Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

As I saw March 17th approaching on the calendar I thought it would be fun to come up with a St. Patrick’s Day themed post.

I tossed around the idea of making some jokes about how this is the only day all year that anyone actually wants to eat cabbage.

I considered drafting a thought-provoking post about how St. Patrick drove out the snakes in Ireland and how we need to drive out the proverbial snakes in our lives.

I even thought about making up a tale where Maury C. Moose drinks a little too much Guinness and starts seeing leprechauns.

In the end I decided that all those ideas were just a little too silly. Luckily, I stumbled across the following Irish quote that I felt would be a great thing to share. Not only does it have a good message, but it rhymes (all the ingredients of a perfect Blog By Bake post).

Enjoy!

St Pats Day Quote

Be The Dumbest In The Room

A very smart friend of mine told me that he knows he will be successful when he is the dumbest person in a room.

He must have seen my confused look because he went on to further explain his point.

“Being the dumbest guy in the room serves two purposes,” he said. “It keeps my ego small and it helps me learn. When I am the dumbest guy in the room, I know that I am surrounded by smart people. Being around brilliant people is always a good thing.”

After giving it some thought, I think he is right.

So often we want to be the smartest and best in any room we are in. This makes us feel superior. We don’t like the feeling of being inferior to the people we surround ourselves with.

While feeling superior isn’t all bad, it may mean that we are limiting our growth.

I recently heard and interview with actor John Krasinski who explained that he is constantly looking to work with the best actors in Hollywood.

“If you are around people who are better than you, you will get better and you will learn so much,” Krasinski said.

Well said, Jim from The Office.

Being around people who are better than you can help you see where you need to grow, what you need to learn and what the results can be when you get there.

So don’t be afraid to be dumb. You may just benefit by being the dumbest.

Thankful For Time

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – writer, Carl Sandburg

Today I am thankful for time.

As Carl Sandburg so eloquently put it in the above quote, only you can determine how your time is spent. The following is a top 10 list of what I am thankful to be able to spend my time on.

10. Time For Family –

As I wrote back in December, I am very blessed to have a great family. I am thankful for all of the time I get to spend with them.

9. Time to Play –

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Unlike Jack, I have enough time to play. So what is my excuse for being dull??

8. Time to Rhyme –

I might have just added this because it rhymes. Whatever the reason, I do have plenty of time to rhyme, which you can find here, here & here.

7. Time to Think, Laugh & Cry –

Former college basketball coach Jim Valvano said that if you think, laugh, & cry it makes for a heck of a day.  I don’t always do each of those every single day, but it is not because I lack the time.

6. Time to Create More Time –

Think you don’t have enough time to come up with your own top ten list? Think again. As my buddy Aaron Thuringer explained, we all have the opportunity to create more time for ourselves.

5. Time to Sleep –

I am very thankful for something I spend 1/3 of my life doing.

4. Time to Write –

I’m thankful to be able to spend time writing in this blog.

3. Time to Give –

One of the best things we can do with our time is to give some of it away. Through volunteering and other programs, much of our time best spent is time spent on others.

2. Time to Learn –

I am not an expert at anything. I am thankful to have time to learn many of life’s lessons.

1. Time to be Thankful –

I get time to remember all the things I have to be thankful for. And that makes me very thankful.

Thankful Thursday(Click the image above for more Thankful Thursday posts)

Steal Your Thunder

Without knowing you, I can still safely guess that you have stolen something at one point in your life.

Chances are you have never pulled off a heist like the guys from Ocean’s Eleven. And maybe you have never even pilfered a pen from a hotel.

But I bet I know what you have stolen…

Thunder.

Okay, maybe you have never stolen actual thunder (that’s impossible right?), to do that you would have to be some distant relative to Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief.

The phrase steal somebody’s thunder means “to do something that takes attention away from what someone else has done.”

We all have done that at some point in our lives. Maybe it was on purpose or maybe it was on accident.

As far as I can tell, there are no criminal charges for stealing ones thunder. And I don’t think cases like this are even investigated. I can’t remember Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever writing about Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Stolen Thunder.

Thunder seems like an odd and difficult thing to steal. Where did that term come from? That is what I want to know on today’s Wonder Why Wednesday.

Origin of the phrase “steal one’s thunder”:

According to phrases.org.uk, thunder thievery dates back to the early 1700’s.

In 1704, literary critic John Dennis produced a play titled Appius and Virginia for the Drury Lane Theatre in London. For this play he invented a new method of creating the sound of thunder which used rolling metal balls down troughs, grinding lead shot in bowls and shaking sheets of thin metal. Unfortunately the play was not well received and was cancelled shortly into its run.

Sometime later, Dennis was attending a production of Macbeth at the Drury Lane Theatre when he heard a familiar noise. His thunder was still being used by the theatre and Dennis was not happy to hear this.

The account of his response was recorded by the literary scholar Joseph Spence and later quoted in W. S. Walsh’s Literary Curiosities, 1893:

“Damn them! They will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder.”

So there we have it. The first instance of stolen thunder occurred when someone actually stole the sound of thunder. It is too bad that Dennis’ play was not successful, but he did create a phrase that is still used over 300 years later. Not a bad consolation prize.

Wonder Why Wednesday copy(Click the image above for more Wonder Why Wednesday posts.)

Inspiration Does Not Last

Inspiration does not last.

There is no inspiration faucet that we can turn on anytime we want to be showered with brilliance.

It is more like a thunderstorm in a desert. One that leaves faster than it arrives, with no telling when (or if) it will return.

Whenever you are lucky enough to be inspired, don’t let it go to waste. Take advantage of that inspiration high and ride it out as long as you can.

Treat inspiration like you would a fire.

Stop. Drop. And Roll.

Stop where you are.

Drop everything else you are doing.

And roll out whatever thoughts, dreams and feelings your inspiration provides.

Did You Know?

Check out this fun video with Dr. Seuss facts that are truer than true. There are many interesting things I never knew about Seuss, such as…

  • He was the first to use the word “nerd”
  • During World War II he wrote American war propaganda
  • Green Eggs and Ham contains only 50 different words

The video also contains a couple of important lessons.

One, it mentions that his 1st children’s book was rejected 27 times. There are many stories of famous people and products that had to overcome rejection before they were popular. I always find it to be a confidence builder anytime I read about one. If Dr. Seuss can be rejected 27 times, then maybe it isn’t so bad when my work gets shot down.

The second interesting lesson that I found in the video is that Seuss ran into a friend on the street who ended up publishing his first book. Seuss said that had he been walking on the other side of the street, he never would have been an author.

While I don’t believe Seuss never would have been an author if he didn’t bump into his friend (he was too talented to not become a great author), I do think it is a fun example of how anything can happen on any given day.

Who knows who we will bump into today that can have a great impact on our life? And better yet, who knows who we will bump into today that we will have a great impact on their life?

One Day’s Wages

There are two things that always impress me.

Creativity & generosity.

Both of those things do not come easy to all of us, so when I find something that combines the two, I consider it a home run.

There are many awesome groups out there that find a worthy cause and create a unique way to raise money and awareness for that cause.

For today’s Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for these organizations.

One Day’s Wages is one such group that I recently learned about.  One Day’s Wages’ website explains that they are a movement dedicated to end global poverty.

Generous? Sure, but it sounds common enough, right? There are tons of places that want your money for a good cause.

But what sets One Day’s Wages apart is how they go about asking for money. Or better yet, how they go about recommending you donate money.

As the name implies, One Day’s Wages encourages people to give whatever amount that person makes during the course of one ordinary day.

They equate this to just 0.4% of one’s annual income.

That doesn’t seem like too much to give. But at the same time, this small gesture makes a huge impact for those less fortunate.

Even more, they recommend a great time to give is on your birthday. Think about it. On your birthday it is typically all about you. You receive gifts, praise and attention. With all that, don’t you think you have a little something that you can give up?

One Day’s Wages has a birthday pledge where you can give up your earnings for just one day and encourage others to do the same.

When I look at certain charities, I often struggle with whether to give, what to give and when to give. One Day’s Wages has created an exceptional answer to all of these questions.

I find that type of creativity and generosity something to be very thankful for!

Thankful Thursday(Click the image above for more Thankful Thursday posts)

How Is The Date For Easter Determined?

Happy Ash Wednesday!

For those of us who are Catholic, today is the beginning of Lent, also known as the day we get ashes smeared on our forehead.

In just 46 days we will celebrate Easter by dressing up for Mass, hunting for eggs, and eating one too many Peeps.

I’ll always been a little confused by the fact that Easter does not fall on the same date every year.

Last year it was March 31st. This year it is April 20th. Given that pattern, one might assume that Easter 2015 would fall in May. But nope, it will be April 5th.

Sounds random to me. But it can’t be…can it?

No better place to find out the truth then on another episode of Wonder Why Wednesday

How Is The Date For Easter Determined?

According to Catholicism.About.com, Easter is referred to as a moveable feast. I understand that is what you call a feast day that doesn’t fall on the same date every year, but I think it also sounds like something you might call a food truck.

Jokes aside, the way the date for Easter is decided was determined in 325 at the Council of Nicaea, which set the date of Easter as the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls on or after the vernal (spring) equinox.

I am already quite confused, so I am going to quote directly from Catholicism.About.com to make sure I don’t mess anything up.

“For calculation purposes, the full moon is always set at the 14th day of the lunar month (the lunar month begins with the new moon). Likewise, the Church sets the date of the vernal equinox at March 21, even though it can occur on March 20. Both approximations allow the Church to set a universal date for Easter.”

Did you get all that??? Sounds like a space star ordering success story.

I think this might be the first Wonder Why Wednesday that I am even more confused than when I started.

Before I make bad jokes about full moons, I will just stop now and leave it up to the experts to tell me when Easter will take place.

Wonder Why Wednesday copy(Click the image above for more Wonder Why Wednesday posts.)

Water the Bamboo

I recently read a fascinating book that put daily work and perseverance into an awesome perspective.

Water The Bamboo, by Greg Bell, tells the story of giant timber bamboo, but the book also does much, much more.

The book explains that giant timber bamboo will grow 90 feet in 60 days. That is a foot and a half per day. People claim that during that time of rapid growth you can actually hear the bamboo grow.

What’s crazy about giant timber bamboo is that once its planted, it takes at least three years to even show the slightest growth. For three years the bamboo will not break through the ground. Timber bamboo farmers water the seed and tend to it faithfully, even though there is no visible evidence of growth for years.

Bell weaves the story of the bamboo into a narrative that applies to our lives. He asks the question: “What are you working on now that you might not see results for years?”

The first bamboo farmers probably gave up on their crop after a few months of seeing no results. They missed out on something phenomenal because they didn’t stick with it.

How often are we guilty of something similar?

We want to see results from anything we do and we want to see those results fast. We don’t have the patience to wait around for three weeks, let alone three years.

Bell explains another amazing aspect of giant timber bamboo that I think is a very important lesson to learn. He says that, “the other fascinating fact about this bamboo is that you can plant other crops above the bamboo for those three years that it is working its way to the surface. So you can be working on your bamboo, but also planting corn, beans and any other crop that will sustain you in the meantime. When you are watering those crops, you are also watering your bamboo.”

What a great analogy for life.

I want my book to be a bestseller and be turned into a movie. If that ever happens, it may take years. I would be wasting those years if I just sat back and didn’t work on my writing. Instead, I can be working every day (planting other crops and watering my seed) by writing on this blog and becoming a better writer so that when my break happens (and my bamboo starts to grow) I will be ready.

The story I touched on last week of Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam is a great example of someone who is watering their bamboo years before he will ever see signs of life. He won’t have his own store for years. But he is watering his crop now and in time he will reap the rewards of all that work.

So like Bell, I ask the question: What are you working on now that you might not see results for years?

Will you stick with it?

When times get tough and we do not see any results we have to remember to water the bamboo.

 (Learn more about Water The Bamboo here)

Bravery Rewarded

For today’s Memory Monday, I would like to share a story I was recently told by my grandfather…

In early October 1960, my grandfather was in New York for business. During his stay, a propeller driven airplane traveling from Boston to Philadelphia crashed and 62 people tragically lost their lives.

The plane flew into the path of a flock of birds and hundreds of birds were sucked into the engines. The accident became one of the worst in airline history and struck fear into the minds of many future airline travelers.

My grandfather was scheduled to fly home the next day and his flight was to take place using the exact same propeller driven Lockheed L-188 Electra style plane that was used in the Boston crash.

Understandably, he was nervous and wasn’t sure if he should board the plane to go home. After all, planes fly by birds all the time and there was mass media questions wondering if this same thing could happen again.

Even greater than his fear of taking the flight, was my grandfather’s desire to get home to be with his wife and kids. He had been away from them for a week and utterly wanted to be home so they would not worry about him.

After hearing reassurance from the airline that they were taking every precaution necessary, he decided that it was worth taking this risk, so he decided to take the flight home.

This prop jet style plane was built to hold 70 people. When my grandfather boarded the plane, he was one of only 7 people who decided to make the flight.

Seeing the empty plane he started to question his decision. But once again he decided that taking this flight home was worth the risk and he was not turning back.

At that time, it was common for the flight attendants to pass out a complimentary glass of champagne to the passengers. Because this particular flight was so unoccupied (and probably to ease everyone’s apprehension), each of the 7 passengers were given their own bottle of champagne to enjoy on the flight.

Just like all the other flights he had taken, he made it home safe. But that flight remains the only time that he was given an entire bottle of champagne during all his years of air travel.

My grandfather speaks fondly of this gesture and considered the champagne to be a fun reward for being among the brave few that decided to take the flight home.

I think this is a fun anecdote of how bravery can be rewarded.

Sometimes we are rewarded with champagne. Sometimes we are rewarded with getting to see our family. And when we are really lucky we get both.

No matter what reward we may receive, it is important to know that risks can pay off, and sometimes we should board that plane. Even if we are only 1 of 7 people.