Monday, July 30, 2012

Accidents, On-Purposes, and Ferris Bueller

This just in...Americans cannot walk and talk at the same time. Shocking! As reported by the Associated Press today, the fastest growing type of accident in America is now officially labeled as, and I'm not kidding here, "distracted walking". 

Apparently, the trend for Americans to be hooked to the umbilical cord that we call cell phones has led to quadrupled visits to the ER and a spike in injuries and fatalities in the past 7 years.
But, as my husband would say, "Are those really accidents or are they 'on-purposes'"?
Some of you may know that my husband is a police officer for the City of Marion. As an officer who serves and protects, he has helped numerous people that have had car accidents. Some young, some old. Some serious, some minor. All accidents!
As you can imagine, it's quite often that people are upset, shaken-up, and even emotional. After all, the average weight of a car in the United States is 2 tons (4,000 pounds). So, smashing one 4,000 pound metal object into another 4,000 pound metal object at any speed is somewhat distressing.
That's when my husband tells them, "Don't worry. Just be thankful you're safe and sound. That's why they call them accidents and not 'on-purposes'."
I thought it was funny the first time he told me that. Of course no one means to have a wreck. And, of course, 'on-purposes' isn't really a word. But, it does make people laugh. And with that levity, there is sort of an emotional release that eases the tension of all involved. That's part of what makes him a good officer.
But, 'distracted walking' accidents...really? There are reports of people walking directly into buildings, rolling into ditches, falling off curbs, and even being hit by those 4,000 pound pieces of metal. It's embarrassing really, not the accidents themselves, but the fact that we can't walk and talk at the same time. With an obstacle course of thousands of signs, lights, and randomly moving people and objects, we have to admit that these accidents occur because our mind is everywhere but where we physically are. So, how do we fix that?
Maybe we should try something a bit over-the-top to thwart off another spike in 'distracted walking' in 2012. What if we all made a pact to engage in some "on-purposes"? Some of you may choose to actually wave to someone you know or even stop and chat. Some others may actually decide to stop and smell the roses, literally. Some other wild and crazy people might choose to perform a Random Act of Kindness by pulling a weed or picking up litter or opening the door for someone.
There's a lot to see and feel and smell and hear in this world. And as the great philosopher Ferris Bueller once said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Let's not miss it...on purpose.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Bachelorette, Tonya Harding, and the Underdog

The Olympics are a wonderful way to discover the world.  And, I cannot emphasize enough how much I love the Olympics.  I am one of those people who will stay up all night and watch curling like it’s my job.  I admit that I cry when I watch the back stories of athletes whose names I never even knew before the Olympics began.  And, I admit to having a slight crush on Bob Costas.

So, you can imagine my relief to have The Bachelorette finale over just in time for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London to begin this Friday night.  Only kidding.  No offense to Bachelorette Emily Maynard or host Chris Harrison, but honestly the Olympics are more Reality TV than The Bachelorette will ever be.

I’m sure many of you reading this blog remember the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan fiasco just before the 1994 Winter Olympics.  Harding’s husband, Jeff Gillooly, and his friends took a metal pipe to Kerrigan’s knees just weeks before the beginning of the Lillehammer, Norway Games.  In the end, Kerrigan scored the Silver medal and Harding was banned from figure skating for life.  Now, that’s reality.

Oscar Pistorius
The stakes are high; the pressure is even higher.  In less than one week, the world will be watching as Michael Phelps aims to break his own aquatic records in seven, yes SEVEN, races and as South African Oscar “Blade Runner” Pistorius, takes to the track as the first-ever Olympic amputee.  And if those stories don’t scream reality to you, then tune in for the Opening Ceremonies that will include, and I’m not kidding here, a full cavalry of live farm animals. 
The Olympics are a time for celebrating the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice that these athletes have made to their respective sports and countries.  But, as Kent Keith so eloquently put it in his Paradoxical Commandments:

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

The Olympics are a perfect time to cheer for a few underdogs.  Learn their stories and let them inspire you.  Then use that as motivation to inspire someone else.  In just two weeks’ time, Grant County will be launching an initiative that I’ve talked about before, The Passport:  1000 Things Every Grant County Student Should Do Before They Graduate.  

On Friday, August 3rd, The Passport will be made available to all 12,000 students in Grant County, Indiana at First Friday’s Passport Olympic Village.  The Passport is a way for all of our children to begin to discover their worlds.  But, they can’t do it alone.  These underdogs need some trusted adults in their lives to cheer for them, inspire them, and join in the fun of completing this Passport with them.  This is where you come in. 
There’s only one way to expand the opportunities that our youth will have and that’s to broaden their life experiences.  After all, how can one dream of a college degree if they’ve never even stepped on a college campus.  It’s nearly impossible to dream of that which you do not know. 

But, somewhere along the way, someone cheered for and inspired Oscar Pistorius.  Now, every man, woman, and child will be able to witness a new hero, “the fastest man with no legs”, as he beats all odds even before his Cheetah Flex-Foot carbon fibre transtibial artificial limbs leave the starting block.
Let the Olympic story encourage you to encourage one of our hard-working Grant County underdogs.  Show someone else that you are dedicated to making their future better than your past.  Sacrifice a little of your valuable time as an investment in some pint-sized human capital. 

And, if that’s not enough of a reason to tune in to the 2012 Summer Olympics this Friday, there’s always what ABC’s Wide World of Sports coined in 1978:  "…the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition”… and, of course, Bob Costas.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mrs. Wiggins or Mr. Wiggins?

When I was a kid there really was nothing funnier than an episode of The Carol Burnett Show.  I loved the bits with Mrs. Wiggins and Mr. Tudball.  Tim Conway played the uptight Swedish-American boss, Mr. Tudball, who desperately wanted to run a professional office, but was constantly tested by his indifferent secretary, "Mrs. Ah-huh-Wiggins," as he would say.  It makes me laugh just thinking about his accent and how he’d pronounce her name! 

But, as usual, the one that really stole the show was Carol Burnett as Mrs. Wiggins.
Mrs. Wiggins was a hysterically bad stereotype of a ditzy, blond, high maintenance, nail-painting, slow-talking, even slower moving secretary.

Let the comedy ensue. 
The major source of hilarity was the constant lack of real communication between the two of them.  It seemed that the more Mr. Tudball tried to explain something, the less Mrs. Wiggins actually understood.  All that talk via their *new* intercom, yet so little action by Mrs. Wiggins.

But, today in 2012, we have a very different example…Mr. Wiggins.  And, I’m talking about the Tour de France yellow jersey leader, Bradley Wiggins.
As you may have heard, this past Sunday there was sabotage at Stage 14 of the Tour de France.  Apparently some spectators threw a myriad of tacks onto the path of the speedy cyclists causing nearly 30 riders to endure flat tires and even eliminating one rider completely due to a broken collar bone.

Why someone would do such a thing is certainly something to ponder, but that’s not the story.  The story is that of Tour leader, Bradley Wiggins, now being hailed as ‘Le Gentleman’.
Wiggins said, "So many guys punctured at once, it became quite apparent very quickly that something was up.”  And, in the crowd of punctured tires and competitors down for the count was the Tour’s defending champion, Cadel Evans.   

This was it…Wiggins had his chance.  Evans was down for minutes without a tire replacement and Wiggins, as the current leader, could not only win this leg of the race, but eliminate his chief rival, Evans.  But, Wiggins did something else; something remarkable.
With few words and bold action, Wiggins slowed down.  He led his team, Team Sky, to a slower pace and encouraged the rest of the peloton to do the same.  Wiggins stated after the race that he didn’t want to benefit from the misfortune of others, mainly Cadel Evans.

Source:  Getty Images
So, keep your eye out for Bradley Wiggins.  He remains the favorite to wear yellow down the Champs-Élysées next weekend, but at least defending champ, Evans, now still has hope of challenging him in the Pyrenees Mountains this week.  
So, I guess it all boils down to actions speaking louder than words.

That old adage holds true in philanthropy circles as well.  In a recent Millennial Impact Report on giving, 92% of Millennials surveyed said they gave to non-profit organizations in 2010.  Yet, non-profits reports that less than 5% of their donors are under the age of 35.  How can that be…those numbers just don’t jive.

The report indicates the discrepancy is that the 93% of surveyed Millennials said they gave to nonprofit organizations in 2010; but what they said is not actually what they did.

It’s really pretty simple…there are two kinds of people, Mrs. Wiggins and Mr. Wiggins.  Which one are you?

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Common Sense is Remarkable

Seth Godin.  I’m telling you, this guy is as brilliant as he is bald.  And, he’s super bald.  In one of his recent blogs he spoke of the late Steve Jobs and his unreasonable, last-minute demands on the Apple iPhone specifications before its first release.  Unreasonable because they weren’t on the basic ‘things to do’ list.  Unreasonable because ‘normal’ people would never put them on the ‘things to do’ list.  Unreasonable because they were, well, remarkable. 

As I told our CFO, Sherri Rush, I’ve always loved the word remarkable.  Likely to be noticed.  Uncommon.  Extra-ordinary.  Worthy of remarks.  I mean, really, how many things are truly remark-worthy?
For example, I think we’d all agree that it would be remarkable if you were able to start a school in a third-world country. 

Or, what if you could afford to give a charity your paycheck each week?  That’d be both cool and remarkable!
Oh, I’ve got one…how about if you could develop a program that effectively prevented illegal drug use among adolescents.  Now, THAT would be remarkable!

But, most of us can’t do those things.  I mean, I don’t know anyone who can do those things.  But, just because we can’t do something that the world deems big, doesn’t mean we should do nothing at all. 
In fact, if what they say is true, and common sense isn’t all that common anymore, then maybe a remarkable endeavor could simply mean doing something versus doing nothing.  Doing a little thing when a big thing isn’t possible.  Giving a little bit, when a lot would break the bank.  In 2012, that’s uncommon.

Instead of a third-world school, how about tutoring an elementary student that struggles with reading. 
If you can’t give a charity your entire paycheck, what about…$5.00, 5%, 5 hours…something.

Maybe you don’t have the solution to America’s drug problem, but you could mentor a student.  Statistics in the book, What Children Need to Succeed, show that students with consistent, positive role models who help them develop their assets are less likely to get involved in problem behaviors such as alcohol use, illegal drug use, sexual activity, violence, school problems, and depression/suicide.  That’s what I call remarkable.
We all really should dare to be remarkable.  And in many cases, doing something…anything, is all it takes. 

It’s true, common sense isn’t that common anymore…it’s remarkable. 
Peace and Blessings,

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Flower Rings, Freedom Rings

I bet I’m not the only one who remembers placing little flower-shaped Salerno butter cookies on your fingers as a kid and eating them off one petal at a time.

It’s a wonderful memory.  Maybe it’s because, in my imagination, on my little hands those cookies fit like real rings.  Or maybe it was because there’s just something inherently fun about eating food off of your fingers.  But, today I made a new memory with these flowery rings of deliciousness.  And, it’s really good.
Four times a year the Community Foundation of Grant County gets the opportunity to grant monies to worthy non-profit recipients in our community.  Today was that day.  We had our very first “Give Me Five” celebration and toasted our grant recipients, as all Indy 500 champions do, with milk…we added the cookies.  Specifically, Salerno butter cookies, aka flower rings. 

The Quilters Hall of Fame, Christmas City Walkway of Lights, Community School of the Arts, and Cancer Services of Grant County all shared how their grants will improve the quality of life in Grant County…the very mission of the Foundation.  And it was heartwarming.
Their passion was palpable.  Their hard work, noteworthy.  Their gratefulness, abounding.  But above all else, I admired their selflessness.  It’s not about them; it’s about those they serve. 

This is not altogether different than the men and women in our armed forces who sacrifice just so you and I can bask in the joys that freedom in America brings.  In fact, the Foundation has two funds set up in memory of LanceMcGregor and Brandon A. Barrett.  Both of these young men gave their lives so that we could live in the land of the free.  Yet, while most of us will attend a fireworks show somewhere this Wednesday, how many of us will truly remember that it’s America’s birthday?  She looks pretty good to be turning 236, don’t you think?  Lots of countries have birthdays.  Although some don’t celebrate with fireworks; many don’t celebrate with freedom.  So when freedom rings in a new year for America on July 4th, maybe we should take some time to thank someone who has protected our freedoms thus far.  Someone who sacrificed on your behalf and someone who makes it possible to have fireworks displays, birthday parties, and even little flower ring cookies. 
Peace and Blessings America,


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