Opportunities are like “4 Leaf Clovers”

Have you ever found a 4 Leaf Clover? There are countless of people alive today in the United States who have never seen a 4 Leaf Clover. What do you think would be the reason that they haven’t seen one?  The truth is they haven’t been looking.

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I have a good friend that is always finding them. Sometimes he will find 3 or 4 in the same small yard. I tell him he is the luckiest guy alive.  One day we were talking and I said, “Brian, how do you find so many 4 Leaf Clovers?” He said, “Eddie, I look for them.” Isn’t that a simple answer?  He just looks for them.  If we apply that thinking to opportunities it might just be life-changing.  Remember the movie Field of Dreams? “If you build it they will come.”  Allow me to delight you in a small business that I had the opportunity to build.  Many of my readers know I’m also a photographer and several years ago I wanted to photograph the area schools. The price the students were paying was too high, I had all of the equipment to do the job and I just wanted to try my hand at it.  I set a goal for myself, and bought a huge white erase board and wrote my plans on it.  I went to all of the local schools and gave my ideas to them about lowering costs and fast service and local business. It seemed that no one wanted to hear my offer.

Then at one of the local Graduation days, which was outside, the rain was pouring on the event. Students were getting soaked, the speakers were drenched, and the school photographers wouldn’t get their equipment out in the rain. I was there with my camera, in the rain with a hood over my lens. The Principal saw me in the crowd and our eyes met.  With a small nod and subtle direction of her hand, she silently told me to move in place to get the diploma shots for the students. I did this and posted the photographs on my website for all to purchase. (Of course at a Great price).

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Later that summer I received a phone call from that same Principal and asked if we could meet concerning the next years school pictures. Wow, I had the opportunity that I had asked for. When we met, she asked me if I could give the school back a little more on a commission.  I took a deep breath because I really wanted to do that job but I explained to her that I had lowered the price much lower than the regular school photographers because their price was too high, and I didn’t have the room to give the school more back. She asked if I had thought about raising the price a bit for the students, and I had to tell her I couldn’t do that.  As I began to exit the room she said this, “Eddie, I just wanted to see if you were serious about helping the students, you’ve got the contract.!” Did you see that? I got what I asked for and there were several things that played a key role in this chain of events.

  1. I set a goal and wrote it down.
  2. I went into action and offered my services to the target audience.
  3. I found where I may be needed. (By mistake of course) and made myself available.
  4. I performed a good deed with taking the photographs in the rain.
  5. I offered a fair price.
  6. I stood up for what I believed.
  7. I was honest, and showed integrity.
  8. I received the contract that I asked for.
  9. I followed through with that contract for several years and had great response.    success-479568_960_720.jpg

 

The research shows that 4 Leaf Clovers are 1 in 10,000. That sounds like a far fetched  chance of finding one but that area is only about a 10 foot by 10 foot area. That is an area about as large as a small tent. So if you just go out and walk around for about 5 minutes the chances are that you will find 3 or 4 in no time flat.  Opportunities are everywhere if we are only willing to work for them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “God hides things by putting them near us.”annlanders1.jpg

Oh yea, what about the photography business? That year was a great year. The students were all very happy with their School Portraits. The prices were the best in 20 years, the teachers were happy, the parents were happy and after that year was over we received the contract the next year along with two more schools in the region.  I had found a 4 Leaf Clover in my photography business.

What does it take to see opportunity? It takes a willingness to open your eyes to what is there and an attitude of helping others. I like what my mentor Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything that you want if you help enough others get what they want.”

 

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Time is the one thing you can never get back. Remember when?

I remember growing up in Wise Virginia where all the boys in the neighborhood would play Cowboys and Indians. We grew up on Birchfield Road where there were about 20 of us.  This was during the 1970’s and 80’s when there was no such thing as internet or cell phones. We looked forward to the weekend where we would choose up sides and play all day long as one of the groups.  We dressed the part and everyone wanted to be the Indians.  We wore feathers and headbands and gave ourselves Indian sounding names.

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After a long hard day at play and after eating a meal prepared by one of the mothers we would talk into the evening as the sun went behind the mountains.  Often it was around a campfire before running home in the dark.  “When I get older” was one of the round about discussions.  It was always easy to look into the future and dream about what we would do when we got older.  Some were going to move away and become inventors, others were going to work in the coalmines, me…. Well I had the dream of owning my own business of whatever I had on my mind at the time.  “One day, I’m going to have a big factory and make toys and guns and tents and sell them all over the world.”

It was easy to dream back then, but that was so long ago.  Now I’m older and cherish those days in Wise County Virginia.  I remember the one time when I begged my mother to let me stay out with the guys and camp out. I was maybe 12 years old and my older brother Scotty was 15.  She let us go but the next morning as the sun was popping his head through the leaves, I heard my mother calling our names. “Scotty and Eddie, it’s mom, come on it’s time to go home.”  My mother is such a great lady.  She is now 81 years old and just as pretty as she was when I was only 12.  She has beautiful red hair and beautiful charisma to match.

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Where does all the time go?  One day you are a cowboy with a toy gun and the next day you are waking up with a backache from a hard day’s work.  Time is the only thing we can never get back.

From my experience I wish I had spent more time with my friends just talking. I wish I had taken mental pictures of my friends and their young faces.  I wish I had told all of their mothers how much they meant to me.  We could become sad that the times we wish we had are no more but then again, we still have today and tomorrow. Why not make the best of the time we have left?

I love to write about those days past.  My memory about the wars and fights that all of those Cowboys and Indians had are legends.  I remember the day that we all had the Indian challenge of spreading our legs as far as we could, dropping a feather on the ground from our Indian headpiece and leaning over to pick up the feather with our lips.  We got pretty good at that challenge. Then there was the game of stretch where two boys would stand about 8 feet apart.  A knife would be thrown by the first boy and the goal was to throw it no more than 6 inches away from the others foot. If the knife stuck in the ground, that boy would have to put his foot on the place and then it was his turn to throw the knife. The goals end was to make the other stretch so far that they couldn’t stand up. One day as we were playing, I reached down to get the knife and split my pinky finger into on the blade. I didn’t say a word, I just kept playing the game. I still have the scar today.

Where has the time gone? We can’t change the past but we can see the future and as a middle age man now I appreciate those memories from times past.

I have an acronym here on the word TIME.

  1. Togetherness, Cherish the time you spend with your parents, your siblings, your children or that special friend. Those are memories that promotions or overtime or projects can wait on. When your time on earth is over, the one thing you will miss and can never get back is Togetherness Time.
  2. Inspiration, Take the time to inspire others because your purpose on this earth is not for you, it’s for others. The little things can put the wind under someone’s wings, the small actions you show today may be the life of someone tomorrow. Inspire those closest to you by telling them you believe in them, and never ever let the word Love be forgotten on your lips.
  3. is the Motivation time. I’m talking about your own motivation. You must have a talk with the person in the mirror every day and push that person to work harder, go farther, and stay on course. It is ultimately you who is the Pilot of your life and not another.
  4. Is the Encouragement time for others. The word Encourage is a French English word that means “Strengthen the Heart” There are hundreds of people in this state that go to bed hungry every night but thousands that go to bed hungry for a word of encouragement.

Friends, if you will do these things and cherish your memories and love the ones you have in your life, you will reap great rewards.

 

Encourage Hope With Words.

I hope I get that job, I hope I can find a four-leaf clover, I hope she says yes.  That is an interesting word, isn’t it? HOPE.  What is it that gives you hope or yet another question may be why do we have hope while others appear hopeless?

For many, Hope comes from their past experiences or from their religious experiences or knowledge. Others may get their hope simply by being born optimistic.  But the sad fact is that without hope people fail to progress at their endeavors.  Where there is no hope, there is no success. When hope is absent so is the heart.  What can we do when we feel hopeless?

At times in my own life when hope seemed so far away, I would begin to remember the times that I had success and the events where I had overcome the obstacles.  As humans we are elements of our habits and we often find ourselves going back to the same place we were before when we made similar decisions.  We choose the same path.  Do you know anyone that you could say, they are so lucky or maybe you could say everything that he touches is a success?  Maybe just maybe that person is in the habit of making the right choices.  So, the first thing we must do to grab hold of that hope is to learn to make the right choices.

Emotional choice is where we often follow our wish and want and we get in a hurry with our decisions. We must weigh out our decisions and consider the future for the very best that we can, in order to see those potential problems. When we do this maybe we can adjust the path to avoid the problems to come.  So, the first step in having that hope is to make better choices in the beginning.

Hope is the challenge point in our mind where we see immediate success with little to no effort.  When hope involves other people, they are wanting the best outcome for themselves and they may make a decision that affects us. We should get to the point that our hope is not just for us but is also the best outcome for others.  Hope means helping the other person also.  I gave a speech one time and used HOPE as an acronym for Help Our People Excel.  I used the benefit of helping others first to show how we increase our own hope.

 

Hope is an actual sense of belief that the situation will get better or have a success.  There is a fine line in our thinking process when things are uncertain that we are negative or positive. We can be victims or victors, we can be hopeless or hopeful.  I want to coach you on the power of positive speaking for yourself in this situation. I want you to begin by making a list. You can do this in your mind but I want you to do this on an actual piece of paper. Maybe all you have is a napkin but the important thing is that you write down a list of your past similar success right now and don’t delay.

The list may look like this: #1, when I discovered I was overdrawn on my bank account several years ago, I called the bank and made an appointment. #2, I made a list then of what my payments were and what I expected to pay out over the next few months. #3, I also made a list of the things that I could cut out to make my budget better. Then after I got started with my list, it started to flow and soon I had found a way to come out of the financial rut that I was in.  There was another time when I was applying for a job and feeling a little self-doubt, I made a list of the skills that I had acquired over the years and soon I gained the hope needed to go into that interview and nail the job to the wall.

What about the hope for a loved one to overcome cancer or even for yourself?  Here the factor is first and foremost, Love and Encouragement. When people feel they are loved, their hope increases and when encouragement is received, it increases the normal dopamine and oxytocin in your bodies which bring about feeling well and allows the natural immunity process to do its job.  Often when the Doctors offer a ray of hope and the family backs up that hope, the healing takes place.

Having that attitude that I will overcome is not limited to health or wealth or success.  When we learn to be positive and say the positive things out loud we are giving that encouragement to ourselves.

The words we speak can give life and they can give death.  What if you were the child that overheard your relative say these words, “she will never amount to anything”.  I heard of a father that would ridicule his child when that child couldn’t spell a word and the father would say, “you will never be able to spell.”  That young child grew up with an amazing attitude toward others but lacked the confidence to spell.

 

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How do we build hope? We build up the person who has that hope within them.  Learn to be an encourager and give good honest and relative encouragement without overstating the facts.

Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying, “Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.” With this in mind we have to set the conditions right for those who lack hope. We have to encourage, build up, show care and trust. Finally we must give them some of our hope.  Have a You Can attitude and being sincere while doing it.  Set them up for success not failure. Have you ever planted a garden, didn’t you first prepare the soil, add the plant and then water and add fertilizer?  Each person is at a different stage of hope. Some need deep soil tilling while others need a drink of cool water during the heat of the day. Regardless, it is you who is there to offer what the other needs.  What an opportunity you have to change the world with your words and actions.

I often quote in my speaking events that there are four words that changed my life forever.  Even though I am a very positive person there have been times in my life where I had shallow hope. During one of these times I had several people to quote these four words and I acknowledge these four words that healed my circumstance.  “I believe in you.”  When you are sincere and speak these words, you can expect lives to change, you can expect gray skies to turn blue, you can expect great results.

I challenge each of you to learn to speak healing words to yourself and others.  Set the conditions and expect the results.  ThePowerOfPositiveSpeaking.com

 

 

Why Encouragement

When we think of encouragement we place in our mind the building up of others in words and actions.  Simply said it means to place “Courage” inside of the other person.  Do you remember the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz?

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The Lion felt like he was inferior to others, he felt that he couldn’t be depended upon to come to the rescue of his friends when he was very strong and very meek.  Meekness is not weakness as some would say but meekness means power under control.  This is what the Lion had and didn’t know, he was meek.  What the Lion needed was that inner courage that would give him the confidence that he so desired.

Many times, we have a picture of ourselves where we often compare ourselves to others by their appearance or words.  Confident people are often meek in that they think out their purpose and don’t often conflict with others. Confident people will weigh the consequence of their own actions and understand that things might get worse before they get better.  This is where the Lion was in his life.  He needed someone to confirm in him that he was indeed strong and confident and to give him permission to be the protector.  The Lion needed someone to encourage him.

  I have worked with some of the best minds in the business from manufacturing to institutional services and have found that even the Presidents of large companies often need encouragement.  While they may be the top in their field, they realize that their staff depend on their decisions to guide the company and these Presidents and CEO’s will often question themselves.  “Am I doing the right thing?” is the question they most often ask themselves when they know the answer is yes.  Here is where encouragement is a necessity.  Encourage comes from the French word of Cour meaning the heart.  Remember this quote, “Big People think with a Big Heart.”

True encouragement is more that stating to someone that they can do it, it’s more than telling a team that they have another chance next year.  Encouragement is an Art where we tell the truth in order to build confidence in the heart of the other. 

Encouragement starts by pulling out the good and the bad of past events and separating them into parts that can be studied.  Encouragers are those that analyze each situation and explain to the hearers that there are reasons the thing was a success or a failure.  Encouragers define the points that need to be replicated and also those that need to be refined.

When a football team is winning at half time there is an air of excitement in the locker room.  An encourager coach will build the team up with phrases like, “you are the best team on the field tonight”, or “This is why we practice so hard through the week guys, so we can prove we are a winning team.” Then the encourager coach will go on to recognize the plays that put that team ahead, he will also recognize the things that the team can do better.  He does all of this to build confidence in his team and to prepare them for what the other coach is telling his team.

Meanwhile the team with the lower score on the board hears a different message from their coach.  An abusive coach will tell the team how poor they are playing and why they are losers. An encourager coach will start off by telling the team that they can do better.  He says he knows they have the ability to go back out in the second half and be a better team.  That same encourager coach then does the same thing with his team, he finds the things that were a success and recognizes them and he also points out the areas for improvements.  This coach will go one step further in that he feels with the team, he has compassion with them.  Sure, he might work them harder the next week on the practice field but winning teams are built with encourager coaches.

Dr. John Maxwell calls encouragement, “Oxygen for the soul.” I believe that statement is so true.  My wife is my biggest encourager.  I was the kid in school that would take an F in class before giving a speech.  Later in life when I began speaking in front of crowds and congregations, my wife encouraged me to be the best that I could.  She told me continuously four words that sustained me, “I believe in you.”  What did those words do for me?  They touched my heart

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I have spoken in over 13 states to many different groups and the words that I use include those same words my wife spoke to me.  You can make a difference in the heart of others when you believe in them.

 

Try a Little Kindess

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The Country singer Glen Campbell was popular for singing a song entitled, “Try a Little Kindness”.  It was a song about reaching out to those that were having a hard day or in harm’s way.  The catch phrase in that song was “if you try a little kindness you will overlook the blindness of the narrow-minded people on the narrow minded streets.”

This was a song that gave hope to everyone because kindness is a delicacy if you will.  Everyone wants some kindness and very often everyone will give some kindness out but the song speaks volumes in that kindness is rare and the singer is asking you and me to try one more time, help someone today.

I would propose to you in this writing the same idea.  Try a little kindness the next time you go out your door into the world.  My Mentor Zig Ziglar use to say that there were millions of people in this world that went to bed hungry every night but there were many millions more that went to bed hungry every night for a little encouragement and I add they are hungry for a little kindness.

We don’t always know what the other person is going through or the turmoil they have just been delivered from.  Death and destruction is around the next turn for each of us or maybe we are on the wrong road to begin with.  Choices that we make or choices that a spouse or friend makes will often lead us into a downhill plunge.  When we pass someone on the street, just as that song says, we are passing by those individuals that need some kindness and hope.

I would propose to you that you also “Try a Little Kindness”.  In the scriptures of the New Testament Bible it says that Kindness is a Fruit of the Spirit.  What is kindness and what is it not?  Well, kindness is not a natural behavior of humans.  Greed is natural, survival is natural, attraction to others is a law of nature for many reasons but simple kindness to the stranger or the one in need is not natural.  So how would we describe the idea of being kind?

Kindness is simply doing good for others without expecting anything back in return.  While that may seem selfless it really isn’t because there are many returns for being kind.  The first return that a person sees when he or she proves to be kind is the benefit of the Golden Rule, “do to others as you would have others to do for you.”   I don’t know how it happens but when you begin to be kind to others, something happens and you notice that others are kind to you.

Take for instance the day that I decided to hold the door for my co-workers in the rain.  Everyone was rushing for the door and the rain was coming down, we were all getting soaked and just as I arrived at the door and my inner-man spoke and said, “go on in Eddie and let the others fend for themselves”, that’s when I decided to be the overcomer and I defeated that inner-man. I stood in the rain and held the door open for the others. Sure I got wet and cold but the feeling that I got when each one of them said thank you and they waited on me as I was the last one inside and as we walked together in a group there was a special bond that we had.  Each one told the other to have a nice day as we dropped off at our offices.  Kindness pays you back in like ways.

When we harness this Kindness Ability, here is what happens immediately:

Other people are lifted up, they smile, they feel good about themselves and they want to share an act of kindness with someone else

So then, you have immediately improved the world.

There is an article from Dartmouth .edu that points to some life changing events.  https://www.dartmouth.edu/wellness/emotional/rakhealthfacts.pdf

  • Being kind at any level produces pain killing endorphins.
  • Kind individuals who practice kindness continually have 23% less cortisol (The stress hormone) and they age slower than the average population.
  • David Hamilton says acts of kindness create emotional warmth which produces Oxytocin which dilates the blood vessels and is therefore a cardioprotective hormone as it protects the heart. This hormone also is called the Love Hormone and increases our self-esteem and optimism.

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I stand exactly 5 foot and 5 and 1/2″ tall but on a day that I am kind I stand almost 5′ 7″.  There is some truth in that friends because when we feel good about ourselves and proud of our actions we stand taller.  In the other direction when we are feeling down and depressed or guilty for our actions we tend to slump and this compresses our spinal cord.  Now that in itself is a medical observance that affects our health, our blood flow and our stress level.  So to feel better, you should honestly “Try a Little Kindness.”

Thanks For The Breakfast

What a beautiful morning

I arrived early the night before where the next day I would be photographing the individuals who would receive an award for meeting goals, being innovative leaders , and for achieving a milestone in their career.  Early to bed and early to rise was my theme for the day and at 6:45 am I was up and ready for my breakfast.

I was surprised when I had arrived the night before when I was given a coupon for a free breakfast and I was looking forward to this moment. The waitress came directly to my table and asked what I would like to drink. 

coffee.jpeg “I would like coffee please with creamer, and may I use this coupon for my meal?”  She told me the plates would be right out.  She was so nice to me from the moment I sat down and as I waited on the coffee, I admired the cleanliness of the restaurant and the chipperness of the morning crew.  In just a few minutes she was returning with my plates.  Two eggs, three strips of bacon, hashbrown potatoes, toast, jelly and orange slices.  Yum this looks great.  As I thanked her for the meal she asked, “is there anything else I can get you?”. My response was that I was fine and I thanked her for being so nice.  The meal was great and as I sat there and thought, I began to wonder just how many people had a hand in getting this breakfast to me.  First it took at least 5 people to work the chicken house that supplied the eggs, it took another 5 people working the orange trees that handpicked the fruit. It took another ten or twelve individuals to harvest the wheat, drive the truck, bake the bread and deliver it to the hotel, at least four individuals to get the bacon from the pig and to me and what about the coffee bean pickers and the factory workers who crushed the beans to make the coffee. Then the truck drivers and warehouse workers and the motel workers.

Did they communicate with each other as they made their incidental acquaintances.  How many hundreds of individuals does it take to put a breakfast on a plate in a hotel?  Do we take the time to say thank you to the last one in the line of labor who delivered the goods to us?

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We live in such a time that very often a Thank You is left out of the conversation. Sure everyone got paid but it takes a lot of eggs and bacon to make a few dollars to make the house payments.  How much better of a life or a day will the other person have if I choose to make a difference in their day.  Thank you for the opportunity to eat in this nice restaurant and thank you for your smile, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your taking the time to refill my coffee and the atmosphere here was fantastic.  Don’t you like to be told you are doing a good job?  We need to recognize the laborers and the workers more than we do.  We should take the time to recognize that every one of those individuals have a life of their own and they each play an important role in making my morning great.

The breakfast was great, and as the waitress made her last trip I asked her if I could speak with her manager. She introduced me very nervously not knowing what I was going to say. I introduced myself using only my first name and informed the manager that I had just eaten one of the finest breakfast meals in my life and that the waitress was on time and very cheerful and had performed most excellent.  The manager smiled and thanked me back and then began to tell me about how they were going to renovate and the next time I came in it would be even better.  What kind of day do you think those people had when our conversation was over?

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What kind of day do you have when you are shown a little appreciation?

 

The One-Legged Bird

I’ve always heard that a bird with one leg can’t survive.

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This makes perfect sense in that if a bird only has one leg, it can’t land and if it can’t land, then it can’t take off. So the theory that a bird with one leg can’t survive sounds perfectly justified right. Wrong….. it seems that I’m always finding a story when I go somewhere to eat. Just recently while on the job, I pulled into a Hardees in Big Stone Gap, Virginia and ordered a special ham sandwich with pickles and onions. While sitting alone and looking out the large window in front of me, I saw a flock of birds land in the grass and one bird kind of stumbled when it landed. My eyes went to that one bird as I watched it hop and stumble. It was just another bird with the exception that each time it moved it would hop and stumble. Soon for whatever reason, all of the birds flew into the air and took up a new position just outside the window. This one little bird flew straight toward the glass where I was sitting and I saw up close why this bird was acting differently, it only had one leg. I was amazed as it went about just like an ordinary bird with the exception that when it took a long stride it would hop and stumble. That didn’t deter that bird one bit, it was normal in every sense. The theory was wrong. Just because a handicap may be obvious to us, we shouldn’t pass judgements that a person isn’t able to do something.

This little bird was perfectly able to do what birds do.  I had a teacher in high school Mr. Sturgill, and he had a prosthetic arm in the form of a hook.  He could open doors, pick up a book, dress himself and more. One day I was running down the hall as an excited teenager would, “I was on my way to see my girlfriend”, Mr. Sturgill reached out and grabbed me by my shirt.  I was stopped immediately.  He wasn’t handicapped, he was normal….. he was different, but he was normal.  We all know the name Hellen Keller.  She was deaf and blind but she was normal. She didn’t let what we call a disability hold her back, she was an author, a motivational speaker, and a social activist who inspired and still inspires others to greatness.

I watched that bird hop and stumble but it kept going.  Then it spread it’s wings and in just a second of time it used it’s one good leg to launch into flight once more.  I watched as all of the birds grouped together into a flock and this one little bird once again blended in to the flock.  With winter approaching, I know it will survive.  Theories are only that, “Beliefs that we have but are not proven.” Another form of Prejudice :  I wonder if anyone had told that little bird that it was not possible for him to fly, would he have given up?

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The Power of Positive Speaking