Change is Good!

Change.  We walk around with it in our pockets and purses every day.  The small coins that make up the US Currency are traded every day for items of the same value.

My friends, change is a good thing.  Not just the coins in our pockets, but change in life, change in your future goals, change in your current state, and most importantly, change in your path to success.

Today I want to relate the two definitions of change – by simply looking at those who were selected for the ‘heads’ side of these US coins.  And I hope to enlighten you to some of the famous quotes from these memorable people who had so many great things to say.

The Penny

The 1 cent US Penny contains Abraham Lincoln.  He is known for so many memorable quotes – some of which are below:

      • Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm” – great advice.  Before you hold firm to your beliefs, make sure you are standing in the right place.
      • Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe” – it’s a well known fact that the more you plan the greater the probability that your outcome will be successful.
      • Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt” – too many times we speak before thinking.  It’s been said that there is a reason that we have 2 ears and 1 mouth – so that we listen twice as much as we talk.  Ensure that you speak with confidence, but that you know your topic.
      • In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years” – I’ve written before about a story I read long ago called “The Dash” which speaks of the dash “-” between your date of birth and date of death, and the question ‘What will you do with your dash’.  It truly is important that you make the most of your life while you have time!

The Nickel

The 5 cent US Nickel contains Thomas Jefferson.  Below are some of his quotes and takeaway points:

  • Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom” – to truly gain wisdom, you have to be a person of honesty, respect, and integrity.
  • Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on Earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude” – I strongly believe that before you can BE IT, you must SEE IT.  If you are thinking correctly, and you are using the right mental attitude, then you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.  However, if you have a negative attitude, continuously feel defeated, or you have laid plans for the wrong direction, then you will soon find failure.
  • Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances” – wise words, and, as most of us will agree, easier to say than to do.  Many of us have situations in our lives that we control our reactions.  But only a rare small percentage of people can say they remain calm in all situations.  Controlling your temper is very much like exercise.  The more you exercise the control, the more in shape you will become.
  • Determine never to be idle.  No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any.  It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing” – always be doing, thinking, planning, strategizing, and growing.  Of all the things we can replenish, purchase, and manufacture, time is not one of them.  Take advantage of the time you have, and you will never regret the hard work you put into your life and goals.

The Dime

The 10 cent US Dime contains Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Below are some of his quotes and takeaway points:

  • There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still” – there truly are so many directions we can go from a single point.  But as stated, there is only one way to stand still.  Your first response may be that this sounds contradictory to the Thomas Jefferson comment above regarding the suggestion to always keep working, moving, and never being idle.  This is not about standing still and not working.  Imagine you are at a crossroad – as you sit there in your car, you are mentally making decisions on which direction you will take.  Will you go forward?  Will you turn left?  Right?  Will you turn around and go the opposite direction?  Standing still is one of the times when you can see clearly where you want to go, and you can plan for the next step in your life.  Sometimes you have to stop, and stand still, and let your direction come to you – instead of you going in the direction without a plan.
  • Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are” – Stephen Covey once said that we cannot truly accept change until we have a changeless core.  This changeless core are the principles which guide your life.  Rules will come and go.  They will be modified, adjusted, removed, and added.  But principles are the changeless core which you must evaluate for your life in order to be able to stand still and to grow.
  • The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – one of Roosevelt’s most memorable quotes.  So much truth in these simple worlds.  Be strong, and have faith in yourself, and never let fear infiltrate your drive to succeed.  Zig Ziglar once said “Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tarter sauce with you!”
  • It isn’t sufficient just to want – you’ve got to ask yourself what you’re going to do to get the things you want” – thinking, planning, strategizing, prioritizing.  These are all great mental activities which are key in the “standing still” phases of life.  But if you don’t get up, get moving, and start pursuing your goals, you will find yourself still sitting and thinking.  Set your priorities, determine the steps you need to take, and start walking.  They say ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step’.  Start walking!

The Quarter

The 25 cent US Quarter contains George Washington.  Below are some of his quotes and takeaway points:

  • Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble” – anyone who has ever borrowed money knows the pain that interest causes to the whole process.   This is because interest never benefits the one borrowing, it only benefits the one being borrowed from.  The same applies with worry as the interest on trouble.  If you want peace in a time of trouble, stop worrying, build your confidence, and face the trouble without a worry in your mind.  Because worrying will never benefit your troubles – it will only make them grow and become stronger.
  • It is better to be alone than in bad company” – the old saying “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” is not always the best policy.  Sometimes it’s best to steer your direction clear of those who will bring you down, fill your life with negative feelings and support, and degrade the value of your principles and goals.  If you knew there was a dangerous animal outside that would attack you if you approached it, you would not go out.  Sometimes you have to be aware of the bad company around you, and ensure that you stay away
  • 99% of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses” – have you met these people?  I am sure you have.  When things are going well, they are positive, motivated, and ready to take on the world.  When failure comes, and things are tough, they throw up their hands in defeat, and seek to find someone to blame or they make excuses for the failure they are experiencing.  The solution to your failures is to take ownership, and spend your energy on finding a solution, and resolving the things that caused you to fail the last time.  Don’t be fooled by the assumption that failure will not happen again.  Many successful people will tell you that they failed multiple times before they achieved success.  Keep focused on what you wish to accomplish, learn from the failures, don’t make excuses, and continue to march toward success.


The Fifty-Cent Coin

The 50 cent US coin contains John F. Kennedy.  Below are some of his quotes and takeaway points:

  • My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” – this is singlehandedly one of the most memorable quotes by any US president in history.  And such great strength is found in these words.  Whether you are talking about your country, or your career, your company, your family, or your goals – you can simply replace the word “country” in this quote with either of these areas and it works.  Begin TODAY looking at how YOU can make a difference in these areas, and you will find that the rewards of doing this will be extremely high.  You want your job to be better?  Stop looking for what your company is doing for you, and start looking at what you are doing for your company.  You want your personal life to be better?  Then focus on what YOU are doing in your personal life, and how you can make things better all around.  You have goals? Ambitions?  Stop waiting on your dreams to just appear – start planning what you can do, every day, to improve your chances of meeting each and every one of them.
  • As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them” – ever since I read the book “How to Become CEO” by Jeffrey Fox, and found an acronym WACADAD (which stands for ‘Words Are Cheap And Deeds Are Dear’), I have tried to live by this principle.  People don’t care if you speak, they care if you act.  Show the world that the principles and words that you speak of are not just lost in the spoken word.  Live by your principles and your words, every day, and in everything you do.
  • Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction” – every year, I watch the NFL football draft.  I see young men, who have graduated from college, eager to join the pro league.  They have the skills, they have the desire to play, but their future is dependent on someone in the league having faith in them and hiring them onto the team.  Fortunately, for each of us, we are not in the NFL draft.  We have the choice to seek purpose and direction for the things we wish to accomplish.  Having courage and a drive is clearly a core value to prepare you to be successful, but unless you have a purpose, you have no goal to achieve.  And lastly, it’s essential to know the direction you are going.  If you are driving in one country, and you have a map of another company, you will never get where you want to go.  You need to have a map that defines the direction you are going, and it needs to be relevant to where you want to go.
  • For time and the world do not stand still.  Change is the law of life.  And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future” – have you ever tried to drive a car while being fully turned around and staring out the back window?  It’s difficult to drive where you want to go if you’re not facing the direction you are going.  Learn from the past, live in the present, but always focus on where you want to be in the future.
  • The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining” – as I write this, the news on the TV speaks of hurricane Sandy, which has beat upon the Northeast states of the US.  The people of these states are in repair mode, working hard to recover from the impact of the hurricane.  They do not have the luxury of waiting until the sun is shining to repair their homes.  Your situation is likely different.  Don’t wait until you are in repair mode to start resolving the issues and broken dreams.  Analyze your situation, determine the changes that are needed, and move on while things are in a good shape, and you will find that you are on the road from good to great.  The road from bad to great is much longer!!

The One-Dollar Coin

The One-Dollar US coin has actually contained two ladies: Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea.  Each of these ladies had memorable quotes – as noted below:

  • Failure is impossible” (Susan B. Anthony) – the day you set in your mind that failure is not an option, that, even if you fail today, you will succeed tomorrow, you will see a great change in your life and your future.  Don’t be let down by the difficulties in meeting success.  Keep your eyes on the goal!
  • Everything I do is for my people” (Sacagawea) – there are many books on servant leadership and serving others.  The greatest sacrifice anyone can make in their lives is to understand the value of helping others, and realizing the benefits of seeing a bigger picture which is not simply about themselves.  Zig Ziglar once said “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”.  Live by these values, and watch the miracles occur in your own life.

As with the coins in the US, there are many types of changes we will face in our lives. Some will be good changes, some will be trials.  But all are possible to overcome and/or accomplish, if you have the right attitude and drive.

I leave you with one of my most favorite quotes ever – given to us by Mahatma Gandhi, who said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world“.  Great words to live by.  What are you doing today to be the change?


This is Mike Lyles and I Approve This Message: One Lovely Blog Award

I have been so pleasantly surprised with “The Lovely Blog” Award from a writer whom I have followed for some time, Brianna Boedeker.  To be given this award by someone who writes so many great articles was extremely humbling to me.  And I want to begin this blog by thanking Brianna for such a great honor!

A few years ago, I watched a movie called Slumdog Millionaire.  The essence of this movie was that everyone was surprised that this young man in India was able to answer all of the questions required in a “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire” game show.  As you watch the movie, you realize that his life has prepared him for the trivia questions that he so easily answers.  This had an impact on my thinking as I watched this movie, and even today, I feel strongly that every event in our lives prepare us for where we are going – each of them setting up the next events that will take us closer to the memories of our lives.

Therefore, I would like to share with you a few of the events that have laid the foundation for the place where I stand today.  Here goes…..

  • It began in a hospital in Elkin, North Carolina on August 29, 1971.  I am sure I can tell this story in full detail, because my mom has reminded me of it many times.  When I was born, as with most of the events in my life, I didn’t follow the conventional ways.  Instead of arriving head first, I decided to land on my feet in the world – and at 6pm on 8/29/71, the first leg arrived into the world.  The issue was that the rest of me didn’t want to move.  The doctor took one look and informed my mom that my ginormous head was stuck around her ribcage and he was going to complete my entry into the world with one quick jerk.  When he did this, my mom’s rib was broken and she literally came close to giving her own life to give mine to me.  I owe a lot to my mom who has sacrificed a lot for me for many years.
  • At the age of 7, while returning from a family wedding, I sat down at a piano and played a wedding song with no music.  Astonished family and friends decided I should be a pianist, and for the next 9 years, I would take piano lessons.  Through the years following that time, I have played the piano for over 50+ weddings, even played the piano for my 8th grade graduation, and many other events.  It’s hard to explain, because I hear something and then I can play it – no idea how it works, but playing the piano has been a passion of mine ever since 7 years old.

  •  In 6th grade, 1983, at the age of 11, I took a computer certification course on a shiny “new” Apple II/e computer.  I knew, on that day, that my career would be wrapped around a computer in some way.  I told everyone that I would someday be a ‘computer programmer’!

  • In the following years, when other kids played with toys, I bought and programmed on a Commodore 64 computer.  Kids today don’t even know what a ‘monitor’ is, since computers are usually laptops, tablets, or the system is all internal to the monitor.  But, back in this day, the Commodore 64 didn’t even come with a monitor.  You connected it to your TV.  And there was no hard drive – I used a cassette tape drive to record my programs.  I surely was a geek.
  • In both 8th and 12th grade, as superlatives were nominated, I received the “Most Dependable Boy” award.   I took this “title” very seriously.  It made me always want to be a dependable person – in school, career, and life.
  • In college, I discovered a passion to help others.  Becoming a tutor for various courses and students, I not only got paid for the work, but realized how satisfying it was to help others learn something, and to coach and mentor others to grow.  One valuable thing that I learned from being a tutor was that not everyone learns the same way.  You have to work hard to find the approach that maps to a personality in order to get through and make an impact.
  • In 1993, I graduated from college and was ready for the world – but, apparently, the world was not ready for me.  A career in computer science was hard to find and job searching became a painful process.  I was in a no win situation – everyone wanted experienced people, but I needed a job to gain experience.  Anyone who knows me today knows that I have a passion for helping others find work.  When someone approaches me to help them with finding a job, I take it very serious, and I remember that back in 1993, needed a job myself!
  • After a few months of job seeking, I met one of the greatest bosses I would ever have in my career.  Nate Nixon, a retired executive, was building his own development company.  Nate took a chance and became the first person to have faith in my career abilities.  I could not have asked for a better opportunity in my life.  Instead of learning all the technical details of the real world of computer programming, I learned valuable soft skills on how to deal with employees, customers, and coworkers.  I will never forget those days with Nate and the great respect that I had for him.
  • In 1994, I joined a hometown company, Lowe’s as a tech support engineer.  Soon afterwards, I would become a programmer.   For almost a decade, I would be part of core efforts to build systems for Lowe’s stores.
  • In 2003, I became a manager of many development teams, and I found so much joy in helping others to start and/or grow their careers in development.  And I learned that you can achieve so many things if you put together a strong team.  I also realized that a team can do so much more than one person alone – if you have the right people in the right places.
  • During my development career and as a manager of developers, I worked with many testing efforts and tools for quality assurance.  I took courses in test management, and began to learn all that I could about improving the quality of work.  When my company created a QA group in 2008, I joined this team immediately.  This, to me, was one of the major turns in my life that would be integral to where I am today!
  • Matt's Note On TwitterSo I joined Twitter, and I placed on my Twitter profile that I had a passion for writing, wishing to write a book someday, and that I was in a QA/Testing role.  Out of nowhere, I am contacted by Matt Heusser, who would tell me that he is a writer for a testing magazine, and would like to interview me in a monthly column called “Ask the Tester”.  What a surprise and honor for me.  I was in my first published magazine in March 2012.
  • So many wonderful things have happened since that article.  I have written two articles for the same magazine, one newsletter, and in October 2012, I was a speaker at the STP Conference in Miami, Florida.  I realized how energizing and special it was to stand in front of others and tell a story and/or teach them something new.  The opportunities continue to come, and I stand in amazement as I look forward to what comes next!!
  • So as I write this blog, I anticipate someday to be a published writer, to coach, mentor, and train others, and to make a difference in the lives of others.  I can’t wait to look back someday at this very blog and realize where I was when I wrote this vs. where I am when I read it later.  The doors continue to open.  And I’m running through them as fast as I can!
  • I end with a few strange, interesting, or funny facts about me:
    • I like cheese, you have no idea
    • Oreos were made for me – what would the world be like without them?
    • I am an extreme Pittsburgh Steelers football fan – I can’t even explain in detail – would take too long.  I have attended 2 AFC Championship games in Pittsburgh.
    • I love comedies and laughing – if you can make me laugh, you have my attention.  They say laughter is the best medicine.  Most of the time, I think I am overdosing.
    • I love to learn something new every day – especially when it helps me to move closer to my goals
    • I can say my A,B,C’s backwards really fast.
    • In college I was featured in USA Today as part of the “Academic All-American” team.  I think my mom bought 100 of them that day.

And my nominations for the One Lovely Blog Award are as follows:

  • Brianna’s Happy Life – one of the first major bloggers to pay attention to my site.  I’m privileged to have connected with Brianna.  Her site is very entertaining, and I there is a page where she talks about her GOALS that is so fun to read!
  • Dream Life Moments – this is such a neat site.  Jennifer and I met through our nomination from Brianna for this very award.  But I challenge each of you to check out her site – two of my favorite areas are her 33 Random Things on her dreamlife list, and the contents of her “About Me” page.  Very entertaining.
  • Laughing At Everyday Life – if you want to have some fun, check out this site.  So many funny quotes, comments, articles.  When I want to laugh, this is where I go!

Thanks to all who follow me, and keep reading!  There is more to come!

5 Reasons You Should Stop Pursuing Your Dreams

Dreams.  Goals.  Ambitions.  Everyone has them.  Even those who say they do not, are, in essence, setting a goal to not have them.  The question, however, is, what are we doing to reach the dreams and goals in life?  What is stopping us from achieving the things that we want?

I have spoken to many, listened to their goals, dreams, ambitions, and I have heard the excuses as to why they are not setting the path to achieve them.  And this has inspired me to compile a list that I will call “5 Reasons You Should Stop Pursuing Your Dreams”.  I’m sure when you saw the title of this article, your first reaction was “Why would anyone suggest reasons to stop pursuing their dreams”.  Well…..I want to provide you with something I’d like to call “The 180 Look“.  That is, to take a 180 degree turn, and think differently about the roadblocks and obstacles that are continually keeping you from reaching your goals in life.

1.  “It has never been done before”.

Who hasn’t heard this excuse?  It’s impossible.  It’s unattainable.  No one has ever done it.  Why do you think you can?  All of these are examples of the kinda of thoughts and inputs that we have when we are considering something that may have never been accomplished before in our lives.

But I challenge you to rise above this negative thinking.  The “180 Look” for this reason is simple.  Tell this to Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.  Tell this to Michael Jordan, likely the most famous basketball player of our time – if you want to read all the records he broke, you will need to set aside a long time to read through them.  Tell this to Michael Phelps, who singlehandedly broke a 48-year-old Olympic record in 2012 by finishing his career with 22 medals.

2.  “You do not have the skills to do it”.

How often has someone shot down your dreams by telling you that, no matter how bad you want to do something, that you don’t have the ability or the skills to accomplish it?  Don’t listen to these negative comments.  Many times people will disguise their jealousy as concern.  Ensure that you are able to differentiate between someone who is jealous and someone who is being genuine and being sincere.

The “180 Look” you should take here is to remember that skills can be learned, but having the heart and the passion to accomplish your goals is the critical key to achieving them.  Feeling that nothing can stop you and that obstacles can be overcame is more important than initially having the skills to accomplish the dream.  Additionally, you should focus on things which make you happy.  Examine your life.  Look at your current career, your current job, school, or day-to-day activities.  Are you happy doing what you do? Is this really the direction you wanted to take when you think about your dreams, goals, and ambitions?  If not, then keep looking, keep experimenting with the world around you – and surely you will find the direction you want to take!

3.  “You’re doing fine right where you are – you don’t need a change”.

Albert Einstein said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.  If you’re stuck in a career where you feel nothing is ever going to improve, then think about change.  If you’re taking courses toward an education or degree and you feel it’s not the right path for you, then change.  And if you’re sitting where you are, because you feel this is as good as you can get, but you know what you want to do with your life, then consider a change.  But be sure that it is something you are willing to dedicate yourself to and not give up.  You have to be willing to possibly sacrifice certain things in your life to accomplish your ultimate goal.

I heard someone say once that your Human Resources department is not going to set your career and move you to where you want to go.  This, obviously, is not a negative statement to our HR partners, but merely a statement to remind us that your career and your growth depends heavily on the decisions you make and the opportunities you reach out to take.  The “180 Look” for you to remember is that it is important to periodically examine where you are in your career.  If you are where you feel you need to be, then no changes are needed.  However, if you are not where you feel you need to be, then let today be the “First Day of the BEST of Your Life“.

4.  “You’re dreaming of a perfect world – you don’t really want to do this”.

To be honest, this is actually good advice.  It is important for everyone to examine if they REALLY want to pursuing the goal.  Weigh the options and evaluate the pros and cons of where you want to go.  If you still feel it’s where you want to be, then set your sights on the accomplishment and get started!

Is there a perfect world?  Probably not on this planet.  But you surely can find a way to be in a world where you enjoy what you are doing if you search hard enough.  The “180 Look” is for you to find things you enjoy doing, things that make you happy and give you satisfaction when you have accomplishments.  Evaluate whether you are good at it or whether you need more experience, training, support, or guidance.  As mentioned earlier, not having the skills nor experience is not a reason for giving up – it’s merely a reason to try harder and obtain them.  And lastly, if your goal is related to your career, it’s always beneficial to seek something in which people will pay you for your work.

5.  “No one will ever support you”.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”  – Steve Jobs

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone you knew gave you their full support for all the things you do in your life?  I have bad news for you.  It’s never going to happen.  Even the most accomplished people on the planet have had to rise above adversity, disbelief, non-support, and criticism.  The “180 Look” that I beg you to consider is to never let someone else’s opinion or criticism keep you from doing something you truly cannot stop thinking about accomplishing.  Sell yourself to those who don’t believe – show them it can be done – and enjoy the journey.

The purpose of this writing is to share with you how that you can overcome five of the major reasons that many will stop chasing their dreams – today, tomorrow, and in the future.  I challenge you to never give up, and if you really want to accomplish something, then set your path, and begin.

It has been said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.  Start walking!