The Leader’s Creed

orchid - JonSullivan

Imagination, Inspiration

Motivation, Do;

Passionate Leaders guide us on

That’s what leaders do.

Holds the night light, sees when no sight

Helps the frightened through;

With Imagination and Inspiration

And Motivation to Do.

(c) 2013 Kevin Collins

Conversations with Mom – Courage and Character

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Mom was a very courageous woman.  While saddled with disabilities her whole life (chronic asthma and chronic diabetes), she still managed to “stay with the crowd” and raise her eight children the best she can – in spite of it all.

On many, many times over the years, I witnessed the strength she showed in both words and deeds – and nothing came easy to her.  Regardless of the circumstances, she made the best of it.  In her limited ways (also a brutal husband controlling her), she always created an environment of safety and care.

What I remember and admire most about Mom was the way she was able to “take on” risk with such ease and confidence.  She lived without fear.  (For a woman, she had a lot of balls!)

I remember asking her when I was a teenager about her viewpoint on Risk.  I don’t remember the exact circumstances to bring it up; but I remember she defended someone in the family (against some institution) and rose to the occasion.

I was in awe.

For the first time, I witnessed the power of her words and the strength in her actions.  I finally realized and experienced the courage she displayed in doing so.

Shortly afterwards, I asked (not exactly in these words) if she was afraid to take that risk.  I know I was scared as heck.

Well, Mom had a vocabulary that was a little fractured – but very understandable in any language.  Not shy to use ‘colourful metaphors’ when angered, she told me in her unique way of her philosophy regarding character:

“I don’t care what people think of me –
as long as I can hold my head high in integrity.”

Her response was ground-breaking for me.  I didn’t realize before character and dignity could be related.  I always thought dignity was controlled by the actions of our character; and if we did things that were un-liked by others, then we were to be shamed.  Then this lesson.

That empowering personal lesson stays with me today.  In every act I perform in life, I not only ensure my dignity remains intact; but I also advocate it for others.

The lesson I learned that day:

Healthy dignity (our self-esteem) is a right to everyone.  Nobody can or has the right to take it away from us.

Thanks Mom.

The Day My Life Changed Forever – 3

orchid - JonSullivan

I haven’t considered myself religious for over 30 years now.  It’s not that I have anything against Christianity (or religion); I just feel guilty calling myself a Christian and not believe in a God, Heaven, the hereafter, and all that other ‘leap-of-faith’ logic.

That’s not to say I’m not spiritual.  I believe on some level that there is a spiritual connection to can make with others – and I believe it happens all the time.  It comes from the energy each one of us put out to the world.  We are, scientifically, all bit of energy vibrating at different speeds to form various types of mass and structure.  So I therefore believe there could be something to it – and I can feel it from people.

But for the most part, I stopped believing in a lot of things a long time ago.  It’s just that religion had a good hold of me (school, social, punishment), and for the most part, it got me through some tough times. (I invite you to have a compelling look at one of those times here: Benni’s Dirty Secret.)  It was sort of like therapy with a twist; and for the most part, it worked.  That’s why I stuck around – and I have much to thank for the many individuals who entered my life in those times.

***

If I were to give myself a label, I would say I live my life today as an Existential Humanist.  This describes the kind of relationship I have with the world as I live it every moment.  As such, it serves and allows me:

  • To express my observations and perceptions of how I experience life as it occurs, and
  • To express my feelings and actions towards actions.

As an Existentialist, I am able to exercise my logical side of thinking.  I can see how the world operates without the noise of drama, stories, miscommunication, crisis, and all the other distractions created by humankind to interrupt our progress of human understanding.

As a Humanist, there is nothing I appreciate more than being in the company of others who are chasing dreams that improve theirs and the lives of others.  Not in a socialist sense; rather, I appreciate environments where EVERYONE is truly equal and compassionate about life and living.

I understand the Human Condition.  I know the how-to’s, where-for’s, and what-not’s about how we operate in life.  And while I can see how knowing this stuff can be beneficial to some; this is only part of the equation of experiencing human potential.  The other half is UNDERSTANDING.  That’s the plane of life where I exist with all my relationships – human or otherwise.  It is quite exciting, actually.

My life occurs in the little things that make up our day.  For example, when I go to the office to do my writing and work for the day (the local Tim Hortons coffee shop), I am greeted by some familiar faces I see every day.  Reasons are found to talk to each other.  I find the joy in holding the door for someone, and others often do likewise.  Friendly nods of respect are cast to solitary individuals, and infant/toddlers always laugh and smile when we interact.  It’s a good feeling to feel welcome.

***

I guess it would make sense that I would evolve to be such a person.  I suppose my early lessons to see life with the drama, deceptions, and manipulations molded me and the logical-thinking side of my personality.  As for the emotional side of me, I see now how I was emotionally immature (and distorted). Yet, I was living a life of service to others.  My 30+ years of volunteering, and the years of working in service-related industries (health, social service, military service, neighbourhood groups and agencies, etc.) provide evidence of my subconscious decision to help others.  What is surprising to me though, is that I’ve done a lot in my life – and all along (for over 30 years), I was living with Mental Health issues and didn’t even know it.

***

 But it was on that night that everything started brand new for me.  All that outer space stuff.

Here I was, instead of celebrating the possibility that I could become an astronaut like most other boys my age, I was having a philosophical crisis that was about to change my life (for the first time).

I suppose it was the last straw.  And I suppose it was natural for me to cry.  After all, I saw the last bastion of Trust and Understanding disappears from under me and there was nothing left on which to rely.  The well of my life had run dry.

Needless to say, I have issues with Trust to this day.  I’ve studied it to death and have developed a keen knowledge and understanding of it’s implications on our lives.  For example, there is so little trust in the world, we have laws, contracts, rules, wars, guidelines, tests, governments, and all those other tools to keep us all honest.  I’m not different from much others in this respect.

I did learn these 3 things about trust over my travels:

  1. Trust is NOT earned, it is only granted.
    Trust is ours to lose.  We have to give trust to others or nothing much would get done.  We understand there is not much trust in the world.
  2. Trust can only be expressed through action.
    It doesn’t matter how much you tell someone you are trustworthy, nobody will believe it until they actually experience it.  This can only be done through performance.
  3. Trust is driven by our personal level of fear.
    We all come from different backgrounds, so we are all different in our approach to life.  As life is driven primarily by fear (everyone), then it is easy to find someone’s level of trust.

Because of this experience, I (unknowingly) decided to invest time in my life journey for something to believe in – without success, over the years.  I have a trail of evidence littering my life experiences growing ip where I trusted others (within the standards of social mores) and got burned – sometimes badly.  For example, a recent business venture a few years back involved having a retired religious Minister as a partner.  He got an honourable doctorate, was elected a bishop, and honoured for a life’s work in central America helping the poor.  When everything is said and done, after I invested time and money into the operation, he disappears.  I find out he decided he wanted to get involved in a multi-level marketing (MLM) business instead.  I never had an opportunity to talk to him about it because I’ve never seen him again.  Incredible luck, huh?

I’ve learned not to take things personally anymore because I realize I am not life’s only victim.  I am one of many before and after me.  From this practice, I come to have more compassion for people and more derision for institutions or large bodies of businesses who benefit unfairly from the people they serve.  I am an active advocate for others when I see an immoral or unethical event taking place.

In that night of profound awakening and awareness, it seems incredible that the emotional crisis of a little boy would have such an impact that would shape and mould the direction of one’s life.  Yet, I can attest (through my background and accomplishments) that life never did occur the same again.

Whether an unconscious or subconscious decision, I decided to find out why people do what they do.  And after 40+ years of personal inquiry (remember, I am a Whyz-Guy) and experiences of much sacrifice, I did come to some personal beliefs about people and life:

  1. We all live in Fear,

  2. We are socially conditioned from our influences in life to behave the way we do, and

  3. We are only being the only way we know how.

Not bad for something started by a lonely 10 year old, huh?

Just think, I could have instead started down the road of resignation, crime, confusion, and death a long time ago.  I had my moments, but I am still here; and I am not going to give up on life.

Thank you readers for allowing me these last 3 days to share this with you.  I’ve been wanting to do this for years (but I had nobody to tell).  The fall of another wall – the cleansing of essence – the joy of it all.

Namaste

Ten Ways To Get Everything You Want

In the pursuit of our lives, we are often distracted with the most important thing in our life:

the ME.

We do everything to make the ME comfortable, as it should be, and ensure we are pain-free and without external conflict. It is the most natural thing the body does; and our minds, well it ensures we are emotionally pain-free.

***

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We are always looking for secrets on how to be comfortable (and still safe) while enjoying the fuits of our existence.  We bathe, sprinkle, cosmetize, stretch … well, you get the idea.  And hopefully, we get what we want out of life.

We spend, and record, experience limits, buy swag, eat and eat.  This way we get what we want – right?  All we have to do is indulge ourself, right?  Or is it?

***

Personally, I think – in this day and age, we would know enough about life and society and ourselves that tell us that all of these kind of distractions get us nowhere except further into the pit of ‘waiting to arrive’.  We work hard at it too.

But if we were to concentrate less on ourselves and more on others, what are the chances we probably would have more than everything we ever wanted?

Sadly, in all our worlds we experience, there’s this underlying current of fear, mistrust, and misunderstanding that always gets ourselves into trouble. You know – the interpretations, assumptions, whispers, rumours, etc.  That, of course, only gets us 1 thing for sure: trouble!

So, I’ve compiled a list of things we can do to get anything we ever wanted from people and our life.  It’s not in order or comprehensive.  I didn’t give much thought to it other than just write as I think it here. Do you want everything you ever wanted?

  1. Be a Friend

    No matter what, be there for someone. It always benefits everyone for a long time.

  2. Listen more

    It’s easy to tell when someone is not really listening. When listening happens – things you never imagined before happens.

  3. Be a Risk-Taker

    Enjoy a little lottery of life without the money. Do something different that stands out. The greatest expression we can offer to others.

  4. Love Life

    This is the only go around. We don’t get out of this life alive, so enjoy the leaf, flake, eye colour, tear, and all the beautiful results of life.

  5. Understand “WII-FM” (what’s in it for me) concept

    We all live in the realm of life that protects ourselves first (that’s why heroism is recognized).  When we understand people – on an individual basis – and what they seek from life, we can connect on a deeper and more profound level.

  6. Buy It

    The easiest and cheesiest way to get what you want. (Unless, of course, you worked your butt off saving money for a long-held dream). Besides, the joy wears off quickly enough.

  7. Love People

    Do this and people will love you. What else is there to want, huh?

  8. Influence

    Is influence a good thing? Does it depend on it’s motives? Can we influence and maintain the goodness of getting everything we want?

  9. Serve

    My personal favourite. At service to others can be an honour if employed in an altruistic and ‘good’ way. The world has many ways of looking at service as a way of being; and I tend to see it as the gateway to getting along with each other. Besides, we cannot survive without each other and that has a lot to do with serving others.

  10. Be a Bully

    I suppose this is a way – and it works most of the time.  But while the bully is getting everything s/he wants, where the real meat of living takes place in the little interactions between people.  The whole point of having everything is moot.

Here’s a bonus one, but I wouldn’t recommend it:

  • Wait for it to Happen

    Sadly, this is where we tend to lurk when we want our goals and dreams to happen.  And not even just those – but the next promotion, the minor surgery, the fitness, the …

Conversations with Mom – Revenge!

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Even to the very end – Mom got the last laugh on life.  And it wasn’t over yet.  Threre was more … but those are for later. For now …

***

Here, I’d like to share something that happened to me in the last week of her life while she was clinging to every last breath she could muster in her tattered and tired lungs.  Mom was a chronic asthsma her whole life (and smoked most of it) – and when the doctor had a look at her lungs not too long earlier, he said her lungs were “just like leather”.

It must have been horrible gasping for the final hour.

***

Anyways, she was in the hospital on her birthday and it was looking grim; and the doc told her it probably wouldn’t be long.

All 8 of us kids took our turns saying goodbye. It was sad, and even though she never said she loved me, I knew she did.  We were just too much alike.

Now, Mom was always one to throw someone off – and she did.  It was one of those LMAO moments. She also had a long memory, and never let anyone get away with anything on her.

When I came into the hospital room, it was dark and shady – and incredibly alert. Mom didn’t move much and said less, but I noticed she was as sharp as a whip.  Even in her last days, she recounted and whispered her adventures and shared smiles.  We didn’t talk about us, or “my father”, (as she always called him).

This last day, when Mom knew I was there; and I noticed, I moved in closer to her side.  She wanted to say something and reached out to pull me in.  Our faces were almost close and Mom whispered decisively:

“You see, the psychic was wrong at Expo 67!”

Two days later she died.

The backstory is funny, in that, when she travelled with my sister to Montreal in 1967 in honour of Canada’s Centennial year, she went to see a psychic at the World’s Fair.  The psychic told Mom at the time she wouldn’t live to see her 68th.  She always held that grudge and over the years she would bring it up – and if there was anything she wanted to beat – was that damn psychic.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom

I Love You,

K

Things I Love

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This Valentine’s Day, in particular, I am feeling down – not at all what I expected. I was feeling lonely and off-centre. Life just didn’t occur to me this way – not in a hundred years to me anyways.

I had plans.  I was jazzed to enjoy today as probably the most important thing that was ever going to happen to me for a long time … but …

*

I belong to a couple of LinkedIn groups, I enjoy watching and reading more than participate too much (because it will overcome me, for sure).  I was emailed a discussion – and for the first time (I think), I actually got down and wrote something on the computer that wasn’t work related.

And boy-ole-boy – I needed it today!

***

Nope!

It’s not happening!

(I hope she doesn’t read this > ), but I was to visit a dear out-of-town and long-time friend of, maybe by now, close to 30 years.  It’s been a long time since I saw her – maybe 20.  We have been talking about it for some time – all by email. Every time I write, I can hear her voice as if she’s right in front of me.  Every time – I can see in the vivid minds-eye of my memories:

  • her animated and hilarious antics
  • her laughing and putting the guys to shame
  • she was the smart one
  • her 2 beautiful (now grown/ing) daughters (only pics for now)
  • the most fun person I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing – because it’s all fun.
  • she has more balls than some guys (sorry – to everyone, lol)
  • it’s not about sex – besides, we’re two old buggers, now!

I was going to visit her after all this time; invest some time into each other’s lives (you know, get the scoop on all the drama and such from the past – console, yada yada) and share as much as any moment we were able to cherish or dare to remember.  We were planning on 3 or 4 days together.

Nope!

So yes, I am disappointed.

***

Yet, lo and behold – I was saved by the web (or eaten) and came across a group with this LinkedIn post:

“Quick! In honor of Valentine’s Day, name 20 things you love!”

In a most uncharacteristic moment, I decided to sit right down and start writing.  I knew this would help.  And it did.

To make a long post (story) short, this is what I posted as the “Things I Love”:

  • a light sprinkle of snow on my face on a sunny afternoon,
  • the joy of a boy and his dog frolicking and talking to each other as they tumble together in the snow,
  • when a stranger comes up to me at a coffee shop and wishes me “Happy Valentine’s Day”
  • chocolate when I shouldn’t … shhhhh!
  • a busy, busy day and get absolutely nothing done >> yet still had fun!
  • getting a compliment from my coach(es) and a wider share on a blog post
  • all the women who ever said they loved me 🙂
  • all my nieces and nephews (they eventually go home, lol)
  • my housemates – to a point, lol
  • my ability to recognize an opportunity when I see it … by start writing.

I can’t come up with any more for now.

Thank you Jeanenne at NonProfitCommunity for posting this activity. I was feeling lonely as my Valentine plans went to … {8-/

I needed that; and now I can get on with my work.
Kevin
Happy Valentine’s Day” everybody.

A Panhandler’s Contribution

I recenly had a dream that I was a panhandler.

Okay – it was more like a nightmare – but it ended up still inspiring.

It was such a vivid and interesting dream,
when I woke up I had to write it down.
I didn’t know how I was going to use it, but I knew there must be a purpose.
*

winter flower

Winter Possibility

The other day on a trip into the city core (in Toronto, Canada); I came across the usual people that is often seen day in and day out.  It is rather sad because they put so much effort to be at their corner every day (like a job), they could easily see solutions to their challenges and make a difference in their life.

Then I remembered my dream.  And I’m going to share it with you here.  I hope there is hope and possibility that maybe someone will pass this on to others who can use this idea.

***

I was sitting on the downtown corner of Bay and King Sts – the financial district to Canada’s financial power and major economic decisions.  So anyway, I wasn’t doing so good in getting money from people passing by.  Actually – NONE!

I was so saddened and disappointed in people that they could not spare a quarter; when they often pay $3.00 for the small cup of orange juice they were drinking. I thought to myself, “Don’t people realize there is poverty, despair, struggle, and other challenges that people face every day among all this wealth and privilege?”

Now, remember this is a dream.  Yet, while I was thinking that, I really couldn’t blame them – I suppose.  What do I mean to them other than just another faceless tragedy lost in the game of life.  As the warloads would say, “There’s bound to be collateral damage when progress is made.”

I was a cold morning; and the winds were pushing their way around the concrete structures without any shelter other than what I provided for myself.  Not the best way to invest a life – any life.  Even a dog would be taken in.  I would look up into people’s faces as they walked by and noticed their frustration as well.  Not one smile, or a glance, or even an acknowledgement that a human body was living on the corner for the day.

Sometimes I can be a little dense in my thinking ( – even in my dreams I’m not any smarter, lol); so it took a lot of time to work through how I was going to survive a winter on the desolate wasteland of financial power and oppression.  Of course, it took a lot of time (frustration and humility mostly) for me to work it through.

It took a lot of introspection about myself – about my past, present, future; about my skills and abilities; about my life lived as an “unfulfilled expression to the world” in my own little way. In dreams, as we know, there are no real time barriers or set patterns; so I managed to get in all the learning I got from life from my waking past to cram it all in, lol.

I learned something in Sales (in real life) many years ago and it came back to me in the dream.  It was about human motivation – their wants and needs – and the role it plays in getting people to do things.  It is actually based on psychology and is used in our lives by the media the most.  I remembered the very most single important thing that affects every single human (and sub-species, too).  It is this:

WII-FM:

What’s In It For Me

We are all in life for ourselves.  The individual is most important to themselves; otherwise, there would be no effort to live.  No point in eating if we don’t care whether we want to live or not.  So with that in mind, I came to the realization I had nothing to offer the people as they passed by.  There was absolutely no reason whatsoever to even look at me because I was not more than street furniture.

In the dream, I decided to give something in return for their donation.  So then the idea hit me!  This is the inspiring idea:

  1. I contacted a small business printer who prints business cards.
  2. I sought out the printers that give free cards in exchange for free advertising on the back of the card (WII-FM).  There are a couple in Toronto.
  3. With the cards I had printed 250-500 cards with inspirational and motivational quotes and anecdotes (with the ad on the other side).
  4. When I am on the street, I hand them out to the people as they walk by.
  5. The person will read the quote and (hopefully) get inspired from the “Thought for the Day” (or another title). In the fine print, you request a small donation.
  6. The next day, the person will take another card (with a different quote) and remember to give a donation the next day. The person remembers the feelings the card left her/him over the course of the day. They wanted to get the WII-FM – and they do!
  7. That day next, the person will have some change already taken out (from their cofee shop stop); and when they take a new card, they begin the habit of leaving change every day.

So, as you can see – everyone benefits as I can make a contribution in their daily lives – hopefully it’s a smiling and fulfilled day for the collateral damage of having someone inspired and happy around you every day at the office.  In this process, the WII-FM is fulfilled for everyone (printer, panhandler, donor) involved and everyone benefits greatly.

All it takes is a very little creative thinking and some work in the research.  ANYBODY can do this – no matter who they are!

***

So, that’s my dream from a little while back that I wanted to share with you about the possibilities in even the most worst conditions in life.  I also wanted you to consider sharing with others with whom you may cross paths.

Namaste

k