courage by john wayneMan can I relate to this!  So many times in my life, I’ve been terrified, almost frozen with fear.  My hands shaking, heart pounding in my ears, butterflies in my stomach, and a cold sweat.

What’s surprised me over and over again, is that in nearly every case, the fear was much scarier than what I feared.  The saying “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself” is certainly true in my life.

The last time I remember being really scared was about a year ago, when I had to have a very difficult conversation with someone, who I knew wouldn’t want to hear what I had to say and would probably be very angry.  I dreaded making that call for several days and I tried dialing the number a few times, and hung up before I dialed the whole number.  I was near panic.

Finally, I just took another deep breath, dialed the number all the way, and had the conversation.  It wasn’t a pleasant conversation to say the least but it certainly wasn’t worth all the heartache I put myself through, dreading the call.  I was so relieved when the call was over and in retrospect, it was actually a pretty funny call because the person was so much more upset than the situation called for.

Long story short – try to remember the next time you’re scared, to just keep going.  The fear is almost always worse than what you fear.

Be well,



Sweetest Statement of Love I’ve Ever Heard

When I was 17 years old, I was talking with an “ancient” married guy of about 28, who was married and had a small child.  I don’t remember how we got on the subject, but he said, “You know what, Greg?  I know my wife wouldn’t win any beauty contests, but there are days when I come home from work and I see her, and she’s the most beautiful woman in the world to me.”

Truth be told, when he said his wife wouldn’t win any beauty contests, in my 17 year old mind I remember thinking, “Ah…yeah…you got that right!”  But when he finished his statement, even then, I realized that I’d just heard something really incredible, profound, and something I’d never forget.  And I haven’t.  It’s still the sweetest statement of love I’ve ever heard.

All the best,

WHY is more important than HOW

For many important tasks, the question isn’t whether we have the capability…a lot of it is a test of our will.  If there are others who’ve accomplished something similar to what you want to accomplish, then it is possible for you to do it.  It’s not guaranteed, it may not actually happen, but it’s possible.  If you’re like me, too often you’ve gotten overwhelmed or stuck, trying to figure out how.  My suggestion is to focus on the why, because why is much more important than how.

I was an above-average student at my public high school who quickly realized that at a private university, I was a below-average student.  I consider myself intelligent, but not ‘school smarts’ – kind of intelligent.  After my first semester at college, I was put on academic probation and after my 2nd, I was kicked out for poor grades.  It was humiliating and I felt totally defeated and lost a lot of confidence.  Why couldn’t I succeed?  I attended (most of) my classes and did the coursework and studied with fellow students who succeeded and yet…I was unsuccessful.  In fact, it seemed like I was doing everything that other, successful friends of mine were doing.  I was so discouraged and felt like a total failure.  Worst of all, I didn’t know what to do or how to do it, or even what to do next.

After a two-year break and thanks to a generous program to give kids like me one more chance, I was able to try again.  The conditions were that I could come back for a half-semester, taking challenging classes from a select list, and had to deliver a 3.5 GPA minimum in order to return to full, normal status.  It was a one-time chance for me.  Because it was a half semester, the classes moved at twice the pace and it was very challenging.  It was a struggle to keep up but I did it.

How did I do it?  Did I magically become a different person, somehow with more school smarts? I had tried to be successful at college for 2 previous semesters and failed.  It seemed that I didn’t know how and/or didn’t have the ‘goods’ to be successful there.

But there wasn’t a strong enough WHY for me until that time. I took the challenge as a last chance to redeem myself for a shot at college.  If I didn’t succeed, I knew that college was out for me and that would have a huge impact on the opportunities available to me in life.

What changed?  The classes weren’t easier and I didn’t suddenly become school smart.  The difference was WHY.  I had to buckle down and learn to do something that I wasn’t very good at or comfortable with (left brain school smarts) and develop it.  See Life Begins at the End of your Comfort Zone

Being forced to develop the skill and discipline that I didn’t have at the time, so that I could be a moderately competitive student was a great lesson for me.  Right brain, creative talents like music and drama are relatively easy and fun for me.  Left brain, school-smarts are easy and fun for others.  Learning to be marginally competent in something that I wasn’t particularly good at, was a good life skill.

Getting back into school and eventually graduating (my 4 year degree in 5 years…<ahem>) was an accomplishment for someone like me.  It was difficult but I got it done.

When I figured out the WHY, the HOW fell right into place because the biggest thing that I lacked was the self discipline to succeed there, no matter how hard it was for me or how easy it seemed to be for my peers.  There were many who barely studied and got A’s.  I had to work twice as hard and fight for every passing grade.

My college days are long gone but now when I’m struggling with figuring out how to do something, I try to remember to start with the WHY.  Is this task important?  Why is it so important?  The answers to those questions help me to stay motivated and on task.

I hope this is somehow helpful for you.  All the best,


And because I simply can’t resist, here’s a very cheesy video for today’s theme:





3 Simple Rules in Life

I took this photo of the ancient Hawaiian tradition of “Hukilau” (which means to pull leaves) a few years ago, on the island of Oahu.  Traditionally, a group of family and friends would pull a large net together to get fish.  Leaves were added to the net, to scare the fish into the center of the net, for a bigger take.  It’s definitely back-breaking work but it fed the village.  All pitched in and all benefited.

I used this photo because it reminds me that nothing happens without action.  I’m no fisherman, but I know that if you want fish, they’re not going to jump onto your plate.  You have to go out there, where the fish are, cast your net, and bring them in.  Anything else is wishful thinking and only works in fairy tales.

I love this quote from Picasso – “Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.”

Bottom line – Get to work on what you want or nothing is going to change.


Judge Not!

Many times in my life, circumstances that seemed “bad” turned out to be among the best things that have happened to me. I suddenly and very unexpectedly lost a job about 12 years ago and it turned my life upside down.  We were already struggling a lot and losing the job hit me and my family like a hurricane, like the world was crashing down on us.  I never would’ve guessed at the time that it would turn out to be something I’ll always be grateful for.

Those were some dark days and I was out of work for a while, but losing that job put me in a position, at just the right time, for me to jump to a major software company. My brother Andy worked there, knew that I’d lost my job and he happened to know that they desperately needed someone to train a team of Japanese business leaders on using their  software in less than a week’s time.  I bought the software training manual and spent 3 days and nights doing a crash course in learning the software and then I had to translate everything into Japanese.  It was a terrifying day when I flew to Sacramento, to train a room full of corporate leaders on a software I barely knew in English, let alone in Japanese.  In fact, I’d never even seen the Japanese version of the software until I walked in that room to train about 15 executives.  It was one of the scariest and most intimidating things I’ve ever done.  Fortunately, it went OK.  (I’d love to say that it went great and I got a standing ovation at the end, but in reality, it was marginal at best.)

From this little opportunity, I got “in” with the company and l was able to become an official software trainer.  After that, I was able to apply for (and get) the position of sales trainer.  When that opportunity ended, I was able to secure a job at a small software company who never would’ve talked to me without my background at a major software giant.

All of my career success arrived after I got this “bad news” 12 years ago. There’s no telling how different things would be if I had stayed at that company and never had the opportunity that this event gave me.  It was my personal case of getting a lemon and finding a way to get lemonade from it. And I learned that sometimes, bad things turn out to be really, really good things.

Judge Not!


Take that Leap of Faith!


When I was 11, I was fortunate enough to spend the summer in Hawaii, where my mom grew up.  Waimea Bay is on the North Shore of Oahu and was one of my favorite places we visited that summer.  There’s a giant rock that sits in Waimea that juts out from the beach, where kids like to jump into the ocean.  The water is crystal clear and gorgeous and when you look down, it looks like very shallow, even though it isn’t.

It’s a loooooong way down!  I don’t know how high up it is…I’d guess about 40 feet at the top.  Even though my big brother jumped, I couldn’t get the nerve to jump from the top and so I jumped from about halfway up.  I wanted to jump before the summer was over and many times, I walked to the top and tried to work up my nerve to do it, but couldn’t overcome my fear and make that leap.

Fast-forward a few decades, I went back to Waimea and watched a new generation of kids jump from that rock (I took the above photo that day).  It was still scary, but this time I finally got up my nerve and made the leap.  It felt great to be back there on that rock, with my own kids who were about the age I was back then, and finally do it.  It was a small but exciting little victory for me!

Here’s a photo of Waimea Bay so you can see how big that rock is.  Check out how tiny the people are on top of it!


What are you letting hold YOU back in your life right now?