Tag Archives: Love

Success and 300 Unread Love Letters

If you know anything about college basketball, you may have come across the name John Wooden. The former coach of the UCLA basketball teams holds scores of unbroken records and numerous accolades and awards for his achievements as a player and a coach. Most significantly, Wooden led the UCLA men’s basketball team to 10 NCAA championships, seven of them consecutively.

Aside from his winning program, Wooden gained notoriety for his peculiar rules like, “Never be late. Not one word of profanity. And never criticize a teammate.” Today, one of the greatest achievements for any collegiate basketball player is winning the John R. Wooden award. Multiple basketball courts, leadership programs, schools and even a post office have been named after the “Wizard of Westwood.” Finally, although the coach retired in 1975, UCLA players still wear a patch with the initials “JRW” inside a black pyramid as a reminder of the coach’s legacy of success.

We live in a culture of grand gestures. At first glance, these great achievements and grand monuments seem to be the pinnacle of success. But success is not achieved in the winning of a title, in a job promotion, or the name of a building. It is not a bestselling book or a viral YouTube video. You see, success is not a one-time event.

Coach Wooden understood this. In a TED talk given in 2008, he defined success as, “the peace of mind attained through the satisfaction of doing your best in a given situation.”

Written-LettersWhile many are familiar with his coaching career, what you may not know about John Wooden is that on the 21st of every month, he wrote a love letter to Nellie, his wife of 53 years. What’s more, even after Nellie’s death, Wooden continued to write her letters, adding them to a stack of unopened letters on her pillow. This stack would grow month by month for 25 years.

Wooden only stopped writing the letters when his own eyesight began failing in the final months of his life. The coach’s relentless dominance on the basketball court was merely an echo of his quiet, relentless pursuit of excellence as a husband and a man of character. Or, to say it another way, Wooden simply made up his mind every day to do the best he could as a teacher, a coach, a husband and a man of faith.

Wooden’s attitude towards success is that it is a process, a monument built and established over time, rather than the outcome of one championship game at the end of a season. Success is working hard at practice, doing the things you need to do every day on the job, and treating people well even if they don’t acknowledge or appreciate it. Every action, no matter how small or insignificant it seems, adds a brick to success.

It is the discipline of getting up early to write another chapter of the book. It is the four chapters of the Bible you read with your morning coffee instead of watching the news. It is doing the dishes for your spouse, even though you’ve worked all day too. Wooden himself said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” Success is the by-product of patiently and consistently doing the right things.

Success is 300 unread love letters.

Bullies: Their Message Hasn’t Changed

BullyingAn article in The Atlantic called “How To Stop Bullies” caught my attention this week with a MIT professor’s insight on cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying, has been described as a “new” kind of bullying using technology and including things like hurtful emails, texts, and embarrassing pictures or fake profiles. While the medium that bullies are using to spread messages of hurt and hate may be new, the messages are not, explains Henry Liberman. Using software designed to filter negative and offensive content by looking for key words in postings, he and his team discovered that 95% of bullying comments fall into 6 categories, post after post. Ready for them?

  1. Appearance
  2. Intelligence
  3. Race
  4. Ethnicity
  5. Sexuality
  6. Perceived acceptance or rejection

Humans have essentially been using the same kinds of insults since we came up with cave paintings.  In fact, in the past few years archaeologists have discovered that the ancient city of Pompeii is covered in graffiti.  Call it the Twitter of antiquity. And our austere Roman forbearers weren’t all debating the merits of democracy and coming up with epigraphs. Here’s a few of my favorite messages (and their English translations).


“Phileros is a eunuch.”


“Oppius, you’re a clown, a thief, and a cheap crook.”


“Epaphra, you are bald.”

Look around the web and you’ll find even more examples that would put a modern-day truck stop bathroom to shame. Amazingly, long after Pompeii was buried beneath lava, the Roman Empire was decimated by Huns and the original Latin ceased to be used, these words have been discovered, translated and analyzed. I wonder—if your tweets, posts and blogs were discovered 500 or even 50 years from now–what future researchers would say about you. Would your online persona reflect a more modern, enlightened being or a tech-savvy caveman, trading in his chisel for a keyboard?

Looking at the lasting effect of words, whether they are carved into a wall or posted in a digital space, I hope we can join together in a conscious evolutionary leap forward.  Can we begin to litter social media with positivity, encouragement and kindness? Imagine what would happen if we did.

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Did you see the recent Dateline NBC special about kids who have been so bullied for their appearances that they are seeking free plastic surgery from a nonprofit?

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of children and plastic surgery, the special gave a heart-wrenching look into the lives of several children and teens who were being tormented by their classmates. I am not ashamed to say that tears were rolling down my face as the cameras were there to capture the moment each child learned whether or not they would receive the surgery.

However, I thought the most profound moment of the special came in an exchange between 15-year-old Renata—who wants a nose job–and one of her friends.

“What does it feel like to be beautiful?” Renata asked.

After attempting to dodge the question, her friend replied, “You really want to know? It’s not that great.” She continued, “People will always find something to make fun of you for. If it’s not the way you look it will be something else.”

This preteen girl has realized something that many people never understand:

We cannot stop others from throwing sticks and stones our way.

If you don’t believe me, just search for the names of the most beautiful, successful, charitable and athletic on Twitter, and you will be amazed at the hurtful things that people have to say about them. You would think that the people our society holds up as the pinnacles of achievement in their various pursuits would experience less criticism from others—right? Oftentimes just the opposite is true.

In a social culture that seems increasingly engulfed in a tidal wave of snarky, hurtful and cruel words, it’s impossible to live, work and play without getting at least splashed with the criticism of others. Don’t let it surprise you. But never forget, that we can always take responsibility for our own words and actions. Your kind, caring, uplifting, and encouraging words may be just what the doctor ordered from someone else.

The only resolution you should make this year

The presents have been unwrapped, the turkey’s been devoured, the crazy relatives have been pushed out the door, and we are all sick and tired of eggnog and Christmas music. It’s time to make some New Year’s resolutions. While losing weight, hitting your sales goals, or quitting smoking are great goals for next year, I’d like to challenge you to make only one resolution in 2014—and unlike the resolutions mentioned earlier, this one has the potential to transform every aspect of your life—your career, your relationships, your dreams and your health. Are you ready for it??

This year, resolve to keep the main thing the main thing.

Whatever the main thing is for you—a career goal, a desire to invest in certain relationships, or a dream you’re chasing—keeping the main thing the main thing will minimize your distractions and focus your actions with the precision of a laser pointer.

For example, if my “main thing” is to be the best husband and father that I can be, I will be working hard to be a great provider for my family—but I’ll also be curbing my late nights at the office so that I can take my wife on a date or catch a movie with one of the kids. I will learn that talking to my daughter about her day might be more exciting than whatever’s being covered on SportsCenter, or that walking our two energetic dogs with my wife transforms a mundane task into an opportunity to spend time with her. Wanting to live a long, full life with my family motivates me to eat a little better and move a little more. It makes me a better listener, a more productive employee, and a more generous giver.

So as you think about your own resolutions, I hope you identify your main thing, and perhaps a few action steps that you can take in order to keep the main thing the main thing.  May your 2014 be an exciting, successful year—but most of all, may it be the year when you begin to make progress on purpose.

Tis the Season…To Be a Frog Kisser!

With less than 10 days to go, I know that your Christmas to-do list is overflowing with the presents you have yet to buy and the outrageous number of parties you ought to attend. The LAST thing on your mind is trying to come up with a way to be kind to the office Grinch or neighborhood Scrooge. However,

Did you ever consider that the holidays are the easiest time to practice “ frog kissing”?

Frog Kissing Girl - Sticks and Stones Exposed by Dave Weber(By the way, if you don’t know what “frog kissing” is, I recommend you add my book, Sticks and Stones Exposed to your wish list.) A frog kisser is someone who intentionally chooses, through their words and actions, to support, encourage, and affirm those with whom they come in contact. I find the holidays to be one of the best times to develop your “frog kissing” skills for two reasons:

  1. The holidays occasionally bring out the frog in all of us. Between crowded malls, buzzing airports and hectic family get togethers, it’s enough to make the sanest among us want to shout “Bah, humbug!” In spite of all the seasonal cheer, most people are busy, stressed and tired. Now, more than any other time of the year, people need words of kindness, encouragement and positivity. View this as an opportunity, not an inconvenience, as you put a new habit into practice.
  2. The holidays also give us plenty of “kissable moments”—I’m not talking about anything that happens under the mistletoe, but rather about the parties, end-of-year reviews, and jam-packed social calendars that are perfect opportunities for you to be a “frog kisser.” Thank a grumpy co-worker for his assistance on a project at the office party. Compliment the festive decorations in a stressed-out teacher’s classroom. Take a moment to wish a TSA officer, grocery bagger, or restaurant server, “Happy Holidays.”

If your own heart is feeling two sizes too small this time of year, I’d challenge you to try “frog kissing” someone else. Aside from brightening their day, it continues to create a new habit in you—one of building others up, fostering teamwork and opening up channels of honest, productive communication. Who doesn’t want to work with, live with, promote, or hire someone with those qualities?

Put “frog kissing” into practice this month and you may have the people closest to you wondering if your attitude isn’t the result of a Christmas miracle!

How will you be “frog kissing” during the holidays?