If you have been following me on Facebook, you will know that this month was kinda crazy as far as travelling goes. I added 3 new countries to my list (now at 128) and basically spent the month in planes and at airports, and then sadly, my mom in law passed away while I was in Iran.
Often people email me and comment on my lifestyle, expressing a desire to be able to travel like I do. In many respects they see what I do as a fantasy life. This month I thought I would talk about this a little and put it into perspective. Everything in life requires choices, and with those choices come sacrifices. For each and every one of us we have to decide for ourselves what we are prepared to sacrifice in order to achieve the lifestyle we desire. Plus, it may not always be what we dreamt it would be.
LOSING ONE'S TEMPER:
Often friends and business colleagues come up to me and comment about my bubbly personality and the fact that I always joke around and see the positive in life. It's a choice which works well for me and I see no difference in the effort involved in being bubbly, or down. So I choose the fun side and enjoy life to the fullest. However, saying that, I am also a normal person with normal emotions. Which means I can also get upset, depressed or angry - yes it's true! Spending too much time at airports and talking a lot on Customer Service in my seminars, I was particularly tuned into 'service' this month. When an airline gave me bad service twice in a row and bumped me off a flight - especially after being away from home for two weeks and desperate to get home to comfort my wife - I lost it. To say I carried on like a 'fish wife' in Doha is an understatement. I lost my temper with the airline and used words and expressions very unbecoming of a motivational speaker.
Right now I am sitting on a new airline, as a result of my 'tantrum' and thinking about my behaviour. Would I have gotten the same result had I remained calm? Was I justified to my outburst? In fact I feel quite guilty right now. The thing is, we are all human, and we all have emotions. When one has added stresses in one's life it is easier to flip than normal. However, I thankfully managed to calm down relatively quickly because of what I do, as I managed to 'remind' myself to practice what I preach. How did I do this? Simply by using that old principle of counting to 10 before opening my mouth again.
I know this may sound basic, but isn't it the simple stuff in life that works? I had this sudden burst of emotion where I lost it. My focus was on getting home to support my wife and family. So right then and there I was only focused on my needs. We cannot always be in 'control'. I think that is unrealistic, but we can be aware and try to maintain a certain level of control, or regain it if we lose it. It's all about a higher level of awareness and honesty with oneself where you can acknowledge that one has lost focus. Many people have a problem in acknowledging their own mistakes or faults and this holds them back to improve themselves. Luckily I don't have that problem, my wife reminds me of my faults regularly!
So, in a nutshell, if you do suddenly get angry and even if you do scream at someone, by being aware of your own emotions, and simply stopping, counting to 10 before you carry on, you find that you calm down tremendously and then the issue suddenly doesn't send your blood pressure to boiling point anymore. There are certain things in life that cannot be changed, no matter how much you rant and rave about them. By stepping back and taking a breath and counting to ten, one realises this much quicker.
MAKING UP YOUR OWN MIND - PRACTICING ACCEPTANCE
Yes, for the first time in my life I visited Tehran, in fact I did so many seminars and was so busy, I ran! (I always wanted to use that line somewhere!) Would you like to visit Iran? Especially with what you see in the news? Another truth was reconfirmed for me this month... don't believe everything you read in the media, especially when they are controlled by governments with their own propoganda agendas.
I thought long and hard before accepting the contract in Iran. Many fellow speakers had been there before and it is they who actually convinced me to consider it. I put Iran in the same boat as Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. and expected war, terrorism and much religious suppression. Well let me tell you something, it has been a long time since I have felt so safe, had so much fun and been surrounded by so many beautiful (yes - good looking and inner beauty) people. I never knew Iranians where the original Persians. Did you? What a history. Did you know they have their own fuel called CNG (Clean New Gas) completely environmentally friendly and about US$6 to fill a tank? Mmm, I haven't seen that anywhere else - maybe that's why the big oil giants are pushing western governments to be against them? Just a thought!
Travelling is truly the university of life, and the biggest thrill for me is meeting people of different cultures, beliefs and religions. There is a huge difference between western and eastern cultures. And this month I discovered that there is another culture right between these two - and that's the Iranians. Like all countries, the youngsters think that there are greener pastures outside, and yes there is discontentment with their government... but in which country is this not the case? What struck me like a lightning bolt was the gentleness, humility and friendliness of the people. Did you know they have no beggars in Iran? It's because family look after each other and people care for their neighbours. Something that is lost in western culture. We were driving from Isfahan to Yazd (somewhere in the middle of the country through desert). Suddenly we go a flat wheel. No big deal, 3 men in a car, we could sort that out quickly. We hadn't even stopped the car and another car had already stopped next to us. The teenage sons in that car were already changing the tire by the time we had figured out where the car jack was. Total strangers immediately came to help. How long would it take in the western world for someone to stop and help you? Every time we got into a taxi, conversations were held with the taxi driver and there was laughter!
I was honoured to be invited to a private wedding ceremony at a magistrates court. I was married in a magistrates court and it was a typical short affair. For the Iranians they have a whole ceremony. It's romantic... even in the magistrates court! In fact part of the ceremony is that the bride and groom both dip their small finder in honey and sugar, and the other licks it off..... kinda erotic if you ask me! The point of it all... to bring sweetness into their marriage. Isn't that the cutest and most romantic touch? It is these little things that made me look at these people in a different light and again reminded me that we should NEVER judge people, or cultures by what the media wants us to believe. In fact how often to we pre-judge people by what friends, family and colleagues have told us? Go look for yourself, make up your own mind. Hold judgement back and go into any situation openly and objectively - you will be amazed at how beautiful the world and people suddenly become!
It reminds me of a story of a group of frogs that took part in a race to a mountain top. Much advertising was done for the race. All the other frogs around thought it was madness to attempt a race to the top of the mountain. They talked among each themselves and commented on how difficult the race would be. When it started, the contestants started falling out of the race, one after another. In the end it was only one frog that stayed in the race and finished. There was jubilation and all the frogs around were amazed and this one frog's achievement. On asking the winning frog on how he had achieved this impossible task, all the other frogs suddenly realised that he was deaf!
Yes, he was deaf! He never heard the negativity spoken around him before the race, hence he was never affected, nor did he had preconceived ideas. He simply took part to win and believed in himself!
How often is our behaviour around us affected by what we hear others say?
COPING WITH GRIEF:
Finally I want to share my thoughts on grief and death. It was trying for me to be away from my wife when her mom passed away last week. That again is the downside to my travelling. However I came home as soon as I could. We had spoken about it before and we had looked at every scenario. How many people actually do this? It's as if they are scared to face reality. Death is a fact of life for all of us. Have you spoken about it with your spouse and family? Have you decided what to do in case something happens. It's not being negative, but instead being responsible. There is nothing worse than an unexpected loss. Also, when someone does die, do you speak to your partner about it and let them share their feelings with you. Do you listen to how they are feeling and share in their loss?
The memories we have one day when someone passes remain with us for the rest of our lives. What do you do to create memories? Do you keep photos and videos? Do you part with love in you heart when you say goodbye, or do you have unresolved issues? It is so important to live a life of forgiveness and love. You never know when your time may come. I see so many people who have regret when someone passes over, and this is so sad. When last have you said, "I love you" to the people that are important in your life, including your children. To often we take love for granted. It's important to share your feelings and be open with your feelings. In this way you create good memories. Remember, that one day when you are older, the materialistic things won't be remembered, instead the emotional bonds like that first kiss, and the first steps of your child... that's what gives you peace and contentment when you are older, and in turn makes you accept life for what it is. So, in conclusion this month, go out and create great memories so that you can lead a life with no regrets.
I trust you had a great May. Don't forget to check out my new Video Quick Tips for June - simply click on the language of your choice: English, German & Afrikaans.
I have had a number of people ask me to write on being happy with what you have. How many people really appreciate how much they have and are content with life? We always try and compare ourselves to others and fall into the trap of materialism & and being judgmental.
Normally I would give my views and insights on the topic outright. This month I want to try something different and use 3 stories from the mails I receive in reply to this 'Useletter'. I will add my comments at the end and really feel that these stories may bring home some good food for thought.
Here is a very nice story about a beggar who found a wallet in the street with $500 in it. As he picked it up he saw a notice on a street lamp which offered a $50 reward for a lost wallet. The beggar, who was an honest man immediately went to the address to return the wallet to it's owner. The owner, a banker, immediately counted the money and said to the beggar, "I see you have already taken your $50 reward money." The beggar protested that he hadn't and that there was exactly $500 in the wallet when he had picked it up. An argument ensued and at the same time a policeman walked past the house. Noticing the commotion between the two gentlemen, he went up to them asking if he could assist in the matter. Each presented their case to the policeman, who in turn looked at the banker and told him that he believed him. The beggar was devastated. The policeman then took the wallet from the banker and gave it to the beggar, saying, "Here's the wallet, it is yours to keep."
"Who do you think you are? What are you doing?" shouted the banker at the policeman. "Oh I believe that you had a total of $550 in your wallet sir. However, I also believe that the beggar is an honest man too. He had all the opportunity to run away with the wallet, but he didn't! So for what possible reason would he then have brought the wallet back to you? I can only assume then that this is not the wallet you lost and that it belongs to someone else. Therefore, until the right owner is found, the wallet must stay with the beggar."
"Hey, but what about my money?" asked the banker. "Well," replied the policeman, "You will have to wait until someone finds your wallet."
Isn't that a great story? You see, sometimes we become too greedy and end up outsmarting ourselves. Think about it, how often have you pre-judged someone just by the way they look? We need to learn to give everyone the same respect when we meet them for the first time, no matter what their status, culture or belief system. We have been conditioned to judge people by what we see in the media and learn from the press. Wake up, not every beggar is a thief, not every white man is a racist, not every religious person is biased, etc. I firmly believe that the whole world would change overnight if everyone just dropped their biased judgmental ways. I consider myself very fortunate to have travelled and met so many different people from so many different races, cultures and belief systems. Often as a young man in the entertainment industry on cruise liners we were thrown together with fellow artists for months, and forced to get on with each other. I clearly remember the first time this happened to me. I felt uneasy and not happy. A few days later I realised, hey this guy has the same issues, feelings and problems I have. Suddenly we started becoming mates. Our differing backgrounds disappeared and all we saw was two similar human beings. (It also helped that their were no politicians on board!)
Luckily this happened more and more, and during my life I very soon learnt that besides the politicians and media, it was the insecure individuals out there that always found fault - due to their own issues! You need to let go of the past, and open your heart to each and every person you meet ,openly. If you have never tried this, then it's also wrong to have an opinion right now. Do me a favour - just go out there and give everyone you meet the same chance. I bet you, you will be surprised to see how many people out there are actually likeable and not always what society has labelled them to be. In my view no one is a fool, I give each person I meet a clean slate - I leave it up to them to show me who they really are. And even if they do show me a negative side, or something I disagree with, I still have to learn to accept them for who they are. And it definitely doesn't mean I have to hate them for that! In order to find fulfillment in life, you need to learn to practice acceptance - and this is where it starts. Hand in hand with this we also need to listen to others and not always bombard them with our opinions.
I shudder at the thought of how much time people spend during their day moaning and criticizing others whom they don't like/agree with. The most precious thing in life that you own is time. Why would you want to waste your life time on this? It doesn't make sense to me. No wonder people aren't fulfilled. Rather go out there and do good and leave a legacy at the same time.
The second story also deals with appreciation, but on a deeper level.
WHAT MEMORIES WILL YOU HAVE?
One day a woman's husband died, and on that clear, cold morning, in the warmth of their bedroom, the wife was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't "anymore". No more hugs, no more special moments to celebrate together, no more phone calls just to chat, no more "just one minute." Sometimes, what we care about the most gets all used up and goes away, never to return before we can say “good-bye”, say "I love you." So while we have it, it's best we love it, take care of it, heal it when it's sick & fix it when its broke.
This is true for marriage... and children with bad report cards, and dogs with bad hips, ageing parents and grandparents.. and old cars. Some things we keep - like a best friend who moved away or a sister-in-law after divorce. There are just some things that make us happy, no matter what. Life is important, like people we know who are special.. And so, we keep them close!
Mmm, lot's of truth in that story! Here's a thought, one day when you are older and retired and on your own, what will you be thinking about? will you recall every gadget you bought and every new car you owned? Or will you be thinking of your loved ones that have passed on and have regrets for not spending enough time with them? Here's a reality check... nearly every elderly person I have spoken to (95% plus) has regrets. Regrets about time lost and wasted! What is it with humanity - why can't we learn from this?
My girls are now 12 & 14. Everyone laughs at me and warns me of the teenage tough times ahead. Funny, I haven't noticed any changes so far. I give them hugs every day. When they go to sleep we hug each other and give a goodnight kiss. As their dad, I still get goodbye kisses when I drop them off at school. Other kids want their parents to drop them around the corner. Huh? My wife and I spend time with them, we talk to them, we help them with their school projects, we involve them in everything we do. They are secure. No matter what happens I know that I have and am still creating great memories for myself and for them. Yes I know you have a job and life's commitments get in the way, or at least that's what society has taught you to believe! Hello, I fly around the world and am often away from home as a speaker. How come I have great relationship with my wife and daughters? Am I special or just lucky? No! I make the time, I give 100% attention and I respect them. When we are together, we enjoy each other's company and we talk to each other. We don't all sit in separate parts of the home watching different soap operas. Get the point? I don't know about you, but I believe I have a choice in my life whether I want to create great or sad memories for my old age. I kinda go for the great ones - it's a choice you have to make.
And now the final story...
THE HORSE & THE PIG:
There was a farmer who collected horses; he only needed one more breed to complete his collection. One day, he found out that his neighbour had the particular horse breed he needed. So, he constantly bothered him until he let him buy the horse. A month later, the horse became ill and he called the veterinarian, who said,"Well, your horse has a virus. He must take this medicine for three days. I’ll come back on the 3rd day and if he’s not better, we’re going to have to put him down."
Nearby, the pig listened closely to their conversation. The next day, they gave him the medicine and left. The pig approached the horse and said:, "Be strong, my friend. Get up or else they’re going to put you to sleep!"
On the second day, they gave him the medicine and left. The pig came back and said:, "Come on buddy, get up or else you're going to die! Come on, I'll help you get up. Let’s go! One, two, three..."
On the third day, they came to give him the medicine and the vet said, "Unfortunately, we’re going to have to put him down tomorrow. Otherwise, the virus might spread and infect the other horses." After they left, the pig approached the horse and said:,"Listen pal, it's now or never! Get up, come on! Have courage! Come on! Get up! Get up! That’s it, slowly! Great! Come on, one, two, three... Good, good. Now faster, come on.... Fantastic! Run, run more! Yes! Yay! Yes! You did it, you’re a champion!!!"
All of a sudden, the owner came back, saw the horse running in the field and began shouting, "It’s a miracle! My horse is cured. This deserves a party. Let's kill the pig and have a feast!
Kinda a sad ending huh? Isn't life like this too sometimes? Often in a workplace the boss doesn't really know which employee actually deserves the merit of success, or who is actually the backbone of the organization and contributing the most support to get things done? I have news for you - that's life! Learning to live without recognition is what humility is all about. Learning to be comfortable in the knowledge that you have made a difference, even though no one else knows it, is being fulfilled and comfortable with who you are. Don't always look to become a person of success (as society defines it), but rather become a person of value. Because then, and only then will you be able to be part of the process of changing the world for the better.
In Summary, leading a fulfilled life is to not lead a greedy life, accept others for who they are and be comfortable in knowing that the good you do is changing the world for the better, even if no-one sees you do it. Remember, leading a life where you give unconditionally without expectation, will make the laws of the universe look after you in return.
Have a wonderful June , and I look forward to sharing some more inspirational ideas with you again next month.