Posted on 03-01-2013
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by jbrown

Love Does Not Need a Name
I was making the drive from Los Angeles to San Diego that I had made so many times since I left for college back in the summer of 1991.  Over the years, that drive had been filled with joyous anticipation as I would be visiting family or friends or going to the beach or one of the local theme parks or some other special event in my hometown.  However, this trip was different. This time, I was heading to San Diego to attend the funeral of my childhood best friend’s grandmother. So many thoughts raced through my mind as I was making the hour and a half long trip.  Ultimately, my mind settled on sadness and I began to tear up. All of the sudden, my phone rang and four simple words changed my whole perspective.

“She Really Loved You!”
During the phone conversation, my brother and I shared thoughts of how wonderful of a lady my friend’s grandmother was. Then he said the four words that formed a permanent place in my heart, “She really loved you.”  I believe that our emotions create a file for everyone that we meet.  The depth and outcome of the interaction determines the size of the file and the emotions attached to it. My file for my friend’s grandmother started when he and I met in kindergarten.  I don’t remember how or why we became best friends at such a young age.  However, I do remember him asking me to go over to his house over and over again until one day my parents agreed and that is when my file for his grandmother began.

“I Mattered to Nana”

During that first visit to my friend’s house, I was not sure what to call his grandmother.  I was raised to always address adults as Mr. or Mrs.  She said, “Ja Marr, I want you to call me Nana.”  “What does Nana mean,” I asked?    She smiled and said, “Nana means grandmother.” There is no greater feeling for a child than to feel loved, safe and appreciated. That is exactly how I felt the first time and every time I visited with Nana.  Nana always made me feel like I mattered just as my own parents and grandparents made me feel.

“You Can Always come Home”

Over the years, I would visit with Nana whenever I had the chance. Every time I would see her, she made me feel just as special as when I was that 5 year old little boy. She would always make me homemade Mexican food and we would sit and talk about what was happening in my life.  Nana would tell me how blessed and talented I was; and push me to follow my dreams and not let anything stop me.  She would describe how much bigger the world was than San Diego and encourage me to go and see and experience it. Every conversation ended with her telling me, no matter where I go or what I become, my Nana would always be there for me…and she was!

“Love Does Not Need a Name”

As I pulled into the parking lot of the funeral home, a thought crossed my mind.  I realized that I did not know (or had forgotten) my Nana’s real name.   Then I smiled to myself and said, “Love does not need a name.” I was comforted with the fact that my brother was right, “She really did love me.”  And when I saw her casket I prayed and said, “Nana, I really love you to.”

To Your Story,

Ja Marr

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Posted on 31-03-2012
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by jbrown

Many years ago I had flown to Northern CA to visit a good friend of mine from college.  In the afternoon of the last day of my visit, we decided to go to the local grocery store and buy food to cook for dinner that evening.  As we were walking to the car, an image caught my eye.  On the front porch of the house next door stood a little boy (around the age of 9 or 10) tossing an old raggedy Nerf Football to himself.  There was something about this scene that made my heart stir and I sensed a feeling of loneliness and sadness coming over me.

Something is wrong with this picture
My friend and I got in his car and started to head for the grocery store.  When we were a few houses down the road I yelled out, “Stop the car.”  Surprised my friend slammed on the brakes and asked, “What’s wrong?  Did you forget something?”  I said, “No, but I need you to drive back to that little boy.”  “What little boy?” my friend responded.  I said, “Just drive back to your house.”  When we were back at his house, I got out of the car and approached the little boy.  I was honestly not sure why I was so compelled to talk to this child, but I just knew I had to and decided to follow my heart.

You really want to spend time with me?
“Hello, my name is Ja Marr.  What is your name I asked?”  As he looked up at me, I could visibly see that the sadness and loneliness feeling I had was actually being projected by him.  In a soft-spoken voice he said, “My name it Robert, but everyone calls me Little Rob.”  “Alright Little Rob,” I said, “What happened to your Nerf Football?”  I will never forget the next part of our conversation.  “My Dad gave me this football when I was seven and every since then I have wanted to become a professional football player.”  “That’s great” I said, “Have you and your dad been practicing?”  He said, “No, because my dad died a year ago and my two older brothers never play with me, so I don’t know how to catch that good.”  Holding back my own tears the only thing I could think to say was, “I used to play football.  Why don’t I teach you how to catch when I get back from the store?”  Little Rob’s eyes lit up and he said, “Really!”  And then all of the sudden his excitement was replaced with a look of sadness again and I said, “What’ wrong?”  His eyes welled up and he said, “How can we play catch with this old beat up football.”  I smiled and said, “Don’t worry about that.   Just be ready to learn how to catch like the pros when I get back from the store.”

Let’s play catch
About 30 minutes later, my friend and I pulled into his driveway.  When Little Rob saw us, he ran to our car and his whole demeanor was different.  The sad and lonely look on his face had been replaced with a look of happiness and joy.  Also, he had changed clothes.  He was now wearing elbow and knee pads as well as a football jersey that was obviously too small.  I chuckled to myself and said, “Are you ready to start your training to become a professional football player!”  By this time, he could not contain his excitement and began jumping up and down as he said, “Yes I am!”  “Great, but I have a surprise for you,” I said as I pulled out a brand new Nerf Football and handed it to him.  He yelled out, “Wow, is this for me?  It is awesome.  Thank-you!”  I said, “Remember, Little Rob, you can only keep this new Nerf Football if you never forget what I am going to teach you today.”  He said, “Ja Marr, I promise I will never forget, but what about my old Nerf Football that my dad gave me.”  I said, “I want you to always keep the Nerf football that your dad gave you.  Put it in a safe place and whenever you look at it just remember how proud your dad would be of you.”  He said, “Great idea.  I am going to put it on the dresser next to my bed so that I can see it every day.”

The brain is a sponge just like a Nerf Football
Little Rob and I spent the next couple of hours together.  Sure, I taught him how to catch and throw and think like a professional athlete…but we honestly spent quite a bit of time just talking.  I was surprised by how curious he was about me and my life.  He asked me question after question about college and my career.  Since I had recently finished college and was just starting my career, I told him about my professional goals and aspirations.  After we finished playing catch and talking I said that I had to go and spend time with my friend since I was leaving the next day.  He said, “When will you be back.”  I said that I was not sure but asked him to keep his promise to remember everything that I taught him that day.  He said he would keep his promise and skipped happily into his house.

It was never about football in the first place
A few years later, I received a call from my friend who said, “I have to tell you something about “Little Robert.”  “You mean the little boy that lives next to you that I gave the Nerf Football too years ago?”  “Yes,” my friend said, “You will never guess what he told me he wants to be when he grows up.”  I said, “Doesn’t he want to be a professional football player?”  “No,” my friend said.  “Little Robert is not little anymore.  He is now a Sophomore in high school.  When I saw him today, I asked him how football was coming along?  He said that he had given up football.  When I asked him why, he said that he does not want to be a professional football player anymore.  His exact words were that he wants to go to college and become a “professional businessman just like my friend Ja Marr.”   I realized at that moment that there was a much bigger purpose for Little Robert and I meeting that I did not realize at the time.

Time given changes time!
Little Robert serves as a constant reminder of the power and significance of making people feel special and important…and the benefit of giving the most precious gift of your time to someone else.  I would not be the person or the man I am today if it were not for so many individuals that in their own way, gave me a Nerf Football and said let’s play catch together  when it seemed like no one else wanted to.

To Your Story!

Ja Marr

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What Quincy Jones Taught me about Sales

Me, my brother and a few friends decided it was time to get together to catch up on old times. We agree to meet in Los Angeles which meant it was going to take three hours to get there from where I started- 50 miles away.  Typical LA traffic!  We were sitting in one of those nice, snazzy Hollywood restaurants when all of the sudden there was a buzz all around us. The wait staff began to run around and squeal like a marauding troop of Hyenas.  Having lived in Los Angeles for a number of years I knew what this commotion was all about. The only question I had was who would be the famous person walking in this time?

The Q is coming!
Enter the entourage:  Superbly dressed, and looking like “people of importance” they entered the restaurant.  Many of them were so busy being pampered that they did not notice my modest crew as they slipped into their seats at the table right across from us. I did not recognize any of them until I saw “The One.” Typically, I am not a star struck person and believe that everyone is equal…however, there are some people that have what is called the “IT” factor. By all accounts, this individual had “IT” and then some.  It was none other than Quincy Jones.

But you’re the star.
Once everyone recognized this person to be “The Quincy Jones”, the Paparazzi style buzz began.  The Hyenas seized the opportunity and began the mad rush for pictures, autographs and handshakes.  After a few moments, Q’s bodyguard rescued him from the mauling and guided him towards his table. All the while, Q maintained a welcoming smile and an apologetic demeanor for not being able to spend more  time with his fans.  Once again, the “IT” factor. Right before he sat down, he turned towards our table and asked, “How are you fellas doing tonight?”  Thinking he was just being polite and was not looking for a conversation, we all said (probably in awestruck unison) “fine and you.”  To everyone’s amazement, he continued talking to us.  However, the conversation was far from the Ego driven, let me tell you how great I am monologue that one would expect from such a big star.  Instead, when my friend told him, “It’s an honor to meet you sir.  You are one of the greatest and most influential artists of all time,” Q’s response was totally unexpected. He said, “Look, I am not the important one, you guys are.”  He went on to say that he has already carved his path in the world and now it is time for young people like yourselves to do so.” He also said that he has been all over the world and can recognize greatness when he sees it…and that he saw greatness  in us.  I was floored by his comments. For the next 15 minutes or so, we had an amazing conversation about everything from success, restaurants, life, world travel, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and our overall life experiences.  He asked us just as many questions as we asked him.  That night, he made us feel like we were the renowned star not him.

Thanks Q
Mr. Jones, I am not sure if you will ever read this, but I just wanted to say how much you truly touched my life that evening.  I can’t tell you how inspirational our conversation was.  In my book, “What’s Your Sales Story?” I discuss the fact that one of the main reasons I went from being a struggling professional to a  successful one  is that I transitioned from wanting to be the star and feeling important to making everyone else feel like they were the stars and the important ones.  Meeting you that evening reminded me of that lesson. You will be remembered as one of the greatest artist, musicians and composers of all time.  I also want people to know that I will remember you as someone that made others feel important and like they were truly the star!

To Your Story!

Ja Marr Brown

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Nothing has changed
Last week, I was reminded of an age old lesson.  That lesson is that there are no shortcuts to success. Despite all of the advances in technology, medicine and cognitive understanding only effort and hard work truly bring success. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson at my daughter’s tennis lesson.  I say unfortunately because I have been steering her towards golf since she was born and after all that effort, out of the blue she tells me that she wants to be a tennis star.  Why?  Because my parents took her to a professional tennis match a few months ago and she met and got autographs from some of the top female tennis players in the world.  That experience lit a spark in her and now she wants to travel the world and compete against them.  When she gets older I will remind her that I took her to two LPGA golf tournaments and it did not faze her.  I digress.

It takes that much to succeed
Let me return to my point about hard work and effort.  So there I was at my daughter’s tennis lesson.  As the class was doing various drills, I overheard a conversation between another parent and the head instructor of the tennis club.  While I did not hear all of the details, I did hear something that really stuck with me.  The parent asked the instructor if he still competes in tournaments (apparently he used to be a big name player).  The instructor said no because he is only able to practice 2-3 hours a day.  He went on to say that when he was successful and winning tournaments, he would practice 4-6 hours a day. The instructor said, “If I am not prepared to compete at the highest level, then it does not make sense to do so.”

How about us
As I reflect on the conversation between the parent and the instructor, I thought about our lives as business professionals. How much do we prepare before we are “On Stage” or competing so to speak; whether it is before a sales call, big meeting, performance review with an employee, marketing presentation or any myriad of times when we have to perform? Fortunately, I have had bosses and mentors who drilled the importance of planning in my head since I was a very young professional.  It is no mystery that that the better I perform is in direct correlation to how much I have practiced and prepared. When I have an opportunity to mentor young adults and other professionals, I tell them that despite what they say their ambitions are in life, their level of effort in planning and practicing is the true indication of their ambitions.

What do the greats do?
A long time ago, I was talking to someone about the greatest athletes of all time.  Of course, Muhammad Ali’s name came up. Muhammad Ali was once quoted as saying something to the effect of, “I have already won the fight by the time I step into the ring.” Basically, what he was saying is because he had put in so much effort and was so prepared leading up to the fight that all he had to do was step in and execute…which he arguably did better than any other fighter of his generation.

To Your Story!

Ja Marr Brown

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Posted on 25-01-2011

Recently, while on our annual winter family vacation, I woke up early one morning and began to write in my journal. I found myself writing about what went wrong in 2010 and what I could have done differently. Then I proceeded to write out these major New Year’s Resolutions for 2011.  All of the sudden, I literally jumped up looked in the mirror and said to myself, “What the hell are you doing?” I had that reaction because I realized that I was going about the reflection and change process all wrong. I was not following the Kaizen philosophy that I had developed and had contributed to so much success in my life and the lives of the people that I taught it to.

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You see, one of the core principles of the Kaizen philosophy is Continuous Improvement. This is the process whereby you try and improve a little every day…not by doing more, but by doing less. You make small changes that lead to major breakthroughs.  Before you beat yourself up thinking about what went wrong or could have been better in 2010, first you should focus on what did work and what went right in 2010.  What were the thoughts and behaviors that really worked for you this past year?  Keep thinking and doing those things.  Secondly, really identify the wasteful thoughts and behaviors that were counterproductive to helping you achieve the things you wanted to in 2010 or that held you back…and simply stop doing and thinking those things. What you ultimately end up with is doing more of what works for you and less of what does not. Therefore, you can accomplish significantly more by actually doing less.

To Your Story!

Ja Marr

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Life change for the price of a flavored bottle of water!

So there I was at the place I so often find myself, the airport.  Where was I going?  It really doesn’t matter; it was as we say in the business world, another business trip.  As I was walking through the terminal towards my gate, I glanced into one of the gift shops. Something caught my eye and I was instantly drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  Why?  I don’t know. It was as if there was a tractor beam pulling me in.  However, I did not resist it.  I simply followed its energy.  It lead me to a place I rarely even think about, and can’t remember the last time I even looked at it…the magazine rack.

Oprah caught my attention

Wow, was the first thing I thought to myself.  Do people really read all of these magazines?  How many niche markets can there be?  My eyes moved side to side like an old typewriter.  However, there was one magazine that made me stop as if my old typewriter had jammed and I was taking a closer look to figure out what the issue was. The magazine that caught my attention had a big “O” on the cover. It was Oprah Winfrey’s magazine.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Oprah fan and am inspired by all that she has done, but I have never purchased one of her magazines.  Today would be different.

The high price of flavored water

As I walked to the counter to pay for her magazine, I decided to also buy something to drink.  I looked around at the countless number of flavored waters and just reached out and picked the color that I felt like drinking.  Just then, I glanced down at the price. Really! I shouted in my head.  Does it really cost this much to drink colored, slightly flavored distilled water? In any event, I was thirsty (and all the bars at the airport were closed) so I continued with this highway robbery.

Water and life change cost the same

I placed my “O” magazine and flavored, high priced tap water on the counter.  Just then, I noticed the price of the “O” magazine.  I could not believe it.  The sugar water I had purchased cost just as much as the “O” magazine.  I thought to myself, it costs just as much to drink tap water as it does to read something that I believed could truly change my life as it has inspired the lives of so many other people. It was at that moment I realized that for just about the same amount of money as a bottled water or coffee or energy drink, you can buy a book or a magazine that can inspire you and help you on your journey toward achieving your aspirations and  life’s purpose. So the next time you reach for that green, yellow, purple or fuchsia colored water you might as well pick up a life changing magazine or book along with it.

As soon as I am done writing this, I am going to open up my “O” magazine, learn all I can from it, apply the ideas and principles and become a better person and professional as I drink my “Water.”

To Your Story!

Ja Marr

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Posted on 18-10-2010
Filed Under (Continuous Improvement) by jbrown

I love that guy!  
Recently, I have been engaging in a number of discussions with people about how life seems to have changed over the past couple of years.  The overwhelming sentiment is that life has been more challenging from a professional standpoint which has had some unfortunate personal consequences.  I have always said that a person’s personal and professional lives are interconnected.  They are co-dependents of each other.  No matter how one tries to mask the issues in his or her professional or personal life, eventually one will affect the other.  I discuss this reality in great detail in my book, “What’s Your Sales Story?”  

I can see why you may be depressed
As I reflect on the sobering discussions I have had with people, it is no wonder why the majority of people seem to be a little or a lot depressed…especially when they honestly open up to you.  Here are a few of the comments I have captured:   My Responsibilities have increased but I have less time to take care of them, jobs and careers are more demanding, friends and loved ones have less time for each other, you feel like you are just surviving vs. thriving and enjoying this life that we only get one chance to live, the world seems less and less safe every day.  Yes, these are all really good reasons to feel down, but regardless of your current state of affairs as long as you wake up with the ground below you vs. above you…you can do something about it.  

One picture can change everything.
Earlier this evening, as I was digging through pictures looking for the perfect one for my daughter’s school project, there was one picture that stopped me dead in my tracks.  A smile immediately came across my face and all thoughts of stress, worry and fatigue left my mind.  Filling in the gaps made by their absence were feelings of happiness, peace, joy and optimism.  My Heart felt light and my Soul was uplifted.  My normal state of, “Anything is possible” and “The world is a beautiful and wondrous place” returned.  That transformation and this blog entry is the offspring of that photo and four words I said to myself as I looked at it, “I Love that guy!”  
I Love That Guy!    
Yes, “I Love that guy,” is what I said to myself when I looked at that photo.  As I began to write this, I understood more and more why I said those words.  It is because it is so easy in life to get so wrapped up in the day to day trials and tribulations in life that you forget who you really are and become the person that you said you would never be.  It is like the revelation that so many of us parents make when we realize that we are just like our parents.  The image of me in that photo reminded me of the person I have been striving to be in this life:  professionally successful yet fun loving and not taking myself too seriously, living life to the fullest with no regrets, young at heart and spirit, waking up feeling blessed and thanking God for all that I have, not worrying about or questioning what I don’t have, ensuring (like my parents told me as  a child) that my child’s life is better than my own, being a living example for my child that life is beautiful and all things are possible regardless of the current state or situation you are in, becoming your purpose in life and sharing your God given gifts and talents with the world, blessing others as I have been blessed.    

Now it is time to tell Your Story.
I find it fascinating that one single picture could inspire so much in me.  I guess it’s really true that, A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.  If you can relate to any part of this blog entry and you are going through a challenging time in your life right now, I encourage you to look through your old photos and find the one that makes your say, “I love that guy or that girl.”  I want you to really think about who the person in that photo is; think about their energy, their smile, attitude, their spirit, mind and soul.  Remember who that person is and what they are all about…but most importantly, remember that that person is you.  Be that person!

To Your Story,
Ja Marr

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Posted on 02-05-2010
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by jbrown
For the past several months, I have been taking a Water Aerobics class.  Yes, I said Water Aerobics! For you macho men out there, don’t knock it until you try it. It is not nearly as easy or girly as some of you might think.  I will write more about my escapades in that class at a different time as this article is about a life changing lesson that one of my instructors taught me last week.   Let’s call her Gina.The Punisher

From day one, Gina has been very hard on me.  She is already known as the toughest and best instructor at the gym.  Every time we do an exercise or a stretch she will walk over to me and tell me to push it harder or I am not giving it my all. As I sit here writing this, the words; “faster, higher, move it, push it, come on now and you can do better than that,” are screaming at me louder than the music I am listening to on my IPod. That is what Gina yells as me throughout the entire hour long class.  It honestly feels like it did during Hell Week at the start of my H.S. Football season.  In many ways, she is harder on me than my coach was.  I must admit that at first, I was a little turned off by her treatment of me.  What made matters worse was that I was the youngest person in the class by at least 20 years and often times, the only male…can you say awkward. I dealt with the chastising and punishment for two reasons.  First, I was taking the class for a purpose and was not about to let her treatment of me cause me to lose focus and quit.  Second, there was a certain energy and strength about her that I admired. Last week, after more punishment during class, Gina and I had a brief conversation that showed me just where that energy and strength and treatment of me was coming from.

I look at you and think what if…

Usually, after class a few of the students sit in the sauna for a cool down or warm down as it were.  That day after class it was just Gina and I in the sauna.  She was asking me questions about my family, what I do for a living, my hopes and dreams, etc. She seemed intensely interested in what I was saying and kept telling me how proud she was of me and to keep going. “Don’t let anything stop you,” she said.  As usual, I did not want to dominate the discussion and wanted to learn more about her, so I asked her to tell me about her life.  She proceeded to tell me about how great her life has been and how at 67 years old, she and her husband stay active and enjoy their life.  Then she asked me my age and I told her.  Next she said that she has a son my age.  She said that unfortunately, he suffers from schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease and can’t do a lot of the things he hoped he would do with his life. Next she hit me with one of the most touching and impactful things anyone has ever said to me.  She said that, “Looking and watching you, reminds me of what my son could have been. I see you and think, what if my son could live a normal life…he would probably be just like you.” She continued by saying, “That is why I push you so hard.  You seem like such a bright, professional and personable young man.  You have the world at your fingertips.  I want you to do and be all the things that my son can’t.”

Life will never be the same again

It is amazing how you can learn from and benefit from the thoughts and wisdom of others if you are an open minded person and allow yourself to “be affected”  by life. Needless to say, I was deeply affected by my conversation with Gina.  I can’t think of very many compliments that are as great as telling someone that they remind you of their son or in this case, what their son could have been.  I will never forget Gina’s words to me and I will use them to continue to improve and better my life.  I am not a negative person or a complainer in general, but during those moments when I find myself going down the glass half-full route, I will remember Gina’s words. There is so much opportunity and life to experience…enjoy your life, live in the moment, be appreciative for what you do have and not overly focused on what you don’t have.  When you think that your life is bad or not going in the right direction, remember that you can do something about it, you do have control unlike others that don’t such as Gina’s son or the soldiers in Iraq or the people of Haiti.  Take full advantage of your life while you can. When you think about how difficult your life is, just remember all those whose life is really tough and as Gina would say, keep going, push it, you can do it.

Now it’s time to tell your story

As you look back at your life, can you think of any Gina types of people you have spoken to?  If so, please share what you learned or should have learned from those discussions.

To Your Story!

Ja Marr

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Posted on 24-02-2010
Filed Under (What's Your Sales Story?) by jbrown

Lexi and Daddy 1.jpg

Last year around this time, I wrote a blog entry titled, “The Best Night of My Life.” I really appreciate all of the positive feedback and comments I received from everyone that read it.  It was great to hear how such a personal and heartfelt story positively impacted so many people.  I also really enjoyed hearing the stories of other fathers and daughters who could relate.  If you have not read it yet, please do so as well as other blogs I have written.  I would love to get your thoughts, comments and stories.  In the meantime, here I am at the local coffee shop exactly a year after I wrote, “The Best Night of My Life…” getting to write about the best night of my life again. However, this time, it was the Best Day of My Life.

The Best Day of My Life C:\Users\Ja Marr Brown\Pictures\2nd Father daughter dance\Lexi looking back.jpg

My favorite singer songwriter of all time is Lionel Ritchie.  He has written and recorded some of the most successful songs of all time. For some reason, his music touches and inspires my soul.  A few years back, I was listening to the radio and Lionel Ritchie was being interviewed about his most recent album release. I don’t remember the conversation verbatim, but essentially the interviewer asked him if he was disappointed about the fact that his most recent album had not done as well as previous albums. Lionel’s response has stuck with me ever since.  He said something to the effect of, “How can I be disappointed?  I have created some of the most successful songs of all time…Truly, Three Times a Lady, Stuck on You (my personal favorite), Sail On, Hello ect.    It is impossible for me to compete with myself.  I can’t top those songs and don’t even worry about trying. All I can do is the best I can do at the time.  Whatever happens, happens.  I just feel incredibly blessed to still be able to do what I love to do and to have had the success that I have had.”

Lionel, I can relate Lexi and carriage.jpg

You know how sometimes, you hear something that sticks with you.  You don’t know how or why it does, but you have a funny feeling that it will come in handy one day. Well, that is exactly how Lionel’s response above affected me.  My daughter’s school’s Annual Father Daughter Dance was last Saturday.  Just as I wrote in the “The Best Night of My Life” I was extremely excited and could not wait to experience that event with my daughter for the second time.  However, I must be honest with you and say that thoughts of “How can we have a better experience at the dance this year vs. last year,” crept into my mind. Just as I was going through all of the things Lexi and I could do to make this year’s experience even better than last year, Lionel Ritchie’s voice entered my thoughts and I heard him say, “You have already created the best. Don’t try and compete with yourself, just enjoy the moment and have the best time you can.  If you try and compete with last year, you will spend more time worrying about doing something that cannot be done…as opposed to being in the moment with your daughter and having the best time you can this year.” Thankfully I listened to Lionel and was amazed at what happened as a result.

Daddy, let’s go on an adventure! Lexi and Daddy 2.jpg

As Lexi and I pulled into the parking lot, I prepared myself to be free and act like a total kid like we did last year. You see, last year, I was expecting she and I to have this formal type of Father Daughter dance experience, but all she wanted to do was to play and be a kid…so once I got over myself and allowed myself to be in the moment, I acted the same and she and I had what she termed was, The Best Night of her Life. So this year, I was expecting the same experience but what happened was the exact opposite. As we walked towards the event, Lexi grabbed my hand with that I’m not letting go firmness that those of us parents can relate to.  As we walked into the ballroom I saw a few of her friends running around and playing.  I turned to Lexi and said, “Honey, do you want to go play with your friends?”  Her response left me in shock.  She calmly said, “No, I want to stay with you.” I don’t know how many more years, weeks, months or days I have left of my daughter choosing me over her friends, but I will treat everyone one of them like it is my last. She and I sat down and ate lunch.  Several times her friends came up to our table and asked her if she wanted to go play.  To my utter surprise, she kept saying, “Not right now, I am spending time with my daddy.”  Can you feel my heart melting!

After lunch, the Fathers and Daughters were led to the dance floor where they taught us a couple of ballroom dances.  Lexi and I had a great time as she stepped on my feet and we danced to the Waltz and the Two Step.  After  dancing, I figured she would want to go on the Princess themed horse and carriage ride.  She told me that she did not want to. “Daddy, all I want to do now is go on an adventure with you.”  “What does that mean, I said.”  She said, “Let’s just walk around and discover things.” So we did.  She grabbed my hand again and we walked outside of the ballroom and simply looked around, discovered interesting things, took photos with my I Phone and talked about anything that came into our minds.  After awhile, I noticed other Fathers and Daughters following our lead and taking an adventure walk.  As we were walking, Lexi kept telling me, “Isn’t this fun daddy?  I am having a great time.” Then she asked me, “Daddy, are you having fun?”   I looked her in the eyes and said, “Lexi, this is the best day of my life.” Lionel Ritchie was right, you can’t compete with the best…but you can make the experience just as good!

Epilogue: Lexi and the girls.jpg

30 minutes or so into our adventure, several friends of Lexi’s ran up to her and begged her to go and play. I encouraged her to go and play and I took pictures.  No matter what, you have to let go sometime…but always stay close!

To Your Story!

Ja Marr

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Posted on 01-10-2009
Filed Under (Continuous Improvement) by jbrown

It is now 6:43 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I actually woke up at 5:45 a.m. because I wanted to play golf early and then spend the rest of the day with my family. However, here I am sitting at my kitchen table writing. The question is, Why am I at home  and not at the golf course as I had planned? You might think my answer is simple or you might think it is complicated; but let me give it to you anyway. The reason why I am sitting here vs. playing the sport I love (and got a hall pass from the wife to do this morning) is because I simply have something more important to do…not today, but in preparation for 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now.

The Now = The Future

The quote that I came up with to help guide my life is as follows: “Every action or thought either takes you closer to or further away from your aspirations in life.” Without detailing the Plan for my life, let me just say that spending my morning writing and practicing a presentation for a seminar that I am giving at my Church on Monday evening is more aligned with my future plan and aspirations than playing golf this morning. Am I bummed? No, because it is an awesome feeling to know that you made choices that will take you closer to the future you want to build for your family. Believe me, I will find time for golf…just not today. There is simply something more important to do.

A Poem on Choice

This morning, as I was reviewing the myriad of notes and ideas I have written, I came across a small spiral notebook. I remembered writing in the notebook after a friend of mine called me (several weeks ago) and asked me if I wanted to go to the golf driving range with him. Once again, I opted to not go and instead spent my time working on the audio version of my book, “What’s Your Sales Story?” The following is what I wrote about some of the choices I have made since deciding to pursue my “Life Plan.”

* You went to the driving range, played a lot of golf and your game improved. I did not go to the range, did not play as much golf and my game suffered.
* You went to bed early and woke up late. I stayed up late and woke up early as I developed my ideas.
* You hung out with friends and watched Monday night football. I hung out with family and wrote while I watched Monday night football.
* You went to the gym on a regular basis. I kept paying $25.00 a month membership fee and went to the gym seldomly…always with my personal journal in hand.
* You ate 3 meals a day. I at times was so focused and inspired that I forgot to eat.
* You thought about what you wanted to do with your life. I acted on what I wanted to do with my life.
* You were stomped by “How” you would accomplish your aspirations. I was inspired by “WHY” I wanted to achieve my aspirations.
* You talked about the time you did not have. I took advantage of the time I did have.
* You looked at other people’s success and asked, “Why them and not me?” I looked at other people’s success and said, “Let me learn as much as I can from them.”
* You led a good life but never reached your full potential. I led an inspired life and discovered that the sky truly was the limit.

Ja Marr, what does this mean?

I think the moral of the story is that the bigger your aspirations in life, the more you have to “Sacrifice.” I put the word “Sacrifice” in quotes because oddly enough, as I reread the previous section and reflected of the choices I have made, I really do not see them as “Sacrifices” at all. As a matter of fact, they were all great experiences and I would make the same choices again. They are what have made me and continue to make me the person that I am and are taking me closer to the person I want to become.

I am going to stop writing now because I could easily write a book on what I was trying to explain in the previous paragraph. As a matter of fact, I just might do that. In the meantime, I would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post.

To Your Story!

Ja Marr

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