Monday, November 29, 2010

Helen Keller Taught Us that Pessimism Is The Enemy Of Ambition And The Killer Of Dreams!

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
- Helen Keller

                                                                         Helen Keller

Helen Keller lived from 1880 to 1968...an incredible 88 years. Although she was blind and deaf from childhood, she played a big part in changing our world for the better. She was a university graduate, teacher, lecturer, author, humanitarian, and political activist. Her life was littered with fabulous accomplishments and her group of friends included such luminaries as Mark Twain, Alexander Graham Bell, and Charlie Chaplin. She also met every United States President from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson. She was an amazing person who lived an incredible life despite her disabilities. Most importantly, even with her handicaps she remained optimistic at all times and worked tirelessly to make the world a better place for others. Who among us can compare the difficulties or accomplishments of our lives with those of Helen Keller?

Are you optimistic? If not...why not? We all need to analyze our current situation and our current frame of mind to determine  what direction our innermost thoughts are taking us. It is quite a simple matter to find out if you are optimistic. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I believe in myself? Do I believe that I will be successful in my career? Do I believe that I will reach the goals set by myself and others? Do I believe that every obstacle can be overcome? Do I believe that I am, or can be as good in my chosen career as everyone else I know? Do I believe that with hard work, good things will come to me? If your answer is NO to any of these, you are not very optimistic and you need to adjust your thinking.

Now, ask yourself the following questions: Am I a loser? Am I of lesser value than other people? Have I ever given up on something, only to find out later that someone of equal or lesser skill went ahead on my path and succeeded? Do other people think less of me than of most of my peers? Do I often say to myself or others that I will never learn how to do something or that something cannot possibly be done? Will I be a failure, or at best mediocre, all of my life? If your answer is YES to any of these questions you are extremely pessimistic and you need some serious soul-searching or coaching in order to get back on track. You need to discover the source of your pessimism and then search your psyche for a way to get beyond it.

Pessimism is the enemy of ambition and the killer of dreams. You can only succeed through positive effort and genuine belief in yourself. Optimism will carry you to great heights...but only if you truly believe in yourself and only when you allow success to find you. Never hide from success by putting up a curtain of pessimism around you. Always be open to opportunity and never believe that you cannot succeed. Now is the time to start believing in yourself the way Helen Keller believed in herself. She believed everything was possible and she went about finding ways to prove it. And prove it, she did!

Here is another quote from Helen Keller: “No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” So, the next time you are feeling depressed or dejected because of a setback or a failure, rise above the natural reaction to become pessimistic. Do what Helen Keller did; try a new path, start a new project, put a smile on your face and believe in yourself! Optimism and pessimism are solitary pursuits. Only you can make yourself become optimistic...no one else will do it for you. The satisfaction, self esteem, success and happiness you receive from optimism will more than repay the effort you put into finding it.

Life is for living folks!

All the Best

Wayne Kehl

Monday, November 22, 2010

Think Before You Speak

Wise men talk because they have something to say... fools, because they have to say something.

- Plato

Plato lived from 428 BC to 348 BC and even then, one of the largest human problems that philosophers of the day grappled with was a lack of open, honest communication. Nothing has changed in over two thousand years. People then, as now, have trouble saying what they mean and meaning what they say. People just can’t seem to universally embrace the concept of being impeccable with their words. The phenomenon is a human condition that clearly has eons of history to support it and therefore, one that is very difficult to overcome.

Our old friend, Plato knew a thing or two about people. He is quoted far and wide as a philosopher of great wisdom and insight. The quote above indicates that those of us who are wiser than others will withhold our words until we have something of value to offer to a conversation. We will not speak for the sake of being heard and we will not speak negatively; thereby eliminating the possibility of saying something incorrect or lacking in integrity. On the other hand, a fool will speak incessantly without thinking and without giving any credence to the feelings, hopes, ambitions or desires of others. Fools speak for the sole purpose of dominating a conversation and for the pleasure of hearing their own words. The only people that are impressed by the words of a fool are other fools. They are impressed by verbosity and grandiosity rather than depth, wit, and intelligence. When fools speak, the wise recoil while other fools listen. Just as today, it appears that even in 400 BC there were a lot of fools running around saying foolish things.

In his book, “The Four Agreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz gives some wonderful clues to better human communication. The four agreements that he asks you to make with yourself are these: 1. NEVER MAKE ASSUMPTIONS, 2. DO NOT TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY, 3. ALWAYS BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD, AND 4. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST. They sound quite simple, but think about your own life and ask yourself if you can do all four of them at once.

When you hear words coming out of the mouth of a fool, do you assume that the person speaking is deliberately saying something to harm you or others? Conversely, do you give that person the benefit of the doubt; or do you simply forgive him or her? When you hear negative words spoken in your direction, do you take them personally? Do you assume that the person speaking is trying to harm you or make your life less valuable in some way; or do you simply forgive him or her? When you are speaking, are you always impeccable with your word? More clearly put, do your words and your intonation contain the best intentions? Is what you are saying designed to improve the lives of others or to tear them down in some way? Impeccability may be the hardest agreement to make because we all seem to lapse into sarcasm, deceit or guile from time to time. When we do that, we are playing the fool! Finally, do you always do your best or do you pass off a partial effort or a negative pretence as good enough? When we offer less than our best, we allow others the opportunity to find fault with us, thereby enabling another round of poor communication, sarcasm, deceit, and guile. It is difficult for human beings to avoid playing the fool.

Since reading “The Four Agreements” and taking it to heart, I have become very aware of my own failings as a human communicator. I am aware that I have often made incorrect assumptions and taken things personally that were not directed at me at all. I have not always been impeccable with my word because I often used sarcasm, minor deceit, and guile to win an argument or make a point. Finally, as much as I always want to do my best, I lapse into human slothfulness for one reason or another from time to time and then use deceit and guile to cover up my weakness. I am human and I have played the fool! I am not perfect yet, and I probably never will be, but I believe that self-awareness is the start of a road to a better life.

If you want others to listen to you and follow your lead, always be the best you can be and never play the fool!

All the Best

Wayne Kehl

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Are You Willing To Risk Your Life?

On Remembrance Day and Veteran’s Day it is important for us all to reflect on the sacrifice and devotion to duty shown by so many of our brave men and women all over the world. But, what does the observation of past and present wars mean to you?

November 11th is not about poppies, wreaths or cenotaphs. Those are only symbols to remind us of our brave military men and women. What November 11 is really about is courage and raw, unshakeable allegiance to a country. Veterans of all wars offered something that most of us have never and will never have to consider as an option. They offered their lives. They offered their countries the right to use them as corporeal weapons of war. When they made that offer to their Governments, they knew full well that they might never return from whatever theatre of war they would ultimately enter. They knew the enemy forces they would encounter would show them no mercy and that they too might have to make the definitive, irrevocable decision to end another person’s life.

Because it is neither natural or normal for human beings to deliberately end the lives of other human beings, our Veterans made another sacrifice. They put their integrity, their morals, and their spirituality on the line along with their bodies. They chose to overlook their natural predisposition to saving the lives of others in favour of protecting their fellow countryman from enemy forces. As much as killing did not come easily to them, they did it for the love of their homeland and the people back home they so desperately wanted to protect. Most importantly, they did these incredible things while asking nothing in return.

Members of all branches of the military were (and still are) asked to fight in unbelievably unpleasant and dangerous conditions, thousands of miles from their homes and families. They ate bad food and were paid very little for doing the most dangerous and important jobs on earth. And yet they fought selflessly until the war was over. Each time a war began, our Veterans finished it. Some came home...some did not. Some came back unharmed...others came back broken, torn, shell-shocked, and emotionally distressed. All had offered up the ultimate price...their personal right to life.

“Lest We Forget” has two meanings for me. Firstly, we the non-Veterans of the world must never forget the sacrifices our Veterans made for us. Secondly, we must all accept that our veterans will never forget what they were forced to do in service of their country. Veterans never forget the places they fought, the weapons they fired, or the enemy soldiers they killed and wounded. How could they? No human being could possibly forget the horrors of combat. Our Veterans gave all they had physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

Wars are started by politicians but they are fought by fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends and family members. We must always remember that our fighting men and women must be honoured for their service and that honour must never be tarnished by politics or protest. Veterans are heroes who do their duty at their own behest and for the most excellent of reasons. They are the best part of war and the best part of our humanity.

My Dad fought in World War II and still carries a piece of German Shrapnel in his back to this very day. He is 87 years old now and he has never forgotten his service to his country. In fact he speaks of the war years with more clarity than perhaps anything else in his life. Unlike my father, I have never had to offer my life for virtually anything. Because my Dad and millions of other Veterans fought for my freedom I have lived a very comfortable and secure life. At age 59, I find myself wondering what I would do if I was in their position and what my life would have been like if I was forced to experience what my Dad experienced. I offer my heartfelt gratitude to my Dad and to every other man and woman who ever risked his or her life for their country. They represent the best of us.

Are you willing to risk your life?


Wayne Kehl