Little Lessons

Growth is Uncomfortable

Posted by Mark Fallon

Apr 26, 2019 5:01:00 AM

The_Bench
“So goes discovery: unless you know your own ignorance, you won’t recognize when something truly novel is right before your eyes.” – Nick Pyenson

I don’t know anyone with fond memories of their adolescence. For most of us, it was a period of uncomfortable change. Our bodies transforming into young adults while struggling with new social structures and relationships. But we didn’t have a choice – we could only grow through change.

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Topics: improvement, goals, change, learning, growth, challenge, little lessons, help

Old Dog, New Shoes

Posted by Mark Fallon

Jan 25, 2019 5:01:00 AM

slippers
"The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live” – Mortimer Adler

For decades, I’ve disdained slippers. They seemed like an unnecessary piece of clothing. Either I wore shoes – dress shoes, work boots, running shoes – or I went barefoot. Having something “in between” would just take up more room in my closet.

My outlook changed with my hip surgery last summer. In addition to needing a cane, I would have difficulty bending over for weeks. That would make tying my shoes a challenge. Walking barefoot wasn’t recommended, so I had to find slip-on shoes – slippers.

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Topics: change, Reading and Books, fear, growth, little lessons, expectations

Do Something Good Right Now

Posted by Mark Fallon

Nov 2, 2018 5:01:00 AM

overhead bins
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The flight was packed. The already small seats felt even smaller. The overhead bins were jammed to maximum capacity. But we pulled away from the jetway on time.

Then came the announcement. Due to weather, all flights have been delayed at least 45 minutes. The pilot was going to move the plane close to the runway, so we could take off as soon as a slot opened up. An hour later, we left Logan Airport.

Air traffic control wasn’t overreacting about the weather. It was one of the bumpiest flights in years.

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Topics: change, kindness, help, good

Quiet, Yet Powerful Voices

Posted by Mark Fallon

Oct 13, 2017 5:00:00 AM

scales.jpg
“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” – Malala Yousafzai

It seems that every day, the volume of our conversations gets louder. Headlines using words like “destroy”, “disaster” and “debacle”. Facebook rants with all capital letters, curses, and multiple exclamation points. Twitter threads that go on for more than 20 entries, revealing the ineffectiveness of the 140-character limit.

And that’s just about sports.

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Topics: change, optimism, passion, reactions

Sincerely Positive

Posted by Mark Fallon

Oct 6, 2017 5:03:00 AM

sunrise_run.jpg

“Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” – Voltaire

It’s not the best of times. Hurricanes and flooding destroying homes on islands and on the mainland. Dozens killed and hundreds injured in a horrific attack on concertgoers. The opioid crisis continues unabated. Tense international disputes involving nuclear weapons. Divisive domestic political fights on a wide range of issues.

And those are just the topics dominating the headlines.

Often lost in the storms are the private struggles of so many people. Parents raising children amidst an uncertain future. Adult children caring for aging parents suffering from mental and physical impairments. People quietly grappling with problems only their loved ones understand.

In each of these stories we encounter heroes. People showing up with boats, supplies and food. Strangers throwing themselves on top of others, offering their own body as a shield from the bullets. Survivors using their status to raise awareness and funds. Individuals who decide to get out of bed, and push through another day of challenges.

Life is tough and difficult and beautiful and precious.

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Topics: change, inspiration, optimism, attitude

Switching Things Up

Posted by Mark Fallon

Aug 11, 2017 5:00:00 AM

coffee cup deck.jpg“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

About 10 years ago, I began running marathons. One of the elements of training is the weekly “long run”. For me, a long run is between 12 and 20 miles. That translates into 2 to 3 and a half hours of running. Now that I’m 55, those runs can take a lot out of me.

Until recently, I almost always completed my long runs on Sunday. I often travel on Mondays, so I had a built-in rest day on my calendar. I’d leave the house around 6:00 on Sunday morning, returning around 9:00. After refueling, stretching and recovering, it would be close to noon. That meant it was time to start reviewing my calendar and packing for the week.

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Topics: change, inspiration, attitude

Didn’t See That Coming

Posted by Mark Fallon

Apr 7, 2017 5:00:00 AM

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

uphill_trail.jpgLike so many people in today’s world, I seem to have more responsibilities than time. Work involves not only writing deadlines and multiple projects, but a hectic travel schedule. Last month, I worked in 7 states, including 4 of the 8 states that begin with the letter “M”. Not a personal record, but close.

I maintain my momentum – and my sanity – through planning. Project plans for clients and my company. Sales plans for prospects. Publishing plans for my two blogs. Running plans for my health. Every week, I spend some time looking at all those plans with a calendar. Ideas may be limitless, but our time on earth is finite.

The week begins with a sense of confidence that I can meet the challenges ahead. Meetings set, flights scheduled and hotel rooms booked. All systems go. Until...

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Topics: goals, change, planning

What Will You Do Today?

Posted by Mark Fallon

Jan 20, 2017 4:00:00 AM

“I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the years’.” - Henry Moore

alone.jpgWe’re just over 2 weeks into the new year. Many of us began 2017 with resolutions to make changes in our lives. The goal may have been physical, intellectual or emotional. In most cases, we defined our intent with measurable activity to mark our progress.

Unfortunately, surveys show that more than a third of us will abandon our resolutions after just 2 weeks. Over the course of the year, less than 10% of us will achieve our goals. Only to start the cycle again next December 31st.

Having goals can be helpful. Quitting smoking, learning a language, reestablishing contacts with friends – these are all worthy endeavors. When we make continuous personal growth a focus, we open the door to new opportunities. When we achieve our aspirations, it’s usually accompanied by a feeling of happiness.

So why do we give up?

The most common reason for unfulfilled resolutions is that we’ve set unreasonable expectations. Changing a behavior – any behavior – is difficult. We’re often so focused on the result, that we underestimate the effort it will take to get there. The path is steeper and filled with more obstacles than we anticipated. We stumble. And fall.

In most cases, we get up after the first fall. But then there’s a second. And a third. Bruised and hurt, we begin to doubt ourselves and our abilities. From there, it’s just a short distance to questioning our goal. So we quit.

There’s another path. We can ignore the missteps of yesterday. We start the day asking, “What’s the one positive thing I can do today?” Maybe it’s taking a walk. Maybe it’s shutting down social media for 15 minutes, and reading a book. Maybe it’s sending a card or letter to someone in your life.

No master plan. No great gestures. Just simple steps forward. There will be times when unforeseen circumstances get in the way of accomplishing your daily goal. That’s okay, because there’s tomorrow. Of course, tomorrow you may even choose a different goal. That’s good too.

What’s important is to make a conscious decision to do something. Anything. The intent provides meaning, and meaning transforms a simple activity into a purposeful action. Over time, the small actions build up into a transformative power. Often unrecognizable while the change is taking place.

Life is a long, wonderful, uncharted adventure. We’ll achieve some goals, fail at some, and even abandon others. We don’t know what unanticipated challenges await us. We can’t predict the future. But we can answer one question – What will we do today?

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Topics: goals, change

Taking Action

Posted by Mark Fallon

Sep 2, 2016 5:00:00 AM

"You are what you do, not what you say you'll do." - Carl Jung

folded_flag.jpgThe regular drudge of the daily news somehow seems to be worse than it was before. The current political campaigns seem to have sunk to a level never experienced before. The number of bombings, attacks and battles seem to be worse than anything humanity has perpetuated before.

Of course, none of this is true. Newspaper publishers, media magnates and online news purveyors have always led with the “worst news” first. Top of the page and blaring headlines. Why? Because “bad news sells”. People tune in to hear about disasters, not decency.

American political history is full of rogues and egomaniacs. While the current candidates trade barbs, they’re amateurs when compared to the Founding Fathers. The literate – and personal – insults between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson during the election of 1800 would have today’s commentators questioning the candidates’ competency to hold any office.

Terrorist attacks killed approximately 28,000 people last year. A truly horrific number. In 1917, there were one million casualties in the Battle of the Somme. Another million people were killed in the Korean War. There were at least 500,000 deaths during the Vietnam War, including 58,315 Americans.

It’s been worse. Much worse.

Yet, that probably doesn’t make anyone feel better about today. Especially when your news and social media feeds are filled with more reminders of what’s wrong. Friends and strangers alike complaining that all is lost, and that we’re helpless in the face of so much calamity.

This weekend, hidden in a story of a millionaire philanthropist, was the story of Dr. Jim O’Connell. For more than 30 years, Dr. O’Connell has dedicated his life to helping the homeless of Boston. Clinics, programs and personally taking a van out on the streets at night; providing food and clothing to people sleeping in alleys and gutters. Dr. O’Connell knows that he won’t – that he can’t – solve the homelessness problem. But he can get them clean socks.

A group of people on Facebook, separated by thousands of miles, but connected by a love of marathons. A member loses her mother, and another faces emergency surgery. People who’ve never met in person, come together to raise money and send flowers. Expressing love and support for someone in need.

A local veteran passes away. His fellow members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars gather at the visitation. In formation in front of the casket, there’s a reading from the Manual of Ceremonies. Taps is played while the veterans render a salute. On behalf of a grateful nation, the American Flag is presented to his widow. His family, and the community, is reassured that this veteran’s faithful service has not been forgotten.

A pair of clean socks. A basket of flowers. A hand salute.

Seemingly small deeds in the grand scheme of the world. Acts that don’t require much money or power. Something that anyone of us could do on any given day. Certainly these actions don’t make a difference or change the world.

Except they do.

See where Mark is speaking next
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Topics: change, love, optimism, support

The Journey Continues

Posted by Mark Fallon

Aug 12, 2016 5:00:00 AM

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis

alone.jpgA recent episode of "CBS Sunday Morning" included a story profiling several elite athletes – Dottie Gray, Dixon Hemphill and Orville Rogers. They’re known for winning gold medals and setting records at almost every track meet they enter. However, these runners won’t be competing in the Rio Olympics, as they’re 90, 91 and 98 years old.

Reporter Lee Cowan explained, for these runners, “There is no finish line, just the next race.” They’ll each continue to run races as long as they can. Any thoughts of quitting are shut out by a determination to hang in there.

The story resonated with me on several levels. First, I’m a runner. While I’m not setting any records, I love lacing up my shoes for early morning runs, whether at home or on the road. And I still get excited toeing the start line, even though my only competition is the timing clock.

More importantly, I’m now in my mid-50s, almost 50% older than the median age in the United States. The next marathon I run won’t be my fastest. Those days are over. But I can follow Dottie’s, Dixon’s and Orville’s examples – continue to train, sign up for a race, and do my best.

Their most important examples are about much more than running. It’s about a positive outlook on life and how to approach goals. At a time when most people choose to stop, they’re moving forward. They enjoy the paths they’ve on. They even seem amazed and amused by their own successes.

These are attributes we should all embrace. No matter how old we are, the journey goes on. Not just in our careers or other pursuits, but in our lives. We don’t know where the end lies, but it’s in front of us, not behind.

What’s the current destination of your journey? Is it where you want to go? Or do you want to head someplace else? Is there a challenge you want to chase? Is there a new dream you want to bring to reality?

If you want to change direction, or try something new, then now is the time. You have to decide to take a chance, and take that first step. You can make excuses for not pursuing your passion, or decide to make the attempt. The choice is yours. And that’s true whether you’re 34, or 54, or 74.

As Dottie says, “No matter how old you are, you’re never too old to start.”

(You can see the story on the CBS Sunday Morning YouTube channel).


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Topics: goals, change, dreams

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Our blog helps the reader focus on the little lessons - taking place every day - that will lead to sustainable, long-term success.

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