Little Lessons

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Posted by Mark Fallon

May 10, 2019 5:01:00 AM

Benjie Angel

“Smile at strangers and you just might change a life.” – Steve Maraboli

Growing up, we always had pets. For about 15 years, 2 cats ruled the house – Kizmee (a Siamese) owned the upstairs, while Sandy (a money cat who walked up to our house and moved in) was the queen of the downstairs. With her double paws, Sandy also governed the front yard.

Our dogs knew that they were the subservient species. Even Benjie, a large shepherd-collie mutt, received early training as a puppy from the cats about his role in the house. After receiving a few swats, he knew that whenever a cat entered a room, he got out of their way.

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Topics: networking, friendship, personal relationships, love, people, little lessons, expectations, trust, compassion

The People Around You

Posted by Mark Fallon

Oct 5, 2018 5:01:00 AM


“The people who make a difference are not the ones with the credentials, but the ones with the concern.” – Max Lucado

This time of year always brings a lot of travel. Many companies want to finish projects before the year-end, so that means more onsite visits. In support of Postal Customer Councils, I’ll visit 6 states in 3 months, delivering keynote addresses and instructional classes. Between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, I’ll be flying at least 10 out of 12 weeks.

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Topics: personal relationships, love, memories, travel, people

Lifting Others

Posted by Mark Fallon

Jun 29, 2018 5:01:00 AM


Jacobs Ladder
"I bring you the gift of these four words: 'I believe in you.' " - Blaise Pascal

If we work hard, and are a little lucky, we’ll probably reach our goals. The path may not always be clear, with curves and clouds obstructing our view of our intended destination. We may make a detour, but we continue forward. The journey can be difficult, and take longer than anticipated, but success is ours.

However, true success is about more than what we do for ourselves. We also need to consider what we do for others. Who have we helped today?

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Topics: success, improvement, personal relationships, people, kindness

Paying Our Debts

Posted by Mark Fallon

Jun 10, 2016 5:00:00 AM

“No matter what accomplishments you achieve, somebody helps you.” – Althea Gibson

coins_and_bills.jpgDid you ever have those mornings when you wake up and think about how deeply you’re in debt? Not to banks or credit card companies, but to the many people who’ve helped you in countless ways throughout your life.

Many times, someone may provide assistance because of their job, their title, or their role in our lives. Teachers, emergency workers, medical professionals, bosses, parents and friends. Or they may be a person in passing – who are in our lives for one fateful moment – and then we never see them again.

Similarly, their support may be in many forms. Something extraordinary – raising us in a safe home, inspiring us to great heights in the classroom, or maybe even saving our lives in dramatic fashion. But more often, their gifts arrive in brief but powerful actions – offering comfort in time of need, reminding us of our strengths when we feel weak, or being a source of unconditional love when needed most. Even in smaller ways, like a friendly smile, an earnest compliment, or a much needed hug. Seemingly insignificant moments with an incalculably combined impact.

If we’re lucky, we’ve had the opportunity to thank the other person. We’ve explained the impact on our lives, in the past, in the present and the future. We’ve looked them in the eye and expressed gratitude for gifts we may not have deserved. It’s a beautiful moment.

Circumstances don’t always allow for such those occasions. Relationships change. People fall away from our lives. Time and distance create gaping chasms. We may not even know the name of our benefactor. We never get the chance to say, “Thank you.”

Expressing thanks is wonderful, but we still may feel the burden of obligation to do more. We want to even out the scales. However, there’s no cosmic ledger that tallies our balance. There’s no quid pro quo formula to follow. We search for a way to pay our fair share.

One answer lies in how we became debtors. People helped us. Someone performed an act of kindness. A selfless gift, with no expectation of anything in return. It’s time for us to do the same.

And just as there were so many ways that we received, there are many ways for us to give. Participating in formal programs that lend a hand to those in need. Speaking out for those without a voice. Volunteering in our communities.

To those closer, we can offer even more of ourselves. We may not have the answers to someone’s problems, but we have ears to listen, with an open, non-judgmental heart. We can open our arms and our hearts to those that need consolation. We can celebrate another’s reason for happiness.

Every day offers a new chance to make another payment. Choosing not to spread anger and vitriol. Being polite to the person behind the counter. Holding the door open for the next individual. Deciding to be helpful to someone in need. Greeting a stranger with a smile.

We’re never truly debt-free. As long as we live, there are people who find ways to help, support and love us; during our quest to help, support and love others. We remain in a beautiful, endless circle of giving and receiving – receiving and giving.

See where Mark is speaking next
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Topics: reflection, personal relationships

Making Memories

Posted by Mark Fallon

May 20, 2016 5:00:00 AM

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Topics: goals, personal relationships, love

Lessons from My Mother: Consideration for Others

Posted by Mark Fallon

May 6, 2016 5:00:00 AM

“A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally.” - Oscar Wilde

Mother_and_Me.jpgGrowing up, the local newspaper had a “Quote of the Day” feature. Sometimes, my mother would point out a quote that would make her smile. If she thought a quote was one I should remember, she would cut it out and hand it to me. To this day, I still collect quotes that carry lessons.

I was in college when she handed me the Oscar Wilde quote at the top of this post. Up to that moment, I’d limited my definition of a gentleman to someone with good manners. I opened doors for others, said “sir” and “ma’am”, and knew how to order in a restaurant. Now, I had to be considerate of the feelings of others?

For the hardcore business types tempted to skip this article because it’s about soft skills like “consideration” and “feelings”, don’t be so quick. Soft skills have a direct impact on hard numbers – like employee productivity, customer retention and profits. Besides, your mother would consider not finishing the blog as being impolite.

Most of us have memories of our mothers as caregivers who put their own needs last. Raising children, running a household and caring for others. Mothers are special people with an exclusive place in our hearts. And like you, I know that my mother is an “extra-special” person.

Although I’m one of 10 kids, my mother always took time to make me feel that I was the most important person in the world to her at that moment. And I’ve seen her do the same for my brothers and sisters. And she did the same for her 18 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Even with this crowd around her, my mother succeeded at providing individual attention to each person. Attention with consideration for how we feel.

This isn’t to say that my mother never had to correct us or scold us. But even then, she made the issue about us and our actions. Not about her feelings or what the neighbors thought. And she talked to us alone about what we did wrong, and explained the consequences for our actions.

This kind of interaction is a powerful role model for all of us. How do you treat the people around you? Friends? Family? Employees? Customers?

Take a moment to review how you treat others. Honestly consider when you weren’t as polite or as considerate as you could have been. Examine how these events caused negative results. Reflect on how changing your actions would have resulted in more positive outcomes.

Remember - good manners means more than just knowing which fork to use at dinner.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Topics: personal relationships, love, values

The Act is the Reward

Posted by Mark Fallon

Oct 2, 2015 1:00:00 AM

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Topics: strength, personal relationships, love

Letting Go Isn’t The Same As Giving Up

Posted by Mark Fallon

Apr 10, 2015 5:30:00 AM

“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Topics: success, improvement, goals, personal relationships

Do a Good Deed

Posted by Mark Fallon

Jan 30, 2015 5:30:00 AM

“In lieu of flowers, Bill has requested that you do a good deed for someone in his name.” – Obituary of William H. Fallon 1924 – 2013.

Bill Fallon Do A Good DeedTwo years ago this month, my father died.

Because he knew the inevitable was unavoidable, we had talked about his last wishes earlier. Much earlier. Almost 20 years earlier. He meticulously planned his funeral arrangements, including the hours for the wake, the casket, and the prayer cards. And the line in his obituary to “do a good deed for someone in his name.”

Throughout his life, Bill loved helping others. The photo of him sorting mail for the “Letters to Santa” program is from when he worked at the Woburn Post Office. At one point, the US Postal Service cut funding for the program. So on his own time, and with donations from coworkers, he found a way to answer the kids’ letters.

Sometimes, he would receive an especially touching letter. It might be from a child who was battling an illness, or whose parents were out of work. Bill would “pass the hat” among the letter carriers and clerks, and then a package would be delivered to that family’s door. With a note from Santa.

Growing up, my siblings and I were encouraged to help others. Sometimes it was a “suggestion” from my father. “You know, while you’re mowing our lawn, it probably wouldn’t take that much longer to mow the neighbor’s yard.” Other times, he was more direct. “On Thursday, you’re coming with me to Aunt May’s to do some work at her house.” I soon learned to help someone without waiting for any encouragement to do so.

When his aunt moved into a nursing home, my father would visit her several times a week. He would help other residents during his visits, and soon became a volunteer. From there, he started volunteering at the local hospital, where he received an award for giving over 1,000 hours of his time to help others. This volunteer work was in addition to a full-time job, a part-time job, and raising 10 kids.

I’ll never know exactly what drove his actions. But I’m going to share a secret with you that my father never shared with me – helping another person, with no expectation of recognition, feels really good.

Granted, there are people out there who will take advantage of you, or some people who just don’t appreciate the effort you made on their behalf. Instead of feeling good, you feel like a sucker. Don’t worry about it. Their reaction doesn’t matter. Your actions, and your intentions, are all that’s important.

Most people will be thankful for what you’ve done. Sometimes they may express it with a written thank-you note or other formal recognition. They may share a smile or a hug to let you know they’re grateful.

Other times, you may never see their response. My father never met the families he helped out with the Santa program. That was okay. Because he knew what he did helped someone in need. That was reward enough.

That’s the reward we all should be looking for – knowing we helped someone in need. The world is a tough place, and life can be very hard. A gesture of kindness to someone else, however small, changes the situation. It makes their world that much nicer, and their situation a little easier to face. Your action may be the difference that helps them succeed.

Take a minute this week, and do a good deed for someone. You’ll be glad you did.

Little Lessons Bonus: The Long-Term Effect of Good Deeds

There are times when the impact of a good deed is immediately known. You get to see the person’s reaction and share in their joy. It’s a wonderful moment.

The impact of some good deeds might last much longer. Even a lifetime. The recipient of your kindness may never forget what you did for them.

A few weeks before my father died, he received a Christmas card from someone he hadn’t seen in years. She was a single mother with twin sons and her note talked about his kindness and his impact on their lives. A good deed when he needed it most.


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Topics: hard work, friendship, personal relationships

Embrace Life by Embracing Each Other

Posted by Mark Fallon

Feb 27, 2014 5:00:00 AM

“Talk not of wasted affection. Affection never was wasted.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Embrace Life by Embracing Each OtherAn interesting consequence of social media has been the number of photos that people share – pets, food, family, and of course, the “selfie”. My favorite type of photo? Two or more people squeezing together to fit in the camera’s frame. Heads tilted at unnatural angles. Arms entangled in hugs. Faces smushed together, with cheeks touching. And the most common feature – beautiful smiles.

It’s natural to smile when being embraced. The warmth of affection nourishes our spirit. The touch of another person is a basic necessity to healthy living. Yet, for some reason, we’re afraid to embrace each other. Especially in public.

In his book, Intimate Behaviors, Desmond Morris speculates that our fear of embracing is tied to “… a massive inhibition of our nonsexual body intimacies and this has applied to relationships with our parents and offspring (beware, Oedipus!), our siblings (beware, incest!), our close opposite-sex friends (beware, adultery!), and our many casual friends (beware, promiscuity!).”

The human skin is more than just a protective cover; it’s our largest sensory organ. There are millions of receptors located all over our skin. Our sense of touch is an important part of our physical development and survival. It’s logical that our sense of touch is equally important to our psychological development and survival.

Studies with premature babies show that tactile stimulation may improve weight gain. Babies deprived of their mother’s touch are more likely to get sick. Psychologists actually prescribe hugs for patients suffering from depression.

My mother’s prescription for a healthy life? At least 7 hugs a day.

Growing up, that was easy advice to follow. We had hugs in the morning, hugs when we went off to school, hugs when we returned home and hugs when we went to bed. Of course, sprinkled in between were hugs for no apparent reason.

My mother taught me that hugs weren’t given or received. A true hug is something that’s shared. Both people need to participate for a hug to have a real benefit. You get as much from giving a hug as you do from receiving one.

The hugs didn’t stop when I got older. As I grew up, my mother would remind me that I still needed my daily hugs. I felt proud if she said one of my hugs was “a good hug”. When I visit her today, I still look forward to my mother’s hug when I walk through the door.

Hugging isn’t just for mothers. One of my best friends from my days in the military is an Airborne-Ranger-Special Forces qualified soldier. He’s a combat veteran who jumped from planes even when an illness required him to use a cane. He’s one tough guy. Every time we see each other, we say hello with a hug.

Leo Buscaglia was professor at the University of Southern California and a noted author. Millions of people came to know Leo from his books and his appearances on public television. Leo told his audiences that many social problems, for individuals and society as a whole, are caused by lack of human contact. People need some manifestation of love. We need to be touched.

A man whose actions reflected his words, Buscaglia was known as “the hug doctor”. After his lectures, people would get in line, not for autographs, but for hugs. Buscaglia would embrace each person with his trademark bear hug.

Hugging isn’t off limits in the corporate world. However, you do have to be respectful of other people’s attitudes. Many of my past bosses would never be described as “huggers”. In fact, some never shook hands, never mind give out hugs.

I’ve had co-workers and employees who enjoyed and appreciated physical contact. We didn’t hug to start every day or every meeting. But there were hugs to celebrate, to console, and to bid farewell. Hugs extended the relationship from the corporate to the personal.

A few years ago, I gave a client a book I thought she might enjoy. When we met a few weeks later to discuss the project, she entered the room with a radiant smile. The first words from her mouth were, “I loved the book you gave me. Is it unprofessional to hug your consultant?”

I’m sure you can guess my answer. That hug strengthened our relationship. I still had to work hard and deliver on the project. But we were no longer just consultant and client, we were now two people who connected on a personal level. That change contributed to us being successful on our project.

In the age of mobile devices, social media and instant messages, it seems that we’re in contact with everyone all the time. But digital contact isn’t physical contact, and there’s more said in a silent hug than in thousands posts on Facebook or Twitter. We need a real “personal touch” to be successful.

Take my mother’s advice, and get your daily dose of hugs.

PS – Happy Birthday, Mom!

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Topics: friendship, personal relationships