Archive for June, 2010

Top Posts: June 2010

The end of the month has arrived and it’s time to recap. June 2010 will go down as the month MeBuilding had a tremendous boost in popularity thanks to being featured on WordPress’ home page as “Freshly Pressed.”

Here are the five most-viewed posts:

5. 5 Ways to Make Others Better

4. 1 Difference Between “Trying” and “Doing”

3. Dress Like George Washington

2. 289 Words to Start

1. 6 Lessons from a First Class Leader

5 Steps to Your Best Apology

“I’m sorry” is a powerful statement of compassion when used correctly.

There are few things more important than identifying you’ve fallen short for someone and taking steps to mend the relationship. Doing so will temper short-term anger and eliminate long-term resentment.

When the time comes to apologize, five characteristics stick out:

1. Be genuine
Though it should go without saying, there is little use in making an apology if your believe you were correct. What’s more, any discerning individual will pick up on your wavering and note the fresh deception.

If you’re unable to be authentic, you should keep your mouth shut.

2. Own up to your mistake
As I’ve written before, there maybe a small handful of instances where more can be gained than admitting failure. Accepting your share of the blame in an honest, upfront manner–forgoing Hollywood theatrics of “contrition”–alleviates frustration for those you have offended, though the injury will yet take time to heal.

The wound may be deep, but you’ve limited the scar tissue.

3. Avoid assigning blame
Now that you’ve confessed to your error, keep from pointing fingers at someone else. Though the extent of your control is often limited, dragging another down for their errant contribution paints you as petty and childish.

The beauty of a proper apology is the maturity it displays…if you let it.

4. Fix what can be repaired
In the aftermath of catastrophe, you must determine what can be salvaged. Take time to evaluate the situation and make every effort to rebuild the bridges you can.

You can begin rebuilding even when you’re in the midst of disaster. The sooner you start, the less damage there will be.

5. Forgive yourself and move forward
The last step is crucial. In order to go on, you must relieve your self of any burden regarding the event. Pull some lessons from it, then chalk it up to experience and make it work for you in the future.

Others may remain upset with you for days, weeks, months or even years. Allowing their anger to poison your self-confidence would be a tremendous tragedy. If you have been conscientious in following the first four steps, you have released the anchor of their emotions from your mental ship and can steer on with a clear head.

And you’ll never have to be sorry again.


What Are You Sorry For?

6 Lessons from a First Class Leader

The Best of Friends

What Are You Sorry For?

“I’m sorry” is an overused phrase.

I listened to a man repeat those two words dozens of times in a few short minutes yesterday. I am certain his intent was to be polite, yet he apologized with such frequency it bordered on ridiculous.

He asked forgiveness for every tiny thing that went awry.


He’d been given incorrect information.

The failure fell squarely on the shoulders of someone hundreds of miles away in a cubicle misreading a card, who likely repeated the line above or below the proper one on accident.

Sometimes people point you in the wrong direction.

How can it be your fault if you–believing them–act as though it’s right? Assuming you lacked previous knowledge, you’ve done nothing to warrant admitting to any offense.

Everyone gives out a bad tidbit or two every day. Most are honest misjudgments, maybe the result of missing education or personal opinions. These are part and parcel of being human, which unhappily ripple through other lives to create havoc on occasion.

It’s much different than brushing something under the rug.

Ignoring facts doesn’t excuse choosing the poorer option.

Making a counterintuitive decision can only lead to grander opportunities to plea guilty to your action’s consequences.

Manipulate situations.

Cheat others.

Serve yourself.

Invite your own disaster.

You’ll be sorry.


The Best of Friends

Giving Is Living

“You live up to your own expectations.” – Caballo Blanco in Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run”

Pave the Way

New paths are always under construction.

Like any other project, plans are required. The distance between current location and destination requires crossing some distance. Having directions makes the journey much easier.

Before that, though, ideas must be collected and research–or even calculations–done.

Your thoughts are crucial in shaping your road map.

On any journey, you anticipate traveling through several known points to ensure the shortest possible mileage.

You plot these landmarks out and use them to measure your progress.

More often than not, you’ll confront many changes to your route along the way.

Power lines will be down.

Debris will be blocking traffic.

Two lanes will be closed while a crew performs maintenance.

You may slow to a crawl while new cement is laid.

What would have been a quick trip turns into a long haul.

Your desire is tested.

Your patience is tried.

The wide-open interstate to your goal has yet to be completed.

Work gets delayed by rain or other circumstances.

Take detours so it can be finished or find another way entirely.

You must be willing to choose other methods to advance, even if it’s well off the straight line you hoped to traverse.

Be confident and calm in the face of setbacks.

Your destination is still there.

You will arrive.

You just may have to pave the way yourself.


The Tao of John Wooden

Aiming for Imperfection

Average People Live Average Lives

One Thing’s Wrong

“I just felt kind of restless.”

I listened intently as the computer-exec-turned-pastor described her transition from the corporate world to leading a congregation. Over the course of about 30 minutes, she shared the string of experiences that led her away from big money and big business to “follow passion.”

Life presents dozens of opportunities to choose a new direction.

This woman recounted various instances which crystallized the necessity of her major switch.

The female vice president struggling through a proposal while fighting the flu because she “had to be there.”

Talking with her boss as he sat in an airplane seat awaiting takeoff and asking him if the effort was worth being alone on Christmas Eve, filled with dread during the long pause before he answered “No.”

The coworker who postponed his dream to gather a little more money, only to die at 51 and short of the early retirement he believed would open the door.

Listening to her church group describe each other’s strengths and being told hers was “that of an apostle.”

It’s amazing what you hear when you finally listen.

After years passed in the wandering pursuit of “unfulfillment,” you will come to a point where you acknowledge a question instead of seeking an answer.

Suddenly, you reach a crucial moment defined by five words: “How did I get here?”

And, despite what others–or you–may think, you are in a very good place.

People often make trade-offs, setting aside “foolish fantasies” for a far-off future of “what I really want to do.” By asking yourself if you are in the place you wish to be, you have turned the key of truth and cracked the door to new opportunity.

This is the moment you can be born again.

If you will seize the day and strike out on a new path, you will have made an investment with staggering returns in “psychic value.”

You will have set yourself apart from the “I wish I would have” crowd. You will have grasped a new, purposeful life guided by contentment and satisfaction instead of dollars and cents.

What could ever be wrong with that?


What Are You Hunting?

The Tao of John Wooden

1 Difference Between “Trying” and “Doing”

Wipe Away Failure

Failure defines you in whatever manner you allow.

A familiar stunned silence accompanies personal catastrophe.

Your gut sinks when connecting your mistakes to the consequences–an entirely natural feeling.

Falling short trashes hopes and shatters dreams.

If you let the mess sit too long, it stains your life forever.

There’s a passage I read recently in What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell in which a financial analyst shares the story of the Essex, the Massachusetts whaleship which served as the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

After his wealth was decimated by a plummeting stock market, the man used the tale as motivation to rebuild:

…it turns out that the captain of the Essex, as soon as he got back to Nantucket, was given another job. They thought he did a good job in getting back after the ship was rammed…But then he was given the other ship, and that one foundered, too. Got stuck in the ice. At that time, he was a lost man. He wouldn’t even let them save him. They had to forcibly remove him from the ship. He spent the rest of his life as a janitor in Nantucket.

Overwhelmed by his broken confidence, the captain-turned-custodian resigned himself to die adrift–on land instead of sea.

The stock trader chose the opposite–persevering in the face of adversity. Facing a situation beyond his wildest nightmare, he utilized the circumstances for improvement.

He made the challenge a tool instead of an excuse.

The time will arrive to pursue a new course.

You can wander directionless into the abyss of deepening discontent or focus your energy toward an uplifting destination.

Your soul can mop floors or sail the high seas.

Only you decide where you’re headed.


What Matters to the World

Learning How To Win

I Dare You

A Late Goal is Always On Time

A million things can go wrong but all it takes is one to go right.

Yesterday, the American soccer team salvaged victory after dangling on the edge heartbreaking defeat.

Nearing the end of a tumultuous 90 minutes, having missed chance after chance to achieve a positive result, four men sped forward across acres of green grass to score the goal they had given their all to secure, guaranteeing passage into the knockout phases of the world’s largest sporting event.

The miracle came at the end of a long struggle.

Having managed to overcome early mistakes to make something of the previous two matches–and robbed of a win by a disallowed goal against Slovenia last Friday in the process–it would have been easy to give up.

As the clock ticked towards the end of regulation, near misses mounted.

A post was hit here and open goal missed there.

Yet the eleven men in white continued pushing for the breakthrough, urgent though unhurried.

Persistence was key.

Dogged determination in the face of all that would tell you it’s not your day (or week or year) yields amazing results.

Maintain your spirit and dig in for the challenge.

Fight on as your efforts meet with unsatisfying returns, show the world your commitment.

Life is full of good and bad breaks.

What you do with both determines how far you go. Scott French of connected the beautiful game and human experience in his article late last night:

…it’s not always fair, that you’re not always rewarded for good work, that the better side does not always win…it does not matter how big you are or where you’re from, that the anticipation (and denial) of success makes success, when it comes, all the more sweeter.

Keep plugging away.

In the end, you’ll win.


Wipe Away Failure

The Best Won’t Come While You Wait

“Hammer and Forge” Your Greatness…your-greatness/”

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