Our Lady of the Wayside Starlight Guardian Humanitarian Award

It was an honor being recognized on August 30th by Our Lady of the Wayside at their 12th Annual Starlight Guardian Humanitarian Award luncheon.

When Terry Davis, CEO of The Wayside, approached me about accepting this award, I was very hesitant at first, as it’s against my very psyche to be glorified in any way. It distracts me from the fundamental underpinnings of Oneness and the Universal Laws that my life is based upon. My undistracted focus on unconditional gratefulness fuels my life’s engine and keeps me light and free from ego. But once I realized the amazing work this organization is involved in, I understood that this award was not about me. It was all about helping fund The Wayside so that they can continue providing this great community service.

This institution is far ahead of other organizations doing similar work. The key reason for this is that this institution understands the difference between doing good work and becoming goodness itself. When we do good, we need to be recognized and glorified through awards, prizes, and trophies. On the other hand, when we become goodness itself, not only is it gratifying, but good deeds come out of us effortlessly, continuously, and unconditionally.

I feel this organization has something unique to teach us: We are taught to look for good people to work with us as the key to our success. Unfortunately, we’re never taught to look for goodness in people. The Wayside has always looked for, found, and nurtured goodness in people that not only helped them better themselves, but through them, helped society to become a better place. Knowingly or unknowingly, they are practicing the fundamental truth of Oneness, which means that everyone is interconnected and interdependent — we’re all One. I cannot serve myself without serving everyone around me. I cannot be happy without making everyone around me happy. I cannot be productive and successful without making everyone around me productive and successful regardless of their limitations and handicaps.

So, once again, thank you to Our Lady of the Wayside for this honor. They have made countless lives productive and meaningful, and tirelessly given light and hope to people who are in darkness. They cannot continue this work without your generous support. Once you fully comprehend Oneness, you will realize that you are an integral part of this common mission. www.thewayside.org/2015-annual-appeal/ 

What a Diamond Taught Me About Leadership

In 1980, I was a husband, father, scientist, son, salesman, immigrant and business owner. Or so I thought. Jolted by the news that my polymer chemicals company was facing bankruptcy, I wondered, “What went wrong and how can I fix it?”

I had been following the advice of the best professionals I could find: my accountant, my lawyer, and my multi-degreed and well-paid vice presidents. I had been following the best practices of the day in all the aspects of running my company – bottom line oriented practices. Yet, right now my advisers were busy preparing a bankruptcy filing and expecting me to sign on the dotted line.

So often, real insight comes from taking conventional wisdom and turning it on its head. But I didn’t know that then. As a leader, the logical thing seemed to be to envision a destination and chart the course to get there. That’s what leaders do, isn’t it? I had already tried that, though, and look where it had gotten me.

That’s when I remembered a question a professor in a chemistry class I’d taken had once posed to us: “Who can tell me what a diamond is?” My classmates responded with all kinds of answers.

But the professor stated, “A diamond is carbon,” adding, “and so is graphite” – the soft lead in the center of your pencil. The hardness of a diamond and the softness of graphite both were generated from the same kind of atoms. Diamonds, in fact, are made from graphic subjected to high heat and pressure.

The professor went on to suggest that to know the truth about carbon and to understand its intrinsic nature and capabilities, we should look closely at its atomic structure. He also recommended that to reach our full potential, we needed to look just as closely at ourselves. It was a surprising comment for a professor to make in a chemistry class, and I realized he must have felt strongly about it.

At that point I suddenly knew that to revitalize my company, I needed first to look backward to my roots and inward to my core. I needed to ask and answer one key question, “Who am I?” before I could look outward and forward.

We want our leaders to be active and extroverted, yet we forget that action must be balanced by stillness and extroversion by introspection. Without a strong and well-grounded center, a leader can be too easily swayed, tempted, and misled.

A few days later, when my lawyers handed me the bankruptcy papers to sign, I handed them back, unsigned. Twenty-six years later, in 2006, my company had become so successful it was targeted for acquisition by The Dow Chemical Company, so I sold POLY-CARB and embarked on another of life’s adventures.

Today, when I teach business leadership and cultural transformation, I always ask those present to wrestle with the one question that changed my life, “Who am I?” If you are still answering the question, “Who am I?” by your roles, titles, duties or accomplishments, think again, because that is not who you are.

Reclaiming Civility

Civility seems like an old-fashioned term and people reminisce about the good ol’ days that were so much simpler and genteel than today’s world. There is some truth to that. As we watch the presidential debates, we see very little civility. Yet, if we were to look back at previous presidential debates, we’d see just as much attacking going on, but the languaging of it was more oratorical rather than blatant bludgeoning. If attacking or condemning in polished dialogue is considered civil, then we need to redefine this thing called civility.

Before we find a way to true civility, what is civility? Is it saying nice things yet meaning something else? Is it using proper grammar and language? Is civility helping others when they’re in need or just them helping you when you’re in need? Does civility have a dress code? Is civility based on rituals dictated by so-called manners and social conventions? Is your civility the same as mine or your neighbors or other countries and cultures? Is civility defined differently by gender? Is civility an excuse for weakness or is it a strength — as in “Real men aren’t civil”? 

Can civility be forced or regulated? We can institute all the laws in the world and it still won’t bring about civility. Thanks to our legal system that brings the First Amendment into the fray, they’ll let you throw garbage instead of civil language. We can’t teach civility in our schools and colleges as we have already vested them in monetary gains and “What’s in it for me?” thinking rather than civility. And if you think you can learn civility in our religious institutions, think again, as they are all vested in exclusivity, segregation, and power through the use of greed and fear.

What would be another word for civility? Compassion? Graciousness? Respectfulness? These are good choices, yet we find them also missing in today’s discourse at all levels of society and in every arena. Communication has deteriorated to the point that our general vocabulary has shrunk and we would rather text someone rather than talk to them on the phone, much less in person.

The world, though, is crying out for civility in the form of recognition of our very being. We long for connection, to be acknowledged, to be accepted, and to be understood. How do we bring that about?

Just like darkness can’t be removed without the presence of light, civility cannot be practiced or even understood without first knowing and understanding who we truly are. I’m not referring to gender, race, color, education, nationality, heritage, ancestry, titles, awards, or position in society. So who are you?

Are we our human bodies and the information stored in our brains? If we limit our understanding of ourselves to that dimension, we will forever be confused, divided, and extremely limited in our understanding of what is right, what is wrong, and what is civil. The problem is that our so-called “brain,” what I call our data-gathering instrument, has very limited capability. It gathers information with the help of our five senses, which are only able to gather incomplete information at best and, at worst, this information gets contaminated with our insecurities, fear, greed, and ego. Therefore, all the information that is gathered by us is not only incomplete, but also erroneous. Is it any wonder that all our so-called rights and wrongs are so different?

Based on the information gathered in our brain through our life-long experiences — our history, mythology, technology, or even through 1,000 PhDs in every possible subject — we will still fall short in understanding what is civil and what is not or, overall, what is right and what is wrong…until we discover who we truly are.

You are not the human body that hosts you, neither are you the knowledge or title that decorates you; you are definitely not the color or race or nationality that defines you.

Are you ready to unveil the truth about your real being?

You are the power that enlivens you and integrates you with the universe to the extent that every thought, action, and endeavor you undertake affects everyone else, even though they are thousands of miles away. Conversely, every thought and endeavor of someone thousands of miles away affects you. You think you are a separate entity? Think again because you are an integral part of everyone else in this universe. So what is civility in this new realization?

  • You cannot be rude to others without being rude to yourself.
  • You cannot abuse others without abusing yourself.
  • You cannot criticize others without criticizing yourself.
  • You cannot undermine others without undermining yourself.
  • You cannot harm others without harming yourself.
  • You cannot cheat others without cheating yourself.

And similarly…

  • You cannot be fair to others without being fair to yourself first.
  • You cannot be kind to others without being kind to yourself first.
  • You cannot be honest to others without being honest to yourself first.
  • You cannot be generous to others without being generous to yourself first.
  • You cannot be respectful to others without being respectful to yourself first.
  • Ultimately, you cannot make others happy without being happy within yourself first.

So isn’t it fair to conclude that your civility to others is merely a reflection of how civil you are to yourself? Take my advice and be fair, kind, honest, generous, and respectful to yourself — and just maybe, you will be able to gift this society with a real, civilized human being, and in the process, it may nurture your inner happiness.

Oneness: The Essence of Ethics

One of my favorite things to get is a new car. The child in me feels, I suspect, like a kid at Christmas. The scientist and the engineer in me enjoys putting new technology to the test. And who doesn’t love that new car smell?

But when I buy a new car, I also want to feel that the vehicle is proven. I want to know it’s built to last. When I teach the principles of Oneness, many people find them new. If you’ve never heard of Discoverhelp, even our name, is new to you.

What you need to know is that the principles we teach are not new. They are the underlying principles shared by all the major spiritual traditions. They have been forged in the furnace of time and have withstood the light of the ages.

These time-tested, universal principles — in combination with the knowledge you will gain of your own inner self through your own life experiences — are the building blocks of a solid, ethical foundation for a life of genuine happiness.

Universal truths are not a fad. Having lived my life by them, I know this to be true.

What is new and different about us then? Never before have these principles been presented in this uniquely powerful way — with careful logic, memorable analogies, and compelling personal stories. All supported 24/7/365 by digital technology that lets you access thoughtful resources and genuine help whenever you need it.

The reason for Discoverhelp is simple: to help you find the true and lasting strength that comes from true and lasting character.