The person you don’t know who changes everything for you

(OK, forgive any typos or mis-spellings. Spellcheck obviously has more important things to do right now than keep me from making a fool of myself)

Did you ever have someone in your life that wouldn’t recorgnize you walking down the street, but who has changed your life immensely? I have. This isn’t an interview question nor part of an application for a dating website. This is serious…not that interviewing isn’t, but this is seriouser.

I guess I am talking about someone who has kind of uncovered something so simple that you needed to be delivered to you at a very specific time; and it smacks you in the face with its awesomeness and changes you forever. It had been a while since I thought about this happening to me. But it did happen. And it was a big deal. For me, that person was Keith Harrell.

Let me step back a little bit.

If you have been here for a while, you probably know that everything isn’t always rainbows and unicorns in Heatherville. I can go to a pretty dark place in my mind; frequently somewhere between disappointment, defeat and discouragement. I have tried not to write about it too much, but I know I haven’t always been good at hiding stuff. Or maybe this has showed up as me looking for answers by reading about the human mind (and whose idea of a sick joke it is) and life philosophy (some of you might call this religion, but it’s different for me). Anyway, yeah, it gets dark here sometimes (kind of echoey too, but…). We all have our problems, blah, blah, blah. The difference between me and most people is that I am an oversharer. We all have our stuff.

But I think it’s clear that I have been doing some work to figure out what is going to make me happy. I really only get glimpses of the answer to the question here and there. There is no big answer. And the sooner we give up the idea that someone will deliver some big answer to us, the sooner we can move on and find it. You’re lucky if someone gives you hints…you’re getting warmer…no, you’re cold….freezing cold…OK, now you are hot!

So during all of this “work” I have been doing, I have come to understand the power of perspective and attitude. Holy crap, have I come to understand that! And what those 2 things have in common is that they are totally under your control. Your thinking can be broad or narrow or really just focused on the wrong thing. And it can be positive or negative AT YOUR OWN choosing. Which is why waiting for someone to deliver that one thing that is going to make you happy is a little silly. You are the one that needs to do the hard work. Smell what I’m cookin’?

A positive attitude is a muscle that requires flexing and training. I believe that we all have a starting point based on a number of factors and from there, we work at being more positive or we don’t. I’m not an expert, just a practitioner. And I learned that I needed to work on being more positive. A lot. And I have. It sounds easy to do, but it’s hard to remember to do it. I’ll give you an example. A few weeks ago, I was driving in pretty dense traffic and this woman pulled around me and nosed her way in front of me. As much as I would like to say this is the typical northwesterner thing where people just don’t know how to merge, it was more than that. She had to go out of her way to do this. I felt my body tense up and my mind start to go to that angry place. And then I stopped myself and thought “I’m not late for work. Maybe she is late for an important meeting and she is panicking. Maybe she really does need to get there more than I do.” I’m telling you folks, this sh*t works. Poof, it was gone (well, except for that little tiny self-satisfied feeling I had for letting this go). That little traffic thing could have cheesed me off all day. I decided not to let it. I chose to think more broadly and be positive. And please refer back to the rainbows and unicorn thing. This takes work.

You might remember me writing last year about training for a marathon. I felt so good about my progress and it actually seemed like something I could do. And then I fell off a ladder (literally). I should have gone to the doctor, but the pain went away after a couple weeks (and yes, I realize how ridiculous this sentence is so far). but still it was enough to knock me off track. I lost my mojo. And since then, when I have thought about the running, I have felt disappointed in myself for letting this happen, then I start making excuses and that makes me feel worse. It’s very negative. I mean, all of it is me saying bad things about myself to me (did I mention the echo chamber?). And this has gone on since probably mid-January.

Yesterday morning, I woke up and decided that nothing was going to change unless I did something different. I decided to write down as many reasons as I could think of to start running again. I put each one on a post it note and put it up on one of my kitchen cabinets. And I ended up with this:

 Not too shabby from a former/sometimes negative thinker! That was going to do it for me. I just needed a perspective tweak.

Less than an hour later, I was reading the sunday paper and I saw this. And my heart broke. And I remembered how I got to the point where I could put silly little post-it notes up in my kitchen to convince myselt to run again. It’s because of Mr. Super Fantastic. I was going to close out this blog post with this:

“After 24 years in the speaking business, millions of those touched by Keith Harrell are mourning the loss of the motivational speaker, writer, and mentor. The vibrant and contagiously positive professional devoted the last quarter-century of his life to inspiring and encouraging people to evaluate their attitude as they developed strategies and methods to lead a happy and healthy life.”

But I like this better:

“The attitude you choose today determines the success you have tomorrow.  Remember, attitude is everything!” –Keith Harrel

Word. And thank you, Keith!



Comments (10)

  1. Greg Roth says:

    This is one of the best posts that I have read on your Blog. (and that is saying a lot because I always find what I read here compelling.) I totally identify with your feelings and thoughts here.

    I had the opportunity to meet Keith and hear him speak a few years back while I was working at Microsoft. I was blown away by how powerful and good spirit he was and still is.

    Keith touched thousands of folks and sometimes it is so easy to forget the simple lessons that he and others like him have delivered to us.

    In your post you said: "I guess I am talking about someone who has kind of uncovered something so simple that you needed to be delivered to you at a very specific time; and it smacks you in the face with its awesomeness and changes you forever."

    Your post just did that for me. Thank you. I did not know that Keith passed away until I read this. Like you my heart broke too.

    After reading your post, I reached  to the right of my desk at home and found The Attitude Tune Up Card that he gave us to read daily. It has been sitting around collecting dust for some time but I still have it.. I consider myself a pretty positive person but I can always use a tune up. It is time to put it back into use.  

    Through my life's journey I have found in life that I can't always control what happens to me but I can choose and control how I choose to deal with what life throws at me. That is very empowering. Keith gave us some simple and great tools and I am blessed to have them and to have met this amazing person.

    Thank you so much for the wonderful post. Keep em coming. What you do in the arena you play in allows you to make a positive difference in others lives.. Nothing could be more important. : )

  2. Monty says:

    Wow!! This is something I needed to hear at this point in my life. So many things are going wrong, that I forget the good things in life. Guess I gotta get my attitude going in the other direction.

    As a side note – I really like this blog… i watch for a new posting every day.

    I hope you are feeling better.. I know I am because of this.

    Thanks a ton!!


  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Greg and Monty – you guys only made me cry in my coffee a little this morning 😉 Keith's spirit is HUGE. I can't imagine how many people were touched by it.

    I'm doing nothing more than passing on the attitude juju. It's a gift.

    In fact…Monty, I have an extra set of Keith's CDs. I would love to send them to you. If you feel comfortable, send me your email address and I will get them out this week or next.

  4. David K says:

    About the marathon training: I may be just stating the obvious and this is probably something you've already thought of… consider training for a shorter race such as a half marathon? And if that goes well (no injuries) then you could always still then train for a full marathon. You might like the "achieving the goal satisfaction" coming quicker with the half than full.  I've found the half (I do at most two a year) to be challenging enough and like that it doesn't "take over my life" nearly as much as training for a full. That is, I can handle doing a few 10+ mile runs on my own, but anything longer than that starts taking a lot more time. And it gets harder to do alone!

    I've heard this book is really good, but I haven't read yet: Born to Run.

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    David K – one of my post-its says "Half marathon: You can do it!" You are exactly right. My longest run during my training last year was ten miles. That's 2.5 fun-filled hours on the treadmill (yeah, I am one of those indoor runnvers because I like turning my brain off).

    i have heard great things about that book. maybe it is time to pick it up. I'm currently reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being…so perhaps something lighter is in order 🙂

    I'm gonna buy it from Amazon today. Thakns for the recommendation/reminder/encouragement!

  6. Kalyan says:

    mm.. talking about running, I love running too..

    3 years ago, I started running as a stress-buster, and I fell in love with it.

    I followed for everything from running shoes, diet, training schedule, etc.

    Hope you find it useful too!

    But Paris is too cold for me to continue this habit.

  7. Greg Roth says:

    Thank you Heather for the generous offer I would love to have the MP3's or CD's or whatever if it is not too much trouble. My e-mail address is Keep up the great work and happy training for your run. Cheers and God Bless!

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    Sorry, Greg, I only had one extra set and I sent it to Monty.

  9. Greg Roth says:

    No worries. : ) Thank you again for the great post and inspiration!

  10. Greg Roth says:

    No worries. : ) Thank you again for the great post and inspiration!