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Pivotal Stories

3900 Saturdays

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday morning. Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the garage with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it:

I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whomever he was talking with something about "a thousand marbles." I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say.

"Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. It's too bad you missed your daughter's dance recital," he continued; "Let me tell you something that has helped me keep my own priorities." And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles."

"You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.

Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3,900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now, stick with me, Tom, I'm getting to the important part.




It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail," he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1,000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear.

Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life.

 

There's nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.

Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.
It was nice to meet you Tom. I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. This is a 75 year old man, K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!"





You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter.

Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. "C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast."

"What brought this on?" she asked with a smile.

"Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. And hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles."

 

What I love about stories is that they can speak to our soul. This is only one of many great stories in my book, Charging the Human Battery...50 Ways to Motivate Yourself.   Sometimes, our greatest challenge is getting inside our own heads to determine...what makes us tick? That's what this book is all about!

Life’s Biggest Con

What scares you? What stories do you make up to con yourself into holding back? What would you do if you didn't con yourself into being scared?

I've done something that scared the heck out of me. But it also turned out to be the best thing I've ever done!

Two years ago, I discovered that my Dad needed a kidney and as soon as I realized I might be the answer he needed, the voices in my head began to resist and shout!

"NO WAY can I give up a kidney! Are you kidding me!? I need both kidneys! I can't do it!"

Fear struck me down in an instant. I had never given up a body part. For that matter, I had never even stayed in hospital.

Despite the fear, I mentally considered the idea ... and I the more I thought about it, the more terrified I became. What if I had kidney failure in the future? Would I be able to have kids? What if something went wrong and I had impaired health for the rest of my life? Don't we need both kidneys?

All the while, Dad never asked me or any other member of our family for a kidney. I decided to get tested on my own. I was the only one in my family that got tested and I felt isolated. I felt like Dad's health was my responsibility alone. The fear held an even firmer grip on my mind.


 

And to accelerate the mental spin I was already in, there were plenty of well-meaning people ready to offer up their unsolicited opinion to help build and fortify my "wall of fear."

These were just a few of the fantastic and ridiculous comments I heard:

· "I know someone who donated a kidney and they got really fat as a result. You might get really fat". (A young woman's worst fear!)

· "Will you be able to have children?"

· "You'll have to give up alcohol."

· "You'll have to change your diet, become a vegetarian."

· "What happens if your kidney fails and you don't have a spare?"

· "What if you're in a car accident and your remaining kidney gets hurt?"

· "What about the yin and yang and flow through your body that they refer to in Chinese medicine? Losing a kidney will interrupt that and ruin your health!"

In the midst of all that, I decided to move forward. Dad told me I could pull out at anytime and he wouldn't think the worst of me. But I had made up my mind and I began to rise above the fear, rise above my own con job.

 

By the time the day of the operation arrived, I was actually calm.

When I awoke from the surgery, the doctors had me on a drip line and added 7kg of fluid to my body - even my chicken legs were fat! And they had pumped my body cavity full of gas. My surgeons joked that I looked like I should be in the maternity ward!

But, guess what? That was the worst of it. Despite my fears and the warnings of well-meaning friends, there were no complications and my recovery was quick. I was only in the hospital for 4 days. It only took a week for the fluid to leave my body and a few short months for the swelling to deflate completely. I was dancing - albeit somewhat carefully - after just 2 weeks, and returned to work after 4 weeks.

Now, giving up a kidney should be pretty scary for anyone, right? It's an important body part and you can't get it back once it's gone. It certainly was a scary prospect for me! But I did it, and the truth is that it wasn't a big deal. It wasn't a big deal at all! It was only my thinking that made it so. It's sort of like bungy jumping. The scariest part is the fear you con yourself into believing before you jump. After you jump, it's exhilarating.

I realized that I was incredibly fortunate to have been given an opportunity to donate my kidney. With that realization, though, came an insightful question that stopped me in my tracks:

If I could give up a kidney ... if it really wasn't such a big deal ... then what else could I have done if I hadn't let fear get in the way?

I could ... I CAN ... do so much more! I got it! I wasn't living up to my potential and I was 100% responsible. The only thing holding me back was me! I have since decided that I am not going to waste another minute. I LIVE, not exist. I've got massive goals and thoroughly ENJOY every moment of my life.

It's been over two years now and I'm delighted to report that Dad hasn't rejected the kidney. My gift has given Dad a far superior quality of life, has had zero adverse effects on my health, and the whole experience has undoubtedly brought Dad & I closer. I have realized that the joy is truly in the giving.

And I understand that fear is simply a con game we play on ourselves. It is all in our mind.

By acting in the face of fear and giving up my kidney, I received the greatest gift imaginable. I feel fantastic! My life is utterly different now, I LOVE it! From this experience, I've acquired a massive desire to wake people up, to let them know that they should never let fear hold them back, to inspire them to live NOW ...and to make the world a better place.

I'm up for big stuff ... and I'm going for it.
What are you up for? You'll only discover what you're capable of doing if you are willing to do it afraid!
Adrienne Rich
Auckland, New Zealand, Current Member - Bob Proctor Coaching Program

For more information on Bob Proctor Coaching programs or to comment on today's story, please email: bob@bobproctorcoaching.com 

A Parable Of Risk: Betting On The Here & Now

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Never hang up on strangers

 

You know how everyone gets random phone calls that aren't meant for them? It happens all the time and chances are its happened to you before. They could have simply dialed one wrong number or had a completely wrong number. It happens all the time. Anyways, when I was younger I use to be very rude to people who would call me randomly, I never had the patience to deal with them and I would usually do one of two things, chew them out or hang up on them.

About a year ago, I started getting calls from this lady in Florida who thought I was her Grandson. At first, I admit, I was irritated. Especially because of how many times she would call. I would always tell her that NO, I was not her Grandson and that she had the wrong number. She would be very apologetic and tell me how she just wanted to know how her Grandson was doing. After a while, I started getting the feeling that the old lady was alone and may have dementia or Alzheimer's because she always seemed surprised when I would tell her that I wasn't her Grandson and that she had the wrong number.

Now to provide you with a little background information, my Grandfather had Alzheimer's and I never met any of my other Grandparents, so there has always been that missing piece in my heart especially now seeing how much my nephews and nieces love spending time with their Grandparents. Because of this, I always have had a soft spot for the elderly and especially those with mind altering diseases. So, I made a conscious decision to start talking to this elderly lady and "pretended" to be her Grandson. She would call me asking me about how my life was going and I would tell her about my actual life. I would tell her how I was going to school to become a teacher, how excited I was when I graduated and started subbing. I told her my hopes, fears and desires. I told her more details about my life than I have ever shared with a complete stranger before. Sometimes we would just talk about life.

I told a couple of my close friends and family about this elderly lady but not many because to be honest, I didn't want to come off as a crazy person who was pretending to be someone I wasn't. Deep down I always looked forward to her calls and even when if I was busy, I would be sure to always answer and talk even if it was only briefly. Then about a couple months ago, the phone calls stopped. I was worried and had no way of reaching her since she always called from a restricted Florida number. The only information I knew was that her name was Beatrice. I assumed the worse and hoped in some small way I made a difference in her life.

Today, I received a phone call from a Florida number. It was from an orderly who identified themselves as an employee at Sutton Homes in Florida. I had no clue who this person was or why they were calling. I almost hung up on her to be honest. Then the girl said something that caught my attention, she said one name, Beatrice. She told me about this lovely elderly woman she had been taking care of for years. The woman would always talk to her about her Grandson and how proud she was of him becoming a teacher. She would say how she knew what an amazing teacher her Grandson would become. The orderly was confused about this because Beatrice had no living family, yet she would always call the same number and speak to a young man. It was then she told me that Beatrice had passed away at age 87 on Monday, July 16. She wanted to call and let me know how much my phone conversations meant to Beatrice over the years and how she always proudly spoke about her Grandson.

I sat there, stunned, as tears started pouring down my face. I never met this woman. I don't even know what she looked like. What started off as a joke, became something so much more that I looked forward to and in a way this lady took the place of my Grandparents I never was able to meet. I never was able to tell Beatrice that I got a job as a full time teacher. She would have been so proud, just like I know my own Grandparents would have been. There's still so much more I would like to share with her but can't now.

The moral of the story
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I suppose is that you don't know how much you mean to the people in your life especially the random ones. Love with all of your heart and never hold back, but most importantly, never ever hang up when an elderly woman calls hoping to speak with her Grandson, it may just end up changing your life.
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From Joshua Hertweck on Facebook

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Failure is the Line of Least Persistence

There likely will be setbacks and occasional self-doubts on the road to maximizing your charisma. You're going to need patience and persistence. But it's important to keep moving toward your goal.

I'm reminded of a friend who had a life-changing experience in a cross-country ski race in Minnesota. He had moved there not long before. In an enthusiastic, if not realistic, effort to adapt to the local culture, he bought some skis, practiced a bit, and entered an advanced competition. He took off like a flash at the sound of the starter's gun. But after the first quarter-mile in near-zero temperatures, he knew he was in over his head, hopelessly outclassed by other competitors swiftly gliding past him. He was soon alone in a frozen wilderness, and his thoughts turned gloomily to fatigue and defeat.

He had initially hoped to finish in a couple of hours. But as the cold seared his lungs and the exertion weakened his arms and legs, he all but gave up on his goal. If there had been a way to surrender, he would have. But being in deep snow in the middle of the woods, his only way out was to ski out. So he pushed aside the pain and pessimism, and kept skiing.

He imagined a lodge with a roaring fire that might be just around the bend-but wasn't. He imagined a rescue vehicle slicing through the drifts to pick him up-which didn't. He even imagined a helicopter dropping down to whisk him away-but, of course, that never materialized.

So on and on he skied until, at last, he came to a sign: FINISH LINE, 1/4 MILE. He couldn't believe it! Energized, he sprinted that last quarter mile and finished in a time not far from his original goal.

My friend often repeats that story, the winds more frigid and his muscles more aching with each retelling. It's become a part of his self-identity, and the memory of his endurance and ultimate triumph has gotten him through other of life's difficult scrapes and struggles. The moral, as he sees it, is that if you keep slogging ahead, refuse to give up, and stay as positive as you possibly can, you'll accomplish your goal, or something very close to it.

I could hardly argue with that. So even if you have trouble imagining success, keep moving along that snowy path in the woods. And before you know it, you'll have success beyond your imaginings.

Dr. Tony Alessandra helps companies build customers, relationships, and the bottom-line. Tony has a street-wise, college-smart perspective on business, having fought his way out of NYC to eventually realizing success as a graduate professor of marketing, entrepreneur, business author, and consultant. Dr. Alessandra earned his MBA from the University of Connecticut---and his PhD in marketing from Georgia State University. He was inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame in 1985

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“I Didn’t Want the Janitor to Lose His Job”

 

The primary responsibility for instilling good values and building character is with parents. This doesn’t mean, however, that teachers and coaches don’t have a critically important role.

The unfortunate fact is that far too many kids are raised in morally impoverished settings that foster lying, cheating, and violence. If we don’t give these children moral instruction, many of them will become predators. And I know it works because of Jesse, a young man I met in Tulare County, California.

Jesse was in an alternative school because he had serious behavioral problems. About a month after his school incorporated character-development strategies into the curriculum, Jesse found the janitor’s keys. To a kid with a history of theft, this was a mighty temptation. When he voluntarily turned them in, people were shocked. When I asked him why, he surprised me with his answer. He didn’t say anything about a new commitment to honesty. He said simply, “I didn’t want the janitor to lose his job.”

It’s likely Jesse would not have thought about the janitor weeks before. What changed was he had been given a simple thinking tool that helped him see the way his choices could affect other people. Jesse was taught to identify “stakeholders” – all the people likely to be affected by a choice – and to think about how they might be affected.

Despite Jesse’s flaws, he had decent instincts and didn’t want to do something that would hurt the janitor. His teachers didn’t teach him to care about others, but they gave him a way of thinking that unleashed the caring part of his nature.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

 

Michael Josephson is an influential and internationally renowned champion of character education for youth and ethical conduct in business, government, policing, journalism, sports, healthcare and law.   His website:   What will Matter has Quotes, insights and images about a life that matters.

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What special someday are we waiting for?

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She Never Left My Side

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The Lost Wallet

 

(Story originally published here)  


As I walked home one freezing day, I stumbled on a wallet someone had lost in the street. I picked it up and looked inside to find some identification so I could call the owner. But the wallet contained only three dollars and a crumpled letter that looked as if it had been in there for years.

The envelope was worn and the only thing that was legible on it was the return address.

I started to open the letter, hoping to find some clue. Then I saw the dateline–1924. The letter had been written almost sixty years ago. It was written in a beautiful feminine handwriting on powder blue stationery with a little flower in the left-hand corner. It was a “Dear John” letter that told the recipient, whose name appeared to be Michael, that the writer could not see him any more because her mother forbade it. Even so, she wrote that she would always love him.

It was signed, Hannah.

It was a beautiful letter, but there was no way except for the name Michael, that the owner could be identified. Maybe if I called information, the operator could find a phone listing for the address on the envelope.

Operator,” I began, “this is an unusual request. I’m trying to find the owner of a wallet that I found. Is there anyway you can tell me if there is a phone number for an address that was on an envelope in the wallet?” She suggested I speak with her supervisor, who hesitated for a moment then said, “Well, there is a phone listing at that address, but I can’t give you the number.” She said, as a courtesy, she would call that number, explain my story and would ask them if they wanted her to connect me. I waited a few minutes and then she was back on the line. “I have a party who will speak with you.”

I asked the woman on the other end of the line if she knew anyone by the name of Hannah. She gasped, “Oh! We bought this house from a family who had a daughter named Hannah. But that was 30 years ago!”

“Would you know where that family could be located now?” I asked.

“I remember that Hannah had to place her mother in a nursing home some years ago,” the woman said. “Maybe if you got in touch with them they might be able to track down the daughter.”

She gave me the name of the nursing home and I called the number. They told me the old lady had passed away some years ago but they did have a phone number for where they thought the daughter might be living.

I thanked them and phoned. The woman who answered explained that Hannah herself was now living in a nursing home.

This whole thing was stupid, I thought to myself. Why was I making such a big deal over finding the owner of a wallet that had only three dollars and a letter that was almost 60 years old?

Nevertheless, I called the nursing home in which Hannah was supposed to be living and the man who answered the phone told me, “Yes, Hannah is staying with us. ”

Even though it was already 10 p.m., I asked if I could come by to see her. “Well,” he said hesitatingly, “if you want to take a chance, she might be in the day room watching television.”

I thanked him and drove over to the nursing home. The night nurse and a guard greeted me at the door. We went up to the third floor of the large building. In the day room, the nurse introduced me to Hannah.

She was a sweet, silver-haired old timer with a warm smile and a twinkle in her eye.

I told her about finding the wallet and showed her the letter. The second she saw the powder blue envelope with that little flower on the left, she took a deep breath and said, “Young man, this letter was the last contact I ever had with Michael.”

She looked away for a moment deep in thought and then said Softly, “I loved him very much. But I was only 16 at the time and my mother felt I was too young. Oh, he was so handsome. He looked like Sean Connery, the actor.”

“Yes,” she continued. “Michael Goldstein was a wonderful person. If you should find him, tell him I think of him often. And,” she hesitated for a moment, almost biting her lip, “tell him I still love him. You know,” she said smiling as tears began to well up in her eyes, “I never did marry. I guess no one ever matched up to Michael…”

I thanked Hannah and said goodbye. I took the elevator to the first floor and as I stood by the door, the guard there asked, “Was the old lady able to help you?”

I told him she had given me a lead. “At least I have a last name. But I think I’ll let it go for a while. I spent almost the whole day trying to find the owner of this wallet.”

I had taken out the wallet, which was a simple brown leather case with red lacing on the side. When the guard saw it, he said, “Hey, wait a minute! That’s Mr. Goldstein’s wallet. I’d know it anywhere with that bright red lacing. He’s always losing that wallet. I must have found it in the halls at least three times.”

“Who’s Mr. Goldstein?” I asked as my hand began to shake.

“He’s one of the old timers on the 8th floor. That’s Mike Goldstein’s wallet for sure. He must have lost it on one of his walks.”

I thanked the guard and quickly ran back to the nurse’s office. I told her what the guard had said. We went back to the elevator and got on. I prayed that Mr. Goldstein would be up.

On the eighth floor, the floor nurse said, “I think he’s still in the day room. He likes to read at night. He’s a darling old man.”

We went to the only room that had any lights on and there was a man reading a book. The nurse went over to him and asked if he had lost his wallet. Mr. Goldstein looked up with surprise, put his hand in his back pocket and said, “Oh, it is missing!”

“This kind gentleman found a wallet and we wondered if it could be yours?”

I handed Mr. Goldstein the wallet and the second he saw it, he smiled with relief and said, “Yes, that’s it! It must have dropped out of my pocket this afternoon. I want to give you a reward.”

“No, thank you,” I said. “But I have to tell you something. I read the letter in the hope of finding out who owned the wallet.”

The smile on his face suddenly disappeared. “You read that letter?”

“Not only did I read it, I think I know where Hannah is.”

He suddenly grew pale. “Hannah? You know where she is? How is she? Is she still as pretty as she was? Please, please tell me,” he begged.

“She’s fine…just as pretty as when you knew her.” I said softly.

The old man smiled with anticipation and asked, “Could you tell me where she is? I want to call her tomorrow.” He grabbed my hand and said, “You know something, mister, I was so in love with that girl that when that letter came, my life literally ended. I never married. I guess I’ve always loved her. ”

“Mr. Goldstein,” I said, “Come with me.”

We took the elevator down to the third floor. The hallways were darkened and only one or two little night-lights lit our way to the day room where Hannah was sitting alone watching the television. The nurse walked over to her.

“Hannah,” she said softly, pointing to Michael, who was waiting with me in

the doorway. “Do you know this man?”

She adjusted her glasses, looked for a moment, but didn’t say a word. Michael said softly, almost in a whisper, “Hannah, it’s Michael. Do you remember me?”

She gasped, “Michael! I don’t believe it! Michael! It’s you! My Michael!” He walked slowly towards her and they embraced. The nurse and I left with tears streaming down our faces.

“See,” I said. “See how the Good Lord works! If it’s meant to be, it will be.”

About three weeks later I got a call at my office from the nursing home. “Can you break away on Sunday to attend a wedding? Michael and Hannah are going to tie the knot!”

It was a beautiful wedding with all the people at the nursing home dressed up to join in the celebration. Hannah wore a light beige dress and looked beautiful. Michael wore a dark blue suit and stood tall. They made me their best man.

The hospital gave them their own room and if you ever wanted to see a 76-year-old bride and a 79-year-old groom acting like two teenagers, you had to see this couple.

A perfect ending for a love affair that had lasted nearly 60 years.