Archives for January 2012

Celebrate Martin Luther King Day with Service

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day takes many forms for many people. I’d like to focus on his call to all of us to serve.

In his speech, “The Drum Major Instinct,” King said that if you want to be great, serve. Regardless of background, education and ethnicity we can all serve others and in so doing help ourselves and all of humankind.

You don’t have to look far to find ways to serve, nor do you need loads of skill or buckets of talent. Connecting with an established charity, church or other community groups can do enormous good and be gratifying for you, even if you work with them only occasionally throughout the year.

In every age group from premature newborns to senior citizens are people longing for conversation, a visit or a touch. Local and global groups can help you find people in one of these groups if you are drawn to serve one of them.

Once I read about a neighborhood that rallied around to help each other when someone was recovering from illness and needed a hot meal or were unable to drive and needed transportation to medical or other appointments.

When I was in the gift basket business, the owner of a customized cookie company recognizing that I was new to the business took time from working in her booth at the California Gift Show to sit me down and give me some great marketing advice. I will always appreciated her spontaneous and generous mentoring.

Regardless of what business you are in, part of your goal is to earn a living, but serving others must come first. Just as King filled a void when he spoke out for justice and freedom, so must you fill a void in the niche you serve and show flair and style in the life you live.

There are infinite ways to earn a living in this world. The career or business you choose must be the one that fills a need within others and brings deep satisfaction to you. Even when you are working on a job that is just a stop along the way to your ideal career, give your sincere effort and best service, not just for others, but for yourself as well.

When you help others you help yourself as well.

To serve, King points out, all you need is a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love. Thankfully, these things are within everyone’s reach. To tap into them all you have to do is go within, believing that they are yours.

May Martin Luther King Jr. Day be a reminder to you to start your daily activities from your heart and soul, and carry out your interactions with your loved ones as well as your communications and exchanges with your job or your clients with integrity and joy.

(This is a reprint of an article I published for the last 2 years on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday.)

Are You Missing the Beam?

After I read a rautomaticdoorsresized--canstockphoto1828174ecently released longitudinal study about the spread of happiness in a social network, I noticed this comment from one of the readers.


In another more distant time, I was quite depressed, and found that walking up a corridor the automatic door would not open for me, although it would for anyone else walking up the same corridor … This happened over some weeks and did little for my self-esteem.

It was only later that I realised that I was walking along the edge of the corridor, and the others were walking confidently in the centre and that I was missing the beam.

This comment struck me of as the reason we miss the good that is available for us in life.
Staying along the fringes for whatever reason can certainly cause us to miss the sources
so readily available if we were in line with them.

If we are already suffering from low self-esteem or depression, it doesn’t take much to
confirm what we already believe to be true. A self-fulfilling prophecy sets in motion.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could put ourselves in position to receive good so we don’t
miss the beam?

Here are three things that have worked for me.

1. Do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

This Golden Rule is so universal that various versions of it are found in over 21 religions.
Here are a few.

  • Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is
    commentary.” Talmud, Shabbat 31a.
  • Sufism: “The basis of Sufism is consideration of the hearts and feelings of others. If
    you haven’t the will to gladden someone’s heart, then at least beware lest you hurt
    someone’s heart, for on our path, no sin exists but this.” Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of
    the Nimatullahi Sufi Order.
  • Yoruba: (Nigeria): “One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first
    try it on himself to feel how it hurts.”
  • Native American Spirituality: “Do not wrong or hate your neighbor. For it is not he
    who you wrong, but yourself.” Pima proverb.

None of these sayings suggest you be a doormat or let others use you. But extending
kindness or refusing to knowingly hurt another, has a greater effect on you than it does on

2. Give what you want to receive.

I recently shared with my sister that I had received a card from one of our childhood

She quickly shot back at me “I never hear from any of those people.”

To which I asked, “How many times have you written to them?”

She hadn’t kept in touch with our childhood friends over the years, and yet she wondered
why she hadn’t received the very thing she hadn’t given.

Are you guilty of wanting to receive what you’re not willing to give?

(Luke 6:38 NIV) Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down,
shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you
use, it will be measured to you.”

3. Act as if

“If you want a quality, act as if you already had it.” Willam James

This is a tough one for me, but it has worked for me more than once, not just in terms of
qualities, but things as well.

Many years ago when I wanted to end a 37 mile commute and move closer to my job,
I spent every weekend combing the classifieds and traveling to model homes in new
developments and older homes in established neighborhoods. My plan was to find the
home I wanted and then begin plans to sell my then current home.

One Sunday evening when I returned from house-searching, I heard a very clear
voice say, “You don’t really want to move!”

It startled me since we were still unloading the car, and it was clearly not my kids’

“What are you talking about?” I thought back to the voice in protest. “I do want to

“No, if you really wanted to move, you’d sell your house first.”

I don’t know which was more shocking–a voice speaking to me, or the thought of selling my
house before I even had the next house in sight.

But I was convinced that this was a clue that I had to act as if the house I wanted was
already mine. So, I proceeded to put my house up for sale. It was a scary move, but I was
convinced that it was the thing to do.

From the moment the For Sale sign went up on my home, a series of events began to
unfold. The most miraculous was a friend calling to offer to sell me a house she had
inherited that was within 10 miles of my job. The remaining events unfolded like the
script in a well-written play. Within 7 months my house was sold, my new home was
out of escrow and I was moving into my new home two weeks before summer vacation ended and
my teaching job resumed.

If these three ways of getting in line with your good don’t resonate with you, think
instead of your cell phone, digital TV or wireless internet service. No matter how great
your equipment, surely you agree that it must be in an area where signals are present, and
you must be aligned to receive those signals.

The concept of wireless service does not mean no connections are required. You still
must have equipment that at some level is wired into a source.

We, as humans, must be aligned with a source as well. It doesn’t matter whether you call
your source God, Jehovah, higher being, Mother Nature, science, private intuition, the
goodness of mankind or Verizon.

Acknowledging your source and aligning yourself with it is what enables you to
successfully connect with your good.

Do you have a strategy that helps you avoid missing the beam? Tell us about it.