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Be A Scrooge: The Ebenezer Effect Could Change Your Life
The Podium Pro -- Matthew Cossolotto The Podium Pro -- Matthew Cossolotto
Los Angeles, CA
Friday, December 11, 2015

Author Matthew Cossolotto (aka "The Podium Pro")

Ebenezer Scrooge gets a bad rap. The name "Scrooge" is virtually synonymous with "miser," "cheapskate," "penny-pincher," "tightwad," and "money-grubber."

But those characterizations miss the message of the story. It's a story about redemption and personal transformation. The way I see it, Ebenezer Scrooge should be hailed as one of the great role models for personal change.

In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge comes face-to-face with the effects of his lifetime of negative habits and attitudes when a series of spirits escort him to scenes from his past, present and potential future.

The first apparition to pay him a visit is Scrooge's deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, who tells Scrooge: "I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it."

The links of Morley's chain sound like they could well be the same negative habits and attitudes that also shackle poor Scrooge.

After Scrooge encounters disturbing events from the Past and the Present, the ghost of Christmas-Yet-To-Come transports him to a time in the future when Scrooge's loyal employee Bob Cratchit's son, Tiny Tim, has just died. Why? Because his father couldn't afford proper medical care on the meager salary Scrooge paid him. Upon hearing this news, Scrooge is forced to confront the tragic result of his cruel stinginess, and this has a deep emotional impact.

Scrooge is then escorted to a time just after his own funeral. Here he endures the painful, unvarnished truth of what people really think of him. It's an alarming but invaluable wake-up-call for the stone-hearted curmudgeon.

Soon thereafter Scrooge comes face-to-face with his own tombstone. Dickens writes: "The Spirit was immovable as ever. Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, Ebenezer Scrooge."

Spurred on by this shocking, up-close-and-personal rendezvous with his own mortality, Scrooge asks the Spirit to assure him that he "yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life!" He exclaims to the Spirit: "I am not the man I was. I will not be that wretched creature any longer." 

Scrooge feels an intense motivation to change his ways, and he is indeed transformed overnight. He awakens the next morning, Christmas Day, a changed man. Delighted to still be alive with a chance for redemption, Scrooge exclaims: "I am as light as a feather. I am as happy as an angel. I am as merry as a schoolboy!" 

That's the power of what I call the "Ebenezer Effect." During this holiday season, it's worth considering several valuable lessons we can learn from Ebenezer Scrooge. One lesson is this: Personal transformation can happen quickly, even overnight, if you believe it can and if you have the right motivation. 

Another life-altering lesson is that we all have the ability to project ourselves into the future and imagine the sum total of our life's achievements. We can also imagine what other people are likely to say about us after we're gone. Scrooge almost waited until it was too late.

The good news is you don't have to wait for a ghostly escort service. The Ebenezer Effect is available to all of us, at any time. You can take this journey anytime you want through the power of your own imagination.

Write Your Own Eulogy

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the late Stephen Covey admonishes readers to: Begin with the end in mind. This is the second habit of highly effective people and it's a very good habit to get into.

It's vital to think about your destination first so you can determine the best route to take. Figure out what you want the house to look like — create a blueprint — before you start building. It makes sense.

I recommend that you "begin with the end in mind" by sitting down, grabbing a pen and paper, and writing your own eulogy.

Now, before you exclaim, "Bah, humbug!" let me explain how this will benefit you.

Writing your own eulogy will help you jumpstart and sustain positive change in your life by establishing a clear blueprint for what you want to accomplish, what kind of person you aspire to be, and how you want to be remembered. It will clarify both your purpose and your legacy.

They say nothing focuses the mind like the guillotine. Scrooge's mind got focused when he saw his name on the tombstone. You can do what Ebenezer Scrooge did that Christmas morning. He changed overnight.

You don't want to turn out like the fellow in a Graham Wilson cartoon. His epitaph on his tombstone reads: "He never got around to writing that novel."

Henry David Thoreau explained why he lived for more than two years in a simple cabin on Walden Pond: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Like the guillotine, this eulogy exercise focuses the mind. Your written eulogy amounts to a uniquely powerful "mission statement" for your life, designed intentionally to get and keep your attention over time.

At one point, Scrooge makes this pledge to the ghost of Christmas-Yet-to-Come: "I will honor Christmas in my heart and I will try to keep its spirit all year. I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future. I will not forget the lessons that the Spirits of all three have taught me."

Likewise, we should not forget the lessons Scrooge can teach us. Write your own eulogy and harness the power of the "Ebenezer Effect." It's a great way to clarify what's most important to you and to set your life's course in the direction you want it to take -- before it's too late.

So this holiday season, go ahead -- be a Scrooge!

Creator of “Make A Promise Day” (May 4th), Matthew Cossolotto (aka "The Podium Pro") is a former aide to House Speaker Jim Wright and Congressman Leon Panetta.  Matthew also served as a CEO-level speechwriter and communications executive at MCI Communications, Pepsi-Cola International, and GTE. Matthew is the founder and president of Study Abroad Alumni International, dedicated to "building a community of global citizens." The author of The Almanac of European Politics, HabitForce!, and All The World's A Podium, his forthcoming book with a foreword by Jack Canfield is about the power of making a promise. Matthew brings his Personal Empowerment Programs -- “PEPTalks” -- to colleges, associations, government agencies, and corporations. 

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