Sunday, November 29, 2015

Bleeeeaughhh!!! Whew, I Feel Better Now!

How ya feelin’ today? 

Let’s see some hands; how many of you have been on an almost non-stop eat-a-thon since last Wednesday night?

(This is the start of what I call the 6-Weeks of Gluttony Is Its Own Reward Holiday. It’s waaay easy to slide into the mindset, it’s the holidays/parties/Christmas/New Year and I’ll worry about all this on January 2.)

1—2—3—4—5…ok, ok, lots of hands going up on that question…along with both my hands!

The last four days have seen a variety of times in which I know I would have felt better if I could have done a technicolor yawn, if you get my drift.

I started with candied pecans on Wednesday night, slipped and fell into the Thanksgiving trough on Thursday, only moved from the couch (college football marathon) long enough to gorge on leftovers on Friday, ate tailgate food through Saturday while watching my UNC Tar Heels spank the NC State Wolfpack like they were 3 year-olds throwing a tantrum at Walmart, and am finishing it up with another couch-bound/football-rich day while trying to consume a whole pot of chicken bog.

However, I’ve hit the gym (well, at least, I’ve GONE to the gym) every day but Thursday and have tried to drink a couple of gallons of water. My weight has gone up by a grand total of 1 pound.

It continues to amaze me how little movement it takes to equalize the calorie intake/usage equation; and if you can, as we Southerners say, “Act like you’ve got some sense,” about eating most of the time, you see a slow but sure difference on scales and in the mirror.

Now, if we’ve never met, I’ll confess I’m more cube-like than svelte. But, by keeping moving (and keeping my consumables moving by drinking lots of water) I can successfully fight a holding battle the next 6 weeks.

For too many of us the holiday season turns into a four-month spiral. The first week of January is bowl week and that leads to college basketball getting serious and the NFL playoffs/Superbowl, and then March Madness…with non-stop food mostly eaten while sitting/lying around.

I realize I’m spinning a lot of this through sports and not everyone likes sports, but let’s be honest, we all have our excuses; if it isn’t sports it’ll be something else.

Why am I yammering on about this? Because, recently, I’ve been seeing lots more information about how our energy levels have an impact on decision-making. If we don’t have a positive energy level we are slower, physically AND mentally; we are less creative; and our emotions are under less control. All that bad stuff starts happening when we try to mash more food through our bodies than we need.

So, here are three tips for the next 6 weeks: Try to get more steps in, drink more water, and get a little more sleep. 

Let’s keep up with each other to see how we’re doing.

(I was just asked if I wanted to split a piece of pumpkin cheesecake…SIGN ME UP!!!)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thankful for Clean Underwear

While getting dressed this morning I reached into a drawer and it was…full of clean underwear. I was struck by the thought of how many folks in the world don’t have a drawer—or clean underwear—or, underwear at all for that matter.

This is Thanksgiving week in the United States. It’s the starting point of the REAL holiday season; a time for gluttony, football, for families getting together so people can argue and laugh and draw names for presents a month from now…it’s a time for more.

In fact, it’s a week of expectations. Lots of folks are expecting the ritual of Thanksgiving lunch or supper (in the South we don’t say dinner). We desire, even expect, to have the same things this year that we had last year. If I ask you to describe Thanksgiving you’ll usually give me the meal you had throughout your childhood, and if you/we don’t have those foods or activities you’ll feel mildly or deeply disappointed.

We expect Crazy/Drunk Uncle/Aunt Charlie/Charleen to get wasted by mealtime, make scene, eat a big meal (or miss it) and go to sleep in the recliner while watching the Detroit Lions game. In fact, for the people of Detroit, if the Lions didn’t play on Thanksgiving Day, as the team has for decades, they’d think it was a sign of the Apocalypse. Thanksgiving is one of those occasions that ground us; prove to us that everything in the world isn’t in a wild state of flux.

When Thanksgiving rolls around we all too often think in terms of expectations—what’s to come—rather than thankfulness, what we have. 

So, this week I’m feeling thankful for good health, a good relationship, central heat/air conditioning, a work life that’s fun, a great brother, my mother’s journey over, a mind that stays on track most of the time…and clean underwear…and all that stuff is not, necessarily, in order of importance.

What are you thankful for this week?

Share this message with a friend as a way of showing them you’re thankful for them.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Stick With Me, This Ain't Goin' Where You Think It's Goin'

To begin: At this point, pretty much everyone knows that AI means Artificial Intelligence; computers, robots, smart houses, Fitbits.

One of the hottest areas of management thought and training now has to do with EI…Emotional Intelligence. According to Psychology Today magazine, “Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include 3 skills:
1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;
3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.”

There are tons of books written and training programs attended that are focused on helping us better understand ourselves and others.

In fact, when I ask people what some of the strengths of my programs are, what they tell me leads directly to me probably having a pretty high EI factor.

However, this morning I was watching a TED talk by Morgan Spurlock. It’s called, “The Greatest TED Talk Ever Sold.” It’s only 19 minutes and it’s one of the best presentations you’ll ever see. It gives a wonderful and damning behind-the-curtain look at marketing and PR. The key message is to embrace transparency.

In the video, Spurlock visits a psychologist who asks him what his brand is. After watching the video I asked myself that question: What is Mike Collins’ brand?

The answer I came up with was EI, but a different kind. My high EI is Energetic Immaturity. A long time ago, when I looked at most of the grown-ups around me it seemed that they weren’t having a lot of fun. Oh, they’d go to parties, cheer at games, laugh at jokes, get drunk and do silly things…but, they didn’t seem to be having a lot of fun; to enjoy life. 

If you mentioned fun to them they’d pooh-pooh it; “When you grow up you have to go to work and raise a family, it isn’t all fun!” The guy who was my big brother in my college fraternity is now a retired admiral. He and I had a discussion last year about the concept of fun and work and he totally dismissed it. God Bless him! We need serious people on the front lines.

But, that ain’t me. We also need people who see the absurdity of life, who’ll take risks, and who will be transparent about it.

I realize I’m going to be who I am—for good or ill—until the day comes that I’m called to the great clown car in the sky. I gave up on living a linear life a long time ago. In fact, about 30 years ago a shrink told me, “Mike, at some point in your life you made a decision to live a life that was not going to be like what you grew up in.” Amen.

What’s your brand? What would you like for it to be? Do you need to push a few boundaries? I’m betting the risks, the dangers, are mostly in your mind. 

It’s raining outside. I’m going to go play in the rain for awhile. I’ll be thinking of all you folks behind desks, delivering stuff, in meetings, and digging ditches. I truly do appreciate what you do, but I didn’t, and don’t, want to do that; so I haven’t.

What do you want to do? When you ask what’s stopping you, do you see any image other than your own face? If you do, you’re probably fooling yourself.

Monday, November 16, 2015

This Line Made Me Stop Pedaling....

The best book about decision-making I’ve seen in the last 10 years is What Do I Do Now?, by Dr. Charles Foster. I read, and reread, bits and pieces of it while on the stationary cycle at the gym.

Today, I ran across a line that jumped off the page at me…in fact, I stopped pedaling and read it three or four times: 
“…most of us are one or two decisions away from something wonderful. Not just a turning from the road to nowhere but a new start, on a better road that leads us somewhere we want to go.”

Foster goes on to say that good decision-makers often ask themselves one question to determine the key decision:
“What problems, needs, or situations am I not paying attention to that I must make a decision about?”

I immediately asked that question and came face-to-face with a couple of issues I’ve been dodging. 

Now, I have no problem identifying my weaknesses. In fact, like a lot of folks I probably spend too much time self-identifying them. But, for some reason, today, the Mike in my head said something different. Instead of saying, “Yeah, I know that’s an issue. I need to get something  done,” today heard, “Ok. It’s time to do something about these things. Let’s stick a deadline to’em and figure out two specific steps for each that I can take to get closer to getting them done.”

What decisions have you been dodging?

Try this; Ask yourself three questions: 
1. What is my deadline for starting (not finishing) the issue?
2. What two specific steps can I take to get started?
3. What reward am I going to give myself for starting?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Cigars, Beer and a Better Life

I’m going to ask you to hang with me here, but I might as well say, “So long! Have a great weekend!” to a bunch of you because this is one of those messages a lot of you will tune out, cut off, delete, or ignore when you see the two word topic:

Your Health.

Now that the see ya! group has left the room let me start out in a way you hadn’t imagined.

Last night I was sitting on the porch watching a beautiful sunset, smoking a great Arturo Fuente Double Chateau cigar and drinking a wonderful Belgian beer, Stella Artois (see what I mean about the start?).

And yes, some of you are rolling your eyes with, “That sounds pretty hoity-toity, Mike,” and I get that. But, I don’t smoke anywhere near as many cigars as in the past and I’ve cut my beer consumption to 10-12 gallons a week, so I might as well go with the best. (Just kidding about the gallons)

I was reading an article in the December issue of Mens Journal magazine: Training Secrets of Aging Pro Athletes. Some of the stuff I’m doing; lifting weights, trying to eat better, fitting more cardio into my life (Elaine busts me about parking as far from the front door of the grocery store as I can so we get a few extra steps walking in…if it was up to Elaine we’d drive into the store and shop from the car ). Some of the strategies mentioned I’m not doing; like flying to Europe to get stem-cell therapy at $25,000 an injection.

So, I’ve almost finished the first cigar and I’m on my third beer and I have an epiphany; one of those moments in which an idea explodes with startling clarity. (Are you like me? As your blood-alcohol content goes up so do the number of great ideas you have? An electric dog polisher?!! Man, everyone would love one of those!!!)

Here’s the idea: While we realize that improving our health often increases our longevity, do we understand that it also increases our confidence? Better health allows us to work more effectively and make better decisions in all areas of life.

I immediately made a connection with the people in the entrepreneurship classes and change seminars I teach. Most of us  don’t connect better health and the broader impacts it has on our lives. We think, “Yeah, yeah. I need to exercise, lose some weight and I’ll live longer.” What we don’t think about is the impact better health has on a whole range of other issues. If you are going to start a small business or you’re going through life/work changes you’ve got to be more confident, healthier, fitter, quicker, smarter in order to survive.

How do you feel when you drop a few pounds? Pretty good, huh? And, get away from that negative, “I’ve lost five, but I need to lose 15!” Five pounds is five pounds. Keep doing what you are doing.

Anything that increases your confidence is a good thing in today’s world. There’s so much negativity and life seems to get more challenging in many areas on a daily basis. You/we/I need all the confidence we can get. To think that we can get more confidence and better health by walking a few more steps, biking a little, doing a dance/aerobics/Zumba class, or actively gardening…that’s a pretty cool and easy deal.

The two cigars and four beers I had last night had me feeling pretty confident by the time the football games came on, and I had three pages of notes, great ideas, to work on (some of which I could actually read this morning). But, I understand that I can’t use cigars/beer as the foundation of a better health program. What I have discovered, having dropped over 30 pounds since Summer ’14, is that I enjoy the cigars and beer more since they are special events instead of every night occurrences, and I’m healthier so I don’t feel as slow the next morning.

Speaking of that, it’s late morning and I’m late for the gym.

See ya, have a great weekend…and walk somewhere!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Where Does So Much of Life Go?

On a trip to present a seminar in the mountains we passed a house and happened to see a wonderful example of yard art. There was a commode beside the driveway…with flowers in it. 

I blew past it at about 70 miles and hour and thought, “Did I see what I think I saw?” I hit the breaks, turned around, and checked it out. There was a matching commode on the other side.I loved it!

Whoever lives in that house has a sense of humor. In fact, if I’m ever blasting down that road again I’d love to pull in and simply find out who they are. 

Living life has to include some fun. If you can’t look at some of the challenges you face with an understanding that life is often ridiculous, it’ll drive you crazy.

You don’t have to have a commode outside your house, but if you can’t laugh at life every now and then you’re not living life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I'll Figure Something Out

One of my potential clients is running into a couple of obstacles that need to be overcome before we can do a seminar. Yesterday, I received an email from the person in charge of the logistics and she told me not to worry, “I’ll figure something out.”

You’ll what? Am I reading that right?

“I’ll figure something out.”

How refreshing is that?! 

Too often people spend most of their time telling you why something won’t work, can’t work, never will work…and oh, by the way, I’m on break in a few minutes

“I’ll figure something out.”

Recently, I read a management piece that said managers don’t want to hear, “What do you want me to do next?” They want to hear, “Can I try this?”

“I’ll figure something out.”

Initiative, or lack of it, is clearly one of the biggest issues in the workplace today. I hate to sound like an old dope, but the most frequently heard complaint (deserved or not) by managers about Millennials is the lack of initiative.

“I’ll figure something out.”

I’m thinking about printing the phrase in big letters and framing it.