What do you say when someone you know has lost their smart phone?

My first reaction is, “So sorry! How are you going to survive!” However, after a moment of reflection I think, “Wonderful, I will get your full and complete attention and maybe we can have a real and meaningful connection and conversation, I will enjoy really getting to know you and we will connect in a deeper, more meaningful way during this period of loss!”

I have become disappointed and disillusioned as to how the cell phone, affectionately known as a “smart phone,” has contributed to the sabotage of many relationships. How often have you been out at a restaurant and watched a couple, both with their heads down looking at their cell; a family with everyone looking at their cell, dinners being interrupted because someone needs to check emails or text messages; or at a social gathering talking with someone when they hear a text or an email coming in and they stop engaging with you to check their phone—which, 99.9 percent of the time is not critical.

When out with your partner on DATE NIGHT, do you bring your cell phone along and constantly check messages when the primary purpose was to have that focus on your partner? (There are always circumstances that I will give a pass to but, really, if you are in a setting that is important to those involved, turn off your phone, or leave it in the car.) I have started doing just that and it has changed my connectivity significantly: I am more relaxed and I’ve enhanced my listening and communication skills.

Remember, actions speak volumes.the-power-of-productivity-cover

I’d like to share something I came across in The Power of Productivity: Wealth, Poverty, and the Threat to Global Stability, by William W. Lewis: “If you want to know someone’s mind, listen to their words. If you want to know their heart, watch their actions.”

If we have not completely lost the “art of communication,” we are quickly losing our ability to have meaningful, thoughtful and significant communications.

It is interesting to reflect on past conversations that I felt were meaningful and great. There were a few key attributes that made them great and led to additional meaningful conversations and changed the depth of the relationship. Those attributes are:

  • It is intentional, not casual, not filled with one-word response questions;
  • It is focused, listening beyond the words to the feelings and meaning behind what is being said;
  • Both parties respond for affirmation, or clarification. This leads into the next attribute of good listening—good conversation is give and take;
  • It is a volley of give and take without judgement and criticism, but out of interest for understanding (which is different than agreeing);
  • It was not about me, there are always times that talking about yourself is appropriate, but never forget that the other person is the most important person in the conversation. Stop and catch yourself from overly using “me or I”;
  • Remember you do not always have to agree, but you do have to be respectful of the other person’s perspective—the substance as to why they feel as they do;
  • Respect the other person’s position as this can create wonderful and interesting conversations that may simply end in agreeing to disagree. You have gotten to know more about the soul of the person; all good outcomes;
  • As a result of a good give and take volley you may discover you have changed your position on an issue as a result of new insight gained from thoughtful conversation. You may discover that you were wrong, and can affirm the other person for this change in your position. What an affirming connecting outcome that creates!

In her book, The Art of Civilized Conversation: A Guide to Expressing Yourself with Style and the-art-of-civilized-conversation-covderGrace, Margaret Shepherd says:

“I’m not necessarily against all the new ways to communicate but I feel I have to speak up and advocate, yes, (communicating) face to face and out loud, and following certain rules of communication is really still worth the time.” 

I have learned that If the relationship is important, if I care about the person or group I am with, if I desire to really get to know who someone is and to listen intently for meaning and understanding then I can “lose my phone” for that period of time. I am amazed how this can affect a relationship and understanding those around me in a deeper and more impactful way.


Amazing Acts of Courage, Faith, and Care for Others



Sometimes you need to choose courage over comfort.  –Dr. Penny Wheeler                              CEO Allina Health

Choosing courage What do US Airways Flight 1549, the number 155, United Airlines Flight 93, and the Jacob Wetterling tragedy all have in common? They all represent and exhibit a deep and undeniable commitment to courage, faith, and caring for others.

If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this: You, my friend, are not that powerful.               –Helen Baylor

I have been reflecting on these dramatic and emotional events. They have moved the needle so to speak, in terms of what commitment looks like. I’m talking about wonders that make you sit back and reflect on things that really matter and that are far bigger than ourselves. There are remarkable qualities individuals have, qualities that are hard to define and truly understand, yet easily recognized and admired when you see them.

 When the porch light is finally turned off For 28 years, the Wetterling family kept their porch light on for the return of their son, Jacob, who was abducted by a stranger one night. That porch light symbolized their love, faith, and dream that he would safely return home. The family wanted Jacob to know that he was thought of constantly and had a loving family waiting for him. Their love was unwavering as they prayed for his return. Recently, we finally learned what happened to Jacob.

As a father and grandfather, I can’t comprehend how the Wetterlings have endured what they have for the last 28 years. In place of outward bitterness, the Wetterlings have acted with love and shown they have received the comfort and support not just from family and friends but from something far more powerful. The Bible tells us in 1 John 3 that we are children of God and that God bestows His love on us. I hope to learn from the Wetterlings’ remarkable example of how to live with grace, faith, and care as they have exhibited.

Flight 93 heroes On 9/11 after two hijacked jetliners crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, and another, American Airlines Flight 77, crashed into the Pentagon, there remained one more plane still in the air, United Airlines Flight 93. Hijackers charged the cockpit, took control of the plane and were in the process of changing course to head to the U.S. Capitol. The passengers, after making phone calls to their loved ones, realized what was going on and knew they had a choice: let fate take its course and likely die along with an untold number of others, or democratically vote to take control of the plane and get into that cockpit, not knowing what the result might be. We all know how it ended. I wonder how many of us have really thought about what went on in that plane during those last minutes. What were the discussions? What were the emotions?

I am in awe of the passengers’ (and flight crew’s) courage, bravery, and the incredible care they showed for others while making the ultimate sacrifice. If I had the opportunity to interview each of those passengers before the flight to dig into their beliefs and values, I am rather sure I would discover that what occurred on the plane was symbolic of how they lived their lives.

On September 11 of this year I watched a documentary narrated by Dana Perino, the former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I watched the video, seeing the crash site memorial and hearing from one of the passenger’s brothers. Flight 93 represents one of the most selfless demonstrations of courage I can think of. Take a moment and watch the video: Touring the Flight 93 National Memorial

155 Souls Recently, I went to see the movie Sully, the story of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and US Airways Flight 1549 that did not crash in the Hudson, but rather, landed on the Hudson (as clearly articulated by Captain Sullenberger).

While there were many aspects of the movie that struck me, some of the most memorable scenes were centered around Captain Sullenberger’s commitment and unwavering focus on the safety of his crew and passengers. From the moment that plane made an emergency landing on the Hudson, Captain Sullenberger did everything he could to personally see that everyone made it off the plane. We watch him conduct a search of the plane as others are imploring him to leave. He is reluctant, fearing that someone may still be on board. As he’s ushered away from the scene to the hospital he repeatedly asks about the passengers. Are they all safe? We feel the weight of his concern. Hours later as he finally receives official confirmation that all 155 passengers and crew made it safely off the plane, you can feel his burden being lifted. In the midst of being praised for a remarkable landing, Sully could think of nothing other than those 155 souls he was responsible for.

Later, after Captain Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles endured a grilling by a team of FAA investigators, one of them said that looking at all the facts, looking at all the scientific models, looking at all the computer simulations there was only one factor that made the difference, and that was Captain Sullenberger. Sully’s response? That it was the actions of his co-pilot, the flight attendants, the ferry boat operators and first responders, and the passengers themselves, that made the difference in everyone being able to walk off that plane.

As we live our lives, interact with others, and deal with our daily challenges I hope we can remember that each day is precious, each day is a gift, and each day is an opportunity to make others feel that they are the most special person in the room.

Honoring the Wetterlings, the passengers of Flight 1549 and Flight 93, and Captain Sullenberger