Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Create a Plate

If you could spy on our living room most evenings you'd see us watching Chopped, Bizarre Foods, Diners/Drive-Ins and Dives, or Man Vs Food.

We especially like Chopped. If you've never seen the show, chefs have to prepare 3 meals. In each case they are given a basket of various ingredients that never seem to go together...and they have to create a dish that is not only edible, but attractively presentable. The results always look and sound great!

We just saw entrees created with chicken livers, fish, turnips and some kind of candied fruit. If someone gave me that I'd probably have to put it all in a blender with tequila.

The chefs are always wonderfully creative and how they figure out what goes together is beyond me.

When was the last time you did something creative at work? Would your managers and coworkers appreciate your imagination and effort?

Are you just putting in time waiting for the gold watch? You realize they don't do that anymore...right?

Monday, October 20, 2014

One of the Good Guys Wins

Whether you're a football fan or not you have to admire Peyton Manning's record-setting setting career in the NFL. Last night, Manning, quarterback of the Denver Broncos, threw 4 touchdown passes for a new career  total of 510 in a 42-17 win against the San Francisco 49ers. The old record was 508 career touchdown passes by the Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre.

Manning spent most of his career with the Indianapolis Colts but was counted out after injuries. He has had four neck surgeries--the last a spinal fusion procedure.

His career has been renewed during the last 3 years with the Broncos. Manning is a consummate professional who makes the players around him better. There's never been even a whiff of scandal about him and every interview reinforces the image that, while he's a sports superstar, he'd be a fun guy to have a beer with.

Good guys win on a variety of levels.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Start at the Hole

I'm always concerned about using sports analogies around people who don't get into sports. They're turned off almost automatically or they just don't get it.

But, hang with me on this, it's going to sound obvious to the point of being simplistic: Professional golfers play the game differently than amateurs.


Here's one of the biggest differences...professional golfers walk a course before they play it and they walk from green to tee. That's right, they start where they want to end up and walk the course...backwards.

They'll stand at a hole and look back into the fairway and ask, "Where should I be lying so I can hit a shot and end up on the green?"

Then, they walk to that spot and look back towards the tee and ask, "Where do I need to be to hit a shot and end up here?"

Depending on how long the hole is they may repeat the process one or two more times until they get to the tee.

Engineers call it reverse engineering.

What if you did that? What if you started at your goal and worked your way back?

In life, what's one of the holes you're shooting for?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Betcha a $1000

Two of the first things I do every morning when I get a computer in front of me are check whose birthday it is today and what happened today in history. Simply search “birthdays today” and “today in history.”

I’m always kind of amazed at how many of the folks in the birthday list are people I’ve never heard of. Musicians, royalty of all nations, writers and artists, sports stars, business people, religious figures and political figures.

For instance…I’m betting $1000 you can’t tell me who either Rafael Puyana or the Empress Farah Diba were.

Tick, tick, tick….

Ok…times up!

Puyana was a baroque harpsichordist from Bogota, Columbia and Diba was an empress in Iran. I know, pretty obscure, but you see what I mean?

Betcha know who Ralph Lauren, Roger Moore (007) and Usher are, though, don’t you? Their birthdays are today, too.

Here’s my point; all the folks whom I have no clue of who they were/are did something notable. They used their skills, talents and abilities, saw an opportunity and took their best shot…ok, so Diba was born into royalty, but you catch my drift, right?

No one automatically becomes someone to remember. We all start out pretty much on the same footing.

And yes, you can whine all you want about not having opportunities, you can sing “I Am the Victim” all day long…but, there are waaaaay too many folks who start out with nothing and end up with their names on the Birthdays Today list for you to convince me that being a slacker is anything other than choice.

Make the choice. Do something.

And, if your birthday is today…or this week…Happy Birthday!

PS…that whole $1000 thing…just for legal purposes, I was kidding.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Answer a Question, Tell Us Who You Are

If you notice a lot of questions in these blogs it’s because I like questions.

Questions engage us and make us think; statements simply direct us.

A lot of the question articles you see in newspapers or magazines, or the questioning interviews on TV or the Internet, are take-offs of what is called, “The Proust Questionaire.”

Marcel Proust (1871-1922) was a French novelist considered to be one of the greatest writers of all time. When he was young he answered a series of questions in a confession album, a popular pastime for young people that showed what they thought about various topics of life. For instance, what are your favorite foods, who are your heroes in history, whom do you most admire? The album was supposed to show what type of person you are. (go to Wikipedia and search “The Proust Questionaire”…take it and see what you think)

Today, magazines such as Vanity Fair and Esquire use the questioning technique as a way to let celebrities reveal themselves. James Lipton, creator and interviewer on television's Inside the Actors Studio, asks famous actors questions as a way of teaching students.

Anthony Bourdain, the American foodie, chef and TV personality says he can tell who you are and where you’re from if you answer the question, “What is your favorite meal?”

But, lots of people don’t like questions, especially difficult ones. Why, because questions make them think and thinking is hard work. Most folks want the easy way out, the path of least resistance. Questions may reveal difficult answers; answers that make us uncomfortable.

What is the most difficult question you’ve been asked? Not a question on a test, but a question about you.

(see, that made you think…and you probably don’t have a quick, easy answer…and now you’re thinking, “I don’t have time for this” and you’re ready to move on…or, you’re thinking , “Well, Mr. Question, what’s your most difficult question?”…and I’m thinking, “I’d tell you, but it might get me in trouble.”)


Friday, October 10, 2014

A Win or a Waste

On Monday, we had lunch at the Strawberry Street Café in Richmond, Va. It's a wonderful little place with a salad bar in a big, claw-foot tub. One of the last times I dined there was in 1978 while living in Richmond; sat in the same booth on Monday that I sat in so many years ago.

While having lunch I thought about all the events of the last 36 years. As my brother pointed out, “that’s a couple of lifetimes ago.”

That got me to thinking about Muhammad Ali's comment, “A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

What have I learned in the last 36 years? I certainly make some of the same mistakes…not all the same mistakes, mind you…but my toes are often sore from tripping over some of the same old things.

I would have to also say that some of the demons that haunted me in 1978 sure seem small today. I can certainly say that some of the decisions I’d make then I wouldn’t…and don’t…make now.

So, some learning has to have taken place; and yes, I certainly have the burned fingers and sore toes to show for it.

Would I do some things differently if I could go back? While I’ve never been one of those, “I have no regrets,” kind of folks I have to believe that if I changed something I probably wouldn’t be who I am and where I am and with the people I’m with today.

Tough choice.

Try this simple exercise over the weekend. Ask yourself: What’s one lesson you’ve learned? One path you regularly trod in the past that you don’t take now? What’s one area in which it seems you've learned the lesson?


What’s one area of life in which you just…haven’t…gotten…it? A good way to spot the thin ice is to ask yourself, “What one decision in life, if I chose the opposite of what I often do, would have a definite, positive impact on my life?” 

It could be something affecting your life physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually, career, socially, family or mentally (what you’d like to learn).

The area doesn’t have to be monumental. It could be a simple, small choice that would have a definite, positive impact.

Play the game. On Monday you’ll be glad you did.

And remember, fall’s here! Have a great weekend!

PS....the North Carolina State Fair opens this weekend. I can see an Emu burger in my future!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Do I Smell Smoke?

Today is National Fire Prevention Day. but I’m going in the opposite direction.

What if you declared today, Personal Start a Fire Day?

Here’s two areas to think about: First, you know those slackers in your life who talk about being burned out but they haven’t even flamed up yet? Well, today’s the day! Give’em a reason to feel the heat. Demand (nicely) that they be accountable and responsible. Some of’em will step up and meet the challenge; others will fold and will give you a reason to point the flamethrower at them. Burn’em up! Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of General Electric, once said that we should fire the bottom 10% of our workforce every year. The act would light a fire under the folks just above the bottom 10% and moral would go up among the folks who had been carrying the dead weight.

Second, look for an area of life in which you need to fire yourself up. Create a close, short-term goal you can reach within a day or two. The confidence you gain by reaching the new goal will create the heat you need to burn up the next goal.

Personal Start a Fire Day is today! Let’s light a torch and start burning something!