Friday, February 27, 2015

A Truthful Take On Work...For Some

This morning I checked the funny calendar I bought Elaine for Christmas for its daily wisdom.

It said: "Work is like one really long personal phone call punctuated by people wanting stupid stuff."

Now, ya gotta admit that's funny.

At the same time, you have to admit that for tons of folks in the workplace the sentiment is painfully true.

Look, I get the fact that a lot of folks are working jobs that don't fit them, that they hate, that they'd drop like first period French if they could. I also get that folks have to eat, feed their families, pay bills and try to create a life.

But, if I'm going to spot you the reality above you have to go along with me that a lot of the folks who live the funny comment are slowing down the rest of us who are actually trying to get something done.

Recently, I was talking to a friend who's a manager and he was telling me about an employee with 40+ years of service who can't understand why her evaluations keep coming back as less-than-stellar. It's been explained to her on multiple occasions that she is not diligent in attention to detail, spends a lot of time making personal phone calls (there you go!) and simply doesn't act in a professional manner. She's one of those grinders who is just competent enough to keep around but won't get any of the good strokes that go to people who show initiative, work hard and really make a contribution.

If you think the calendar line is funny, I'm with ya. If you're living it, I'm not. And, you deserve whatever you get when your manager texts you with, "How about stopping by my office at the end of the day." You're slowing the rest of us down.

Have a great weekend! See you Monday!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Are You Into An "S" Curve or a "J" Curve?

Most folks know about the "S" Curve in terms of successful work, entrepreneurship, relationships and other areas of human action . It's the logic that things rarely go straight up, they gain traction and speed slowly in an S shape until, at the top, they plateau and then start easing downward due to boredom, lack of effort or knowledge, or the impact of outside forces.

I recently saw and read an explanation of the "J" Curve that makes a lot of fact, it seems more realistic than the "S" Curve.

When we start a new venture  (business, job, learning anything new) we often find that things don't go well immediately. They take a downward turn or we experience friction or we don't know what we need to know. That's the curve at the bottom of the "J".

But, if we keep at it, if we can "stay the course" as Daddy George Bush used to say, we start seeing some progress. We can add effort, knowledge, resources and focus and the experience becomes more successful. We pick up the pace and the next thing you know we're gaining altitude.

The key is to not give up just because you take a little--or big--dip into the bottom of the "J".

Here's the rub, though. How do you know that the initial dip won't turn into a full-blown nosedive?! All you can do is have faith and keep learning, keep trying and keep making what you hope are good decisions until you discover you're making the turn upward...or that it just ain't gonna work.

The "J" Curve. A good thing to know when you're starting anything new.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What Is Dying?

On Sunday, I had the privilege of offering a eulogy for the wife of one of my best friends. I closed my remarks with the quote, “What is dying?” by Bishop Charles Henry Brent. Quite a few people made wonderful comments about it and requested it.

Below is the longer version of the quote. If you simply search for “What is dying? Charles Henry Brent” you’ll see both versions.

If you’ve lost a loved one or you see it coming in the future or you are offered the honor and privilege of presenting a eulogy you can’t get much better for an uplifting and supportive thought.

What is Dying? Bishop Charles Henry Brent (1862-1929)

I am standing on the seashore.
A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object and I stand watching her
Till at last she fades from the horizon,
And someone at my side says, “She is gone!” Gone where?
Gone from my sight, that is all;
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her,
And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her;
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “She is gone”,
There are others who are watching her coming,
And other voices take up a glad shout,

“There she comes” – and that is dying. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Who Cares About the Little People?

Here's my theory: You could televise the Oscars in 90 minutes if you didn't have to deal with all the sound/cinematography/costuming/graphics/animation/documentary stuff. You could have the red carpet interviews--which are kinda fun--and then just show  presentations for Best Picture, Director, Actor and Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress, and any honorary or lifetime achievement awards. The Motion Picture Academy gives a ton of technical awards at the Governors Awards ceremony the same week as the Oscars, so give that other stuff then.

I know the networks wouldn't be able to sell as many commercials for 90 minutes versus 3 hours, but I'd get to bed at a decent hour and wouldn't yell, "I don't CARE what the sound effects guy does!!" at the television.

However, as some fellow-viewers reminded me, without all the behind-the-scenes folks there wouldn't be any movies. There'd just be a bunch of self-absorbed actors/actresses (actually, both sexes are called actors) in bare rooms doing crazy stuff.

Our workplaces and lives are like that when you think about it. Could any of us lead the lives we do without some of the behind-the-scenes folks?

And yes, I know some of them get on our last nerves, but what if we didn't have folks in restaurants, police, teachers, writers, software coders, the guys who put the lines on the roads, people who do medical tests, the folks who replace the toilet paper in the bathrooms at rest areas (what, you don't stop?!) or the paper in the copy machines at Kinko's.

It takes a lot of people to make the world go 'round. Giving the folks who don't get their due some credit every now and then is a good thing.

Sooooo, I guess the Oscars will continue to be 3 hours long. And I'll use fast-forward next year to watch just the good stuff.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Do You Have a Spanker?

Ok, after reading the title some of you need to get your mind back into a more…mmmm…focused mode.

I have a very good friend who, on occasion, will spank me. He did it yesterday at lunch in middle of a restaurant.

He said (in a rather pointed fashion), “You’ve been talking for four years about wanting your business to be at a certain point and where are you? You haven’t done what you need to do to get there. And it isn’t that you don’t know what needs to be done…you’re just not doing it.”

Ouch! Can someone find me a soft pillow to sit down on?

If you have goals in life—and if you’ve read this blog on anything like a regular basis you know goals are crucial—do you have someone who will hold you accountable?

Owning a business is wonderful and, to me, being a one-person business is often like playing. But, those of us who do it often miss the communal give-and-take, the feedback, the corrective conversations appreciated by owners and managers surrounded by colleagues.

In short, other than the marketplace—sales going up or down—we don’t have anyone to spank us when we need it.

Being spanked is never enjoyable (at least for the majority of us), but sometimes it’s necessary. The key question now, for me, is, “Did it work?”

Friday, January 30, 2015

Your Weekly Gameplan

This is Super Bowl Weekend?!! Are you serious?!!

Dang..and I'd planned on watching "The History of Mauve" on PBS. Well, maybe I can record it.

This game is going to be one of those tuff calls because I really like both coaches and a number of athletes on both teams. One of the predictions is 28-24, Seahawks, and I'll go with that. Watch for at least one trick play from each team.

The Seahawks' head coach Pete Carroll has a cool weekly plan he uses during the season. This came from the Seahawks' website:
‘Tell the truth Monday’: Discuss what happened in the last game and be honest with yourselves. Watch highlight tape. (MC note: players come in the day after the game to checked for injuries and do rehab)
Tuesday: Off.
‘Compete Wednesday’: Coaches and players talk about all the different ways the team will compete and how they match up with their opponents. (MC note: constant competition is a key element of Carroll's coaching philosophy...any drills players participate in are highly competitive, it's a way to maintain their "edge.")
'Turnover Thursday’: A straightforward look at the importance of ball control and forcing turnovers. (MC note: In drills defensive players are trying to cause fumbles and offensive players are focusing on ball security, key skills)
‘No repeat Friday’: A light practice, which puts a priority on not making mistakes.
Saturday: Walkthrough.
Sunday: Game day.

I love this sort of plan. What if we all had a plan that was something like this? On specific days we'd concentrate on certain skills, goals, ideas or ambitions for at least a short period of time.

What if, on Monday, we spent a half-hour, first thing in the morning, thinking about what went right last week and how we want to do it again this week? And, maybe 15 minutes on what went wrong and how to not do it again?

What if the next day was Take'em to Lunch Tuesday? Every Tuesday you take someone to lunch to increase your network, get to know someone in your workplace better or reward someone for a job well-done.

Wednesday is New Work Day. Wednesday is the day we do a creativity exercise, work on a new project, stretch ourselves.

Throwback Thursday is the day we look back at something that worked in the past but for some reason we've gotten away from it. Why reinvent the wheel if we have dormant or forgotten skills and assets we can repurpose?

Finish It Friday! Yeah! Everyone loves the finish line! There is some idea or project we need to speed up or finish so today's the day we hit another gear instead of slooowwwwiiinnnnggg down so we can ease into the weekend. Tying a project up with a bow at the end of a Friday (or, better yet, at noon!) is a wonderfully positive way to end the week.

Finally, one more thought about the game. You've heard about Brady and Wilson and Sherman and Lynch. Here are four names you haven't heard every two minutes and these guys will play big parts in how this turns out. For the Seahawks: Kam Chancellor is a Seahawks strong safety who jumped OVER a center two plays in a row on field goals this season. Stunningly athletic. J.R. Sweezy is a former NC State defensive lineman who is now an offensive guard. He's 6'5", 295, can lead a running play and can knock the snot out of people. For the Patriots: Danny Amendola is a WR, not big (5"11" 195), but deceptively fast and good hands. Dont'a Hightower was a star LB at Alabama. Look up "snot knocking" in the dictionary and you'll see "see Alabama linebackers." The collision to watch for is Seahawks' running back Marshawn Lynch against Hightower.

Have a great weekend. Think about naming your days for a weekly plan. See you on Monday!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Red Bull and Reality

If you drink Red Bull you may be due $10 in cash or $15 worth of Red Bull products.

It seems that a class action suit was filed on behalf of customers who drank Red Bull and found that it DIDN'T REALLY GIVE THEM WINGS!

So, the disillusioned drinkers and the ambulance chasing lawyers who thought up this suit nailed the Red Bull company for some bucks.

Actually, I love meeting people who think something like "it will give you wings" is true...because they are children. Children's imaginations allow them to suspend belief and actually believe, "Yeah! If I put this towel on my back like a cape I can climb on top of the shed and when I jump off I'll fly!!" And yes, sometimes the outcomes aren't happy but the kids learn a lesson.

However, when a bunch of adults and lawyers get together and try to find a way to bilk a company out of millions of dollars on something this silly...well...

But, here's the other side of the issue. We all have things, people, thoughts that we believe give us good luck, hold us back, make us faster/stronger/bigger and that's not necessarily a bad thing. If you have a lucky charm, for lack of a better way to look at it, and it gives you the confidence to try...have at it.

Just don't try to sue someone if it doesn't really give you wings.