There is a train station I have used many times in the center of Beijing, China, and that is where my sleeper train arrives from another city. I like the sleeper trains because they save money, and you can meet some very interesting people on the trains. On my last trip to China, I used this train station at night to catch my sleeper train to another city. I was amazed by how different the train station, which I have used many times before, seemed; and I got to see a different area than when I arrive in the mornings. Come along on this journey with me!

As Different as Night and Day

This is what the exterior looked like when I arrived at the train station at night. Check out the difference compared to the morning view.

As Different as Night and Day

Once I got inside, I was impressed with some of the craftsmanship within the terminal!

As Different as Night and Day

There was ornate molding everywhere, and some of the columns were gorgeous!

As Different as Night and Day

I have one more photograph to share with you from this adventure, but first I must put this into perspective for you. It was about 10:00 PM when I was there, and the terminal was packed! The waiting areas had no place to sit, because all of the seats were taken, so there were people standing around waiting everywhere you could see. Did I mention it was 10:00 PM?!

As Different as Night and Day

As you can see from the picture above, the ceilings were very high. I would say at least 30 feet! I think it was designed like that for one reason–if everyone inside inhaled at the same time, there would be enough air in the room!

It was very educational for me to see the departure area of this very old and historic train station. My mind can’t fathom how many people use this train station daily and, to carry that thought out, how many people have used this facility since it was built!

All aboard! 

A couple of years ago, I was wiring money to the special needs orphanage supported by Global Partners in Life in China, and the bank in America notified me that the bank in China had rejected the wire transfer. We had wired money many times to the orphanage, so I was surprised to hear this news.

After doing some investigating, we learned that the bank in China rejected the transfer because of some new banking rules they had. No longer could a foreign organization, like Global Partners in Life, transfer money to the bank account for the special needs orphanage. If we wanted to successfully wire the funds internationally, we would have to set up a different account — which we did — and the transfer was accepted by the bank in China.

Sometimes It's Hard to Do Good Things

Once the transfer was accepted, the bank in China called the special needs orphanage and let them know the wire had come through for them, and they just needed to sign some forms and the funds would be released into their bank account. So the lady that leads the orphanage went to the bank and spoke to the banker. At this point she was asked to step aside and answer a few questions.

The banker asked her what the money was going to be used for, and she said for the health of the children. Then she was asked where the money came from, and she said “Beau Sides.” So the banker asked, “Who is Beau Sides?” and she replied, “an American.” At that point the banker said, “Oh yes, we have a file on Beau Sides.”

During my last visit, the lady who leads the special needs orphanage showed me what one of the documents she receives when we transfer funds to her looks like. I thought you might want to see what it looks like, so the form is above.

If you would like to help us have money to wire to these truly needy children at the special needs orphanage, please visit www.globalpartnersinlife.org.

During a recent trip to China, I used trains as one of my main means of transportation. Some were to travel a long distance, some were in the subway, and some were just to move you from one area of the airport to another. All of the trains were full of signs, and I very much appreciated the ones that were also in English. Would you like to see some of the most interesting signs?

What Signs Really Communicate

The sign above was taken in my cabin of a night train, or sleeper train as they are also called. I just found it extremely ironic and slightly funny that there was a No Smoking sign placed in an ash tray. I think it was sending two completely different messages! By the way, people in China smoke more than people in the States, and there is a designated smoking area in the rear of each train car.

What Signs Really Communicate

The second picture I am sharing with you is from the train at the Beijing Capital Airport in Terminal Three. This train has automated doors, so the door sign is giving some wonderful advice! Sometimes these trains are quite crowded, and there is always someone arriving late trying to catch the door in time to ride the train.

There is no moral to this story, just some interesting sights I saw in China.

So when are you going to go to China?

 

 

leaders-made-here-by-mark-miller

Every leader worth their salt should be constantly re-evaluating their strategies, not just yearly, but quarterly and even monthly. Good leaders strive for improvement and efficiency and one way we can approach this challenge is to consider which choices create the best impact on and for our team.

My assistant shares my passion for continuous improvement. Recently, she challenged me in a profound way – she has a habit of doing that.

While talking about how both of us could make a bigger impact, she said, “We’re going to have to decide to do the right things vs. the nice things.”

I’m still processing the implications of this idea. However, I know she’s right. How often do we find ourselves trading the right thing for the nice thing? For me, I’m afraid it happens far too often.

What does this look like in your world? Below are some behaviors for you to consider. As you read the list, see if you can guess which are the nice things and which ones are the right things. I’m betting you’ll know the difference.

Nice Thing or Right Thing?

  • Set a new strategic direction, or stay the course to avoid challenging anyone?
  • Attend a portion of an all-day meeting, or stay all day so as not to offend the host of the meeting?
  • Challenge a team member who fails to prepare for a meeting, or avoid the issue?
  • Decline a speaking engagement, or accept every request regardless of the audience?
  • Dismiss an employee who can’t grow with the business, or keep the person on the payroll indefinitely?
  • Eliminate a program to reallocate needed resources, or sacrifice new ideas so outdated ones can be funded?
  • Have a difficult performance conversation, or continue to give inflated performance ratings?
  • Say “no” to non-strategic work, or say “yes” to non-strategic work?
  • Confront problems and issues, or avoid discussing problems at all costs?
  • Give stretch assignments to people and expect them to struggle, or avoid giving stretch assignments because they may create some discomfort?
  • Cut your losses when a product or program has failed, or continue to let a project flounder to avoid confronting the project leader?
  • Pursue truth through conflict, or avoid conflict because it makes some people uncomfortable?

As I’ve begun to talk about this issue with people, the immediate question is, “How can you tell the difference between the Right Thing and the Nice Thing?” That’s a fair question. Clearly, it’s not always as obvious as the examples above.

But here’s my experience – my challenge is not knowing the difference. My challenge is finding the courage to act on what I know.

 

This post was originally published at greatleadersserve.com.

 

Mark MillerMark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs. 

 

One of the many ways Global Partners in Life helps support the children at the special needs orphanage in China is by paying for their school fees. Granted, not all of the children are capable of going to school for various reasons; but we do all we can to pay the school fees, school supplies, lunches, and uniforms. Would you like to see what one report card looks like?

A Special Report Card

Actually, this isn’t a normal report card, nor is it from a normal school. The lady that leads the special needs orphanage found a school for people with special needs. The programs they offer have to do with health issues. The goal of this school is to help special needs people obtain a marketable skill, so that they can one day can become independent, and I am in complete support of that.

This report card belongs to a young lady with more physical issues than I can list. We even brought her to the States for medical attention at one point, but unfortunately, not much could be done for her at that time. I believe our young friend has been in this program for at least two years. What makes this report card unique is that (I am told) it says that she is one of the elite students. She has been studying massage therapy, and I believe she is going to study something like acupuncture soon!

I am very proud of her and I believe she will continue in her academic excellence! When people invest in Global Partners in Life, we use that money to help the special needs orphans receive an education, so that they may one day become independent and provide for themselves.

Thanks so much to those of you that contribute to the work we are honored to do in China!

Recently I was traveling to China, and I had a layover in Newark, NJ. While I was in the airport, I saw a couple of things that were once very popular, but I hadn’t seen them used in a very long time. Can you guess what they were?

When Was the Last Time You Saw These Things in Use?

Not only did I see a shoeshine stand that was in use, but there was actually a line of people waiting to have their shoes polished! Man, I can’t remember the last time I witnessed a line at this type of a business, even if it wasn’t in an airport.

Shortly after feeling good about seeing the old shoeshine place having a thriving business, I saw the opposite. Near the shoeshine stand, I saw a wall full of pay phones. I think the cell phone industry and technology have had a huge impact on the use of pay phones. I had to wonder why those pay phones were still mounted on the walls. Maybe if someone left their cell phone at home before they started their trip, or were just entering the country, they may want to use the pay phones, but I think most people defer to their cell phone.

When Was the Last Time You Saw These Things in Use?

It was good to see that not all of our culture is obsolete!

When my friend who leads the special needs orphanage in China supported by Global Partners in Life called, there was panic in her voice. She told me that one of the children desperately needed surgery on her heart. This child had blue lips and fingernails the last time I saw her, due to the hole in her heart not allowing the correct amount of oxygen to be in her blood, and she had grown very weak. My friend was frantically trying to raise the funds to pay for the surgery, because in China you have to pay for the entire medical procedure before the surgery actually takes place.

What A Difference A Day Makes

I am so thankful that Global Partners in Life was able to provide for this medical emergency, thanks to one special donor! This was the first major surgery we had provided for financially, and I am so thankful we did! After the surgery, I got to watch this child grow and flourish. She had once backed away from group wrestling matches, but after recovering from the surgery, she would be right in the middle of them.

This is hard to believe, but when this child was only three years old, she could fold the laundry. Also, she could feed the little babies their baby food without spilling a drop! She would get the right amount of food on the spoon and put it into the baby’s mouth, give the baby enough time to eat what they had, use the spoon to wipe up any extra that was on the outside of the baby’s mouth, and then repeat this process until the baby had completed their meal.

I am thrilled to share with you that this child was later adopted by a wonderful foreign family. It is amazing to consider the the difference — that she was once struggling to survive due to their health conditions, and now she is healthy, happy, and living abroad with a loving family!

This is what can happen when we invest in the lives of these truly needy children . . . wouldn’t you like to help make a difference?

 

 

One of the cities I return to often in China is in the northern part of the country. To give you an example of how cold it gets there, I have been told that people will ice skate to work when the river freezes. Also, one night I was waiting outside of the train station for a taxi, and I had to keep blinking my eyes, because the moisture on my eyes was freezing. By the way, when I returned to my hotel room, I looked on the Internet and it was minus eighteen degrees Fahrenheit! With all of the cold weather, this city receives surprisingly little snowfall. They have a dry climate, so there isn’t enough moisture in the air for as much snow as you would expect. So, do you want to know what people in this city do when it snows?
How Do You Enjoy the Snow?

They have a snowball fight! I can’t begin to tell you how cute this little girl was throwing snowballs at her dad. She would laugh and giggle every time she threw one or she got hit with some snow. Honestly, I think her dad was enjoying his time with her, as much as she was enjoying playing in the snow with him.

On a day when I was worried about being to keep my travel plans due to the snow, this was a pleasant distraction! This little girl was precious as she was having playtime in the snow with her dad. Maybe I should remember how happy and carefree this little girl was when I feel stressed!

What do you do to enjoy the snow?

 

Someone contacted me via social media a couple of months ago, out of the blue, as the saying goes. I didn’t know this person, but she said that she had once lived in the city where the special needs orphanage is that Global Partners in Life supports, and she had even volunteered at the orphanage. We had communicated a few times when she told me she was returning to China to adopt. Before her adoption, she planned to visit the special needs orphanage, and she asked if there was any particular need she could help with while she was there. Her timing was perfect!

During my previous trip, I had been made aware of one of the girls having a problem with her crutches. She has the type of crutches with the cuff that goes around the forearm for additional support. The crutches are adjustable for when the child grows taller. Unfortunately, the pen that holds the handle in place was broken. There was a spring behind a metal ball that would push through a hole to lock the handle in place. The metal ball was missing, so there was a sharp end of the spring exposed, which stuck our little friend many times.

I told my new friend that I had asked a man there to fix the crutch, but he was unsuccessful. I had also looked at multiple locations in my hometown, and I couldn’t find a replacement! The wonderful news is that the lady going for a visit at the special needs orphanage not only found a youth’s set of crutches, but she also purchased and delivered a larger set of similar crutches, so our little friend will have good crutches to use as she grows and matures!

True Help Requires All Of Us

I am so thankful for my new friend! After being told by the director of the special needs orphanage to reach out to me, she actually did. Then she was willing to ask how she could help, and she carried through with the request!

This story reveals that we all can help — we just need to take the first step!

If you would like to support the work of Global Partners in Life, please visit our website.

By the way, this story has an even happier ending. My new friend and her family now have a child from China in their family! I am so thankful for people who have a heart for others!

Even though Christmas isn’t an officially recognized holiday in China, it is common to see plenty of holiday decorations. Many of the nicer hotels and department stores go all out with their decorations, and that is always interesting to see.

During a recent trip to China, I saw a combination of Chinese and western decorations together. So, what does it look like when East meets West in regard to Christmas decorations?

When East Meets West for Christmas

This photo was taken outside a mall that had holiday decorations displayed. The large green golf ball looking thing is actually part of a science education center for children, and at the other end of that building is where I have taught a time or two.

When East Meets West for Christmas

These certainly look different in the sunshine! If you are familiar with the song “Christmas in Dixie,” that wouldn’t apply in this location!

In this city there are several large department stores, part of a chain which is based in France, and they have many brightly colored options for your holiday decorations. You can even get a tree already decorated — and if you forget to say Merry Christmas, your tree can say it for you!

When East Meets West for Christmas

Maybe I should have this blog displayed again around the first of July. We will all probably be dreaming of a white Christmas at that time of the year!

Where have you seen the most interesting Christmas decorations?