All We Need Is Love …

“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius.   Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”

Nikolaus von Jacquin in Mozart: A Life (1966) pg. 312

Well, now we know where the song came from:)

This quote has nice timing, since today is when we all pay homage to our mothers, those still with us and those long gone.

Something about mothers … I’ve stared at this screen for a long time.  Today’s post is going to be a little different.

My mother was loving, but closed off.   I guess losing two of four children in birth or soon after will do that to a person.  She always seemed fearful of the world and I endured countless lectures about “what could happen“.  Of course I ignored them, repeatedly put myself in truly dangerous situations, and probably drove my mother crazy with worry.

Then I had children and learned a little about the complexities of being a parent.  My mother became more of a real person to me.  I watched my wife mother our children, not perfectly but with pure love motivating her.  When my daughters grew up and became mothers themselves, I started to really see the eternal cycle of motherhood and how it changes everyone.

So my mother wasn’t perfect  … and neither was/am I.   We both did the best we could with what we had.   I was with my mother constantly at the end of her life, up to the moment she took her last breath.   Small payback compared to what she did for me and what she gave up for me.

This is not the traditional Mother’s Day ode, but it’s what I have to offer.  I appreciate what my mother meant to me and how she shaped my life.  I don’t approach everything the way she did, but I can only hope that my life honors her.

So Happy Mother’s Day, Mom … oh, and thanks for all the love:)

Feeling just a tad like a little boy who misses his mother in the Heartland ….

NOTE:  This is a repost from several years ago.  My thoughts around mothers have not changed.

I Am What I AM … Or Think I Am … Or Wish I Were


“Everybody has three characters:  That which he exhibits, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has.”


We are NOT what we eat, as the saying goes … we are what we show to the world.

Now I do not see anything wrong with acting differently toward others than you may feel like acting inside.

Sometimes we call this being polite.   Sometimes we call this being smart:)  

We smile and go along because we realize we need to, and not because we want to.   Parents know this and so do most employees.

We also engage in our little fantasies about how we think we are.  To our mind’s eye, we may seem more courageous and smart, more caring, more engaged … or we may feel ourselves less worthy.  The pendulum swings both way, as they say.

The problem starts when the difference between how you act and how you feel is so stark and deep that you have compromised your values.

How can you tell when the difference between who you are and who you seem is too far out of whack?

How do you know when your values have been compromised to a degree that creates dissonance?

How do you move back into an acceptable level of congruence?

Wondering how I come across in the Heartland ….



Character Counts For Something, Right?

“Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

John Wooden   as quoted in How to Be Like Coach Wooden: Life Lessons from Basketball’s Greatest Leader (2006) pg. 5

I hate getting wisdom from athletic coaches.

As  a boy, I was rather non-athletic and I lived in a rural area where most boys were “real” boys who enjoyed hunting and fishing, were rugged and strong, and enjoyed the heck out of team sports.

Since I was “none of the above”, I felt a little out of place.   A little time in the Army cured me of the delusion that I could not become stronger and more rugged and a long period of running 5Ks, 10Ks, and longer races did help me see myself as somewhat athletic.   

But that’s not the point of this post.

Wooden points out a great reality:   You control your character, but you do not control your reputation.

Reputation is in the mind, but not yours

Your reputation is in the minds of other people.  You can influence, you can manipulate, you can campaign, you can try to trick, but ultimately those other brains still function independently of you.

Good thing to keep in mind about a great many life issues.

Character is all in your head

Character is built on what you think, what you say, and what you do … all of which are in your span of control.

Character is visible to other people, at least in part, so your overt behaviors may influence how someone else regards you.  Just remember you cannot control that regard, only influence it.

Character ultimately has more to do with how you view yourself and your world.

   Character really is all in your head.

Trying hard to remember this one because it’s important in the Heartland ….


I Worry About You …

“You’ll worry a lot less about what people think of you when you realize how little time anyone spends thinking of you.  They’re too busy with their own stuff.”

This was today’s Great Work Provocation.   These little gems appear regularly in my inbox and are never deleted without reading.  I will always make time to open any message from Box of Crayons,  because I can trust that value resides within.

I have never been disappointed or proven wrong in this belief.   Great Work Provocations are keepers.

The source of this ongoing stream of wisdom is  Michael Bungay Stanier, whose latest book is Do More Great Work.   When you visit his site, and you will want to do so, you’ll see much, much more good stuff being done with Michael providing the primary drive.

I have followed Michael’s work for years and can safely say that he is one of the most clear-headed, energetic, and thoughtful change agents and leadership guys out there.

… but don’t take my word for it.  I have obviously drank the Koolaid, as one unfortunate cliché goes.    

Spend a few minutes on Box of Crayons – I can promise that the time will be well spent, especially if you like creative, positive, and useful workplace learning and behavior advice, offered with just a dash of humor and whimsy:)

Loving this trusted source in the Heartland ….


Getting Up The Next Day …

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”

Vince Lombardi  As quoted in Into the Gauntlet (2010) pg. 181

Well, it might be a little about HOW you get up too …

In one of those little life coincidences, this quotation comes in the order the day after I learn of a dear friend’s cancer.   My thoughts over the past day have been much about how we deal with what life presents to us.

We will get knocked down … as sure as God made little green apples.

No surprises there.  Life has an apparent randomness to it and events happen without notice, without reason, and without checking first to see who deserves a better deal.

I hate this phrase, but it fits:   “It is what it is.”

Railing about the unfairness of something does little to address the reality.  Being upset may feel good for a while, but that gets old rather quickly.    Despair only leads down and that spiral does not end well.

So how to get back up when you are lying flat on your back with the wind knocked out of you?

Here’s one prescription from another dear friend and the husband:

“In the meantime we are focusing on healing prayer/meditation, right thinking, trusting God, and giving attention to the many avenues of health and support that are so very important. Thanks in advance for your love and care. It means so much in a time such as this.”

The simple faith, acceptance, and positive attitude I see in these words works for me.  If you are lying on the floor and struggling for breath over what life has handed you, maybe they will help you some as well.

Hurting and looking for comfort in the Heartland ….