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Ralph Bruksos' Blog

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"AN INSPIRING FRIEND"

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I keep looking, every day, for inspiration. Something is beautiful or just plain inspiring on kindness in action.

The Dalai Lama and his co-author Dr. Howard Cutler, in the book, “The Art of Happiness” have convinced me that an objective of life is to be happy.

I started my week on Monday, talking to Jeff early on Monday morning.

Jeff explained that he had a wonderful weekend. He went on to explain that it was his 61st birthday just this past weekend.

I asked, “Did you celebrate?” he told me, “Yes, I went for a 100 mile bike ride, it was my present to myself. It took 6 ½ hours. I felt wonderful after that birthday gift to myself”.

I felt inspired and happy hearing Jeff share his birthday with me.

I am surrounded by a wonderful, loving family, who enjoy heaping love on me, they serve the wonderful barbecue, or something equally delicious, followed by cookies and cheesecake; on Father’s Day, it was cake with rich frosting about one inch thick, with assorted berries on top, and of course there is much left over and I eat more for dessert for days, with the corresponding increase in my weight.

What would it be like to pattern my birthday after Jeff with some activity, and then top it off with fresh fruit or berries?

As poor as we were when I was a child, my mother always served something sweet after a festive dinner. Usually it was something she had prepared or baked. I formed the habit of the “sweet tooth” which is OK until the years and less activity result in increased personal weight.

Thanks, Jeff, I think I would be happier changing or modifying that habit.

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"CREATING A NEW FUTURE"

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Was talking to my old pal Dean this morning and we were talking about the opinion, “How lucky we are, we have a purpose in life, to help others who want to be helped.”

When my wife and I lost everything, our home, apartments, duplex, investments and starting over, I purchased a piece of poster board from an art store and created my/our future, complete with pictures and printed goals. Doing a triathlon, (completed 3), run a marathon, (completed 55), buy a house, (we have a nice home), finished the book, (published in the U.S., in French in Canada, China and Europe) and on and on.

Stopped running when I turned 80, ran Chicago Marathon.

Found the poster board, going to do another poster board.

The first thing I printed was to do a half marathon to celebrate my 90th birthday in a little over two years.

Last week, I started up again, on the indoor track and walked 1/20th of a mile, today two laps more.

I had drawn a circle in my mind, I put the Seahawks, in my mind outside the circle when they started their message of hatred and our coach supported them by locking arms when some were kneeling.

I drew a 3 inch circle on my new poster board, and the first entry was the Seahawks, one slight difference this time, I put the Seahawks “inside” the circle, alongside the coach. No resentments or hatred on the visual!

A brilliant man taught me recently, “Never concern yourself with anything or anyone “you can’t do anything about.”

Putting the coach and the Seahawks outside my circle doesn’t define the coach or the Seahawks, it defines me, and inability to accept something I can’t do anything about, really defines me. God, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change”, etc.

When I get wound up in whatever is happening in Washington, D.C., or China, or North Korea, etc., after I have voted, it doesn’t define them, it only defines me.

An effective person doesn’t focus on “the problem” they focus on the opportunities.

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"A GREAT LEADER"

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When Jim Collins wrote about the Level Five Leadership, our Roundtable members, were interested.

The Level Five executives who displayed very high levels of determination. The “iron will” that helped create the success, is a skill that can be learned.

I wanted the success, the achievement, not for the recognition or money, but the great feeling of accomplishment. Those of us who are older, have had such experiences and gained so much knowledge that it seems a shame to take it to the grave rather than share it with someone. There is a percentage of people who would eagerly receive the experience, if I would share it.

There is always the element of chance, and sometimes luck, but we have a personal impact on the outcome of any endeavors based on our personal will.

You couple that with deep personal humility.

I knew there was some personal will in quitting smoking and all tobacco, drinking, losing 50#’s for my first of 55 marathons, three triathlons and much more.

But, the ego still creeps in. Seems deep humility, avoiding center stage, the main spotlight and becoming non-judgmental is a different journey and now has a higher priority.

As I substitute love and gratitude for my quest for recognition, I seem much happier.

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"The Influence of Great Friends"

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Show me a young person’s friends and I will share some insights to their future.

At age 42, I had never run any distance.

Four of us started talking a little about starting to run. Bill Bump, Gary Tomlinson, Gary Ratzlaff and I were in those early discussions.

One-by-one they started running on the track, indoor at the Washington Athletic Club. Twenty laps to a mile. I followed.

One-by-one they started running outside. I was the last to start running, last one to go outside. First time outside I fell on the concrete and skinned my hands and knees.

We kept increasing the miles and one-by-one they started running marathons.

Again, I was in the last to finish a marathon.

I bought a training manual from the track coach at Seattle Pacific University.

I completed the one year training and finished my first marathon in 4 hours and 5 minutes.

I ran 54 more including New York, 5 times and Boston. I got into Boston in the lottery, held for the 100th running.

I did 3 triathlons, not the ironman and a couple helped me summit Mt. Rainier.

I ran my last marathon when I turned 80, all thanks to the incredible men (and later women) who let me run with them.

I was truly blessed to be accepted with real Eagles.

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"WHY NOT GO SIT IN THE SUN?"

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After doing “this work” for over sixty-years, many feel I should retire, close-up shop, go home, close the drapes and wait for it to get late. I can do it and possibly live comfortably with my wife.

The tone of some of this message may communicate that I am “feeling superior” to those who retire. No, not at all, everyone should retire when they want; it is none of my business what the other person does.

I have had an incredible life, while still working, become a 12 handicap golfer; good skeet shooter 25 of 25, OK trap shooter, good big bore shooter, reloaded big bore and shotgun, climbed mountains, completed marathons, 3 triathlons, ran a sport boat for years, U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain of a charter boat. Served on countless boards and president of organizations. Taught one class per quarter at the University of Washington, lectured at Seattle University, went parachuting, (not sky diving), helped start a halfway house that now does over $80 million per year, Cub Master and on and on.

So, I have had a rich 60 plus years.

Now, about continuing to help others.

Because I have continued to study, teach, consult, run a consulting practice, served on non-profits and many abilities that taught and strengthened me as a man. As a teacher and a leader, consultant, I have 22 more years of learning, teaching and experience to pass on to individuals emerging in their life and career.

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"THE INFLUENCE OF OTHERS"

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There is a wonderful song on the Barbra Streisand CD, “People who need people are the luckiest people, in the world.” I was listening to her rendition recently and then realized I am one of those people, and I know it.

I worked out at a club near my office daily.

I was 42 when I realized it was time to be more active in exercise. I had played handball, squash and racquetball but there were many mornings my playing partner would sleep in and I was without anyone to play with.

I made a decision to learn to run, for weight control and cardio.

I went up to the indoor track where I work out and shuffled around for 2 laps, 20 laps is a mile.

Another friend showed up, then another.

Within a couple of months there were 5-6 regular runners, it kept increasing.

After a few months, two men went outside, then two more, and again after two more months, and finally I was running outside, alone. First time, I missed a curb, mid-block and went down hard.

After a few months outside, one-by-one they increased the distance and started running marathons.

I was the last of the group, to run a marathon, and then ran a total of 55 marathons, the last one at 80 years old.

Learned how to swim and completed 3 triathlons, not an Iron Man tho.

The runners group still meets at Christmas, they come from California and cities in between to enjoy the bond, the fellowship.

Most of us are so aware of the fact that it was the sense of belonging that made it all possible. I lost over 40 lbs. and pretty much kept it off!

The energy, the power, the accountability and the inspiration is what I really received, plus one more; they filled my need for wonderful people in my life.


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"I WANT TO BE A CONTROL FREAK"

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Was going to the gym, before work, early as is my practice, five days per week.

As I got up to cruising speed on Hwy 509, I realized I should look at the speedometer, I saw I was going exactly 60 mph. Surprise! No need to reduce or increase the speed.

I was going exactly 60 mph. A warm feeling came over me, without trying I was at exactly the speed limit.

We hear conversations that we can get by, sometimes, 67-68 mph in a 60 mph zone. Not always.

At 60 mph in a 60 mph zone, I am in control. At 67-68 mph in a 60 mph I am under the control of the state patrol, county deputy sheriff, city police and then the prosecutor and finally a judge. I have abdicated, someone could take over control.

Same with the IRS, if I follow the rules, 100%, I am in control, when “I paint with a wide brush”, “I have turned over control to some IRS employee”.

On the job, when I follow the rules and I do what I am paid to do, am warm, thoughtful to my peers and “the boss”, I influence the relationship. I have a strong voice in my continuing to work there. Again, if I am a marginal worker, my boss or someone else has a strong voice in whether I continue to work there.

Same with a spouse, if I am caring, loving, considerate, I have increased the odds of staying in the relationship. I realize; there is always the element of chance. When one is the negative, controlling person, angry, short tempered, to the other partner has a strong voice in who stays or leaves.

If I choose to become in control of my weight, I become the control person, to decide to go 60 mph in a 60 mph zone, decide to ingest less sugar, carbs, control 60 mph or 160 lb weight.

Is now the time to affirm, “I become what I think about?” I believe I could control this aspect of my life. The whole objective for some involved in meditation and mindfulness is to become present here and now.

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"ON BEING PRESENT"

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We had a fascinating speaker at our Executive Roundtable II this week, Chuck Nelson, currently serving as the CEO of the Washington Athletic Club.

In our decades of meeting monthly, we have had countless speakers, both women and men, and Chuck was one of the best. Chuck has had a blessed life, his opinion, shared by those present.

All American place kicker at the University of Washington, professional NFL kicker, pioneer in the Boeing Classic Golf Tournament, which has raised millions of dollars by hosting a tournament featuring some of the greatest golfers in the world, successful broadcaster and now CEO of one of the best City Athletic Clubs in the world.

One of the questions we asked Chuck, “Yes, you were All American at the University of Washington which means you were the best Collegiate kicker in America that year, and you were a place kicker for three different NFL teams, there were 28 teams then, which meant you were close to or one of the 28 best place kickers in the world.”

“Assuming you were, or nearly the best at what you did, how did you deal with the nerves, or the stress of going out plying your skill in front of a million or more viewers with the outcome of the game, dependent on your success at times?”

He smiled and said, “When they call for “place kicker” and you go out and do what you have done for years.” He added, “You are so focused on what you are going to do, that there is no room for stress.” I added, “What if we all could stay focused to that extent with our spouse, our job, our career and remain present in our work, golf, children and just be present, here and now, how wonderful.” He trained himself to be present, successfully.

It changed our thinking for so many who heard him that day.

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"NICE TO SEE YOU?"

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I was involved with a man recently, and after a brief discussion, as I walked away, I was so aware of how pleasant, how grateful I was that we had a couple of moments together.

How aware I am, how some people make an effort to enrich your life, with a smile, a greeting or how well they are doing at that moment.

In contrast, as the old cliché goes, “He brightens up a room, when he leaves it.”

I think of an old and dear friend I was on a board with. I hadn’t seen him in years when I bumped into him, he wanted to share his inner most feeling of that particular group.

We had not talked at all for years, when we had a brief encounter, he lit into me. I didn’t respond, I smiled and said, “I haven’t seen you in a year and a half and you chastised and criticized me for ten minutes about the organization and how they treated an employee.”

I explained that I was no longer on their board, but, I was familiar with that experience with that particular employee.

I explained that I had no opinion on whether the supervisor was justified in correcting that employee or not.

The episode was over, in the past, why chastise a friend of 45 years because he was available, even though he was no longer involved.

What a reminder to treat others with love and dignity. If I must connect with someone, in my mind, make certain I have the authority, responsibility or if it fits into my job description. If not, best to let it go.

This need to catch a speaker, a clerk, a public figure doing something wrong; is best left unspoken! Rather than be a whiny, little rascal, it would be better to realize it is not against the law to have an unspoken thought.

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"THE HAPPIEST MAN IN THE WORLD"

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Not sure where I first read about the “Happiest Man in the World”? I wondered how the researchers chose or identified him?

His name is Matthieu Ricard, and he is the happiest man in the world according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin. The 66 year old Tibetan, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin, produces a level of gamma waves, those linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory never before reported in neuroscience.

He says, “To be truly happy we have to get rid of mental toxins such as hatred, obsession, arrogance, greed and pride.

I have said for years, if there is something wrong in my life, it is caused by my ego. When I retire my ego, all of the mental toxins will leave, I believe. It is a work in progress.

If I could rid myself of those toxins and cultivate positive qualities such as altruism and become a giver rather than a taker, I would be working towards the answer for me.

During meditation, I have chosen The Serenity Prayer as my mantra, “God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, courage to change what I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

Ricard says among countless other things, yes, he is very happy because he never concerns himself with anything which he can’t do anything about. I thought, that is the Serenity Prayer at work.

He scoffs at the title of happiest person in the world, but yes, he is happy, but, with billions of people untested, “who is to say who is the happiest?”

Whenever I read the paper, I realize much is written to create negative emotion, the news value is absent or sketchy. When I feel myself responding with negative emotion, I close that portion of the paper, if I can’t do something about it.

Becoming free and happy is a grand work in progress.

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