Aliveatwork's Blog


What’s Really on Your Mind?

Every couple of months I have the privilege of working work with a group of folks from Best Buddies of Arizona.

Best Buddies is an international organization who’s mission is to create opportunities for one-to-one friendships, employment opportunities and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Each and every time I go I always receive an unexpected gift or lesson.

A few weeks ago while I was interacting with one of the team members, I was struck by the notion that I was surrounded by some of the most authentic people I have ever met in my life.

And that got me thinking … what is it about this extraordinary group of individuals that makes this experience feel so genuine?

As I pondered that question I came to this conclusion: The reason this feels so genuine is because they don’t hold back … they say what’s on their minds and have no problem telling you how they feel.

In a world of soundbites, political back-stabbing, spin, and dis-ingenuousness … they are a  welcomed breathe of fresh air.

No filters, no facades, and no masks. They live in the moment … totally engaged in life!

How wonderful is that … how authentic is that … how real is that?

What if more people spoke their truth instead of hiding behind a veil of filters and fear?

What if we didn’t have to be soooooooo politically correct that we defy logic because someone or some group is offended?

What if more people said what they meant and meant what they said at work, at home, and especially in Washington D.C.?

And for the record: I am not talking about maliciously hurting others out of  ignorance or fear. That isn’t the point, that is just the other extreme.

What I am saying is that we seem to be trading authenticity and truth for dis-ingenuousness and mis-truths.

My friend Richard shared this quote with me by Aristotle and I think it applies perfectly:

 “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

So what about you … what’s really on your mind?

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Your Best Is Not …

Have you ever been in a situation involving another person where you thought to yourself …

“You know, if they just worked harder they would be so much better off”

Maybe you exited from the highway and at the end of the ramp was a homeless person with a sign and you thought …

“If you would stop begging and go look for a job, you wouldn’t be in this situation.”

In situations that involve others we need to remember that we don’t know the whole story.

We don’t know: what they’ve experienced in their past, what they’re experiencing now, their mental capacity, how they think, what they think, or their background … were they  abused, a veteran, or are they developmentally challenged, etc.

We really don’t know anything about them and yet we judge them for not doing their best because it’s not our best.

In times like this, I find myself needing to regroup, step back, and say: “At this exact moment in time they are doing the best they can with what they have.”

Some may disagree … and for those of you who do, please know that you will never fully know what is going on inside the mind of anyone else. You can only project your own inner thoughts and beliefs onto them.

Here’s what I know … someday (hopefully) you are going to be much older than you are today.

At that point in your life you will not hear as well, you will move slower, think slower, and forget things. You will repeat stories over and over and you will need help to do the things that you used to do by yourself from the time you were 3 years old.

You will have good days and you will have days when you feel like you can’t do anything right!

And on those not so good days you will be praying that the people around you see someone who in that exact moment in time is doing their best.

2 final thoughts:

What you put out there is what you get back … eventually

AND your best is not the same as everyone else’s.



The Power of a Smile …
August 17, 2012, 5:45 am
Filed under: Alive @ Work, Aliveness, Joe Contrera, Leadership | Tags: , , ,

Occasionally I feel the need to share a personal experience with you especially when something impacts me in a profound way.

Yes, I know this is a business blog …

And yet in my day-to-day life I find it nearly impossible to separate the closely intertwined personal thoughts and emotions from my business.

The other day I was thinking about my dad who passed away last Thanksgiving weekend after years of battling various ailments.

As I thought about him and how close we were, I began to reminisce about moments that we shared as his life was winding down.

One of those moments took place last fall in his room at the nursing home. He was sharing a story about a prank he had played on one of his coworkers when he was a young man.

I had heard the story many times before … it didn’t matter … I could listen to his stories a thousand times over.

What struck me most about that particular time was that he was telling the story as if it was the first time anybody was hearing it AND it was the first time he had ever spoken what had happened some 50 odd years before.

He was smiling and laughing so hard he could barely get the story out.

It was in that moment … the smile and laughter on his face had erased all signs of age or ailment. In that moment … he was 28 years old again.

A smile is a powerful thing …

A smile can melt away sadness, erase the effects of age and disease, and can stir your heart .

It can remind you to appreciate the ones you love who are still here … and it can momentarily bring back the ones you love who aren’t.

The Power of a Smile … what an amazing thing!

Maybe today … you can remember something or someone to smile about?



10 Lessons I’ve Learned … So Far
August 9, 2012, 5:55 am
Filed under: Aliveness

As each year passes I realize that I continue to learn valuable lessons.

So I thought I would share a few of them with you that I’ve been thinking about lately.

And no, the list is by no means complete …

Actually I’m hoping that I will continue to learn right up until the moment I take my very last breath!

After that … who knows … could be a whole new ball game?

I’ve learned:

  1. If it doesn’t feel right in your gut … it’s probably not.
  2. Sometimes you need to believe in people … even when they don’t believe in themselves.
  3. The simpler something is … the closer it is to the truth.
  4. Fear can kill anything … dreams, life, relationships, hope, etc
  5. The easiest way isn’t always the best.
  6. Life unfolds exactly as it is supposed to …  even when it’s not exactly the way I want it to.
  7. Sometimes what you’re looking for is right under your nose … you just have to open your eyes.
  8. Choosing happiness is simple … it’s not always easy.
  9. If I can’t be happy where I am …  I will never be happy where I wish I was.
  10. Love is the miracle cure that scientists have been searching for … it heals everything … you just need to get your prescription filled and then take it in!

So what about you?

What lessons have you been learning lately?

Care enough … to share?



L-O-V-E: What’s Chicken Got To Do With It?
August 3, 2012, 7:36 am
Filed under: Aliveness, Joe Contrera, Leadership | Tags: ,

For thousands of years people have written songs about l-o-v-e.

For thousands of years millions of people have sung ballads about l-o-v-e.

Which had me thinking …

How many songs actually have the word “l-o-v-e” in the title?

According to wiki answers.com there are only 32.

Here they are:

  1. A Groovy kind of love
  2. All I want to do is make love to you
  3. All you need is love
  4. As long as you love me
  5. All out of love
  6. An everlasting love
  7. And I love you so
  8. Burning love
  9. Can you feel the love tonight
  10. Can’t help falling in love
  11. Crazy little thing called love
  12. Crazy love
  13. Don’t you love me anymore
  14. Endless love
  15. Everlasting love
  16. Everything I love
  17. Feel like makin love
  18. Glory of love
  19. Greatest love of all
  20. How deep is your love
  21. I can love you like that
  22. I can’t believe you are in love with me
  23. I could fall in love
  24. I didn’t know I was looking for love
  25. I honestly love you
  26. I just called to say I love you
  27. I knew I loved you
  28. I love the way you love me
  29. I love you always forever
  30. I love you for sentimental reasons
  31. I wanna love you forever
  32. I want to know what love is

And then I thought what about the Beatles … they have at least 15  more songs with the word “love” in the title!

And I love her, Can’t buy me love, I’m in love, Love me do, etc.

The crazy thing is when you really sit down and think about it,  there are probably a thousand more songs with the word “l-o-v-e ” in the title.

And yet … with all this singing and writing about love we still have people fighting over who eats or doesn’t eat chicken at a fast food restaurant … that is simply amazing!

Maybe folks should stop singing about love and actually just start loving their neighbor as much as they love … their chicken.



L-O-V-E: The One You’re With …
August 1, 2012, 6:23 am
Filed under: Alive @ Work, Aliveness, Self Improvement | Tags: , , ,

I have a number of friends who are single …

One of the things I hear them they say is, “I wish I could find someone to love …”

I have a number of friends who are married …

One of the things I hear them say is, “Sometimes I wish I was single …”

I once heard a story that Pastor Joel Osteen shared. He said a man was married to his wife who had 80% of the qualities he loved and adored. However, she was  missing 20% of the other things that he wanted. So he found another women who had that 20% and he left his wife. Later he found out that this new gal definitely had the 20% … but she was missing the other 80%!

Does it seem like some folks believe if they were just somewhere else, with someone else, doing something else, they would be happier?

So that got me thinking ….

Imagine how much happier people would be if they simply … loved the one they were with!

Love the partner you’re with, the kids you have, the friends in your life, the parents you were given. Same goes for the job you have, the car you drive and the house you live in.

Life is just too short to waste it away thinking about being someplace else with someone else and having different things!

And that’s all I have to say bout that …