The Lift | Brian@GrowthWorks

The Lift | Brian@GrowthWorks

Score One for Friendship...

by Brian McDermott on 01/27/14

This sad but uplifting kids-and-sports-and-cancer story sent me looking for a quote I had included in Time Out for Leaders, a book I co-authored with a thoughtful man who died very young, Don Luce. The quote was from Don:

"Do not allow the love for what you do to step in the way of your love for other people. The people you love will not always be in your life."

In reflecting on that quote I wrote: "Seldom is love listed as one of the values that leaders must live in order to be effective. Maybe this is because it is possible to be effective while ignoring love. We put in long hours. We handle crises. We get things done. We care about the work. We have so many things to do that it's easy to lose track of the role love plays in our personal and professional lives.

"People move; they grow; they die. Enjoy them while you can. Love them unconditionally, remembering that their faults are equaled by your own. Let others into your life, and hold them there. Cherish them, and they will cherish you. Love adds the extra dimension of life that makes everything we do worthwhile and a  little more meaningful. Including work."

The advice I offered when writing that section of the book: "Call, visit, or make a date to get together with a couple of people you've been meaning to contact. Find some small ways to let them know how important they are to you."

My suggestion today: Watch this 3-minute video about Josh Rominger. It's an inspiring reminder about the enduring gift of love and friendship. In this case, the extra dimension is a magical moment in a kid's life. One YouTube commenter said, "I am not sure where you go when you die, but somebody stayed to play one more game!"

(Email subscribers Watch Here.)

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You can read  the introduction to Time Out for Leaders here. It's focused on the inspiration I found co-authoring with Don Luce after his death.

Defying the Odds...

by Brian McDermott on 01/05/14

Three minutes at Tim's Place will make your day...

Tim Harris has not let his disability steal his dreams, and his story is inspiring others.

He always wanted to own a restaurant. He's so happy with his circumstances he dances through the parking lot on his way into work. He serves more hugs to customers than burgers (42,000 and counting). Oh, and by the way, he has Down Syndrome, which he describes as meaning he was "born to be awesome."

In an online article in Interviews that Matter, he's asked: "Is [being very confident] important when you run your own business?" His response: "It’s important to believe in yourself and in your dreams. When I believe I have the friendliest restaurant in the world, other people believe it too."

NBC News Video about Tim -- with more details about his story
Tim's Place Restaurant Website -- Serving Breakfast, Lunch and Hugs in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Make a Difference,


No Is Never the Answer...

by Brian McDermott on 11/27/13

What's possible? What's impossible? This story will make you rethink your answers...

Richie Parker's story begins with being born with no arms, and his parents quickly committing to him having as normal a life as possible. This 8-minute ESPN-produced video picks up the story with his work as an engineer with the most successful team in NASCAR.

Where is his story headed? He says, "I can't say there is anything that I can't do. I don't know that there's a whole lot in life period that I can't do. Just things I haven't done yet."

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You Have Options...

by Brian McDermott on 09/25/13

The hard work of choosing to see possibilities in life rather than problems begins at the crossroads of routine and frustration. Good things are hidden in plain sight. Discovering them starts with the belief we have options.

This nine-minute video is built on an inspiring audio recording of a college commencement speech by David Foster Wallace, an award-winning American novelist, short story writer, essayist and professor. His delivery style is understated, but the message and the visual imagery provided by the filmmakers are striking.

The message is all the more poignant for me knowing Wallace struggled personally -- and ultimately, perhaps, unsuccessfully -- with these very challenges in his own life. He committed suicide in 2008, after 20 years of dealing with depression. An obituary in the New York Times said, “David Foster Wallace can do practically anything if he puts his mind to it,” Michiko Kakutani, chief book critic of The New York Times, who was not a consistent praiser of Mr. Wallace’s work, wrote in 2006. “He can do sad, funny, silly, heartbreaking and absurd with equal ease; he can even do them all at once.”

He's done writing and speaking, but he left this legacy -- the challenge to understand that "the most obvious important realities in life are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about." It might take will and effort, but we get to decide what has meaning and what doesn't; we have the option to experience what might seem meaningless as something sacred.

(Email Subscribers Watch Here)

Click Here to listen to Wallace's full 24-minute commencement speech to the Kenyon College class of 2005.

Make a Difference,


Life Is for Living...

by Brian McDermott on 05/20/13

This is a powerful 22-minute documentary about "a kid who went down fighting and didn't really lose." It's heart breaking to know the 17-year old star, Zach Sobiech, died today, but he lived his short life so well that his story is going to live and inspire a long time. It has and it will change lives. Maybe yours.

In February, I posted a Blog item about Zach under the headline: If I Only Had a Little More Time... Inspired by the song, Clouds, which he had written, performed and posted on YouTube, I asked, "If you only had a little more time, what would you do? What would you change?" Zach, a high-school senior in Stillwater, MN, had osteosarcoma cancer and was told it would take his life by this month. He was about out of time.

He made the choice to embrace every day with hope and joy. And in this documentary from director, Justin Baldoni, he puts it pretty straight: "You don't have to find out you are dying to start living."

Watch... and please share.

Make a Difference,


Don't Forget Sandy Hook...

by Brian McDermott on 05/09/13

Don't forget Sandy Hook -- the 20 children and 6 teachers who were murdered... nor any of the mounting number of others who have died as a result of gun violence since.

A musical reminder and some thoughtful context from TV journalist Bill Moyers ... (Email Subscribers Watch Here)

For the Sandy Hook Victims: "Family" from James Starowicz on Vimeo.

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P.S. Thanks to Kari Arvisais for sharing the link on Linked In

Bruises & Broken Teeth, Hope & New Beginnings...

by Brian McDermott on 03/10/13

Shane Koyczan is, as he puts it, a graduate of the class of "We Made It."

Early on in this inspirational, funny but haunting 12-minute TED video of his spoken-word poem To This Day, he asks, "What made my dreams so easy to dismiss?" He rebounds with, "Like a boomerang, the thing I loved came back to me." And he talks about his quest for getting through each broken promise, and arriving finally, and confidently at, "This is who I am." And looking continuously in life for things of beauty to outbalance the pain.

Watch... and later you can read the full poem here on Shane's website.

(Email Subscribers Watch Here)

Make a Difference,


If Only I Had a Little More Time...

by Brian McDermott on 02/23/13

If you only had a little more time, what would you do? What would you change?

The one thing you need to know before watching this video is that Zach Sobiech is a high-school senior in Stillwater, MN, who was told osteosarcoma cancer will probably take his life by May 2013...

He is about out of time. There are no effective treatments left for him to try, so he has turned to music and made the choice to embrace every day with hope and joy. And he is lifting others as he goes.

Video 1 is Zach's performance of his song, Clouds, which has been viewed more than 2.3 million times. Video 2 is a performance of Zach's song by the Public School 22 Chorus -- only one example of how far Zach's music and message have traveled.

You can follow Zach's story at CaringBridge. (Email Subscribers Watch Here)

PS22 Chorus Performance

You can also watch a February 18 feature about Zach produced by WCCO Television in Minneapolis. Click here.

Make a Difference,


Hope--A New Constellation Waiting for Us to Map It...

by Brian McDermott on 02/08/13

One today
One light
One ground
One sky
Every language spoken
into One wind...

This thing called life? We're all in it together. And I haven't heard that sentiment expressed any more eloquently or movingly than it was by Poet Laureate Richard Blanco for President Barack Obama's second inauguration.

(Email Subscribers Watch Here)

"One Today" by Richard Blanco

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning's mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the "I have a dream" we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father's cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day's gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn't give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together.

Make a Difference,


The Only Disability in Life is a Bad Attitude...

by Brian McDermott on 02/04/13

That message -- "The only disability in life is a bad attitude" -- is part of what the Baltimore Ravens carried with them heading to victory in Super Bowl XLVII, according to this this 5-minute ESPN feature.

The message was from a 21-year old Ravens fan who suffers skeletal dysplasia, a severe medical condition he and his family have dealt with since his birth. He shared his message in an email that defied odds and made its way to Coach John Harbaugh, which he then shared with his team.

Life is unfair, but it's amazing the difference the right attitude can make... (Email Subscribers Watch Here)

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