Friday, April 6, 2018

Thanks, But No Thanks

 We’re all busy. 

But, some of us have a bad habit that makes busy even more challenging. We regularly take on more than we should. The habit’s source can be anything from having a lot of responsibilities and no one else to help to having trouble saying, “No.” 

Think about this for a moment: Do you have someone in your life who continues to lay responsibilities on your doorstep? They could be a family member—young or old—coworker, friend, neighbor or fellow church-goer. 

If you’d like to try an interesting experiment, the next time they bring you a pile of something to do simply say, “I’d love to help, but right now I’m totally swamped.” And then, shut up. 

See what their comeback is, if they have one. There will be a percentage of folks who will keep at you and it will be a wonderful opportunity to simply repeat, "As I said, I'd love to help, but right now I'm swamped." Don't say, "Maybe later, or give me a few minutes." Simply shut up. 

They'll probably give you that know the one that says, "I don't know who you are now." That's a good thing. Simply offer a light, "I'm sure you understand" smile.

However, you’ll be surprised how many will say, “Oh. Well. Ok. Thanks anyway.” And, you won’t have to worry about them as much in the future. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How to Best Use a Cellphone at Lunch

Learning a lesson that can make you much more successful is always a great thing! I just learned had one of those lessons; I learned the most effective use of a cellphone at lunch.

If you’re like me you see people on their phones at lunch all the time. Recently, saw a table of four people and all four were on their phones at the same time!

Today, I was eating lunch at Whole Foods and the person sitting next to me at the counter was reading a book…that’s right!…a book!…with pages and a cover and everything!

The wonderful lesson I learned was that she had placed her phone horizontally at the top of the open book as a way to hold the pages down so her hands were free. It was the best use of a phone at lunch I’ve ever seen.

What if, for one lunch hour a week, you read something? I don’t mean reading the newspaper or a current magazine; give that trying-to-stay-up-on-the-world part of your mind a rest. You could pick a book you’ve always wanted to read; remember those books you should have read in high school and college? Or, read a book about a topic you’ve always wanted to explore, but never thought you had enough time?

Now, some of you are thinking, “Well, Mr. Smartilonia, I could read a book on my phone.” True…but, it isn’t the same…and research proves that.

So, take a book to lunch. Plop your phone on the open pages to hold them down and as you’re reading look around. When you meet the eyes of one of those folks who’s shoveling sushi in their mouth and talking on the phone at the same time…just smirk.

I promise they are looking at you and thinking, “I should be doing that.”

Monday, March 5, 2018

How Good Can You Be?

Whether you like sports or not, hang with me for about 2 minutes.

This past weekend was extraordinary for two athletes; one at the end of life and the other at the beginning. 

Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a sub-4 minute mile died. In 1954, at the age of 25, Bannister ran a 3:59:4 mile at a time when “experts” in sports and medicine thought the effort could be deadly to those who tried. The accomplishment unlocked potential—both physically and psychologically. Six weeks later Bannister’s record was broken…but, he led the way. Eight years later Jim Beatty, a member of UNC-Chapel Hill’s track team was the first to run an indoor sub-4 at the Olympic trials in Los Angeles.

At Oxford, I had the opportunity to visit the track on which the record was broken and speak with folks who knew Bannister. He was a doctor and academic in town. By all accounts, he was a wonderful person and a outstanding professional.

The intriguing part of the story that is rarely told is that Bannister was a medical student in the early-50s and did not have time to train as other athletes did. He broke the mile into quarters and knew the time he needed to run in each quarter in order to break the record. He trained for short, intense periods. He believed that if he focused on the quarters he could last the 4 minutes it would take to break the record. Today’s high intensity training proves what Bannister believed over 60 years ago.
On Saturday, Shaquem Griffin, a linebacker from the University of Central Florida, also stretched physical and psychological boundaries by  bench pressing 225 pounds 20 times at the NFL Combine. The event showcases future college players who hope to be pros. In attendance are scouts, team executives and the media. The “Deuce and a Quarter” as it’s sometimes called is not a lot of weight for these guys, but it’s the standard for strength testing at the Combine.

Stephen Paea, a defensive tackle from Oregon State University, did 49 bench presses with 225; the most ever.

So, why is Griffin’s number important? Because, when he was 4 years old his mother found him in the kitchen with a butcher knife trying to cut off the fingers on his left hand. He had amniotic band syndrome, a congenital birth defect, that led to constant, excruciating pain. Doctors amputated the hand the next day.

Even with only one hand Shaquem kept up with his twin brother, Shaquill, on and off the field. The two played at UCF together. Shaquill was drafted last year and plays defensive back for the Seattle Seahawks.

The day after his bench press success Shaquem ran a 4.38 second 40-yard dash (the standard for speed), the fastest time by a linebacker in over 10 years. He certainly is no slouch, he was the 2017 American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year.

He said, “I always hold myself to a higher standard than a lot of people just because if we’re running drills, if I drop a ball, they’re going to be like, ‘Well, he dropped the ball because he has one hand.’ If anybody else drops a ball, they’re going to be like, ‘Well, maybe it was a bad ball.’”

Griffin was fitted with a prosthetic hand as a freshman and wasn’t able to lift the 45-pound bar. His best effort until Saturday was 11 reps with 225. He hoped he could do 6 at the Combine with the crowd watching. On Saturday, as his numbers went up, people were screaming for him.
Both these men showed what we, as humans, are capable of with determination, focus and effort….and you and I complain when our latte is too hot?


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

So, What Are Ya Afraid Of?

During the past few months I’ve felt like I was running through an obstacle course with crocodiles, dragons and pits full of lions with my pants on fire. 

Unlike many men I have no trouble admitting that my fear factor was pretty high.

Interestingly, over the last couple of days I’ve been getting messages from all kinds of sources about how to deal with fear. Online notes have just popped up, articles in magazines simply appear and TV commercials kick out the word “fear” on a regular basis.

I may not be the fastest dog on the track, but I can take a hint. Here are five of the best tips I’ve seen for dealing with fear: 

1. Do something! Get moving and take a step towards a solution right now. The interesting topic of micro-progress encourages us to take a small step.
2. Use positivity. Do something that makes you feel good. Be careful, though. Don’t choose a negative stimulus like alcohol, drugs or too much food.
3. Imagine the best. Imagine what it would be like if this situation worked out for the best. Feel what the success would be like. Use the mantra, “This is going to work out for the best!”
4. Accept that fear is part of life, it’s an innate reaction that kept us alive as cave people. I was a reaction to what we perceived as a threat to life. Understand, though, that fear today is very different than when we worried about being eaten.
 5. Ask, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Once you understand the worst threat you can come up with a plan to deal with it.

Even those among us who seem the bravest feel fear at various times. The difference in them and most of us is that they have learned to put fear in its place and keep moving.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Wanna Come Out and Play?

Don't we all want to be asked to come out and play? It means we add something to the means, in some way, we matter.

A number of issues can create a situation in which we aren't asked to come out and play as often. The new girl who moved in down the block is a better athlete or the new guy plays the piano or has a great music collection. The new employee has skills you don't have. The industry shifts.

What happened?

Things changed.

It's a cliche' to say, "the only constant is change," but as Jimmy Buffett sings, "Cliches say what they mean and mean what they say."

What's a change that's happening in your life right now?

Here are three things to think about. Let me give thanks to William Bridges, author of the Transitions books, and Seth Godin, author of The Dip for their wisdom:

- First, you have to recognize that change is here and whatever was working in the past--in that area--has ended. Do some grieving for the loss of the familiar and then pack your bags, it's time to get moving.

- You'll get to a point at which you'll be in what Godin calls "the Dreaded Middle." I call it, "The Wilderness." You'll feel lost. The best solution is to create short-term goals, reward yourself for achieving them and keep moving. Winston Churchill said, "When you're moving through Hell, keep moving."

- You'll eventually get to a New Beginning as Godin labels beginning. Now is the time to celebrate. You may not have wanted the change to happen, but you're here now. Look around and recognize what is good about it, raise a glass, and know that there will be a day when the new beginning will be the norm.

As for the change--or changes--in your life, which of the three phases are you in right now?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

What to Do On a Snow Day

What will you do with a snow day?

Granted, some folks MUST go to work and we should thank all the first responders and people who show up snow, rain, shine or hailing streetcars.

But, if you are home today--working from home is what you're tellig everyone--what are you going to get done?

Try this...pick 3 work things to get done...they don't have to be monumental, big-time projects...they can be some of those annoying things that you never seem to find time in the office to do...but, they need to be done.

Pick those things.

And then, get'em done.

And then, have some fun! Snow days aren't meant to be drudgery Get into that kid who is still in your head--sometimes buried under all that grown-up stuff--and have a snowball fight, go sledding, take a walk and enjoy the beauty of it all.

Stay warm.

Monday, January 15, 2018

"If a man is called to be a street sweeper...

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.' ”

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.