billy graham



I spend a lot of time on airplanes, and every time I am on a plane I hear the flight attendants give their speech. Time after time I listen to their instructions, and one day it occurred to me that there’s more to these instructions then maybe I had believed. In fact, there are life lessons that can be found in flight attendant instructions. Today, I want to share with you just three of these life lessons. After you hear these, I’m sure that the next time you’re on a flight and you listen to the instructions from the flight attendant, you will think of more life lessons. When you do, be sure to email me at and let me know your ideas.

Today, I have three lessons I learned from the airplane.

Life Lesson #1 – Learn to Listen
You have all heard the flight attendant say, “Now we request your full attention as the flight attendants demonstrate the safety features of this aircraft.” What they are really saying is, “Stop what you’re doing, and listen.”

You can’t do two things at once and do them both well. So stop and listen to what they have to say, because what they have to say could be critically important to you. To me, this life lesson is about simply pausing in life and taking the time to truly listen. There are people all around you who have something to teach you, something to share with you, or something that will help you know more about them, but you must first be quiet – take the focus off of yourself – and listen to them. Really listen to them. If you can master of this ability, the ability to listen, as a life skill, you will become a much better friend, spouse, employee, and leader.

The problem with most people is they just cannot master the art of listening. Oh, they can remain quiet for a bit, but when they are no longer talking, they disengage. They’re looking elsewhere, maybe even picking up their phone, or staring into space. Have you ever talked to someone and felt like they were just waiting for you to finish so they could offer their two cents? What about the person who is in front of you, but not truly present? This person even maintains eye contact, but you know that they are not engaged. They probably couldn’t even tell you what you just said.

Listening is a skill. It is developed. It must be practiced, and it is critical. Learn to listen. The more you listen, the more you learn. Dalia Lama XIV said, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Or, you may like this quote from Plato better. He said, “Wise man speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” Life lesson number one - learn to listen.

Back to the airplane.
Life Lesson #2 – Put Your Mask on First

The flight attendant says, “Oxygen and air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask toward you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.

We’ve all heard the flight attendant give those instructions. Many of us have even heard them say, “If you are traveling with a child or someone who is acting like a child secure your mask first, and then assist the other person!” But that is really the part of the instructions that caught my attention. If you are traveling with someone who requires assistance, or a small child, the instructions says to put on your mask first and then assist the other person.

One reason that the instructions say for the adults to put on their mask first, is that children learn by example. If you are the parent and you put this funny looking mask over your face, then your child will be much more inclined to let you put the mask on them. But there’s something else that struck me, and here is where I believe the life lesson occurs. Put your mask on first, before you start helping others. Why? Because the only way that you can help, and continue to help, is if you are healthy. If you lose oxygen, you will not be any good to the people around you. So the very logical instruction is put your mask on first.

In life, this is also critical. Take care of yourself. This is not selfish, rather it is self care. If you are not whole, if you are not healthy, if you are burned out and burned up and have nothing left to give, you will not be able to help those around you. Instead, you will be the one requiring assistance. We all must rest. As busy, driven people, we rarely get enough rest. When is the last time you didn’t feel tired? When is the last time you had a day with nothing on the agenda that required your immediate attention? When is the last time you sat outside in the evening and just watched the stars come out? We go, go, go, and somewhere in our busyness we’ve created the idea that being busy equals being important. Been busy equals fulfilling our mission. Being busy equals being valuable. That just isn’t so.

Yes, it takes a lot of work in life to be successful and to realize your dreams. But you are not called to wear yourself out and become so tired that you lose your joy. I challenge you to take a look at the remainder of your week, and review your calendar. Find at least two hours in the next three days to just sit peacefully and enjoy your surroundings - and maybe to watch the stars come out. You will get a brand new perspective on what it means to put your mask on first.

Life Lesson #3 – Be kind always.

When the air plane is taxiing to the terminal, the flight attendant says, “If you require deplaning
assistance, please remain in your seat until all of the passengers have deplaned. One of our crew members will then be pleased to assist you. On behalf of this airline and the entire crew, I’l like to thank you for joining us on this trip and we are looking forward to seeing you again in the near future. Have a nice stay.
” (Now, many of you may not have heard that announcement, because like me, you are probably gathering your items and preparing to move off the plane. You are checking to make sure that you have your earbuds and your iPad and your book and water and briefcase or purse.) But next time you hear this announcement, listen to the middle sentence. “One of our crew members will then be pleased to assist you.” The great thing about this statement is, the crew member will indeed be happy to assist. The crew members also will be standing at the door of the plane telling you “Thank you for flying with us.” “We look forward to seeing you again.” “Have a great time here.” The flight attendants are trained to be positive and to be gracious.

The goal of every flight is to have satisfied customers so they become repeat customers. These employees are building relationships. In your one hour and 55 minute flight, they have brought you Coke and pretzels, picked up your trash, given you instructions in case of emergencies, provided your connecting gate information, and wished you well. You don’t know them, but they have made your flight experience pleasant. And this is the life lesson.

Be kind always. Think about the people you encounter each day. If your goal was to have them as a repeat customer, your attitude toward them would be one of politeness and graciousness, I’m sure. Most of us aren’t out to get repeat customers, but should our interactions be any less? In truth, our lives are all about relationships. Business is about relationships. Family is about relationships. Everything we do involves other people. So when the flight attendant says “our crew members will be pleased to assist you”, the life lesson is to simply be kind. As we encounter other people, we should be pleased to see them, to smile at them, and perhaps to assist them. It’s what makes us human. I recently saw a quote that said, “Be kind to unkind people. They need it most.”

So these three life lessons are simple connections that I made from the flight attendant’s instructions. But I believe they are critical to life. Listen. Rest. And be kind. If you can do those three things, you are well on your way to making the rest of your life the best of your life.

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Dr. Dave Martin interviews Dr. Robb Thompson.

This week I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Robb Thompson, author, corporate speaker, trainer, and pastor. (Be sure to listen to this week’s podcast for our discussion on how to be a valuable team player.)

In life, there are people who stand out from the crowd, people who earn the title of Most Valuable
Player. How to you become this exceptional person? How do you align yourself to have the qualities and skills that make you a desired member of any organization or of any relationship? My discussion with Dr. Robb Thompson will show you the keys to becoming an MVP in life.

There will always be room for the person who understands how to be a valuable team player. There is a stopping point in every career and in every relationship for the person who refuses to be a team player. Basically, if you live from the perspective of what other people can do for you instead of how you can contribute, you will find yourself at a standstill, frustrated, and blaming others.

The number one key to being valuable in the life of another is to be a problem solver. A problem
solver will solve the problems that others face. They will solve the problems that others are refusing to face. They will solve the problems that people are attempting to ignore. They will solve the problem when other people are saying, “It’s not my job. It’s not my responsibility. That isn’t what I’m paid to do.” A person that is a problem solver will step in and do what others will not.

The time you spend thinking about what other people need will give you two advantages:

1. You will forget about your own needs and will stop focusing on what you believe you are missing

2. You will find that everyone needs you, and you will find your place in a rare group of proactive
people who take action and accomplish tasks successfully

Solving problems ultimately turns into great rewards. Sometimes it fills an emotional need, and
sometimes it fills a bank account.

The way to become successful is to begin to solve problems in the life of another person. Throughout history, the people who stand out more than any others are the problem solvers.
Winston Churchill was a problem solver for the British Empire during their darkest days. Abraham Lincoln was a problem solver for America during the time of Civil War. Many examples are seen as we look back and look around, and the people who rise to the top are the ones who can solve the problems that others cannot.

Becoming a problem solver is a choice. You can develop this trait in your own life. Pay attention to what is missing and to what people need, then become the person that people do not have, the person who can propel them forward. There is always room for a person who will solve problems.

For more information and to get Dr. Thompson's free book, visit his website,

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If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here. 


Ten years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, CNN ran a story about several individuals who should have been in the World Trade Center or on one of the fated airline flights that horrific day. But for unforeseen reasons, the routine schedules of these people were inexplicably changed in a way that saved their lives.

One man stopped by the post office on the way to his brokerage job at a firm located on the 96th floor of the North Tower. He then attempted to board the express train to downtown, but it was overcrowded. So being claustrophobic, he decided to take the local train instead, even though it was slower. This caused the man to be late for work, and that unexpected delay ended up saving his life. As he was approaching the building entrance, the first plane struck the tower, killing 295 people in his office. Timing!

A few days earlier, a United Airlines flight attendant entered the wrong code into the computer system while setting up her work schedule for September and was not awarded her normal flights from Boston to California for that month. In an effort to rectify the mistake, however, the flight attendant managed to trade all her flights back to her normal schedule except for the flight on 9/11. She still had an assignment to fly to Denver that day instead of Los Angeles. Then on September 10th, while she was trying to make this final change back to her original schedule, the computer system froze, causing her to miss the deadline by just one minute. So the next morning, her flight to Denver left Logan International Airport, leaving the runway between American Flight 11 (her usual flight, which struck the North Tower) and United Flight 175, the flight that crashed into the South Tower that same morning. Timing!

Everything in life is a matter of timing, whether we recognize it or not. Your greatest successes have occurred as a result of opportunity meeting need at just the right moments in time, and your greatest failures have occurred as a result of difficulty meeting resistance at precisely the worst moments in time. I cannot explain why life happens this way, but we all know that it does.

So life is about timing. If you have ever tried to teach a child how to hit a baseball, you know both the frustration of poor timing and the exhilaration of good timing. And those same feelings of frustration and exhilaration can carry over into the more important aspects of our lives as well, because most of what we accomplish depends on the proper timing of the uncontrollable events affecting us.

That’s why, when someone has a good sense of timing, what we are really saying is that the person has the ability to select the precise moment for doing something to achieve the optimum result. And all of us know from our own personal experiences just how important this sense of selection can be. Timing is what makes the difference between a good joke and a bad one. Timing is what makes the difference between success and failure in a job search. Timing is what makes the difference between closing the sale and losing it. Timing is even important in the practice of
medicine, because some people live and some people die solely on the basis of the timing of a diagnosis or treatment.

The difference between a rich man and a poor man is often the timing of that person’s purchases and the timing of his sell-offs. The man who buys real estate cheap and sells it when the market is red-hot can get rich really quick. But the man who invests in real estate, stocks, or precious metals when the price is high can easily lose his shirt. Just imagine, for instance, what your portfolio would look like today if you had bought gold in 1999 when it was $252.80 an ounce or if you had bought stock in Google when it was available for $85 per share.

And timing is important in relationships. When you met your spouse, you met that person at an opportune time. If you had met your mate when he or she was involved in another relationship, you might well have missed the opportunity to know that person and certainly would have missed the opportunity to nurture a romance. Quite often, everyday guys catch the most amazing girls simply because they crossed paths with her at just the right time in her life.

If you really think about it, everything in your life happened as a result of timing. The smart people among us have learned the value of time and the necessity of timing their big leaps into the vast unknown. In fact, American humorist Arnold Glasow has famously said, “Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.” And that pretty much sums it up.

Look at Mark Zuckerberg, for instance. Zuckerberg became a billionaire at the ripe old age of 23 as a result of his pioneering work with Facebook, and he is currently estimated to be worth almost $34 billion (Forbes 400 richest Americans) even though he is just 30 years old. But Zuckerberg’s success can be attributed in large part to his innate sense of timing.

So the timing of almost everything—particularly the execution of our plans—has a profound impact on our lives. It has a profound impact on the quality of our lives, too, and it has a profound impact on the outcome of our lives.

Maybe bad timing had something to do with your previous failures, maybe it didn’t. But regardless of what may have gone wrong in your past attempts, as you seek to control the timing of your next shot, be aware of the contributing factors that will play a role in the success or failure of your venture. What is it that you want to accomplish? Does in involve business? If so, you will need to carefully time your entry into the marketplace. A product offered at the wrong time to the wrong people at the wrong price won’t stand a chance in the free market. Does it involve an idea? If so, you will need to carefully time the presentation of your concept. Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, once said, “Your best work involves timing. If someone wrote the greatest hip-hop song of all time during the Middle Ages, he had bad timing.”

The highway of history is littered with the corpses of forgotten people who had great ideas ahead of their time or who failed to offer their ideas when the culture was poised to embrace them. But virtually every great achievement that has ever been recorded was an achievement accomplished by someone who took an existing idea and reintroduced it to the world in just the right way at just the right time.

If you would take a moment to review your life, you would probably find that the difference between your biggest successes and your biggest failures—between your proudest achievements and your poorest ones—has not been the quality of your ideas or the motives behind them. The difference has probably been timing. Most of your failures probably flowed from good intentions and noble ambitions, and most of your disappointments probably grew out of sincere and wholehearted efforts. But failed businesses, failed relationships, and failed political careers are more often the result of poor timing than poor planning, poor ideas, or poor execution.

So here’s the thing: If you have failed in the past, you need to understand why you failed before you try taking another shot. If you can find the reasons behind your previous failures, you will dramatically increase your chances for future success, because you will be wiser and better equipped with the knowledge you need to do things right this time around. You will be more inclined to avoid the pitfalls that resulted in your demise earlier in your life, and you will probably make better decisions that will lead to smarter planning and more fruitful tactics. Success is never guaranteed, but the chances of success are always increased when we learn something from past failures. That is why so many successful people have past histories of foolish blunders.

But if you don’t have a good grasp on why you failed the first time, you are probably destined to fail again, at least partially. And there’s a good chance that poor timing was a factor in your downfall. If you tried to build a business on borrowed money when interest rates were at record highs or if you tried to manufacture pagers when cell phones were the newest rage, then you had poor timing. If you tried to capitalize on the disco craze when discos were on their way out or if you invested all your money in horsewhips just as Henry Ford was setting up shop in Detroit, then you had poor timing.

So this time, use some common sense: Don’t ignore the signs on the horizon. Understand the times in which you live and the mindset of the masses as you prepare to engage them. Be contemporary. Be relevant. Sense the direction the wind is blowing and set your sails to take advantage of those wind currents, not to paddle upstream against it. And if you aren’t completely confident in your assessment of future trends, seek the input of others who have their ears to the ground. Read books. Attend seminars. Ask questions. Network with people who seem to have a grip on market movements, and pay attention to forecasts regarding future trends in society. When you take your next shot, you will either need a game plan that will always be relevant (people will always need to buy food, for instance) or you will need a game plan that is flexible and can bend with the blowing winds of change (technology changes almost daily). So make your plans, and plan your timing.

To let opportunities pass you by is to invite defeat, but to learn how to wait for a good opportunity and then to recognize it when it is right in front of you is the most basic element of success. And seizing your opportunities with determination and aggressiveness is the way to win all your ballgames and to win at life itself.

That is why this time around I hope you win. This time around, I hope you hit the shot. But to a great extent, your success or failure will depend on your timing. So you need to be smart and to know your opposition. You need to be perceptive and to understand the challenges ahead of you. To fully perceive the situation that awaits you and to grasp the realities of your surrounding circumstances is half the battle. But to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em is the other half.

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Is Your Mind Set?

While in Italy, I had the opportunity to talk with Pat Mesiti, a top wealth and mindset trainer. (Be sure to listen to this week’s podcast for our discussion on mindset.)

Having the right mindset is a constant effort, because your mind is both your greatest strength and your greatest weakness. The biggest battle is what is going on inside your mind. It can be a prison or a palace.

We lose naturally, and we win by effort. So we must make the constant effort to create a mindset that will give us the life we want.

Sadly, we are not taught as children the importance of having the right mindset. The right mindset is not about being positive, rather it’s about thinking right and having a framework for your life and a philosophy on how you want to do life.

How do we stay in the right frame of mind?
1. Find a stream that you can drink from! What you are putting into your mind is critical.
2. Watch what you say to yourself. The words you hear from other people will never defeat you; it is your own words that have the power to defeat you. Watch them carefully.
3. Get in with good people. Stay away from negative voices in your life. Seek out people who are at a higher level than you. Our lives are going to rise to the voice we choose to believe. We see so many examples of this principle. The people of Nazi Germany chose to believe the voice of Hitler. Conversely, look the people who believed Gandhi and the people who believe Jesus
Christ. People’s lives reflect the voices inside their heads.
4. Don’t define your life by your circumstances. The biggest changes in your life are brought about by your own thoughts.

What are some pointers and tips for positive self-talk?
1. Keep it simple. Tell yourself, “Today is a good day, and I am enjoying my life.” Try Dr. Dave’s
words, “The rest of my life will be the best of my life.” The key is to get those words in your
head. The Bible says in Philippians 4:8, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right.
Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others.” Say
these things; speak these things. And sing! Even if you can’t sing, go ahead and sing! It will build up your spirit and your soul.
2. Be grateful. It is one of the most undervalued disciplines in creating a positive mindset.
Gratitude is a must. And speak that gratitude aloud. Are we truly grateful for what we have and for the people in our lives? Say so.
3. Check yourself. Are the words coming out of my mouth helpful or hurtful? Deciphering your words can shift your mindset. You can’t speak UP and feel DOWN.

  • Your mindset is the greatest battle of your life.
  • Your leadership comes out of your mindset.
  • Your dreams come out of your mindset.
  • Your wealth comes out of your mindset.
  • Your physical health comes out of your mindset.
  • Your emotional life comes out of your mindset.

As you work to create your life framework and philosophy, start by thinking about the word
MINDSET…is your mind set? And what is it set on? That is the critical question.

For additional information visit Pat Mesiti’s website at


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Finding Your Passion


While in Italy this past week, I had a great talk with Gary Zelesky. Gary Z is known as the Passion Doctor, and he is an expert at helping people find what they were born to do in life. (Be sure to listen to this week’s podcast for our discussion on finding your passion.) There are a lot of people who don’t know what they were created to do. They do not know why they are here, and they don’t know what they should do with their lives. In our conversation, Gary Z shared the following wisdom about how to find what you were born to do.

How do I discover my passion?

The first way that you discover your passion is to find out what scares you the most. What is the one thing that creates fear in you? Fear has a lot to do with the concept of passion. Many times, people avoid going after their passion because they are afraid. They are afraid of failure, they are afraid of rejection of some kind, or they listen to the voices of many other people. All of these play a role in keeping them from discovering what that one thing is they were created to do. So think of it this way, whatever you fear might be a great clue about the very thing that you are supposed to be doing.

So, if I’m trying to figure out my passion, maybe I should start looking for things that cause me to be afraid?

That is absolutely a great place to start. For instance, my passion is speaking, but my biggest fear is rejection. It is the sense of not being accepted. The irony is the two are really linked. Sometimes the thing that makes you a little afraid, the thing that makes you uncomfortable, may be closer to your passion than you realized.

If I have a fear that is holding me back from my passion how do I get past it?

The only way you break through fear is by knowing what you’re breaking to. Most people don’t break through their fear because they don’t know exactly what the goal is on the other side of that fear. That’s why it’s so important to really know what your passion is.

What is the one thing you would do every single day of your life if you never got paid a dime? What is the thing that fuels you? What is the thing that brings you the greatest joy? I’m not saying ‘happiness’; I’m saying joy because happiness is a result of happenings. Joy is that thing inside of you. It’s not explainable. It’s that time when you have a smile on your face, and you don’t even know why. You need to find out what is the one thing that really fuels you. Define that, go after it, and write it down. Discover what it is, and then begin to pursue it. That action is what moves you through your fear.

If you are undefined in your passion, you are undefined in so many other ways. Business owners frequently try to motivate people through bonuses or a variety of different things. They don’t understand that you can motivate people by the thing that’s inside of them. If you are an owner of a business, understand this. People care about things that they know you care about. So when you care about your employees in a way that’s amazing they’re going to start caring about the things that you care about.

You challenge people to write down 10 things to get them started in the right direction. Why is that?

Most people don’t take the time to write. They don’t understand that once you write something, you can revisit that something. How can you revisit something you’ve never written?

Once you write it, then you revisit it.
Once you revisit it, then you can retool it.
Once you retool it, it can cause a renaissance.

The importance of writing your passions down is that it will give you tremendous focus.

When you start writing, you may have doubts; you may question everything you write. But do it anyway. Once you write these ten things down, let it simmer. Give it a day, and then go back and revisit that list of things that you are passionate about, the things that make you come alive. Then narrow it. Go back and erase, maybe take off five things. When you begin to narrow and define your list, you will be surprised. You will discover some things you never thought were inside of you, but you will know they create a interest for you and a response in you because you wrote them, and you can actually see them on a piece of paper. It is an extraordinary exercise, and will help you discover your own passions.

Many times we don’t even know the passions of the people closest to us. Writing them down as a family, as a team, or as a company can be transforming. It ignites something within us. It helps us visualize our dreams and creates a desire to do something to move us toward those passions.

So use these tips to find your passion, then go out there and do something about it. Just get started. And remember, passion doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be performed.

For more information or to contact Gary Z, visit his website at

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Please share it with friends and colleagues, or on social media. 

If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here.