77. Do it while you still can.

The Habit of Making That Call. Why is it so important? Why is it something we should do now rather than later?

The answer is simple; because we can.

We all have people in our lives with whom, either through choice or complacency, we’ve had no contact for extended periods of time.

Perhaps our non-contact has been our choice caused by a falling out, misunderstanding or real or imagined slight. Over the years I’ve met people who have shared with me that there are people they do not talk with because, “Uhmm, well I can’t actually really remember why I am not speaking to this person I just know that I am not speaking to this person.”

Sometimes the reason is simply a function of complacency. They’re always going to be there so if I don’t get around to calling today, oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

As we all know though, sometimes tomorrow is just too late and if we wait to make the call, to reach out and patch up our differences or simply to reacquaint and say Hi, we are nourishing ourselves and our spirit in ways that can only contribute positively to our well-being.

When we choose not to adopt The Habit of Making That Call we are also choosing to either continue ingesting the bile of anger that we call “our reason for not speaking to them” or we are rolling the dice and tempting fate by putting off making that call until mañana which, as we are all too aware, never comes.

Perhaps we would all benefit by pausing to wonder whether the time has come to make that call NOW. After all, the only true absolute in our lives is not knowing when either we or they will no longer be taking calls.

These past two weeks have brought me several dozen stories from folks sharing their disappointment in themselves for not breaking through the walls of anger or complacency that for many years have kept them from sustaining relationships with family and friends.

Time lost can never be found and years of separation can never be put back together.

The experts tell us that we only ever experience two types of pain: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret.

Discipline means doing what you know you should be doing when you truly don’t feel like doing it.

Regret means wishing you had when the opportunity was there, and you didn’t.

They say that the pain of discipline is fleeting. The pain of regret is lasting.

They can’t be too many things in life, sadder than wishing you had when you could but you didn’t and now you can’t.

It takes a big person to swallow their pride and extend an olive branch after years of harboring anger and other ill feelings. It often requires a superhuman effort to be willing to set aside differences and build the bridge to reunion and yet I have never met anyone who has done so and regretted it.

A wise person once said that the quality of our lives is the quality of our relationships and we may never know what great potential relationships might lie in our future if anger, stubbornness, false pride, or even sheer laziness prevent us from exploring the possibilities in the present.

The Habit of Making That Call may not always grant us the results we desire but there is a warm, good feeling to be enjoyed for having tried.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

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76. Forty lost years.

Claire called to tell me about an event that occurred 40 years ago. She and her brother had fought bitterly over an antique chair that had belonged to their parents.

Her mother predeceased her father by three years and after his death she and Clive, along all with other relatives, had gathered at their parent’s house to distribute all their belongings as per their father’s wishes.

Everything had gone along smoothly. The various nieces and nephews were thrilled to accept whatever little gift or ornament they were given and it wasn’t until it came time to discuss The Chair that everything, their entire relationship, unraveled.

Father in his wisdom had left the world stating that those items specifically not mentioned in his final instructions – those that were distributed to other relatives – were the property of Claire and Clive and his will stated that he trusted they would amicably divide among themselves whatever was left.

There had been no disagreement as they had walked around the house with each other agreeing to take possession of certain objects.

And then it happened. They arrived at The Chair in the living room which had occupied pride of place since their early childhood and both felt it was their birthright.

They argued bitterly over several days and then several weeks until Clive informed her that he was fed up with this bickering and had moved The Chair to his house.

The last words she remembers him saying word “If you want it that badly, sue me.”

In the 40 years since they have not spoken. Claire’s anger knew no bounds and she carried with her this anger and sense of having been robbed for year after year after year.

She did not involve herself in any way with Clive and his family and he had no contact with hers.

Occasionally, through friends and associates she would hear tidbits of information about Clive and his family: his son Brian graduated from college, his daughter Eleanor got married and become a mother, but outside of those infrequent tips she had no knowledge, no interest in anything to do with Clive, after all he had stolen what was rightfully hers.

Claire read my blog last week and she called to tell me that something struck a chord deep within her. She sat in a chair in her living room, looking at the spot where the chair would have occupied were it in her possession and she asked herself a profound question: which would have enriched her life more over the past 40 years: having The Chair in her living room or having her brother in her life?

As she pondered that question, she felt tears of loss running down her cheeks and, for the first time in 40 years, she reached for the phone and called Clive.

The two of them had a tearful reunion over lunch last Friday. They both acknowledged that false pride had kept them from each other over something that was really unimportant and, as Claire learned, no longer even existed as many years ago that precious chair had collapsed into splinters after it was accidentally dropped down a flight of stairs on its way to Clive’s basement.

Lunch lasted more than six hours, after all it does take a while to catch up on 40 years of living.

Claire told me that the habit of making that call was one she really wished she had adopted many, many years ago but she was reassured in knowing that it is now deeply embedded in her. Not only was she excited to enjoy a closeness they had denied each other for so long, but she would also make it a point of staying in touch with many others.

Claire’s story is not unique. Several others called me to share some of the stories and all of us will benefit greatly the moment we understand that life offers no greater treasure than true, unconditional friendship.

The habit of making that call is a terrific way of bringing back and keeping those wonderful relationships in our lives.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at http://www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Set Free the Champion Within. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

75. Call while you still can.

Sometimes you’re just wish you hadn’t answered the phone.

That’s exactly how I felt on Monday morning when I hung up the phone after speaking with the son will of a long, long time friend, Richard Tonkin.

Richard’s son Jordan had called to tell me the worst possible news. To the shock of those closest to him Richard had collapsed and passed away a few days earlier.

Jordan’s indescribable grief poured through the phone and my heart broke as the reality of what he was telling me began to sink in. As crushed as I felt by his news, his pain must have been far worse.

My friendship with Richard began in a most unusual way. In the early 1990s – I think it was 1991 – he contacted my friend Bruce Lee’s company to inquire about a very strange thing. Did they know anybody who could conduct a Fire Walk Seminar as Richard wanted to host one in his local community?

Bruce contacted me – I had done this particular seminar many, many times – and we arranged to meet with Richard.

You know how, on rare occasion, when you meet someone for the first time, you just know that you really like that person and want to get to know them better. That was exactly my reaction upon first meeting Richard. He had driven into Calgary to meet with us and after the meeting he and I had gone to a local restaurant for dinner and sat talking until the owner politely asked us to leave as it was 2:00 AM and he was closing.

In the years since then our friendship has grown to one that I can best describe as comfortable. By comfortable I mean that despite long gaps in our communication, whenever we did get together or talk on the phone we immediately picked up where we had left off before.

Eighteen years ago, after I had life-saving lung surgery, Richard drive for four hours through a snow storm to visit me in hospital in order to make sure “you’re not doing anything stupid.” He spent five or six hours by my bedside before driving four more hours back home.

I never had a short conversation with Richard. That was not possible. I would guess that our average “quick” call to catch up and find out how we were each doing would last an hour and a half to two hours and the conversation was always scintillating.

We were seldom in the same city at the same time and when we were our “quick coffees” were always three hours or longer.

Richard was one of these rare, truly deep thinkers whose philosophy was, for the most part, well outside of mainstream and he could always present highly intelligent, extremely articulate, well thought out and difficult to refute points of view on pretty much any topic.

The last time I saw Richard he was here over-night in Calgary and he, my wife Gimalle and I went to a Brazilian restaurant – one of those carnivore carnivals where for a fixed price they will keep bringing varieties of barbecued food to your table and will not stop until you beg for mercy.

Richard and I viewed this opportunity as a challenge and we set out to outperform (out eat) the other. I suspect that after we left the restaurant the owners changed their offering from “all-you-can-eat” to “eat a lot, but we’ll tell you when to stop.”

As always conversation that night was delightful and after we dropped Richard off at his hotel, Gimalle commented that she had never been around two people who could talk as much as we did and never tire of the conversation.

I never ended a conversation with Richard without feeling wiser and more capable and on many occasions over these past twenty-plus years I have called him to seek his counsel.

While I’ve often disagreed with his advice, time has, for the most part, proven him right.

Ironically, over the past few months Gimalle has asked me several times whether I have spoken to Richard and suggested that I call him. Each time she made the suggestion, I said I would call him tomorrow.

I didn’t, for no reason other than I could always call any time.

For years I have kept a file my laptop called the Richard file. This is where I make notes of stuff I want Richards’s thoughts on next time we talk.

It is been several months since our last conversation and my Richard file has five topics awaiting our next chat.

And now I will never have the chance to discuss those five items.

 I wish I had listened to Gimalle.

Regardless of how much time each conversation took, Richard would always spend part of every discussion telling me will how proud he was of his children, how well they were doing and how much he loved them.

His voice would often crack with emotion as he proudly told me of each of their many adventures and accomplishments

And so today I would like to introduce a new habit which we will discuss for the next two weeks – The Habit of Making That Call. We all have people in our lives who we know we should reach out to and we don’t, for no other reason than because life gets in the way.

The Habit of Making That Call really hit home for me on Monday when I realized I can never make that call.

Richard, thank you for so many years of unconditional friendship. You taught me much and we laughed plenty. In our culture men don’t tell each other we love them and I want you to know I love you, will miss you terribly and I am a far better person for having had you and your wisdom in my life.

Your friendship was an honour and a privilege.

None of us know when the day will come when we can no longer make that call. Let’s adopt The Habit of Making That Call today because making the call is so much easier to do while you still can.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Set Free the Champion Within. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

This blog is posted every Wednesday. I also post a blog each Saturday. Please visit at www.raelkalley.wordpress.com     

74. Point well taken.

Over the past two weeks I have heard many stories of acts of kindness and caring. The last two blogs have, I guess, resonated with several people who have taken the time to contact me and tell me of people they know who routinely give of themselves to benefit others.

Rather than single out one particular story to relate this week, I would like to share with you the words of one elderly lady – she told me she is 84 – who took the time to call the other day and chat.

When she told me she wanted to discuss her philosophy on The Habit of Kindness and Caring I asked for, and obtained, permission to record the call.

Here’s what she said:

“You know, we read and hear so much about bad things in the world. The newspapers and television only report about bad things and bad people. I understand, they have to sell newspapers and nobody wants to read about a plane landing safely, so it is very easy for us to come to the conclusion that the world is an evil place filled with bad people.

“But that is just plain not true. The world is a wonderful place filled with many kind and caring people who, every day, perform acts of kindness for no other reason than because they want to.

“In the course of my volunteering for many years, I have met so many of these types of people. And when you get to know them, and when they get to tell you the truth behind their kindness – the real reason why they do what they do – you begin to understand the greatest secret of the whole universe.

“Abraham Lincoln once said, No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.’ He was only partially right. What he should have said was, ‘a person never stands him so tall as when they stoop to help another.’

“You see, the first time you perform an act of kindness a strange thing happens. You get a warm, glowing feeling inside that feels so good that you want to feel it again. And you very quickly realize that that feeling only comes from helping others and after a while it’s almost like an addiction.

“As much is you know that, quite often, your small act of kindness and caring – something that is really not a big deal to you – can be life-changing for the recipient but the real irony is that no matter how valuable and helpful that act was to that other person, you will benefit far more from your actions than they ever will.

“If you don’t believe me, just go out and try it. Go to Tim Horton’s and buy a cup of coffee for the person standing in line behind you. Just the look on their face will be worth a hundred times more than the dollar you spent.

“You see, the selflessness of practicing what you call The Habit of Kindness and Caring is the most selfish thing you can do. There’s absolutely nothing you can do that will give you more pleasure and satisfaction than reaching out and performing an act of kindness and caring.

“Tell everyone that an 84-year-old lady taught you the secret of life.

“Oh, and tell them all to go out and do one kind thing for a stranger today. Their lives will never be the same.”                    

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.