Chasing Happiness

On August 29, 2016, in The Pass It On Podcast, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman

From 2012, here’s one of my most requested messages about, defining, bracketing and “chasing happiness”. It’s a good shot in the arm for anyone starting something new, or perhaps assessing the current chapter you’re writing right now in this great adventure we call life.

“In essence, our lives are about defining, bracketing and chasing… Happiness.”

(From my keynote at the 2012 Choices Conference in Grand Rapids.)  As I write this I’m freshly returned from a trip to Asia. 48 hours ago, I was standing on a street corner in the center of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Here you’ll find an example of nearly every nuance in the broad spectrum of humanity. Men and women in $1,200 suits share the same sidewalk with burquas and Nike t-shirts. Every form of commerce is in play here from oil executives and government ministers to prostitutes and peddlers of Rolex knock offs. The obese and the underfed, the well educated and the uneducated, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Confucians and I suppose more than a few atheists, all breathing the same air, existing elbow to elbow.

What, I wondered, do all of these people share in common? When you peel away the Maslow pyramid and get to the essence of these millions of concurrent lives, what is the common question that is in the back of everyone’s mind?

So I decided to find out.

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Mike Sadler’s Six Maxims

On July 31, 2016, in in Memorium, Spartanology, The Spartan Life, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman
MikeSadlerYou learn a lot about a person when they are thrown into the public eye. Notoriety and achievement require a higher standard of behavior built on a firm foundation of character, work ethic and compassion. Such were the elements that defined the all too short life of Mike Sadler.

Mike and I both came to Michigan State University in 2010. I had the opportunity to watch his progression, as an athlete, an academician and as a human being. We often found ourselves in front of the same audiences.

He always spoke of the importance of an education, setting goals that stretched you, doing the hard work to achieve them, cultivating a compassionate heart and taking the road less traveled with fellow travelers who shared your ethical outlook. He also loved to have fun and maintained an insatiable inquisitiveness that turned every challenge in life into a fascinating puzzle to be solved.

A common theme among those who eulogized him was that this young man crammed more living into his four and twenty years than most accomplish in sixty. How did he do it?

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Prioritizing People Who Care

On July 17, 2016, in Monday Motivator, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman

Listen to an audio version of this message.

“Prioritize people who care, in the end they will be the only ones there.”

Giving hearts can be trapped in un-productive relationships. The flip side of compassion can sometimes be a tendency to hang on to someone when you should be letting them go.

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Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

On June 26, 2016, in The Pass It On Podcast, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman

We got an email at work this week warning us to stay away from the legendary Brody Square dining facility at Michigan State. There are several thousand Methodists on campus for the church’s annual convention and, as I found out when I ventured to Brody last night, the place was jammed.

So I took the email’s advice and went to Snyder Phillips tonight. As I was walking in, a collegue was walking out. “500 kids just came in there for dinner,” he said. “You’re about 5 minutes too late.”

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The Father Factor

On June 19, 2016, in The Pass It On Podcast, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman
The “Real” Scott Westerman will be 91 on July 10th. I’m the third in a line that started with his dad back in 1895. I’ve always felt richly blessed to have been born into a family with a pair of extraordinary parents. And since Sunday is Father’s Day, decided to look back over a conversation I had with dad a couple of years back about what lessons he learned from his father. I present them here, not necessarily as recommendations, but solely for your consideration.

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On Being the Change

On June 14, 2016, in Spartanology, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman
Begin every day asking yourself: What can I do today to make the world better than it is right now? What can I do to inspire the disaffected, the fearful, the ignorant and the hungry to manifest a brighter future? What act of kindness can I perform that might convince someone to choose a life of service instead of an act of self destruction? Once you’ve thoughtfully answered these questions, go beyond talking about it. Be the change and act.



Do Something

On June 12, 2016, in The Pass It On Podcast, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman
In the wake of the horrific tragedy in Orlando this weekend, let’s revisit one of my most requested essays on action. I’ve updated it with some added insights that I hope will be helpful.

More Love and Less HateWhen the news about the senseless shootings in Orlando began to inundate Facebook today, a graphic quickly appeared. It was a beautifully created piece of art with the words “More Love. Less Hate” on a black background above a rainbow of hearts, the red one on the far left was broken. At the bottom was the hashtag #PrayForOrlando.

I remembered something that Pope Francis said about that. “Prayer that doesn’t lead to concrete action.. is a fruitless and incomplete prayer.”

In an era where we can instantly respond to anything with a few key strokes and the “send” button, give me the person who will actually do something.

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On May 26, 2016, in The Pass It On Podcast, by Scott Westerman

By Scott Westerman

This week some thoughts on Memorial Day and a look back on a speech I gave to the graduating class at Michigan State University’s Army ROTC graduation in 2013.

As I record this we’re preparing to celebrate Memorial Day in the United States. A time when we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend the American Dream. We live in an age where sacrifice, delayed gratification and honorable service are rare. Helicopter parents, entitlement and a me-first attitude seem to pervade our society. Kindness, respect and compassion for those who suffer are ingredients that are often missing from human character these days. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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By Scott Westerman
I had lunch this week with two of my Spartan alumni who hold the distinction of being the only husband and wife team, to my knowledge, to have been selected to serve on the Michigan State University Homecoming Court. At MSU, the Homecoming Court is anything but a beauty contest. It’s members are representative of the combination of academic excellence, leadership and selfless service that defines the best dimensions of the Spartan Spirit.

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By Scott Westerman

Today, I had the honor of presenting to an Interdisciplinary Forum on Aging Research. My topic was engaging alumni in the late afternoon of their Spartan Lives. Each of us had to keep it short: 5 minutes or less, which was just about perfect for my message. Here’s a video and the full text of my remarks.

As we enter the late afternoon of our lives, our thoughts increasingly turn to the legacy we hope to leave behind. Time seems to compress. Terms that used to apply to people on the periphery of our existence, words like cancer and death, strike closer and closer to home.

We start to take stock of the people, places, experiences and things that have been most important to us.

We focus on enduring friendships and may seek to reconnect with people from our past who may have drifted into our peripheral vision. What is truly important starts to clarify in our minds eye and we prioritize the time that remains accordingly.

It is in the midst of this ongoing process of being that we come to value our university experience, perhaps forging a deeper emotional connection to those things about our Spartan lives that, with the context of time, emerge as defining chapters of our personal narrative.

This is an important dimension of our world at the MSU Alumni Association. We’re always there, at traditional gatherings on football Saturdays, cross generational experiences like Grandparents University, unique overseas study tours targeted to this well seasoned demographic, and the ability to reconnect alumni with missing-in-action friends that even Facebook can’t find; these are a few of the ways we tend our flock, reinforcing the value a lifelong connection to Michigan State and to Spartans everywhere.

From the moment we arrived on campus, we were exposed to a set of values that define a Spartan’s Will: Exposure to new vistas of wisdom, a culture of community service and philanthropy that radiates outward from East Lansing to every corner of the world. And the high standards of personal accountability and performance that inevitably lead Spartans to the upper echelons of whatever enterprise with which they choose to align their personal brand.

With age comes a deeper respect for our past, acceptance of an uncertain future, and a heightened awareness of the importance of making the most of every present moment.

This drives an alumni engagement strategy that opens our doors wide to macro audiences, while continually focusing on micro segments, serving the unique interests and needs of small clusters of Spartans who are celebrating common milestones, struggling with similar challenges, and who are willing and able to share their knowledge with current and future students, doing what Spartans do best: taking stock of our abundance and passing it on.

Spartans naturally share some of the prosperity that Michigan State helped to make possible so that future generations might enjoy a Spartan life like ours. Just as we have encouraged Spartans to turn to their MSU family in time of need, we believe that paying it forward is an act that alumni will undertake willingly and generously when the time is right.

We see it every day, in the callused hands of the thousands of Spartans who participate in the Global Day of Service every Spring, in the words of accomplished graduates who return to the classroom to lecture about their adventures to the current generation of students, in the welcoming arms that are always extended to Spartans who find themselves transplanted to new jobs in new communities, and through the abundant conduit of financial investment that has become essential to offset the diminishing public support of higher education.

If we’ve done our job effectively, the Spartan spirit is one of the first things a young mind can perceive and a Spartan embrace will be part and parcel of every significant event from that moment on.

At the MSU Alumni Association, we believe that living the Spartan Life is a spiritual practice. And with the passage of time, our memories of the Spartan encounters we’ve had, the Spartan friendships we’ve enjoyed and the rich experiences that our MSU connections have made possible, emerge as some of the most meaningful and rewarding moments of our great adventure.

And the most enduring gift we can give to those who follow in our footsteps is to gather everything we’ve learned and everything we’ve earned, and pass it on.