By John Y. Brown III, on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET
Last night before going to bed I saw a pile of bills my wife had neatly organized for me–totaling $8,100. Maybe that was the impetus for my dream last night.
As I was coming out of the men’s room in a corporation I don’t work for but was just part of my dream, someone tossed me a brick of $100 dollar bills. I couldn’t tell if they were robbing the office or were drug dealers. But after the first brick I somehow got 5 or 6 more as the robbers or drug dealers (remember, it’s a dream and not logical) left the premises.
I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I counted the money and it was about $1,190,000. I counted it several times. And several more times after that.
I found a friend—interestingly one who is not the most upright but a friend I felt I could trust— and asked what I should do. He thought I should definitely keep it. And give some to him to help me keep it under wraps.
I thought about it and prayed about it (very short prayers, I might add) and decided to keep the money for a second day to think and pray about some more. I just couldn’t be myself and was all jammed up feeling guilty and secretive and decided after about 48 hours to turn in the money –all of it—to the authorities.
This was tricky because so much time (48 hours) had lapsed. I was going to pretend like the money was dropped off in my office at the corporation I don’t really work at but did in this dream and that I just didn’t notice the money for 2 days. But that didn’t seem plausible.So I just pretended like I had missed work one day –the day the million dollars was dropped off in my office—but did notice the over $1M left in my office the next day when I returned to work. That seemed somewhat plausible. Unlike the coworkers in my dream I notice things lime 6 bricks of $100 bills left lying around. Mostly, I just wanted to turn in the darned money and be done with it so I could feel better about myself again.
And maybe I’d get a reward like television. Who knows, maybe 10% or even $10,000. Even if it were the latter it would cover all my bills waiting for me in the hallway.
I turned in the money and felt like the weight of the world (or at least as much as $1,190,000 weighs in $100 bills) had been lifted from me. I was relieved and myself again. And got no reward whatsoever. That only happens on TV not in dreams.
And then the alarm went off. And I got up and sauntered into the kitchen to get a bowl of cereal and saw the pile of $8,100 in bills my wife had neatly organized for me the night before. And I was grateful I didn’t have the money to pay them just yet but I did have a clear conscience and would eventually get them paid.
And that feeling was easily worth a million bucks. Actually more than $1,190,000 to be precise.
In fitness motivation can some times be hard to achieve and keep all the time. Therefore we look to quotes to keep us on track and our head screwed on right. From my upcoming book “The 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom” here are my top 12 fitness related motivational quotes. Enjoy!
1. “Strive for progress, not perfection” -Unknown
2. “The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race” -Unknown
3. “Never settle for second when first is available” -Lou Holtz
4. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”-Michael Jordan
5. “Procrastination is the assassination of motivation” -Unknown
6. “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going” -Jim Rohn
7. “Ability is limitless” -Unknown
8. “To get something you have never had, you have to do something you’ve never done”-Unknown
9. “The difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline” -Steve Smith
By John Y. Brown III, on Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET
To judge others or not to judge others…. And the seeming paradoxical personality types behind that decision.
It appears to me the most judgmental people I have encountered in life also seem to be the least critical of themselves. In other words, they are ruthlessly hard on other people but seem tough on themselves not at all.
It’s not so much that they give themselves “a pass” —rather it jus.t never seems to occur to them to apply personally the same critiques, criticisms and value judgments they almost instinctively apply to others. They just don’t see the need.
Conversely, those people I have encountered who are the least judgmental (the most accepting and understanding of other people), usually judge themselves the hardest of all. They seem easily to find flaws within themselves but not in others. It’s not that they give other people a pass — it just doesn’t seem to occur to them to bother commenting on others weaknesses, shortcomings and failings that they seem to instinctively acknowledge in themselves. They just don’t see the point.
This does appear to be a paradox but I don’t believe it is at all. In fact, I think it makes perfect sense once understood. Those people who are deeply self-aware —aware of what makes them tick, aware of the things they could and should have done better, the regrets they have, their idiosyncrasies, shortcomings, character flaws and excesses— are far less judgmental of others for these same flaws because they can’t comfortably criticize others for things they know they have done (or could do) themselves. They tend also to be more generous and understanding–both with themselves and others. They may not approve of all parts of themselves but their deeper and broader self-awareness of the whole of themselves including their own imperfect and halting struggles to improve themselves, allows them to grant others the same dignity and respect they have learned to show to themselves.
By contrast, those who are quick to criticize, belittle and denounce the flaws, faults and hypocrisies of others are able to do so because they appear to imagine they are in some sort of protective cocoon that prevents them from ever having to wonder if they have done –or, God forbid, are doing— anything regrettable or foolish in their own life. They rarely appear to be struggling to improve their own personal imperfections but instead, if pressed about themselves, will draw deeper into their cocoon and resist the horrifying notion that they have anything at all to change about themselves. They are, in their view, not perfect– but a finished product that doesn’t need revisiting. They are done. And yet their alter-egos, those who don’t seem naturally inclined to scold, when confronted about a need to take a closer look at themselves, do so reflexively and gladly, comfortable in the knowledge they will be better off for the effort.
They are never done. Nor need cocoons to protect them.
Those who feel less inclined to judge others, I believe, are that way because they are able to lay down their pre-conceptions about themselves, others, and the world we all live in.
They learn at some point that the things they “think” they dislike about themselves, others and the world aren’t necessarily true. In other words, it’s not the “truth” they are upset about but the story they are assuming is true about themselves or some person, situation or circumstance. Often a story they have never questioned and in many cases aren’t even aware or even know where it came from or why they believe it. It’s just there. As a sort of invisible anchor responsible for their world view.
Until one day they realize, often serendipitously, that something that they are mad about—some perceived personal flaw in themselves or another, some characteristic about another person or some unfair bias they see in a life situation working against them, isn’t what they thought it was at all. In fact, it may even be the exact opposite. The actual motive, reason, excuse, cause or purpose of something that has fueled their angst for many years is unmasked as false or non-existent.
At that moment, these individuals truly get a glimpse of what a “blessing in disguise” really looks like. They learn a silver lining isn’t a lining at all but often just a clearing up of their own misconception based on the inability to see more than they—or any of us— are capable of seeing clearly at an earlier time.
Maybe this kind of humbling epiphany happens several times before these individuals really change. But at some point they realize that they are mad more at their preconceptions about the world than they are about the world itself —and as those preconceptions dissolve they are replaced by wisdom.
The more rigid and judgmental, it seems, take an opposite tack. They choose a course requiring them to spend a much greater deal of time trying to prove to themselves and others that the world does, indeed, fit into the cramped preconceptions they hold fast to with an increasing tenacity. It can be, to those observing, like watching a grown man who believes he can still fit into the same favorite outfit he wore as a self-assured boy. Or to be even more metaphorical, like a grown person trying to cram the world they are discovering into a cramped container they used as a child to fit their world into so that it made sense.
It isn’t that all their old ideas are wrong. It’s just that their container, comforting and familiar as it is, doesn’t have room for any new ideas. And there seems to be no inclination to make room by discarding old ideas that don’t work anymore. After a while the life of these individuals starts to seem more about protecting that old and comforting container they are trying to fit their world into rather than about discovering and understanding the world they are experiencing each day.
Their less critical brethren don’t cease to judge or make discriminating decisions. They just do so with a increasing awareness of the limited understanding on which they are making their life decisions. The awareness of what they “don’t know” turns out to be a compliment, not a threat, to what they do know. And humbly embracing what they don’t know becomes, ironically, one of the greatest and most useful tools for living in their life toolbox. And to stay with the metaphor, these individuals seem to have replaced their small and rusty container with an ever-changing and growing toolbox to help them navigate the world they encounter each new day. Their life becomes more about living forward with this malleable toolbox than living backward with a cramped container they aren’t sure how they ever came into possession of in the first place.
The “life container” and “life toolbox,” of course, represent a person’s world view. How a person views and navigates the world. Is life something that is “understood and done” or something else that we should face with greater humility and openness? At least that is what I am trying to communicate in my own inartful and inadequate way.
In trying to sum up what I am trying to say, it would sound something like this: “The more we are aware of what we don’t know — and acknowledging that what we believe we do know could just as easily be false –the more knowledgeable and informed we become. And the more confident and peaceful we find ourselves with the decisions we make. The more open we are to serendipity and Grace. And the richer our lives seem to become.”
In other words, yes, “Knowledge is Power.” But knowledge coupled with the humility of understanding how little we still know —or can ever know — is even more powerful.
The sign language interpreter used at Tuesday’s memorial service for Nelson Mandela, and whose image was broadcast around the world as he shared a stage with world leaders including President Obama, was being called a “fake” by the Deaf Federation of South Africa…
The Associated Press also reported the allegation Wednesday, saying that three sign language experts who watched the broadcast said the man was not signing in South African or American sign languages.
“It was horrible, an absolute circus, really really bad,” Nicole Du Toit, an official sign language interpreter, told the AP. “Only he can understand those gestures.”
USA TODAY was not able to independently confirm the allegations, which if proved true would be an enormous embarrassment to South African officials at a time when the nation is looking to celebrate the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.
South Africa’s government said it is preparing a statement.
Collins Chabane, one of South Africa’s two presidency ministers, said the government is continuing to investigate the matter.
By Lauren Mayer, on Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 8:30 AM ET
Even in this rapidly changing world, we can always count on a few annual events – swallows returning to Capistrano, back-to-school sales, and of course the annual Fox News whining about the War on Christmas. According to their complaints, godless anti-religious socialists are trying to ruin the American way of life by asking that governments, schools, and even – gasp – retailers try to be inclusive. Pundits point to some horrid city council that decides to replace its annual Nativity scene with a ‘winter’ scene, or stores that use ‘Happy Holiday’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ in their advertisements.
Look, I get it – 77% of the country identifies as Christian, Christmas is a national holiday, and I expect to be bombarded by it for at least a month. And I’m not offended when a Target clerk wishes me Merry Christmas even as she rings up my Hanukkah candles & cards. But I also appreciate the occasional ‘Happy Holidays,’ acknowledging that some of us – in fact, 23% of us – don’t observe Christmas, at least as a religious holiday.
And as for the whining about political correctness in schools, try to imagine what it’s like for Jewish or Muslim kids in a class making Christmas ornaments and preparing for a Christmas concert. Would it be so hard to teach them “Winter Wonderland” or “White Christmas” and save “Away In A Manger” for church?
Sarah Palin is making a whole career move out of this manufactured controversy, with a new book and of course a major book tour, insisting we need to have MORE Christmas and more religious observances in public. In a recent interview she answered a question about other religions being offended by saying, “In my family we have the Menorah out through December on our kitchen table, because I want to teach my children about the Jewish faith.” Which shows just how little she knows about the Jewish faith: Hanukkah only lasts 8 days, and Menorahs get lit and displayed in a window, not left on the kitchen table like a bowl of fruit. (Besides, that type of comment sounds an awful lot like “Some of my best friends are . . . “ But I digress . . . )
Anyway, no matter what holidays we observe at this time of year, it’s a good chance to stop and think about what’s important in life, to count our blessings. So I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly, et al, for frequently making my job so easy.
I hear the noise from the right wing, claiming Mandela was a “Terrorist,” that he applied “Torture” and “Violence” in accomplishing his goal of freedom. He probably did. But that is the way of the world, where a group of oppressed people rise up for their rights to a reasonable life.
Those in power never yield power without a fight. I believe it was John Kennedy who stated that when peaceful revolution is denied, violent revolution becomes inevitable. History records that the South African regimes that kept Mandela and his people down, committed atrocities far and beyond anything Mandela and the ANC committed against their government. Racism is violence.
I wonder…would Mandela’s detractors accuse George Washington and the Continental Army of being “Terrorists” because they used violence against the ruling power of England?
Mandela led the way to freedom for his people. As in most revolutions, his side had next to nothing in weapons or logistics. Revolution depends on the fire in the soul, the drive to make life better for the oppressed.
Was Mandela a “Communist?” his goals sound more like the U.S. Constitution than some group of despots who call themselves “Communist.” By the proper definition of the word, the world has never seen a true Communist regime.
Mandela was a great man, a great leader. I wish we had a Mandela in America.
By John Y. Brown III, on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET
Everybody has at least 603 thoughts or memories or reflections or random thoughts or nonsensical ramblings in them that they can write about. It’s a fact. You may think you don’t, like I did once. But you are wrong. Trust me. I know. From first hand experience.
About 2 years and 8 months ago, my friend Jonathan Miller asked me to write a biweekly column for his new blog (one column every two weeks). I agreed and wrote the first column for the blog’s launch in March of 2011. It was well received and now it was time to write my next column but I lacked the time or discipline to put together another 1000 word piece.
Jonathan was eager to get that second column and I told him I was working on it…even though I really wasn’t. I was trying to think about something to write about…which is sort of like working on it but not really.
Jonathan reminded me he had offered me no pay for this venture. Just the satisfaction of getting to write (even if no one ever reads it other Jonathan, me and my mom) and I was cheating myself of this personal satisfaction. I naturally felt bad about all the personal satisfaction I was missing out on but mostly felt guilty because I couldn’t think of a second substantive column for Jonathan’s new blog. Jonathan gave me an extension until mid-April and I took full advantage of it using the Derby (which was still 3 weeks away as the reason for not being able to write a second column). I convinced Jonathan that after Derby had passed my mind would clear and a second column would be forthcoming ASAP, even though I don’t even bet on horses.
By June, a month after Derby had come and gone, I told Jonathan …..something. I don’t even remember what. But I told him I was still working on my second column and just needed a little more time. In July I pointed out it was summer vacation. Not for me but for my kids. And that it would may be August before the second piece would be fully ready.
With school starting in September, I had to ask for another extension for my second column. It had now been 6 months and I was 12 columns behind. Jonathan’s wonderful and very wise wife, Lisa, reminded Jonathan that “John is just like this sometimes and for some reason we still like him, more or less, and have for many years.” That seemed to help and bought me a little more time—at least through the end of October, for my big second post. Thanks, Lisa!
With the holiday season approaching it only made sense that I may need a little extra time to put the finishing touches on what I had apparently been working on for nearly 8 months now. And Jonathan patiently agreed.
I have a phrase I like to use in situations like this. And use it often. It goes like this. “If you’ll just give me one more chance, I swear I won’t let you down again. Really. I mean it this time.” And I used it on Jonathan….and bought myself another two weeks.
It was about this time that Jonathan had a brilliant idea. He noted that we were Facebook friends and I had recently posted several silly things just for fun. Jonathan said, “Look, John. I can’t wait another 8 months for you to get me a second column but I have an idea. How about you continue to write these posts on Facebook about whatever you want whenever you want. They can be serious or silly; random or timely; about what you are eating or what you are thinking. It doesn’t matter. Just write. Whatever you feel like writing about. Take a few minutes each day and post it. At the end of each week, I’ll collect a few of them and run them the following week as John Y’s Musings from the Middle on the Recovering Politician blog. What do you think?”
That was around Dec 1st. I asked for two weeks to think about it and finally said, “I can’t think of any more excuses, Jonathan. OK? You got me. But what if I don’t have much more in me to say?”
I don’t remember what Jonathan said. I’m not even sure I asked this question. But I sure did worry about it. Anyway, as it turns out I have already come up with 603. In fact, this is 604. Like most the others, it has my trademark rambling confidently toward no particular destination. At least not a very important one. I thought I would run out of silly random things to say at about 20 posts. Maybe 30….45 at the outside. But I was wrong! And you may be too if you don’t feel you have much to say.
Dig deep. There is a lot of deep thoughts, absurd thoughts, pointless nonsense and seemingly sensible things you have to write that may or may not be important. But write them anyway. Who knows. Maybe a lot more will come pouring out. And it’s not a matter of the more you write the more you’ll teach others. Not at all. But the more you write the more you’ll learn about yourself.
And if you are reading this and asking yourself, “What is the point of all this, John?” If you were expecting a point, I really can’t help you much with that. But don’t feel like reading this entire post was a total waste. Think of it this way. If you read this far you now have something in common with my mother and Jonathan and me. I doubt anyone else read this far. Sorry. But we now have this common bond that the four of us have having read this post. And I won’t tell anyone if you won’t.
But let me ask you this, Would you rather read 602 more of my posts or start coming up with 603 of your own rambling thoughts, ideas, musings, insights or attempts at humor? So…..Go for it! And know the hardest part isn’t writing the 603rd post or 457th post or 123rd post or the 19th post or even the very 1st one. It’s that dang 2nd one. It is a bear! Trust me. And may take up to 8 months to finish it. But if you can get past that second one, you are one your way. And even though, like me, you probably won’t be getting paid anything for it, as Jonathan Miller reminded me, it’s the personal satisfaction that you’ll get. I’m glad I did it And glad Jonathan kept prodding me. Thank you, Jonathan! And Lisa! And I hope you don’t cheat yourself out of the personal satisfaction of your own writing either.
By Erica and Matt Chua, on Tue Dec 10, 2013 at 8:30 AM ET
How do you distinguish “old” in a city that was founded over 1100 years ago? When some of the “newer” areas are older than the United States of America, it’s all old to me, but to the Egyptians there is an old and new Cairo. The old part is called “Islamic Cairo”, which seems like another redundant name in Cairo, one of the largest Islamic cities in the world. To learn more we set off to explore this “old” Islamic Cairo…here’s what we found.
Signs such as this begin to get old, I mean really old, as almost every building was constructed before “Columbus sailed the ocean blue” which marks old for me.