Siobhan Kelleher Kukolic

Words to inspire the belief that we have all we need to be the change we wish to see.

Category: Article (page 1 of 47)

Comfort zones are hard to leave

Comfort zones are hard to leave. I’m not much of a long distance driver. But when my two sons qualified for the World Irish Dance Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina this year, the only way for myself and my boys to get there was if I got in the driver’s seat. So I did just that.

I drove from Ontario to New York to Pennsylvania to West Virginia to Virginia to North Carolina for the international “Olympics of Irish Dance.” Then from Greensboro to Virginia to Washington D.C. for a fountain of knowledge adventure. Then from Washington to Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and home.

After slipping my boots off my tired feet last night I realized that anything is possible if you believe.

Both boys won the game of grit at the competition. My 16-year-old earned his personal best coming 23rd and my 13-year-old danced his heart out and left it all on the stage after having five weeks off with a broken foot prior to the big day. Their team also came 9th. The perseverance and resilience that comes from countless hours of practice and preparation before stepping onto that stage in front of seven international judges to dance for a handful of minutes is invaluable.

In Washington D.C. we were surprised by the lush greenery and the mountains of history. The idea that some people came together and wrote down a list of rules for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom and democracy. The beauty of the monuments. The details and the symbolism. The 58 columns at the WWII Memorial representing the 50 states and 8 territories. Statues of soldiers from countless countries who fought and died in the Korean War to liberate South Korea. How the Vietnam Memorial Wall looks like a wound from the air and is meant to be read from the middle and around the outside and back to “close the wound.” That the Jefferson Memorial can be seen from the south side of the White House because FDR trimmed the trees to get that inspiring view, and JFK’s eternal resting place at Arlington can be seen from behind the Lincoln Memorial. That the Martin Luther King Memorial shows a stone of hope coming out of a mountain of despair and how MLK’s legs are not completely carved into the stone as the fight for civil rights continues and we are the legs to carry it on.

Inspiration comes from many places. I am inspired by my children who are able to share their talent on a world stage and dance like no one is watching. I am inspired by people who believed in democracy and came together to make it happen. And I am inspired by those brave souls who fought and died to remind us that freedom is not free.

The longer I spend on this journey, the more I realize that the destination is what happens along the way. And leaving comfort zones is the only way to see what needs to be seen. It’s the only way to go and the only way to grow.

Meditations

In his classic book Meditations, Marcus Aurelius, emperor of the Roman Empire, who at the time of writing was one of the most powerful men in the world, shares so many invaluable lessons. Even though he never planned on publishing it. It was his own private journal to remind himself how to live life.

He writes, “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”

We care more about their opinion than our own. Powerful.

The story in our head. Our mindset. This is everything.

Photographer Chase Jarvis said, “As soon as you realize that the quality of your thoughts equals the quality of your life, all that remains is taking daily, persistent action to improve your mindset. Accept this responsibility, master this skill, and the rest will take care of itself.”

Things go wrong. People judge us. We don’t get the job, the house, the vacation, the healthy diagnosis.

But how do we react? With anger, unhappiness, terror, or anxiety? Or do we accept it and move on? Take positive action? Learn and grow?

As Chuck Palahniuk wrote in Fight Club, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we’re free to do anything.”

We’re free to do anything.

Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Keep in mind how fast things pass by and are gone – those that are now, and those to come. Existence flows past us like a river; the “what” is in constant flux, the “why” has a thousand variations. Nothing is stable, not even what’s right here. The infinity of past and future gapes before us – a chasm whose depths we cannot see.”

We cannot see the depths. So why worry? If we put down that weight, we are free to do anything. And the peace we feel can never be taken from us.

Mayor Pete

The other day I read about a man named Pete Buttigieg, or Mayor Pete, who is running for president of the United States in 2020. He fought in Afghanistan. He ran for mayor of South Bend, Indiana and won at age 29. He is a Harvard graduate and a Rhodes Scholar. He is openly gay and married to the love of his life. He knows seven languages.

What a resume for a world leader. Then I read a story about him that really impressed me. An emergency room doctor tweeted that he had a patient who was near death and only spoke Arabic. A man in a suit showed up to translate between the doctor and the patient’s mother. Later the doctor asked how long he had been a hospital translator and the man quietly replied, “I don’t work at the hospital. I’m Mayor Pete.” He had heard the request for a translator on the police radio and rushed to the hospital.

What would the world be like with that kind of humanity at the helm? What do we do in our everyday lives that could emulate what Mayor Pete did in that hospital that night?

Helping strangers, going out of our way, doing the right thing, remaining humble. Those qualities change the world one small act of kindness at a time.

I don’t know who will win the next American election. But I hope it is someone who can unite people from all walks of life, no matter their political beliefs. Someone who reminds us that we are stronger together and we are more alike than different.

How can we make a difference today in our family, our neighbourhood, our workplace or our life? The little things are the big things.

Chase Jarvis

Photographer Chase Jarvis shared a video recently with some exciting news. He said that the oldest university in the world, Oxford, which has been teaching students for almost 1,000 years, has partnered with Chase and his Creative Live online education program. Oxford is now offering this program to all 24,000 students studying there, not just those in the arts.

Chase talks about how literacy used to be for the elite, for royals and the clergy. Then the printing press arrived and it was democratized. Anyone could learn to read and reading set you free. It changed the world.

Now, Chase says, creativity is the new literacy. Whether you are in engineering, medicine, management, finance or anything in between, everyone does a better job when they colour outside the lines.

The fact that a university like Oxford sees the value creativity brings to critical thinking and problem solving is a big deal.

Creativity allows you to create the life you want or change the life you have. What you do with your time, how you move your body, what you cook for yourself or your loved ones, what you read, the stories you share, the music you listen to or create.

As author Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

How can you inject creativity into your day? What creative solution can you find for your closet, your schedule, your pantry, your vacation, your weekend, your life?

As Sir Ken Robinson, author and education advisor, said, “Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture.”

How can we harness our imagination and create the results the world needs? Think outside the box and add action to your ideas. You never know what you might create next.

Competition

Angela Duckworth mentions in her book Grit that the word competition comes from a Latin word meaning striving together.  The definition does not include anything about winners or losers.  It’s about growing forward with others.  Competing to best oneself. Continue reading

When we hit a wall

We all have days when we hit a wall.  We wonder, “Can I actually do this?  Why is it so hard?  Why do others seem to succeed while I keep falling short?”

If everything happened easily, we would never become all that we were meant to be. Continue reading

Tobi Lutke

Angela Duckworth shared this story in her book Grit.  She said that Tobi Lutke dropped out of high school in Germany at age 16.  He had learning disabilities and was failing at school.  He got a job as an apprentice at an engineering company and he met an older man who was a programmer in the basement of the building named Jurgen.  This mentor corrected all the code Tobi wrote and he reminded Tobi on a daily basis how he could improve.  One day he gave Tobi an assignment for General Motors.  Tobi wrote the code and thought he would be shadowing Jurgen for the presentation.  But Jurgen told him he had another appointment and Tobi would have to go alone.  Tobi was scared, but he did it.  And it was a success.   Continue reading

We have good ones and we have bad ones

Habits.  We have good ones and we have bad ones.  We can add them and subtract them from our lives.   Continue reading

Breathing

I was listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast and he was interviewing Win Hof about breathing.  He is a Dutch extreme athlete who is known as the Ice Man because he can withstand extremely cold temperatures.  He holds the record for a barefoot half marathon on ice and snow, and he has climbed past the “death zone” on Mount Everest while only wearing shorts.   Continue reading

Grit

I am currently reading Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by author and professor Angela Duckworth.  Writer Lisa Quast wrote in Forbes, “Duckworth has spent years studying people, trying to understand what it is that makes high achievers so successful.  And what she found surprised even her.  It wasn’t SAT scores.  It wasn’t IQ scores.  It wasn’t even a degree from a top-ranking business school that turned out to be the best predictor of success.  ‘It was this combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special,’ Duckworth said.  ‘In a word, they had grit.'” Continue reading

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