One Green Blood's State of Mind

Monday Motivator: Mike Rowe’s 12-Point Pledge

By Scott Westerman
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“I believe that I am the product of my choices — not my circumstances.” ~ Mike Rowe

Mike Rowe has become a well known personality as a result of hosting “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel. He’s also a terrific writer with a great sense of humor and some laser beam insights into life. Mike’s 12 Point Pledge has been in circulation again recently on the Internet. It contains some gems of wisdom that are worth sharing.

Here it is with my annotations in italics.

  1. I believe that I have won the greatest lottery of all time. I am alive. I walk the Earth. I live in America. Above all things, I am grateful. For all our faults, America is still a land of opportunity. It may feel like we are living in the most challenging of times, but I always remember that challenges are opportunities for greatness, disguised as problems.
  2. I believe that I am entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more. I also understand that “happiness” and the “pursuit of happiness” are not the same thing. They’re not? Shoot! So we’re not entitled to happiness. But we’re entitled to working as hard as we can to achieve it? I’m down with that. Yes, we are not entitled to happiness, but each of us have the power to pursue it. Those who persevere have the best chance of finding it.
  3. I believe there is no such thing as a “bad job.” I believe that all jobs are opportunities, and it’s up to me to make the best of them. We’ve all had jobs we didn’t like, bosses who probably didn’t deserve to be our bosses and have found ourselves stuck in unpleasant situations. That’s life. Deal with it. But the ability to change our situation is ultimately ours and ours alone. 
  4. I do not “follow my passion.” I bring it with me. I believe that any job can be done with passion and enthusiasm. In other words, our jobs don’t define us. We define what kind of worker we are in any given profession. I love this one. If you’ve ever seen the dynamic of a room change when a certain person walks in, you understand the power of passion. Our true assignment is to discover our PURPOSE and vector toward it with all the passion we possess.
  5. I deplore debt, and do all I can to avoid it. I would rather live in a tent and eat beans than borrow money to pay for a lifestyle I can’t afford. How many of us can honestly say this? (Slowly puts hand down.) Imagine the problems that would be solved if we all felt this way (including you, Uncle Sam). It’s easy to display the trappings of success without having earned them. It’s much harder to dig yourself out of a hole when your true goal is to build a mountain. The view is much better from the top than it is at the bottom.
  6. I believe that my safety is my responsibility. I understand that being in “compliance” does not necessarily mean I’m out of danger. Safety, courtesy care and cash flow. Disney prioritizes their business in that order and you should, too.
  7. I believe the best way to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is. That is, work your you-know-what off, burn the midnight oil and all that good stuff. Don’t look for shortcuts on the path to success. This is what we MSU Alumni call a Spartan’s WIll. Work ethic and results always win in the long run.
  8. I believe the most annoying sounds in the world are whining and complaining. I will never make them. If I am unhappy in my work, I will either find a new job or find a way to be happy. And I will avoid energy sucking whiners at all costs.
  9. I believe that my education is my responsibility and absolutely critical to my success. I am resolved to learn as much as I can from whatever source is available to me. I will never stop learning and understand that library cards are free. And let me add that sustainable success is directly related to investments we make in furthering our education and increasing our knowledge. Yes, library cards are free, but there is no return unless there is an investment.
  10. I believe that I am a product of my choices — not my circumstances. I will never blame anyone for my shortcomings or the challenges I face. And I will never accept the credit for something I didn’t do. Of course! Pshhh … none of us would ever do this. The truth is, in the game of life, we’ve all been dealt different hands. But it’s up to us what we make of them. We become what we think about, who we hang out with and how we decide to spend our time. Choose your thoughts, friends and actions with care.    
  11. I understand the world is not fair, and I’m OK with that. I do not resent the success of others. Looking to the Joneses doesn’t help us. If we can turn that resentment into inspiration, we’ll be much better for it. Channel your fear and negative energy toward positive purposes. The future looks its bleakest at night and is at its brightest in the morning so make hay while the sun shines. Recharge and refocus when it doesn’t.
  12. I believe that all people are created equal. I also believe that all people make choices. Some choose to be lazy. Some choose to sleep in. I choose to work my butt off. Amen. I’ll start waking up early … tomorrow. Everyone of us would probably much rather sleep late, go home early and do as little as possible to maintain our lifestyle. It doesn’t work that way. If you’re not improving the value you add to your friendships and your business, you’re at risk of losing both.

Like most wisdom, Mike’s 12 points are common sense and time tested. If you apply them to your career and toward nurturing your most cherished relationships, the law of cause and effect will take over. And you will reap what you sow.

Have a great week!

Feedback always welcome to Scott@spartanology.com

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Monday Motivator – Doing the Right Thing

By Scott Westerman

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“The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour.” ~Japanese Proverb

What would you do if you witnessed and act of injustice at work; something you knew was very wrong? Would you speak up? And what if those who had responsibility for dealing with it didn’t act? Would you keep speaking?

You may not ever have to face a crisis of conscience of the magnitude being discussed this week well beyond the boundaries of State College. But what if you did?

Robert Brault’s words resonate here. “You do not wake up one morning a bad person.  It happens by a thousand tiny surrenders of self-respect to self-interest”

Our character is constantly challenged by those who would seek to benefit from the misfortune of others, by those who’s self interest trumps common sense, by those who do not wish us well. How we choose to respond to the people who would chip away at our ethical armor either strengthens or weakens us.

It all comes down to doing the right thing.

Character is defined by how we react to what we see. It’s easy to let someone else’s inappropriate behavior slide. After all, it’s not ours, it’s theirs. But to paraphrase  Dr. King says, “Our own character begins to crumble the day we don’t speak out about things that matter.” If we personally witness injustice and don’t do something about it, we are accomplices.

This isn’t about arguing with an opposing football fan who calls you names. There are many tales told by idiots (in the words of Shakespeare), “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Ignore them.

And it isn’t about rage. You will cross paths with many angry people. There is pain behind this facade. Diffuse their anger and try to help alleviate their suffering.

Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what the right thing is, especially when you may be swimming against the current. Your heart will usually point you in the right direction. Listen to it, feel the fear and do the right thing anyway.

Everything we do is analyzed by the armchair experts. The high-minded may unfairly judge you. Contemplate all feedback. Integrate what is useful and let go of the rest. And be careful when you judge. We are all imperfect people struggling with our own demons. Righteousness is always clear in the rear view mirror.

Whatever our intellectual, spiritual or political beliefs may be, there is one thing we should all share in common: the resolution to act in the face of injustice.

Keep speaking up until you are heard. Keep pushing until you begin to effect change.

What are your ethics? What are the principles for which you would be willing to sacrifice a job or a friendship? Think about these ahead of time. Be prepared. You will be tested. Remove yourself from the unacceptable. Protect the young and the innocent. Speak out for those who can’t speak out for themselves.

Nobody is perfect. If you do the wrong thing, and you will, make it right as soon as possible. Bad judgement isn’t a problem, until it becomes a pattern.

Our ultimate destiny is determined by our daily deeds, especially those things we do when nobody else is watching. It’s easy to talk the talk. It’s much harder to walk the walk. Have compassion for the weaknesses of others, but model and expect accountability. History proves, again and again, that not doing what is right in pursuit of personal achievement ultimately leads to self destruction.

Time wounds all heels.

Ponder all of this now, before you are tested. “Wisdom,” writes David Star Jordan, “is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.”

Do the right thing.

Have a great week!

Feedback always welcome to scott@spartanology.com

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Monday Motivator: Perspective

By Scott Westerman
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“Once a photograph of the earth, from the outside, is available, a new idea, a powerful as any in history will be loosed.” ~ Fred Hoyle – 1948

The Earth at Night

One year ago this week, I waded through a massive throng of people who were crammed into the 160 acre postage stamp of simulated sensation that is the Disneyland Resort in California. It was the first night that the parks were decked out for the December holidays and the regulars filled the place to envelope themselves in the cacophonic sights and sounds of manufactured experience.

Disneyland at Night

The next morning, I awoke to find a video link in my email inbox. It was “Overview”, a short film created by something called “The Planetary Collective“, detailing the reactions astronauts have to their experiences in space.

The men and women we send to the heavens are trained in objective science. They observe, measure and analyze sensory input with Vulcan logic in an attempt to understand the most fundamental laws of time and space.

It may be surprising, then, to learn that the insights they bring back to earth go beyond the systematic enterprise of organized thought, into another dimension.

“When we look down at the earth from space,” ISS Astronaut Ron Garan tells us, “we see this amazing, indescribably beautiful planet that looks like a living breathing organism. but we also see something that is extremely fragile.”

Aurora

From a distance they see the majesty of the aurora, the small flashes of light in the middle of a thunderstorm and the deep, fundamental colors of land and sea. They also see the impact of erosion, deforestation, wildfires and air pollution. And they develop a visceral realization of how all life on earth is shielded by a thin layer of atmosphere with the thickness of a planetary contact lens. This permeable skin is as sensitive to our earthly actions as is our own to the touch of a burning match.

The common sensation that these celestial explorers experience is a sharpened awareness of how every individual action impacts our future as a species, for better or worse.

My friend Kevin Epling lost a son to suicide in the wake of a bullying experience. Kevin believes that those who do nothing in the face of tyranny and injustice can be just as guilty as those who perpetrate it. We are either working toward making the world stronger, better, safer, or we are contributing to it’s destruction.

There is no in-between.

As we watch the my-way or the highway culture that continues to proliferate across a political and spiritual spectrum, fueled by improvised explosive devices and Internet vitriol, it’s easy to become numb and do nothing. After all, what difference can one person make in the face of a gang, a dogma, an AK-47?

Magaret Mead

In fact, one person can have a huge impact. Every movement began as an idea in the mind of a single individual who had the fire and desire to take action. Pick your favorite hero, or the worst of history’s villains. They were catalysts for change who rallied others behind them.

More than a few came to prominence because the apathy of the masses allowed their small group of warriors to dominate the stage. Some were men and women of compassion who lived their own lives as an example to others. Others fomented fear, uncertainty and doubt, attacking and silencing the opposition to get their way. Many of the ideas of the best and worst humans who have walked the earth survived beyond their own biological life spans and still impact the world today.

New influencers are emerging every day. From a distance, we may not know their names. But each of us, right now, is helping to create a world that our ancestors will either celebrate or deride.

We are one species with one destiny. We are not going to survive if we don’t think about ourselves in that way. If my fellow man suffers than I suffer. If I allow ignorance, sickness and hunger to proliferate, I am weakening the fabric of humanity.

Cloudy Earth

The earth is perfectly distanced from the sun to sustain life, notes ISS Astronaut Nicole Stott,  And after you’ve seen it from space, “..you kind of take that reverse role on that we need to be taking care of it…I don’t know how you can’t have a greater appreciation for it after you’ve seen it that way.”

Here’s a link to the “Overview” film. I hope you’ll take some time this week to watch it and to think about how powerful our own actions, or inactions, can be.

Have a great week!

Feedback always welcome to Scott@spartanology.com.

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Monday Motivator: Fatherly Advice on Love

By Scott Westerman
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“If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away..” – John Steinbeck

When our children ask us about the complicated miracle of love, our answer is often demonstrated more by our actions than by our words. Author John Steinbeck was a master of both. From “Steinbeck: A Life in Letters“, we get a glimpse at the breadth and depth of his wisdom.

Here is a letter he wrote to his teenage son, when Thom Steinbeck confessed to be desperately in love.

Thanks to Leigh Graves Wolf and Maria Popova for the inspiration.

New York
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Love,

Fa

Nothing good gets away. The hardest thing to do when you are in love is to be patient. If it’s right, it happens. If not, be who you are. And some day it will.

Have a great week!

Feedback always welcome to Scott@Spartanology.com.

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Monday Motivator: Actions and Words

By Scott Westerman
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“Be content to act, and leave the talking to others.” – Baltasar Gracián

At an away game this several years back, a Spartan Freshman crossed paths with a young woman in home town regalia. She looked at his MSU Green and White and said, “Michigan State: The school you go to when you can’t get accepted here.”

The young man thought for a moment. His ACT was 34. He earned a 3.7 grade point average in high school. A half dozen top tier institutions, including hers had wooed him with scholarship offers. But he decided to attend MSU. He liked the campus atmosphere. He was instantly welcomed as a Spartan, even before he had committed. And the university happened to have the number one program in the nation in his area of interest.

He thought about a retort, but let it pass. His mother later told me, “I wish we could fast forward 20 years and compare accomplishments.” (more…)

Monday Motivator: Pay it Forward

By Scott Westerman
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“We’re all self made. But we all had help.

Whatever success, growth or enlightenment you may have experienced in this life happened because someone helped you. The school you attended was built by someone else who cared enough about future generations to want them to have the opportunity to learn. Whatever job you may currently have is yours because someone made the decision to give you a shot. The food you eat, the place you live, the car you drive, everything about your life happened because someone else cared enough to Pay it Forward. (more…)

Monday Motivator: Watch Your Language

By Scott Westerman
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“What happens in Vegas stays on YouTube. ~Erik Qualman

Here is a tweet that a young woman posted on Twitter this past weekend.

“Everyone booing Obama at spartan stadium was one of the best things that has ever happened.”

Her political point of view is her own and she has the right to express it.

Here’s the problem: The decision maker at a company where she had applied for an internship happened to see it. And that decision maker happened to believe that booing a sitting president during his two second appearance in a public service announcement about sexual violence awareness was inappropriate.

This “Interior Designer looking for new opportunities” just lost a gig because of something she said on social media. (more…)

To Battle Goes A Spartan

To Battle Goes A Spartan
Written and Narrated by Scott Westerman

To battle goes the Spartan
To fight and never yield.
The stoic gaze, with eyes ablaze,
Adorned with sword and shield

To win is our profession.
On to victory day and night,
Opponents writhe, their dreams alive,
In colors green and white.

We answer every challenge,
Achieving every goal.
Our path is clear, we know no fear,
A warrior’s heart and soul.

To battle goes the Spartan,
And history shall proclaim,
We go right through for MSU,
To everlasting fame.

Monday Motivator: The Power of One

By Scott Westerman
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This week I was honored to participate in MSURx, sponsored by the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. Here’s the story I told about how the Power of One can become the Power of Many. Many of you may know this story. It happened almost exactly one year ago. But it’s worth retelling. (more…)

Monday Motivator: Earning the Shirt

By Scott Westerman
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Scott’s Maxim: “When you decide to connect your brand with a high performance organization, you had better act the part.”

One of the perks of my job is that I occasionally get to travel with Sparty. Only 42 individuals have ever looked at the world through Sparty’s eyes. And what they see is an advanced course in human nature. (more…)

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