Lessons from Life’s Most Precious Moments

On My 25th Anniversary Moments that Change Your Destiny

There are moments in time that change everything.

Lightning strikes a tree and alters the course of a stream causing two rivers to join.

You’ve heard of the butterfly effect, where one small creature flapping its wings and creating a small wind current causes a chain reaction that alters hemispheric weather patterns half a world away.

When I think back on my own life, there are a few of those major moments that changed my life. Had just one person, one event, one little part of the equation been altered, even the slightest bit, who knows how different my own life would be.

 

“A good life is a collection of happy moments.” -Denis Waitley

 

Pay Attention to Chance Encounters

Skip & Anita PrichardOne of those moments happened in 1990. I walked into a crowded room, looked up, and met eyes with the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Everything slowed down for a moment, the world tipping on its axis, freezing time long
enough to suspend us for a few seconds. It was immediate. It was intense. It was like nothing I’d known before.

Only a short time later, this week in 1992, she stood in the back of a church, the light flooding in through a stained-glass window behind her. She seemed to almost float there, as if she were an angel who was given the option to become fully human and was making her choice by joining her life with mine. From the front of the church, I sang to her, and she walked up the aisle and then we sang a duet together. Our lives forever changed. Yes, it was exactly like one of those Hallmark movies, the story line either inspiring or sickeningly sweet, depending on your perspective.

 

“Forever is composed of nows.” -Emily Dickinson

 

Harness the Power of Now

Moments change us. Looking back, I realize the power of the moment, the importance of noticing, the beauty of mindful observation, the strength of awareness.fullsizerender-2-2

So many people who were there with us on that day twenty-five years ago are gone:

  • Our matron of honor and my best man that day were my grandparents. They were so surprised and honored to be asked. It was one of the highlights of their lives together.
  • Others are gone, too: aunts, friends, my other grandparents, who were so gracious that day. My grandmother looked in the camera and thanked my wife “for being one of us now.”

Time marches forward. I’m now that guy that can tell others how to make a marriage last twenty-five years.

There are other moments that stand out:

Buying our first home together. How we managed, I’m not sure, but we did on a shoestring budget. We remember our near panic when we received that first utility bill, wondering how we would pay it.

The birth of our daughter in 1997. We recall every single minute. My wife’s elated cry out to me when her water broke. Hours later, my daughter surprising the nurses by tracking me by my voice.

A health scare. Only months afterward, we were surprised again with another altering moment. I’ll never forget the doctor coming out, telling me that my wife had breast cancer, and that she was about to come out of anesthesia. We would have to tell her together. It was advanced enough to require radiation and chemotherapy. She lost her hair but never her spirit. In a few months’ time, her faith began to sprout faster than her hair, and she has never wavered in her belief.

 

“It is in our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” -Aristotle Onassis

 

Life-threatening disease. Years later, we learned she had another cancer. This one even more insidious, threatening once again to steal her away, to shatter the glass of our lives. We’ve learned to pray more in these moments. No one prays in good times quite the same as in challenging times. We don’t know the why behind them. Perhaps God uses them to get our attention, perhaps because we’re finally still enough to see what is always there, and yet we miss it as we race by the important on the way to the meaningless.

Fortunately, she once again beat cancer. This one showed us the incredible blessing of friends who were there for us through every moment.

 

“Flowers grow out of dark moments.” -Corita Kent

 

Then there are the career moments. When she left hers to fight cancer and stay home to raise our daughter. When my promotions started. Her belief in me fueled my success. From the outside, my job promotions looked miraculous. The truth behind them was more struggle, political battles, and more work than you’d want to know. Nothing came easy. And it seems we moved so often that my wife put our furniture on wheels. In fact, it was our move to Columbus from Nashville that opened our eyes into how much junk we were carting around, stuff from decades ago, some of it in boxes not opened in several moves.

Leadership Lessons From the Unusual Story of Market Basket

An Uplifting Corporate Story

We often read stories about corporate greed, about slimy executives, about profits at the expense of people. These stories grab headlines because they hit a nerve and fuel anger. I have never read a story quite like We Are Market Basket: The Story of the Unlikely Grassroots Movement That Saved a Beloved Business where employees and customers joined together to demand the return of a fired CEO.

The story may be unique, but it offers powerful lessons and insight into the changing nature of how we view corporations and what we expect as employees.

I recently spoke with the authors, Daniel Korschun and Grant Welker, about this story.

 

Loyalty is Demonstrated Every Day

This story has so many powerful lessons. One of those is about loyalty. What does the We Are Market Basket teach us about loyalty?

Arthur T. and much of the senior management team have been extraordinarily successful at engendering loyalty. But loyalty at this company tends to be viewed as a two-way street. Employees – they call themselves associates – we speak with tell us that they feel loyal to the company and top management because they feel a loyalty to them from that top management. So what we see at Market Basket is people who are reaffirming their commitment to each other over time. The result is these very strong bonds we see. The lesson for managers is that you can’t expect loyalty without making a sacrifice yourself. You’re not going to gain loyalty just by changing the pay or the job responsibilities; it’s something that has to be demonstrated every day.

 

“You can’t expect loyalty without making a sacrifice yourself.”

 

A Respect for Others

Why did Arthur T. inspire such passion and loyalty?

Arthur T. is beloved as the CEO largely because he gives all associates, customers, and vendors respect. He says explicitly that no one person is special at the company, and from what we’ve seen he walks the walk.

But it’s also important to point out his place in the protest. Bringing back Arthur T. was the central demand of protesters, but in our view, they were fighting to save the company’s culture. Reinstating Arthur T. became the critical step in making sure that this New England institution continued to serve those who have known it for years, and sometimes for generations.

Market Basket 

A Lesson for Boards and Corporate Leaders

What does the Market Basket experience teach boards of directors?

Most business schools today teach that the fiduciary responsibility of directors is to look after the interests of shareholders. However, this idea is simply not supported by the corporate code in Massachusetts and many other states. The code states explicitly that the board is to be a steward of the corporation, which includes customers, employees, shareholders, and others. We need to hold our boards to this higher standard.

Leadership lesson: A corporation’s duties extend beyond shareholders to the broader community.

 

A Commitment to the Community

Are You Drowning Your Team?

Enough.

I was enjoying a quiet walk a few years ago.  As I approached one of my neighbors’ homes, I could hear a garden hose running.  Not wanting to get wet, I crossed the street.  Glancing to my right, I could see the hose running at full strength into a large planter.

The planter was overflowing and the water draining down the side and into the driveway.  A little stream was running right down the other street.  Crossing back across the street, I thought I would turn off the hose.  Clearly someone left it on by mistake.  Only a few steps later, I saw my neighbor.

 

“Sharing too much drowns a listener, destroying opportunities for growth.” -Skip Prichard

 

“Hi.  I thought I would turn off your hose,” I said.

“Oh, I’m watering everything a lot extra today,” before adding, “We’re going away for a few weeks so I wanted to water in advance.  It’s going to be really hot this week!”

“Not sure it works that way,” I said, smiling.  “I’m happy to water everything for you,” I offered.

After he declined my offer, I shook my head and continued my walk.

Lessons and Quotes from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

Powerful Lessons

If you have a teenager in your house, you have heard about The Fault in Our Stars.  Bestselling author John Green’s fifth novel has sold millions of copies, won critical praise, been translated into 47 languages, and the movie adaptation is now in theaters everywhere.  The book and the movie have captivated audiences of all ages.

9780525478812A few years ago, I picked up a manuscript and began reading it (this was before the official release).  I wasn’t too far into the book when I realized its power.  It’s a story about two teenagers, told from sixteen year old Hazel’s point of view.  She is dealing with a cancer diagnosis and meets Gus, another teenager, in a cancer support group.  It explores many powerful life lessons.  No matter how brief our time may be here, we have the ability to live it to its fullest.

I had the opportunity to interview John soon after the book was released.  It was so new that he didn’t want to give away the plot.  In this interview, hear John Green:

  • Explain how he writes authentically from a 16 year old girl’s perspective
  • How he and his brother work to combat “world suck”
  • Whether he has a secret plan on social media (he has millions of devoted followers)
  • Why he once licked a cat
  • And, in one of my favorite answers ever, John did give a true “elevator” speech about the book (must see)

 

Life Lessons

 

I often write about leadership, success, and life lessons.  All of John’s books are filled with quotes on these important life themes.  Here are a few lessons from this book:

Today matters.

Search for love.

No matter how much time we have, we can impact others and the world.

Life is a struggle.

Find your authentic voice.

We all face challenges. Who we become is often based on how we handle what comes our way.

Enjoy the little things.

In a storm, you can handle much more than you think possible.

Wisdom is possible at any age.

 

John Green Quotes

 

Here are a few John Green quotes that will likely have you reflecting from this book and a few of his others:

 

“The marks humans leave are too often scars.” –John Green

 

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” –John Green

 

“We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken.” –John Green

 

“Pain is like a fabric: The stronger it is, the more it’s worth.” –John Green

 

“You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.” –John Green

 

“If you don’t imagine, nothing ever happens at all.” –John Green

 

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.” –John Green

 

“Books are so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.” –John Green

 

“Youth is counted sweetest by those who are no longer young.” –John Green

 

“We are greater than the sum of our parts.” –John Green

5 Customer Service Lessons from the Department of Motor Vehicles

 

You can learn from every situation.  Whether it was an incredible service experience that makes you a raving fan or whether it is one where you’re left shaking your head.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to celebrate a milestone with my daughter.  It was time for her to obtain her driver’s permit.  She had finished a weeklong driver’s education course, passed the written test, obtained all of the paperwork, and we had dutifully filled out the forms.

Everything was ready.

Now it was time for us to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), get her picture taken, and obtain the permit.  I knew it would take time.  That’s the nature of the DMV.  I figured an hour to an hour and a half max.

Instead, we quickly realized that getting the permit was going to be about as difficult as Frodo making it safely to Mordor.

All of us have had the same shared, miserable experience at the DMV.  In every state I’ve lived in, it’s the same.  We just forget, don’t we?  We finally get what we need, and then we hope that we never have to go back.

Our experience was even worse than what I recalled from before.  Nearly five hours later, we finally emerged with the permit.  All of the waiting for just five minutes at the counter.

We were exhausted, but we also were laughing.  That’s what we do when we are beyond frustrated.  Jim Rohn used to say, “Learn to turn frustration into fascination.”  When I’m terribly frustrated, I try to heed his advice.

 

Learn to turn frustration into fascination. -Jim Rohn

 

Here’s what I jotted down in my notes during that first hour:

I’m fascinated:

  •             That this operation is so inefficient.
  •             That no one has redone this entire system.
  •             That we blindly put up with it because we feel powerless.
  •             That leaders haven’t emerged to fix it.
  •             That they aren’t listening to suggestions for change.

 

After two hours, I was no longer fascinated.  That’s when I go to my second step.  I look for customer service or leadership lessons.  That worked for the next hour.

What business lessons can we learn from the DMV?

From my notes:

Set expectations.

At the DMV, they don’t give an estimated time until you will be served. Failing to set expectations leads to disappointment.

Lesson:  Whether running a business or serving on a team, it’s important to set expectations—and then keep them.