Friday, February 26, 2010

Let Me Sing You a Song

It has been said, “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” (Page 143 Aspire, by Kevin Hall)

With that in mind, would you mind if I sing you a song? Maybe you’ve forgotten some of the words. It happens to me sometimes. How embarrassing when the conductor looks at me and cues me to sing, but I haven’t even turned to the right page. I’m clearly lost.

If you’ve momentarily lost your place, if you’ve forgotten the lyrics to your song of life, here are a few of the words to refresh your memory.

God loves you.
You are special.
No one has your finger print or foot print.
You are a unique specimen and cannot be duplicated.
Failure is not final. Never has been, never will be.
You have capabilities, just like everyone else.
Go with your strengths. What are you best at?

I think the second verse goes like this:

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
(Invictus, William Ernest Henley. 1849-1903)

You can’t be invincible if you are feeling down, deflated, out of gas and out of air. That is when you need a friend to come along side you, one who knows the song in your heart. Let them sing your song to you. The words will come back to you.

In his book, Aspire, Kevin Hall tells of a man named Arthur Watkins, a retired university professor who devoted his life to etymology, the study of words. Listen to what Arthur has to say about the word "inspire"
“Inspire” comes from the Latin “inspirare”, which means to breathe, and “in” implies “into”. To inspire is to “breathe into.”

How can you and I “breathe into” someone today?

Arthur continues, “When you 'encourage,' you add to someone’s heart."

As I sit writing this blog, I just received the most encouraging email from a long-ago friend with whom I recently reconnected on Face Book. Wilbur’s words breathed into my spirit. Wow! What encouraging words he said to me. He “added to my heart.”

Words have a tremendous power for good in our world.

Words can bring hope.
Words can encourage.
Words can inspire.
Words can calm.
Words can heal.
Words can uplift.
Words can sooth.
Words can teach.
Words can lighten.
Words can stop discord.
Words can change a direction.
Words can restore a relationship.

That is what I love to do. I seek to find a way to encourage someone every day that I live. Maya Angelou puts it this way:

“People will forget what you said,
People will forget what you did,
But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

What words can we speak to someone today? Do you know someone whose light has gone out of their spirit? Is their pathway dark and stormy?

Come along side of them, and sing to them their song.

On the journey together,

Friday, February 19, 2010

I'll Never Lose My Vision

Three years ago I had the privilege of meeting Dr. David LaShana, former chancellor of three successful institutions of higher learning. During our visit I had the chance to ask him about a time when he called on J.C. Penney. I want to pass this story along to you.

While Dr. LaShana was President of Taylor University in Fort Wayne, Indiana he scheduled an appointment with J. C. Penney, the founder of the chain of stores that bear his name. When he entered Mr. Penney’s office, he found Mr. Penney sitting behind his desk holding Dr. LaShana’s business card and moving it back and forth as if to bring it into better focus.

Mr. Penney looked up at Dr. LaShana, cleared his throat and said, “You’ll have to forgive me. I’m losing my vision.”

Mr. Penney stopped abruptly, slammed his hand down on his desk and said in a raised voice, “No, that’s not right. I’m losing my eyesight. I’ll never lose my vision!”

Wow! What a profound statement. “I’ll never lose my vision!”

I have a plaque on my office wall at home that reads,


How is your vision?

I recently read a great new book called Three Feet from Gold, written by Sharon L. Lechter, CPA and Greg S. Reid, based on the principles of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. In it the authors’ state “Every wealth creator is crystal clear about two things: a vision and a mission.” (Page 105)

I’ve read dozens of books on success and hundreds of articles, and all of the writers are in complete agreement on this one fact – "You must believe it before you can see it." (Three Feet from Gold, by Sharon L. Lechter, CPA and Greg S. Reid, Page 127)

Henry David Thoreau states “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”

In the Bible, Hebrews Chapter 11:1 states “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (New American Standard Bible © 1995)

What are your dreams? What is your vision? Are you moving toward it? Is it vivid in your mind’s eye? Can you sense it, taste it, imagine it and see it? I can. I know what my dream is and I have a plan for accomplishing it. My dream is to offer hope, encouragement and inspiration one word at a time to individuals and organizations.

Let’s move toward our dreams, hold them close and visit them often so that we never lose sight of our chief aim in life.

"Sight is a function of the eyes; vision is a function of the heart. Vision sets you free from the limitations of what the eyes can see and allows you to enter into the liberty of what the heart can feel. Never let your eyes determine what your heart believes.” Pg 91 (Aspire by Kevin Hall

“I’ll Never Lose My Vision”
Michael Biggs is a speaker, writer, speech coach and vocal soloist. He lives in Edmonds, WA. with his wife Carolyn. His company is called Up-Words, “Offering Hope, Encouragement, and Inspiration One Word at a Time”. He is available to speak to your business or organization. Please contact him at 206-349-1888 or email him at

Friday, February 12, 2010

Holding On To Essentials

When I was in the seventh grade, our small high school band allowed our seventh grade band members to join with them and march at the football half-time performances. I played drums and the drum assigned to me the first two years was the tenor drum.

When I went into my freshman year I graduated to the snare drum and was given an old Slingerland snare drum. It sounded horrible, but I played it and loved it.

During my first half-time show as a brand new snare drummer we lined up on the end zone line and the majorette blew the whistle for us to begin.

Between the end-zone line and the goal-line I dropped one drum stick. I had to throw off the snares and help keep the beat with one stick, like I used to do with the tenor drum.

Between the goal-line and the ten-yard line I dropped the other stick. I had to march 90 more yards and not play one single beat on my snare drum during this, my first half-time show in my career as a snare drummer. You see, I dropped my essentials and that put me out of commission.

When I reflect back on this incident, here is what I take away from it.

Hold onto your essentials!

What am I talking about?

In life, there are some essentials that we all must hold on to in order to be effective. These would be the principles that we always fall back on and always hold close at all times in every situation when dealing with people.

Skills like:
Remember people’s names. Develop some handles and tips for remembering names. It matters.

Use appropriate eye contact. Look them in the eye. After all, you have nothing to hide. You are honest, trustworthy, and an upright individual. Give appropriate eye contact to every person you meet.

Know your product line. Know the significant facts about what you represent. Know how it helps, how it benefits their life, how it is new and improved, and what it does better than brand X or Y.

First Impressions Matter. Remember, in face-to-face meetings you have thirty seconds to two minutes to make a good first impression. You are being judged on everything from speech patterns, volume, words used, to your body posture, eyes, hands, clothes, and facial expressions, slump of your shoulders and a myriad of other signals you may or may not be aware that you are emitting.

These are the essentials. In your line of work I’m certain you could add a dozen more, and it is a good idea to do that. This is important.

Let me leave you with one final word that I learned a long time ago from Mary Kay Ash’s book People Management. . This is perhaps THE most important essential in human relationship building that you can learn.

“Imagine that every person you meet
Is wearing an invisible sign around
their neck that says

Remember this and then adjust your relationships in terms of this thought. Watch the difference in how you begin to relate to people and how they relate to you.

And always remember ...

Hold On To Your Essentials!
Michael Biggs is a speaker, writer, and vocal soloist. He lives in Edmonds, WA. with his wife Carolyn. His company is called Up-Words, “Offering Hope, Encouragement, and Inspiration One Word at a Time”. He is available to speak to your business or organization. Please contact him at 206-349-1888 or email him at

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Only Know Two Notes

When I lived in Waco, Texas I was asked to direct music for a Baptist Church in the community of China Spring. That church was full of wonderful, loving people and I made some good friends during my time there.

It soon became apparent to me that we had a lot of budding young musicians and some adults who were instrumentalists and they needed an outlet for their talents, so we formed a church orchestra in the fall of 1994. We planned, promoted, bought the music, and invited all of the musicians we could find from that congregation and we launched our church orchestra on a beautiful sunny Sunday in late September.

Twenty-two people showed up that first Sunday. And they sounded pretty good to me, all things considered, when one considers the vast range of skills represented among our group. But I’ll never forget what happened after that first Sunday morning rehearsal.

Carrie, an 8th grade trombone player came up to me after rehearsal. She looked sad, almost as if she was about to burst into tears.

She said, “Mr. Biggs. I only know two notes.”

I looked at her, smiled and said, “That’s OK, Carrie. Every time those two notes show up on the page you play them to the best of your ability, and next week you’ll know three notes, then five, and pretty soon you’ll be able to play the whole song.”

Guess what? She did learn. She did play. So did we all. We were at varying levels in our skill development, but we pulled together, we had fun, we learned, and we made music together.

So, how many notes do you know? College graduation was not the end. It was a commencement! It was the beginning! How exciting is that? This is the key: we keep learning and growing.

My career path has taken me lots of places, with some completely different career tracks, including music, insurance, retail sales, real estate, education, professional writing and speaking. Along the way I’ve continued to add notes to my repertoire. I’m no longer a one-note samba.

I love what public speaker and humorist Charlie “Tremendous” Jones was fond of saying. “You’ll be the same person five years from now that you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Ah, that’s the secret isn’t it? Books and people. Reading and life experiences. Are we exposing ourselves to other minds? What have you learned lately? That’s the significant question.

I’ve been fortunate to have some major “minds” in my life along the way. In the mid 70’s I had a friend named Dan, a professor at Seattle Pacific University. Every time we got together he always found a way to challenge my thinking and open my eyes to new ways of viewing things.

My friend Steve was in public relations, and times spent with him were revelations in how to look at things from a different perspective and view life from all angles.

Jim taught me much about my relationship with God and helped me form my God-concept.

When I worked retail we were required to complete learning tutorials about every three to four months on some new product that was being introduced. That kept us sharp and up to speed so that we could best represent our wares.

What’s new in your field? What resources are available to you for your skill development?

What have you read recently?

How are your people skills? Have you read any great books lately on getting along with people?

How is your home life? Are you stuck in the rut or are you trying fun, fresh activities to keep the spark alive and the family close?

How many notes do you know?

Michael Biggs is a speaker, writer, speech coach and vocal soloist. He lives in Edmonds, WA. with his wife Carolyn. His company is called Up-Words, “Offering Hope, Encouragement, and Inspiration One Word at a Time”. He is available to speak to your business or organization. Please contact him at 206-349-1888 or email him at