I Thought I Would Learn About Classical Music…

I thought I would learn about classical music, but ended up learning about life. This is my conclusion after listening to yet another great TED Talk. This one is by Benjamin Zander. To prove to you how little I knew about classical music, I didn’t know who the hell Benjamin Zander is! I do now. Since 1979, Benjamin Zander has been the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic.

What impressed me most about this talk is how he used a lesson in classical music appreciation (and, by the way, I now appreciate classical music) and turned it into, at the very end, a lesson in life. I will not tell you what he says at the end. It is worth watching this all the way through. I will only tell you this: It reinforces the power of a well-told story…a well-told life story!

Please take the time to watch this: http://tinyurl.com/ntqr4 on and then let me know what you think.

Ben_Zander

Honoring a Hero Today, Col. Richard Cole

Today is Veterans Day, 2013. Not just any Veterans Day, but one that is especially meaningful. Last Saturday, at a ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, a final toast was made for the Doolittle Raiders. A bottle 1896 of cognac was ceremonially uncorked and a toast was made, delivered by Col. Richard Cole, a man I had the honor of interviewing in November 2012. He is one of only four surviving members of the original 80 member team of Doolittle Raiders. Here is a screen shot from the interview, part of a film Lee Kirgan produced for The Yellow Rose Project, a short film to celebrate the B-25 and to support The Yellow Rose. The 1944 B-25, the Yellow Rose, is hangared in San Marcos, Texas, and is maintained by the Centex Wing of the Commerative Air Force http://tinyurl.com/TheYellowRoseFilmProject.Col. Richard Cole 12:7:2012

For the story of the ceremony and a bit of the history of the Doolittle Raiders, click on this link: http://tinyurl.com/opyazj3. Many years ago, 80 goblets were made, on each one was carved a name of a member of the Doolittle Raiders. Every year at a reunion of the surviving Raiders, the goblet with the names of those who died in the previous year is ceremonially turned over, then a toast is made to those who died in the raid, those who have died since the raid, and to those still living. Today, there are only four goblets standing upright, representing the four Raiders still alive. Three were at the ceremony last Saturday evening.  

A bottle of 1896 (the year of Col. Doolittle’s birth) cognac that was given to Col. Doolittle was uncorked. Many years ago, the survivors of the Raid vowed not to open the bottle till most were gone. It was decided that this was the year to open it and give a final toast. Here is a video of the ceremony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDKPYpkU5Cg. Fast forward to 48:53 to watch Col. Cole open the bottle and give the final toast.

On this Veterans Day, let us all remember all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, as well as those who served and continue to serve our great country in order to preserve that freedom.

Oh Sweet Lorraine

Sometimes it just all comes together. You have one of those days like mine has been today. It started out with a meeting with a new group of friends whom I admire greatly. In our discussion this morning, many were reflecting on the memory of a young friend who died last week. They spoke so highly of him and the stories of his life. The message we all gathered was to not let a day go by without telling  your friends and family that you love them.

Then I received an email this afternoon with this incredible video attached: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDi4hBWsvkY. Without spoiling the story, I’ll tell you it’s about the love a 96-year-old man named Fred has for his wife. In fact, he wrote a song about her called Oh Sweet Lorraine. Based on my experiences this morning and watching this video this afternoon, I encourage you to do the following: 1) Watch the video; 2) Buy the song; 3) Tell someone today that you love them. Don’t wait! In fact do it now … right now.

And remember to do it every day. And when you tell that person you love them, think of Fred … and sweet Lorraine.

Listening More to be More Persuasive?

In a recently published article in Inc. magazine, author Kevin Daum wrote about 7 Things Really Persuasive People Do http://tinyurl.com/m4h2c69. Number two on the list is “They Listen … and Listen … Then Listen Some More”. What? Listen more to be more persuasive? Most people believe that those who are the most persuasive are the ones who talk the most, not listen more. One of the most valuable lessons to learn in persuasion is that it’s not about you, it’s about them! Knowing that, how will you know what’s important to them if you don’t listen to them? If the voice you are listening to is only your own, only you will be persuaded…and you don’t need that at that moment!

In the article, he addresses “…listening when in persuasion mode.” He explains what this means: “First, (people who know how to persuade) are listening to assess how receptive you are to their point of view. Second, they are listening for your specific objections, which they know they’ll have to resolve. Last, they are listening for moments of agreement so they can capitalize on consensus. Amazingly persuasive people are constantly listening to you and not themselves.  They already know what they are saying. You can’t persuade effectively if you don’t know the other side of the argument.”

               

What Kevin Daum says above is essential to being more persuasive. But think about how being a better listener can help you in all areas of communication: with family, with friends, as well as in the workplace. In a blog I posted in March, 2012, I began to uncover the basics of the “Forgotten Communication Tool” http://tinyurl.com/7rhkyax. Applying only a few of the skills I mentioned will make you a better listener. And when you become a better listener, positive things will happen in all areas of your life … including those that require your sharpened persuasive abilities.

An Answer to the Tough Question, “Why Record Their Life Stories?”

Over the years of recording people’s life stories, I will ask my clients, who are usually the children of the interviewee(s), “Why do you want to record their life stories?” While the answers I have heard may vary, the root of the answers usually incorporate a common theme. That common theme is as tough to grasp as the question itself: the realization of their mortality.

We all know we are, some day, going to die. Our society has taught us that discussing this, even just thinking about it, is a frightening thing to do. And when we think of it happening to someone we love, emotion kicks in and then we really don’t want to talk or think about it. But when considering the mortality of a loved one, one of the risks of giving in to the fear of not addressing it is that one of the most important legacies they could leave behind, their stories, will be lost forever.

As with most of our fears that we finally address, confronting the fear and dealing with it leaves us in a state of gratitude for the lessons we learn from the experience. I continually hear from my clients after they’ve viewed the LifeStory we recorded of their loved one, tremendous joy in not only hearing the stories, but knowing that they are preserved forever.

The good news is that, while I’d love to help you record the stories, you don’t need a professional to record the stories of your loved ones. You can do it yourself. The next blog post will give you helpful hints on how to do it yourself.

In the meantime, think of the collective hugs you get when you answer the tough question, “Why record their life stories?”

mother hugs

 

 

Tips on Archiving Family History

I am often asked about tips on archiving family history from the assortment of things passed down from generation to generation. Specifically, I am asked about photos and recorded items: old photos, audio tapes, cassette recordings of many sizes, video tapes, etc.. I recently read a great article that answers many of the questions I get.  Bertram Lyons, an archivist at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., authored the following article in the New York Times http://tinyurl.com/ow4qczc. Bertram (pictured below) gives the best explanation I’ve read about what to look for in finding professional to help you archive your family history media treasures.Bertram Lyons

If you ever thought that the old photos and recordings that are shoved in a box somewhere will last forever, think again. Please take the time to find them and digitize them soon! At LifeStories Alive http://www.lifestoriesalive.com, we are continually faced with clients who remember “that great photo” of their ancestor from their childhood that is no longer usable due to neglect. It’s not that expensive to safe a priceless heirloom. Do it now!

What Impact Can We Have On the Life of Another Person?

I just finished watching the only TV program I watch on a regular basis – CBS Sunday Morning. I appreciate their consistent cavalcade of positive, meaningful stories. Today’s program was no exception. One of the stories today highlighted the life stories of a living legend, Sidney Poitier http://tinyurl.com/bp9qnje .

Sidney Poitier

 

An integral part of his story, one I had never heard before, was shared. It caused me to reflect afterward, “What impact can I have on the life of another person?” Born as the youngest of a large and poor Bahamian family, he moved to New York at age 17 to become an actor. Washing dishes at a restaurant to  survive, the young Poitier was approached by an elderly Jewish waiter, a fellow employee. The following is from the CBS Sunday Morning account:

“There was one of the waiters, a Jewish guy, elderly man, and he looked over at me and was looking at me for quite awhile. I had a newspaper, it was called Journal American. And he walked over to me, and he said, ‘What’s new in the paper?’ And I looked up at this man. I said to him, ‘I can’t tell you what’s in the paper, because I can’t read very well.’ He said, ‘Let me ask you something, would you like me to read with you?’ I said to him, ‘Yes, if you like.’

“Now let me tell you something: That man, every night, the place is closed, everyone’s gone, and he sat there with me week after week after week. And he told me about punctuations. He told me where dots were and what the dots mean here between these two words, all of that stuff.”

“He took you through high school,” said (Leslie) Stahl.

“Yes, he did. And it wasn’t for long. I learned a lot. And then things began to happen.”

I’m sure this elderly Jewish man, at the time, had no idea the gift he was giving to the world as he offered to help the young man that day. He had no idea that Sidney Poitier’s future would inspire thousands to reach for what was previously out of reach. I believe he did this unselfish act of kindness, teaching a kid to read, because it felt like the right thing to do. I’d even guess it came as a knee-jerk reaction.

So I ask myself, “What impact, then, can I have on the life of another person? What simple act of kindness can I do to change the life of another person?” I believe the answer will appear in my everyday life, perhaps even today. And when the opportunity comes to give, I shouldn’t even think about it. I should just do it…like an elderly Jewish waiter in New York did for a dishwasher who couldn’t tell him “…what’s new in the paper.”