One of the best things you can do right now is plant radishes.

When I was a boy my family always planted a garden. Ok, that may be an understatement. We were the only family I knew that had fresh cow manure delivered by the truckload to be spread over our sprawling vegetable garden. Which meant that when spring was in the air it was really in the air at my house.

When I bought my first home I proudly continued my family’s gardening tradition. However, I buy my cow manure by the bag, not the big rig. It helps maintain more neighborly relations.

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My baby sister Donielle and one of our monster, manure-powered heads of broccoli. 

The Benefits

Vegetables you grow yourself taste better. Which alone would be enough reason to grow your own. But there is more. You can save yourself a lot of money growing your own fruits and vegetables. You feel safer eating your own harvest because you know how the plants were raised. And today, the garden feels like a safer place to go for produce than the local grocery store. Which looks like it has been taken over by masked suburban bandits, all trying their hardest to stay 6 feet away from each other.

Filling the Cornucopia

Each year my wife Dawn and I plant tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in the backyard garden boxes we built ourselves. We plant carrots, peas, beans, lettuce, onions, pumpkins and squash.

The Radishes

But my favorite things to plant every spring are radishes. I love the taste of radishes. They are full of flavor. And these bright red spheres of spice add color and personality to both the garden and to our plates.

But that’s not what I love most about radishes.

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You look radishing…

Time Passages

After we plant most of our vegetables we have to wait months to harvest them. Typically that means 60, 70, 80 or even 110 days of tending to them before we get eat. 

But radishes are different.

Ready Already

Radishes are ready quickly. Usually in just 20 days. Which makes radishes like short term goals. They offer a quick sense of progress and a tasty reward far before the other vegetables are ready. Radishes keep us motivated and satisfied until the peas, beans and lettuce are ready to step up to the plate. (See what I did there?)

Life Lessons

Gardening is like life and business. You must sow seeds before you reap rewards. Gardening requires long term thinking. There is watering, weeding, and fertilizing required along the way. And you only get out of it what you put into it.

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Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. It starts as a bowl of radishes.

Reward Season

To get us to our long term goals we all need short term goals along the way. We need to see quick progress. Especially now. We know that our world and our economy will bounce back eventually. But we could use some quick wins. Some short term progress. Something tasty and rewarding to sink our teeth into sooner than later. So make sure you are planting seeds in both your personal and professional life that you can harvest and enjoy quickly. Preferably something legal in all 50 states.

Key Takeaway

As humans we need quick, positive reinforcement. We need these wins now to remind us that we are making progress over the short term. Which gives us the fortitude we need for the long term. The tomatoes, peppers, and pumpkins will all come eventually. But right now the radishes will help get us through.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them. 

Now is the perfect time to pay people in confidence.

A few months ago COVID-19 and The Global Lockdown may have sounded like a cool band name. But today they represent the two dominating forces on the planet. Right now they are locked in an epic standoff, like the FBI and The Branch Davidians. Physical and economic health is under attack. And we need Chip and Joanna Gaines to show up and save Waco with some shiplap.

Every day the news reports the latest health and economic casualties. But there is another human concern that is much harder to quantify.

Confidence, self assurance and motivation are waning. But you can make a difference. Even if money is in short supply.

Right now one of the most valuable things you can do is pay compliments. They can be the most valuable thing you ever give another person. Because they offer confidence, strength and resolve.

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Be this sign for others.

Compliments are the antidote against quitting, and, as a result, failure. Knowing that someone else believes in us is often all we need to believe a little more in ourselves.

I have had people pay me outrageous sums in compliments. Those compliments have expanded my self perception. And those comments helped propel me in ways that those who shared them could not have imagined.

Compliments always seem to land at the right time. When your trajectory is wrong, they help change the angle. When your trajectory is right on target a compliment helps you accelerate.

Too often we avoid or disclaim a compliment because we are afraid it will give the recipient a big head, or feed their ego. But like flour needs yeast to rise, amazing talent often needs positive feedback to rise to the demands necessary to turn great talent into skill, and ultimately results.

If you are wondering what you can do right now to make a difference, send an earnest compliment or 2. Or 200. Or 2000. Deliver it any way you like. You’re likely to make someone’s day. Like a sweet treat in the middle of a no carb diet.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Are you listening to the right people right now?

When we were young we learned about proper nutrition in school. We learned about nutrients like vitamins, proteins and calcium. Foods were sorted into cliques called food groups. We discovered that our favorite foods like cotton candy, donuts and Cheez Whiz were nutritional ghost towns. While spinach, which was among the un-coolest foods, were the nutritional equivalent to Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Cue the Mariah Carey meltdown.

Eating the right things has a major impact on how we feel. As adults we know which foods we should and shouldn’t eat. We know which foods help us feel good, and which ones make us feel bad. #waferthinmint

But it is just as important to recognize the nutritional value of what you listen to. The music you listen to while lying in a hammock is different from the music on your workout playlist. Because what you listen to has a major impact on how you feel.

We all get to choose what we listen to. And who we listen to. And how much we consume.

Take a moment to evaluate your listening habits.

  • Are you listening to the right things right now?
  • Are you listening to the right people?
  • Are you hearing things that make you feel better or worse?
  • Is it helping or hurting your fortitude?
  • Is it positively impacting your mood?
  • Is it making you want to charge the hill or crawl in hole?
  • It is providing answers?
  • Is it inspiring good ideas?
  • Is it calming?
  • It is me you’re looking for? (Lionel Richie wants to know)

Selective Hearing

I have developed highly selective hearing. I have a hard time hearing that which doesn’t help. That which doesn’t get me closer to the answers, make me feel better, or give me something actionable to do. You can do the same thing. And it extremely helpful during challenging times like these.

Key Takeaway

Pay close attention to what you are listening to right now. And who you are listening to. Become a picky listener. Listen to learn. Listen to become energized and inspired. Listen for the good stories. Listen for the positive outlook and the great advice. Remember, You get to choose what you tune in and what you tune out. And the results are significant.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

I know the economy is going to be fine. Because of dog sledding.

When I was in my early 20s I went to my first dog sled race. Three friends of mine and I thought it would be a fun and relaxing way to enjoy a midwinter day in Northern Wisconsin. When we arrived at the start-finish area a race official eagerly approached us and asked if we would be willing to help at the starting line. We felt like Bill and Ted, and suddenly our excellent adventure got even more adventurous.

Start Me Up

The official walked us to the starting gate and told us that the dog sled teams would come to the chute one at a time, one minute apart for their staggered start times. Our job was to simply hold the sleds in place until it was time for them to run. When the countdown clock reached zero we would let go of the sled, the dogs would take off, and we would wait for the next team to enter the chute.

Dog Sled Stuff

I Think I Understand

It sounded easy. In fact, the 4 of us laughed and joked about the simple instructions. ‘Wait, first we hold on and then we let go? Or first we let go, and then we hold on? We were all recent college graduates, and found the rudimentary nature of the task hilarious.

Go Time

A few minutes later the first team approached the starting line. It was a team of 8 dogs pulling a sled that carried a driver. Or musher. Or Mushy Donald Driver.

The configuration was exactly what we expected. But what we didn’t expect was that the dogs would be going mad dog crazy! These dogs charged into the chute, with handlers trying to restrain them. It was like drop-off at preschool. And we were the teachers receiving the wild, barely restrained children, and told ‘good luck’, as the parents bolted for the exits.

Dog-sledding-in-Alaska

Born To Run

What we quickly learned was that sled dogs love to run. It is in their nature. And when they enter the starting chute they are conditioned to go crazy, in preparation for running as hard as they can. Which made it hard to hold those eager beaver doggies back.

The Final Countdown

As the starter began his countdown from 10 seconds, the dogs went absolutely nuts. They barked and foamed and strained at their harnesses. The driver stomped on his or her brake spikes, which theoretically anchored the sled to the snow. But it took all the 4 of us had to prevent the dogs from taking off down the trail and pulling us with them, like stooges in a Tim Allen comedy.

Heavenly-Mountain-Dog-Sledding

Saved By Zero

Finally, the starter hit zero, the timer beeped, and we let go of the sled. The dogs shot down the trail like a dragster. The team disappeared into the woods, and another frenzied team entered the chute to challenge our strength and stamina. The pattern repeated until all 50 teams had left the starting line, and we were exhausted.

We understood why the race official picked the 4 of us young, healthy 20-somethings for the job. It was both physically and mentally demanding to hold the dogs back. Because the dogs were born to run. And not even human animals that were 2 or 3 times their size could hold them back for long.

Key Takeaway

I am not worried about the economy bouncing back. Because we are just like those sled dogs. We are born to run. And I can feel the same intensity building today that I felt in the dog sled shoot 2 decades ago. When the gates open we are going to run. We are going to work hard. We are going to play hard. We are going to travel, for both business and pleasure. We will go back to school. We will go to restaurants, bars, beaches, concerts, games, and festivals.

Yes, just as soon as the countdown reaches zero and we are no longer held back, we are going to attack life again. Because it is in our nature.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.

The great value of sunshine people.

Last Wednesday afternoon the doorbell rang at my house. I didn’t panic. Instead, I calmly got up from my desk and walked through my house to the front door. Just like I was trained to do. Based on the time of day, past experience, and that fact that only authorized professionals should be ringing your doorbell right now, I expected it was our mailman, Mike. It was either him or some rascally kid was leaving me a flaming bag of dog poo.

Mike

Luckily, when I opened the door Mike was standing on my front porch. He had a very special delivery for me. And it wasn’t a flaming bag of poo. Truth be told, I have no idea what was in the boxes and envelopes that Mike delivered that day. The most valuable thing Mike brought to my house wasn’t in a package. It was his I-am-so-happy-to-see-you smile.

Every time I see Mike he is like a ray of sunshine. He emits such positive energy that he makes me want to send boxes to myself, just to see him show up at my front door. Because you can’t help but feel good when you are around him. Its his super power.

Right now, as we are sheltering at home, a smile from the outside world is a rare and welcomed treat. A treat that many people are having a hard time serving up during the COVID-19 Circus World Tour. Today, there seems to be an optimism shortage. Which makes sunshine donors like Mike even more valuable. Because good vibes are even more important and more impactful now than ever.

Key Takeaway

If you are a naturally positive person make sure to share your sunshine with others. If you need a sunshine donor, reach out to someone you know who has an abundant supply. A friendly smile and a warm hello go a long way to offset the news media’s focus on the bleak. An optimistic perspective is like a breath of fresh air to others in your orbit. So if your light is glowing bright, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. It will illuminate a brighter path for others to follow. I know. Because right now I wanna be like Mike.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Never be afraid to ask for what you want.

Last summer my family traveled to the Pacific Northwest for our summer vacation. There was so much we wanted to see that mapping out our route and scheduling our stops over 9 days was a major challenge. Especially because we wanted to visit British Columbia. Which I would have named Canadian Columbia, but what do I know?

Train Spotting

The thing my son Johann wanted to see most on the trip was the Oregon Rail Heritage Museum in Portland. However, the museum’s schedule was a problem. It was only open Thursday through Sunday. And when the logistics were set, we would be in Portland on a Tuesday. #bummer

However, the museum was across the street from another site we planned to hit: the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. So my wife, Dawn, told Johann that we would drive by the train museum and see whatever we could see from the outside.

On The Outside Looking In

As we approached the train museum we indeed saw a few trains and train cars outside. Which was nice. But the reason Johann was so interested in this museum is that it held one of his all-time favorite trains. The magnificent Daylight 4449. The only remaining train of its type. The Daylight was inside the museum, and could not be seen from the outside. #Boo

Come on Clark, It Will Be Fun.

Dawn suggested that we park the car at the closed museum parking lot anyway, and take a look at the closed facility. So we did. In the process we encountered several signs reminding us that the museum was closed that day. I felt a little silly getting out of the car there. Like Clark Griswold parking at an obviously-closed Wally World.

A Sign Of Life

We got out of the car and walked to the fence surrounding the museum grounds. Then Dawn spotted two people exiting the closed building. They clearly looked like they worked at the Museum. Dawn walked briskly along the fence to the gate they were headed for. I knew she was in Deion Sanders-mode, and was trying to intercept them.

I cringed at the idea of what Dawn was going to say to these people. She’s aggressive. A trait that seems more in sync with her years living in New York City and Chicago than her childhood years in Wausau, Wisconsin.

The Talk

I kept my distance as I watched Dawn intercept the man and woman at the gate. I could hear her sweetly explain that we had come all the way from Wisconsin, and that our son Johann would really, really love to see the Daylight 4449. I braced for the employees to remind her that the museum was closed. And that the sign out front should have told her that.

Instead, the man and woman both smiled at her story. Then, suddenly, the man unlocked the gate, and invited us in. Moments later we were standing inside the large museum staring at the grand prize. The Daylight 4449.

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Johann finally got to lay his eyes on the prize, thanks to his Mama.

However, since the museum was closed, we didn’t get the normal view of the train. Instead, the wonderful people of the museum gave us an all-access pass to every part of the train, with the engineer as our personal tour guide. Our entire family got to climb up in the cab, past the Please Keep Off signs, which was my favorite part.

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Breaking the law, breaking the law…

Johann got stories and insights that most people would have never heard. We felt like distinguished guests and VIPs at the train museum. It was a very special experience. And all for one simple reason: Dawn asked if we could come inside.

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Albrecht aboard!

The Lesson

That experience provided our family with an important life lesson. It taught us all that if you want something you have to put yourself in a position to get it. You have to be willing to ask for what you want, and not be afraid to get a ‘No‘. It taught us that a closed door will sometimes open for you if you ask. And it taught us that some of the best experiences are on the other side of a locked door.

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The Crew.

Key Takeaway

Often times a closed door will open when you show just how much you want to come inside. It pays to be earnest and honest about how much it means to you. Remember, someone holds the keys to unlock every locked door. Find that person, and ask to come in. The worst thing that can happen is you are told no. In which case you are no worse off than you were before. But if they say yes, it could open the doors to incredible new experiences and possibilities.

Today, there are many people facing real health and financial challenges. If you need help, or access, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s the quickest and most effective way to get what you want.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

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Look at that happy kid…
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Thanks to everyone at the Oregon Rail Heritage Museum for such an incredible experience. 

It’s a great time for you to take more showers.

There are a lot of activities you can’t do right now. In fact, most things outside your home that involve anyone other than a cashier, pharmacist, healthcare worker or delivery professional are currently off the table. At the same time, many of the hard working among us have been prohibited from working. Which creates another level of challenges.

Time to Think

When you can’t take action, the most valuable thing you can do is think. I have spent my entire career as a professional creative thinker. I’ve worked through thousands of business challenges of all sizes and shapes (except for a tiny rhombic dodecahedron). And the great solutions always come during times of deep, focused thinking.

And there is no place to think like the shower. It’s a perfect environment to relax, clear your head and do the type of thinking that makes a real difference. The type of thinking that solves problems, sparks valuable new ideas, and helps you rebalance again. All while controlling your dandruff. #multitasking

The Thinking Prescription

  • Find some time each day for a long hot shower.
  • Make sure there is no music or sound from a TV.
  • Shower by yourself. (Otherwise you’ll be thinking other thoughts.)
  • Relax. And think of what you can do right now. For yourself, your community, your clients, your family or friends.
  • Think about what you can do tomorrow.
  • Think of the opportunities.
  • Work through your work challenges
  • Think bigger than you think you should.

You’re sure to come out with a clear head and new ideas. Oh, and you’ll also be clean. And right now that’s more valuable than ever.

Key Takeaway

The 2 most valuable ingredients of success are strong actions and strong thinking. When you can’t act, think. It will help you solve problems and create a plan of action. Thinking  unlocks doors. And it reminds you, in case you forgot, that you are still in control.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.