Reunion at Reunion

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As a coach I get to work with Extraordinary People. It is truly a benefit that I didnt consider when I discovered this vocation. Coaching could change the lives of the majority of the population, yet a very small percentage of people are the ones who show up. 

I would like to think that after 18 years of coaching thousands of people, I have made a difference in many of their lives. I would like to think that, but I know without a doubt they have made a huge difference in mine. I know I am a very different person than I was when I started out. Spending time with Extraordinary People has that kind of effect on you.


Last summer the Club Foundation asked if I would attend an event in Florida in January called Reunion at Reunion. It was an event put on by a wonderful organization called Tee it up for the Troops. In the next six months I had a number of phone calls with Tim Wegscheid and Jodi Baer explaining the concept of the event. They told me that when military personnel are in war zones they have combat buddies. They form an extraordinary bond and their lives depend upon it. When one of them gets hurt they are shipped off for treatment and it is not unusual that they might never see each other again. One of the things this organization does is an event to bring these people back together. They create a wonderful environment around the game of golf where truly amazing things happen. Their vision is to help wounded veterans do these four things.


Heal, Transition, Grow, and Thrive.


There were about 35 reunions. There were caregivers, sponsors, and support from Tee it up for the Troops. The group was small enough that it was possible to spend time with everyone over the four days of the event. It was amazing to watch people show up in whatever stage of healing, transitioning, growing, or thriving they were in, and then see changes throughout the four days.


They shared their stories. They were back with people who understood them. They were not alone. They were laughing and having fun. They were playing a game that some said saved their lives. They were being honored, appreciated, and taken care of.


I met them. I spent time with them. I heard their stories. I was with them in laughter and in tears. I saw their strength and sometimes it showed up in vulnerability. They were open about their pain and their limitations. They were changing because of the experience.


It was an amazing event. The veterans got so much and I cant imagine that many left without being changed by the experience.


I was changed. Here are some of the things I learned.



We all need to understand perspective. The problems that most of us face pale in comparison to what some of the people I met face. The problems they face sometimes pale in comparison to people they know with much bigger problems. What kind of power do we give to our challenges? What kind of fuel do we get from focusing on our blessings?



Although I was hanging out with tough military people who might see love as a soft, pathetic emotion, I saw so much love. I saw the love they had for each other. I saw the love they gave and received from their caregivers. I saw love of country. I saw love doing what they did. I saw love for the person there beside them.



The game of golf has been a passion of mine since I was 12 years old. I have worked in and around golf for most of my adult life. I love the game, but I saw it differently at this event. I truly saw that lives can be changed by a game. Things could be said on a golf cart that might not be said in a classroom or a coaching session. I learned that it can be played with one arm, no legs, an injured brain, and little experience. It creates magic!



There are so many people that care about and care for wounded veterans. There are people and organizations doing things that blew me away. There are also the caregivers who married these men and women. In most cases the person they married is different than the one who came home. I had the chance to understand their challenges. I had the chance to see their strength. These people are true heroes.



Isolation is the enemy. Get help! Get moving! Get out there!



The idea that you would never want to let your team down is such an understatement with this group of people. The loyalty to go back and be injured for the second or third time was what I saw.


Common Ground

We live in a world where the idea that if you are not like me, you must be wrong or bad. The opposite was exhibited here. It didnt matter if you were Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or a Reservist. It didnt matter if you were male or female, black or white, born in this country or born somewhere else. Everyone was a human being doing the best they could to live a good life and give a good life to their families.



I saw the power of not stopping until the mission is accomplished.



The displays of gratitude for these men and women and from these men and women will not soon be forgotten.


An Open Mind

When we have an open mind we can learn from everyone. When our mind is closed it is hard to learn from anyone.


I am sure I have not come close to conveying the respect I have for everyone involved in this event. I hope I have conveyed the gratitude I have for being asked to participate.

KevinKevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA and can be reached at 1-866-822-3481 toll free. 


A Million Dreams

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A Million Dreams

A Million Dreams

It seems that during the holidays we find time to do things that we might not usually do. One of those things for me was going to a movie theater to watch a movie. Even more unusual for me was that I was going to watch a musical. We went to see “The Greatest Showman”. In this movie Hugh Jackman plays Phineas Taylor Barnum. We loved the movie for a number of reasons but it left me thinking over and over about the power of the dream.


“’Cause every night I lie in bed

The brightest colors fill my head

A million dreams are keeping me awake

I think of what the world could be

A vision of the one I see

A million dreams is all its gonna take

A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make”


Whether this is being sung by a young, poor, destitute PT Barnum, his adult version or with his young girlfriend or future wife the idea that no matter who we are, no matter how young or how old, we have the opportunity to dream.


But maybe it is like going to a movie theater to see a musical. Perhaps it is a rare occurrence when we take the time to dream. Perhaps we are too busy. Perhaps there are way too many “real” things to deal with to take time for the unreal. Perhaps we have had dreams in the past and they didn’t work out and we don’t want to delude ourselves again. Perhaps we have had dreams in the past that did come true and we don’t want to try some new ones that might not. Perhaps we are brilliant dreamers and we don’t even know it. Perhaps we have been dreaming in the form of fear and worry and some of those dreams have come true. Perhaps we have had dreams and when they come true we diminish the power of having the dream in the first place.


I have a dream! It’s not a big dream, it is just a little dream. My dream, and I hope you don’t think this is crazy, is that every person who reads this article would take a little time to dream. What do you think would happen if everyone took some time out of their busy schedules and the reality of the way things are, to dream about the way they want things to be? What would happen if everyone who took this challenge passed this article on to people who deserve to take some time to dream?


If you are ready to dream, let’s go!

Here are some questions that can be answered by the chorus above and some thoughts of mine.

How often should I dream? Every night! It could be during the day as well. It could be once a week or once a month, but it is a good habit to practice.


What should I put in my head? The brightest colors. Powerful, inspiring, exciting dreams.

How many dreams should I have? A million dreams are keeping me awake. Ok, a million might be exhausting, but many, or as many as you would like. You are planting seeds. A farmer doesn’t plant one seed and hope to have a great harvest. Plant many seeds!


What should I dream about? Dream of the world you would like to create. Dream of the big things and the little things that will make that world a reality - some would say a new reality.


What should I do after I dream the dreams? Gonna take, gonna make. Have faith. They didn’t say may possibly, perhaps, if all goes well, take or make. They said “gonna”. When the belief is there, the thoughts, feelings and actions that it takes to make it happen can be engaged. There are some people who dream dreams with the conviction that their dreams will never come true. Then in some bizarre way seem to be proud that they were right when they don’t come true. You have a powerful mind! Use it to your benefit not your detriment.


You’re just a dreamer!

Some people have stopped dreaming because some significant person in their life discouraged them from dreaming. Some people are afraid of your dreams. Some people want to keep you safe from dreaming so you don’t get hurt. Maybe some are suggesting that all you do is dream. If all you do is dream you would be like a farmer who only plants seeds, but does nothing to nurture and harvest the crops.


You as a farmer!

Let’s assume your mind is fertile soil for dreams to be planted. When you have planted your seeds, whether you know it or not you have created energy. You have created energy in you. You have taken the effort to plant seeds, now you are motivated to make sure they grow. You will learn ways to bring those seeds to life and care for what they grow into. You will believe in, protect and nurture your crop and be grateful for the harvest you receive. But it isn’t just your energy that brought your dream to fruition. The energy of the soil, the sun, the water, the fertilizer, and the cool night air were all working along with you to make your dreams come true.


It starts with a dream!

It starts with a dream! If you don’t dream it you may become committed to someone else’s dream. That can work well too if you have connected to a really great dreamer. Please take the time to consider what is important to you. Have the courage to dream. Dream without limits! Be ok with some dreams not coming true. Many people we work with can’t believe that their dreams have come true.

Please take time to dream. Come up with one to one million dreams!


If you don’t have time to dream, go to the theater to see “The Greatest Showman”.

Kevin Let’s stay connected! Kevin MacDonald and  Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA 1-866-822-3481! 

The Gift of You!

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It is the time of year when a lot of people are thinking about gifts they can give to important people in their lives. Some will put great time and care into finding that perfect gift that someone you care about wants or needs. Some will send money or a gift card because that way the person will get what they really want and it reduces the risk of buying gifts that they are not thrilled with. This year in addition to choosing the strategy of gift giving that works for you, I would like to suggest that you give them the gift of you! Of course, there is the risk that you are not exactly what they were hoping for, but maybe they can see the gift differently this year.


The Gift of You: Your Time

Have you thought about how you might give you as a gift this year? Not just you, but this year a more present you! Currently, when time is such a present commodity what would it be like if you gave someone yours? Beyond the number of minutes and hours you give them, it is probably more about the presence you give them. How can you truly be with them in a meaningful way without distraction? When we had young children, we spent lots of time with the three of them, but found it important to create one on one time with each of them. It is a time when the recipient is the focus of your attention in an environment that is important to them. Maybe it is a time to talk, to play, to explore to build memories and just enjoy! Maybe it is one hour without devices. If time with you hasn’t been viewed as a great gift in the past, maybe it is time to redesign what time with you is like.


The Gift of You: Your Service

Many people who are reading this are truly service professionals. Many are experts in designing and leading world class service. If that is one or your gifts, perhaps it could be one or your gifts this year. How could you serve someone that would blow their mind? You could pick their loved one up at the airport, shovel their sidewalk, make them a dinner, sing them a song, knock three things off their “To Do” list, drive them home after a holiday party, deliver a spa treatment… if you are a service professional you can come up with an innovative idea!


The Gift of You: Not Your Judgment

If you can spend some time with loved ones in the next little while, truly give them you. Appreciate them for being who they are in all their perfect imperfection and perhaps they will be gracious enough to do the same for you. Some people get together with the people they love and spend the time telling them what they should do or how they should be different. Some people spend time with people who do that to them. What if this year we could let go of the need to be right or the need to control and replace it with the gratitude of having what we have?


The Gift of You! The Extraordinary You

What if this year you give them a different you? A reinvented you? An extraordinary you? What if you decided to give them a different version of you? It could be a more patient you, a more energetic you, a more grateful you, a more optimistic you, a more present you or a more fun you? Don’t underestimate the kind of gift you are. Don’t underestimate the kind of gift you could be.


The Gift of You! The Creative You

Whether you realize it or not you have a creative mind. You are creating things, experiences and stories all the time. What if this year you shared the gift of your creativity? Create a holiday environment, create an event, create a moment, create an experience, create a surprise, create a lifelong memory, create something big, create something small, but flex your creative muscles and create.


The Gift of You, to You

What if the recipient of the gift of you, is you? What if it is time to decide to be authentically you? The authentic you, not the you that others think you should be, or even worse the you that you think others think you should be, but the true you. Of course, you get to decide who that is and what it looks like, but it is your life, so you owe it to yourself to decide. It may be the greatest gift you ever receive.


The Gift of You, to the World

Ok, so maybe the world is not usually on your gift list, but maybe it is time to consider adding it to you list. The day you were born there was the potential that the world just got a little better. For some people on the planet there is no question that it did. You brought something different, special and truly unique. You had the potential to make the world a better place and you still do. You might ask “What difference can I make to the world?” You can make a big difference or a little difference. You can improve the lives of billions or you can improve the life of one. You can dream what nobody else has dreamed. You can show us the way. You can be an example for that one person who will show us the way. You can share your gifts. You can take your skills, your genius, your love or your generosity to a higher level. You can make an impression on the world while you are here.


You can share the gift of you!

Kevin Let’s stay connected! Kevin MacDonald and  Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA 1-866-822-3481! 

If Not Now, When?

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As coaches we have the opportunity to work with our clients at many stages of their lives and their careers. Some people are in a stage of repair when they are working on efforts to make a segment of their life better or to fix a problem. Some are in a stage of foundation where they are making sure that everything is in place to set them up for a more effortlessly successful life. Some are in a stage of reserves where things are in place and they have more than enough of the important things in life. Some come to us in a stage of mastery where they are thriving and they are living the life they have designed. 


Regardless of the stage that a person is in, there is an opportunity to look at something in their life and create an awareness of what is not working the way they want it, why, and then identify what they can do to change it. 


They also have a chance to dream about things they would like to do, places they would like go to and things they would like to be.


They can design and create the blueprint for the life, the adventures and the transformation they want to make.


But after all that is done the key to success comes in this little word: Decide.


Change can happen after 28 days, change can happen after 21 days, change can happen in a nanosecond. The change that happens in a nanosecond is what happens when you shift from “I am going to be” to “I am” or “one day I would like to go there” to “I just booked the trip”. 


There is no doubt that we make hundreds of decisions every day. Many of the decisions are to do today what we did yesterday. If that is what you truly choose to do that is great, but it might be time to decide on something that is really important to you instead on deciding on what is familiar and comfortable. You don’t have to decide, but you get to decide.


You can decide what you want to do, you can decide what you want to have, you can decide what you want to be. 


But let’s be clear – If you don’t decide then someone else will probably decide for you. When you have other people deciding for you don’t be surprised if you are not passionate and excited about their decision. 


I love these lyrics from the John Mellencamp’s song “Your Life is Now”:


Your life is now, your life is now, your life is now!


In this undiscovered moment, get your head up above the crowd. We could shake this world, If you would only show us how.


Your life is now!


Would you teach your children to tell the truth? Would you take the high road if you could choose? Do you believe you are a victim of a great compromise? ‘Cause I believe you change your mind and change our lives!


When you decide you can change your life. If you are a leader, when you decide, you can change many lives.


If not now, when?

  • When will you decide on how healthy you will be?
  • When will you decide to go where you always wanted to go?
  • When will you decide to do what you were meant to do?
  • When will you decide to step past your comfort zone?
  • When will you decide who you are going to be?
  • When will you decide to ask for what you deserve?
  • When will you decide to call and ask for support?
  • When will you take time to design the rest of your life?
  • When will you decide to get rid of that thing you have been tolerating?

I have a few challenges for you:

The first is to organize your bedroom closet. If by chance you have a very organized bedroom closet then consider organizing your office. I challenge you to decide to either have your bedroom closet organized by the end of today or one week from today. Your bedroom closet is often a great example of one of those things you plan to do one day. If not now, when? You will probably find that you have a lot of things in there that you never use. Let them go! You will probably find that they just take up space in your closet and in your mind. They make it difficult or at least a little more challenging to find the things you really need. Instead of taking two minutes to find what you are looking for you can find it in ten seconds in your organized closet. If you have a number of those moments per day you are leaking energy. What percentage of what you have, will you let go of? When you have an organized closet, enjoy it, and then notice how it parallels your life. You may have accumulated a lot of stuff, habits and people that are not working for you anymore. It may be time to decide! If not now, when? 

The second challenge is to decide what you would like to be, and then decide today to think, feel, and act like you already are that thing. If you want to be happy, healthy or wealthy, a photographer, a scuba diver, an eight handicap, or a rock star, decide today to think, feel, and act like you already are that. 

It is time to decide! Perhaps you decide on a theme or focus for this day or this week. Perhaps you decide to call that person who just came into your thoughts. Perhaps you decide to sign up for that course you have been passionate about taking. Perhaps you decide to take a day when you are absolutely disconnected from the world. 

You get to decide whatever you want to decide, but if not now, when? 

Kevin Let’s stay connected! Kevin MacDonald and  Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA 1-866-822-3481! 

Let’s Stay Connected!

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I think it was just after the Olympics when we got to spend a day with the Kueblers in Vancouver. We had a wonderful day with so many great experiences and conversations. I remember them telling us about two great restaurants in the Jupiter area. One was called “Leftovers” and the other was called “Harry and the Natives.”  I had been to the first one a few times and loved it. Yesterday I woke up in Hobe Sound Florida. I knew that is where Harry and the Natives hang out. I punched it into my GPS System and it was a mile and a half away. It was 11:20 a.m. when I got there. The parking lot was pretty full but I got a spot. I opened the door and it was busy but it seemed that they had been waiting all of these years for me to arrive. I watched in amazement as people walked in and multiple people on staff would call them by name. The food was hearty and good! But this place was truly serving love and connection. Every staff member seemed to be consistent in their joy and friendliness. Especially Harry! Yes there is a Harry! It was clear that everyone loved Harry as much as he loved them.

When I went back to the club, I met Cathy. I told her where I had been. She asked if I got to meet Harry. I told her that I saw him but didn’t meet him. She told me that her Mom who is in her 90’s has been going to that restaurant for about forty years. She said that once a week she goes 20 miles out of her way to have a Sunday meal there. 

Many people who read this might be in the service industry and think they have experienced places like this or have heard of places like this or even be leaders in places like this. It might not seem that special or conversely it might seem so rare and refreshing.

As I write this article about staying connected I am not going to focus on how many friends or connections you have on various social media platforms but rather how connected are you?

I am not asking that in terms of quantity but rather quality.

Who are the people who need to see you once a week? Who are the people who receive your version of a shoulder massage? Who are the people that you need to be connected to? How connected are you to you? How connected are you to the closest people in your life!

Being connected or not is a choice. What kind of choices are you making? If you are a person that doesn’t need connection with others and is comfortable with your own company that is great! If the only connection you need is with your higher power that is your choice. If you want to be connected to one million people by social media that is great. An important question to ask is “How are my choices supporting me or working against me?”

How connected are you to the people you work with? Some people spend more time with the people they work with than they do with the people they would choose to be most connected to. Some of these connections will be professional, some will be personal and some may turn into lifelong friendships. You certainly will have time to get to know people’s values, traits, and the level of trust you have with them.

How connected are you to the people in your family? There are times when we might tell ourselves that we value these people more than anyone else in the world and our schedules or our level of presence with them when we are together might indicate something else.

How connected are you to your best friends? How long has it been? What do you do to keep the connection strong? Are you the one who makes sure you stay connected or is it your friend’s role?

How connected are you to yourself? Sometimes we can get so disconnected to who we are and what is important to us that we lose and the important people to us lose.

How connected are you to the people who just come into your life! Some people may just come into our lives for a few moments, a few hours or a few days, yet they might be significant connections that change our course.

It is up to you to decide how you look at your connections. 

Here are some of my thoughts:

Value your Connections
Take some time to realize the value of the important people in your life and take some time to decide on who the important people in your life are! Make a list that you can review from time to time to remind you of how you are doing with them.

Don’t take them for Granted  
Sometimes we assume that they will always be there. Sometimes we assume that we will always be here. Sometimes those assumptions are not correct. Sometimes if they don’t feel connection they may just connect with someone else. Last year a dear friend’s husband passed away. He was younger than me and he left his wife and a five year old son behind. It prompted me to write a love letter to each of my three children. The intent was for them to receive it if something were to happen to me. I decided to give them the letters right away rather than wait.

Act Upon Your Thoughts
If someone comes into your thoughts or memory reach out in some way immediately. You may find that they needed you to do so.

Be an Extraordinary Connection! 


KevinLet’s stay connected! 
Kevin MacDonald and  Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA 1-866-822-3481! 

Thoughts for the Young… and the Formerly Young

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Friendship Stock Image
I get the opportunity to coach extraordinary people. I get to coach people at various stages of their careers and their lives. Recently I have been thinking a lot about the ones that are in their late teens and early twenties. I hear so many people talking about how this group is so different, difficult, entitled, and inferior in some measure. I am not sure if the ones who seek coaching are vastly different from the rest, or if maybe I am not looking for evidence that those stereotypes are true, but I truly love working with these young people. In many ways I wish people in their fifties and sixties would have the chance to sit and listen to these young people with an open mind.

I find them to be curious, open, energized, and excited about what is in front of them and courageous about asking questions. These qualities would serve anyone well at any age.

Here are some thoughts I have to support the future success of these young people, but it is possible that these thoughts could also be supportive for someone entering their retirement years or beyond.

Take Accountability 
This is your life, this is your career. You are accountable! You are accountable for your happiness, your education, your wealth, your health, your relationships, your success in any way you measure it. If you are looking for someone or something to blame for not having what you want in life, you are playing the victim. You are not a victim you are a privileged player in the game of life regardless of your circumstances. Play it well, take it on, and be accountable! Think of a mistake as a discovery. Discoveries will move you toward the success you desire. Make lots of discoveries. Be accountable!

Design Your Life 
Become a designer, not necessarily a fashion designer, an interior designer or an architect, but a designer of you. You have a chance to design a life. You have a chance to design a year. You have a chance to design a vacation. You have a chance to design a day or design a date. Just get comfortable with designing it. Life may not always go exactly like your design – something will be better than you design and some things will be worse and some things will just be different. Don’t let that keep you from designing.

Get to Know Yourself Really Well 
Learn how you operate. Learn how to get the best out of you. Learn what gets in the way of getting the best out of you! Learn about your blind spots! Learn about the thinking that moves you forward the thinking that keeps you small. Learn what happiness and success is for you vs. what it is for others. Find out what others see in you. Find out the best fuel for you. 

Be Present
This simply means be where you are. If you are at work, be there not at home or with someone somewhere else. If you are with your friends, don’t be at home or at work. If you are at home with family, be with them. You may find that the idea of being three places at once is really productive and efficiency is actually an illusion. Become brilliant at being present and focused in a conversation. Watch a movie without going somewhere else during it. Don’t make the person you are with or the thing you are doing less important than someone you are not with or something that is less important. Be present!

Be the Person that Attracts the Kind of People You Want in Your Life 
Beyond the design of your life, the people you invite in are going to make a big difference to it. They will all be great teachers. There will be those who by example will teach things you will want to adopt into your life and those who will teach you things you will want no part of. After a while you will realize that who you are has a way of attracting people. Who you are might be attracting stars or it might attract bullies. Who you are might attract great thinkers or dark thinkers. Be aware and decide who to be.

Find and Own Your Genius 
If everyone has a genius what is yours? It might be something that seems easy to you or even insignificant but when you can discover it and then continually work on making it better you may be opening a door that you didn’t know existed. It may be the guitar, or working with numbers or making people feel important, or running, or cutting grass, but whatever it is become brilliant at it. If you encounter people who don’t value your genius, find the ones who do!

Make a Lot of Time for What You Love 
Many people live their lives dreaming about how one day they are going to do what they love. The people I admire figure out what they love and make time constantly for the things and the people they love. The more time you spend with the things you love, the better you will be. This is where passion resides. The real goal is to fill your days with the things you love. 

Build Deep Friendships
As you age the value of the friendships you have developed throughout your life will go up. Your family is important, but so are your friends. Be a brilliant friend. Be a great friend when things are great and when things are not great. You friends will be a safety net that you will fall into when you need it and being part of someone else’s safety net will be one of the biggest privileges of your life!

KevinNow go out and make us proud! If you would like to talk to me or Shelley about any of these things, call 1-866-822-3481 toll free. Make a difference in the world, no matter what your birth certificate says. Kevin MacDonald and  Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA! 


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It happened on July 26, 2017. In terms of days it had been 21,915. In terms of years it had been 60. In terms of decades it had been six.

I officially got older!

It was definitely a time for celebration and as I write this, we continue to celebrate. I am a big fan of celebration and although I know people who don’t like to celebrate birthdays, I love the energy, the smiles and fun that come with a celebration. I am thrilled with the connection and reconnection and am humbled by the number of people who take time out to celebrate me.

I have always loved having a summer birthday. The weather is usually beautiful, the world seems a little more relaxed and through the years I have tried my best to play golf on my birthday.

It seems that throughout my life a birthday has also been a time to slow down and reflect. I don’t do it to dwell on the past, but rather look into the virtual mirror and notice what I see. I guess in essence it is a virtual rear view mirror. I don’t want to take my eyes off the virtual road for too long, but I do see value in reflecting on the present and the past, in order to create my future.

I will start with the bigger number. 21,915 days! To some that will seem like a lot of days. Some people we have known and loved were not fortunate enough to live that many days.  Many have lived one and a half times that many days. There are no guarantees of how many days we will get to live. I have found over the years that when you have a lot of something you may diminish the value of one unit of it. If you have a million dollars then one dollar is pretty insignificant. If you have ten dollars, one dollar is pretty important. Those who know me well know that each day I write down 10 things I am grateful for. Today is the 1,357th day of this daily habit. It is an effort that I make to ensure that I don’t take any single day for granted. 

Each day has so many moments, so many minutes and seconds and so many opportunities to create something. The completion of 6 decades gave me a chance to take some time to reflect, but so does each day.

My questions for you are:

  • Do you take time to reflect?
  • Do you take time to look back on what you have done or said and reflect on it?
  • Are you as willing to evaluate and give feedback on your behaviour and results as you are with others?
  • Are you too busy to reflect?
  • Do you understand what refection can do for you?

So I started to reflect on six decades of life. I wondered if I summarized each decade what themes would come to mind. As I wrote the six themes I thought they might also reflect stages of a career or a job within a career.

Decade One: Discovery

The first decade was a time to discover. We learn to walk and talk, feed and dress ourselves. We learn from our parents and siblings. We go to school. We learn the basics and we learn to go beyond the basics. We learn what we like and what we don’t like. We learn games and sports and how to sing. We learn our relationship with the world and other people. We are building a foundation!

Decade Two: Independence

In this decade it is time begin to learn to think, feel and act independently. We take the basic skills and knowledge that we have to a new level. We go out into the world more. We stay out in the world more. We build new kinds of relationships and perhaps deeper relationships. We learn to drive and we learn what we love. We may leave our homes in this decade and our independence helps us to see ourselves and that world differently. We learn new kinds and new levels of fun.

Decade Three: Responsibility

This was the decade for me when I started a career. It was the decade when one would become two and before the end of the decade, two would become five. In this decade two homes and three cars were purchased.  A whole lot of diapers were purchased and Rose and I were responsible for the care, feeding and development of three extraordinary children. We moved a family across the country to start a new west coast life.

Decade Four: Development

This decade was about moving to new positions, new titles and a new industry. Each time there was a new learning curve.  It meant there was a chance to develop new skills, face new challenges and lead more people. We were learning and developing as our kids were discovering and gaining independence. Our network started to grow dramatically.

Decade Five: Reinvention

It was in this decade that I changed careers and in many ways changed myself. The loss of my parents and a career change gave me reason to reflect. I decided to re-invent myself. I realized in my early 40s that I had spent a lot of my life trying to be what others thought I should be, or more accurately what I thought others wanted me to be. It was time to decide what “me” I would choose to be. I moved from thinking this would be a selfish act to seeing it as a gift to the important people in my life and to the world.

Decade Six: Authenticity

This decade was spent refining, practicing and doing the best at being the most authentic me I could be. There was a wonderful freedom and feeling of peace in not worrying about whether or not someone else agreed with the “me” I chose to be. If I lost touch with the people who were not fans of the version of me I had chosen, I was ok with that. It felt that I was very attractive to the people who liked the “me” I was being. Most important I was enjoying myself. I was doing what I was meant to do. I was meeting the people I was meant to meet.

Now for me it is time to reflect! What will the theme for decade seven be? What difference will I make? I will have to reflect on that!

Is it time for you to reflect?

 KevinTo reach Kevin and Shelley, you can call (866) 822-3481 toll free or by e-mail at or We believe you could have your best year yet!

Philosophy Over Service Methods, and Other Important Mentoring Lessons

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There are very few aspects of our industry, or any industry for that matter, that allow us to further educate ourselves by reading or sitting in classes. There is really no education that can compare to learning from a mentor who has gained valuable experience throughout their career and is willing to pass those lessons on to the next generation of leaders. That willingness is a fundamental attribute that mentees look for in a mentor. 

There are several ways that each situation we encounter at work can be handled and sometimes all we can do is put together past experiences, an understanding of current private club politics and our gut intuition to make a decision and move forward. However, the invaluable conversations we have had with our mentors will help guide us to what we think is the appropriate decision and understand how to handle the impact of the decision. Nobody fully knows the right move all the time, however one goal we can hope to achieve, especially in private club management, is to say the right thing, in the right way, in front of the right people, at the right time. If that wasn’t enough to deal with, we also have a full operation to run simultaneously. Which is why surrounding yourself with capable individuals that are open to a mentor/mentee relationship is crucial to running a successful operation.

The most important lessons I’ve received from a mentor is how to operate in the “gray”. Earlier in my career, I was a very “black and white” person. I managed by checklists and operating procedures. Even when the operation was in my face that an operating procedure was not the right approach, I would push it through because I knew I would be able to explain it later when questioned, instead of following my gut. Training is another part of the job where operating in the “gray” is so crucial. It is very difficult to train your staff to be flexible on their approach based on the situation. This flexibility is likely only feasible at a small club (i.e., fewer than 500 members) as larger clubs required a more formal training as flexibility could create chaos in the eyes of the membership and could result in the operation spiraling out of control.

When I brought up training with my mentor and how I was struggling with how to train empowerment to the employee so they can take a situation and run with it without asking permission, his response to me was to focus more on philosophy, not service methods. Yes, of course it’s important to train the staff on methods like serve from the left with the left and clear from the right with the right for F&B or make sure there is a new cold water bottle in the golf cart prior to a member using it. But don’t make that the true measure of success, because it’s more important that the staff understands the underlying philosophy in which the membership would like the club to operate than the formality of the service procedures. Ultimately, we are judged on how the membership perceives the management and whether they are happy with the operation of the club. The membership will more likely remember the emotion they felt while experiencing the interaction rather than whether the table was cleared to five-star, five-diamond specifications. To be clear, the focus on philosophy and the training of technique are not mutually exclusive. However we should focus on balancing the two and ensure that the staff, and consequently the membership, understands the importance of having both.

Another valuable lesson my mentors have instilled in me is managing expectations. We always hear that it’s better to under-promise and over deliver. That statement speaks directly to managing expectations. This is an incredibly important message with staff and membership. If we can keep expectations reasonable, there is a better chance of us being successful. There will come a time when you face a board member or staff member that has unrealistic expectations. You can either tell them what they want to hear, or you can tell them what they should hear. Developing the ability to articulate and present a rationale and reasonable approach in the face of scrutiny is important to progressing in your career and being seen as a leader who delivers on commitments. Many of our board members are titans of industry, high-powered professionals or leaders in their own right so this can be challenging given that they may be accustomed to hearing what they want to hear, and not what they should hear. 

We encounter these challenges and many others on a daily basis in our industry so it’s paramount that we leverage the advice of our mentors. The luxury of having the support to guide us through these experiences until we are ready to take the reins on our own should not go underappreciated. Showing your mentor that you value their time and their mentorship is impactful and will help foster mutual respect and further development of this important relationship. 

There is an underappreciated challenge in mentorships and that’s how generational difference can affect the ability for the mentor and mentee to relate. The baby boomer generation looks at generation Y (i.e., Millenials, though most millennials hate to be referred to as such because of the hugely negative connotation the term has) and mainly sees a generation that does not want to put in the time or work to get to the top of the mountain. Simon Sinek, an author and motivational speaker who has studied Generation Y, looks at this from a different perspective. He believes that millennials grew up in a time when instant gratification was an expectation, not a luxury. For example, having the access to the internet and e-commerce has created a belief that any want can be satisfied instantaneously. This has arguably carried over to career expectations. There was also coddling by parents to make Generation Y believe that they could be “anything” they wanted, and millennials believed it. Having a strong mentor can help you navigate through these negative perceptions about Generation Y and make the relationship stronger in the end. 

A trend in our industry that is not usually spoken about is that younger millennial managers are faced with opportunities to take on higher positions in clubs than in the past. This could mainly be due to the fact that many private clubs are still trying to rebound from the recession and we are seeing fewer tenured managers that survived the cuts, which means lower supply and higher demand for mentors. It is incredibly important that we continue to see the value of mentorship in order to see our profession continue to have a strong network in the future. We must not forget to pay it forward when the time is right!

Miller HeadshotJason Miller is currently the clubhouse manager of the Muttontown Club in Long Island, New York. He is a graduate of the hospitality program at the University of Delaware having also studied at the Swiss school of hospitality and tourism. Jason’s career spans over 10 years, with experience in the hotel and club industry.

This information is provided for informational purposes only. The contents are presented with no warranty, either expressed or implied by the Club Managers Association of America. No legal responsibility is assumed for the outcome of decisions, commitments or obligations made on the basis of this information. If your club is faced with a question concerning legal issues, you should contact the club’s legal counsel for the specific application of the law to your situation.