A New Kind of Resolution

A New Kind of Resolution

Decades ago, when we were young and eager for success, my friends and I challenged each other to set the most unachievable New Year’s Resolutions and actually attempt to achieve them.

Patti, a fledgling singer/songwriter, vowed to write a Billboard top-ten hit.
Greg, an early adapter of the fitness industry, promised to create a yoga center for the stars.
Leslie, Chuck, and Vince set excessive salary goals for their next job searches.

And I’d be spending my days huddled over the typewriter, pecking out NYT best-sellers one after the other.

You probably guffawed your way through that list, even if you had similar resolutions of your own back in the day. According to Forbes, 80% of people abandon their resolutions by February—so why should this year be any different?

Maybe the issue isn’t the challenge of “keeping” a resolution.

Maybe the issue is the type of resolution we set.

John Lennon famously wrote, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans,” which should give all of us cause to consider whether we want to spend our days focused on the future, or being “in the now.”

These last few years—dealing with COVID restrictions, political unrest, and the general ups and downs of daily life—I’ve had some time to give that quote and a few others some thought. Maybe attempting to regulate how I behave or what I consume is of less importance than some other things.

Meister Eckhart, the 13th Century German philosopher, said, “Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”


What if, instead of barreling into the day intent on accomplishing as much as possible in the shortest amount of time, we decided to slow down, and let each experience of the day come at us as something new? What if we asked ourselves, “How would a total stranger view this situation, and might that make a different for me today?”

I am quite clear that this is no easy task, and it flies in the face of what many of us have been taught all our lives. But what if asking What if? opened up new possibilities for us or those around us?

Maybe instead of a New Year’s Resolution to be or do more, we should make a resolution to do or be less. “Today I won’t respond to anything without first considering the opposite approach to the one I held yesterday. Today I will play a mind game with myself.”

That could be far more interesting and life-changing than “Today I will do 10 more reps of each exercise,” or “Today I will cut my calorie intake by 10%.”

The quote that got me thinking the most is this: “Every year you make a resolution to change yourself. This year, make a resolution to BE yourself.” (author unknown).

It’s not easy to be yourself, surrounded as we are by hundreds of marketing messages for products, and the constant pressure to conform to fashion in looks and behaviors.

It’s not easy to be yourself.

But what if you gave it a try?

Even if it’s just till February first.

Four sayings that lead to wisdom

If you’ve had any conversation of significance with me in the last two years, you know I am a huge fan of the Canadian mystery writer, Louise Penny, author of the Inspector Gamache series.

From the first book in the series, Still Life, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache tells the detectives under his supervision there are four saying that lead to wisdom. They are:

  • I was wrong
  • I’m sorry
  • I don’t know
  • I need help

Seems to me these four statements are the underpinnings of quality relationships and great customer service, no matter what business you might be in. Ultimately, much about our relationships – personal or business – depends our our willingness to admit to being human.

Why is it sometimes so hard to say, “I was wrong”?

When did it become a sign of weakness to say,  “I don’t know,” or “I need help”?

And what healing could come if we all had the courage just to say, “I’m sorry”?

I read a post recently that said we must learn to accept the apology we never received. I think we must also learn to give the apology that might never be accepted. I’ve begun, in my morning meditation, to offer forgiveness and/or apology to those I may never see or hear from again. In the end, the one we must forgive, and the one to whom we must apologize, is ourselves.

I’ve been wrong. I’m often sorry. There are many things I don’t know, and many times I need help.

How about you?


One of “Those” Days

image of a woman pulling her hair outHaving one of those days, darling? You know what I mean – one of those frustrating, exhausting days in which everything you had planned is blown out the window by the things you didn’t anticipate?

The kind of day when you needed only to focus for one good hour to complete an important project, but the phone rings, the computer crashes, or the one person you desperately need to consult has left on vacation? The kind of day in which the faster you go the farther behind you fall?

Any street-corner guru will tell you: what happens in your life is not important. Hate your job? Not important. Dumped by the love of your life? Sorry, not even close to important. Diagnosis: Cancer?  To this I can personally and emphatically say, “Not important.”

That same street-corner guru (who happens, just like you, to be my brother) will tell you: What matters is the way you respond to what happens.

Look, my friend –I made it through radical surgery and nine months of chemotherapy by conducting little experiments just to amuse myself, and refusing to attend the pity party. You’d be surprised at how people react to a bald lady singing out, “Good Morning!” as she race-walks down the hospital hall at 6 a.m., grinning like the Cheshire Cat, morning after morning.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., one of my long-time favorite American authors, said, Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I, myself, prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

So when the day is long, your schedule has been tossed and torn by the winds of change – when you think nothing could be worse than getting what you got, or not getting what you wanted ­– turn your mind around, and give yourself a good belly-laugh.

There’s less cleaning up to do.


7 choices for Success and Significance

I bought this little book — Seven Choices for Success and Significance (How to Live Life From the Inside Out) — when it was recommended to me in 2011. It may be small, but it’s full of power and wisdom from a man who started with nothing and became a huge success.

image of "7 Choices Book"The author, Dr. Nido R. Qubein, came to the United States from the Middle East when he was 17, with just $50 to his name and little knowledge of the English language.  Today, he is the President of High Point University in North Carolina, and Chairman of the Great Harvest Bread Company, with 225 stores in 43 states. Read his accomplishments here.


Dr. Qubein states that the choices we make determine the person we become, and the seven choices included in this little volume are obvious at first, then become profound in his interpretation.

In the introduction, he speaks of the koi fish – the simple Japanese carp:

“If you put a koi fish in a fishbowl and give it food and water, it never grows to more than two inches in size. But, if you put it in a pond it grows to a foot in size. The koi fish grows proportionately to the environment in which it lives.  So must we, if we are to succeed and live a life of significance.”

The Choices

I’ll speak here of the first two choices:

#1: Choose Transformational Patterns, and 2#: Choose Energy Management over Time Management.


Transformational choices, Dr. Qubein states, are those that change the direction of our lives, and put us on a path to success and significance.  “The people I admire most don’t live their lives by a ‘TO-DO’ list,” he says, “They live their lives by a ‘TO-BE’ list.”  To be more generous, more patient, more learned, more reasoned.

Choosing energy management over time management: If you focus on time, Dr. Qubein says, you can be held back by transactional things. “I think in terms of energy,” he states. “Is this activity worthy of my energy?” We are like batteries;  we all have 24 hours each day, but if we fizzle out after five hours, the other 19 don’t matter.

Focus, Dr. Qubein says, on activities that contribute to the greatest value in your life and do more of them.

The final point Dr. Qubein makes is this: Success is secular. Significance is spiritual. Success focuses on tasks and goals. Significance focuses on purpose.

What choices will you make today?


The Dropout Hall of Shame

So there you are, loaded with years of experience, capable of way more than most in your field, and every job posting you see that fits you to a “Tee” lists some sort of degree as the first qualification.

And, that would be the degree – any degree – that you don’t have.

Throw your discouragement out the window. You’re actually in great company.

Here are the top six on my list of current-day dropouts:

  • Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College after six months, saying “I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or how college was going to help me figure it out.”
  • Peter Jennings,  top news anchor on ABC, flunked out of 10th grade and went to work as a bank teller at age 16.
  • Michael Dell, the founder and CEO of Dell, Inc., dropped out of college at 19.
  • Bill Gates was 10 points away from a perfect score on the SAT. He dropped out of Harvard College after two years and never went back.
  • Steven Spielberg was denied acceptance to film school and dropped out of California State University in Long Beach.
  • Simon Cowell, TV producer, dropped out of school at the age of 16.

And then there are the Degree-less from History:

  • Henry Ford never completed high school.
  • Andrew Jackson, 6th president of the United States, never went to college.
  • John D. Rockefeller Sr., the first American billionaire, was a high school dropout.
  • Andrew Carnegie, one of the first mega-billionaires in the U.S., dropped out of elementary school.
  • Thomas Edison joined the railroad at the age of 12.
  • Benjamin Franklin had less than two years of formal education.

If they could succeed, so can you.

Einstein once said that he was no different than any other man except for one thing– that he never gave up, and stuck with a problem till he solved it.

Ray Bradbury, the gifted author of Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, and so many other brilliant novels, said “I never went to college. I went to the library.”

Now please, go to the comment box below, and leave your thoughts. There’s also a box you can check if you’d like an email notification when a new post is added to this blog.


The Joy of Adversity

For those who haven’t learned how to be two places at once, and thus missed Linda Angér’s talk at the MCC Birthday Bash and Leadership Expo, here is a transcript…

Your feedback is requested – Thanks!


My name is Linda Anger. I am one of the founding members of MCC, and the founder/president of The Write Concept, a 10-year-old marketing communications company based in Rochester Hills, and I’m here today to speak on the Power of Perseverance.

I can stand here and tell you the platitudes – you’ve heard them a million times. What I really want to share with you is the value of drawing strength from facing the adversity inherent in perseverance. Success, in my book, is not about coming through a challenge unscathed – because adversity isn’t a obstacle to “get around” – it is a part of our life.

I believe things happen FOR us, not TO us… I repeat: things happen FOR us, not TO us. I know that every single thing that has occurred in my life, no matter how positively or negatively I perceived it, happened FOR my ultimate benefit. I hope that 6 minutes from now, you will understand what I mean.

The first story I want to share with you is the tale of Matt Weinstein, a workplace humor and team building expert.  Matt was a self-made and quite wealthy man. One day, while cruising Antarctica on a Russian ice-breaking vessel, he got a satellite call from his wife, who said “Bernie Madoff has been arrested. His entire fund was a scam.” In that moment, Matt Weinstein went from a self-made and very wealthy man to a self-made and virtually penniless man. In January 2009, he said “What we came to understand was that Bernie Madoff stole all of our money – but it was up to us to make sure he didn’t steal the rest of our lives.” What an amazing catalyst that experience was FOR Matt Weinstein and his wife. They refused to allow the Madoff madness to happen TO them, and saw the ultimate benefit in their lives. THAT is the basis of Perseverance.

I ask you – when was the last time something you perceived as negative became a blessing in your life?

J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12 publishers, and even Bloomsbury – the small house that finally purchased the manuscript, told her to get a day job.  She was in the midst of a divorce, her mother had just died, and she was living on government subsidies. She ignored the naysayers, kept on writing, and wrote herself into a $15 billion dollar brand.

How much of a deaf ear do you turn to the naysayers in your life?

Greg Mortenson, founder of the Central Asia Institute, and author of the book “Three Cups of Tea,” tells the story of a mullah in Afghanistan who refused to allow education for girls in his village. It took Mortenson 8 years of conversation and thousands of cups of tea before the mullah relented and allowed 1 girl to go to school.

Would you have the patience to stay with an unlikely prospect for eight years? Would you?

We have become a culture addicted to fast food, instant response and gratification, but Mortensen says “Anything truly important is worth doing very, very slowly.”

Who among you feels comfortable in saying you know me fairly well?  Would any of you say that I was shy, distant, and most of all, a negative thinker?

I didn’t think so, but I will tell you that for the first 23 years of my life, that was the absolute truth.

At the age of 12, and again at 15, I was subjected to experimental bone surgery that only served to make the perceived problems with my legs worse.  For all those years, I was told in many ways – subtle and overt – that I would never be “normal” and shouldn’t bother trying to do any of the things the other kids did without thinking. I was “Different,” and “Different” was not a good thing. For the first 23 years of my life, I believed it and let it rule me. I couldn’t see, at the time, that it was a blessing for me.

Then came the day that a friend challenged the “victim” mentality I was trained to carry. He laid down a challenge I couldn’t refuse – I was determined to show him that he was wrong, that I was physically incapable of doing what he challenged me to do. I surprised myself and did it, and I loved it. That young man’s insistence on getting me out of the psychological straitjacket I wore for so many years changed the course of my life forever. I thank the gods for his persistence – he was the one who taught me to drink deeply of every opportunity, and never substitute “I can’t” for “‘I’m afraid to fail.” It was one of the greatest things that ever happened FOR me.

From the time I started writing stories at 9 years of age, I was told I could never earn a living as a writer. But I have, inside the corporate world for several decades, and as as a small business owner, for over 10 years. That’s Persistence… and trusting that the Universe will always conspire in my favor.

12 years ago, my house burned to the ground. When all you have left is your life, you quickly realize that “stuff” doesn’t matter, and you become far more persistent in pursuing the things that do matter, like – friends, and Wisdom,  your capacity to love, your willingness to give of yourself.

For the better part of the last year,  I’ve been conquering cancer. Many of you have been with me through this journey – and it is your part in it has made cancer an amazing blessing that happened for me. My gratitude to each of you is boundless.

For those who can’t fathom how cancer could be a blessing,  I invite you to contact me and we’ll talk.

My doctor and my chemo nurse tell me they have never seen anyone come through cancer and chemo as cheerfully and uneventfully as I have.  I told them what I learned from Aimee Mullens, a parolympian who holds world records in the 100 meter dash, and long jump. She once said, “Opening ourselves to adversity, dancing with it, is natural and useful. No prognosis can be as powerful a determinate as WILL.”

No prognosis can be as powerful a determinate as WILL… and I’ve determined that I am and shall remain a cancer Conqueress.

I ask you: what role does WILL play in your life so far? and, I tell you: no matter how outrageous or scary it seems, when you can see and feel your dream in your minds eye – leap like your pants are on fire!

This amazing universe will surely catch you.

I came here today to talk about the power of perseverance… to honor the unstoppable spirit of Terry Bean in his vision of building the best networking group in Michigan…. he’s succeeded, as this day proves.

And I leave you with this:

Sir Edmund Hillary, the famous explorer, said,  “It is not the mountains we conquer… it is ourselves.”

Another wise person said “Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”

And finally, the saying from the Chinese that has been my mantra for many years:

“Those who say a thing cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”

My name is Linda Anger, from The Write Concept.  THANK YOU for your attention.

Now go out there, and make your day magnificent!

If We The People Raised a Billion Dollars

I read an article stating that the original 19 presidential candidates of 2008 raised and spent more than $1 billion in their efforts to add “Leader of the Free World” to their CVs.

The article’s authors noted a few alternative, and perhaps more appropriate, uses for that amount of cash. $1 billion would buy:

      • Basic health coverage for 250,000 of the 46 million uninsured Americans.
      • More than 415 million school lunches for needy American children.
      • Nearly 6,700 fully armored Humvee’s for our sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, friends and neighbors serving in the military.
      • Hurricane relief. Foreign nations offered nearly $1B in aid after Katrina. For reasons unknown to “we, the people,” none was accepted by our government.
      • Treatment and prevention for more than 150 million cases of malaria in Africa.


So I ask you… if “we, the people” could raise $1 billion, would we use it to change the world?  Tell me what you think should be at the top of the list.

You Say You Want a Resolution

Blame it on the astrologer—and a New Year’s Eve full of Beatles records—but I’m engaged in a resolution revolution. I’m asking 100 people to commit to holding only positive thoughts for Michigan, America, and the World, throughout 2009.

The astrologer tells me it is in the stars—that it’s my job to be a lone voice of vision, inspiration and faith in the future; it is my job to uphold and prove the power of positive thought in the thick of a horde of negativism, and that 2009 is an important year for this “talent.”

My first thought was, “Yikes! How am I supposed to do that when I’m surrounded by reports and predictions of doom and gloom?” Seemed kind of a heavy assignment, even for a perennial Pollyanna like me.

Then I received an email from another member of my favorite networking group, Motor City Connect, saying, “I think you’ve been one of the true inspirational leaders in the MCC community with your 6 word challenges and seeming omnipresence in the MCC community. I don’t know how you find the time but you have emerged as a point of positive energy within the community. So keep doing that!”

And, I realized that one of the greatest gifts we can give each other is a simple, often underrated, four letter word: Hope.

Existence is against all odds, according to scientists. Happiness is against all odds, according to pessimists. And yet, existence and happiness “are.” We have all that we need, internally, to make miracles happen in us and around us.

Here is my resolution for 2009:

I resolve to ignore the odds… because predictions for tomorrow based on the beliefs and behaviors of the past don’t factor the immense power of human spirit and passion into the equation.  I’ll be counting every tiny bit of joy, achieving what I need, and supporting the causes that make my heart sing.