Friday, October 11, 2013

Actions > Words

No matter what words we use, our actions speak a deep and lasting message to those we meet. Ralph Waldo Emerson put it simply and eloquently:  
"What you do speaks so loudly, that it does not let me hear what you say." 

If our words and our actions are at variance, which do you suppose people will believe - and remember?

Author and doctor Don Miguel Ruiz wrote The Four Agreements. His website explains, "After exploring the human mind from a Toltec as well as scientific perspective, Don Miguel has combined old wisdom with modern insights and created a new message for all mankind, based in truth and common sense." 

The Four Agreements according to Don Miguel Ruiz are:

"1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret."

The path may be stony and hard this day, or smooth and even; we may be surrounded by friends, or pierced with weapons wielded by adversaries. Whatever this day holds, may wisdom inform our words and actions, that they may be of one spirit - that we may be a blessing to those we meet.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Inspired to Give

1100 people gathered for the Ben Towne Foundation's BENefit 2013 (Image: Bryce Covey Photography)
Around here, autumn is the time when many charities host fundraisers. Gregg and I are always pleased to attend the Ben Towne Foundation's annual BENefit. We've had the privilege of being an active part of this event from its inception, and watching it grow each year lifts my heart like no other "gala" can.

Though the thing that drew us together with the Townes is the worst thing that has ever happened to us, our friendship goes far beyond that loss. It includes our sense of humor, commitment to family, a lot of coincidences, shared tastes and sensibilities, fierceness, passion and joie de vivre. It is pure pleasure to be counted among their friends and supporters, and to do all that we can to share their message and raise awareness of it.
Jeff & Carin Towne with Dr. Michael Jensen (Image: Bryce Covey Photography)
Though there are always some moments during the program that make me cry, most of my emotions at the BENefit are joyful, because the Ben Towne Foundation is getting the job done - making my dreams of a cure for pediatric cancer come true, in this time and place. Through their efforts, the pace is accelerating here in Seattle under the leadership of Dr. Mike Jensen and Dr. Rebecca Gardner (two special favorites of mine), among others. The Katie Gerstenberger Endowment for cancer research supports their laboratory.
Reba & Mary-Jane with me
Joining us at our table were my parents, brother Jim and sister-in-law Caroline, and our friends Reba, Bill, Mary-Jane and Brian. Let me give you a few statistics about our table: 60% of us had our only daughter die from pediatric cancer. Every single person at our table (100%) had suffered the loss of someone close to them as a result of pediatric cancer. For 20% of our table, it was their ONLY child (100% of the children in that family). All of us want to see this disease wiped out, with as few side effects, as quickly as possible. And we were in the right place to help the researches accomplish that.

The news is good, my friends: the first patient in the clinical trial of T-Cell therapy continues to enjoy remission, gained after only 9 days of treatment, with side effects of flu-like symptoms during that time. The next patient is ready to enroll, and it looks as if the clinical trial will soon be expanded to include a much broader range of ages - open for more patients to be treated and cured in this new, non-toxic way!

Did you know that it can cost 10 times more to treat a child with traditional chemotherapy than with T-Cell therapy - and surgery costs even more? The bill for Katie's care was in the neighborhood of a million dollars, for which we were (thank God) covered by medical insurance - but there are many whose finances are completely wiped out by such treatment, and without the promise of a cure!

Think of it this way: you could spend $350,000 for a patient to endure chemo, which can cause secondary cancers, organ damage, susceptibility to infections and reproductive problems - or $30,000 for a patient to have T-Cell therapy, with no long-term damage whatsoever, and continuing immune-system support for remission. Which would you choose for your child - or for yourself? What would you like to see become the "norm?"

Last week, I had the privilege and pleasure of attending an elegant "thank you" party for Seattle Children's Hospital's Circle of Care as the guest of one of our dear friends. The Circle of Care was conceived and founded by Scott and Laurie Oki, at Seattle Children's through their challenge grant of $1,000,000 in 1993; since that time, it has spread across the nation and has inspired $4.7 BILLION of giving to 25 children's hospitals in North America! This group is deeply appreciated by the hospital community. We enjoyed an inspiring evening of intimate conversations with top doctors and supporters who are equally committed to improving the health and quality of children's lives. I hope someday to be able to join the Circle of Care!

On this day - the very one on which Katie was admitted into the hospital in 2006 - people such as Katie, Carin and Jeff Towne, Dr. Jensen, the Okis and all of the members of the Circle of Care inspire me. Who (or what) inspires you to give?

A Magic Wand

"The day I acquired the habit of consciously pronouncing the words 'thank you,' I felt I had gained possession of a magic wand capable of transforming everything."  -Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Gold Standard

"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill
Should our living and our life be different? How can we integrate them?

I grew up in a household which was supported by a family business. My father founded his own manufacturer's representative agency (Philip J. Boren, Inc.) when he was 40 years old. It was a huge leap of faith, and an adventure for him and our family.

As the business grew, so did our involvement with it. My father always discussed the events of his day with us over dinner. When his territory expanded to five states, he had to spend time away from home. This was the worst aspect of the job, for him; when the highway speed limit was lowered due to a national energy crisis, Dad decided to earn a pilot's license. Traveling to serve his clients was no longer a long haul; it was an opportunity to enjoy his hobby, while taking care of business - and arrive home in time for dinner with the family.
Dad drafted us to work for him at wholesale and retail trade shows, as well as on the road. He trained each one of his children in the art of sales, which he perceived as knowing your product, understanding and caring about your client's needs, and doing your best to explain to the buyer how your product could benefit their business. He actually used to pray silently, before making a presentation, that his client would be led to make the right decision to bless their business. He trusted that what was right for the client would in the end benefit our family's business. He cared about doing right, not just doing well - and he did both.

I am certain that the buyers he served felt his genuine caring and integrity, and he was very successful in sales and income, as well as his standing in the field. He won many sales awards and helped his customers - and the factories he represented - to prosper. His example made a lifelong impression on me of the highest aim in business: to bless everyone involved - not just to "make a living."

He faced industry-related problems, including disagreeable mandates from factories, demanding clients, service issues, rivalry, and even the occasional swindling by someone he had trusted. He held onto his integrity through it all, even if that integrity threatened to cut his income. He is still, at 86, the most honest person I have ever met.

Do we "make a living by what we get," or "by what we give?" What should our primary motivation be? What will lead to fulfillment and truly satisfying relationships over a lifetime? Will we be able to live with honor, according to the way we make our living? My father's example is the gold standard, for me - and I am thankful for it.