moment…but after landing in Germany a few days ago, I visited a friend, and I was amazed at what was pretty-much in his front yard.  If you walked out his front door and up the street a very short distance, this is what you see.

Otterberg, Germany

Otterberg, Germany

Pretty incredible.  He and I took several walks…we talked and solved the worlds problems.  I was amazed as to the inspiring affect it had on my. No question some, like my friends Dave  and Stef are blessed to have such beauty near their home that enables them to find peace and tranquility. But look around.  No matter where you live in the world, there are places to which you can get a similar affect.

Now go find yourself a spot where you can be alone and think about your life and your purpose  in life.  Find a place to walk or sit.  Find a place that you will spend more than a passing moment…somewhere that will allow your mind to wonder and find peace and calmness.

Lastly, I’ve learned that for people who live very busy and active lifestyles, it takes time to let your thoughts settle down.  So spend more than 30 minutes sitting alone.  If you do this on a regular basis and in the same place, your mind will recognize this as a place where it can calm down and allow your thoughts to be clearer.

Until next time…

Otterberg, Germany

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