Give Yourself an A for 2013
For the past 4 years I have been doing the Give Yourself an A exercise from the book, “The Art of Possibility” by Ben Zander. This is a very well written and easy to read book with important information for all of us. I highly recommend the book for coaches, leaders, and anyone who is on a journey of self-reflection and growth. I have had great results with the exercise. My previous blog compared what I wrote in December 2011, and what I accomplished during 2012. The reflecting and writing involved in the process helped me to set goals and intentions that I would have not thought of otherwise.
Below is the exercise. At the end of it I have added my 2013 writeup as an example.
Exercise: Give Yourself An A
I want you to think about 2013 and what you want to do and achieve. Now, I want you to give yourself an A for the whole year. The A is based upon your effort and your accomplishments. Now I ask that you write me a letter telling me why you deserved an A. I want the letter to start with “Dear Win, I got my A because…” and then describe in as much detail as possible, how you came to achieve this extraordinary grade.
I want you to go to this time next year, and look back, and write about all the insights you acquired, milestones you attained during the year as if these accomplishments were already in the past. Everything must be written in the past tense. Phrases such as, “I hope,” “I intend,” or “I will” must not appear. If you wish you may mention specific goals you reached, but I am more interested in the person you will have become by January 2014. I am interested in the attitude, feelings, and worldview of the person who will have done all he wished to do or become everything he wanted to be. And I want you to fall passionately in love with the person you are describing in the letter.
I earned my A in 2013 because I focused on my physical, mental, and spiritual development.
In April, I ran a 1 ½ miles in 12 ½ minutes, did 60 crunches in two minutes, and completed 3 pull ups.
I also continued to improve my golf game, and I was able to play in the mid-80s. My teams were league champions, and I won a trophy in the Associate Division of the Annual EAGA tournament.
I took classes in water coloring and memoir writing. In addition, I continued my singing lessons, and sang in public for the first time in my life.
I taught my class on Fulfillment at Omega, and several other venues. In addition, I taught with Elizabeth at several locations. I continued my private coaching practice.
I volunteered at the Middlesex Heritage Group, the Veterans Administration Medical Center, and the Ontario/Yates County Literacy Program. I finally got connected with the Veterans’ Club at the Finger Lakes Community College, and worked with young men and women who had recently been discharged from the military.
I was the guest speaker at several events including a local Memorial Day Parade.
I reflected upon my life, looked for lessons learned, and discovered who I am. I started my memoirs. This process allowed me to heal some family and personal relationships.
In 2013, I became more confident and creative. I learned to take a breath and choose my responses. I expanded and celebrated the impact I have as a leader, change agent, and contributor to other’s lives. I was at peace with who I am and what I have accomplished; I was glad to be me.
How I earned my A in 2012
For the last several years, I have been doing the “Give Yourself An A” exercise from the book, “The Art of Possibility.” As this year ends, I looked back at what I did to earn my A. I am proud of what I accomplished this past year. The exercise allowed me to think about what was important to me, and what I wanted to do in 2012. I also took time to think about who I want to be. Next week I will post the exercise and why I got an A in 2013.
I got my A…
because I finally became the person I was born to be. I let go of many limiting beliefs I had held on to since childhood. I let go of the last vestiges of my “learned helplessness.” I let go of my fears, aligned my behaviors with my values, and became more powerful. I gave myself permission to be wrong and to fail, and I took the time to learn from those experiences. I allowed myself to be dynamic, forceful, kind, and helpful.
I maintained good health through my eating habits and regular exercise. I reduced my consumption of meats, and I was very careful about what I put into my body.
I had a daily regimen of meditation and stretching exercises. I also went to Yoga at least once a week.
During 2012 I kept my weight around 183, and have watched my diet. The past two months I have been exercising more. I have challenged myself to be able to run 1 ½ miles in 12 ½ minutes, do 60 crunches in 2 minutes, and complete 3 pull-ups by the time I am 69! I am now able to run 1 mile in 12:45 minutes.
In the summer I played golf three times a week. I consistently shot in the middle 80s and got my handicap down to 14.
During 2012 I played golf at least twice a week in the past summer, and while I did not lower my handicap I did hit the ball better and enjoyed playing more.
I let go of my 3rd grade teachers comment about my singing, and my fears of looking foolish. I gave myself permission to sing and dance.
During 2012 I started singing lessons with Maria Gillard, and practiced almost daily. Next year I am going to sing in public!!!!
Elizabeth and I took dance classes at the local community college.
I started water coloring, and made my own Christmas, thank you, and patriotic cards. I allowed creativity to flow through my body.
During 2012, I took water coloring classes here in Canandaigua, and I took two classes at The Lodge at Woodloch with John Leone. This is my most recent painting. I have used them on thank you notes and gift cards.
I gave more public speeches, and took on more leadership roles in my community.
During 2012 I gave speeches at the Phelps NY Memorial Day Parade, the local Marine Corps Recruiter’s Family Day, and at the annual Marine Corps Birthday Dinner.
I continued to volunteer with the Middlesex Heritage Group. There I submitted a grant proposal for the Conservation Assessment Program, and started compiling a list of local Military Veterans and their gravesites.
I am now a volunteer at the Ontario and Yates County Literacy Program. And, I have made several attempts to do volunteer work with the Vets Club at the Finger Lakes Community College.
In 2012, I owned what I did. I took responsibility for who I am, and what I do. In that process, I became more authentic, and all of my relationships flourished. I was healthier and happier than I have ever been. I worked hard this year, and I am proud to have earned my A.
During 2012 I also took time to look back over my life and discover the lessons learned. I was especially interested in the ones that I had not yet acknowledged.
Through my teaching and coaching, I contributed to the well being of many individuals, and I learned more about myself and what is important now!
Today I am a kinder, more loving, and understanding person. Focusing on my creativity this year freed me from some of my limiting beliefs, and inspired me to be even more creative and open.
Marine Corps Birthday Speech 2012
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Marine Corps Birthday Speech 2011
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Memorial Day Speech 2012 in Phelps, New York
Phelps Memorial Day 2012
By Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Harper, USMC (Ret)
Thank you for the nice introduction. Elizabeth and I are honored to be here. You probably noticed as we rode in the convertible that I had a different wave than my wife. She is from England and uses the Queen’s wave, while I use the western Pennsylvania – Hi, how you doing wave. She, however, probably knows more US History than most of us because in 2008 she became a naturalized US Citizen. I am very proud of her for that accomplishment, and I relearned some US History and Geography along the way. If you ever want to remind yourself of what it means to be a US Citizen go to a Naturalization Ceremony. 1000s of people from all over the world want to become US Citizens every year because WE are the greatest Nation in the world!!! And we are the greatest Nation because of the Heroes we are here to honor today.
One of my favorite movies is “A Few Good Men.” I like the movie not just because it is about Marines, but for this one scene. Demi Moore’s character is asked about the Marines she is defending in a court-martial:
Lt. Weinberg: Why do you like them so much?
Her reply is: Because they stand upon a wall and say, “Nothing’s going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch.”
The men and women we are here to honor today stood upon a wall and said to us “Nothing’s going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch.” Men and women from our community and every walk of life - They are our sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends, loved-ones, and community members! They took an oath to “support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. They made a commitment to us that they would protect our country and our way of life. We are here to remember those heroes who fought and died honoring that commitment; we are here to remember their dedication to duty and country; and we are here to remind ourselves that we are the beneficiaries of their great sacrifice.
And, what do these young men and women expect in return for their loyal service? What is our commitment to them? Well, the essence of loyalty is reciprocity, and loyalty is a highly regarded value to the military – We pride ourselves on not leaving a fallen soldier behind on the battlefield. Those of us who served enter combat knowing and trusting this; it is important to our morale and our Nations’ warfighting capability. While we are willing to give our lives for our Country, if we fall on foreign soil, we want to know that we will be brought back home to be buried with our loved ones, and to be remembered by our friends, family, community, and Nation – that is all these young men and women want from us– to be remembered.
In addition to those whom we know paid the ultimate price for our freedom, let us not forget those who are listed as POWs and MIAs. They also made a commitment to us, and honored that commitment, and we must not rest until each and every one of them is accounted for.
As we celebrate this Memorial Day, and enjoy the festivities, the food, and the weather, remember that there are young men and women who are now standing upon “a wall” in Iraq, and Afghanistan defending our Nation, and our rights “to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The best and the brightest of our Nation, and of our community who are saying to us: “Nothings going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch.”
And, in the future when the war clarion is sounded and the battle cry is heard, we will ask our young men and women to once more march towards the sound of gunfire and enter into harm’s way. And they will! They will stand upon a wall as men and women have done for 236 years, and they will say to us, “Nothing’s going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch.”
They will do their duty, and some will make the ultimate sacrifice for our Freedoms. Freedom is not free!!!
Now you may be asking yourself, “What can I do?”
1. Remember those who fought and died for our freedoms, and our way of life. Remember their devotion to duty and country, and their sacrifice. Remember that everyday is Memorial Day for their families, friends, and loved ones!!
2. When you see a man or woman in uniform in Wegmans, at the airport, in a gas station, take a moment, stop them and say, “Thank you for your service.”
3. When you see a veteran - we can be easily recognized by the way we carry ourselves, the way we express ourselves, and our hats, stop them and say, “Thank you for your service
4. Finally, continue to support our Nations’ efforts to account for and recover those who are still listed as MIA/POWs. Let’s bring them all home!!!
These simple gestures will make a difference in the lives of those who have given so much to our Country, a difference in your life, a difference in our community, and a difference in our Nation.
Let’s Keep Our Nation GREAT!!!!!
God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.