Monthly Archives: December 2009

What’s This Whole New Year’s Resolution Thing About Anyway?

Happy New Year! It is a time for a new begging, a fresh start, a new outlook, a clean slate. I even know what many of you are thinking, “I’m going to make 2010 a much better year than last year. I am going to do it by making some resolutions and by George, I am going to stick with them!”

Oh yes of course, its time to commit to those New Year’s resolutions that will make us all a better person. You got your pen out and you are thinking hard. What will you do? Will you quit smoking? Will you eat healthier? Will you work out more?

If you’re into facts and statistics, Franklin Covey released the results of its third annual New Year’s Resolutions Survey, which polled 15,031 customers. The survey found that respondents’ top three New Year’s resolutions or goals for 2008 were to (1) get out of debt or save money, (2) lose weight, and (3) develop a healthy habit like exercise or healthy eating.

Now here are some fun facts. The survey goes on to say that 35% of the respondents broke their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January. Only 23% of those surveyed never broke them (at least at the time of the survey). The others most often broke them before the end of the first quarter. Nearly 40% of those surveyed attribute breaking their resolutions to having too many other things to do, while 33% say they were never committed to the resolutions they set.

So, where did this concept of New Years resolutions come from anyway? Well, arguably the tradition of the New Year’s Resolution goes all the way back to 153 B.C. when Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.

In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings. His most prominent remnant in modern culture is his namesake, the month of January, which begins the New Year. He is most often depicted as having two faces or heads, facing in opposite directions. With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.

I can’t be the only one who sees the humor in that. Two faces, making a commitment and then not actually living up to it. How ironic.

Well here it is. Given our success rate, I’m calling for a moratorium on strictly self serving improvements as New Years Eve resolutions. I’m calling you out. You owe it to yourself and your family to make a fundamental commitment to the three most widely acclaimed resolutions noted above. Using them as new resolutions is merely cheating the process. And besides if you are not currently complying with those commitments, the odds are, you will fail again anyway.

Let’s shift our focus from using resolutions as a false directive towards self improvement and on to making resolutions to improve the world around us. We don’t have to start big and we don’t have to commit more that we expect that we can deliver.

Start small. Think how can I improve or enrich the lives around me? Understand that on January 1st you are standing on top of New Year’s hill. You pack a snowball full of optimism, love, compassion and understanding and you send it on its way. Yes, you can be in charge of that snowball and you can take ownership of it.

I don’t know about you, but I will run the risk of getting run over with a positive punch.

Many have asked me about my 2010 resolutions. Well here they are. I have made a list of 52 resolutions or commitments (at least one per week) that I plan to complete by the end of 2010. Some might call it a “Bucket list” if you will. I am providing it to each of you to help hold me accountable during the year. If you feel some personal value in it, feel free to print it and use it, or create your own.

I resolve to:

1. Shake a soldier’s hand that I don’t know.
2. Assist an elderly person across an icy parking lot.
3. Tell at least five people to have an awesome day that I have never met before.
4. Apologize at least once for a disagreement when I still believe I am right
(and the facts back me up).
5. Just do something without asking why.
6. Be there for a friend before they have the opportunity to ask for help.
7. Make at least five strangers laugh.
8. Make a donation to at least five different charities.
9. Spend a day assisting at a food bank or homeless shelter.
10. Buy a stranger a hot cup of coffee.
11. Take a friend at his word and jump into something strictly based on emotion
rather than fact.
12. Make at least five new friends.
13. Tell my wife that I am a better man because of her.
14. Answer a phone call when I know who it is and I don’t really want to talk to
them.
15. Renew my Detroit Lions Tickets (because even a loser needs to know that
someone still supports them).
16. Be nice to telephone solicitor (just once).
17. Donate a used cell phone.
18. Send an email to someone for no other reason than to brighten their day.
19. Treat a group of young kids for pizza and ice cream
20. Salute the American flag.
21. Buy at least a dozen products made or manufactured in my home state.
22. Tell my kids how much I love and am proud of them.
23. Pave a new and better path for others rather than taking the one I always
have.
24. Look up an old friend who I haven’t seen in many years and buy him or her
lunch.
25. Build a snowman with my kids.
26. Compliment someone’s culture by eating something I’ve never tried before.
27. Write a letter to someone just to make them happy.
28. Travel somewhere I’ve never been before and experience their culture.
29. Enroll in a young child’s enthusiasm.
30. Be so goofy one day so as to make people wonder if I’m crazy
31. Go to a Tiger’s game with friends.
32. Open my own home to others more often.
33. Have a couple of Lafayette Coney Islands with extra onions and some well
done fries with someone who has never been there.
34. Enter a contest that has absolutely no relevance to anything important in my
life just for the fun of it.
35. Do a load of laundry without being asked.
36. Jump in a pile of leaves with my wife just to be silly and to remind us why we
married.
37. Say yes just once when I really really want to say no.
38. Go to a friend or relatives children’s function and cheer for their success.
39. Help a stranded motorist.
40. Donate a dollar to a homeless person without passing judgment as to what he
or she may do with it.
41. Just once, refrain from rolling my eyes when I really want too.
42. Break out in song and or dance one time when no one would ever expect it.
43. Call my mother and sister more often to check in on them.
44. Arrange family gatherings more often just because.
45. Talk less and listen more to the insight of others.
46. Vacuum the house without asking.
47. Be a voice of reason when called upon.
48. Be a shoulder for anyone anywhere who may need it.
49. Defend the honor and integrity for someone who for whatever reason
may not be able to stand up for themselves.
50. Help others discover the passion for, and fun in life.
51. Be an awesome dad so as to make my children proud.
52. Love my wife with all my heart.

Have a truly awesome holiday season. I wish each and every one of you a happy and healthy New Year. May it bring you all the richness you deserve.

So Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

This morning as I was slipping and sliding my way down the street, I saw a chicken crossing the road. My immediate thoughts were that he was on a mad dash to escape Coronel Sanders or he was just trying to get to the proverbial other side of the road. I just shook my head at first and found the humor in situation.

By now, if you have been a faithful reader of my blog you know that I have a very difficult time just taking things at face value. I analyze and over analyze things. Yeah I know what you’re thinking, where do you come up with some of this stuff and sometimes I am really not too sure myself. But hey it’s just me and that odd perception I have on life.

As I was driving, I started to think about that old joke or riddle (whichever your definition is, is fine) and started to think about it in a slightly more complex way. Why was that chicken really crossing the road? Was it because he was just wandering aimlessly with no direction and the road was merely a path he decided on at the spur of the moment to take? Did he perform some kind of logical thinking process to decide that he needed to obtain a different viewpoint?

Maybe there was something on the other side of the road which captured his attention and he needed to cross over to the other side to investigate. Or maybe still there was something on the other side of the street that he wanted and he decided that he need to make that trek to obtain the desired goal.

And another thing, why did it have to be a chicken? Why not an Anteater or Rhinoceros or a Llama for that matter? I can think of some pretty funny jokes about why an Anteater crossed the road.

No, I’m not crazy. I am going somewhere with this. There is a method to the madness I call the bizarre logic of The Bruce.

If you haven’t figured out yet where I am going, try and think for a moment of yourself, as bizarre as this may seem, as the object contemplating that journey. Are you doing it confidently and with a sense of self assurance or are you that “chicken”.

Many would describe that chicken as a healthier alternative to meat, however a secondary definition, now readily available and accepted by such dictionaries as Merriam Webster is “as a coward in any of various contests in which the participants risk personal safety in order to see which one will give up first”. I will take it one step further and go out on a limb and proclaim it to be simply someone who is full of trepidation and unsure or unable to take the next step.

Okay, so now maybe I have you thinking, am I a chicken, or am I an ok, bold and unstoppable. Am I a little of both, or am I so incredibly complex that I am a bad Chinese placemat?

Now if you have managed to decipher who you really are, and I’m betting that many of you are not who you think you are, what is it that is on the other side of the road? Is it a matter of curiosity or is it a fundamental matter? Is it is something logical or is it speculative. The truth is, it is simply nothing more than change.

Sitting and staying on the same side of the road breeds complacency. As human beings, we love complacency. It’s warm and fuzzy and we have grown comfortable with it. If we are not forced to alter any portion of our being, we probably won’t.

I do believe however that we define ourselves by the number of risks that we are willing or not willing to take. Living life to the fullest extent means putting yourself out there and charging across the road.

What is on the other side of the road? I really don’t know. I believe it to be individualistic and therefore for you to figure out. It could be a new job opportunity, a partnership commitment, or simply an item on your “bucket list”.

Can I guarantee you that the grass will be greener, of course not. I can in fact however guarantee you one thing, and that is, that it will call for you to step out of your comfort zone and examine something that you have never experienced before.

Why did the chicken cross the road? Maybe it was for no other reason than he was hungry and saw no more corn feed in his sights so he needed to search for another opportunity to feed. For him, the potential gain exceeded the risk of starvation. He could no longer be complacent because it became a matter of survival.

Life is not about surviving; life is about living and making the very most out of each day. Yes, it’s challenging, but it is also adventurous and fun. Take a risk today. Find something worth crossing the road for.

Who Ever Paid Me To Be a Role Model?

Bet I know what you are thinking, “What the hell was he thinking?”

I have no intentions in this blog to take sides in this issue. I won’t debate whether he owed society an explanation for his behavior or if it should have remained a family issue. I am sure you can find that in many other blogs.

I want to talk about a more important issue. Let’s just say the mighty Tiger has been brought to his knees and leave it at that. Many will argue that his transgressions will be the destruction of yet another famous athlete’s reputation. All you have to do is read the headlines in your local papers. “The Downfall of an Icon” reads one. “A Great American Role Model Gone” reads another, and probably the most damming that I read which stated “Youth around the World set back by the actions of their idol and role model”.

Wow, that’s pretty heavy stuff.

However before we go any further into our discussion, let us take a moment to break down that last statement and better define what or who Tiger really is.

What is a role model? Encarta defines it as somebody to be copied: a worthy person who is a good example for other people. The free dictionary defines it as a person regarded by others, especially younger people, as a good example to follow. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines it simply as a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others.

Now let’s look at what an idol is. The same dictionaries define an idol as a person, whose behavior in a particular role can be considered as god like, or one that is adored, and finally a representation or symbol of an object of worship

Think for a few moments about those definitions and how they may be somewhat similar yet worlds apart.

Okay here it is in Black and White. Tiger Woods is and was an idol if you or your children made the conscious decision to accept him as one. He is not, never was and never should have been considered to be a role model. I am not asking you to necessary agree with that fact; however I hope that, whatever you do believe, defining role models start at home.

Our responsibility as parents is to provide a safe, nurturing, caring and compassionate environment which fosters our children’s ability to learn. Provide them with a haven to learn about love, respect and responsibility. To learn what honesty, integrity, and sincerity truly mean as they learn to interact with others. Anything short of that is a failure on our part. Sorry to be so harsh, but I elected to bring children into this world and for that I must assume the culpability and responsibility that comes along with it.

It is your responsibility and you need to own up to it.

The greatest compliment that any child can give a parent is to tell them that they in fact are their role models. That as a parent, they have set a good example for them and that they are a better person for emulating the lessons that they were taught as they were growing up. That’s called validation for a job well done.

Your responsibility as well is to insure that your children know and understand what the difference is between an idol and a role model. By no means am I saying that there is anything wrong with having a room full of posters, and memorabilia for those that they idolize. But that is my point; it is someone that they, by definition see as an idol. They only become a role model if we as parents are not there to point out the distinction between the two or if we fail in our efforts to foster the right environment.

Here is another truth. All worldly idols will at one point or another drop the ball. Why? Because they are human and human beings are not infallible. Everyone one of us, no matter how perfect we profess ourselves to be have had a moment or two in our life that we are not proud of. A moment in time where we sit back and reflect on what exactly we were thinking.

As a role model for our children, we can sit them down on a one on one basis and discuss the issue and utilize it as a learning experience. Idols rarely do.

We have a terrible habit of placing idols on a pedestal in the middle of the village square and professing them to be everything that we want to be. We want to live our lives vicariously through them and in our eyes they are perfection. But that’s the funny thing, they are not perfect or flawless, we just tend to look past those idiosyncrasies.

We buy what they pitch. We emulate their golf swings. We dream to have what they have. That’s what we do with idols.

While, as we said, any parent wants their children to see them as a positive influence it is not always the case with idols that we allow our kids to consider as role models.

Ex-professional basketball player Charles Barkley, after attempting to spit at another player missed and hit a young man at court side. When chided for his actions and cavalier attitude about the circumstance he replied “I didn’t sign up to be any kid’s role model”.

If you ever visit my office you will see to pictures side by side. You will see one of Tiger Woods in the middle of a perfect follow through. I idolize the guy for his golf game, his dedication to charity, and his unwavering focus (I really have no intention of taking it down either). He would be just as successful running a fortune 500 company as he is on the tour.

The second photo is of a dad and his son walking off into the sunset with their golf bags over their shoulders under the caption “Priorities; Love is, above all else the gift of oneself”. You see my dad was my role model. He taught me about life.

Make sure to spend a moment with your children and help them define the difference between an idol and a role model, it could make all the difference in how they see the world