Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks When Nothing Goes Right




This is a reprint from A Captured Mind newsletter for this month.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
MasterCard Worldwide event entitled: Managing People in The Digital Age by Brad Szollose,
sponsored by Waldner's Business Environments.Waldner's staff,
including Jasmin Desoto, Barry Levy and Bill Berne.

Imagine being the keynote speaker for MasterCard Worldwide headquarters in Purchase NY. The entire event is centered around your work on Generational Behavioral Issues and how it applies to today's workforce. The head of the department will be there along with 75 handpicked employees, managers and executives.

That was how my October started. 



I am not telling you this to brag, but to inform you of how the month started out on a high note as we move forward in this piece. Near the end of my hour at MasterCard, a question from an audience member caught me a little off guard.



“What are these younger generations, addicted to their digital devices going to do if the power ever goes out for a couple of days…how do they plan on surviving?”



Now I answered this with a great story that I had been preparing to use but wasn’t sure when and where to use it. But the deeper question in the back of my mind was this: what would compel someone to ask such a question? 


As I mentioned before, I specialize in generational management issues and corporate culture—more specifically how technology transforms culture and behavior, which impacts management interaction, expectations and sales. 



Almost two weeks later, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and we were faced with that very scenario. 




Was this guy some sort of Svengali! His question was dead on, timely, and a little too accurate for some. For an entire week I had no electricity and no heat. I did have hot water and gas for my stove. Since I grew up in Pennsylvania and was a Boy Scout, this was not a big deal. The hurricane took away the distractions and got me focused.  And it got me thinking…



How does one give thanks and gratitude when NOTHING seems to be working out?



Let me give a few suggestions during the Holiday Season here…life is never perfect, but here is a few tips to weather the storm.



1) Sometimes all we can do is ride the wave


This has been an interesting year filled with highs and lows. During the 4th of July holiday weekend I received a phone call from my father’s housekeeper. His biopsy the week before did not go well and he was hiding that fact from me. He was in the final stages of lung cancer and had between 6 months to a year to live. 



I rushed down to Pennsylvania to be by his side, spending 5 days with him. Cooking, getting his affairs in order. He was thin but lively. I ran him to his doctors, made him dinners and got 90% of the things done he needed done. There was no sadness. My father had lived a full life with no regrets. All I asked was that he go quickly, and he didn’t suffer much. But there was no sign that he was really sick. We went out to a special dinner that Sunday. Steaks and a couple of beers. We laughed and talked about his favorite moments in life.



By Tuesday, I returned New York to give a speech and prepare for a return visit. By Thursday he fell and hit his head. Friday he was admitted to a temporary facility for observation. My wife and I returned by Saturday and by Sunday afternoon, my father died, gasping for breath. He was 81 years old.



We knew he was dying…but this all happened so fast, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. It was going to happen no matter what I did or didn’t do. All I could do was go with the flow. It was on God’s timeline.




2) Have faith that everything will work out


As summer ended and I faced the approaching Fall season, some business colleagues were able to connect with me and create the MasterCard event of which I mentioned above. My father would have been so proud to hear the news. 

But the day after my presentation I rolled out of bed and realized my entire body was in pain. What happened? And then I realized it: I had been pushing and pushing and working to get things just right for my big presentation. In all the hubbub to prepare, I forgot to take care of myself.


For the rest of the week I was sick as a dog. Sneezing, tired, achy, all I could do was sleep. I knew deep down inside that everything would be okay, I just needed to stop and rest. 

I knew this was nature’s way of saying rest, or it will get worse.



3) Be adaptable to any “plans” you have made

I kept sane after my father’s death by continuing my training in Kempo Ju Jitsu, a mixed martial art that is probably best exemplified by the Ultimate Fighter Competitions or UFC for short. I am currently a 3rd Degree Brown Belt. Yes, I know. At almost 50 years of age I fight in a cage 3x a week against all age groups…from late teens all the way up to us with a few gray hairs. To be honest, my wife’s nephew got me into it 5 years ago and it is one of the few things I enjoy besides speaking and writing.



During a hip toss, the training partner I was assigned abandoned his move halfway through and I fell sideways landing on the big toe of my right foot. It was broken. But I didn’t know it until later that night when awakened by throbbing pain.



For three days I was taking painkillers the doctor prescribed, and the best thing I could do was hobble around and sleep, keeping my entire leg propped up the entire time. At times, the pain was excruciating. If you haven’t guessed already, I am not a fan of taking pain medication. Tylenol is it for me.



Now I am getting closer to Black belt. I wasn’t worried or disappointed that I had broken my toe. All I considered was to just prepare. Eventually, when I am ready, it will happen…with a toe that isn’t broken. During my moments of lucidness, all I could think about was the next time I could return to the dojo. What new move would I try, would I be ready for the next rank? Etc…



But the real lesson was detachment. I had done the greatest presentation of my career, was bedridden for a week afterwards and now, I broke my toe. I could have been angry, frustrated, shouting at the rooftops. Instead I adopted a Zen-like calmness and shrugged my shoulders. “What else could I do?” 



And then we got the news. Prepare. Hurricane Sandy was going to hit Long Island.




There I was, foot wrapped, hobbling around waiting for the storm. My wife is from Haiti. Losing power and electricity is no big deal for her because she grew up that way. All I was concerned about was the cold. That is something she is NOT used to.



Me? Well I grew up in Pennsylvania. The first thing I did was squeeze my feet into a comfortable pair of sneakers (my right foot was still a bit swollen) and fill both our cars up with gasoline. Second, we made sure we had candles, matches and batteries for the house. All cell phones and computers charged. We pulled any and everything that could blow away from the yard. We prepared for the worst. I live 2 miles from the beach. Robert Moses to be specific.



Third, my mother-in-law pulled everything out of the fridge and started cooking all day! Anything that could go bad if the power went out, we pulled from the fridge and she baked, broiled and fried it all.



And on Monday afternoon, Hurricane Sandy started. We lost power around 5:00 PM. For 8 days we had no electricity and no heat. 



So HOW do you remain positive and
grateful when nothing goes right? 




Look for the little things that are going right! We played board games like Monopoly, and chess. And when we had to, we watched a movie on someone’s laptop. We recharged the next day in the car. As a family, we bonded.



By the following Sunday, we went out for breakfast as a family. Later my nephew and I  went to a local sports bar to watch the Giants play the Steelers. I wound up texting Tony Rubleski as I caught the end of the Green Bay Packers game and knew Tony would be watching. Green Bay won.



When I returned home that night, there on the kitchen table in the dark was a small hand cranked shortwave radio. It had a built-in flashlight, needed no batteries, and for the entire week, we were able to listen to it. What made it special is it was my dad’s. When he died he had left behind a big house with a lot of things. 

 


His legacy was right there on the kitchen table. Gone, but not forgotten. His radio gave us solace.




I have learned throughout this life that it is easy to be grateful when everything is going our way. It is when things are at their worse that we need to remember to give thanks. Step back and detach from our emotions and just say “Thank you for…”



Make a gratitude list. Look at it everyday.



Life is like a football game. We could cry every time we get knocked down or we lose the ball. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. But if you can be grateful for each and every little win, you can make it through anything. Be grateful you can play the game called life. 



That attitude alone will also keep you positive
and filled with energy.




Happy Thanksgiving my friends and thank you all for following my blog,











Brad Szollose

PS: Interested in a white paper entitled: 

What Every Business Needs to Know About Generation Y:
Understanding How Technology Transforms Culture and Behavior, and Impacts Management, Interaction and Expectations


Email us
with your name, title and email address. Your information is confidential. Ask me how I can help your company evolve into the 21st Century of Management.


Web Pioneer Brad Szollose is the *award-winning author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia which explores the subject of new leadership styles – mainly how to get the tech-savvy Generation Y and analogue driven Baby Boomers working together. ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

But this is not based on management theory:
Brad is a former C-Level Internet executive who went from entrepreneur to IPO in 3 yrs – co-founding K2 Design, the very first Dot Com Agency to go public on NASDAQ. His Results Only management model was applied to the first wave of Gen Y workers producing great results– 425% profitable growth for 5 straight years and winning K2 the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation among his employees!

Today, through his workshops and keynotes, Brad helps Fortune 500 Companies close the Digital Divide by understanding it as a cultural divide—created by a new tech-savvy worker...and customer.

Mr. Szollose also writes a monthly column on business and marketing techniques that reach Generation Y for A Captured Mind newsletter and is part of The Mind Capture Group faculty.

* 2011 Axiom Business Book silver medal winner in the leadership

* #1 Amazon Best-Selling Author

"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Liquid Leadership by Brad Szollose is available at all major bookstores and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and Sony ereaders. Internationally published in India and S. Korea.