Monday, December 26, 2011

Choosing Responsibility

What does it mean to be personally responsible? How do we take ownership of our choices? I believe it involves assessing our strengths, weaknesses, wants and needs. And understand that we invite consequences based on our actions.

We are bombarded with choices from the time we open our eyes in the morning until the time we close our eyes at night.

• I could get out of bed now and start that exercise regimen… or sleep another 30 minutes.
• Do I want cereal this morning… or scrambled eggs?
• Should I meet Sue for drinks after work… or go grocery shopping?

Our lives become the sum of the choices we make. I hate to admit this, but until recently I didn't really 'own' my choices. As a single mom most of my early adult life, I operated on autopilot to care for my daughter and myself. I had responsibilities and made choices every day, of course. What I didn't do was take the time to consider them and make decisions that would benefit ME. I was used to taking care of everyone else. Personal responsibility was not on my radar. I have since learned that responsibility for myself includes thinking about my choices and how to meet my needs and bless others.

Jake Lawson from offers several tips on personal responsibility:
• Refute irrational beliefs and overcome fears
• Affirm yourself positively
• Recognize that you are the sole determinant of the choices you make

Click here to read more.

Fear is a huge obstacle in taking personal responsibility. Fear keeps many of us from reaching our full potential. We often miss out on opportunities because we are afraid of change. As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. I challenge you to try something new. Start small. Volunteer for that non-profit you support. Take guitar lessons. The point is to step out of your comfort zone. Nobody can do this for you.

Many of us also blame others for our circumstances. This keeps us from owning our choices. We blame our family: "My dad said I'd never amount to anything." Our boss: "She doesn't appreciate what I do anyway." We take shortcuts and don’t try. As adults, we must let go of limiting thoughts and any tendency to blame others. We should strive to develop positive thoughts and cultivate an "I can" attitude. "The longest journey starts with the first step."*

Understanding why you do what you do could help you as you move forward in this life journey. A helpful resource is the Color Code - a tool designed to identify your core motive, and make choices more clear. Click here to take the personality assessment.

I encourage you to continue thinking about personal responsibility as you evaluate your strengths and limitations. Be honest with yourself. Let go of fear. And trust that you are right where you're supposed to be – today. Tomorrow looks even better.

*Ancient Chinese proverb

Kellie Williams, is a certified Color Code trainer and is actively on the path to self knowledge.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Choosing to be Affected!

This evening I received word that a man who I had been working to help re-create his life after returning home from prison, ended his life. 

Over the past months, I had begun to understand his flickering light of hope. Throughout his life he suffered many challenges. From being unwanted, to abuse, to a dark place of self loathing. His spirit had tried to hold onto tiny sparks of hope amidst many storms. 

What I have witnessed in my work and in my life, is our inability as people and as a culture to actually foster change and believe in redemption. As we bear witness to others changing, we are required to change. We are required to respond, to be affected. That is where change for many stops, in the reflections of others fears. 

This evening as I lay in my beloved's arms mourning the loss this special mans light, through the tears, we spoke about the ripples his life have created. How in that moment, we had been touched, the friends who have consoled me this evening, you as you read this post have been touched. 

How we choose from this moment to be affected is our choice. How can each of us foster change within ourselves and others in a way that is patient, kind and faithful? 

I am changed - instead of running away because I am hurt and afraid, am have become emboldened, more than ever, in the work I do. I choose to allow this to fuel my work and strive to help others see the power of faith. 

I ask that you allow others to change and open your heart to how you will be changed to make this world a more loving place. May we each allow ourselves to be affected by a death and be reborn in the love of Christ.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Voice & the Feeling...

gary c. rettinger

There's seemingly never a greater presence in our heads than when we know what needs to happen and an uneasy feeling sets in, ugghhh right?  That's the way most of us know and it's really a bad way to carry about as a day-to-day go-to.  It sets us up for imagined failure and pain right from the get-go, but, you know it's simply what we were given.  That's where it all begins with what we got and what we didn't yet that's not where it ends.  That's where the right decision given life through self-designed destiny will dovetail with the very essence of who you are.  That's if you make the right decision keeping in mind it takes a bit of zeal, a dash of bravado and a lockstep with the wisdom good ol' mom and dad hopefully drummed into you during your very own wonder years.  So, what's the decision?

This is good, I accept it and I'm going to do the right thing.  That's it.  That's responsibility.  It's in us all as we really need not even think about it when it comes down to it as it's been passed down to us through hundreds and thousands of years of the essential goodness of generations that typically fills us all.  Sleep when you sleep, be aware when you're awake.  For many the opposite rings true and we miss doing the right thing and when we do it affects many many people well beyond what you might imagine.  Let it be celebrated that we each have the amazing capacity to set off a chain reaction of synchronicity bringing favor, smiles and harmony and it comes simply and elegantly enough just from doing the right thing.  At times words need not even be spoken as people feel it when the right thing's in motion.  Set off in the other direction and everything's upended, upset and out of whack and maybe even someone really got hurt.  That's the sea of separation in heeding what's right versus saying "too bad I'm all that matters and that's that."  Yet, that's what we seem to be suffocating in and "popular" culture in many sectors certainly's doing it's worst to speed along the demise of the good.

So what can you do about it?  You're just 1 person amongst 7 billion, stunning how insignificant that can  seem in a strictly mathematical sense isn't it?  Nonetheless that's all it takes, just 1.  Just 1 person doing the right thing even just in example shows another and sows a seed of an eventual reciprocating goodness.  That's how it always happens.  That's what makes responsibility or doing the right thing tantamount to everything.  It puts you into the flow and once you're in a good-hearted vision's always met with new and countless helping hands leading to sure-fired success for the greater good.

That's the way of the world.  You in?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How do YOU decide what you are responsible for?

What do you see as your responsibilities?
How do your different roles affect what you decide to own?
How do you prioritize each of these responsibilities?

As we look at this huge topic, we hope you will continue to share how thinking and talking about it has shifted a view, solidified a view or inspired you to seek deeper. 

Our families and communities benefit and evolve because of honest open dialogue. We hope we are igniting you as an agent of change!

Responsibility: How we Define it.

Definition excerpted  from this publication
Life is full of choices. Being responsible means being in charge of our choices and, thus, our lives. It means being accountable for what we do and who we are. It also means recognizing that our actions matter and we are morally on the hook for the consequences. Our capacity to reason and our freedom to choose make us morally autonomous and, therefore, answerable for whether we honor or degrade the ethical principles that give life meaning and purpose.

Ethical people show responsibility by being accountable, pursuing excellence and exercising self-restraint. They exhibit the ability to respond to expectations.

An accountable person is not a victim and doesn’t shift blame or claim credit for the work of others. He considers the likely consequences of his behavior and associations. He recognizes the common complicity in the triumph of evil when nothing is done to stop it. He leads by example.

Pursuit of Excellence
The pursuit of excellence has an ethical dimension when others rely upon our knowledge, ability or willingness to perform tasks safely and effectively.
Diligence. It is hardly unethical to make mistakes or to be less than "excellent," but there is a moral obligation to do one’s best, to be diligent, reliable, careful, prepared and informed.
Perseverance. Responsible people finish what they start, overcoming rather than surrendering to obstacles. They avoid excuses such as, "That’s just the way I am," or "It’s not my job," or "It was legal."
Continuous Improvement. Responsible people always look for ways to do their work better.
Responsible people exercise self-control, restraining passions and appetites (such as lust, hatred, gluttony, greed and fear) for the sake of longer-term vision and better judgment. They delay gratification if necessary and never feel it’s necessary to "win at any cost." They realize they are as they choose to be, every day.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful For Thanksgiving

gary c. rettinger

Today is a day like no other in this land of opportunity, abundance and caring.  Today we are at and in a time that for many is a landscape that is unsettling and unfamiliar yet with tremendous hope.  We are a people and a country that when it comes down to it has an amazing capacity to reach out for, look out for and help back up our friends, family, neighbors and even perfect strangers.  For me this means everything as it's a backbone that both binds us together and builds us up as an even greater version of who we have been.

What began in 2008 seems to have certainly affected us all and for some in an earth-shattering manner that never was a part of the plan.  Families have been depressed and severed yet there is hope.  Careers, homes and accounts have been decimated yet there is hope.  The sun continues to shine, the pace of life carries on with a bustle nonetheless and the greatest of comebacks and reunions are being planned and coming into place right as we speak.

Where it all begins is with being thankful, you know having unending gratitude and knowing you have a lot to give of the gifts you've been given which are the very same gifts we all need from you.  Find the energy in the love you have inside you to share those gifts as when you do we all will feel it.  When you make this choice piece by piece our collective strength strengthens and the mood brightens and when that happens our greatest days become more and more the reality.  We have a tremendous power as just the one person we are to affect so positively millions of people.  For some it is with words and for all it is with deeds and for some they are one in the same.

Thanksgiving is the gathering of all of what we are at our best in how we are with one another.  We do have sincere appreciation for one another and with that spirit all that is good great and even better is possible.  That's why I am simply thankful for Thanksgiving in and of itself.  How about for you?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Respecting the Process - Trusting Myself

This month as we talk about the many aspects of respect, my ears have tuned in to hear the word respect used in many contexts. 

I have heard "gotta respect the process" several times this past week. It hits close to home as I work to grow and strengthen Character Counts! here in Jacksonville. 

I have been working for the past year to build a vision and am slowly but surely seeing it come to life. As a designer and corporate survivor, I am generally the push hard-schedule tight, kind of gal, yet I build this non-profit, I have learned more than ever that I must allow the process to evolve and take it's course. 
I of course am responsible to create goals, take action and keep focused. With this said, I have learned that as this vision evolves it includes more people and hence requires greater clarity. It is this process that I have come to respect and honor more than ever in my career. 

In the past I built visions that involved products and services in the commercial world. Today I am building a vision that is in the social, emotional and ethical world. It requires a whole different sensitivity and perspective on process. 

I am so blessed to bear witness to the hearts and spirits of the people I work with and for. It is this experience that helps me to rest back into what I trust within myself. I know that the work of Character Counts! is vital to our evolving community. I openly bring others to the table to help the vision blossom to meet the needs of our city. It is this organic process of collaboration and hope that I respect! It comes with a bit of ambiguity, a bit of fear and requires a huge dose of faith!

As I respect this process, it helps me to respect the views of all involved and understand the needs that come with those views. Gaining respect for diverse views helps the solutions we create to be more affective. It is this outcome that helps me take leaps of faith with this process day to day.

I ask you, what process are you involved in? And what do you respect about it?

Florence Haridan
A little music to set things straight! - Too Much Information!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Elegant Respect & Citizenship In Atlanta Hartsfield

A wonderfully moving moment just happened in just the right way and at just the right time in the middle of the bustle and blindness in Atlanta's Hartsfield airport, one of the busiest on the planet.  As my wife was in the middle of it a group of maybe 150 military men and women approached and as Rena explained it everyone was completely tuned in to their own little worlds found in our handhelds and the "social comfort for 1" better known as our favorite coffee drink from Starbucks or some imposter.  What happened next was absolutely astonishing and filled everyone there's heart in the most unexpected and spontaneous of ways. The dynamic energy and commitment to this great nation of ours was felt with a palpability to the point that everyone immediately stopped what they were doing looked up and applauded with an intensity and unity that's rare to experience outside of a concert or sporting event and neither of those carries even close to the same gravity of what was unfolding in the airport monday.  This is what it's all about to me when we speak and think of what respect and citizenship are and the immeasurable value they carry in bonding us all together as Americans.

There's a constant theme that keeps revealing itself to me in recent days and weeks that the way to truly live life to the highest potential of our God-given gifts and happiness and to the happiness of those we touch is to keep ourselves shining in gratitude, giving to others we can assist with in finding their success and generating an uplifting positive energy that becomes an affliction everyone's after.  This is the way I've come to see with a crystalizing clarity.  This is an engine from which respect and citizenship rule the road with a speed and precision that's unsurpassable.  With it we move our days, our homes, our towns, our cities, our states and our very nation with coordination, synchronicity and success.  Without it we gum up the works, everything's a task, little really gets done and discord is the uneasy result leaving harmony and meaning in the dust.

Yes, it's that big, in fact it's vital to our very future well-being that we all play our part in living respect and citizenship.  Do it in your own way yet let others see and by all means let others receive all the good inside you.  Who is the last person you said thank you to?  Ever wonder what it's like to make a perfect stranger's day perfect?  Live your own "Hartsfield moment," after all what do we all have to gain from you?

gary c. rettinger

Sunday, November 13, 2011

R E S P E C T | Taking A Stand!

This month as we continue the conversation about respect, I find myself turning within to look at my own sense of self respect. I found this quote and am inspired by the simplicity of the thought. Dignity and self respect with discipline.

At many times in my life I was unable to say no to myself. I did what ever I wanted, when ever I wanted, regardless of those around me. I never thought about how my actions would affect others. As I learned that the ability to say no to habits of mind and body affected how I felt about myself, I began to learn to love myself. It was that sense of self love that taught me to respect others abilities to say no. 

As I learned to respect a sense of boundaries, I began to understand the give and take that is necessary for balanced healthy relationships. Each and every time I stand for what I believe is right for me, I am able to better understand when others do the same. 

I recently had to step away from a project that I had invested almost nine months of time into. The individuals on the project were unable to respect or honor the perspectives I brought to the table, that I firmly believe in. I had sensed this at the very start of the project and had consciously decided to stick with it. As the months progressed, I began to feel belittled and undervalued. The ideas I believed in were not valued and I allowed myself to feel unvalued. 

When I stepped back and looked at the beliefs I was beginning to compromise. It became easy to step away and stand for what I know is right. My sense of self respect became stronger than ever. I stepped away respectfully and am able to look back knowing that the things I stood for are based on a sense of respect for self and others in the right balance. 

What a great place and space to be! Many lessons later, I stand proud of how I handled the situation, others and myself. Respect and discipline have made me a stronger leader and woman!

What have you had to stand for?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gary Rettinger - Our new blogger!

I met Gary several years ago and was immediately drawn to his amazing passion for life. He is an active philanthropist and dedicated to helping others pursue a path of self discovery.

with my nephew & my father
Gary Rettinger’s life’s been one far less ordinary and quite spectacular at the same time. Having an unending passion for music’s been a guiding force in his life from an affinity for drumming to a quest to find the greatest of music. Writing’s been a gift he’s most recently shared with his insights and lessons he’s gained in finding our highest and best inner-happiness at Having a passion for making kids happy has seen the recent creation of the ongoing adventure “written” by his kitten Aspen at Finding a tremendous satisfaction in helping people become healthier in helping themselves fills his time as well – And, now he’s honored to help further the beautiful vision and mission of Character Counts! in Jacksonville in sharing his perspective from a life full of beautiful relationships and most fortunate experiences.

Gary’s at his absolute best when he’s connecting with people in a meaningful manner with plenty of laughs along the way. Levity’s a natural gift, photography’s a joy and skiing’s next to heaven for him. Gary has three loving cats and an amazingly nurturing, supportive and loving family of friends. Gratitude and a smile carries him far and wide.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Living Inside the 6 Pillars With Entrepreneur & Humanitarian Jim Bailey

Always ready with a smile!
Entrepreneur & Humanitarian Jim Bailey

It's an exceptional person with the character and fortitude to both at once understand and then lead the way in life with the foundation of trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.  That's quite a bevy of accountability to one's self and to all those around us like say your wife and your 6 daughters and a company full of dedicated employees, isn't it?  Yet, there's a silver lining that most surely leads one onto a primrose path as it's said. Maybe that's better seen as your personal avenue paved in gold.  And this is exactly where Jim Bailey's in effect chosen to be from a "decision" that was thrust upon him at an early age when fate stepped in and taking over for his father found Jim abandoning his path and giving everything he had to help his family at it's greatest time of need with their now century-old company Bailey Publishing.  Both his commitment and the clear foundation that had already been 64 years in the making when Jim came aboard 36 years ago have proven to find Bailey Publishing (the Daily Record - as a strong and well-anchored local company to this day.  That's come from Jim's leadership and the wealth of talent he's been so fortunate to have throughout the years. "You don't become successful unless you have people around you who you respect and trust" says Jim.  Respect and trust of course are 2 of the 6 pillars for which Character Counts! is founded upon and for which Jim speaks of front and center as to the core of his and Bailey Publishing's success. 

It flows from there as to why Jim believes heavily in the mission of Character Counts!.  "I get a great deal of pleasure out of seeing other people succeed" says Jim which is the very essence of what it's all about in life.   Jim looks for ways every day to help people in some way believing that's what goodwill is all about.  In other words as the time-tested tenet in life says so quickly and accurately you get what you give so why not give a lot? 

As for the pillar of responsibility that's every bit as much of primary importance to Jim as he speaks of the vital necessity of "managing expectations" and taking tremendous care in meeting those expectations at home, in his heavily-active business life leading his company and sitting on the boards of a number of organizations and of course with his focused humanitarian efforts just the same.  It's this attention to not passing the buck so-to-speak that keeps Jim eagle-eyed and resolved to go to every extra measure to deliver to his clients, to the team that makes up his company and to the noble mission undertaken every day with Character Counts!.

Citizenship offered it's hand yet again to Jim in needing his expertise and care just this week and as a result we'll all see and enjoy a time-honored and happily-lighted tradition on the river once again this holiday season.  Jim's a leader simply because he's stepped in, stepped up and given his family, his company Bailey Publishing, Jacksonville and Character Counts! his all.  Let inspiration take hold within each and every one of us and find your "inner-Jim" as we walk toward a better and brighter today and tomorrow just the same.

gary c. rettinger

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Respect's the Constant Winning Ticket

Guest blogger:
gary c. rettinger

That’s a heavy one, isn’t it?  It’s also an excellent musical gem from a land far far ago called “the 1960’s” - - and then again it’s a vital aspect of whether or not we carry through our days with a smile in the soul or an ever-darkening cloud that casts a pall over everything.  At an early age some of us were very fortunate to have respect ingrained in us for the essential “life-element” it so vitally is and then there are many who were denied what it is to feel respect and all that comes with it.  The beautiful thing is is that it’s never too late. 

From your own burning inner-desire to the way of the world and what it’ll bring you with the right heart and intentions to the never-ending grace of God, respect can be gained, had, and forever added to the equation of you as a golden thread to everything you are just by asking.  That’s it.  When you really understand what’s in your heart you’ll always respect yourself, you’ll always respect others, and you’ll certainly always respect the gift you’ve been given in having life itself. 

No question about it for some of us we look around and don’t yet have what we want and that’s because we don’t yet see it in our mind’s eye as coming straight from the steadfast clarity inside our soul.  However, it’s of the greatest importance to realize we simply need to choose to see what we will have regardless of what we didn’t get growing up that we absolutely deserved.  That’s the test of where you’ll go and all it requires is that vision blanketed in an unwavering faith in yourself and even more in the big guy up in the clouds.  It’s that easy, kinda. 

Or you can stay in the world where “everyone else is saying it, everyone else is doing it and I’m gonna, too” when you know very well you’re shackling yourself.  Don't you feel you deserve better and that it’s out there?  Do you really?  Trust me it’s there for the taking, the good life begins and ends in respect.

Respect feeds right into the law of attraction for which we all know brings us exactly what we’re bathing in.  So make it a golden light and not a rusty old tub without a shine to be seen or even a sliver of soap to clean the uncleanly.  Just walk away and right into the scene you know holds the truth and space for you to have everything where a life truly well-lived and well-earned resides. 

Can you believe it’s really there?  It really is yet you’ll never ever know unless you take that step.  For those who were graced with all the majesty that respect carries with it you’re most fortunate and with this blessing much is required.  For you it’s the honor of simply sharing the right way with the one who is looking and longing for just that.  Do that and respect delivers it’s greatest gift helping the world ever-so-closer to the haven of grace it truly can be.  Are you in?