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How To Do All That You Can



How To Do All That You Can

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909), author and Chaplain of US Senate

A new year has begun and you realize  that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, so you resolve to make it a better place.

Where do you start? With yourself. Find a quiet place and time to breathe and connect to yourself. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the dire circumstances that millions of people around the world face, then you need to take a deep breath and clear your head. Getting involved with social issues is not a task to be written on a to-do list and checked off when it’s completed. It is a commitment that can transform your life. Is that what you want? Or are you content to write a check to your favorite charity? Ask yourself why it is your favorite cause. Do you feel a real connection to the work it does or does it simply score high on Charity Navigator .org/)? If you’re ready to become more active, take an inventory of your values. What and whom do you hold dear? Imagine your “community of concern” and engage in a process of “ethical discernment.”


Let’s unpack those phrases.

When you come right down to it, few of us are hermits or certified loners. Even in rural areas, most of us belong to communities: family, friends, neighbors, colleagues at work and school, sports clubs, book groups, religious congregations, etc. We are social animals; our relationships are important to us. We share common values: respect for life and the dignity of individuals, stewardship of the environment that sustains life, and hope that future generations will thrive. How do we promote those values and implement meaningful change where it is needed? Finding a community of concern is a start. Learn about who is doing the work that aligns with your values and seek them out. The Internet makes the search easier, and you can find out who is active in your vicinity so that you can visit them.


We are also moral agents.

We make ethical decisions all the time. Some are routine: imprinted on us from childhood and embedded in our culture. We may give little thought to greeting a neighbor, holding a door open for someone or dropping money into a homeless person’s cup. Others require more thought. A process of ethical discernment requires identifying an issue, acknowledging our feelings about it, gathering facts, and considering alternatives. Who are you and what kind of person do you want to be? How do you define goodness and how do you “act the good,” as the founder of Ethical Culture, Felix Adler, often said? We are all familiar with The Golden Rule that states: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That sounds presumptuous to me; as though I can judge, based on my experience, what is good for others. That’s safe, I suppose, but it doesn’t engage me in a process of understanding what others really need. I prefer Ethical Culture’s emphasis on relationship: “Act so as to elicit the goodness in others, and you will thereby elicit goodness in yourself.” Assume the best in others, especially in challenging circumstances, and choose to attribute worth and dignity to everyone. Now I’m ready to fully participate, not just offer charity.


If you live in an urban area, consider what Karen Armstrong, founder of The Charter for Compassion ( says: “A compassionate city is an uncomfortable city!  A city that is uncomfortable when anyone is homeless or hungry.  Uncomfortable if every child isn’t loved and given rich opportunities to grow and thrive.  Uncomfortable when as a community we don’t treat our neighbors as we would wish to be treated.” Many cities have signed onto her charter and are coordinating the efforts of its helping organizations. Some organizations, like New York Cares, ( trains and mobilizes volunteers, matching them with community partners. You can determine how much time you have to give and when you are available.


In rural areas, many people in need are isolated and without transportation.

My parents volunteered to drive people to doctors’ appointments well into their old age. It was something they could do, and they enjoyed conversing with their passengers. Dad also volunteered in a local interfaith food pantry. When, as treasurer, he realized that he was running a profit, he seeded a food pantry in another town and helped it grow. In small towns, people often know each other too well and pronounce judgments upon neighbors seeking help. One couple came to the food pantry even though they were known to have well paying jobs. What wasn’t well known was that they often drank their wages at a local bar, and their children were hungry. There is also an ethical choice in how a food pantry is organized. In some, food is pre-bagged and handed to clients at the door; in others, food is arranged on shelves, and clients shop in the aisles for themselves, often with nutrition guides in hand. The former is charity, the latter social engagement.

Consider the difference between social service and social justice.

In the case of homelessness, it could mean taking food to a shelter and/or standing on the steps of city hall to demand more affordable housing. We can write a check to the International Rescue Committee and/or offer home hospitality to asylum seekers through organizations like the Bergen County Sanctuary Committee. Last week my family took our holiday wreaths to the Prospect Park to be ground up at Mulch Fest and then joined volunteers to carry the mulch to street trees along the park. Our attitude needn’t be “either-or”; it can be “both-and.”
You can make a difference in the lives of others for good or ill. It is within your power to contribute to the public good or detract from it. Now is the time to decide, not because it is a New Year, calling for resolutions, but because you want to be a better person all the time. Today, here and now, I look around me and see people suffering, neighbors in need of love and care. You do, too. Let’s work together!
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Can You Receive A Compliment Without It Getting To Your Head?



a compliment (1)

Receiving compliments gracefully isn’t as easy as it should be for some people. How about you: are YOU ready for someone to give you a pat on the back? To be pushed to doing more? To have someone give you a supporting hand? To be picked up when you fall down?

Sure, we may think that’s what we want. But is it what we need to develop, to grow, and to get better?

If someone complimented you on every little improvement you made while learning a new skill, would you not start to feel a bit marginalized? That perhaps they didn’t really think you could do it? What about when you do something that seems pretty easy and everyone made it into a big deal?


Receiving Compliments When You Are Not Ready For It

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

Developing new skills is never free of trouble. We all know the level of foundation that must be built to get from being a novice, before reaching greatness. In the learning process, we all know when we are in that frustrating stage of not being quite as good – but we know what we have to do to get there.

It’s in these moments that receiving compliments on your every action could minimize your efforts. That’s because if they truly knew you, people would be holding out for when you make that big, defining leap. 

As we overcome hurdles in our learning and development, friends, family members, and colleagues will know when the time is right to provide encouragement. They know that when that moment comes, those words will have the right amount of impact on you.

Think back to when you were growing up, playing some elaborate game. Perhaps you spent hours creating this game: building a fort, putting together things that the rest of your characters in the play could use. You pushed through despite the trials and problems.

It would have served absolutely no purpose for someone to congratulate you on every step (and misstep) along the way.  You would have lost your flow as you worked through the problem, constantly being interrupted – all while you were still trying to figure it out and understand where you needed to go.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments


When Receiving Compliments Makes You Content with Present Achievements

You might never have finished if someone patted you on the back early in that moment, content in the knowledge that you “thought up” the idea and that was enough. If everyone was saying you did great simply for thinking up something new, would it have compelled you to stop?

Maybe. Perhaps you would have stopped with that compliment.

As a parent, you learn when to encourage your children. Usually, it’s not when they show up, and not when they do what kids around them are able to do as well. It’s when they push themselves to do more. When they pick themselves up and still lose, when they try something new for the first time, fall over and fail, not sure if they should do it again.

Those are the moments when kids should be receiving compliments – NOT when they have done the same thing over and over again, or when they didn’t try their best but won anyways.

Kids know this. They can feel it when people give false compliments or encouragement because they did something they’ve always done. But when it is something meaningful, something they have worked hard for, they know the encouragement will be there to help them.

Why You Are Not Receiving Compliments

The reason you might not be receiving compliments or encouragement when you want to is because you haven’t earned them or don’t deserve them yet.

Maybe your coaches, leaders, parents, or other people who support you know you are not ready for it. Perhaps they need to see you making that next big leap in your growth and development.

Those compliments might not come today, tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. But look at those around you – the great people you have chosen to surround yourself with – and you’ll see that they are waiting to give you that push. They are waiting for you to make it happen.

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3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart




when your dreams are falling apart (1)

I truly believe that dreams must extend beyond wishes of self-improvement; that its goal should be to contribute to the world around you.

The heart is a fickle thing. Imagine how many amazing things wouldn’t have been accomplished if great minds simply stopped when they “didn’t feel like it”.

It’s human nature. I’m sure that during the course of over 300 bank rejections, Walt Disney had days when he felt like giving up. But he didn’t. He kept going. Why? It was because his dream went far beyond himself.

Here’s how YOU can keep going – even if it feels like your dreams are falling apart.


3 Ways to Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

1.) Remember The “Why”

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

Often times, I find that dreams extend far beyond the simple purpose of making one happy. For example, being a songwriter in and of itself does not make me feel happy and fulfilled. Imagine if my life’s work was to write songs that no one would ever hear. That doesn’t elicit any feelings of happiness or fulfillment (at least to me).

Seeing and hearing the healing effects that come from the songs I create for others to hear? Now you’re talking. Healing and helping others is the part of my dream that keeps it alive. It gives me purpose in this world that goes far beyond myself and my skills.

I’m reminded of the character Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Scrooge’s goal in life was to have money – and lots of it. He set aside love and relationships for that dream. The result of this life goal was a lonely, cold, bitter old man.

I won’t ruin the whole story for the very few of you that may not have heard it. In the end, Scrooge discovered that what brought him fulfillment and happiness were community and generosity.

So what is the “why” to your dream? How is your dream going to affect those around you? Get beyond yourself. As many have said, YOU are your biggest obstacle to success.


2.) Take Off The Rose-Colored Glasses

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

You know what I’m talking about. The “I’m going to make it big” and “I’m going to famous/rich/etc.” I hate to take a pointy realistic needle to your big ideas, but I’m doing it out of love. Here it is:

Your dream isn’t going to look exactly how you pictured it.

Take a minute to take that one in. Still here? Yes. Alive? Yes. Not Bleeding? No? Hurt a bit?

It’s OK. I know. I’ve been there. Dreams are vulnerable. We spend countless hours imagining what it would be like and how we will get there. But the truth is, in my experience, they have never turned out exactly how I have imagined. Why? We live in a world of people and circumstances that we can’t control.

Here is where the “why” comes in. The beautiful thing is that your works are a direct result of your heart’s intention…and what you put out into the world never comes back void. Here’s an example:

As a singer-songwriter, the common idea of making it big for my line of work is to have a hit song or perform in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden (I’m more inclined towards Red Rock Amphitheatre, but you get the picture).

Let’s say that I work and strive tirelessly to do everything I need to do to reach that goal. I release a song, I tour around the US, develop a large following, get on the radio, etc. Along the way, I hear stories of how this song has impacted the people who have heard it. Stories describing how it brought healing, encouragement, and hope.

To go further, what if I never even make it that far? What if circumstances happen and I can’t tour? What if everything “falls apart”? What if I end up playing at open mics for the rest of my life? What if it doesn’t happen in the next year? Two years?

Does that change the fact that my song helped heal and open the heart of a broken and depressed Vietnam Vet? Or how it helped encourage an author to keep going and writing? Or how my song started a conversation on how to look past the labels overshadowing soldiers and their families?

It’s all about your perspective of success, my friend. To me, because my “why” and my heart’s intention are to help people, those stories above are my version of success. It’s what keeps me going. If I get to Madison Square Garden (or Red Rocks), well that’s just icing on top of the cake.

Keep going on your dream. Make a plan, and in the words of .38 Special, “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go.” Roll with the punches and understand that even greater things can come when things don’t go according to your plan.


3.) Make Your Dream Your Job

Keep Going When Your Dream Falls Apart

No, I don’t mean quit your job and have no income while you work on your dream. That’s an entirely different article (and completely up to you). I’m talking about treating your dream like it is your job.

For example, if you completely failed at a presentation at work, would you just quit and not go the next day? No! You have a livelihood and an expectation to show up. So why quit on your dream at the first sign of failure?

Treat your dream like your job. Make a plan, show up every day, and understand that it may take a while to see any results. I know many songwriters who wrote hundreds of songs before they wrote a hit. However, they never would have reached it if they didn’t take that first step, made a commitment, and wrote 100 songs first.

Dreams don’t just happen. They take work. So go get started!

My best advice under this theme is check out the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It is by far the best resource I have discovered in my journey of living out my dream.

Here’s the deal. With every goal that I have set and achieved, I never sat at the end and thought to myself, “man, look at what I did”. Believe it or not, I was more overwhelmed with the thoughts of the journey that I had to take to get there – the good and the bad.

I would admire and laugh at the unexpected things that came. I would smile and enjoy the character it built, the person that I became in the process. In the end, the best thing about dreams and goals isn’t their achievement, but the journey that you take to get there.

Never forget that the dream in your heart was put there for a reason. You were made to make an impact on this world.

Enjoy the journey and never, ever give up. Keep going.

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