Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Charleston, History, and Trying

One of the things I love about Charleston, SC, is the fact that history is so wonderfully mixed with today. Everywhere you look you’ll see bits and pieces and large chunks of history (think everything from an antique desk in a hotel lobby to old firehouses repurposed into condo buildings).

Whenever I’m here I wonder, “What would someone in the early-1900s, mid-1800s, or late-1700s tell us if they could?”

Believe it or not, there’s a way you can make this happen. Find an older person and ask them, “If you, as you are today, could talk to the younger you, let’s say when you were sixteen, what would you tell you about life and how it would go?”

And remember, “older” is a relative word, so, who is “older” than you? “Older” is 35 to 15, or 85 to 65.

It’s an interesting exercise. Most older people will tell you they’d say to relax, things will work out. They’ll note—and I think this is the most important part—that as you age you’ll regret more of the things you didn’t do than you regret the things you did.

They’ll tell you to try; to get out in life and take the chance of failing and being hurt. In most cases, they’ll tell you that there will always be things you’ll wish hadn’t happened, but they are far outweighed by the things you’re glad did happen…but you have to try.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Do Yourself a Favor

When was the last time you invested in yourself? If you think that time management seminar your boss made you attend counts, you’re wrong…not only that, but, at the same time you’re thinking like 80% of the workforce.
Look at it this way, in today’s world there are no employees, there are only freelancers, independent contractors who work until their work is no longer needed…and then they are moved aside. You are a product and when the product or service you provide becomes obsolete or too expensive to keep, you’re done.
Unless…unless you have made yourself so valuable in the markeplace that you are considered for other opportunities.
What’s the best way to improve you, as a product, investing in yourself.
In an excellent article in this month’s Esquire Magazine, “You Are Your Own Best Investment,” writer Joshua Sheats explains that, young or older, if you want to move ahead you need to “set aside $1000 and invest it in building up and enchancing your resume.”
Sheats points to three ways to do it:
- If you are a skilled technician or professional you should invest in more education, training and certifications.
- If you’re in a “customer-facing” invest in the image you present to others, your personal appearance, and training in ways to deal with customers.
- If you work in a trade invest in upgrading your tools in ways that allow you to work better and faster.

Everyone says they want to move ahead and get paid more, but only 20% or less of the workforce is willing to do what it takes to do more than simply talk about it…and if someone thinks they have to make you go to a time management seminar you’re already in their crosshairs.

Monday, March 28, 2016

How Would You Do On the Test?

“Life is a test. It is only a test. Had this been real life, you would have been instructed where to go and what to do.” 

I ran across the line above in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Men, one of late-author, Richard Carlson’s Small Stuff books. 

Carlson’s point is that when life gets too crazy it might be a good idea to pull the line out, read it, and believe it. 

Thing is, I’ve always liked tests. I was never great at studying or going to class, but I liked the focus of pulling an all-nighter and then, the pressure of test day. 

The more I’m able to see some of the bigger challenges—the things that seem overwhelming—as tests, the more I understand there’s a time when the test will be over.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Three Thoughts We All Need

Last night I ran across three acronyms we can all use:

FAIL....First Attempt At Learning

END....Effort Never Dies

NO....Next Opportunity

Thursday, March 10, 2016

You Know You're Doing This...Don't You?

Ok, hang with me on this…I promise I’ll have a point you can use.

I read a short devotion every morning; a new one every day. They’re one-pagers in a magazine I subscribe to. It’s a small-format magazine, kinda like Reader’s Digest used to be and I keep them in the bottom drawer of a cabinet about 6 feet from my reading chair.
Over time I realized I might not completely close the drawer when I took the magazine out; there’d be a crack open a few inches. So, when I finished reading and would sit and think about the day’s lesson I started to try and toss the magazine through the little opening (I know it’s childish, but it’s a guy thing…a little competition with my self).

Then, I evolved to believing that if I made the shot I’d have a good day…you know, kind of a victory first thing in the day. I didn’t assume I’d have a bad day by missing, I’m not that superstitious, but a made shot was a good thing.

However, one day I thought, “Why start the day off with the stress of making the shot? Why not start every day with a made shot, a good feeling, and the positive expectation of a good day?” 

You know as well as I that if you expect good things, good things happen.

So, I started making sure I left the drawer open a little farther. Not enough for a slam dunk, but wide enough that I was pretty sure I’d make the shot.

Now, every morning when I finish reading my devotion I look over, toss the mag, and 9 out of 10 times I make the shot…and expect a good day.

Here’s the point: If you can line up your day, week, month…health…relationship…work…life…in a way that it’ll be successful, why not do that? There are so many ways we get in our own way and keep ourselves from experiencing success in simple, or complex, issues in life. Doesn’t seem very smart, does it?

In what areas of life are you getting in your own way? 

Stop it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Best All-Terrain Vehicle...A Rental Car

Year’s ago someone told me that the best all-terrain vehicle is a rental car. As long as you buy the insurance you can do just about anything to it and the company won’t say a word…all you have to do is get it back to the lot. I can tell you that I’ve had some wonderfully wild times in rental cars.

Yesterday I drove a friend’s car to pick her and her traveling companion up at the airport. This is not a rental car. I was verrrry careful. This ride is a beautiful, luxurious Cadillac with all the bells and whistles. I felt like Mathew Mcgonniha…mmm…Mackgoonona….dang…Matthew McGonigay….forget it. The movie star who does the Cadillac commercials.

Anyway, my friend has the feature that allows you to see  what’s behind you when you look in the rear-view mirror. Yes, I know that’s what’s supposed to happen when you look in the rear-view mirror, but I’m talking about the feature that has a camera showing you what’s back there and as you turn it almost shows you what’s around the corner. Once you get used to it, it’s pretty cool.

I started thinking about: What if we had something like that in life? And then it hit me. We do. It’s called a memory.

Yeah, we can look back and, with 20/20 hindsight, we can see what we should have done to keep from hitting that fire hydrant…BUT WE CAN’T GO BACK INTO THE PAST AND NOT HIT THE FIRE HYDRANT!

So, what good is memory in that sense? Well, if I park near a fire hydrant in the future I’ll do a better job of remembering that it’s there when I start backing up. But, I shouldn’t keep beating myself up because I once (or a couple of times) hit a fire hydrant.

Memory is a good thing if you’re remembering the steps it takes to correct a document you’re writing; or what that warm, smooth, soft, bit of skin felt like when you were snuggled up on a cold December morning; or SPANKING DUKE LIKE THEY’RE A SQUAWLING 3-YEAR OLD AT WALMART!!!…mmm…sorry, got a little out there on that one…

…but, you get my drift.

Memory does not serve me/you/us if it’s a prison guard smacking you every time a certain thought comes up. Park the thought. Put it aside. Store it in a dark place, pull it out once a year just to acknowledge it and then put it back. 

Cut yourself some slack. Whatever you did in the past does not define you.

Unless, you did it with a rental car….but then, I think the statute of limitations on that one is over and done.

(share this with someone who has a selective memory about the bad stuff)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

Reading through the obits/info about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who passed away Saturday at 79, a couple of basic observations keep forming: First, nice guy. Interesting, although argumentative; obviously loved his family and friends; the type of guy you want on your side. Second, his originalist/textualist thinking was probably not what you want on the other side if you are saying, “Society changes and there are some things about it that might be different than they were 250 years ago; some things the Founding Fathers didn’t anticipate/didn’t experience.”

The best line of thought, though, was in The Washington Post. They noted that Scalia’s conservative opinions made progressives toughen up their own arguments; made them better/smarter/more persuasive. The paper quoted Proverbs 27:17, “ Iron sharpens iron.”

If you believe that life keeps sending you lessons until you get the lesson you’ll understand why I keep getting the message that there’s an opposite side to tough times. Obviously, it’s a lesson I need to learn.

If you’re trying to actually live life, with live being an active verb, there are going to be situations that aren’t blue birds and lemonade. The questions to keep holding in your mind are, “What can I learn from this? What do I want and how can I take these lessons and get closer to the life I want to live?”

Maybe we all need a Justice Scalia in our lives. Someone who, while they may not always be a smiling face, we can learn lessons from them. And, whether we like it or not, aren’t those the folks we appreciate all along the journey?

Thank you, Your Honor.