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“Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” ~ Albert Einstein

I’ve been meeting with various members of my team about their plans for 2011 and while the details are unique to each one, a common theme is emerging.

Success follows those who add value.

If you care more about adding value than you do about what you can get out of the world around you, you’ll find that decision-making is cleaner, being free of the sticky tentacles of self-concern.

It’s easy to add value. The process begins with being observant, listening and asking questions on occasion and ends with offering whatever help is within your power to provide. It might be a word, a gesture, lending a hand or making a valuable connection. Help comes in many forms.

Many people fill their days consumed with self-interest, desperately trying to find ways to eek more satisfaction, pleasure, financial reward or fulfillment out of their immediate circumstances while dwelling on how the world makes them feel. Whether robed in gold or bronze at the end of the day, such an approach constrains to emptiness.

As the resolutions of the New Year begin to take shape in the womb of your mind, make a point to base your resolutions in the desire to add value to the world around you. Whether it is a fitness goal, a change of heart, habit or attitude, focus on how you can increase your ability to a blessing.

I am convinced that most diets and fitness plans fail because the individual goes into it hoping to get something out of it for him or herself rather than focusing on how he or she might be able to help others more effectively because of the change. Self-improvement is more sustainable when its focus is outwardly instead of inwardly focused.

2011 is full of promise for my team and for you. I trust that best use will be made of whatever comes our way. Onward and upward!

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“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein

I’ve often marveled at the ingenuity of those standouts in history who dedicated their lives to the restoration of goodness and truth to their rightful place at the apex human understanding and function. It hasn’t been easy. Human beings have resisted this restorative process tooth and nail throughout the ages, giving every reason and excuse for not coming to the point of yielding every ounce of their capacity to the expression of goodness.

“The ideals which have always shone before me and filled me with the joy of living are goodness, beauty, and truth. To make a goal of comfort or happiness has never appealed to me; a system of ethics built on this basis would be sufficient only for a herd of cattle.” ~ Albert Einstein

In my estimation, the greatest hindrance to the restoration of sanity on earth is the obsessive pursuit of comfort. Human beings want comfort on their own terms. For each one, it means something a little different, and yet those differences always seem to conflict and contradict rather than complement one another.

Don’t get me wrong. Comfort is not intrinsically bad or evil, but it becomes so when its possession is put ahead of goodness and truth. Comfort achieved at the expense of goodness and truth is fleeting, hence the multitude of comfort-seekers in every corner of the earth.

“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” ~ C.S. Lewis

What percent of your energies do you devote to the development of a greater understanding of truth? What is truth to you? To me, truth is the pattern of principle, purpose, design and control that govern the expression of life as well as all creative activity.

The principles of truth are eternal, while their application is specific in relation to the need at hand. There is no “your truth and my truth,” for the truth is holistic and more importantly, never in conflict with itself.

The truth is the one thing that will set you free from a life of wishful thinking and despair. Get to know it and you will not be left comfortless! No matter how much the world challenges, criticizes and condemns you, you will be at rest if goodness and truth are your central concern.

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“All meaningful and lasting change starts first in your imagination and then works its way out. Imagination is more important than knowledge.” ~ Albert Einstein

It’s a little ironic to me that my company’s product line is based in part on a manufacturing method developed in the Middle Ages while at the same time we have identified the ability to change and adapt as being more important than our strength or intelligence. As CEO I prize employees who display nimbleness, a passion for ongoing refinement and an unwavering commitment to making the world a better place.

Many people possess those qualities but more often than not they withhold them and wait for others around them to initiate any shift from the status quo. Rather than stick their necks out and consequently stand out in the crowd, they prefer the relative comfort of anonymity and mediocrity.

Anyone who has embraced change in life can tell you that a commitment to change must be back by persistence and specific action. Pronouncements of change such as “I’ll be different this time” and “We can’t make the same mistake again” must be met with a deliberate clearing out of the old pattern and a careful induction of the new.

“The hardest part of gaining any new idea is sweeping out the false idea that occupies that niche.” ~ Robert Heinlein

It is said that “old habits die hard” for good reason. Habitual thoughts, actions and patterns of reaction wear grooves in the body, mind and heart that can be difficult to avoid when a change is initiated. That said, change has the remarkable ability to be both a process and instantaneous. Most changes take a while to become the new “normal” yet many changes happen in an instant and last forever.

The former are obviously the greater challenge for they require persistence, constant readjustment and a realignment of the factors that found their balance based on the former state. I’ve watched a number of changes in my organization revert to “how we always used to do it” faster than you can say “I thought we agreed to approach this differently.”

Charting a new course can be particularly difficult when the previous way of doing things was well entrenched or long-standing. In my estimation people invest far too much of their sense of stability in external factors (other people, their surroundings, etc.) and they miss the opportunity to cultivate an unflappable sense of stability and tranquility that only comes from a deep connection to their inner selves, their true character.

When you are at rest with yourself, being yourself and aware of your connection to a greater sense of purpose, you are at peace no matter what is going on around you. My company is filled with such people and they never cease to amaze me. No matter how busy they are, how pressured they feel, they continue to display, as I mentioned earlier, nimbleness, a passion for ongoing refinement and an unwavering commitment to making the world a better place.

What do you see as the larger purpose for the work you do? Whether you are employed or retired, you are involved in creative activity. When you are clear about your purpose you stop working against yourself. When you are clear about your purpose distractions are less likely to draw you from your desired course. When you are clear about your purpose you are no longer at risk of being tossed by the winds and waves of circumstance.

 

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“Great men are seldom over-scrupulous in the arrangement of their attire.” – Charles Dickens

One thing should be clear: clothes do not make a man a gentleman or a woman a lady; and, by the same token, a real gentleman or a true lady is always a gentleman or a lady, no matter what he or she wears. The clothes you wear either magnify or cloak your personality and what you wear is in many ways less important than how you wear it.

I relaxed my company’s dress code today in hopes that there might be room for greater creative freedom, not just in apparel choices but in thought and deed. We’ve been heavily engaged in breaking down assumptions we’ve held that have prevented us in any way from making it easy for our clients to do business with us and this fashion statement was freshly pressed to that end.

The fashion choices we make are deeply personal. Like our food choices, they are based part on preference, part on need, part on availability and part on custom. Your clothing is a calling card to your personality, to your mood and to your outlook and your ability to dress appropriately can have a significant impact on how successful you are in any department of life.

It is possible to overdress. It is possible to underdress. At times it makes sense to overdress while it is less commonly advisable to underdress. The key is to dress in such a way that you do not hinder your effectiveness in life. Neutral or helpful is good. Hindrance is bad.

I’ve found that first impressions are important to people but at the same time I’ve always enjoyed the times when I’ve been surprised to learn that my initial impressions were incorrectly formed. Appearances can be deceiving and its worth remembering that fact lest you be caught in a web of prejudice.

In relaxing the dress code at my company I hope that everyone will rise to the occasion and take care to determine what is appropriate. We don’t live in a time like the Elizabethan era where what was worn when was formalized and rigid. That said, the art of appropriateness lives on.

There are those (often men) who say that they don’t really care about what they wear, but then when you look at them from one situation to the next they somehow end up not just fitting in but often matching what others around them wear. I was recently in a small town where every guy had a baseball cap on with sunglasses perched atop the cap. I was convinced of a fashion conspiracy, but were I to ask about it I’m sure that every one of them would have said that they put no thought to the ensemble.

There is no harm done in caring about what you wear, neither is there any problem in my book with not caring much about what you wear, unless your lack of concern gets in the way of you delivering the greatness that is yours to give. Clothing fitly chosen, like words fitly spoken are an aspect of your aesthetic and there is no reason to decrease the odds of someone receiving you due to a poorly composed aesthetic.

At the end of the day, it’s not so much what you wear but the goods you deliver that tell the tale. If you don’t have the resources to wear what you would like to wear, don’t be ashamed. Do the best you can with what you have and you can’t go wrong. As Albert Einstein said “If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies…It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.”

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Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust, Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been digesting a delicious article from yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, called “Take a Tip from your Tongue,” for the last few minutes and like Marcel Proust‘s madeleine I find myself lost in a dreamy remembrance of a time when perfection was the norm and not the exception. Was there such a time? A time before we were filled with mistaken assumptions, erroneous concepts and false ideas caused by mistranslation, misinterpretation and disconnection from the source of wisdom?

I’ve heard intriguing stories of a Golden Era, an antediluvian era whose technology and lifestyle far exceeded that of our modern age, a time that my scientific mind finds difficult to imagine let alone justify given the cosmology so dominant in our time. That said, I can’t help but imagine the possibility of such a time, in the past or perchance, in the future.

If there is one thing I’ve appreciated about pure science it is the ability to ask the “what ifs,” the hypotheses based on observation that are tested with reason and proven to be true or false. True science is neither blind nor prejudiced, yet I wonder how much of what passes for science today is based on faulty premise, or, as this morning’s article on taste demonstrates, on poor translation?

Having been a translator earlier in life I know how hard it is to render a faithful translation. Catching the literal meaning as well as the more deceptive figurative implications demands an uncommon sensitivity and experience. When I think, for instance, about the numerous translations of the written historical spiritual records upon which so many in our world today base their lives or the many scientific notions that come from texts written in languages no longer in use I must admit I get a bit nervous.

There appear to be zealots in both camps – the scientific as well as the religious – and while I love to be in the company of people who are passionate about what they do, zealousness, rigid closed-mindedness and crystallized opinions are always counter-productive for humanity. The important thing to remember is that, as Dr. Cal Lightman stated in “Lie to Me” yesterday evening, “a scientist’s job is to verify.”

Albert Einstein (1921) Image via Wikipedia

Albert Einstein once quipped that “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” For as much as we understand about the world we inhabit, about the greater universe, and about one another, I am convinced that there is far more that we don’t know.

The lesson I take from this morning’s consideration is that we must take care to keep our imaginations alive. Einstein also said that “Imagination is far more important than knowledge.” I am inclined to agree.

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Thank you for a wonderful week.  I’ve enjoyed reading your comments and appreciate your enthusiastic determination to make a difference in the world. 

I leave you this evening with this passing thought:

“There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

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