I Am What I Am!

30 Jan

Or as Popeye the Sailor Man put it, “I yam what I yam!” But what does it mean when we use this simple phrase, or when someone tells us, I am what I am. To me it speaks volumes. It says; this is who I am. I cannot change. Either accept me “as is” or forget about it. To me it’s just another whine of the powerless.

Every living thing in the universe, from the tiniest microbe to us, the most sophisticated and intelligent animal on earth, have been created to evolve. To adapt to a changing environment. It’s built into our DNA. Without change no species survives.

So why do so many people, people we know and love, refuse to even consider changing, even when faced with a looming disaster, like the loss of a relationship or of a career. My belief it is fear. Fear is the strongest emotion we face and we face it on a daily basis. We fear rejection. We fear embarrassment. And most of all, we fear the unknown, the scariest fear of all. And change is nothing more than giving up the old for the new. Be it a new way of thinking, a new attitude or a new behavior.

As modern day people we live in comfort zones, doing only those things that make us feel safe and secure. Whenever faced with the prospect of doing something new we find ourselves pushed up against the boundaries of those zones. Immediately fear begins to flood our bodies and we begin to have self-doubts. What if I don’t succeed? What if I fail? What if I lose my friends and social network when I no longer agree with them? What if don’t like the person I become? And so, we allow fear to win and paralyze us into doing nothing. But whenever fear wins understand that we lose.

There is a basic law of the universe that says; nature abhors a vacuum. This means, that as soon as you let go of your old beliefs, attitudes and behaviors new ones will take their place. And, almost always, the new ones are far better than the old ones they replaced.

If you’re faced with a failing marriage, a rocky relationship with your kids or challenges at work, maybe it’s time to face your fears and make that conscious decision to change. I’m not going to tell you it’s easy. But, I will tell you this; once you face and overpower your fears your life will become easier, and the joy and the happiness you have been seeking will begin to flow effortlessly to you.

Life is nothing more than a continuous series of choices. Therefore, choose wisely!

With Love,

Michael

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The Sea

27 Jan

A professor took his class on a field trip to the ocean. Once at the water’s edge he handed each student a cup. Some were tall, some were short, some were thin, while still others were stout around the middle. No two cups were the same shape and no two cups looked alike.

In addition, every cup was a different color although from a distance you could see that many of the colors could fall into distinct groups. Some had a darker hue and some lighter. The one thing that all the different cups had in common was the amount of liquid they held. Each, to the drop, held identical amounts of whatever was to fill them.

The professor then had each student walk to the water’s edge and fill their cup to the very brim with ocean water and then step back into line. When every student had filled their cup the professor asked them, “What’s in your cup?” Of course, the unanimous response was water. “Yes,” replied the professor, “but what kind of water?” Ocean water yelled the students.

“Good,” said the professor. “Now let me ask you this? What’s the difference between the ocean water in the ocean and the ocean water in your cup?” One young man quickly responded, “That’s simple. The water in the ocean has sea life in it, but the water in our cups is just plain water.” His classmates all murmured in unison because his answer seemed to make sense.

“That’s not quite correct answered the professor. It’s obvious that your cups are not large enough to hold a fish, or a squid, or even a starfish, but there is still tiny life in your cup that can’t be seen. The same life that fills every drop of this ocean no matter what distant shore it falls upon. So wouldn’t you agree that the water in your cup would be identical to the ocean, only on a smaller scale?” From the looks on his student’s faces he could see the beginnings of understanding, and he was pleased.

The professor then went on to explain the message he was trying to convey to his students. “This ocean could be compared to God.  Vast, powerful and without end. Loving and nurturing to all the creatures great and small that live within it. The cup is your human body. No two are identical. Each a different shape and color from the others. No one cup is better, more important, or for that matter worse than the others, only different in outward appearance.

Upon your birth God infused you with a small piece of himself. He sees you as his Greatest Miracle, the Greatest Miracle in the world. That piece of him is the spark of life which animates your body. Some may call it the soul, but it needs no name. It is your humanity. It’s what makes you and me the same.

So please remember this: whenever you harm another person, by your words or deeds. Whenever you bully another because you think you’re superior. Whenever you see another human being as less than you. Whenever you show a lack of respect for another, you aren’t doing it to them alone; you are doing it to yourself and to God. You see each of us is God walking around in cups of different colors, shapes and sizes.

And there is something else my students that I want you to know: God makes no mistakes and creates nothing but perfection. Therefore, you are perfect. And never let anyone tell you different! Oh, and one other thing, you were created for GREATNESS and not littleness. The choice is always yours.”

Luckman’s Law: With love you have everything. With fear you have nothing.

With love always,

Michael

It’s All About Choice

24 Jan

I received a call last week from my nephew seeking my advice. I’ve got to admit I was flattered. Typically it’s my peers who seek my advice, but rarely a 24 year old, and I often wonder why that is. I have an opinion and it is this: we live in a face paced highly technological world aimed at young people. Why young people? Two very simple reasons; 1) that’s where the money is, and 2) young people have the time to devote to learning new technology. In fact, other than attending school, learning and using technology is their full time job. Because of this, they tend to look at the proceeding generations as not as technologically savvy (intelligent) as them, and thus, not people they would want to solicit advice from.

He’s interested in leasing a new car and since I have been leasing cars for over 40 years, thought I might be able to offer him some sound advice. And I did. Some of the advice I shared with him was: Just because the dealer advertises a manufacturers lease special it does not preclude you from further negotiating an even lower price; Often the dealer has several money factor rates (interest) and if your credit is good, you can negotiate this too; Just because they say you need to put money down does not mean you have to. All of my leases have been with no money down. Zero drive off; Fall in love with the car, not the dealer. Prepare to shop as many dealers as possible for the best terms. I live in Northern California, but I shop dealers in Southern California. It’s an hour’s plane ride for often under $100 and the dealer you’re leasing from will send someone to the local airport to pick you up. Then it’s a leisurely drive home up Interstate 5 in my new car.

But this blog is not really about leasing a new car. In our 45 minute conversation I asked him what his credit score was. His response was 690 and I told him how proud I was of him. Considering that he hasn’t been in the work world that long and he doesn’t have a mortgage that was a pretty good score. We then had a conversation about Cause and Effect. And this is what I told him.

Very often young people do foolish things that could have a dramatic effect on themselves and their lifestyle down the road. And it’s not just today’s young people. All of us have done things that we look back upon in embarrassment and wish we had made better choices. It’s all about the process of maturing and becoming an adult. The problem that my nephew’s generation faces as opposed to any proceeding ones is that their stupid mistakes are written in stone. Just waiting to be discovered years later by anyone with internet access.

My nephew was really shocked when I told him this: Future employers look to your credit score when considering hiring you. Why would they do that he asked? And it’s really quite simple. How you maintain your credit is a clear indicator of how you lead your life. If you purchase goods and services and don’t pay for them, you’re not a person of good character. If this is who you are privately their fear is that this is who you are publically, and they can’t afford to take the risk of adding you to their team.

What goes around comes around. Choose wisely.

Love,

Michael

Old? Who Said I’m Old?

21 Jan

I’m a Baby Boomer and I have something to say to my fellow Baby Boomers: Life is never over until you decide it’s over!

I am amazed by the number of peers I come in contact with that are “old.” Notice the quotation marks. Let me give you an example. Last September my mother died at 93 years old and in our tradition we sat Shiva for her at my sister’s home in Sun City, AZ. Since most of my mother’s friends had all passed on, and except for my sister no other children live in the Phoenix area, the majority of those paying their condolences were friends of my sister and brother-in-law.

These nice people are all around my age but I felt as if I was sitting amongst friends of my parents. These people were old. It was if we had all come to a fork in the road and the choices were: comfortable retirement or continuing to seek one’s life purpose. I went one way and they went another. But why do people even make that choice? Where is it written that just because the body ages our choices have to be limited?

You are probably wondering how I knew that the only thing I had in common with these people was chronological age? I listened to their conversations. Here is some of what I heard.

“Let me tell you about my grandchildren. I went to my granddaughter’s recital and the talent you wouldn’t believe.” My question to them is when did you stop participating in your own recitals? Or a more appropriate question, WHY did you stop going to your own recitals? Too old?

“When I was young there was so much opportunity. At this age life no longer offers those opportunities.” BULL. I’m 68 and I just started another business, wrote a book you can find on Amazon and iTunes and now travel doing speaking engagements. Harlan Sanders started Kentucky Fried Chicken with his first Social Security check. Think of all that wonderful chicken you would have missed if someone had told him, “Colonel are you crazy. At your age you should take up golf. Why open a restaurant?”

“I’m glad I’m this age. I don’t have to learn all that new technology stuff.” No you don’t. And you don’t have to communicate with your kids and grandkids. You don’t have to learn new things and you certainly don’t have to exercise your brain. But when your mind doesn’t work as good as it did, don’t blame it on old age, and please don’t email me a cartoon about those senior moments of forgetfulness. I’m too busy surfing the web acquiring knowledge to use in my writing.

This subject is very dear to me so look forward to my future blogs. But let me end today with a Luckman’s Law: The future is always there. You can dread it, run from it, or embrace it for the opportunities it holds. The choice is always yours.

Love,

Michael

World Class? Don’t Make Me Laugh!

16 Jan

I’m upset. No, I’m more than upset. I’m bordering on rage. And why, because a well-known, heavily advertised credit card company screwed me over.

Last November I received a snail mail letter from Capital One. It began: “Dear Michael B. Luckman: Our Customer Fraud Protection department here at Capital One has been trying to reach you to let you know that we placed a temporary hold on your Capital One account.” And so began a trip down the rabbit hole. They couldn’t reach me by phone because they had an old number. Did they forget that a simple call to 411 would have given them a new number? Did I ever receive an email from them (the email address they had on file was correct)? No I didn’t. So, obviously they really didn’t try that hard.

Feeling the panic that comes with believing I might be the victim of identity theft I immediately called their 800 number. And this is what I was told. A woman by the name Adaina Jarvis of Oakland, CA contacted them with my credit card number, a fake Yahoo email address that went to her inbox and whatever other information she was able to attain. She asked for a secondary card on my account to be sent to her Oakland address, and could they do it right away. And they DID, while also charging me a $16.00 “Fast Card Fee.”

Now I do have to give them some credit. Someone in their fraud department looked at what they did and probably said to themselves, “This doesn’t look right (duh). Ms. Jarvis doesn’t share a last name with the cardholder. She doesn’t even live in the same city (but 60 miles away). Maybe we should put a hold on this card and contact Mr. Luckman.” And they did. (See paragraph two above).

Other than an insincere verbal “we are sorry this happened” and issuing me a new card Capital One did nothing. I had to go to the credit bureaus and put a 90 day fraud alert on my account. I had to go to every company that bills me monthly on the old card and provide them with the new one, while arguing why I should not be charged a late fee. And then while all this was going on (trying to figure out if I was getting double billed by my recurring creditors) I failed to pay my December statement. My notes on the statement were kind of cryptic, but I believe that I was told that I would receive a new statement and not to pay this one. Either way I take full responsibility for not paying that statement.

Then I received my January statement. In a matter of two months I went from sterling customer with a credit score of 800+ to deadbeat. The top of the statement read “Help is Available call 1-800. Then went on “Missing a payment can happen to anyone…” I felt totally humiliated and so I called there 1-800 number to get some satisfaction. How foolish one can be.

I spent over three hours on the phone with Stasha yesterday, asking for only one thing; a written apology from a senior officer at Capital One. I was told in no uncertain terms “it isn’t going to happen.” And why is that; because “World Class” (I’m being facetious) customer service does not allow the people at the lower level to escalate the call to a higher level. It’s against their policy for the people at the top to ever speak to the average customer. Thus they go through life believing they walk on water, that is, until they drown.

And, by the way, I Googled Adaina Jarvis. She’s currently residing in Orange County California, experiencing deluxe accommodations at their county jail. But me they couldn’t find.

What’s in your wallet? No don’t answer that. It may scare you to death.

More to come in the saga: big bank, little man.

Love,

Michael

I’m Ecstatic!

14 Jan

My beloved San Francisco 49ers significantly defeated the Carolina Panthers Sunday, on their home turf in Charlotte, to win the right to face the Seattle Seahawks next week. The winner of that game will determine who will represent the NFC in Super Bowl 48. They did it with an outstanding offense and an incredible defense. I’m so very proud of them and their coach Jim Harbaugh.

I look forward to next Sunday’s game with the belief that San Francisco is the superior team, and will win, but I have some trepidation. You see I don’t like the Seattle fans. Now I have nothing against the city or the people of Seattle. It is a GREAT city. Incredibly beautiful and the people are as nice and as friendly as any you’ll find in the rest of the country. No, the reason I don’t like the Seahawks fans – is their noise.

I know it sounds crazy, but please let me explain. I’m a screamer. I can’t begin to tell you how many football and soccer games I’ve come home from where I could barely speak above a whisper. It’s part of being a fan. It’s our God given right to cheer on our team. But do we have the same right to use our voices to destroy the opposing team’s ability to communicate with one another. Thus gaining an undeserved advantage.

Shouldn’t the outcome of a game be determined by which team has the superior players? Which team is better coached? Whose game plan is superior? And, which team is better able to execute their game plan?

In the early 1940’s Great Britain was able to crack Nazi Germany’s secret code giving them the ability to both understand and then disrupt Germany’s military communications, severely weakening their military strength and leading to their unconditional surrender in May of 1945. In a war this tactic is good. In competitive sports I find it despicable.

So, in my single voice, I say to the Seattle Seahawks fans; If you believe your team is the superior team let’s see it on the field of play, not through some unsportsmanlike seismic event.

And speaking of a seismic event. Living in the Bay Area I can’t help remembering in horror Candlestick Park during the 1989 World Series earthquake. The epicenter of that earthquake was approximately 70 miles from Candlestick. They say that Seattle fan’s screaming, hollering and foot stomping is equivalent to a Richter magnitude 2 earthquake. Has anybody ever stopped to think about how many magnitude 2 earthquakes, created directly under their feet, it will take until the cheapest CenturyLink Stadium seats will be found on Level 1?

Go Niners!

Love,

Michael

When Did You Die?

10 Jan

Was it when you were in your early forties? Or, maybe about the time you received your AARP invitation at 50? Perhaps it happened when all the kids left the house and about the time the first grandkids came?

Oh wait, that’s not the title I wanted for this blog. I meant to ask, When Did You Stop Living? Because that’s what this blog is about.

Back when I was growing up many companies had a mandatory retirement age, it was 65. And although my grandfather owned his own business he too chose this age to “start taking it easy and enjoy the fruits of his labor.” He died two years later. And he wasn’t unique. The Chicago obits were full of names of men his age.

Recently my wife and I had dinner in Las Vegas with my first ex-wife Phyllis and her husband Jeff. Several years back they bought a beautiful home in the Del Webb retirement community of Sun City Anthem, and I bought a home in a typical mixed neighborhood. They love Sun City. It is full of their peers. So is mine.

During dinner I shared with them how 2013 had been a tough year for me. I had several physical problems to work through, my mother passed away and my new venture as an author and international speaker was slow in gaining traction. Phyllis, never missing an opportunity after 40+ years to mold me into this perfect man, asked me, “Why, at your age do you want to continue working, let alone start a new business? You should (how I love you shoulds), sell your home and buy in Sun City. With your Social Security and savings you can finally enjoy life.” The assumption being is that, for some unknown reason, I’m not enjoying life now.

This is not the first time someone has suggested to me that my lifestyle choices were wrong. This is how I responded to Phyllis and the others: When I go grocery shopping I want to see show girls on their day off, and not someone’s granny pushing a walker. Plus, I don’t mind walking from the back of the parking lot where the non-handicap parking spaces are. I’m not dead yet. (For clarification purposes: you can always spot a showgirl. They’re tall, stand as straight as an arrow and have this sort of regal presence as they push their carts down the aisle. I am sure you can picture the difference).

I have this overwhelming belief that each of us was created by our creator for Greatness. Greatness being your fulfillment of your life’s purpose. For some that greatness may come in their early twenties, for others their forties and for some, even in their seventies. Greatness does not have a “best by” date. Not unless you arbitrarily set one. Or, worse yet, allow others to set one for you.

This subject is very important to me, and I think to a lot of others as well. So here is your first homework assignment. For the ladies; go into the lingerie department and buy the skimpiest and sexiest underwear you can. Who cares if the thong gets lost. It will make you feel sexy and that is ALL that matters. For the men; get a prescription for an ED medicine. You probably aren’t going to bust many zippers, but knowing that your pencil still has lead in it will do wonders for how you see yourself.

Until my next blog on this subject remember this: There is no such thing as the inevitable. The inevitable is only what you create.

Love,

Michael