Do You Return Your Shopping Cart?

Do You Return Your Shopping Cart?

Do you find that to be an interesting question? If you were to be completely honest, do you only return it when someone is watching? Do you never because you think, someone is hired to come gather up the carts and that is not my job?

(Before I go any further, please know there are obvious exceptions. This question is for those that are able to make a choice: to return the cart or not. If physical disabilities or family safety prevents you from returning the cart, then this article is not for you. However, please keep reading.)

Do you have a pet peeve? This happens to be one of mine. Watching someone abandon their cart and watch it roll into a car or take up a parking space, or roll into the line of cars driving past, has made me stop and think, ‘there is more to this than meets the eye’. I believe there are two kinds of people in the world…cart returners and cart discarders. Whichever one you are, I believe, says a lot about you.

Are you someone that takes the time to walk their cart back, no matter what. It could be raining. You could be in a hurry. Your 3 year old could be crying. I believe you are someone that thinks of others first. To make excuses, leave the cart half way up on the curb shows one thing about that person…it is all about THEM.

Those that take the time, you are showing you care about the people that work at the store. You do not expect someone else to do it for you. You are not selfish.

To take it one step further. When you see an elderly person walking their cart back, do you offer to take it for them? This all shows you care about helping others.

What else does being a cart returner say about you? It says you are disciplined. When it is raining, or a child is crying, or NO ONE is looking and you STILL walk your cart back, it is moments like these that define you. WHAT?? Returning a silly old cart. YES! There are times in everyone’s life when it is easier to NOT do the right thing. Walking the short distance shows you are disciplined. You are committed to a moral standard that you won’t break. Discipline is something that people admire. Disciplined people are able to achieve a whole lot more in life than undisciplined people.

It has been said, “How you do some things is how you do all things.” Being selfish and undisciplined about returning the cart. Does that trait show up in other things? Yes.

The beginning of this article is intended to somewhat entertain, although I do believe the premise. What this is all about is CHARACTER.

What is character? What does a person with high moral character ‘look’ like? My John Maxwell Certification included a youth leadership program for us to use with young people called Youth Max. This program included 4 modules: positive self esteem, overcoming fear of failure, stand up and be counted (anti bullying), and character development. Within the character developoment module, one lesson the kids could relate to was the definition of character being, what you do when no one is looking. I knew this would get their attention. At this age, pushing boundaries and not getting caught is very relevant. Needless to say, this was an important discussion and important lesson. Why? When all is said and done, your character is more important to becoming a successful, flourishing adult than your talent.

It is not uncommon for very talented people to be noticed and acknowledged. However, without a strong character, they rarely stay in the limelight for long.

My mentor, and world renowned leadership expert, John Maxwell says:

  • “Talented people are praised for what other people see them build. Character builds what is inside.
  • Talented people are sometimes tempted to take shortcuts. Character prevents that.
  • Talented people may feel superior and expect special privileges. Character helps them know better.
  • Talented people have the potential to be difference makers. Character makes the difference in them.
  • Talented people are a gift to the world. Character protects that gift.”

Based on the work of Dr. Allan Zimmerman of Trans4mind, here are some answers to two questions:

What is character?

How do I build a strong character?


  1. HAVING the right values.
    When asked what do you want out of life? Common answers are, “I want to be happy”. Or “I want to be successful”.  Have you ever heard, “I want to be good.”?
  2. DOING the right thing.
    People of character know there is no right way to do the wrong thing. They also know there is never a wrong time to do the right thing. When I work with parents, I encourage them to teach their children to do what’s right, no mater how hard that is. I teach that this is a good basis for decision making. Ask, “Is my decision the right one or is it simply the easiest one?” People of character choose the right decision.
  3. BEING the right kind of person.
    What are the character traits of someone that is BEING the right kind of person? To give only a few:
    Someone that is honest, courageous, optimistic, kind…could go on and on. It is important to know, we all have work to do when it comes to improving his/her character. It is never too late to begin growing your character. Here are a few ideas.


  1. Be a life long learner.
    Unless you are continuously learning and growing, you are falling behind. Each day is a new day. Life is changing fast. To stay relevant, continuously seeking education is vital to a strong character. “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” Jim Rohn
  2. Pursue excellence.
    Only you know if you have done and been the best you could be. To the person of character, that is all that matters.
    “The choice to be excellent begins with aligning your thoughts and words with the intention to require more of yourself.” Unknown author
  3. Practice persistence.
    People of character are known for their persistence. My son who was a swimmer in high school once told me when I began swimming laps for exercise, “When you think you have swam as many as you possibly can, swim one more.” I never forgot that and have applied that thought to so many things in my life. You too may be surprised that you are capable of so much more than you think.
  4. Decide to be determined.
    Success rarely happens overnight and success rarly happens without learning from mistakes. Do you possess a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? Carol Dweck pioneered this concept. From what I have learned from her, I teach teachers to praise children on their effort and process rather than results and outcomes. This kind of consistent praise results in children that love challenges and learning instead of fearing failure.  Along the same thought, I have taught my grandchildren this mantra, “When things are hard, I try harder.” Another quote I heard by Roscoe Dunjee, “Some people succeed because they are destined to, most succeed because they are determined to.”Building character takes intention and awareness. Awareness of those you look up to and admire. Awareness as to who you want to be known as. Awareness as to what you want to be remembered as being. At the end of the day, the quality and depth of your life, your relationships, and your career is deeply affected by your level of character. Next time you are finished emptying that shopping cart, return it to where it belongs. That walk back to your car will be one filled with victory and pride knowing you just demonstrated you are a person of GOOD CHARACTER!!
Make a Difference in the World…One Ripple at a Time

Make a Difference in the World…One Ripple at a Time

What legacy do you want to leave when you look back, at the end of your life? Want to make a difference, know your life mattered? Want to be remembered because you made the world a little bit better?

I believe we all do want to know our life and its influence does matter. Then why is there so much confusion as to how to create certainty about this for ourselves? Perhaps finding some clarity in 4 key areas could help.



Every one of us have our own unique, blueprint of a life that fulfills the purpose for which we were created. This blueprint was designed even before we were in our mother’s womb. Each of our jobs is to find clarity as to exactly what that purpose looks like. Have you struggled trying to determine what that purpose of yours is? Meditation each morning, while your mind has not become distracted by the world is a great way to begin. Within each of us lies so many seeds of desire, yearning to be planted, fed, and harvested. The Latin meaning of desire is, to birth. Pay attention to the desires that emerge as being a part of your purpose, yearning to be expressed in your life.


So many, in fact most of our deepest desires are based on actions we have never taken, ways we have not lived before. All new ways to walk, things to try, are scary, would you not agree? The biggest deterrent of walking down the path of your purpose if FEAR. Fear of failing, fear of rejection, fear of basically looking dumb. To overcome fear, courage is required. This means looking fear square in the eyes and pushing through even though you may fail and knowing that by not quitting will eventually get on the other side. This place is where transformation and huge personal growth happens. You are not the same…instead, better than you were before.


This word has powerful meaning. I truly believe, this is why we are on this earth, to produce significant lives for ourselves. Significant means what you do matters to others and to the world. This is where the concept of ripples in the water of life comes in. To me, ripples symbolizes the kind of influence we have in the world, every single day. We ALL have influence, the minute we wake up until the moment we lie our head on the pillow at night. However, our influence can be either positive or negative. Both Hitler and Christ had influence. See the difference. Part of living a life of significance is one that is a life fulfilling your purpose by building your muscle of courage. Why does all of this matter? That leads to my last part.


I believe the reason we are born is so we create, teach, impact, model…whatever it is for you, a life that leaves ripples that carry on long after each of us are gone. All people’s lives are living examples when filled with character and good choices, as hard as they may be, and the way they have handled failure, conflict, sadness, injustice, success…every component of life. All of these will be a part of the legacy imparted on future generations. How will you look back on this very chapter of your life? Will it be written in a way that leaves important ripples? Every single person you touch on a daily basis is affected by who you are, the example your life shines in the world.

I have only dipped our toes into these thoughts about ripples in the water of life. What will you do with these thoughts? THAT is your choice.

Napoleon Hill and Mastermind Groups

Napoleon Hill and Mastermind Groups

In his book, “Think and Grow Rich,” he talked about something called a “mastermind alliance.” He goes on to describe a mastermind group as, “A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose.”

In his book, “Master Key to Riches,” Napoleon Hill says, “Every mind needs friendly contact with other minds, for food of expansion and growth.” To Hill mastermind groups are established to help create an environment that nurtures and supports growth.

Notice how he uses the word “friendly” throughout his discussion of mastermind groups? Hill believed that a harmonious groups of two or more people who come together for a specific purpose, or around a specific topic, bring forth the power of creativity and support that you can’t find when you go it alone. Napoleon Hill feels so strongly about this that he says in Your Magic Power to be Rich, “Maintain perfect harmony between yourself and every member of your master mind group. If you fail to carry out this instruction to the letter, you may expect to meet with failure. The master mind principle cannot obtain where perfect harmony does not prevail.” That’s a strong message about what makes a mastermind group succeed or fail.

In Hill’s book, “The Law of Success,” he adds another element to the idea of a mastermind group: the group helps to organize useful knowledge, creating a virtual encyclopedia from which each member can draw information.

When starting a mastermind group, or joining an existing one, look for these three hallmarks: friendly, growth-oriented, and willing to share information.