Smile Power

My daughter was born with a smile on her face.  She was, and still is, always smiling.  When she was a baby we would get comments about what a happy little girl she was.  Her smile was contagious and helped her make friends quickly.  When our kids were young we would frequently go camping and, before I could get the camper set up, she would be asking me to unload her bike as she already had found a friend.  In like five minutes.  Her smile continues to be big part of who she is.

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I tend to go in the other direction.  My natural look is to sport a serious face.  This may sound weird to some, but I actually have to remind myself to smile, especially when I meet new people.  My wife has had to field comments like “Is he angry.”  And, “I don’t think he likes me very much.”  Comments that are not at all flattering.

I used to think that it was OK.  I am who I am, right?  I’m just focused.  They just need to get over it.  But I have come to realize that it’s not right.  I shouldn’t make people feel uncomfortable when all I need to do is smile more and be a bit more engaging.  Smile.  Seems simple right?

I have come to realize that there is real power in a smile.  Last week I was at the airport toting my bag and backpack and surveying the perfect spacing of seating in the boarding area.  As I walked down an aisle, a woman looked up from her phone and eyes meeting gave me a big smile.  A simple, friendly, warm smile.  The airport is not always a very “smiley” place so it really caught me off guard a bit.  I smiled back and continued my search for a seat.  Her smile was a little “pick me up” and a moment to refocus.  Or maybe even unfocus?

Smiling has power.  Scientists have concluded that smiling people actually live longer, have better marriages, are more successful in business, win elections, and have greater influence than the general population.

Smiling works.  It has a way of disengaging tense circumstances.  It is a powerful, yet silent, introduction.  It builds trust.  It communicates peace and contentment.  Are you using your smile?  Unlike other leadership tools, it’s always ready and available.

My father always had a smile on his face.  I don’t know anyone that didn’t like my Dad.  He was always lighthearted and positive.  How do you want to be remembered?  Serious and focused?  Or smiling?  I know which one I would choose!

So what do you think?  Click “Like” if you agree!  Do you have a “smiler” in your life?  Click “Leave A Comment” and let us hear your story! 

 

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Mastery

Today I will share a poem that I wrote last night.  I have been captivated by colors and light the last few days.  This is a tribute to my celebration.  Hope you enjoy it!

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Mastery 

 

Color wakes

Vibrant and moving

The brush pulls color across the white

Making the canvas come alive

 

He begins with blue and green

The colors of life

Then the large to the small

Balanced but extravagant by design 

 

His eye is keen

As the finish is already done

He guides his brush

Waves of color splash forth

 

The brilliance of a king

Crimson love and golden shine

Colors blending as they touch

Chasing out the dark

 

He continues to craft his art

The colors shout out

Form replaces the abstract

You begin to grasp the plan

 

Clarity and focus

His vision springs to life

You tingle with delight

More than you can contain

 

He smiles

Tomorrow will bring a new work

As the beauty never ends

For the artist of life

Top of the Order

I have been dreaming a lot lately.  This is pretty unusual for me.  I don’t typically dream much when I sleep.  Many of these dreams have been childhood visions and dreams of my Mom and Dad.  Several times, as I have awakened, I have been really struck with missing my parents.  I lost my Mom 23 years ago and my father passed away last October.  All of my grandparents are also gone.  I have been left with a feeling of being alone.  This is not your usual feeling of loneliness.  I have plenty of friends, lots of relatives, a wife and children.  However, this feeling is different- something that I have not experienced before.

Zambezi River- Zambia 2009

I guess I relied on my parents more than I had considered.  I always knew that I could phone my Dad to ask his opinion or just to share an experience.  I didn’t call him every day or even every week, but when I needed to talk he was there.  There was a comfort in knowing this.  There has been a bunch of times since his passing that I have had the urge to call him- actually reaching for my cellphone– then realizing that he won’t answer.

I am getting an understanding of what it feels like when an elderly person says “all my friends are gone”.  It’s lonely realizing that you are reaching the “top of the order”.  I have been considering this too.  I am now the senior male of our family- the oldest- the wisest?  Wow, really struggling with this too.  I’m supposed to have all the answers now?  Be the one with all the advice?  The sage of the family?  Just doesn’t feel right.

As I have been thinking about this new season, I have also been examining what it is like being at the top of an organization.  The pinnacle of an organization is also a lonely position.  As I have progressed in my career to an executive position, I have noticed that the gang no longer shares things with you- they treat you differently.  They don’t include you in their discussions.  Sometimes you walk in and thing get quiet.  They are now careful and guarded around you.   You are no longer part of the mainstream.  You are set apart.

Sometimes, leading is not really a question.  You realize that you have to lead- you really have no choice.  They need direction, guidance, and support.  They need someone that they can look up to.  Someone they can call on when they don’t know what to do.  You now have superior experience and wisdom.  Yet, the top can be a lonely place.  You don’t have a support system around you.  You may have others in similar positions that you can consult, but ultimately, you will have to make the final decision.

Leading is not easy.  I really enjoy helping others and serving, but it can be tiring.  I often think that it would be easier to take a lesser position, go backwards, and be part of the gang again.  But I can’t.  They need me.  And it’s my turn.

I wish my Dad was still here, but he’s gone.  So it’s my turn to be in front.  I suppose it will feel more natural as time goes on.  So I’ll strap on the pack and start marching.  That’s what you must do when you are at the top of the order.

Have you experienced the loneliness of being at the top of the order?  Have you ever felt isolated due to your position?  Click on comments and tell me your experience!         

The Seed Vault

I watched a fascinating story last week about a seed vault in Norway that stores seeds from all over the world in case of a global disaster.  The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is located on an island off the coast of Norway, near the Arctic Circle in an old coal mine.  The seed vault is located 390 ft inside of a mountain and is 430 feet above sea level, so that even if the polar ice caps melt the seeds will stay dry.  The structure is impressive, and the design takes into account global and cataclysmic disasters- saving the seeds to help reestablish food sources after an extinction-type disaster.

Svalbard Seed Vault- Wikipedia Photo

So I can get my arms around this- I’m a builder.  Make it tough and high and strong.  Build a fortress to save the seeds!  I get it- but this is the part that is truly amazing.

The seeds are kept at the optimal temperature for long term storage- zero degrees Fahrenheit.  Seems like they would eventually freeze and die- right?  How could they still be alive at zero degrees for more than a winter or two?  Well, not only will they live for a few winters, the seeds can be stored for hundreds and in some cases even thousands of years.  At zero degrees!  Forget the fancy building- that is truly amazing!

Seeds are the source of life.   They are extremely resilient- they have a distinct purpose.  They wait for the right conditions- warmth, soil, water and then do the miraculous.  A single seed is designed to yield much more than itself.  To grow and multiply- to do the extraordinary.  Is there a seed within you that is waiting to come to life?

Spring is here and the yearly winter slumber is coming to an end.   Take heart- your seed is still alive.  What do you have that you want to grow?

-Maybe it’s the education that you have always put off…

-Maybe it’s restoring a lost relationship…

-Maybe it’s a business or career goal…

-Maybe it’s volunteering or serving the less fortunate…

-Maybe it’s learning to play the piano…

-Maybe it’s the exercise program…

There is a seed in all of us that longs to burst through the warm ground of spring.  This is a great time to start something new, take a chance, and get out of the old routine.  Each year starts new and fresh- it’s God’s plan.

What can you start this year?  It’s not too late- your seed is alive!  Just awaken it from its slumber!

Don’t be a stealth reader!- click on comment and tell me what you think!