Take A Deep Breath

Lesson number: 

From the title of this week's lesson, one might think it's going to be about breathing techniques. Instead it's more about the advice I remember little league coaches used to give to their pitchers and batters when these kids were under great pressure to get a big strikeout or an important hit. The funny thing is it seemed to work then and will probably work today for lots of responsible adults facing tough times in their lives.

This lesson was inspired by the myriad of dire headlines and articles in newspapers; magazines and TV programming recently. As if the economic news and stock market gyrations were not enough to digest on a daily basis, I also fell prey to watching a documentary on Nostradamus and a special on Discovery titled Hot Planet in the last two days. Thus it seems like if the economy doesn't do us in, we had better be watching over our shoulder for a catastrophic event due any day now as predicted by Nostradamus or the end of life on earth as we know it due to global warming.

I am not making light of any of the above by any means, for there are many challenges we face on a daily basis. However, we all need to take a deep breath to make sure we don't become overwhelmed with our challenges and stop functioning as mature and responsible human beings. That would be the worse catastrophe we all could possibly face.

No one can ever say that life is easy at any age or any stage in our lifetime. However it's important to learn that life can really stink at times and we need to accept this fact; face our challenges head on and move on.

At the moment, my magazine reading is chock full of negative stories and news. After reading my latest issue of Business Week, I really needed a full strength breathing exercise. In the business world if names like GE, FedEx and Toyota are feeling major pain, you can just imagine what's happening to companies that don't have the superior management teams and processes that these three possess.

Then there's the article on the UNRETIRED retirees. Your heart can't help but feel sorrow for 70-75 year old retirees who lost their wives to a sudden illness; then lost their home and nest egg in the stock market in a matter of months, with no place to go because their grown kids are having financial problems at the same time. These retirees MUST go back to work at places like Walmart just to feed themselves. That is if they are lucky enough to find a job at Walmart because the demand for these jobs now far outpace the supply.

Or how about the piece in Business Week titled "What CEO's Are Thinking." Fred Smith from FedEx said the economy is by far the worse he's seen in 35 years and Lewis Hay from Florida Power and Light said 25% of his customers are past due on their electric bills. There were no bright spots in anyone's comments.

The 24/7 reporting of negative news and doom and gloom is surrounding all of us globally and we may need several deep breaths an hour to make it through the day. However, I am a firm believer that these trying times will eventually improve. We all have so many ways to expose ourselves to negative news, that negativity can really become a contagion. Today we all need to focus our energy and attention toward what we can do as an individual, family, or nation to move in a positive direction. For every positive action we take, we will offset some negative thoughts and worries.

It's time to be more conscientious about our spending habits, and be better planners and executors of worthy goals and tasks. It's time to take NOTHING for granted and be thankful for EVERYTHING that's good in our lives. If we sit down and write a list of what's good instead of what's bad about our life, we will come to appreciate our lives and our families so much more.

It's the end of the year and it's time to take an inventory of where we are today and where we want to be headed next year. There's nothing more powerful or satisfying than having written goals and a blueprint or plan to achieve them. This strategy works in good times and bad, however it is an absolute necessity when times are tough and we need to pull out of a funk.

And lastly, it's time to take care of our health. Neglect your health and nothing else in life really matters. Staying HEALTHY trumps the economy, Nostradamus' predictions and global warming. Do everything possible to stay healthy and you will remain strong enough to face the daily battles and get through any challenge. And for the record, I was one of those Little League coaches who told the kids to take a deep breath. It really does work!