Friday, June 30, 2006

JIMP Syndrome

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Have you ever heard of the JIMP Syndrome?

Me either.........until I read my cyberspace friend's blog on this subject. Before I link you to his article, I must say I have JIMP at times. As you read it, ask yourself if you have it too. Be honest with yourself.

He gives a short quiz, the answer of which a "yes" is worth one point each. If you score more than 2 points, you have just been diagnosed with JIMP Syndrome!

I trust you will not only find this interesting but it will also bring a smile of recognition to some of you out there. After all, we are human, aren't we?

May you enjoy reading Rajesh Setty's article entitled JIMP Syndrome!
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Acting on Intuition - the Southwest Story......

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Having a passion and entertaining the possibilities now bring you into the state of mind of being ready to act on your intuition. These are ideas and thoughts that come to you seemingly out of nowhere.

Another word for intuition is that “gut” feeling you get from time to time. It’s that little voice in your head urging you to act on an idea, thought or something you saw or heard. Often times it calls for you to act in the face of the unknown. In other words, your intuition is telling you to do something when there’s no evidence that it’ll work out in the end.

Using the experience of my favorite airline, countless of employees have listened to their intuition and made judgment calls that caused them to go above the call of duty to help their fellow workers and customers. I pulled one example out of NUTS! by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg for this post.

My favorite story of how intuition was used was the time a flight attendant from Phoenix named Debra Undhjem stepped in to help an elderly (87 years old) passenger.

Although the elderly woman missed her plane in Oakland, she did make it to Phoenix only to miss her connecting flight to Tulsa. Since there were no more flights to Tulsa after the missed flight, the customer had no choice but to stay overnight and catch the next available flight the following morning.

In light of her situation, customer service supervisors decided to put her up in a local hotel at the airline’s expense. That's when Debra got personally involved.

She decided to go beyond the call of duty and invite the elderly customer to her home for the night instead of putting her in a hotel room all by herself. Debra made ecessary phone calls to relatives in Tulsa informing them the elderly lady would be arriving on the first flight the next day. The following morning Debra brought this customer back to the airport and waited with her until she was aboard the first flight to Tulsa.

Isn't that great customer service or what? Now, I can't imagine they do this very often (it would be impossible to with the volume of passengers they fly everyday) but there was a special reason for it.

When asked why she followed her intuition, she said it was because the elderly woman was diabetic and she did not feel it was right to put her up in a hotel by herself. She felt called to go beyond what was expected of her in the name of doing what felt right. It's amazing how the Southwest culture encourages their employees to think for themselves. You'd be hard pressed to find a corporation like Southwest these days!

In any case, who knows what might have happened had the woman been left alone that evening? Even though it didn't happen, you never know if she would have suffered a massive stroke with no one around to help her.

Food for thought: Can you name one or two incidents where you had an overwhelming feeling about something that you couldn't put your finger on but you went ahead and acted on it? Did your "hunch" prove to be correct?
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Monday, June 26, 2006

Entertaining the Possibilities at Southwest

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The last article announced a series of forthcoming posts about how Southwest Airlines has applied my H.E.A.R. Principle without being aware of it. The source of real life examples have been obtained from the best-selling book NUTS! by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg.

Having a passion allows one to be in a state of mind to entertain the possibilities. The energy of passion creates a space by which you become receptive to ideas and thoughts leading you to the achievement of what you're passionate about.

In the early seventies, Lamar Muse, president of Southwest at the time, decided to add a fourth plane in anticipation of providing out-of-state charters as well as flying more daily flights. However, a federal district court shot the airline down by ruling they couldn't fly charters outside Texas (more adversity!).

What's a man to do in this situation? Muse ended up selling the unproductive plane at a profit and went into creative mode. He got together with Bill Franklin, a man he hired to manage ground operations and together they entertained the possibilities of utilizing 3 (instead of 4) airplanes without cutting back on the new flight schedule.

Franklin felt this could be achieved if they were able to reduce the turnaround time down to ten minutes - the length of time it takes for a plane to arrive, deplane and board passengers, check and change the oil (as well as the tires), clean up the cabin and a multitude of other things.

Could it be done?

Apparently they thought so because employees were given directives to do so. They were told in no uncertain terms that if they thought it couldn't be done, they'd be fired until the right people with the right attitude could be found.

Now, I know how this sounds - employees were faced with the prospect of losing their jobs if they didn't find a way to reduce the time of turnaround. You might think they did not have a choice. This may further lead you to conclude that they did it out of fear rather than passion.

I beg to differ.

Because Lamar and Franklin had a passion for the survival of the airline, they passed it down to the people working the front lines. Those who caught on with passion and enthuasism were able to find a way of meeting Lamar's directives. They were able to entertain the possibilities. Those who were unable or unwilling were let go. It was as simple as that.

Granted, according to the book, Lamar was a strong disciplarian type of leader which was what they needed at the time. Today, there's no need for Southwest employees to be threatened with the loss of a job - in fact, they are encouraged to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them without the fear of losing their shirts.

What's interesting is that many of these front line people had no airline experience so they had no idea whether or not they could turn around an airplane in ten minutes - but they did it.

By God, did they ever!

That was years ago. Now that Southwest is a much bigger airline with larger planes, more carry on luggage, more cargo and increased congestion at busier airports, their turnaround time is now 20 minutes, still a record in today's airline industry. In fact, it's half of the industry standard!

Think about this for a moment. If they all hated their jobs, do you think they would have been able to turn around a plane that quickly? It takes an army of people (i.e. pilots, flight attendants, baggage handlers, fuelers, gate attendant and countless other bodies) to defy the odds and make this seeimingly impossible task work.

Based on my own experiences, we are sometimes presented with a set of adverse circumstances that force us to reconsider the options at hand and discover our true potential in the process. Lamar's directives took on that appearance and those who were ready to expand the envelope of their potential did so. Those who were not simply fell by the wayside.

This makes for an interesting argument, wouldn't you say? I welcome your thoughts.

Food for thought: Are you following your passion and entertaining the possibilities? If not, what's holding you back? Posted by Picasa
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Passion at Southwest Airlines

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Ever since the H.E.A.R. Principle was created (thanks to the help of Tony Brigmon, a member of my special "Wizard Team"), I've been on the lookout for stories other than my own to demonstrate its power.

If you're new to this blog, I am a professional speaker who teaches people how to turn adversity into a university of possibilities through the application of the HEAR Principal:

Having a Passion
Entertaining the Possibilities
Acting on Your Intuition
Remembering Those Who Helped You Along the Way

The idea behind this concept is while there are a multitude of ways to overcome adversity, I've found that by consistently applying the HEAR Principle, I've been able to not only face obstacles but also achieve what so-called "experts" said would be impossible.

For the next four or five posts, I will be using examples out of the national bestselling book NUTS! by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg. The book tells a remarkable story of how Southwest took Corporate America by storm in the creation of a unique workforce where thousands of employees are allowed to take risks, have fun and be true to their spirits. In an environment like that, it's easy to see how the components of the HEAR Principle was used over and over again at Southwest. In fact, it fits them to a "T" - you'll see......

Today's post is about the passion of three men who got the airline started. They were Rollin King, a San Antonio entrepreneur, John Parker (his banker) and Herb Kelleher (his attorney). One day, Parker was complaining how expensive and inconvenient it was to fly between Houston, Dallas and San Antonio and suggested that a new airline be started up. Rollin shared this concept with Herb who at first thought the idea was crazy but ended up talking about it over cocktails.

In the final analysis, Herb famous words were: "Rollin, you're crazy. Let's do it!"

From the moment Herb filed incorporation papers, the odds were heavily stacked against them. Here are some what they had to endure for their crazy idea:

a. Raise a half-a-million for in seed money for capital and legal expenses
b. Fight a restraining order by Braniff, Trans Con and Continential to stop Southwest from obtaining a certificate to fly
c. Fight behind-the-scenes political bickering in Texas (Washington, DC too)
d. Reverse a decision by the trial court which ruled that the three cities in Texas were "already being served" [just fine thank you very much] by existing airlines (italics are my input)

Because Herb had such passion for the birth of Southwest, when the trial court rendered the unfavorable decision, he basically went to the Southwest board and said, "Gentlemen, let's go one more round with them." Some of the board members felt they should cut their losses short (the seed money was being eaten alive by legal fees). But Herb's passion, dedication and belief won them over.

The case was eventually retried before the Texas Supreme Court which overturned the lower court's decision to deny Southwest a certificate to fly. They won!

But the fight was far from over. Over the years Southwest would continue to fight its legal (and political) battles, some of which would go all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Now, tell me that passion didn't have anything to do with Herb's determination to fight, fight, fight? If he and the others didn't have genuine passion, do you think Southwest would still be here?

If I didn't have a passion for aviation, do you think I would have been able to plow my way though, for example, FAA regulations that basically said you must be able to hear to be an instrument pilot? This was in black and white and a regulation, no less. Yet on February 26, 2006 the very same agency that wrote this rule gave me a license to fly as an instrument pilot! Impossible? Well, it happened. It really happened. Why you ask?


Food for thought: Do you have a passion for something? Are you willing to fight your battles and believe you can achieve the "impossible"?
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Monday, June 19, 2006

How to Attract the Right People in Your Life

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It's perfectly natural for people to come in and out of our lives. Everyone you come into contact with makes an appearance on the stage of your life; depending on the purpose of the visit, it may be very brief like the barber, Mrs. Jordan, the bully or it may be a lifelong thing.

Whether they are there briefly or for several years, I've learned a thing or two along the way:

1. Listen with your eyes (stay focused on the person talking to you - don't let them wander - if you have A.D.D., force yourself to stay focused and don't interrupt!)

2. Help them get what they want without any expectation of return (Zig Ziglar says if you help just enough people get what they want, you will get what you want - but you have to help them FIRST).

3. Give them sincere recognition and thanks by sending unexpected thank you notes, taking them out for dinner or stopping by their place of business/home and saying "hello."

4. Mean what you say - let your spoken words be worth its weight in gold. If you say you will do something, then do it. Action speaks louder than words - demonstrate integrity. People should understand that they don't need a contract to do business with you...a firm handshake should suffice (unfortunately, this isn't much of an option in today's litigatious society. But you can certainly try and build your reputation on that).

5. Recognize that each character in the play of your life is there to teach or show you something. You could be shown the light at the end of the tunnel or courage you never knew you had. You could be given the opportunity to go in a different direction with your life that you hadn't thought of before. You get the idea....

Food for thought: Have you helped anyone this week? Recognized them for their talents? Did what you said you would do? Do you see each new person in your life as someone who has a potentially life changing message for you?
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Power of Thanking People with Handwritten Notes--Show Gratitude

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Part of the H.E.A.R. Principle is remembering who helped you along the way.

Can you think of all the people in your life who helped you, especially when you were experiencing adversity or when you were at a crossroad of sorts?

Was it......
  • a teacher like Mrs. Jordan who said the right thing at the right time?
  • the person who wrote a glowing recommendation letter that won you a major scholarship or admission to your school of choice?
  • mentors who appeared at just the right time to guide you personally and professionally?
  • the gatekeeper who put your important phone call through to the company bigwig?
  • a friend who consoled you through a painful time?
  • a stranger who did you an extraordinary act of kindness?
  • someone who opened the door for you, leading to incredible opportunities?
  • the minister who listened to you for hours?
  • family members who've supported you with love and encouragement?
  • your boss who backed you up in the midst a major corporate crisis that threatened to put you out of a job?
Why not become extraordinary, stand out from the crowd and send these people handwritten notes, thanking them for something they did for you? It will cause a few raised eyebrows, guaranteed.
You say you already sent them an email thanking them? Well, that's nice but it doesn't really count.
I'm not saying email should never be used to thank people. In fact, we've all done it and we will continue to do it. It's too easy not to.
Yes, you're very busy. It takes time to write notes. In fact, it just might make your hand hurt since you're probably so used to typing on a keyboard or dicating into a machine.
If you think about it a moment, the people who helped you were also busy; yet they found the time to guide you, listen to you, write a letter on your behalf, etc. Imagine the ripple effect your handwritten card would have on them. It would mean much more because they know you're a busy person. Wouldn't you agree?
Just a simple note will suffice:

"Joe, It's been many years since I've seen you but I never forgot what you did for me when I was towards the end of my career at ABC company. You helped me get started with my new speaking career by hiring a professional speech coach and writing a recommendation letter. Thank you Joe. Warm regards, Carl."

I'll bet "Joe" was very surprised to hear from "Carl" since so many years went by. There are no statue of limitations on thank you notes. Hint: This actually happened to me several years ago and someone is about to get a surprise card from me this week!
Here are some rules I go by when I want my thank you's to really count:
  • substitute handwritten notes in place of email for significant deeds
  • use blank cards (not the preprinted ones where you sign your name and be done with it)
  • insert your business card (especially if it has a photo on it - they'll love it!)
  • send a card to each family member and watch their eyebrows go up-they'll never expect it
  • keep it short and sweet-don't blubber your eyes out and cause the ink to run amok
  • it's never too late to send a thank you card (I just wrote one to my fifth grade teacher from over 30 years ago)

When you get into the habit of expressing gratitude in a heartfelt way, you subconsciously attract more of what you thanked them for. You bring into your life more people who will help you, especially in times of adversity. More importantly, you become more apt to give back and help others, allowing the universal cycle of giving and receiving to continue unfettered.

Food for thought: Imagine you are going to spend a lot of time with one of two people in a professional or personal setting. One person unexpectantly sent you a personal note of thanks. The other did not. They are both of equal background, similiar personalities, etc. Which one would you choose to spend time with?
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Monday, June 12, 2006

Faith Realignment- It's How You See It

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Despite the title of today's entry, isn't about religion. It is about consciously setting the tone for the day when we wake up.

We have a choice on what we allow into our minds at any time. Perhaps you have pressing financial, business, personal and other challenges going on in your life right now. Sometimes these events make for a difficult start of your day.

Upon waking up, your mind is immediately focused on the challenges ahead and your stomach is flooded with dread. Perhaps you're thinking about how you were passed over for a promotion last week, the large overdraft in your checking account as a result of an unexpected expense, a serious medical situation in your family or how someone abused your trust yesterday. Ever been there at one time or another? I have.

And it "ain't easy."

What helps me is knowing that I am doing just fine at that very moment despite the difficult challenges. I remind myself that I am still alive and healthy with a roof over my head. I have my family and friends who I can count on. I also know I will have breakfast, lunch and dinner that day. If I need to travel somewhere, my trusty Honda will get me there. No matter how tough things become, this line of thinking has always gotten me through.

Getting up in the morning and adjusting the mind set is what I call "faith alignment." It's about having faith that no matter what is happening, it's only temporary. It shall pass.

And you know what? It always does!

Another thing that helps is knowing that there is a lesson behind every challenge. I ask myself "what can I learn from this experience?" rather than "why is this happening to me?"

For instance, I learned two things from the barber situation. One was exercise in self control and the other was acting on my intuition without any evidence to support it.

We have a choice in how we deal with adversity in its midst. Have you ever heard of the expression, "love your enemies?" Well, I admit I still have a long way to go on that but I did manage to say to the barber, "I hope you feel better" on the way out and truly meant it from the bottom of my heart. I chose to write about it in my blog exactly the way it happened, without any form of judgement, which I found therapeutic. I learned how to remain still in another person's firestorm and not be pulled into the drama. And finally, I learned that because I brushed aside my intuition to leave the barbershop without any supporting evidence, I paid the price for ignoring it.

Know this: adversity is a matter of perception. It is how you perceive things that will determine the final outcome. You can chose to go around and wail to those poor souls who will listen to you or you can make a decision to perceive it as a series of lessons to be learned. With the latter, you come away knowing that the adversial experiences are meant to prepare you for the future in some way, form or shape. Rather than bemoan your situation, you actually become thankful for the experience. Imagine how much better you'll feel when you get up in the morning if you had that line of thinking. Instead of dreading what's ahead, you'll be looking forward to tackling the day's challenges with vigor and enthuasism!

I'm not saying you shouldn't be upset and repress your thoughts. Certainly you should voice your feelings, speak the truth and get it out of your system. Maybe even stand up to your attackers and risk personal injury. But there is a difference having a constructive attitude versus a destructive attitude.

Why not just keep "buggering on"? (Source: Winston Churchill)

Food for thought: Are you experiencing adversity right now? If so, how are you choosing to perceive it? Have you given yourself a faith realignment of sorts?
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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Adversity at the Barber Shop

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Sometimes adversity hits you right between the eyes when you least expect it, especially when getting a haircut at the local barbershop.

The other day I decided to check out this place for the first time since it was just down the road from my home. I had been meaning to visit it for some quite time and finally had the chance to stop in. If I liked this barber, I could end up being a regular customer for it was much more convenient to go his place than to drive so far out of the way for a haircut.

Parking directly in front of the red, white and blue barber pole, I walked up to the door and poked my head in to ask how much he charged and whether credit cards were accepted. My plan was to go to the ATM machine if necessary.

"It's $12 - cash only," the pleasant barber said.

"Ok, I don't have any cash on me so I'll return shortly."

Twenty minutes later, I was back. He was already working with another customer so I found myself a seat in the "waiting room" and leafed through day-old newspapers and ancient magazines. In between pages, I quietly made some observations. I watched how the barber was interacting with the customer, the manner in which he was cutting hair and the way he handled himself. Although nothing appeared out of the ordinary, something told me to leave and go elsewhere.

But I don't have any reason to, I silently protested.

It's not too often that I ignore my intuition but I did on that day and now I wish I hadn't.

Climbing into the chair, I told him that I was deaf, something I customarily do when dealing with new people so that they are made aware of my lip-reading situation. We discussed which clipper he would be using on what was left of my hair. The barber patiently explained and showed me three different-sized clippers. We decided Clipper #3 would be the best and if it turned out not to be "enough of a cut," we'd go down to Clipper #2. Yeah, right.

"Sounds good," I said.

Halfway through the haircut, the phone rang and he answered it. It wasn't long before he was snipping away again.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed he wasn't smiling after he got off the phone but didn't think anything of it. Perhaps he was in pain from the hernia operation (he volunteered this information earlier). Apparently it was his first day back to work after spending 3 days at the hospital. Of course, I empathized with him saying things like, "That must hurt," "How did it happen?" etc. etc.

When he was three quarters of the way done, I surveyed myself in the mirror and made an innocent comment.

"You know, I was just thinking we'll probably end up cutting it shorter," I said pleasantly.

In a flash, his face transformed into a mass of contorted fury. His blue eyes were ice cold. The veins on his neck were straining to pop. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

A miniature Hulk Hogan!

Slamming down the clippers on the counter behind me, he fidgeted and paced back and forth. I could see an explosion coming. It came less than 2 seconds later:


For the first time since setting afoot in the tiny barbershop, I felt ominous energy emanating from this man. I tried to ignore it, still in denial of what was developing before my very eyes.

Believe it or not, I was so shell-shocked at this sudden outburst I actually thought he was joking at first. My survival instincts hadn't yet kicked in. I looked at him in the mirror and smiled, thinking it would calm him down.

Big mistake.

Pointing at me, he said, "Don't you laugh at me!"

Dripping with contempt, he shouted, "DON'T YOU LAUGH AT ME!"

A shiver ran up and down my spine. Because of the close proximity to this man, I began to fear for my physical safety. There were just the two of us - it couldn't have happened at a worst time. God was my only witness.

My first thought was to defend myself and say, I'm not laughing at you. But I thought the better of it. Perhaps he was looking to be provoked. A million other thoughts ran through my befuddled mind:

Get up off the chair, rip off the "bib," shove the $12 in his face and get the heck out of the there.

Stand up, point my finger at him and say something like "What's your problem? I'm not going to pay for this *&^)(*#!% customer service. Who do you think you are?"

$%^&^&*(*^%#$#$#!!!! And then storm out of the place.

No, no, no, it isn't worth it. You stay still, remain calm and pay for the haircut. Then leave peacefully and mention something Dale Carnegie would say on the way out.

I knew I could not indulge in the first three fantasies unless I wanted a mug shot for the first time in my life. I went with my gut feeling on the last one, probably the best decision I made that day.

After calming down somewhat, he snappily asked if I wanted it cut shorter. His eyes were challenging me.

Fighting with all my might to remain calm, I nonchalantly said, "No, it looks good, thanks."

Sliding off the chair, I suddenly remembered a chapter out of the book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" and said, "I hope you feel better." No reason to give this man a reason to go berserk before I had a chance to get out safely.

He came back fast and furious: "I sure hope so and I don't care if you ever come back again!"

Another round of shock thundered through my body and more thoughts came alive, none of which are fit for print anywhere.

Reaching into my wallet, I paid the $12, turned around and walked out as calmly as I could. I fought the urge to look back. Gosh, how the ego wants to help!

If he said anything behind my back, I didn't hear it. There ARE advantages to being deaf!

Walking briskly to my car, I looked down at my hands. They were shaking. My heart was beating like a jackhammer. I was still reeling in shock and thinking, What on earth just happened?

How would you have handled this kind of adversity?

Food for thought: James Buckham said "Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before." (especially if it happened at the local barbershop!!!!!!)
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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Satisfying Unfaltering Human Hunger

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One of my favorite bloggers, "Life Beyond Code" just posted an inspirational column profiling three people to over 200,000 subscribers around the world. You can see it by clicking here.

Did you see anyone familiar?

I was beside myself with joy!!


Because Rajesh Setty, author of "Life Beyond Code" (a must read even if you're not in the information technology business), did something so profound, so simple that caused a ripple effect.

You see, Rajesh knows the secret of dealing with others. He just gave 3 people the greatest gift in the world and it didn't cost him a cent.

What did he do?

He satisfied a very basic human need. He gave 3 people recognition for their accomplishments. According to Dale Carnegie, recognizing other people is the secret to making friends and influencing others. And Rajesh knows exactly how to do that!

Abraham Lincoln once said "everybody likes a compliment." The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. Dale Carnegie said "the desire for feeling of importance is one of the chief distinquishing differences between mankind and animals."

Good leaders know how to offer encouragement and appreciation to people that work for them. The leader who knows how to satisfy other people's hunger for recognition will hold the world in the palm of his/her hand. There's a wonderful chapter in Carnegie's book entitled ''He Who Can Do This Has the Whole World with Him. He Who Cannot Walks a Lonely Way."

Translation: If you can find a way to recognize people for their strengths and show them appreciation, you will have many friends and followers. If you cannot, you will be alone - so very alone.

Rajesh has just become another individual in my life who I chose to REMEMBER who helped me along the way just by mentioning my name in his influential blogger!

Thank you Rajesh, I am deeply grateful for your gift of recognition!

Food for thought: Think about it. Who do you think will rally around and give you support in times of adversity? People you appreciate and recognize or people you ignore?
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

2006 Nat'l Air Transportation Assoc Scholarship

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From time to time I will post things on "Adversity University" that may be unrelated to overcoming adversity. I'm doing that on purpose to make this blog a little more enjoyable, unpredictable and inspiring. And yes, I will showcase some of my achievements because if I can achieve the impossible, so can you!

When I started instrument flight training at American Winds Flight Academy here in Akron, OH, I decided to apply for a scholarship on a whim to help pay for expenses. My thinking at that time was, "you never know."

Well, based on that "you never know" thinking, I ended up winning a $2500 scholarship from the National Air Transportation Association!

It was the first time in my life I had ever won anything. No matter how many times I put my business card in the basket at the local restaurant (hoping to win a free dinner) or applied for a scholarship, I never managed to "win anything".... until now.

That's why I was pleasantly surprised to receive a letter from The National Air Transportation Association announcing me as one of their 2006 scholarship recipients. They even posted my photo and bio on their website - click here (scroll down the page until you see Stephen J. Hopson).

Thanks goes to the following people who wrote a recommendation letter for me: Jason Barton, Kim Stubenvoll, Terri Couls and Rick Billington. Thank you!!

Contrary to what you might think, I won't see any of this money. It will go straight to the above mentioned flight school and deservedly so. They believed in me when no one else would.

This goes to prove that when you have a dream and you have no idea how you will pay for it, the dream will manifest no matter how many obstacles you will have to overcome.

If you have a passion for your dream, are willing to entertain the possibilities, act on your intuition and remember who helped you along the way, the universe will provide. Trust me! If it can happen to me, it can happen to you too!
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Monday, June 05, 2006

Blizzard Housecleaning

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About five years ago I was driving from New York to Michigan with a friend when we suddenly found ourselves battling mother nature at its worst. How we survived was a direct testimony to the power of prayer to get us through a harrowing experience. It happened in the middle of winter.

See if you can find within the story which part of the HEAR Principle was used (Have a passion, Entertain the possibilities, Act on your intuition, Remember who helped you).


We were on our way from New York to Michigan and had driven seven hundred miles without incident when my friend and I decided to stop at a gas station in a tiny rural town of Canada. It was time for coffee and a quick trip to the bathroom. Climbing out of the car, I looked up at the sky. It was dark and ominous, almost foreboding. The air was uncomfortably damp, and it was drizzling lightly.

I went to the rest room and scurried back to the car. Even though the gas tank was only half-empty, I felt it best to refill it. Normally, I would have waited until the fuel gauge flashed me a warning sign. However, I filled it up, paid for it with a credit card, and hurried back to the freeway.

To my delight, it began to snow. But in the blink of an eye, it swirled down harder and harder, sharply reducing visibility. In a matter of minutes it was nightfall, and I was forced to slow the car to a crawl. My stomach tightened for the first time that night.

Roads were fast turning to ice, and the wind blew harder with each passing minute. It felt as if I were piloting a small aircraft through turbulence. We had to find a hotel, quickly.

Eventually my friend and I saw what we both thought was a sign for hotel accommodations right before an exit. The blinding storm made it difficult for us to see it clearly, but we decided to take a chance and got off the freeway.

About a mile down the road, we spotted a lone car up ahead of us. Thinking they were from the area, we followed them, but after a few minutes, we realized they were lost too. We had no choice but to go back the other way.

Turning the car around on the narrow two-lane road was no easy feat. The wind was howling menacingly all around us. The possibility of being windswept into the ditches was real—very real. With the greatest concentration I could muster, I took a deep breath and swung the car back and forth, inches at a time, to turn around.

Suddenly the rear wheels spun like crazy.

It was a sickening feeling. Despite the danger of sinking even deeper into the snow, I continued to rock the car until the wheels finally caught on and the car miraculously lurched forward.

Thank God.

We went the other way, my heart pounding wildly. There was no sign of life on the ghostly white landscape. My friend convinced me to get back on the freeway and perhaps find an overpass for temporary shelter until the storm blew over.

I looked at the gas meter. Incredibly, it was still full.

Hunching over the steering wheel and squinting my eyes, I tried to see through the howling blizzard to find the ramp, but it was nearly impossible to see where I was going.

In the midst of all this, somehow I remembered I was carrying in my right pocket a small stone with FAITH inscribed across the surface. My right hand shook as I reached down to touch the smooth, polished rock. Wrapping my hand around the stone, I closed my eyes and mumbled, “Dear God, please get us back on the freeway. Please guide us home now.”

When I opened my eyes, my mouth dropped in astonishment. We had made it to the freeway entrance! How we got there, I’ll never know.

Clutching the steering wheel, I slowly drove up the icy ramp, completely relying on the small yellow reflectors shimmering in the glare of the car’s headlights. Finally back on the freeway, we continued the treacherous journey, driving at a snail’s pace for the longest time.

A few hours later we saw several beams of light in the distance, resembling a small, bustling city. I breathed a sigh of relief.

However, as we got closer, we saw it wasn’t a city --- it was a bunch of cars and trucks stuck in the ditches (on both sides of the road) with their headlights illuminating and crisscrossing the snowy night sky!

At this point, past and current problems totally vanished from my mind. I found myself mentally forgiving everyone who had “wronged” me in the past. I released all my resentments, anger and ego-related issues. My biggest concern that night was to get home alive. Never before had I done so much mental housecleaning in one night!

Nine hours later our weary, bleary eyes saw the most beautiful sign we had ever seen:


We were home.

Who says God doesn’t know how to give you a good cause for mental housecleaning?

He even paid for the gas. The charge never showed up on my credit card!
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Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Difference Between Ordinary and Extraordinary

NOTICE: We've Moved! Please click here to be taken to the new location!!

I found out about Naveen Lakkur's wonderful entry in his blogger about the difference between being ordinary and extraordinary. He writes how all it takes is a little "extra" effort to achieve our dreams and stand up to adversity when it comes.

And boy did adversity hit this guy from India!

Due to an accident, he lost sight in both eyes and was blind for several months (which, in his own words, was living hell). Everyone wrote him off and he almost gave up. But after many surgeries, he's recovered and now has partial vision in both eyes. Naveen has gone on to play an instrumental role in three successful business start-ups.

You know what I say? Kudos to Naveen!

You can read about how he distinquishes between ordinary and extraordinary by clicking here.
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