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My wife and I vacationed in Tennessee last week.  We have been there several times before.  This time we became aware of something we had not realized before.

It’s amazing how much different life in Tennessee is than it is where we live in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Life is Hectic Here in Chicago

Right now we are always on the go.  Our plates are always full.  We always have something to do.  Before we finish one project, another has been added.

There is never any time for us to sit back, relax and enjoy ourselves.

It is worse for younger families with children.  My wife commented how the kids in school always are competing with one another.  They are competing academically and in sports.  Just about every day of the year it seems their parents are driving them to this event or that.

Traffic is a bear.  To drive 10 miles in rush hour frequently will take 40 to 50 minutes.  During the summer it seems road construction is everywhere.  That just adds to travel time.

A More Relaxed Pace of Life in Tennessee

We spent the majority of last week about 35 miles northwest of Knoxville.  The area was primarily rural.  There were several small towns with populations under 1,000.

Traffic there and in Knoxville was never a problem.  In 30 minutes even at the height of rush hour it seemed we could drive 15 to 20 miles.  No traffic jams – no creeping along.

Also – the pace of life is definitely slower in Tennessee.  People take their time.  They are not in a rush to go anywhere or do anything.  They seem to be calmer, more at peace and more relaxed.

What a welcome change for us.  My wife and I came back totally relaxed and refreshed.  We’ve been home 6 days now. You know what.

The Stress is Starting to Mount Again

Sure wish we could have bottled some of that calm, relaxed peacefulness we found in Tennessee and just pour it over us any time the stress becomes unbearable.

Much Success,

Bob Paroski

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Communicating is So Darn Hard

How many languages can you speak fluently?  If you are like me, you probably only can speak one – English.

When you are in the presence of others speaking a different language, don’t you feel lost?  You have no idea of what they’re saying.  If you’re asked a question, you have no idea how to get the others to understand your answer.

Have you ever realized

For Many of Us English is a Foreign Language

You may be saying this guy is nuts.  How can English be a foreign language to me?  I have spoken it all of my life.

Let me tell you what I have come to realize.

All too frequently people misunderstand what is said to them.  At least that is what the person speaking believes.  Whose fault is it?  Is that the fault of the person speaking or the fault of the one listening?

Most of us believe that it is the fault of the person listening.  They weren’t paying attention or weren’t listening carefully.  That is not correct.

There is a presupposition in Neuro Linguistic Programming. It is

The Meaning of My Communication

is the Outcome I Get

This presupposition simply means whenever I am talking to another person, they are hearing what I am saying through their own filters based on their life experiences up to that point.

Let me give an example.

Say I tell you it is really warm now. For me a comfortable temperature is 68 degrees. The temperature is 72 and that is really warm for me. On the other hand 72 is a little cool for you. A comfortable temperature for you is 76.

You don’t understand me when I say it is really warm now. There is a break in communication.  I have not taken your comfort zone into consideration.  What is really warm for me is actually a little cool for you.

So our communication has failed.

If I want to really connect with you when I am speaking I have to understand how you are going to interpret what I say.  Then I can adjust what I say accordingly.  In the process I need to be really specific in what I say.

Sounds Complex, Doesn’t it?

It really isn’t.

Let’s oversimplify this going back to the example I just used. 

Again, it’s 72 in the room. You and I are there. I ask you how the temperature is for you. You let me know that you are cold. 76 is your ideal temperature. You have short sleeves on.

On the other had, I am hot. However, I have a sweater on. Under that is short sleeves. I offer to give you my sweater to wear while we’re in the room. That makes it a little more comfortable for the both of us.

In the process I have gotten to know you at a deeper level and was able to communicate more clearly with you.

In any conversation we have with another we have to take the time to make sure that we understand how they are interpreting what we are saying.  Any time they tell us something we need to understand what they mean by what they are saying.

Many of us are more likely to do this with strangers.  We don’t know them.  So we take the time to clarify what they are saying.  In the process we get to know them at a deeper level.

The Challenge with Those Closest to Us

On the other hand it is entirely different with those closest to us.  We take for granted that they understand us and always know what we mean when we are talking to them.  After all we have spent so much time with them.

We expect them to understand what we think and feel. We don’t cut them any slack when they don’t. Then the frustration builds.

At the same time we think we know in advance why they do what they do.  We never take the time to clarify the reason they are acting the way they are or saying what they are. We never get down to understanding their feelings.   They get frustrated with us.

Let’s look at our closest relationships.

Do you realize the impact this has on marriages?

At the start of a marriage the husband and wife are getting to know each other.  Frequently one does something the other does not anticipate.  Rather than clarifying why the spouse did what they did the other spouse assumes they know why.  Frequently they are offended.  They just bury the hurt rather than letting the other know how they were hurt and clarifying what the spouse meant. 

As time goes by these little things build.  The spouse buries them.  However the hurt grows.  It is never resolved.

Several years down the road the spouses have grown distant from each other.  They don’t understand each other.  They feel the other is not meeting their needs.  Frequently separation and divorce occurs.

Also look at the relationships between parents and children.

Many times parents don’t take the time to understand their children.  They misinterpret what they say.  They don’t really clarify with their children why they are doing what they do.

Parents grow distant from their children.  Children grow distant from their parents.

What is the impact on children?  Many spend much of their adult years trying to overcome the emotional wounds caused by their parents.  Needless to say  relationships are strained.  Sometimes this lasts for decades and, even, lifetimes.

That’s why Communicating is so darned hard.

How Can We Change?

You may wonder what you can do.

  • First, be specific when talking to anyone else, especially those closest to you.
  • Second , don’t take for granted the other person understands what you said.  Ask them to let you know what you just said in in their own words.
  • Third,  ask others for clarification any time they do something that catches you offguard,  Don’t mind read and assume what they have done was to hurt you.

Just taking these three steps in every conversation will enable you to improve your communication skills.  Your relationships will deepen.

Much Success in Communicating,

Bob Paroski

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One person who inspires me is Les Brown, the motivational speaker.  I had the opportunity to see Les in person on several different occasions while I lived in the Detroit area.  His gusto for life has always amazed me.

Recently I saw the title of one of Les’ speeches on the Internet.  It was Live Full Die Empty.  Let me repeat that

Live Full Die Empty

It got my attention immediately.  It reminded me of an underlying theme for my life that I have gotten away from in the last few years.

Many years ago on my first job out of college, I had the opportunity to work with a man by the name of Cliff Baynon.  He was my assistant supervisor.  In a conversation one day Cliff told me to remember that work and life were games.  Don’t look at them as work.  Look at them as games you play.  Life will be much fuller and better.

I always remembered that.  In my own mind

If Life and Work Were Games,

They Were to be Fun 

To get the most out of them, I had to live them to the fullest.   To do that I had to live life holding on to the seat of my pants.

Whenever possible I tried to do that.  The only problem was there was no manual or workbook showing me what to do.  I made many mistakes along the way.  I have paid dearly for these.

My mistakes caused me to pull back and to live more cautiously.  During the last few years, I realize how sedate I actually had become.  I was afraid to be adventurous because I was afraid of the mistakes I might make and the repercussions I’d have them. 

Only recently have I realized what gifts and talents I was born with.  I also have realized where my true passion is.  I have seen how my gifts and talents align with my true passion.  To enjoy life to the fullest and to have the most fun I have to use my gifts and talents doing something I am truly passionate about.

Now I am anxious again to get back on with this ride I call my life. 

Each day I want to live my life to the fullest.   Yes, sometimes I slip and don’t follow through on this.  However, I don’t let that deter me.

My goal is to

Live Life Holding on to

The Seat of My Pants

What about you?  Are you having the time of your life to the fullest?  Or are you just laid back and cautious about what you do?  Do you know what your gifts and talents are?  Do you know what your passion is?

If you are living life fully, I applaud you for that.

Take A Chance

Live Your Life to the Fullest

If you haven’t experienced what it is like to live the most exciting life possible, I ask you to take a chance today.  Do what you really wanted but were afraid to.  Do something you are truly passionate about.   Remember what Cliff Baynon told me.  Life and work are games.  They are designed to be fun and rewarding.

Much Success,

Bob Paroski

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I have to tell you.  I was shocked.

While reading the headlines on msn.com the other day, I saw a reference to an article which the Center for Public Integrity published on March 19.  The title of the article is

“Grading the nation: How

accountable is your state?”

The article ranks each state for how ethical their state government is and how much corruption there is in it.

I live in Illinois.

On March 15 our past governor, Rod Blagojevich, started to serve time in a prison in Colorado.  His sentence is 14 years.  George Ryan, our governor before him, is in a prison in Ohio serving a prison sentence of 6 1/2 years.

Every time we turn around we hear how corrupt our state is.  Republicans point their fingers at democrats.  Democrats point their fingers at republicans.

Needless to say – I have a jaded view of our elected officials here in Illinois.  I expected Illinois’ state government to be ranked the most corrupt in the nation.  Guess what.  I was wrong.  Illinois was ranked #10.  Not the 10th most corrupt state but the 10th least corrupt state.

I Nearly Fell Out of My Chair

Not only isn’t our state government the worst, 40 state governments are considered less ethical and more corrupt than ours.

That is shocking.  We americans take pride in how great our country is.  Yet our state governments are highly unethical and very corrupt.  What a black mark against us!

Why Does Politics Turn Seemingly Good Men Into Unethical and Corrupt Office Holders?

On a regular basis I hear politicians running for state or national office for the first time promise to correct the corruption at the state capitol or in Washington.  When he ran for governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich campaigned on how he was going to reform Illinois’ state capital.  A few short years later far too many are convicted of taking bribes or other illegal activities.

Do they just become greedy for power and money?

Can we do anything to prevent this from happening?  If there is, we haven’t found how to do it yet.  Over the years the unethical activities and the amount of corruption seems to have increased.

It Would be a Welcome Surprise . . .

. . . to find a politician who is highly ethical and honest when they take office and remains so the entire time they remain in office. I am sure that person would be our hero.  I know they would regularly get my vote.

Bob Paroski

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An Alarming Realization

I am alarmed.  This is . . .

A Problem Far Bigger Than I Ever Imagined

3 young men I know are involved with drugs.  These men do not know each other and have never met.  All 3 are nice clean cut men.  Unless you were aware you’d say that each had their head on straight.

The first is 22 years old.  Right now he is using heroin.  His family became aware he was using almost 2 years ago.  His parents and relatives started to find needles around the house.  He has denied that he is using heroin.  However, he has been in 2 different drug treatment programs for about 2 weeks each time.  Rather than improving his problem has gotten worse.

The second is almost 19.  Last fall he lost a lot of weight.  He also was sniffling all of the time.  In early December he revealed that he was using cocaine recreationally. He has not gotten help for his problem.

The third is 15.  Marijuana was found in his room.  He also admitted he tried cocaine.

All 3 of these young men come from good families.  They live in suburban communities not the inner city.  That’s where the problem comes up.  Apparently the drug problem is far greater in local suburban areas than most adults, including me,  ever realized.

The sad thing for these 3 young men is they are messing their lives up. All are focused on today and having fun right here right now.  None is focused on what will happen to them in the future.  None of the 3 seems to have any long range plans.

If this is happening to 3 whom I know personally,

  • How many others are using drugs that I am unaware of?
  • What percentage of young men and young women are using drugs?
  • How many are beyond the experimentation stage?
  • How much worse will their drug use get in the coming years?
  • How many will ruin their lives in the process?
  • How many may have shorter lives because of it?
  • What will be the impact on their loved ones?

We Have Lost The War on Drugs

For years we have been waging a war on drugs.  However, it’s not working.  How do we get this drug problem under control?  What can we do to save our children?

I feel sorry for you If you’re a parent.  You really have your hands full.  How do you make sure that your children don’t get involved with drugs during their teenage years?

I wish I had some suggestions to make  – suggestions on how you can deal with this problem.  Ways to resolve this once and for all.  However, I don’t have any.  Just know that I empathize with you.

Bob Paroski

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This is something I have been thinking about quite a bit.

One of my goals in life is to be as happy as I can be.

I have come to realize that money and stuff do not bring me happiness. I am happy when I am getting along well with others especially my loved ones and those closest to me. 

The Better My Relationships are

The Happier I am

That’s where the problem comes in.  All too frequently I find that I will say something to a friend or loved one which hurts them.  My relationship is damaged. At those times my happiness disappears or drops substantially.

When I was young, I was not physically strong.  So when someone picked a fight with me, it didn’t pay for me to fight back.  There was no way I was going to win.

So I compensated.  I learned the power of words.  I learned words that would rip others up emotionally.  I excelled at this.  When someone attacked me, I got even with them through words.

My Mouth Was My Gun,

My Hammer, My Club

That was the way I responded and it paid off or so I thought.

As an adult I find that I all too frequently retaliate with a harsh cruel statement or critical comment when I believe someone has done something to hurt me.  Notice I say here “when I believe.”  The other person may not have meant anything by what they said or did.  I just did some mind reading and reached the wrong conclusion.

Needless to say I do this with those closest to me.  After the poisonous words are out, it takes me quite awhile to restore the trust of the person I have hurt.  Our relationship is slowly rebuilt.  All the while I am not as happy as I desire to be.

I don’t know how many years ago I heard this: 

Engage Brain Before Opening Mouth

This has been the hardest thing for me to learn.  I wish that I carried Duck tape on me all of time.  Then when I am mind reading, I can automatically seal my mouth right before the venomous words came out.

I have always envied other people who don’t have this problem I have.

Much Success,

Bob Paroski

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Have you noticed? Our country is more polarized now than it has been at any point during our lifetimes. The news media classifies us politically as being

Red or Blue

This polarization has occurred over the last 10 to 15 years. It seems that people are either ultra conservative and ultra right or ultra liberal and ultra left. We are led to believe there are very few moderates any more. None are more polarized than our congressmen and senators in Washington.

In the past the moderates were the ones who  got things done. Moderate liberals and moderate conservatives worked together. They compromised and got things done. Sometimes they agreed on a conservative issue. Other times they agreed on a liberal issue.

It seemed like they did what was best for the average person.  We all benefitted from it.

Two Camps at War With Each Other

Compare that to the present time.  There are only two camps in Washington.  The ultra liberals and the ultra conservatives.  Each camp is at war with the other.  They don’t agree on anything.

If one group proposes something which will benefit most people, the members of the other group won’t go along with it.  When it doesn’t pass, the group sponsoring it has a black eye.  Everyone wants to know what happened and why couldn’t they get it passed.

Just look back to last summer.  These two groups could not agree on raising the country’s debt ceiling until the very last minute.  What happened?  The Government’s credit rating was lowered.  It became more difficult for you and me as well as businesses to borrow money.

A super committee was appointed to make recommendations on cuts to the Federal Budget by October.  The members of that committee could not agree on what cuts should be made.  Mandatory cuts are now scheduled to take place starting in 2012. Most probably some will cause hardships.

Look at what happened this month.  Tax reductions were going to expire on December 31.  If they did the average person would have to pay $20 more every week in tax.  This at a time when most people are still suffering from the economic downturn we’re experiencing.

It wasn’t until two days before Christmas that an extension was approved.

Where are Reason and Common Sense?

How much more of this are we supposed to take?  When will reason and common sense win out?  Until they do you and I will continue to suffer.  Hopefully it won’t get worse before that happens.

Looking forward to compromises in the future,

Bob Paroski

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Normally at this time of the year, it seems stores and companies don’t care about the service they provide customers.  The greater emphasis is placed on the sales they have going on for the year end Holidays.  An unbelievable amount of time is spent on sales starting with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Simple Truths – Exceptional Service

When I find a store or company that still focuses on me as a customer, I make a note of the service I receive from them.  When I regard their service as exceptional, I let others know about it.

I just experienced fantastic customer service from a company and I wanted to let you know about it.  The company is Simple Truths.  They sell motivational books and plaques over the Internet.

I ordered some books and plaques from them on Cyber Friday. I figured that with all of the orders they received on that day, they would be backlogged.  It would take them awhile to fill them.

Well, I was surprised.  The next work day, Cyber Monday, I got an email from them indicating my order had been shipped.  It came Federal Express and arrived on Wednesday.

Cindy’s Card – An Added Touch

When I opened it, I was pleasantly surprised.  They included an extra book as a gift which I did not anticipate.  In addition there was a card in the box from Cindy.  It had her picture on it and a note saying it was her pleasure to pack my order.  The picture on the card was a nice touch.  It made me feel connected to Cindy.

There was also a letter signed by Mac Anderson, the founder of Simple Truths, thanking me for my order.  Included was a coupon for $25 my next order.

All of these made me feel valued by Simple Truths and that the company really appreciated my business.

Anytime I want to purchase another motivational book or plaque you can be sure they will get my business.

Let me give you their web address.  It is www.simpletruths.com.   Check them out.  Expect to get the same great service I did.

Happy Holidays,

Bob Paroski

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In my July Post I asked who and what are robbing you of your greatness.

On October 5 Steve Jobs died.  Since then many people have commended him for his great work with Apple, Next and Pixar.  I read much of what they have written.

Of all that I have read about Steve, one thing has really stood out.  It wasn’t written about him.  It was actually something he said in his commencement address at Stanford University in 2005.

A Change in Steve Jobs’ Life at Seventeen

Toward the end of his speech he talked about what he heard someone say when he was 17 years old.  Then he went on to say:

“Since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

That really hit home for me.  Since then I have thought about that frequently.  In those few words Steve was saying exactly what I said in my July Blog post.  Clearly he was not settling for the good things he could do in life.  He wanted to do those things which he was great at doing and those things which he was truly passionate about.

If you look at his life, I think that you will agree that

He Truly Did That

Look at what he did with Apple when he first started it with Steve Wozniak.

When he was fired by Apple in the 1980’s he went on to start NEXT which has become the framework for the way Apple is today.  Afterwards he started Pixar which has been at the forefront of animated movies Like Toy Story.

Then he went back to Apple.  Along came ITunes, the IPOD, the IPhone and the IPAD.  Each one better than the one before.

I truly believe that Steve lived each day doing what he wanted to do that day.  We have all benefitted from Steve and what he accomplished.

Now I ask you.  Are you doing each day what you truly want to do?  If not, what changes will you have to make to do so?

Much Success,

Bob Paroski

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My wife and I were camping in the Pennsylvania Wilds last week.  This is an area stretching from the middle to the western side of the state.  Somewhat remote.  Very spotty cell phone coverage.  No access to the Internet.  No TV and very little radio.

We were at Cook Forest State Park.  An absolutely beautiful area.  There were mountains and trees.  Hiking Trails were numerous.  The Clarion River was nearby.

What a Fantastic Trip

I had one of my best vacations ever.  I got that mountain fix which I need on a regular basis.  We saw whitetail deer and turkeys and 3 raccoons.

We hiked on trails through the forests.  These  were magnificent.  We also canoed on the Clarion River.  That was both relaxing and fun.

Most of the time we just relaxed.  Felt no pressure to do anything.  We just did what we wanted when we wanted.

As the week went by, I found not only did I not miss having access to my regular world I really enjoyed it.  It was pure pleasure not getting on the internet and checking emails .  With the spotty cell phone coverage there were few calls and text messages.  That was a welcome relief.

The greatest was not having access to the news.  See people accuse me of being a news junkie.  Yet I didn’t go thru withdrawal when I couldn’t see the news on TV or hear the news on radio.  Actually it was great.

Stress Replaced by Peace and Happiness

I started to unwind shortly after we got there.  Any stress I had evaporated quickly.  By the end of our stay I was totally adjusted to a slower pace of life.  I could really enjoy living like this.

Many people new to the Chicago metropolitan area have commented how the pace of life is so hectic.  I guess that after being here for 18 years I just accepted it.  I also never realized the amount of stress I was experiencing from this hectic pace.

True – all of the conveniences I have at home were not present on our camping trip last week.  However, I never really missed them.  The level of peace and happiness I was experiencing more than compensated for what I did not have.  In many ways I resented having to come back to my regular world.

Back home now I have readjusted to my normal routine  but I have to say it was very reluctantly.  All week I have been thinking back and longing for the peace and happiness I had last week.

Escape to Your Special Place That

Will Bring You Peace and Happiness

You May Have Never Experienced


You may not enjoy mountains and wilderness areas, camping and hiking.  However, I do know that there is a special place you can escape to.

  • One away from the internet and email messages.
  • One where there are no cell phone interruptions or where you can turn off your cell phone without feeling guilty.
  • One away from both the local and national news.

I urge you.  Get away to your special place as frequently as you can.  Experience the peace and happiness that you were meant to.

Life is too short.  Live it to the fullest.

Much Success,

Bob Paroski

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