“He’d do it all over again.”

I remember in 2003 when space shuttle Columbia exploded upon it’s re-entry back into the atmosphere.   It was a such a sad event event for our nation, upon the heels of the Challenger accident.  Yet I vividly remember the response from the crew member’s families surprising me.  In the mist of their grief they all mentioned they knew their son/daughter/brother/sister/father/mother… would do it all over again.  That exploring space was in their blood and to do anything else would have been less of life.  Yes it was a life cut short, but the families had peace that their astronaut would not have had it any other way.   I still remember sitting at work reading the newspaper about the crew members and their families loving reactions.  I had goose bumps about the power of that kind of passion to a cause greater than yourself.  My boss came up to me and I was sheepishly embarrassed about being caught reading the newspaper on the job.  But he saw the story I was reading and  he too was caught up in the event and we together spoke of few words of admiration for the astronaughts and their courage to live a life they loved.  When he walked away he pointed to the newspaper, made a arm thrust and said “let’s do better today.”

It is funny how I still clearly recall that moment.  It was a moment that Marcus Buckingham would call “a strong moment.”  And to “catch & cradle it” to look for clues as to what about it is speaking to me.  As this is a clue as to what life’s purpose is.



I thought of this recently with the downed helicopter in Afganistan that killed 30 troops. The news coverage profiling the service members again highlights the love for what they did.  That lived for this work and were proud service members.  How blessed are we as a nation to have service men and women who carry out this life passion despite the risks? For we surely have a stronger military forces with this kind of heart in our soliders.

So I was again struck when I read the words of Jan Brown, mother of Navy SEAL Kevin Houston who was killed in the helicopter crash.

“He was born to do this job.  If he could do it all over again and have a choice to have it happen the way it did or work at McDonald’s and live to be 104?  He’d do it all over again.”

Are you working at a “McDonald’s” job?  A job that is not fulling you or your world at large?  There will no doubt be memorials to our celebrated service men as there are to those Columbia crew members.  As there are to many other celebrated men & women.  We have many buildings, roads, parks and more named after such strong lives.

But perhaps the best way to celebrate a strong life is not a memorial.  But to instead step out and try ever so small, to live as they lived.  When I want to make a difference to someone in my own life, I do not do it so they can

Kevin Houston.
Photo by AP (File)  Kevin Houston.

So today… in the words of Mark Germano, “let’s do better today.”

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Love, Honor, and Baseball

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

This is such an inspiring story about a 23 year old young man!  Christian Lopez had an opportunity to take his American Idol moment via catching a prized baseball and then turnaround and profit from it.  Many young American’s would have.  But he didn’t.         He instead chose true love of the game and returned the ball to its rightful owner.  This is a strong young life we need to celebrate and give recognition to.   Kudos to Modell’s Sporting Goods and Steiner Sports for doing just that by rewarding him with financial support in part of what he could have collected by selling the ball (what a great example of how when you do the right thing… you can still be rewarded with blessings).

What impressed the sports executives — as well as countless fans across the country — was the way Christian, a mobile phone salesman, passed on the chance to sell the ball.

Instead, Lopez gave the ball to Jeter, saying he deserved to have the keepsake.

“Can you believe how good a mensch this kid was?” Steiner said.

So a huge shout- out to Christian who deserves this celebration.  And I am also giving a shout-out to Christian’s parents, teachers, mentors… anyone who taught this young man about mensch.  Bravo to you for a job well done.


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Heart and Fist

I had the pleasure of attending a reception last week for Eric Greitens, a celebrated Navy Seal turned Non-Profit Founder & Leader and Author.  I admired his book “Strength & Compassion” which has chapters with titles of Courage, Faith, Hope, among others.  I was intrigued because those are not words I would ever expect a Navy Seal solider to write a book about.  But Eric says they are exactly what makes a Navy Seal.  And… what makes each of us a warrior in the frontlines of our own lives.

“You have to be strong to do good, but you also have to do good to be strong” says Eric.

Below is an excerpt from his new book titled Heart & Fist that made a strong impression on me.  He points out the strength differences between men who make the cut to be a Navy Seal and men that don’t.  His answer may surprise you.  It did for me.

“What kind of man makes it through Hell Week? That’s hard to say. But I do know—generally—who won’t make it. There are a dozen types that fail: the weight-lifting meatheads who think that the size of their biceps is an indication of their strength, the kids covered in tattoos announcing to the world how tough they are, the preening leaders who don’t want to get dirty, and the look-at-me former athletes who have always been told they are stars but have never have been pushed beyond the envelope of their talent to the core of their character.  In short, those who fail are the ones who focus on show. The vicious beauty of Hell Week is that you either survive or fail, you endure or you quit, you do—or you do not.

Some men who seemed impossibly weak at the beginning of SEAL training—men who puked on runs and had trouble with pull-ups—made it. Some men who were skinny and short and whose teeth chattered just looking at the ocean—also made it. Some men who were visibly afraid, sometimes to the point of shaking,—made it too.

Almost all the men who survived possessed one common quality. Even in great pain, faced with the test of their lives, they had the ability to step outside of their own pain, put aside their own fear and ask: How can I help the guy next to me? They had more than the “fist” of courage and physical strength. They also had a heart large enough to think about others, to dedicate themselves to a higher purpose.

SEALs are capable of great violence, but that’s not what makes them truly special. Given two weeks of training and a bunch of rifles, any reasonably fit group of 16 athletes (the size of a SEAL platoon) can be trained to do harm. What distinguishes SEALs is that they can be thoughtful, disciplined and proportional in the use of force.”

In addition to promoting his book Heart & Fist, Eric recently founded a non-profit to serve returning soldiers in “The Mission Continues.”   He strives to serve his fellow comrades by providing fellowship programming to veterans.  I imagine a returned Navy Seal would have a lot more lucrative job opportunities than starting a non-profit to help veterans.  But that’s exactly what Eric did.   So this I know for sure;  Eric Greitens is living A Strong Life.


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Is a Long Life a Strong Life?

Interesting perspective from Big Think on asking the question… is a good life a long life?



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Make Your Mark

Lovely (short) article in the Sri Lanka Sunday Times newspaper  about  “ordinary people who made their mark on the world by making their mark on other people’s lives by changing the way they think and live.”

How are you making your mark?
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Persistence…. from the mouth of a babe

I feel happy that I fell!

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Humility Wins.

The Dallas Mavericks celebrate after Game 6 of the NBA Finals basketball game against the Miami Heat Sunday, June 12, 2011, in Miami. The Mavericks won 105-95 to win the series. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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