It is Memorial Day weekend in the United States. To me, this is one of the most important days of the year because it honors the best of us and in us. It honors the sacrifice and selflessness of those who put their country and the cause of liberty and freedom above themselves. It honors the families that are behind them and support them. And it honors the lives of those throughout history who have given the ultimate sacrifice for us to have what we have today.
Think about your life. More importantly think about how extraordinarily lucky you are to be here today. Everything through time and history had to happen exactly as it did for you to exist. You literally are the product of millions of decisions and events that had to happen precisely a certain way for you to be here.
And during that time, people pledged their lives and selflessly gave of themselves to help create a better world for you. One shot on a battlefield differently and you may not be here. We honor those servicemen and women who gave their lives so we could have a better life and be protected from the evils and dangers of this world. We will never forget you or your sacrifice. And we will keep your memory alive by cherishing every moment of the life we have and serve our fellow man in the best way we can.
We honor those that serve and put their life on the line each and every day throughout the world. With the utmost gratitude, we thank you for your service.
All of you are heroes.
Take time to have a moment of silence and honor the heroes in your life that given their lives today. If you see a veteran or current service member, take a moment to thank them and show your gratitude. Most importantly, never forget the sacrifices that were made so you could be here today.
I've selected a few videos that I hope will resonate with you and leave you inspired for today...and in the days following. Enjoy.
Here is one of the best inspirational videos I have seen with the Patton speech. This speech is as relevant today as it was back then.
There are tons of articles written about how to be more productive and accomplish more. Most of the time, it is the same advice. Focus, plan for your success, don't multi-task, turn off email, etc.
All of that is great advice and works. But, over the last few months I have been experimenting with a few additional methods alongside the ones listed above to see if they would help accomplish even more. After trying a number of things, I have found a few that really have a made a difference.
Plan - But With a Twist
You've probably read a million times that you need to plan your day or plan for your success. There is a reason for that. It works. But, one trick I have found that has a made a big difference is to plan in two ways. First, each Sunday, I sit down and write out my to do items by day for each of my different businesses for the upcoming week. This takes me a out 20-30 minutes. This gives me a bigger picture view of what I have on my docket and what I want to do, instead of looking at things from the microcosm of just one day. Once I am done, I can see where I need to make changes or move things around to maximize productivity. Second, each day, I the make my daily "to do" list from the weekly list. What is nice is that each day, I can also see what is to do for the rest of the week and if I think I will have time, I can start working in say Thursday tasks on Tuesday.
Doing this has made a huge difference. I am accomplishing more faster and am getting more time with my family in evenings and weekends.
Morning Prime and Three to Thrive
Another thing I do each morning is take 10 minutes (Just 10 minutes! So don't say you can't do this) and do what I call my morning prime and three to thrive. I write down 3 things I am thankful/grateful for. This does two things. First, it allows me to start my day with gratitude and come from a place of thankfulness. You'll be amazed at how this makes a difference in your attitude and thus productivity. Second, it gives me perspective of what is really important in life.
Once, I've done that (4-5 minutes), I look at my to do list for the day and pick the top 3 items from that list that will make the biggest impact in my life and businesses that day. I ask myself, "If I could only get 3 things done on this list, which would be the most impactful." That's my "three to thrive." I write those down or circle them on the to do list and focus only on them until they are done before moving on to the rest of the list.
The Secret Weapon
Along the way, I have found a secret weapon that from tracking my productivity when I do this vs. when not has proven to make a difference.
The secret? Listening to music with noise cancelling headphones. Not just any type of music though. It has to be instrumental only and of 3 genre: Piano, Chill Type Music....and surprise, Movie Music Scores.
I know this sounds crazy, but you have to try it. I have experimented with a number of music types and those 3 work the best. Depending on what you need at the moment, each can help you in different ways. For example, in the morning when things are quiet and I am just getting going, I like to listen to Chill Music. It drowns out all of the thoughts going in my head as the day begins. If I am feeling anxious or overloaded, Piano Music works every time. And if, I need inspiration or motivation, Movie Music Scores. Hans Zimmer's are the best.
Here are some of the best ones I have found and go to regularly by genre. I pretty much just use Youtube for these and look for ones that are at least an hour long. I hope they help you as they have me!
Floating Away - Chilled Beats Mix
Dawn - Beautiful Chill Mix
Beautiful Spring - Chillstep Mix
Ludovico Einaudi - Essential Einaudi (I love this guy, just awesome how he arranges his music)
World's Most Breathtaking Piano Pieces Vol 1
Movie Music Scores
Best of Hans Zimmer - All Time Greatest Soundtracks
Best Epic Soundtracks From Movies That Will Give You Chills
I've bookmarked about 50 more or so one of I've came across, but find I go to these a lot. Give them a shot.
Lastly, it's not that doing any one these by itself makes a big difference, but couple them together - planning your week/day and a daily prime/three to thrive alongside doing the action listening to music, and you'll be insanely more productive. Here's to your success!
Mothers a very special group. They come in all types and ways. Being a mother, much like being a father, doesn't just mean giving birth to a child, but more importantly, it means loving, caring, and living for that child. It means sacrifice and hard work. It means showing up when you don't want to or are feeling your worst. Mom's don't take sick days. They are always there and always giving...and then giving more, because it is not about them; it is about the children and family they love and serve.
There are literally a million lessons I learned from my mother. How to be giving, selfless, compassionate, caring, and take action are just a few. As I sat down to write this post, I thought long and hard about the most powerful lesson l Iearned from my mom. It was tough! So many things ran through my head. So many amazing lessons, habits, and thoughts on how to make the most out of life.
As I thought more and more, things began to become clear. The most powerful lesson my mother taught me, was one that I never really thought about. It was the one that she embodied every day and one that I naturally learned from being around her.
That lesson? How to be courageous. How to bust through fear and breakthrough your barriers. There are so many times in my life I have seen my mother show courage. From standing up for her children to standing for a cause or her country; I have watched her embody strength, courage, and the will to keep pushing and going my whole life. And in many ways, I just took if for granted.
Courage is a funny thing; It is the thing that many people need the most in their life to breakout and go after what they are truly meant to be and do with their lives, but it is the hardest for them to have. Most people see this and they know it deep in the hearts, but get paralyzed by fear or the unknown. It is easier to stay where things are comfortable than to forge ahead and create a new path. A path that nobody but you know has traveled. It takes action, fueled by courage to become who you you are truly meant to be.
Does this mean you don't have fear? No. There have been so many times that I have seen my mom scared or sensed she was, but watched her press on anyway. She knew what had to be done and by shear force and conviction was going to do it.
But, there is one thing that drives courage. One MAJOR thing. This thing matters more than any other.
It is a strong, unbreakable "why." My mother knew her "why." She knew what she had to do and what it would take to do it. She was sometimes scared, overwhelmed, confused, and not sure how she would do it, but that didn't stop her because she knew why she had to do it. She loved her kids and her family unconditionally and that drove her. It propelled her courage.
Courage in life translates to action and actions are how we move forward. We can think about things and have ideas all day, but without action, they don't mean anything. Having the courage to start and the will to keep going is really what it takes to separate yourself and reach your version of greatness. I might also add, to have that same courage and will when you fail the first through fifth times. But that is where the why comes in. If you have a strong enough why, you will always have the courage to move forward.
I cannot express the level of gratitude in words that I have for my mother embodying courage backed by a strong why and teaching me to understand what that truly means. What I have done is strive to show her through my own actions and in my efforts as a father with my daughter. I will never have the level of courage and will that she has, but if I have 1/100 of it, I know I will do just fine.
Find your why and find your courage....and give you mother a hug while you're at it.
History is a strange thing. It is marked with the deeds of men, good and bad. But if you think about it, every choice and every decision made to this point in history has gotten us to where we were at. One change in the timeline and you or I may not even be here. Everything had to happen exactly as it has for us to be at this point in life. If you stop and let that sink in a second...it's pretty freakin' incredible. And we are pretty darn lucky. It is truly humbling. What is even more humbling is that if you study history, you will find some of the most amazing stories of courage, leadership, and heroism that you have ever heard. These amazing stories not only help you to understand true courage, but also help you understand the depths of which we as humans beings are willing to go for our fellow man.
Below are three stories of incredible courage and heroism to inspire you in your life to become who you were truly born to be and reach your full potential.
Witold Pilecki, The Polish Man Who VOLUNTEERED For Auschwitz
There was no greater hell than the Nazi death-camps, especially Auschwitz. The camp was located in southern Poland and was the largest of the concentration and extermination camps.
During World War II, millions of Jewish people and perceived enemies of the Nazis were sent to their deaths in concentration camps. One of them was a volunteer.
Witold Pilecki, at almost 40 years old and a veteran of the Polish-Soviet War, hearing about the atrocities of Auschwitz, volunteered to be imprisoned at Auschwitz to secretly collect intelligence and then escape.
While in Auschwitz, Pilecki was responsible for informing the Allies of the atrocities happening and organizing a resistance movement.
In 1943, after three years in Auschwitz, Pilecki escaped. He took part in the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944 and served the London-based Polish government in exile, but was executed in 1948 by Stalin's police for “foreign imperialism.”
Pilecki's exploits were suppressed by the Communists for years and it wasn't until 1989 that the world heard of this heroic man and his bravery.
What does it take to volunteer to go into the gates of hell with an almost certainty in your fate (death)? Can you imagine what went through Witold's mind? I imagine things things like, "I am giving up my life. I am willing to sacrifice everything because it is the right thing to do for mankind. Maybe, just maybe, I can make it out alive and help others..."
Winston Churchill famously said, "If you're going through hell, keep going." On it's surface, to most it is a platitude, but when he said it, he was really dealing with hell on earth. Whatever your problem, whatever your challenge, it pales in comparison to what others through history have gone through and for what others have volunteered to do in the bleakest of times. If you are going through you own personal hell, don't stop, don't give up. Keep going.
Juliane Koepcke, The Girl Who Lived
As her plane came apart in mid-air over Peru, I cannot imagine what was going through Juliane's mind. She was 17 and had her whole life ahead of her. She was traveling with her mother, a Zoologist, to meet her father, a Zoologist as well, in the Amazon jungle. Her plane was struck by lightening and lost a wing. She stayed strapped to her seat as she plummeted 10,000 feet to the jungle below.
Somehow, she lived. She was the only survivor, with a broken collarbone and maggot infested wounds. She remembered one thing from her father and mother, "follow rivers downstream as they lead to civilization." She walked and swam through the Amazon for 10 days with no food, somehow avoiding piranhas, crocodiles, and everything in between. Finally, she found a shack where she held up and was found.
Juliane was no different than anyone of us, except for a few things. First, she was extremely lucky to be able to at least walk away, despite injuries, from the plane crash. Second, and this is the reason I picked her for this article, she refused to give up or give in at all cost. She had little survival training, except for an insatiable yearning to live. The human mind and spirit is so much more powerful than we give it credit for. It can propel us to levels and places that we never dreamed of. When the mind and spirit take over and the WILL to do something grabs us, there is nothing we cannot accomplish, no matter how much pain or obstacles stand in our way.
Use your mind to your advantage. Use your power to propel you. Never, ever give up on your dream(s). Never give in. It has to be won in your mind before it is won in your body.
Louis Zamperini, Olympic hero, WWII bombardier, plane crash survivor, POW, and survivor of post-war turmoil
In recent years, the story of Louis Zamperini has been told in book and movie form. But it took decades before it came out. I first learned about Louis story over a decade ago after hearing him speak. He was the most humble and straightforward man I had seen speak. There was no sugar-coating what he went through. 99.9% of people would not survive even the beginning of his ordeal, let alone all that he went through.
Louis was an Olympic hero at the Berlin games shortly before WWII. In fact, he was touted as the first human fast enough to break the 4 minute mile. As WWII came, he enlisted and his bomber crashed over the Pacific. He spent 47 days at sea, losing one of the 3 men with him. With almost not supplies he was able to catch fish and figure out ways to survive the 2000 mile "drift" he went through before he hit land and was captured by the Japanese. His time in a life-raft is still the longest ever recorded. But, where did he come ashore? Basically on the worst Japanese torture island in the Pacific. He survived there and was transferred to Japan where they figured out who he was (US Olympian), tried to use him for propaganda, tortured him worse than you can imagine.
He was rescued as the war came to an end inland in Japan where he was working a coal mine as a prisoner. He would never be able to run again and upon returning suffered from severe PTSD (they didn't know what that was back then). He became an alcoholic and almost died. He was eventually saved by the woman who became his wife and Billy Graham, nonetheless. Keep in mind, he still had most of his life to go at this point! Reading what Louis endured is enough for multiple lifetimes.
There is so much to learn from this story and I urge to read the book about Louis' life, Unbroken. And that is really the point of tell you his story...you can bend, you can come under tremendous stress, pressure, even torture, but you don't have to, no, you must not break. No matter what you believe, God, the universe, whatever you call gives you what you are capable of handling...whether you know it or not. Louis story comes down to one simple thing, BELIEF. The power of unshakable belief has propelled humans to just about everywhere they thought was not possible. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Don't just say it, cement it in your soul. Believe in the possibility of greatness for yourself and it will find you.