Archive for the ‘October 2010’ Category

Is Your Relationship House in Order?

Friday, November 5th, 2010

We make money to feel secure and successful.

We save money to buy the house, send our children to college and retire.

When a relative gets sick is when we begin to think about trusts, wills, and executors.

As a society the primary focus has been on financial affairs.  We are urged to not only achieve financial success but to keep all these affairs organized so that in case we died there would be a roadmap that led to the details on what is owned and what is owed and the primary contacts.

We follow this traditional course in life to get our financial house in order.  Every step along this journey gives us peace of mind.  We achieve incremental goals and feel good about our accomplishments.  We strive for the brass ring and we achieve it.  Now what?

Getting your house in order and having peace of mind extends far beyond your finances.  Are there things still unsaid in your meaningful relationships?  Just as your finances need to be continuously reviewed and updated, so do your personal relationships.

It became clear to me that meaningful relationships were an important component to real peace of mind.  Exactly what does that mean?  Simply said, it means not leaving things unexpressed whether by speaking, writing or whatever with everyone that has been important to you.  It also means finding a way to save these expressions for future generations whether by letter, a digital voice recorder or even a video.

Just ask yourself these questions if you want to test your preparedness with regard to having your emotional house in order.  First question, is there anyone alive who made a profound contribution to your life that you have not adequately expressed your gratitude toward,   If so, do it.  Do not wait to be chosen to deliver a eulogy when the person is unable to hear and appreciate your gratitude.  One of the greatest benefits from my yearlong journey of gratitude was that I was able to express my deep gratitude to all, in my case 44 different people.  It was only after completing these conversations that I was able to really achieve peace of mind.

The important point is that having your financial house in order and your relationship house in order are not mutually exclusive.  They both can and need to be done to achieve the peace of mind that we ideally would like to have.

What is ironic is that our relationships are what we most value at the end of our lives.  They require far less time to nurture and maintain then one’s finances. It has to be one of life’s biggest missed opportunities that our actions are often so inconsistent with our priorities.

What will it take to put your relationship house in order?  A phone call, an afternoon together, a 44-cent stamp?

Do Tough Guys Know How to Say Thank You?

Friday, October 29th, 2010

While there is no absence of books on how men should learn to express their emotions, have you seen it first-hand?  Have you seen it more in younger generations then in older ones?

For both men and women it is a rare phenomenon to practice expressing deep gratitude to those that have made a real difference in our life while everyone is alive and well.

Here’s some both startling and encouraging news.  I just spent a year of my life traveling about the United States and even abroad to visit with those people who had made an important difference in my life so I could express my deep gratitude.  I visited with 44 people, 80% of whom were men.

During these extended conversations, not one of these men was uncomfortable receiving my heartfelt expressions of appreciation for their contributions to my life.  Just the opposite – they were touched and honored by this gift of gratitude.

“I felt it was a gift of self recognition” described one very big-time executive.

It was enlightening for me to learn that even very smart people aren’t aware what they’ve said or done has made such a difference.  The impact of my expression of gratitude was manifold.  Not only did it feel good for the person to know they had made a difference, they were more alert to the possibilities of helping others in a similar way in the future.

These relationships had been long and meaningful, averaging some 25 years.  My expressions of gratitude were neither superficial nor based on a singular event.  They were reflections on the variety of ways they had influenced me and how each had impacted my life.  Personal gifts are always appreciated.  These explicit expressions of deep gratitude is what made the gift even more special.

Although the primary focus of these dialogues was for me to express my gratitude to them, without exception they took the opportunity to reciprocate.  When they did, they realized the joy that comes from giving this deeply personal gift. Without exception, these men were very appreciative that I had “set the table” for this dialogue to happen and none of them missed the opportunity to take advantage of giving their gift of gratitude to me.

Almost all had acknowledged that they would have felt bad had something happened to one of us and those expressions would have remained unsaid. Several of these men have already further demonstrated their enthusiasm by setting up their own conversations of gratitude.

Almost everyone has experienced the sadness and regret from not having said what we would have liked before the person dies.  We think we have paid tribute and spoken to this person when we are given the opportunity to give a eulogy at a funeral but the reality is the person who most would appreciate the expressions of respect and gratitude is no longer here.

It is clear from my year long journey that men “get it” and they are very comfortable “giving it”. And I am not referring to just 30 or 40 year olds.  All ages, young and old alike.

My hope is that men and women alike will pay it forward and that expressing profound gratitude to those who have made a real difference in our lives will become usual and customary.  I am confident, based on my experience that men are more than up for it.

Is Anyone Really Self-Made?

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Have you put yourself through school?

Have you become a success without a formal education?

Have you “made it” against all odds?

Self-Made.  This is a term often used to refer to people who have started with little or nothing and ultimately became very successful.  We celebrate these rags-to-riches stories.  There is even a prestigious society that honors it with the Horatio Alger Award.  I have always been duly impressed by its recipients.

I share this quick story with you not out of a desire for self-promotion, but for the purposes of perspective.

I have often thought I was self-made.  My father died when I am 17.  My first job after college was selling rags even though they were referred to as industrial textiles.  After 14 different jobs and living in 14 different cities, I ultimately became the CEO and Chairman, and major shareholder, of the leading conference center company in the United States.  Our company had 1,400 employees and we hosted more than 6,000 business meetings a year with over 150,000 participants.

As Paul Harvey used to say, “so here is the rest of the story”.

After I had achieved this success, I thought I would take some time, actually a whole year, to travel around the United States and foreign lands to express my deep gratitude to those who had influenced my life in important ways over the years.  It was the most profound experience with regard to personal enlightenment and the deepening of my relationships in all aspects of my life.

One of the many things I learned in the process was how many people had been there for me and made a difference in my life. Family members, friends, colleagues, and advisors, just to name a few.     It was both humbling and deeply gratifying.   I felt so very blessed and it made me reflect on the question about being self-made.   I came to the conclusion that self-made was not an appropriate label or an accurate depiction of my life.  Is it yours?  Are there people in your life who made it possible for you to achieve what you did and acquire what you have?

Acknowledging those who have made an important difference does not diminish my achievements nor will it diminish yours.    By being more conscious and explicit in my recognition of others’ contribution to my life, it was life enhancing, not life diminishing.  It makes me feel proud and blessed that I was able to encounter these people along life’s journey.  In good times and challenging moments, they chose, for whatever reason, to be there for me.  This does not take away from my accomplishments.  Just the opposite.  It is another remarkable achievement.

In his book, Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Robert Emmons, PhD, writes “We can be proud of our accomplishments yet simultaneously realize they would have been impossible without help from others.  This realization is the soil that permits gratitude to germinate”.

Are you really self-made? Take a few moments and think about those who have been important to you.  Be explicit about what difference they have made in your life. Begin by thinking about just one person. This is the first important step on your journey to capturing the power of expressing extraordinary gratitude and enriching your life and others in the process.  I would love to hear your stories of those that have made a real difference in your life.

Angel of Gratitude Reaches Out

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

With Marsha’s permission, I am excited to share a message she sent me.  Marsha had recently received a newsletter from Hay House Publishing about new releases which included an excerpt from This is the Moment and it’s message was aligned with her pursuit of spending 42 days in gratitude.

Just over a year ago my husband was out of work and had been for a while. I could barely walk with the bone on bone pain from arthritis in my hip and was only weeks away from being in a wheelchair. The pain kept me awake at night even though I was taking a lot of prescribed pain medication, sleeping pills and antidepressants. With no medical insurance and no income, I was on a downward spiral into my dark night of my soul with no end in sight.

Somehow, someway, the Angels were watching over me. I was accepted by Project Access, and my Angel, Dr. Richard W. Garner. Everything was donated to me, the doctor, the hospital, nursing, everything. My medications were $5 or less. I am truly blessed and will be forever grateful. Many people have made a significant impact on my life but nothing more dramatically than this. I still have some issues and I will never be young again, but I thank God every day I can get out of bed and walk!

Sharing my emotions freely, loving passionately from the heart, and always with gratitude. I am Marsha!

(To read Marsha’s entire blog entry about this remarkable experience, visit Day 27 – Angel of Gratitude. )

I was so appreciative of Marsha’s willingness to reach out and share her story.  My response follows…

Dear Marsha,

Thanks so much for sharing your remarkable story of how you were so blessed by an apparently an unknown organization and Doctor which makes it even more astonishing.

The best news is of course that you have had this dramatic turnaround and that you have recovered the most important aspect of one’s life…their health.

Your daily expressions of thanks to God for this blessing are quite understandable.

I was wondering how you chose to thank the organization, the doctor and the other people involved in this “life-saving” mission?  I am reminded of a dear friend of mine who had a life saving operation some ten years ago.  Every year on the anniversary of the operation, he writes a heartfelt email to his doctor.

Now that you can function again without the terrible pain, would there be others that you would choose to thank for what they have meant to you in your life?  What I discovered when I revisited and expressed my gratitude to those that had been important to me was that I was the real beneficiary.  Of course the recipient appreciated the expression of gratitude as well.

Thank you, Marsha, for sharing your story with me.

With gratitude,
Walter Green

Please share your stories of gratitude – I would love to hear from you!

What Would You Write on Your Hat?

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

The presumption that there will be a tomorrow is just that.

I am sure when 64 year old, Edward Rosenthal left on his day hike in the Joshua Tree National Park, he, his wife of 21 years and their daughter all presumed the same.  As described in a article, Edward got lost and walked 13 miles until he could walk no more in the 100 degree weather.  Miraculously he survived six days without food or water.

During the time I have taken to write this blog, others were not as lucky as Edward.  Every hour of the every day, 365 days a year, on average 5 people who presumed they would be here tomorrow were killed in a fatal car accident.  When I was 17 years old and a freshman in college, I was called home to learn that my father had a fatal heart attack that day.  It was devastating for me and my family.  Every day on average 1,360 families, 500,000 a year get a similar message – your loved one has died of a heart attack.  The expectation that there would be a tomorrow for their loved one was not to be.

There are lots of articles written about how to prevent heart attacks, drive safely and avoid other life threatening events but still thousands of people die unexpectedly.  Even heeding this advice can not prevent these devastating, unpredictable human losses.  But that is not the end of the story.

In almost all of these cases, the surviving family members are left with searing and everlasting pain that comes from the regret for all that they had left unsaid with their now departed loved ones.  From this day forward, this does not have to be.  We may not prevent the death but you can prevent the painful regret.

Remember Edward, our lost hiker?  The good news is that he survived six days without food or water.  Part of what kept him alive was his focus on writing notes on his hat (he had a pen but no paper) telling his wife and daughter how much he loved them along with heartfelt expressions of appreciation to some of his clients.  Edward was lucky on two counts.  First, he survived and secondly, he got to express his profound love and gratitude in the writings on his hat.  Excuse the pun, let’s take our “hat’s off” to Edward for both of these good fortunes. I do not know about you.  I hope I have a tomorrow but someday I will not.  Nor will your loved ones.  Nor will you.

There is a simple way to avoid regrets for all that is left unsaid if someone important to you dies in the future.  It is simple but not easy since it is not usual or customary.  In my newly released book, This Is the Moment, I chronicled my yearlong journey of gratitude where I visited and expressed my profound gratitude to all those who had made a real impact on my life.  It not only was a relationship and life enhancing experience of extraordinary magnitude, it also prevented me from having any regrets if my life influencers or I die tomorrow..  I wrote this book to help you achieve the same peace of mind that I have. What would you write on your hat?  Would you consider communicating that message today?  I have yet to hear one story of someone who prematurely expressed their deep gratitude to someone who was important to them.

To get started on your journey, please visit my website today for more tools

Whether you read my book or visit my website, I would love you to share with our community your stories of how you have taken the path less traveled, the one that is not filled with regret.

To see the full article about Edward’s hiking adventure, go to