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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People- Random Thoughts Style

 I actually have a job. For more than ten years I have worked at FranklinCovey teaching habits of effectiveness to our clients worldwide. Doesn't that sound fancy.

You may recognize our best selling book by Dr. Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Reading this book changed my life long before I got a paycheck from FranklinCovey.

Some of your New Year Resolutions may have melted before your backyard snow. Take a look at these habits and see about adopting this as your new lifestyle.  

I recognize that not all Random Thinkers are going to bask in the glory of a good self help book like I do. No worries, I'm going to bring it to you straight, Random Thoughts style.

You gotta get this first:
See Do Get - Get your head straight. All that stuff that spins up there is the start of your greatness or your demise. Your thoughts decide your actions, your actions decide your results. If you're not happy with your life, check what's in your head and your heart first. Then you can work on your "to do" list.

Habit 1 - Be Proactive - Which really means, make good choices. It's not the stuff that happens to us that matters most, it's how you react to those happenings. No victims allowed. If you are busy blaming everyone else for your problems, cut it out. Stick within your Circle of Influence - There's a whole lot of stuff that's none of your business. That's called your circle of concern. Quit thinking about the stuff that's none of your business and focus on the things that you can do something about. By the way, what YOU can do something about is only about YOUR thoughts and YOUR actions. Stop trying to change your boss, your husband, your kids, your mom. Go take a hard look in the mirror. Start with the one looking back at you.

Habit 2 - Begin with the End in Mind - Figure out the kind of life you want. The kind of job you want, the kind of house you want, the kind of person you want to be. Don't let anyone else tell you who to be. You decide. But decide something. So much power in decision.

Habit 3 - Put First Things First - Now get to work becoming the person you said you want to be, the job you want, the house you want. You may have to say no to some other really enticing things like hours of twitter and facebook. Or maybe your job is getting in the way of the person you want to be, or the person you are is keeping you from getting the job you want. It's all you baby. Work it.

Now let's take a look at your relationships and what you are doing or not doing to make those better.

Habit 4 - Think Win Win  I never said you'll get a win win, but you have to start out thinking that way. Just you. Only takes one person to think that way. You can't move on to the next habits until you get your head straight on this one. You have to think about what's a win for everyone involved.

Habit 5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood I know you're brilliant with lots to say but you need to zip it and listen first. You know the quote:  no one really cares how much you know until they know how much you care.If you're serious about Habit 4 and Thinking Win Win, you have to do a lot of listening to understand what a win is for them. Listen to what they say and feel.  Go back and read that last sentence again. Ask yourself, how well do you do this now? Habit 5 is listening from the heart not just waiting for your turn to talk.

Habit 6 - Synergize - That's just a fancy word for working well together. You can't do that well until you practice Habits 4 and 5.  It's a math equation, Habit 4 plus Habit 5 equals Habit 6.

Habit 7 - Sharpen the Saw - Have you ever tried to cut wood with a dull saw? It sucks. The same idea applies to you and your life. Sharpen things so they work better. That means your mind, your body, your heart, and your spirit.

Here's an easy site to help you navigate through the right questions.

It's usually about asking the right questions that lead you to the right answers.

"When you can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." This is a quote by Viktor Frankl. He survived the Nazi death camps, top that with your problems. Buy the book = less than 10 bucks - Your new perspective = Priceless

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Word of the Year: Relinquish

It starts somewhere around December 30th. The swelling and buzz of excitement and anticipation. I toss and turn planning and plotting. The visions that dance in my head are intoxicating. Every January magazine feeds the frenzy. Every big box store and sale flyer taunting me and urging me on with their large empty containers standing erect at the end of each aisle.  It's time once again .............. to organize.

A new year, a fresh start, a clean slate, what will it bring, how will I prepare. But first, I must clean and containerize and sort and pitch and plan and dust and clean and tape and sew, and, and, and, ...  then go back to work.

It starts like most addictions, fun and festive, then quickly degenerates into something I no longer recognize as anything I would actively seek. I work harder, trying to regain the thrill. It's like a void I  just can't fill.

The inbox was empty and now it's filling faster than the ballroom on the titanic,dinging and haunting me with new information by the truckload. The island of  "no lid" Tupperware cleaned from the pantry now fills the counter space, looking for a home. The Christmas decorations have been sexing it up again this year, forever procreating, never fitting back in the box from whence they came. And faster and faster, I spin and dust and stuff and clean searching for that high, that thrill, the calm this was supposed to bring. The calm of organization. I read somewhere it would bring me inner peace.

Finally, the alarm bell rings ending this round. The big yellow school bus shuffles the minions back to their learning cell and I stand ready to take on the next challenge.  Back to work. Ready to sort and clean and containerize my career.

My addiction rages and pulsates like a Katy Perry breakout. I step over the pile of lidless plastic and move in on the database files. Next I'll go in for more email and finally end with a sweet goal statement for the year that will surely change my financial landscape and bring me peace and tranquility.  Yea, that's it, peace and tranquility.

But first, I'll give more, volunteer more, be more patient, be more kind, and return those Christmas gifts, and then categorize the receipts and maybe pick up a new container for the flour, one with a lid.

Id be lying if I didn't admit, every single one of those thoughts crossed my mind in some level of detail and seriousness over a two week period. Some ideas got set on shuffle like a tiny playlist etching into my brain creating a crevice so big I had to step over it to get in the shower each morning.

So, like all good addictions, there must come a breaking point. A behind the scenes moment of wrecked cars, broken glass, and mothers crying about their beautiful baby that once was. January 12th was my breaking point. Then I wallowed in self pity.I lay on the couch with my blankie. I was hoping if I was Ozzy, somewhere there would be Sharon to brush back my hair and tell me I'd be okay and that she loved me even though I was slobbering and pathetic. I took a Tylenol PM and put myself in timeout before I could do anymore damage.

I awoke determined to change. But to what. From what.  I no longer recognized the pieces of me that were left. Like pieces of lidless plastic, nothing seemed to fit. 

I was spending a lot of time trying to corral clutter that really didn't matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. If this neatness was supposed to bring me inner peace, why was I feeling homicidal? 

Finally that night I lay between my two kids reading a book.We read a scene about a man lying on a dock under the vast blanked of stars. I pictured that image so vividly, I could taste the night air and feel the hard dock under my head. This moment was truly intoxicating. This felt more like inner peace than my now clean pantry and empty inbox.

Then with the sound of grinding gears my paradigm shifted. 

If I truly want to live the best year of my life, this should be the year of release, not control.  Control is giving me absolutely no inner peace, in fact, my innards have no peace but are, however, in pieces.
Let me instead release control to our Maker of Miracles. Let me release control of the fear and the fetishes. Maybe I should clear my cookies of and start my own space called My landing page will be a picture of me laying on the dock under a blanket of stars.  That sounds way more like inner peace doesn't it?


to renounce or surrender (a possession, right, etc.): to relinquish the throne.
to give up; put aside or desist from: to relinquish a plan.
to let go; release: to relinquish one's hold.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Not Wrong Just Different - have you checked it out?

This is my sneaky blog within a blog post.

If you're not hooked in already, please check out my book/blog project: Not Wrong Just Different.

This is my site to house my book ideas and feedback from you on ADHD relationships.  If you know someone in an ADHD relationship please pass this on to them.  I'm craving feedback.  My goal is to complete this book, Not Wrong Just Different by 11/11/11 - Not a small task with my wacky life!

 I have two new posts up:
1. My Journey with ADHD starts here - this is my intro to the book
2. Our Love and Our Differences Equally Profound - just another Saturday with Dude and I trying to figure out how to live happily ever after with two very different brains

Thanks for reading!  And double thanks for commenting!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Power of Networking: Update on the Tawfeeq family

Those who believe that Facebook and Twitter are only for people posting pictures of their food or stories about their cat, check this out.

The combined effort of the original email that Todd sent out and the power of our networks have alleviated a huge burden from a very deserving family with $8000 dollars raised and more coming in. 

Here is an update on the Tawfeeq family from my friend Todd.

As of Friday, four of the five loans were paid and I have a $2,000 commitment from someone that will cover the remaining amount on the final loan. Checks are also still coming in so we are going to go well over the top on paying these off and then some. Please let everyone know how grateful we are for this incredible show of support and generosity. No additional donations are needed for these loans and anyone who sent a check after the loans were paid off will be contacted by CWS to see if they want the money returned or applied to other immigrant travel loans. I am also in the process of setting up a Medical trust for the family since they do not have health care coverage for Rand, the oldest daughter who had the kidney transplant. If anyone still wants to make donations to the family, that will be another option.

Thank you for your support on this. It has truly been an amazing experience.


I want to extend a huge thank you to all those that reposted this to their Facebook account and did a RT on Twitter.  Some of you even posted their own blog posts to get the word out.  To those that took the time to reach into your pocket and donate, *bows low*. Amazing, I am humbled by your willingness to reach out and help.  My blog traffic was up over 1000% this week.  Truly amazing. Proving again, people are inherently good and like to help others.

Thanks again, Random Thinkers, this act was not at all random, it was focused and full of heart. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Need Your Help

Happy New Year Random Thinkers -

I decided my new year would be to serve more, give more, get my priorities straight.

As always, when you set out your intentions the Good Lord brings you opportunity.

I received this letter today from a very dear friend of mine Todd Harrison.  I know Todd personally. We worked together professionally for many years and he is one of the good ones.

Please read this letter and request from Todd.  I need us to rally about Random Thinkers.  I wish I had the full amount to donate myself.  I donated what I could and now I'm using my network and you, my tribe, to help this family.

If each follower of Random Thoughts donated $150 we'd be there.  If each reader donated $20 bucks we'd be there. Please do what you can.

Thanks and Happy New Year to you all!


Dear Friends and Family,

As we begin this New Year full of hope, I wanted to take a moment to share with you a story about a very special family – the Tawfeeq family –and how they came to be a part of my family’s life. After reading this story, you will understand why I have committed to ensuring they have the greatest opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Many of you are aware that in March 2003 my Army National Guard battalion deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In those early days, we relied on local English-speaking Iraqis to serve as our translators. That is when I met Shihab Ahmed Tawfeeq.

Shihab served as my personal translator from June 2003 to July 2004. During this time I got know this man and his family extremely well. They treated like me like a member of their own family and brought me great comfort during the war. Shihab also used his language skills and knowledge of the local culture to help protect and save many lives, both my own and the soldiers in my battalion.

As I was preparing to leave Iraq in 2004, Shihab expressed his concerns about his family’s safety. He had received numerous threats of violence because of his work with and loyalty to the U.S. military. He told me of his long-held dream to emigrate to the U.S. and asked if that would be possible, especially since he had served me and my battalion so faithfully. I told him that his service to our country would not be forgotten and that I would do whatever I could to make sure his dream came true.

Shortly after I left, one of the local militia attempted to kidnap Shihab’s youngest daughter in retaliation for his working with the U.S. Army. After that failed attempt, his brother-in-law was killed outside Shihab’s home. The killers left a note indicating that all of Shihab’s family would be killed because of his work with the U.S. military. Fearing for his family’s safety, Shihab quickly sold their house and possessions and they fled Iraq with a few thousand dollars and whatever they could carry. Thus began their 5-year struggle to get to the U.S.

First, they went to Jordan, entering the country on guest visas, hoping to emigrate to the U.S. before their visas expired. It quickly became clear that the U.S. had no plans in place to help those Iraqis who had served us so well. The family’s guest visas from Jordan expired and they were once again forced to leave. They had no place to go – no country to call home, so they sold what few possessions they had left and bought airline tickets to Cairo, Egypt.

I will spare you the details about their difficult life in Egypt, but suffice it to say that the family suffered heavily during this 3-year period of time. Not only because they had no money, but also because Iraqi exiles were considered international pariahs. They could not work, go to school or have access to public services. The lack of medical care was of critical importance to the family as Shihab’s oldest daughter, Rand, had received a kidney transplant just prior to the war and was in desperate need of constant medical care.

I would like to take a moment here to say a heartfelt thank you to so many of you who donated money and other items to the family during this time. It was only through your generosity that they were able to survive their time in Egypt.

In 2006, the Tawfeeq Family’s hope was renewed again. After 3 long years of constant work with an immigration attorney, Senator Richard Lugar’s office, and many others, our government finally approved them for a special immigrant visa set aside especially for Iraqi interpreters and their families. In November 2009, the family (Shihab, his wife Khawla, his son Saad and his youngest daughter Shahad) arrived in Indianapolis, Indiana. Unfortunately, by this time the two older daughters (Rand and Ban) had already turned 21 and were ineligible to emigrate with the family under this special immigrant visa program. They were forced to stay in Egypt as refugees; however through the continued efforts of many people they were reunited with their family in July of 2010 as part of an Iraqi refugee relocation program.

Now, the family is settled in Greenwood, Indiana (just south of Indianapolis) and Shihab has a temporary job that provides a take home pay of around $300/week. He hopes the job will become permanent at some point in the near future. Thanks to the enormous efforts of my parents, Saad and Ban are enrolled in English classes at a local high school and both will begin GED classes in the Spring. They also helped Shahad enroll in college at Ivy Tech, where she hopes to someday obtain a nursing degree. Rand is finally getting the medical attention she requires for her kidney and is getting stronger every day. Khawla, like most mothers, is working diligently to make their humble apartment a “real American” home. She proudly displays a large U.S. flag on the wall in their living room.

This family, whom I consider part of my own, has been through so much during the past 6 years. They are resilient and proud of their ability to survive, but one more crisis is looming on the horizon. Upon obtaining their visas, the Church World Service provided them with a travel loan to purchase their airline tickets to the U.S. The loans are now due and the family must collectively repay more than $8,000.

We have all been blessed with so much. This family, who has so little and has endured so much, deserves an opportunity to rebuild and enjoy their new lives here without this additional financial burden. I am asking you for your support. If you or anyone you know would like to contribute to the repayment of this travel loan on behalf of the Tawfeeq family, I would be personally grateful for the generosity.

Below is a copy of the loan payment information so donations can go directly to Church World Service. I have also attached pictures of the Tawfeeq family so you can see who you are helping. If financial support is not possible, we ask for your continued thoughts and prayers for the health and success of this family.

World Church Service Loan Information

Remit by check to: Church World Service, P.O. Box 64706, Baltimore, MD 21264-4706 Attn: IOM Loan Program (include the immigrant’s name and loan number on the check), or

Remit by Credit Card by calling 866-723-9579 (indicate when calling the immigrant’s name and loan number)

Immigrant Name Alien Number Account Number Original Loan Amount
Shihab Ahmed Tawfeeq 060-530-329 0421334-01 $2,924
Shahad Shihab Ahmed 060-005-274 0421334-02 $1,462
Saad Shihab Ahmed 060-005-275 0421334-03 $1,462
Rand Shihab Ahmed 212-405-836 0423444-01 $1,053
Ban Shihab Ahmed 212-405-937 0423445-01 $1,053

Thank you all and God bless!

Todd Harrison
Lieutenant Colonel (retired)
U.S. Army National Guard