Legacy

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All humans have an expiration date. Our last day, for most, remains unknown. There is merit to living each day as if it were your last. Each new day gives us an opportunity to forgive. Each new day gives us an opportunity to love. Each new day gives us an opportunity to do something we have always wanted to do, but never did.

The longer I live, the more I notice how quickly time passes. We have a relatively short lifespan to make a difference. Why spread negativity, when you can influence others with encouragement and caring? Pass on what you know, and be attentive-absorbing everything around you. Leave a good example in the footprints you choose to leave behind on your path of life.

If I had the decision to spend my last days doing whatever I could, I would selfishly spend them on a mountain top enlightening every capable sense. I would go to a place where sound, smell, taste, and sight are magnified a thousand fold. Granted, the ocean, desert, and prairie are truly magnificent on their own. But, I would choose the mountains to write my last chapter. Nowhere else do I feel more free and alive. I would love for those feelings to last me for an eternity.

There is a pleasure in a pathless forest,
There is rapture under a lonely pine,
There is society where none intrudes,
On the mountain slopes few will climb:
I love not man the less, but nature more,
From these horizons, in which my own eyes steal,
From all I may ever be, or have ever been,
To mingle in all of nature, and feel,
What I never express, yet unwilling to conceal.

Inspired by “There Is Pleasure In The Pathless Woods” written by George Gordon Byron

Easter

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“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” -1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV

I wish you all a Happy Easter. Please take a few moments to appreciate the love and grace bestowed upon us by God. He sacrificed his son-our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for our sins. Reciprocate his unspeakable gift by helping others and loving one another.

Spring

Spring 1

How gratifying it is to start each day with a gaze upon the Bitterroot Mountains glaring in the early morning sun. The snowcaps glow in hues of orange and gold. The tree lines appear navy and black in the faint light of dawn. The foothills are transitioning from tawny to emerald. Nearly every color is represented in the variegation before me.

The early signs of spring are subtly becoming evident. Rivers and streams swell with dark and muddied water. Buds grow in prominence on bushes, shrubs, and trees. Sprigs of vegetation are becoming more visible as they pop through the once-frozen earthen crust. Banks of deep white snow become non-existent from prolonged exposure to the warming rays of sunlight.

Spring still succumbs to days dominated by its predecessor, winter. Snow and freezing conditions are not uncommon. Yet, it also yields to the hot and arid days reminiscent of summer. Most spring days, however, fall somewhere in the middle of the weather spectrum. Sporadically, a gathering of clouds will provide a shower of rainfall. The accumulation of precious precipitation will be critical to the organisms that depend on it in the months to follow.

Spring 2

A meadowlark chirping from a distance eagerly awaits a reply. It has been months since I’ve heard their beautiful and melodic canticle. Other avian species are seen flitting through the still-cool air with, seemingly, the greatest of ease. They, too, have pitched in with their vocalizations to break the reticence of the morning. All of the sounds are tantalizing to my auditory sense.

The marrow of the Rocky Mountains is in its infantile stage of rejuvenation-an annual process. Longer and warmer days bring much needed respite to the flora and fauna fortunate enough to have survived the brutality of the long and cold months of winter. The harsh conditions of winter have culled the aged and decrepit. Only those strong enough and fit enough are allowed to carry on their lineage.

Spring provides the necessary conditions for a multitude of new generations. New lives begin their existence. Others evanesce. Such is the cycle of life, as we know it. For most, though, the season brings rebirth-a fresh start.

The Lemonade Stand

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While coming home from work a few evenings ago, I drove by two young girls sitting at a lemonade stand. My initial reaction was, “Wow, I can’t remember the last time I saw a lemonade stand.” My second thought was, “I hope those girls are safe,” due to the busy traffic conditions at that time.

Probably, what caught my attention the most was where they had their little lemonade stand erected. Their lemonade stand was located in front of a residence that appeared to be in urgent need of repair. After a quick study of the small, dilapidated house, I made an assumption (whether accurate or not) that these two little girls likely resided there. Just by looking at this home, one could quickly ascertain that the living conditions there were not ideal.

Not wanting to cause a traffic disturbance, I kept on driving. I did not stop. I did not turn on the next street down to circle the block and come back to where they were located. My mission at that time was to get home after a long, hard day of work. I regretted making that decision. It has been eating away at my conscience, since. I wished I would have stopped and given them a few dollars and complimented them on their entrepreneurship. Instead, they just became a blurred image in my rearview mirror.

Sometimes the distractions in our everyday lives can interfere with what is most important. I could have made a difference that evening. I did not. The simple things one does, can make such a big difference. My only hope is I get a second chance to make it right. If I ever see those two little girls selling lemonade at their roadside stand, I am going to make a concerted effort to stop and become their patron. There is little doubt this token of gratitude will help bring smiles to their young, bright faces. After failing the first time, I am hoping for another opportunity to help them. Hence, I would like another opportunity to feel better about myself.

Praise the Underappreciated

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Many work at jobs that do not exemplify dignity or respect in the eyes of the general populace. Their employment appears to be menial or baseborn to the pretentious collective. Yet, many of these occupations are among the most difficult to perform. In more simple terms, the people in these jobs do the work that no one else wants to do.

Just think of the willpower and fortitude these individuals muster on a daily basis just to go out and earn a living. If honest with themselves, most are probably not working their dream job. Give them credit for putting in the time and effort to want to better their lives and their financial situations. They earn my respect for diligently working tasks that are seemingly thankless. Still, they push on and do them.

If you do not have one of these jobs, please make an effort to thank those who do. Be gracious and kind. Please, do not make assumptions about another’s intellect, character, or personality based on their occupation. I would advise against patronizing these individuals. Most will see right through it. When you thank these individuals, do it with sincerity. Do not be surprised if your thank you is returned with a look of puzzlement or disbelief. The positivity and encouragement you wish to convey will be meaningful, whether or not the recipient’s body language is indicative. Even though they do not receive many compliments, the people in these jobs will certainly appreciate the kind words and recognition.

If you can find the time, try helping them (without being burdensome) with their tasks. You will quickly learn just how difficult their jobs are and not everyone is capable of doing them. I think you will gain a whole lot of respect for the individual performing these underappreciated tasks on a daily basis. If you are reading this and work in an underappreciated environment, I want to thank you. The work you do is meaningful and worthwhile. I commend you for the effort you put forth and the willingness to endure.

Good Leadership Qualities

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Previous to my current employment, I held a job as a Medical Laboratory Director. Prior to becoming a Medical Laboratory Director, I did not have any experience directing a team of healthcare professionals. I applied for the director position knowing that I had many years of experience. None of it, however, was on the leadership level.

I felt fortunate to be offered the position. And, I accepted the position without any managerial experience. In response, I did what many people do and started honing my skills for the impending responsibilities. I read many books relating to leadership and management. When looking, one will be amazed at the number of literary resources dedicated to good leadership qualities. I quickly learned previous experience as a laborer was not going to be enough to prepare me for taking on such a huge responsibility. There are many critical qualities every good leader should demonstrate. Listed below are qualities I believe every good leader should implement.

Positivity

Everyone is aware attitudes are contagious. Nowhere is this more demonstrated than in healthcare. So much so, attitudes not only affect co-workers, they also affect the patients in their care. It starts with the leader. If you are going to talk the talk, you had better walk the walk. Being a good role model for your department is one of your many responsibilities. What you permit, you promote. A positive atmosphere, at all times, is critical toward continued success. Morale is linked to productivity. Consistent encouragement and praise will go a long ways toward building a successful team and achieving desired goals. If your team is happy and content, they will go the extra mile. The reflection of their positive production will shine upon you as their leader. Be certain to give them the credit they are due. Every good deed, no matter large or small, deserves recognition.

Transparency

Honest and ethical behavior must be demonstrated throughout an organization. Anything less should not be tolerated. The best way to earn trust is by being truthful and honest. This starts with transparency. The employees in your charge should know what is going on in your organization. Hardly anything spoils a good attitude more than being repeatedly blind-sided by organizational decisions which affect employment. The goals and methods to obtain them should be made evident. The progress of organizational goals should be updated regularly and communicated to employees throughout. Success should be widely celebrated. Failure should be addressed openly so everyone in the organization learns what needs to be done for process improvement. Alignment and stressing the same messages throughout the workforce is important to hardwiring an organization for success.

Ownership

It is important for employees to feel like they are owners in a process. By doing so they are more willing to work harder and contribute to their fullest. This will go a long way toward an organization exceeding their goals. You must be willing to delegate responsibilities. This will prove to employees that they are trusted and important to the organization. The praise for their contributions should be honest, consistent, and rewarding. While it is your ultimate responsibility to supervise their work, you should be open to their suggestions-especially as they pertain to process improvement. As their supervisor, you should always trust your team, but consistently verify they are getting the job done. As a mentor, you will have multiple occasions to give your input and recommendations. I suggest you use them sparingly and in the most effective way. The key is finding the right people to take ownership of key positions. Putting the right people in the right spots will be your responsibility as a leader. Allow the employees to take ownership in your department without micromanaging their every move. Their personal investment in your department will benefit the whole organization.

Communication

Although communication is a two-way process, I’ve always found listening is more important than speaking. Meet (or round) on employees on a regular basis. Make it a formal process. Document your findings so you can go back later and review them. During this meeting, you should be honest about what you are witnessing as a supervisor. Encourage feedback. Demonstrate with examples how the employee is meeting or not meeting expectations and goals. More importantly, ask questions. Employees are generally more willing to openly communicate in a private 1:1 setting. Keep what was said during this meeting confidential. Use discretion to resolve problems based on what was learned. More times than not, you will find miscommunication is the basis for most of the problems you will encounter. On a daily basis try using an open-door policy. By making yourself accessible, your team will learn to trust and depend on you.

Confidence

As a leader you should expect there will be times when things are not going to go as well as expected. The best thing you can do is take responsibility and not panic. You must demonstrate reasonable control. Assure others that setbacks are a part of the working atmosphere. They happen. By staying calm and confident, you will help keep the members of your team feeling the same way. They will take cues from you, so if you exude a level of calm control, your team will pick up on that feeling. The key objective is to keep everyone working and moving ahead while learning along the way. Confidence can be displayed without arrogance.

Commitment

If you expect the employees you supervise to work hard and exceed expectations, you need to lead by example. There is no greater motivation for employees than seeing their supervisor “throwing down” and working alongside them. This will prove to them you are willing to work hard and understand the work they do on a day-to-day basis. Amongst many other qualities, this is one of the best ways to earn the respect of your team. It’s important to show your commitment not only to the work at hand, but also to the expectations for which you hold others accountable. You want to create a reputation for working hard, showing understanding, and being relatable. What better way to earn the respect of the whole team? By observing your willingness to contribute, they will more than likely pick up their level of production.

Experience

Even if you start with no experience as a leader, do what I did. LEARN. Let your experiences, both good and bad, be your instructor. Continual improvement is not only rewarding, it is expected. Your experiences, along with your intuition, will become more useful over time. Build on your success. Learn and improve on your shortcomings. The skills you hone as a leader are often learned in the most difficult ways. Try to glean the positives out of every situation. Draw on your experience to make decisions. The more decisions you make, the more proficient you will be at making them. Share your experiences with others when called upon. The advice you are willing to give may help others resolve their own circumstances. Never stop learning from your experiences and the experiences of others. Use your experience to navigate the issues (camp fires) encountered in your work life. Keep your mind open to suggestions. Flourish.

Mounting Thoughts

MTT

When deciding on a name for this website, I deliberated for quite some time. I wanted a name that highlighted my passion for the outdoors, especially the mountains. I also wanted something that inspired thinking or thought. That is how I contrived mountainthoughts.com.

Using a little imagination and a play on the words “mountain thoughts,” one is lead to “mounting thoughts”. We all have mounting thoughts and sometimes they build to such a degree that they start to feel insurmountable. When our thoughts build to such a daunting level, they can become detrimental. If we let them build internally and have no way for them to escape, a vast amount of our brain power is spent trying to sort out the convolution. Sadly, some great ideas may be lost or forgotten. In turn, we may feel down or depressed because of the mass confusion going on in our heads.

Whether they appreciate it or not, I like to bounce my thoughts and ideas off of family, friends, and anyone patronizing enough to listen. Most of the time my thoughts and ideas are dismissed as nothing more than trivial. I am okay with that. At least, I can express them and move on to the next thing that pops into my mind. Of course, criticism of my ideas makes me want to try harder or gradually dismiss them. Conversely, encouragement from others gives me the ammunition to venture further.

I often feel like my brain is operating at warp speed-so many things to do, and seemingly so little time. My confidence makes me feel adept at multi-tasking and operating at a high level with a multitude of distractions. There is always one thought or idea, though, that comes to the forefront. That one thing ahead of all others becomes my obsession. Until that obsession is proven right or wrong, I will dwell on it. To me, it is like an itch that cannot be scratched without implementation. Until that obsession comes to fruition, I am not satisfied. The end result does not need to be gratifying. It only has to be resolved. Whether this is unusual or healthy behavior, I do not know? The only thing I do know is that is part of my cognitive process.

If you are haunted by mounting thoughts, try prioritizing what is most important to you in the current space and time continuums. Focus on resolving one thought at a time. Like climbing in the mountains, each inch gained in elevation gets you closer to the summit. The insurmountable eventually becomes the apex on which you will find yourself standing.