Failure and Why it’s ok…

So, i failed at my 2014 running goal.

BIG. TIME.

I was aggressive with them. Was coming off 2 years of running 500 plus miles and needed more of a challenge so I upped it to 700 and threw in 3 half marathons to boot.

To date, I’ve logged 370 miles, all before July. (i know i ran more during what I’ll call my “time with Oprah” but it wasn’t many and it was nowhere near another 330). I’ve done ZERO half marathons this year. (Please note: this is solely b/c I hadn’t signed up for any. Goal setting is easier when you plan it out).

I would say I’m disappointed in myself but I’m not really. 2014 has been a tough year. I lost both of my grandmothers and my dog of 13 years. I got thrown literally into a whirlwind of a tour called Oprah which was the hardest thing professionally I’ve ever tackled.

And I’m sitting here on December 28th in Dubai and I realize…

ITS OK.

It Truly is OK.

And I have so much to be thankful for.

As Oprah says “Everything that happens to YOU, happens FOR you”. So, I’m going with it.

I’ll be setting some new goals in the next few days and encourage you to do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

The Greek Isles

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Ornos Beach, Mykonos

Go ahead and book your Greece trips, folks.

It is spectacular and amazing and one of the best vacations I’ve had. Here’s how I decided to go to Greece. I was in a dangerous spiral of daily GroupONs and saw a deal for a 10 night trip including airfare and hotels for $2,600. It’s risky I know but I’m a risk taker. Fortunately, I have friends that said “sounds good” so off we went. Gotta be honest, my expectations were low.

And the good news is, we were pleasantly surprised.

So, here goes. Overall things you can’t go wrong with:

  • Eat Greek salad every chance you can. Why? B/c they look like this.

    Every Greek Salad really was THAT good.
    Every Greek Salad really was THAT good.
  • Take the high speed ferry between islands (well worth the extra $$)
  • Buy Karrafore products (if you know me you know I’m a shampoo/conditioner/product freak) they are amazing and much cheaper in the states. Plus, they are made in Athens.

Athens: (2 nights, 1 full day)

Hotel: President Hotel (fine but if you can afford it go somewhere else)

IN general, I think Athens get a bad rap. Everyone I knew said you only needed a half day. I just think Athens is like NY or any other major city which in comparison to the islands is different but still a great city.

10402627_10204336915292301_5223102383698743313_n
Night tour of the Acropolis

Acropolis – Not big into ruins but alas, this is what you do when you travel. Recommend you go at night. Not as crowded or hot. Afterwards, eat at Dionysos at the base of Acropolis. Great location, amazing view

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Marsh and me learning how to cook Greek food

Greek Cooking Class – Would definitely recommend this. We did it on our last night in town but would be good to do when you land (www.athenscooking.gr) b/c you literally learn how to make all the Greek food options and taste them. Who knew I happen to love eggplant salad & tzikiki sauce?

Hop On/Hop Off Tour – we didn’t do this but I regret it. It’s a cheap, easy way to see any city. I would have liked to see more of Athens.

 

Mykonos (3 nights)

Hotel: Yiannaki Hotel (our fav hotel) – located right near Ornos beach (pic at start) and close to the bus. There are about 30 taxis total in Mykonos so you have to rely on the bus or rent an ATV.

This is pretty much the beach party scene. Since we aren’t under 30 anymore, we just made this into a beach vacation. It was an amazing 3 days of eating, drinking wine and laying on the beach. Not a ton to do but I loved it. Beautiful views and amazing food.

Little Venice, Mykonos
Little Venice, Mykonos
  • Take the water taxi to any of the beaches. We went to the beach at the end but wish we had gotten off at Super Paradise. Fun day scene.
  • Our best meal of the trip was an amazing Italian meal at a restaurant I did not get the name of unfortunately. Outdoor seating near the water but not on the water in Little Venice.
  • Go to see sunset in Little Italy. Get a table by the water. Need to be there by 7:30
  • Took recommendation of hotel and went to a restaurant called Hippie Fish.  It was in a non tourist area and i appreciated not being in the crowds. Not to mention the view was amazing.

 

Santorini (3 days, 3 nights – not enough time)

Hotel: Kalisti Hotel (good hotel and great location). Again, if you can afford nicer do it.

By far, the highlight of the trip. Amazing town, amazing views. Great island feel. Would have spent a whole week here.

  • Rent a car. Lots of people told us to do that and they were right. Cars rent for $50 Euro/day and you can easily navigate the whole island.

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    Sunset View from our boat. Sailing around Santorini
  • Best trip was a ½ day sail on the Thalasa around the island.
  • Must eat at the following: Luckys (the gyros will change you) and Mama’s House (great Italian food at fast food prices only it’s delicious) and Sunset Café (you need a reservation for 7:30 to see sunset). Amazing experience.
  • Be sure to stop at Santos wine and taste a flight. Great view and great way to spend an afternoon.

Only thing we missed that I wanted to do was go on a hike. We couldn’t find it but later met people who did it and loved it. Near town of Fira. Oh yeah, i also really regret not eating a few more times at Lucky’s. Big fan of the $2Euro Gyros.

So, there you have it.

Amazing trip.

Greece, I will definitely see you again!

Oh yeah – one more pic for the road…

View from Oai, Santorini
View from Oai, Santorini

 

Alternate Views

Bear with me as I’ve just spent 36 hours in Jordan, the last 8 at Petra. Lots of walking to do at Petra. And lots of great views. check this out.

IMG_9290[1]Amazing right? And all of it is carved by hand.

This is the Monastery in Petra. To get there you climb alot of stairs. Alot. So many that every local out there tries to get you to not climb them but instead take a ride via “insert animal here”.

Well here I was hiking up those steps and it got me thinking (Well, to be honest, the first thing I was thinking was why in the heck did I not say yes to the camel, donkey, horse, “insert an animal here” ride up this mountain they had offered.

And then I started thinking about other stuff. Stuff like my “problems” and my life and what was I going to do about XYZ. And then, I had an epihany.

Look at this photo.

IMG_9320[1]The side by side view is literally the top and the bottom of the same set of staircases. It looks like it’s an entirely different area but it’s not. In fact, at one point I thought I had gotten lost but i had not. One way up & one way down to the good old Monastery but completely different views along the way.

So, it got me thinking.

How often in your life do you only see a problem and no solution is near? It happens to me quite a bit. So what if we changed our perspective? (physically or emotionally).  I can bet whatever it is you are facing would look a lot different with a different view.

Who knows you might even see a solution you hadn’t found before?

#deepthoughtsfromaPetraMonastery

 

 

 

Evelyn Engelking

Evelyn

Today my Grandma turns 91.

Unfortunately, she is celebrating it in heaven rather than here with us.

I’ve spent the last 5 days trying to figure out how to put my love for this woman into words and I keep falling short. Mere words do not seem to do her or our relationship justice.

However, here are some lifelong lessons I will never forget and I think everyone could benefit from:

  • Love Jesus & People – my Grandmother was an incredible role model of living a faith based life.
  •  Invest in People and they will invest back – my Grandmother has built a wonderful legacy. She was the first person I can remember that told me “You can do anything you want to do”. She was truly involved in my life and I am forever grateful for it.
  • Spend time in nature – I can’t say Green Thumb without thinking of my grandma. She loved her garden and taught me many life lessons by allowing me to spend time with her in her garden.
  •  Do something adventurous – She travelled the world and was always up for anything.  I remember her telling me she wanted to skydive for her 90th birthday. She was running races well into her 60s. To me, she was invincible and good at everything and always willing to try something once.
  • Keep learning – My grandmother went back to college to get her Master’s degree at the same time as my Mom went to college for the first time. The night she died she was still listening to books on tape. I know she valued education.
  •  Be inquisitive – On our last conversation my Grandmother started with “Tell me about the things that matter in your life”. What a great conversation starter she was.
  • Be Kind – From animals to people my grandmother had a soft heart for the less fortunate. Holidays at grandmas always included strangers and friends that she wanted to make sure felt welcome. And she took in stray animals all the time, including my very bad cat.
  • Be Charitable – I remember being 7 years old and going with my grandma to deliver meals on wheels. One of the last conversations I had with her was about the charity marionmedical.org. She was talking about the great work they are doing building wells in Africa. She donated money to various causes but more importantly she donated herself and her time.

If there is any “good” in me, I know it’s largely because of her and I miss her terribly.

I know I’m fortunate to have known her for 41 years. I also know she’s in a better place (and reunited with my Grandfather who passed away last March).

Love you Grandma. Happy Birthday, I’m sure you are leading the choir up in heaven.

Added on 1/18:

PS – Grandma fun fact: As I was helping my Mom type up the eulogy I learned my Grandma was not just on one tv game show, but 3. I remember her saying “hi” to me during her Wheel of Fortune stint in 1976 but she was also on You Bet Your Life (1952) and Beat the Clock (1959). A true star in the making. With her personality and good looks no wonder she kept making the cut.

Running Goal 2014

RunningQuotes4I’m a big believer in setting goals.

Back in 2010, i wrote this blog.  And I stand by it today. It’s how I accomplish things I want to do but never have the time.

The past 2 years, i have set very specific goals about running. As I think everything is better with friends, i invited others to join me in the challenge and in turn we created a community. You can read about it here, here, or here.

Truth be told, more people failed than succeeded. Once again, I was going to write about how many fail at goals but @MichaelHyatt says it best here. Plus, he offers solutions.

So, this year as a twist, I’m going to have the people that want in (that’s anyone), email me their goals. It could be 500 miles in one year, it could be a 1,000. It could be to run 3 half marathons (my goal from last year that didn’t happen, i did 2). Heck, you could hate running so it may be biking or walking that you want to do.The only requirement is that it’s exercise. Save your emotional goals for your therapist 🙂

Whatever your goal is send to me and once approved (yes, i will challenge you on it) it will be entered into the spreadsheet for the entire community to see and help cheer on.

Anyone that reaches their goal will get a special gift from me at the end of the year. Of course, the biggest gift is one you can give yourself by setting goals and accomplishing them.

For me, my fitness goals are simple:

1. Run at least 700 miles (having barely hit 500 the last 2 years, this is quite the step up)

2. Complete 3 half marathons. (again, most I have done is 2)

If you would like to get involved this year in Lynn’s Running Challenge, just email me at lynn.wittenburg@gmail.com and I’ll give you more details.

Good luck and here’s to a healthy, Happy, Running New year!

PS – Here’s another great piece by Mike on the biggest mistakes in goal setting.

 

The Power of Words

wordleSo, i heard a great sermon a few weeks back on the power of your words. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Here are some quotes to consider:

” Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” Proverbs 21:23.

“Remember that everything that is said should be TRUE but not everything that is TRUE should be said”

I sometimes struggle with words. My nature is to speak up, to fight for what I believe is right, to respond to every barb thrown.

Words matter. I think this is true in both business and in your personal life. All words have meaning. Both spoken and unspoken. It’s your choice to speak positively into another’s life or to speak negatively.

A friend of mine posted this as her FB status last week. “I appreciate those that have helped me and those that have hurt me, for both have made me stronger”. I believed her but not everyone is that strong or knows that words can only hurt you if YOU let them. That’s harder said than done, especially when it’s personal.

As a leader, I want to inspire and speak positively to my co-workers. Same goes for my family.

I’ve got work to do so, I’m putting “choosing words carefully” on my list of goals for 2014.

Drainer vs Charger

Last week, I went to a strength class taught by my good friend Celia Dubey.

When she was not trying to kills us, she spent some time talking to the group about what kind of person we wanted to be?

She basically said everyone is either a Drainer or a Charger.

draincharge

Think of the people in your life.

After you spend 1 hour with them are you feeling drained or charged?

How do they feel after they spend an hour with you?

We all know “drainers”. They are the people you see in the store and you try to duck into the next aisle before they see you or whose number comes up on your phone and you hit ignore. Whereas, chargers are the ones that immediately bring a smile to your face. You feel energy from them immediately.

The good news is we can control if we want to add value or take it away from most situations in our lives. I hope my friends, co-workers and family consider me a charger.

So, what are you?

Pelican Leadership

Before I jump into the point, I will share with you a poem. Self entitled “The Pelican” by my Grandpa Howie and first recited to me at age 7.

The Pelican

A marvelous bird is the Pelican

His beak can hold more than his belly can

But I don’t know how in the hell he can.

As a law abiding 7 year old, I clearly remember saying “Ooh, I’m gonna tell my dad you said a swear word” As threatening as I thought that was, my grandfather was unfazed and just repeated the poem. Anywho, as this poem came into my memory and hence, inspired this blog post I thought i’d give it the credit it’s due.

Now, on to my point.

As i recently watched various pelicans during my 135 mile Project Athena Road Trip from Key Largo to Key West via bike, foot and kayak, this poem popped into my head. It is actually pretty amazing that they can hold entire fish in their beak. It’s fascinating to watch them fish. You can get the basic facts on this bird here.

But this post is about something I learned about Leadership from watching the Pelican. First, watch this video.

httpv://youtu.be/SD8nHfLYmPE

Kudos to the person that put this on youtube. You really can find anything there. Not only did i find an example of what i wanted but it’s set to music as well.

Anyway, 2 things to note:

1. Pelican go up high and often alone or in small groups to get the big picture. In leadership they say it’s lonely at the top and I agree. But, it’s key to gain perspective by rising above the minutia and day to day tasks. Bring a few key confidants with you if you have them but get off the hamster wheel and try to see your operation from a different perspective.

2. Pelican are great activators. Once they see an opportunity (aka fish) they literally dive into action. In business, way too much time is spent planning and then not actually doing. Watch how they give their all and literally “dive-bomb” the fish. Once you have a target, do you attack the plan with as much ferocity?

It’s also important to note, they don’t catch a fish EVERY time but they are trying and give it 100%.

So there are my quick thoughts. Agree or disagree? What else can you add?

 

 

Project Athena

Recently, I embarked on a 135 mile journey from Key Largo to Key West with one of my best friends. I truly had no idea what I was getting into. My “friend” (i use that term loosely as our friendship was in danger multiple times during the kayaking portion each day) literally pitched me on this like I was floating in a tube (beer in hand) and riding beach cruisers down to Key West. My fault for not thoroughly reading the website.

I will say this “Sometimes, you don’t really know what is good for you”. It was truly a life changing experience and one I would have never attempted without my “friend”  So, except for the 30+ miles in the Kayak (UGH!) it was actually an enjoyable way to see the Keys. For more info on the trip, check this out.

Project Athena is the brainchild of Robyn Benincasa. Robyn’s story is amazing in itself but the fact that she organizes these trips to give back is just a small indication of the kind of person I got the honor of knowing.

Here’s what I learned on this trip:

1. The World is Full of Amazing People that truly care about making a difference.

I can’t possible write enough about the group of us so i won’t try. But, trust me I’m better for knowing them and am glad to know I will keep in touch with most. Often, you hear only about things in this world that are bad. If you follow the news or social media, it’s enough to make you know there is evil in this world.

But, there is good too. ALOT of good. All you have to do is open your eyes. Here is a Ted talk from one of my new friends. Her story speaks for itself. And her story is one of many amazing stories I heard throughout the weekend.

httpv://youtu.be/RbNDisGJ1wE

2. Life is short so make sure you spend it with those you love doing work you can be proud of.

I got the privilege of sharing this trip with 4 cancer survivors. Many of them had spent the last year of their life wondering if getting off the couch on any given day was going to be possible. I do not (thankfully) know what having cancer is like personally. However, I do have a grandma and a mother that are both survivors. I also lost my grandfather to cancer. One thing I do know this. It’s a horrible disease. And it seems to randomly chooses people.

So, live the life you have to the fullest because you never know how long we’ve got.

3. The body will achieve what the mind conceives.

this is actually something I’ve known for awhile. Your body will rise to the occasion. Especially when it comes to athletic endeavors. You CAN run a marathon. I CAN do 30+ miles in a kayak in ocean water. Your stronger than you think. Pick a goal and tell your body who it’s boss is. HINT: It’s your mind.

4. Things are better together.

Here’s the great thing about life. We don’t have to live it alone. So surround yourself with positive people and do your part to make this world a better place.

Thank you Project Athena for the life lessons I’ll never forget. And THANK YOU to my many sponsors who made this trip possible for me and the Athenas. I can promise you that the 4 people you helped send on this adventure are better for it as are us all.

Here’s a shot of them on the final walk up the beach with Robyn when we made it to Key West.

And here’s a great article written about our trip in particular. Click here.

Crap, I forgot the main lessons i learned on the trip so I’ll leave you with this.

Beware of the kayak. It may look inviting but it is not your friend. 🙂

PS – I guess now is a good time to thank my friend. So Annie, thank you for making me do this. You can now stop communicating with me through our 3rd party interpreter 🙂

Leadership

leadership

Recently, I was asked to write an article on Leadership for Baylors3.com.

Below, is a variation of what I wrote. It basically is 6 thoughts on how to become a leader.

When the article was posted, the author of the website sent it to @Bill_Veeck (who died in 1984 so amazing he is on Twitter) 🙂 and asked his thoughts. He said and I quote:

Don’t forget to have FUN! #Funisgood

I couldn’t agree more so I’ve added, HAVE FUN to the top of this list. Hope you enjoy the rest.

First, learn to follow

Say what? I asked you to tell me how to be a leader and you say to learn to follow? Yep, that’s right. You can’t lead until you know how to follow. And the best leaders are constantly following. You don’t have all the answers. And solutions can come from anywhere in the ranks or from outside sources such as books, mentors, etc.

He who has never learned to obey can not be a good commander – Aristotle

There are 3 essentials to leadership: humility, clarity & courage – Fuchan Yuan

Be a part of the solution (not the problem)

Trust me, there will be plenty of your co-workers complaining about all the problems with whatever organization you happen to work for.  An easy way to set yourself aside is to think of solutions rather than join in the bickering.  First, your superiors will notice but more importantly, it’s just a better way to live life. Don’t get caught up in the negativity. Have a vision & problem solve.

Where there is no vision, the people perish – Proverbs 29:18

Lead by example

People do not want to be told what to do. They want to be shown. It’s ok to get in the trenches.

Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow – Chinese Proverb

Surround yourself with the best

Don’t micromanage. It’s ok to hire people smarter than you. For me to be the best, I want to hire the best. There will be many things my people can do better than me and that’s great. Give people rope. There are other solutions than just the one in your head.

The best executive is the one who has enough sense to pick good men to do what he wants, and the self restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it – Theodore Roosevelt

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity – General George Patton

Stand up for what matters.

Pick your battles. This is probably the hardest thing to learn. When I was younger, I battled for everything. I thought it had to be my way or it would be wrong. The key to leadership is fighting for the important stuff, not every stuff.

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock – Thomas Jefferson

Believe in Your Vision & Act.

I’m paraphrasing but one of my favorite sayings is “it happened because no one told them it was impossible”. There are so many naysayers in our world and lives, people will tell you your plan can’t get done. They will point out all the reasons why you will fail. And this is where you can set yourself apart as a leader. Believe in your plan but most importantly, ACT on it.  As a leader, I truly believe half of my job is to just say YES.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has – Margaret Mead