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Hakuna Matata = “No Worries”

January 24, 2011

There is a very popular and powerful undertaking happening right now throughout Student Affairs in Higher Education called #OneWord2011This has not been limited to my field, but the power it brings to a University setting can be mind-boggling.  With one simple word, professionals who impact students lives every day have given themselves a direction and focus for this entire year…a goal that will stay right in front of them at all times (which is the only way to actually accomplish any goal).

For me, I have already taken on my own goal and it is two words: HAKUNA MATATA (I guess I could create #TwoWord2011, but I’ll just stick with this blog post as my announcement).  Just about everyone knows this phrase thanks to the 1994 Disney film “The Lion King” with that very catchy song (that my 3-year old daughter loves to sing, but says “hakuna matato”). 

Definition: Hakuna Matata is Swahili for “there are no worries” (which in English we often say “no problem”).  I’m sticking with “no worries” as it more accurately represents what I need in my life .  A little more history: “no worries” has often been said to be the Australian motto and represents a feeling of friendliness, good humor and optimism.

How often have you found yourself worrying about what ‘might happen’?  How much stress has this put on you that in the end, wound up being nothing?  I have done this in my life a lot, and sometimes have even created self-fulfilling prophesies because I spent so much time worrying, I didn’t react with a clear mind nor enough time.  

So back in December I decided to adopt this very simple notion of “no worries” into my life and ever since, it has been my own form of relaxation.  I have found that when I begin to get stressed, as funny as it may sound, I begin to sing that catchy tune and it immediately has calmed me down.  I realize the situation is not nearly as bad as the devil advocate in me is making it out to be and I have been better able to react or to accept and go with the flow.  This has definitely helped when rocking my 4-month old daughter to sleep at 3am, knowing we’ll be right back at it in just a few hours.

For those of us in Higher Education, we have all had that student come to us with the scared/worried look on their face and we know instantaneously that they’ve messed something up and are just trying to figure out how to tell us.  This is where we get to make the conscious decision to either get upset or to turn the situation into a ‘teachable moment’ and help them through the problems (hopefully everyone chooses the latter). 

To do this successfully, the first thing we must do is tell the student to “not worry” and reassure them that everything will work out in the end.  Sure, there might be some accountability they must face depending on the severity of the mistake, but I have lost count how many of my students have come back to me saying they learned more from a mistake than ever from all of their successes. 

Now I’m not saying that there is never a reason to legitimately worry, there are plenty of times that we have no idea what the outcome of a situation will be and it could be bad.  However, we simply must have the faith and realize that some things just are not worth worrying about and take the advice of a warthog and a meerkat:

Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase

Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze
It means no worries for the rest of your days

It’s our problem-free philosophy

Hakuna Matata!
Relaxation: If singing isn’t your thing, find some other form of relaxation (try these techniques from the Mayo Clinic and WebMD ) to release all that stress so when the situations come, you will have a clear mind, be able to think quickly and react appropriately and positively.  Research has proven that any form of relaxation techniques can:
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Improving concentration
  • Reduce anger and frustration
  • Boost confidence to handle problems

Knowing how to better manage stressful situations will help you on your journey to unlocking and exceeding your potential.

What other techniques do you use to relax?  What is your #OneWord2011 (or two, no one’s really counting)?

Thanks to Timon and Pumba, my new motto is Hakuna Matata.

“What’s a motto?

Nothing.  What’s a motto-with you?”


Inspiring Minds Want to Know

January 15, 2011

With MLK Day just around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to talk about what makes someone INSPIRATIONAL.  When we think of inspirational people some of the most obvious that come to mind are Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and maybe even those such as Richard Branson and Warren Buffet.  But what about those people who have touched our lives so deeply, even if just for a fleeting moment, their impact has lasted a lifetime with us?  Often times these people do not even know they were inspirational to us. 

I’d like to reflect and share on some people who have been very inspirational to me over the years.  Ms. Hetherington (who passed away a few years ago) was my art teacher in high school and I link much of where I am at today to her.  She always believed in me when even I did not myself.  She was the first person to instill in me this idea of exceeding my own perceived potential.  Chris Roby was the Student Union Director at FSU and inspired me to strive to be the best supervisor possible.  Bryan Coker, the Dean of Students at Jacksonville University, inspired me to strive to be a great dad, which with two daughters now, I am so appreciative of.  Walt Disney is my inspiration for providing excellence in everything that I do.  Ed Cabellon, like for many others, has been my inspiration for becoming more engaged in the world of social media as a change agent (and for starting this blog).  Most recently, a cousin of mine and his family have been going through a very difficult time in their lives over the past few weeks.  Their faith, courage and strength has been an inspiration not only to myself, but hundreds of others across the globe (based on the e-mails and messages they have received) that even during the worst of times, we must stay positive and believe everything has a purpose.

So what has made these people so inspirational to me?  I have come up with six things that make someone have such a deep and meaningful impact.

Speaking From the Heart – Inspirational people share their own personal experiences through true authenticity.

Passionate – This comes through their messages and often evokes a raw emotional response when it resonates with the listener.

Making a Connection – Someone may be inspirational to one person and not the next.  Inspiration only happens when there is a true connection through a common interest (and passion as just described).

Being Courageous – This includes fighting for what you believe in, overcoming great obstacles (as in the case of my cousin) and role modeling not only through words, but more importantly through action.

Raising the Bar – This is the key to exceeding one’s own perceived potential.  Inspiring people challenge us to push the limits, the limits of those around us and our own.  Status quo is not even in their vocabulary.

Bring Out the Best In Others – This is what I like to call making our little dent in the world.  Inspirational people help others to be their best and to pass that same message on (pay it forward).

The world leaders and other famous people who I mentioned earlier (and the many others you can think of) were often trying to be inspirational to their followers.  They brought very positive messages with the hopes to arouse that emotional response.  However, the vast majority of people who have inspired us, were not intentionally trying to, they were simply being authentic.  If you want to be inspirational, stop trying and just be you.  Those that need your inspiration will find it.

“Only accept what passes the test by proving useful and beneficial in your life.”   – Siddhartha Gautama (The Supreme Buddha)

Who has inspired you?

What Treasures Are ‘Up In The Attic’?

January 9, 2011

Since getting the itch to create a blog I knew it would be vital to find just the right title.  I thought about the title of this weblog for a long time (ok, probably a little too long, it held me up from actually writing).  As you can see, I finally decided on ‘Up In The Attic’.  Depending on where you look, the term attic (or also Attic) has a number of definitions.  The most obvious is the storage space above a house, and in the same sense references one’s own mind.  Like everyone else, I have random thoughts floating around based on my experiences, observations and simple philosophies.  Some of these thoughts have been with me for years while others have been fleeting moments of curiosity, excitement (maybe even brilliant…ok, we won’t go that far).  My hope is to 1) refine and focus these thoughts through these writings and 2) share them with anyone who wants to listen. 

Additionally, an attic (in making a reference to the ancient Greek language) means: displaying simple elegance, incisive intelligence, and delicate wit.”  Another form says ‘”classically elegant, simple, or pure.”  Now I am not claiming to be any of these, but it will sure be fun trying to add some of these characteristics into my blog. 

Through the majority of this weblog I will share my various ideas on LEADERSHIP and POTENTIAL.  I have always felt that we cannot motivate others (that comes from within themselves), we can however, inspire them.  If we spend some time learning about the people we interact with…if we get a glimpse of what’s Up In Their Attic…we can offer them inspiration to achieve things they never dreamed of. 

So I may have thought a little too long on the title, but in the end, I think it will accurately portray the posts I share with you (and if not, I guess I can always just change the title…I am an Orange according to True Colors, but that is for another discussion). 

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