Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ramblings and Resolutions

Today’s topic is a gimmee…Resolutions.

New Year’s Resolutions only come in two flavors: You resolve to stop doing something you’ve been doing, or, you resolve to start doing something you haven’t been doing.

I guess the objective of resolutions is to have a better life. If you eat better, exercise a little more, get to bed a little earlier, stress a little less, be a little nicer, and work a little harder maybe life comes out the way you at least think it’s supposed to be.

Which brings me to regrets. Do we create resolutions because, in some cases, we regret not eating better, not exercising enough, staying up later than we should, getting stressed about silly things, not being nice, or slacking off?

I always wonder about those folks who say, “I have no regrets.” It strikes me that if that’s true they either have no imagination or no conscience.

I regret a ton of stuff from the past year and the past decade.

But, when I think of the things I regret I keep thinking that life is like going to the state fair. You’re jacked up about going and you get there in the morning when the sky is bright and the air is cool and the sensory explosion is almost overwhelming and you try to ride every ride no matter how scary and you eat lots of fair food and see all the exhibits and walk until your feet hurt and smell the animals and see lots of people you’re glad you don’t look like and try and win something for your sweetie and get embarrassed ‘cause you don’t or get elated because you do and meet new folks and get lost and then you find the folks you came with and then it starts getting dark and you know you’ll have to leave soon and you push for a little more fair food and a few more rides and exhibits and then, the next thing you know you’re walking through the gate and on your way home. And you ride home tired, and miserable because you ate too much fair food, rode too many rides, and saw exhibits and animal shows until your mind was numb. And you resolve to not do that again.

Or, it’s a good miserable. And you did it all. And you’d do it the same way again. It depends on how you see your day at the fair.

So, does it help to make resolutions? Probably. Just thinking about making resolutions turns out to be an exercise in self-evaluation and that’s a good thing in moderation.

Now, lean back for a few minutes and tally up this past year: Pluses and Minuses. Then tally up the last decade in the same way. Now, look ahead and ask one last question for 2010 and the ‘10s: If I only get one day at the fair, how do I get more of what I want and less of what I don’t want?

And remember, the fair closes sooner rather than later.

Be careful if you’re out tonight.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Where, and Who?

So, how’s your planning for 2010 and after coming along?

Try to look at it from a simple perspective.

Someone once told me that there are only two questions you need to answer in life:
- Where do you want to go?
- Who do you want to take with you?

Where do you want to go physically (your health), spiritually, emotionally, your career, intellectually, and the environment in which you live?

Who do you want to take with you in terms of a significant other, family, friends, and acquaintances?

Where, and who?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

That Which is Old is New

Ok, I have a confession that I’m sure some of you will click with: I LOVE quilts!

You may remember what it was like when you were a child. The grown-ups would put you in bed at your grandparents on a cold night and throw all those quilts on top of you. If you were like me you were thinking, “I sure hope they don’t forget me. I can’t even get out from under these things to go pee!”

But, wasn’t it warm? And the weight felt so comforting.

I’ve always loved quilts and about 20 years ago I made few. Not the patchwork style, mind you; even if I had the skills, I don’t have the patience. My quilts were essentially fabric sandwiches stitched together. But, they were cheap to make, felt great and lasted forever. My goal was to make art quilts that I wouldn’t mind throwing on a bed or on the floor.

My Christmas gifts to myself this year were some quilting books and some tools. I’m gettin’ back into quilting and I’ll let you know how it goes.

What activity from the past did you really enjoy that you’ve lost touch with? Wouldn’t you like to rediscover it? You’ll be surprised at how the rediscovery will energize you.

We can all use new/old activities to keep us growing.

What’s yours?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Just a Couple of Hours

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Christmas is over and I’ve made it through, alive.

Now, we’re looking down the barrel of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

What do you do with the 3-4 days between right now, Monday, and New Year’s Eve?

Lots of folks see these as the lost days; nothing much happening at work unless you work in retail or an emergency room (and I’ve worked retail so I can tell you that sometimes there’s not much difference).

My suggestion is that you use the time to do some of that planning you always say you are GONNA do, but never get around to. When you hit the ground running next Monday the thought of taking a chunk of time out of your day to plan for the next year, or for the rest of your life, will seem like an impossible luxury.

Here’s your starter: What? Why? Who? Where? When? How? How Much?

Those questions will get you started when creating a plan to do anything.

So, come on and let’s do some planning…for the next year and for life.

I’ll go first.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

All I Want for Christmas

When I stopped at a local mall to buy one last item (something utilitarian for myself…not a gift) I was…well…annoyed at how hard it was to even get into the parking lot. And then almost every spot was taken. And there was an Army of late shoppers frantically trying to get their shopping done.

I know, I know, it’s Christmas.

Ok, I sound like a Scrooge. But, I remember my father saying, “Why is all this buying and going and doing jammed into one time of year? Why can’t we treat people every day like we treat them at Christmas?”

I thought it was kinda dumb at the time. I don’t think it’s dumb now.

Here’s my question: How many of the latest toys (help me with the Zhu Zhu pet thing) and technology will be broken by lunchtime on Christmas Day? How many of the sweaters, shirts, ties, and accessories will never be worn?

Let’s be honest…Christmas is much more for the givers than the getters. It’s about giving what you think the other person should have, not necessarily what they want. And we don’t often know what they really want because we don’t really listen to them.

Here’s my suggestion: Spend the next few days really listening to people. Often, they will tell you in one way or another that they want to truly know (not just hope, think, or assume) that you love them, that you appreciate them, that you are glad they are in your life.

I’ll go first: I’m glad you are here. Thanks for reading.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

See you next Monday.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Where Ya Comin' From?

In today’s comics Dennis the Menace is sitting on Santa’s lap. He’s been asked the obvious seasonal question and replies, “It depends on what your definition of good is.”

I’ve been thinking about relative definitions lately for a variety of reasons.

Words like good or bad, smart or dumb, fast or slow, strong or weak, can have different definitions for different people.

Your definition depends on…well…the old ‘60s phrase, “where you’re comin’ from.”

Whenever anyone offers an opinion (which is based on where they’re comin’ from) it’s almost impossible for us not to jump to a conclusion depending on where we’re comin’ from.

Taking the time to consider where they might be comin’ from slows us down…and makes us think. And, to be honest, most folks don’t want to do think because they might realize something that challenges where they’re comin’ from.

I think that’s pretty true…or not…dependin’ on where you’re comin’ from.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Duct Taping Children to a Stop Sign

This is the weekend for Christmas parties. For the politically correct and all our friends of non-Christian faiths these would be Holiday Parties.

For many people this is the most wonderful weekend of the year. They get to see old friends, make new ones, and revive traditions. For a lot of other folks, this will be a difficult weekend for a lot of different reasons.

Some people are thrown into situations with family and others with whom they don’t exactly….get along. For those folks, remember, patience is a virtue. And, you can stand anything for a few hours.

For others, it may be a weekend of watching others celebrate. They’ll spend the weekend watching television, riding around looking at lights and buying a couple of presents. For those folks, remember, it’s only a couple of days.

Here are three suggestions that will allow you to live through the weekend and the next week:
- Lighten up. Don’t expect anyone to be perfect. Retail and food service workers, fellow partiers, other drivers, and family members are experiencing much of the same stress you are.
- Consume 2/3 what you would normally consume. That goes for meals, drinks, snacks, anything you ingest. You don’t have to feel miserable to celebrate.
- Find time to take a nap. A short one is great, a longer one is better. Even if you have to duct-tape your kids to the columns out on the porch, or a sign out on the street, it’s a high stress time and you need more rest.

Have a wonderful weekend and get a great start on the holidays….whichever ones you’re celebrating.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Belle of the Ball

Recently, I read an article that noted North Carolina’s dubious honor as one of the primary sources of fake IDs.

For some reason my mind jumped immediately to the diploma mills you see on the internet.

OK, so I had a weak moment and for the fun of it got ordained as a minister by an internet church. According to what I found out I can perform weddings, and do christenings and funerals. I was thinking about getting one of those “Minister” stickers for my car so that I could park anywhere, but that’s probably more than you need to know. Bless you.

Back to the diploma mills. There’s an online university that, if you want to read about 10 books and write 10 papers, they’ll give you a doctorate. Now, let’s be honest. The credibility of having a doctorate could provide access to a fair number of opportunities, especially considering what I do for a living.

However, when their promotional materials said that at the end of the program you get “a diploma suitable for framing,” the whole thing seemed a little ridiculous.

You’d be surprised if you knew how many folks are faking it…faking education, credentials (oh yeah, no one lies on resumes, especially in a tough economy), lifestyles, income, political views, attitudes…you name it. My friends from Texas talk about people who are all hat and no cattle.

In fact, there is that wonderful cliché: Fake it ‘til you make it.

Here’s the deal: Don’t feel inferior, intimidated or outdone by someone until they’ve shown that they have the credibility, skills, accomplishments or….mmm…juice…to warrant your respect.

Be cordial, but don’t assume that just because they’re wearing a pretty dress they’re the belle of the ball.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

We're Doomed!

Today is George Santayana’s birthday (1863-1952).

A philosopher, writer and educator, it was Santayana who said, “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

WE’RE DOOOMED! DOOOOMED, I SAY!!!!!

Just kiddin’. I like that doomed phrase.

Here’s the lesson: What did you learn yesterday that you can use today?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Toads or Toast?

Should you do your most important task first thing each day?

Mark Twain said, “If you have to eat a toad, eat it first thing in the morning.”

Toads or not, I wonder if the “first thing” philosophy is best.

I believe that for morning people the first thing strategy works. But, for people whose energy level jumps in the afternoon, maybe mid-afternoon focus is best.

Ask yourself, “If I had to eat a toad when”…mmm…maybe another example would work.

Monday, December 14, 2009

If You Don't Go, You Don't Know

“If you don’t go, you don’t know.”

I first saw the quote above in the wonderful monthly column, “What I’ve Learned,” in Esquire magazine. If you aren’t familiar with the column, go to esquire.com, click Features, then click What I’ve Learned. The interviews range across the entire spectrum of society.

Back to the quote.

It is absolutely the truth. There are many situations in life in which other people just ab-so-lutely can not tell you what it’s like, whatever it is. So, unless you go, there is no way you can know.

However, the danger is that the price of knowing may not be worth the going.

And, that’s the rub. You may not begin to know the price until you are on the way, until you are in the process of going. The sluggoes around you will say, “I told you so.” “You knew you shouldn’t have gone.” “I hate you for going.” “The rules said you couldn’t/shouldn’t go.”

But, they aren’t you.

The silver lining is that once you know…you know. And, in knowing, you find that your life has changed. Any time you learn something new, especially if it’s in the big categories, your life changes.

Here’s the most important thing I’ve learned about, “If you don’t go, you don’t know,”…once you know, what do you do with the knowing?

If the knowing changes your life for the better it was worth going, no matter what the cost. If it changes your life in a negative way, at least now you know.

If you learn something important and you keep doing the same things…you’re a dope.

The quote came from an interview with Robert Deniro.

Go somewhere this week…so you’ll know.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Using a Whip and Chair in the Center Ring

Yesterday, I had a great time lecturing in the Executive Masters Program at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health.

Well, lecturing is not really the right word….being a ringmaster is more appropriate. I do this a couple of times a year and the folks who run the program and the attendees are great. Many of the attendees are physicians, executives with health care organizations, and consultants. They are all smart people and almost all of them are focused, ambitious, high-energy folks WHO WOULDN’T LET GO OF THEIR CRACKBERRIES AND LAPTOPS TO STOP EMAILING DURING THE LECTURE EVEN IF YOU HELD A GUN TO THEIR HEADS!

So, I didn’t hold a gun to their heads…I made a deal with them. I said, “We’ll get out a little bit early as long as I don’t see a laptop or hand-held device in use during class time.”

And you know what? They did it. Amazing!

However, it wasn’t that amazing if you understand that, together, we found the appropriate reward.

People will most often perform the way you want as long as you offer the reward they want. Just realize, it may not be the reward you would want.

Where do you want to go? And what reward do you want waiting for you when you get there?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Don't Waste Your Time

Are you trying to hard?

At some point we reach a point of diminishing returns.

In lots of areas of life we get to a point where the same effort brings less rewards. A great example is eating…anything. After awhile your taste buds deaden out and you gain less enjoyment frm continuing to eat or drink the same thing.

This often happens in efforts we make in life. While I admire folks who say, “I always give 100%!,” I don’t think some of them are all that smart.

In about 80% of the projects we get involved in we could do them 80% and we’d be fine. The extra 20% we put into them do not bring us all that much more reward or pleasure.

In about 20% of the projects we get involved in we need to give 100% (and talking about giving 110% is just a saying, it’s impossible to do).

One of your most important objectives in life is to figure out what to give 80% to and what to give 100% to.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nothing Works the First Time

Like many movie fans I am eagerly awaiting the much-promoted new movie, Avatar, directed by James Cameron (Titanic, Aliens, Terminator). It premieres a week from Friday, on December 18.

A wonderful article about the movie in the current issue of Time magazine notes that during the filming (that’s kind of an obsolete word in a digital world, isn’t it?) a crew member wrote a set catchphrase on a whiteboard: “It’s Avatar, dude, nothing works the first time.”

The technology Cameron used is so new (it supposedly creates 3-D images that you don’t need the silly, cardboard glasses to see) that…well…nothing worked the first time.

I’m in the middle of trying to learn some new technology myself and am frustrated beyond what is probably good for me. My young friends aren’t daunted and I envy their patience.

I’m going to take the note from the Avatar set to heart; “Dude, nothing works the first time.”

How much more patient and less frustrated would we be if we looked at a lot of the challenges we take on in life like that? Wouldn’t we cut ourselves a little more slack than we often do?

Try it: “Dude...or Dudette...nothing works the first time.”

(Unless it’s a parachute.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You Never Know

Not long ago I read an article pushing the idea that the music of The Beatles was a significant force in influencing the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the USSR.

The point was that the freedom expressed by the music showed young Soviets that there might be something better in a different way of life.

The irony of today is that it’s the anniversaries of the murder of John Lennon (‘80) and the day the USSR was dissolved (‘91).

When I read the article I thought it was a cool thought, whether true or not. But, when I saw the two anniversaries of today I thought, “We never know the effect we have on others.”

And then I thought about an email a friend sent last week. I know some of it is hokey, but here’s part of the email:

1. At least 2 people in this world love you so much they would die for you.

2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.

3. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you.

4. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.

5. You mean the world to someone.

6. If not for you, someone may not be living.

7. Someone that you don't even know exists loves you.

8. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.

9. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good can still come from it.

10. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world.

***The key is that we often do not know the effect we have on others…on life…in the short or long term.

Seems to me that the best idea is to do the best you can, with what you have, where you are, and in spite of what seems to be a negative world in many ways, believe that good things will happen.

By the way, today is also Jim Morrison’s birthday (’43, The Doors).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why Not Start With a Laugh?

Why not start the week off with a laugh? These are actual comments made on students' report cards by teachers in the New York City public school system. All teachers were reprimanded, but boy, are these funny!
1. Since my last report, your child has reached rock bottom and has started to dig.
2. I would not allow this student to breed.
3. Your child has delusions of adequacy.
4. Your son is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.
5. Your son sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.
6. The student has a 'full six-pack' but lacks the plastic thing to hold it all together
7. This child has been working with glue too much.
8. When your daughter's IQ reaches 50, she should sell.
9. The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming.
10. If this student were any more stupid, he'd have to be watered twice a week.
11. It's impossible to believe the sperm that created this child beat out 1,000,000 others.
12. The wheel is turning but the hamster is definitely dead.

Have a great week!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Technology is Magic to Some of Us

Am trying to put together a new website and I continue to be amazed at how young people today are so comfortable with technology. I have some young friends, one of whom is brilliant with web-based tools, and it’s like watching David Copperfield perform magic when this young guy puts his hands on a keyboard.

The news that many of us over 40 don’t want to hear is that if you are not comfortable with web issues, Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In you are truly falling behind in the workplace…and in life.

Fortunately or unfortunately, we live in a world in which we are all connected. And it’s going to get better…or worse, depending on how you view these issues.

Look at it like this, it’s all change and change is good. It might not make us comfortable but it isn’t slowing down so the best thing to do is embrace it, understand that there will be an almost constant level of anxiety for a lot of us with gray hair, and learn as much as you can as fast as you can.

Try this: Learn one new thing on your computer or cell phone this weekend. In fact, if you have kids, get them to teach it to you. They’ll like the teaching part, you’ll be ok with their teasing, and you both win.

And, if you care about someone who likes sports…just understand that they will be glued to the TV tomorrow with all the college football conference championships and hot college basketball games being played. Bring’em a cold drink and get’em to promise to do something nice for you in exchange for your patience.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Devil or Angel?

Last night was great, the Bio Network showed a two-hour special about one of the greatest movies ever made, Animal House.

One of my favorite scenes is when Pinto, played by Tom Hulce, takes a young girl to a bedroom during a party. (Hulce was educated at the North Carolina School of the Arts and later nominated for Best Actor for Amadeus)

When his date passes out before they can …mmm….start, Pinto is conflicted about what to do. In a hilarious sequence that is so true to life in so many situations he experiences a little devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. The devil and angel are obviously his good and bad natures, and they are both telling him what he should do. If you’ve seen the movie you know that the angel wins and the devil is not happy about it as the two little characters poof into oblivion.

Our devils and angels argue all the time about decisions we make in life. One of my friends says that sometimes you have to treat your conscience like a dog, “Tell it to shut up and go sit in the corner.” I don’t know that that is a good idea, but I do know there are times we wish we had listened to the voice on the other shoulder.

However, don’t just think that the devil is bad and angel is good. Think about the times when you do something that is out there on the edge and you might use the Flip Wilson, “The devil made me do it” reasoning. The devil could be a good devil pushing you into an experience that will expand and enlighten you. Your cautious angel is trying to hold you back, to keep you safe. If you are waaaaay tightly tied to the good/bad connection, you might want to think of the angel as your inner voice coaxing you to a better life (even if it is kinda scary) while the devil is trying to keep you in a rut.

Interestingly, when older people are asked what they regret most in life they almost always respond that it’s the things they did not do that they regret more than what they did do.

There’s something you are trying to decide. Which are you listening to today…angel or devil?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Little Human Gifts

Today is Special Education Day and Special Kids Day, a day on which we honor children with developmental and physical challenges.

There are a couple of children, girls, in my extended family who live with challenges and I am always amazed at what appears to be their level of happiness and joy. They seem to experience life in the moment and revel in everything from a kitten to a piece of candy. I always wonder what life looks like through their eyes.

One of the children, Abby, suffers from Rett’s Syndrome, a severely debilitating condition that afflicts 1 in 50,000 girls. For years, when Abby saw me or heard my voice she would shout, “Mike!” In fact, she shouted it at a funeral at which I was a pallbearer. It was one of the most delightful moments of my life.

We are often inhibited from interacting with children with special needs because of our concern that we won’t know how to act if they do or say something we are unprepared to handle.

Don’t let your concerns prevent you from at least smiling and nodding to the parent and the child. Your smile may be the only smile they see that day.

These little human gifts deserve all the smiles they can get, and they will often be the first to give you one.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Woodie in Some Old Jeans

I've been amazed by a couple of things over the last few days: the Tiger Woods silliness and a short piece that was in the paper about a pair of century-old denim jeans selling for $25,000 at auction.

Here's my take on these events: Either we live in a society that is so wonderfully successful and affluent that a family spat and 100+ year-old blue jeans make the news...or...we are so adrift in a sea of irrelevance that a family spat and 100+ year-old blue jeans make the news.

I'm thinking it's probably a little of both.

But, here's the more important point, when you read the sentences above you had one of two thoughts: Isn't that wonderful...or, We're screwed.

You were either positive or negative, or, as you might interpret the situation about other peoples' perceptions, they were either realistic or delusional.

You interpreted the events based on your world/life view. There's a ton of new research that shows that a more postive, optimistic view of life is better for your health and can, in fact, lead to a longer life.

So, my view is that I hope the Woods' get a handle on their disagreements and I hope whoever bought those jeans can fit into'em.

Monday, November 30, 2009

UB+

The news is covered up with the story of Tiger Woods driving out of his driveway at 2:25 am on Saturday morning and running into a fire hydrant and then a tree in his neighbor's yard. Woods was evidently banged up but his wife, Elin, broke one of the car’s windows with a golf club and helped him out.

In a short article about denim in today’s newspaper I saw that a pair of 100+ year-old denims were recently sold for $25,000 at auction.

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking one of two things: “What in the world could be the connection between the world’s greatest golfer and a century-old pair of blue jeans?” or, “Mike is so ticked about Carolina blowing a lead to NC State and losing 28-27 that he’s finally gone over the edge.”

Nope.

Here’s the deal: You have to be living in one of two places for news items like those I mentioned to be featured in the media; especially with the prominence of the Woods’ event.

Either, (A) we live in a society that is so wonderfully affluent that silly things like Woods and old pants are news; or, (B) we live in a society that is so far off track from what is truly important that it’s gonna take a meteor strike to get us focused.

The reality is that it’s probably a little of both.

However, whichever view—A or B—you automatically chose tells a lot about your life view…positive or negative. And the wild thing about the A or B stuff is that either comment could go either way.

Take a moment and write this down…”U B +.” That’s right, UB+…that’s your sign and mantra for this week.

You Be Positive. UB+.

Go forth.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wal-Mart at 5 am

I’d love to write something business-focused but on Black Friday (for shoppers) and Fun Friday (for folks who love college football) I’ve got to go with the fun stuff.

My heart goes out to all those folks who are working today, especially the ones working in retail and the restaurant business. It’ll be a wild day.

A friend called a moment ago and she was at a Wal-Mart at 5 am.

Madness.

However, if you look at the jobs, income, profits, and economic boost today offers it’s hard to get too cranked up about the craziness of today.

Oooops, did I slide into biztalk?

Going to the Carolina/NC State football game tomorrow…rivalry Saturday all over the country.

Find someone to pull for…or against…and enjoy the spirit.

See you Monday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'll Always Love My Mama

The cover article for this week's issue of Time magazine is about helicopter parents and how they are trying to overcome their smothering attention of their children. About a week ago I read an article in a journal about the fact that parents have much less of an impact on kids than childrens' peer groupls.

We are sliding into the time of year in which parents are naturally on our minds. My father is gone, but this afternoon I'm driving down to my hometown to spend Thanksgiving with my mother. I started thinking about the wonderful soul group, The Intruders, and their 1973 hit, "I'll Always Love My Mama."

I'll always love my Mama 'cause she's my favorite girl.
I'll always love my Mama, she brought me in this world.

In this season of Thanksgiving if you still have one or both of your parents, and they are reasonably healthy and coherent (in this day and age coherent could mean a lot of things), you should be thankful. If one or both of your parents are not doing well you have my concern and prayers.

In Bonnie Raitt's song, "Nick of Time," she sings that time changes our bodies and those of our parents and we look at each other and it makes us both feel strange.

Watching our parents is often like looking into our own futures.....scary isn't it? The older I get the more I believe that when most of us look ahead and see fewer days, the uncertainty and fear makes us all act a little squirrelly in positive and less-than-positive ways.

Let this holiday season be the one, even if only for a day, in which you help your parents and other older family members and friends have the holiday they envision.

And let it be a thankful holiday for you. It is for me.

Have a great Thanksgiving, and be careful on the roads.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Daily Dozen

For decades members of our military services have cherished the concept of The Daily Dozen.

It’s a physical training concept: Twelve exercises that form the core of a daily fitness routine. Pushups, sit-ups, Jumping Jacks, and other exercises are familiar to millions of veterans and active duty soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

What are your Daily Dozen, or Daily Seven or Daily Five….and I don’t necessarily mean exercises?

What are the activities you need to engage in every day that, cumulatively, will assure that you succeed in having the life you want?

Here’s my Daily Dozen: Do something spiritual (read, meditate, pray): Sell Something/do something that makes money: Work on my business: Workout (move in some physically challenging way): See, talk to, or think about someone I love (if possible, tell someone I love them): Read something that can have an impact on my life (ex. success literature), Write something (this blog is a great check-off item): Learn something: A little fun: Good food: Laugh: Cry.

The last item may surprise you. The late coach Jim Valvano said everyone should think, laugh and cry every day.

What few things can you do every day that make sure you get where you want to go in life?

I find my Daily Dozen to be a wonderful measuring stick for my day. Every evening I look at the list posted on the board in front of my desk and ask, “How many can I check off for today?”

Monday, November 23, 2009

Give'em What They Want

This is Thanksgiving week so the official start of the holiday season is here. That’s opposed to the business start of the season which begins the day after Labor Day.

This morning I read an interesting take on how to experience the holidays. The basic point was that the holidays, and friends and family, rarely live up to the idealized, Norman Rockwell-painting version many of us have in our minds.

So, if our reality does not fit our grand image how do we move through the disappointment? Service. We try to do what we can to help others have the type of holidays they imagined.

If the holidays are a time of giving, then give. And it’s not just about giving tangible gifts. The best gift you can give others is to get to know them enough to know what they really want (again, it isn’t always about stuff) and then give them that. Only giving others what you want them to have is more a gift to yourself than to others.

If times for you are tight, which for many they are, give gratitude. Being truly thankful for the gifts of life you have received this past year is enough.

(If you’d like to read the source of the message go to MondayMorningMemo.com and click “Read Memo.”)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Waterhole #3

While talking with a friend the other day he mentioned a business situation he was going to participate in. I thought it was a great idea and started talking about what a wonderful expansion of his business this new opportunity could be.

He said, “Mike, don’t confuse this with what it really is.”

For him, he was right. For someone else, the opportunity might be the key to a new future. But for him, it was a short-term solution to a problem.

In life, how often do we make the mistake of trying to make much more out of a situation than it should be?

I asked myself, “Which happens more often, we make more out of something than it really is; or we don’t take a situation as seriously as we should?”

(email me and tell me what you think)

The question reminded me of a wonderful western spoof, Waterhole #3, with James Coburn. At the key point in the movie, which is about a bunch of folks trying to get some gold out of a waterhole, Coburn is riding out of town and he stops, turns in his saddle and says, “Some people don't take gold too seriously….and then, some people don’t take it seriously enough.”

Which is it? What are you making more of than it really is? And what are you not taking seriously enough?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sharing Selflessly

Owning a business is a constant journey on which you find new places, have new experiences and meet new people. Maybe that experience of discovery is one of the best reasons many of us take the challenge.

Too often, though, the new people we meet who have knowledge that would help us are reluctant to share the knowledge because they believe, especially in tough times, that the knowledge they share might give the other person an advantage, or it will mean lost dollars.

But, when you meet someone who is not only willing to share but does so in a wonderfully giving way it's a true bonus of life. Haj Dove is one of those folks. His knowledge of how the Internet can be used for business is truly amazing and, over lunch on Wednesday, he was kind enough to share a wide range of strategies that will make my effort to spread the word about The Perfect Workday more efficient and effective.

Haj's business is at dovemarketplace.com. He offers all kinds of cool gifts and with the holidays coming it's a great place to visit. I'll be shopping there this year. Check it out.

Educators have motto, "Steal shamelessly, share selflessly." That's not a bad way to look at business, and life.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tearing the Top Off the Kool Aid Packet

“I drank the Kool Aid on that,” is a phrase I sometimes use to show that I am an all-in, totally committed believer or participant in whatever the issue might be.

Today is the 31st anniversary of the creation of the phrase.

On November 18, 1978, Reverend Jim Jones and his cult died in the biggest murder/suicide in modern history in Jonestown, Guyana. Jones and his minions killed themselves with cyanide-laced Kool Aid. Survivors talked about participating in earlier drills in which all the members of the group drank Kool Aid they believed might kill them. They had bought into Jones’ religious message so deeply that they were willing to end their lives if he told them to.

Now, forget about the dying part; is there ANYTHING you’ve drunk the Kool Aid about? How about love, family, money (financial independence), God, good health, fun, your kids, democracy, that you control your own destiny, that someone or something else controls your destiny, prejudice (whoever the THEM might be), that the world owes you something, that men/women are jerks, that bosses are always trying to get something on you, that the people you manage are slackers?

What belief might you hold so deeply that you simply act on it without thinking? When that happens, especially if the belief is negative, you need to hear the sound of the top being torn off that little Kool Aid packet. Remember that?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Train In the Diistance

The entire human race can be divided into two groups…melody people and lyric people. I tend to be a melody guy; my brother focuses on the lyrics. The implications are pretty deep when you think about it, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Joe has been trying to get me to listen to a Paul Simon song, “Train in the Distance,” for quite awhile and until Sunday I had not had a chance. I downloaded it and listened to it four or five times. Am listening to it right now as I write this.

There are some incredible lines (go to Lyrics.com and check’em out), but the ones that have really stuck with me are: “Everyone loves the sound of a train in the distance, and everyone thinks it’s true,” and, “the thought that things could be better is woven indelibly into our hearts and brains.”

Well, YEAH. If that ain’t America I don’t know what is….if we don’t believe there’s something better out there in some areas of life then it’s the movie Groundhog Day (living the same day over and over) all the time. Ya gotta believe that the future is going to be better in some way than the present, or, especially, the past.

Victorian poet Robert Browning said, “Your reach should exceed your grasp, or what’s a Heaven for?”

Ab..so…damn…lutely!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Light In the Sky

Saturday was an incredible day in Chapel Hill. The Heels were playing Miami (Ok, we won…and that was great, but not the point) at 3:30 pm in the final home game of the season, the sky was a brilliant Carolina Blue, the stands were reasonably full at the end of a week in which it seemed that everything you read was about basketball season starting, and a flyover was scheduled.

Here’s three words for you: I love flyovers. For a lot of reasons that I’ll tell you in a moment, so hang with me…’cause that really is the point of this blog, but keep reading.

At about a minute before kickoff, as the captains are calling the toss, a glint of reflected light on the far eastern horizon caught my attention. I pulled up the binoculars and sure enough, the light is bouncing off the canopies of 4 F/A-18s banking left and lining up on Kenan Stadium.

It looked as if they were crawling through the air toward us and the lead fighter’s nose was pointing right at my seat. As they blasted overhead that wonderful deafening roar choked me up, as always.

So, as the comedian Ron White would say, “I had to tell you that so I can tell you this.”

The thing that gets me emotional every time I experience one of these flyovers is this question: “What, in the grand span of the universe, did I do in a previous life that was so good that I have been fortunate enough to be born into a country and time that can create a machine that magnificent, and grow young people smart and brave enough to fly them and to put themselves in harm’s way on my behalf?”

I understand my friends’ knee-jerk reactions about war machines, and better use of resources and all that. I get it.

But, we have the opportunity to have non-violent debates about those topics thanks to the types of folks, and machines, that flew over Kenan Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

That loud roar? That’s the sound of the blanket of freedom being pulled over you every night as you lay safely in bed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Correction...Help Me

I rarely post twice in a day, but the events of the last few hours beg for a correction. I’ve spent the last four hours coming to the understanding that there is a difference between taking the easy way out, and following the path of least resistance. (Read the last blog and get the background.)

And the difference isn’t just a matter of semantics.

The easy way is…well…the easy way. Take another drink. Eat another donut. Be late to work, come back from lunch late, leave work early. The easy way if often simple laziness.

The path of least resistance means following your true nature. And figuring that out sometimes takes some thought and requires making choices. It means following the path of who you know yourself to be.

Now, let’s be honest; if you don’t really know who you are, if you’ve always been someone else (that happens when you do things because other people think you ought to do them instead of because you are doing what you know resonates with the real you) then you’ve got to spend some time getting in touch with who you really are, what you want, and what your vision of your life is.

Whataya think? Am I off base or not? Email me or go to my Facebook page and tell me what you think. This idea has captured me and I’m going to ride it until I get an answer or the horse drops under me.

Is there are difference between the easy way, and the path of least resistance? Tell me.

Easy or Hard

Like a lot of you I’m working through some challenges in life right now. As I talk to people I hear, “You know, nothing worth having is easy.”

I’m willing to bet that some of you hold the belief so deeply that you just nodded your head with that sage, “That’s true, that’s true.”

But, is it?

Whenever everyone believes something it’s time to start asking yourself if it really is true. Or, are people saying it’s true and believing it simply because people are saying it’s true and believing it. Does everyone REALLY deserve a second chance? Is EVERY bird in the hand worth two in the bush?

I’m slowing but surely starting to ask myself, “Isn’t the way that seems easiest the best way in a lot of situations?” I can hear some of you grown-ups right now, “If it’s easier to (put any ridiculous example here) should you do that?” I’m not talking about things like, “Should I wear footy pajamas to work just because they're the only thing clean in my drawer?”….mmmm….ok, so who’s been to my house and looked…..ooops, sorry, I digressed.

But, here’s part of my evolving logic: Professor Adrian Bejan at Duke University is literally one of the smartest people on the planet, he is in the list of 100 scientists around the world whose work is most cited by other scientists, and Bejan’s Constructal Law (Google Constructal Law) shows that, as humans, we look for the path of least resistance. We’ve done this throughout our evolution because it’s a way to conserve energy and assure our survival. I’m beginning to wonder if this is the way to go on a lot of life decisions.

What feels right? My quote yesterday from Cicero notes that what is simple is often most congenial to man. I think simpler is easier.

There’s enough craziness OUTSIDE that makes life difficult without compounding your stress by making things harder INSIDE.

Try it this weekend. Take the simple, easy way. Don’t confuse things by making them harder.

Let’s find out if, “Nothing worth having is easy,” really is true. Or, if they’ve lied to us just to keep our noses to the grindstone.

I’ll go first.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dressing Like a Penquin

"What is true, simple, and sincere is most congenial to man's nature." Cicero

How often do we complicate our lives? Too much of this, that, or the other clutters our external and internal lives.

There's a story about Al Neuharth, founder and publisher of USA Today that I love. Neuharth is a clothes-horse. As the story goes, it used to take him 45 minutes to get dressed every morning because his closet was the size of Rhode Island and was packed with clothes that he delighted in choosing among....until someone asked him how much that 45 minutes cost him in money.

Neuharth cleared the closet of every item that was not black, white, or gray and donated the clothes to charity. From that moment to today every piece of clothing he buys is black, white or gray. Now, no matter what he chooses it takes 5 minutes to get dressed....and everything matches.

Are you complicating your life? I'm not saying you have to dress like a penguin, but maybe, in a wide range of areas of life...maybe Cicero was right.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let'er Rip!!

Yep, I know it's late to be posting a message for Wednesday (about 7 pm) but I hate to miss a day.

Let's talk about anger.

Some of the best research I've seen has come up with a simple formula A x B - C.

"A" is Activating Events...we have events that happen in our lives and they kick off emotions in us.

"B" is Beliefs. The strengths of our Beliefs tend to multiply the effects of the Activating Events.

"C" means Consequences; what we end up saying, doing, or feeling as the outcome of the combination of Activating Events and Beliefs.

If you have an Activating Event that cranks you up and you have very strong Beliefs about the situation the Consequences are likely to be powerful.

Might be a good idea to slow down and breathe a little when the events are important to you and things don't go the way you wish they should.

Or, you could just say to hell with it, or them, and let'er rip. Just try to be sure that you are willing to handle the outcome.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dumb or Donuts

I woke this morning next to a Dunkin Donuts store...mmm....not like right next to it, I was in a hotel. I'm really a Krispy Kreme kinda guy, but, hey, a donut's a donut. So, the first thing I thought was...wooooo....donuts for breakfast.

Now, many of you who read this blog have never seen me. You've seen the picture to the right, though, and you can probably tell that donuts for breakfast is probably not my best choice. Also, I've been making some better health choices and my weight is going down a little, so there you go.

I ended up checking email and eating Raisin Bran for breakfast. Not donuts, but a better choice. Here's what I did: I told myself, "Mike, you can have all the donuts you want this weekend." And it worked. My desire dropped off, I have a positive anticipation for the weekend, and I made a better choice.

I'm certainly not above using a little mental sleight-of-hand to get me closer to a goal.

What's a goal you have that you have had difficulty reaching? What little trick or strategy can you use to get you a step closer?

(And if you are skinny, have a donut for me today!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Berlin Wall and Your Own Barriers

Today is the anniversary of the fall of The Berlin Wall in 1989. Do you remember scenes of people joyously climbing on the wall, or banging away with sledge hammers and using mallets and spikes to tear chunks out of it?

Some issues in life are like the Berlin Wall. They've been in place seemingly FOREVER and don't seem to be something that can be overcome. But, they can be torn down! You simply (and, yes, it's easier to say this than do it) have to chip away at them until you can tear the whole thing down.

And here's an odd bit of history...President Ronald "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Reagan, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and West German President Helmut Koll helped the fall of the wall by....doing nothing. Diplomacy had laid the foundation of the historic event and when it started the leaders simply let...it...happen.

What areas, problems, challenges, or habits do you need to tear down?

In fact, what one issue in your life—if you could tear it down—would have an overwhelmingly positive effect on your life? What could you just...let...happen...and know that the effect would be positive?

We all have challenges that need addressing; and some challenges are more challenging than others. But we ALL have them.

What specific, tangible step can you take this week that will get you closer to resolving your issue, overcoming your challenge, or changing your habit?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Homecoming Weekend

This weekend is a rare combination of Homecoming and the Carolina/Duke football game. It should be a big time.

I’ve always liked the phrase Homecoming. Some families and churches use Homecoming to refer to a reunion. I have wonderful memories of reunions of that type. All the different types of foods, cousins I saw only once a year, and the grown-ups laughing and arguing and remembering the past created a kaleidoscope of sensory experiences that are, even today, wonderfully vivid.

Schools also use Homecoming as a type of reunion. The current students are electing Homecoming queens (and kings at some schools), there may be a parade, there’s usually a dance or event of some type, and the anticipation of who you might invite to Homecoming is always a big deal. For the old grads it’s a time to reminisce, renew old friendships and make new ones, and, for a few hours or days, maybe stop being a grown-up.

The people I come in contact with who seem the happiest have Homecoming every day. They have a person, place, activity, state of mind, or feeling that, to them, is home. It’s a safe haven; a place where they believe, “Here, I am home.” Coming home for them means they can relax, be whomever they believe themselves to be, and be appreciated for that…even if there is no one else involved and they are appreciating themselves.

Not having a home can be incredibly stressful. It’s a feeling of being lost. Sometimes it’s a feeling of being on edge, on guard, almost all the time…feeling that you can’t relax and recharge. If you understand the concept and importance of home you may spend an inordinate amount of time looking for it....looking for somewhere to come home to.

Do you have a home? It can have nothing to do with where you lay your head at night. It’s more a matter of where you lay your heart.

I hope you have a Homecoming this weekend.

Go Heels.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

How Hot Is That Stove?

Ya gotta love stories like this: A 20-year old guy in Oxford, Ohio, dresses up as a Breathalyzer test for Halloween and gets pulled over and arrested for driving the wrong way down a one-way street, at night, with his headlights off.

Seems that he’d had a couple of beverages, one of which was open and in the car. He had a fake ID and blew .158 (yeah, you probably know the legal limit is .08).

I’ll admit that in my younger years I did stuff this stupid. In fact, this kid was a wimp; I blew .18. I’ll have to ‘fess up and say that my car wasn’t moving but the cops didn’t appreciate that fact. And further, I’ll admit that getting a DWI didn’t cure me of cracking a beer and driving.

What slowed me down was when I started realizing what I might lose and what heartache I might cause my family and others if I was involved in an accident. I had to have the experience and the time to think about it, to learn.

There’s a wonderful saying, “Some people learn by being told, some people learn by seeing it done…but, some people just have to touch that hot stove.”

A lot of us, when we’re young, are touchers…as we age we hope we get smarter and learn by hearing and seeing, especially as the stakes get higher.

And yet, even now, with almost six decades of experience, I still find myself reaching out to the stove and thinking, “I wonder just how hot…..”

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Texting and Driving

I’ve got to stop texting while I drive.

I know, I know. It’s been proved to be more dangerous than drunk driving (and less fun I’ll have to admit) and, as of December 1, will be illegal in North Carolina and many other states.

I’m trying to stop, but it’s gotten to be a habit and habits are so hard to break.

Habits always serve a purpose for good or ill. Texting while driving means I can respond to a thought immediately, fill boring driving time, and not forget an idea. But, it’s unsafe (I’ve drifted off the road a couple of times) and I keep thinking that it’s just a matter of time before I drift into a really bad situation.

All of this because of a habit. Mark Twain said that changing habits couldn’t be done quickly. They had to be “coaxed down the stairs one at a time.”

Let’s make a pact. I’ll stop if you’ll stop.

You go first.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More Fiber?

Had a great time presenting at the Exceptional Children Conference in Greensboro. I met a ton of wonderful folks who help children with all kinds of challenges lead close-to-normal lives.

Met one person, though, whose whole take on life left me with the thought, “You know, if she’d add a little more fiber to her diet it would clear that attitude right up!”

I don’t know if the problem is the tough times…I’ve met folks when times were good who had the same sour apple view of life.

It’s just that folks like that can leave a residue when they move away and we end up feeling down, too. Dr. John Hunter (1723-1798), the Scotsman known as The Father of Modern Surgery, once said, “My life is in the hands of any scoundrel who chooses to annoy me.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe that. I think we allow ourselves to be annoyed.

As one woman at the conference told me later, “When I meet people like that I vote with my feet. I leave.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Monday, November 2, 2009

5K or 1K, Does It Really Matter?

On Saturday I ran in a 5K in Chapel Hill. The race was a wildly successful (600+ runners) event held to raise money for breast cancer research.

Now, here’s the deal…since it was Halloween, and Halloween in Chapel Hill is a lot different than most places…I ran the race wearing a full Hazmat helmet. You know, the big, silver helmets with the gold faceplates that firemen wear? Imagine running in a sauna that covers only your head. If you’d like see some wild pictures go to my Facebook page and click on the one with me in the helmet. (or, friend me and I’ll connect with you so that you can see them)

…..mmmm…Ok, I guess I’d better own up….I hung back at the rear of the group at the starting line and when the starting horn sounded I turned around…and walk/jogged across the UNC-CH campus to the finish line. To tell the truth I guess I did a 1K.

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “The way you did it, Mike, means that it doesn’t count.”

Not true. It counted for me. And, in the long run, that’s all that counts. I supported the cause, had a LOT of fun (pictures with little and big kids who loved the outfit and pictures with some other…ahhh…participants), was not competing because that’s not the reason I did it, and was able to stand at the finish line and yell at the anorexics who won, “What took y’all so long!!!”

Knowing which goals in life are really important to you and which are fun or of only mild importance is a key to having a happy, successful life. Every task, effort, goal, relationship, and job does not deserve 100%. If you try to give everything 100%, or believe that everything has to be done exactly by the rules, you’ll burn yourself out.

Decide what is important to you…and give that your all. For the rest—especially the rest that is based on someone else’s rules—take it or leave it…..or cheat and laugh.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Call Waiting

You know there is something you are supposed to be doing in life but you just can't put your finger on it. You lie awake in bed at night trying to figure it out; you drive down the road locked into the process of trying to pull the thing out of your subconcious; you have a feeling in the shower that, whatever it is, it's close, but you just can't grasp it.

The thing could be a decision about where to go in your career, relationships, health or fitness, or spiritual life. It's so close you can taste it, but it's just out of reach.

Sometimes we try to "rush to decision," or hurry the process along.

Now, you've got to get this next point: You can't hurry along the right decision. The cliche', "things happen in their own time," is un;fortunately true. Try to hurry a boiling egg or a blooming rose along. Can't do it.

Today's decision-making process says that we should go ahead and make some sort of decision and then adjust on the fly. That works for business decisions but not for emotional decisions.

Gregg Levoy, author of Callings, writes that the important directions in life are callings and can't be rushed, and you can't use business-decisionmaking tools, logic, to hurry them along.

Callings happen in their own time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Beast

Am in Winston-Salem with a health care group and having a blast. I'm presenting, "FUN Is Not a 4-Letter Word!"

Dave Gowarty, director of pharmacy at a hospital in Henderson, NC, is a good friend who is here and he and I sat up last night and solved most of the major problems of life.

Dave has an interesting take on human behavior. He talks about The Dark Side; that side of us that, when we go there, has the potential to get us in trouble if we delve too far into it or get so far out there that we can't get back.

I tend to call that side of us The Beast. Everyone has it. Some people don't find a need to go there at all while others spend waaaaay too much time there.

The Dark Side/Beast might lend itself to drinking, drugs, sex, aggressive behavior or depression. At the same time, The Dark Side/Beast also has a positive aspect. It's the same part of us that leads to creativity. When we are out there on the edge blazing new frontiers as some smart people I know call it, that's an example of you using that barely controllable part of you in a positive way.

What's it like when you let your Dark Side/Beast out? We all have it. Some are frightened of it; others delight in it. The expedition out can be thrilling. Just be sure you leave a string or cookie crumb trail so you can find your way back.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

At Least That Ain't Me, Babe

You’ve got to go to the site, peopleofwalmart.com. You’ll experience one of those wonderful moments in life that prove to you that you are not the craziest person on the planet. And we all need those moments every now and then.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Staggering Toward the Answer

There is a wonderful freebie publication in Chapel Hill, The Stagger. It provides info about a lot the entertainment and drink specials for all the clubs, bars, pubs, and restaurants. You can go to thestagger.com and see it.

I love to pick up The Stagger just to read the band names. Ya gotta love Trivia From Hell, Robobilly, The Dirty Little Heaters, and Beer Pong Night…mmm….ok, the last one is a drinking game, not a band…my bad, it’s Monday.

And, yes, on Fridays after work I don’t mind knowing who sells a REALLY big beer.

But, the point is that folks at The Stagger have determined that there is a type of information that answers a question (where’s our kind of fun?) that a group of folks need, and The Stagger provides the information. It’s a great source.

The first step to moving in the right direction in ANY area of life is to determine what the basic question/questions is/are. The second step is to ask, “Where can I find the information I need?” The source could be the Internet, but it also could be walking up to the appropriate person and asking the question, reading a book, getting out and taking a walk, saying a prayer, tuning in or tuning out, meditating, or taking one of those little sample spoons at Baskins-Robbins and trying a new taste.

Answers don’t come from just one source; look around.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jefferson, Buffett, Rice, Parsons

Everyone needs role models. If you are one of those folks who considers himself (ok, to be politically correct..himself/herself…but isn’t that really unwieldy?) a one-of-a-kind-doesn’t-need-a-role-model person, then God Bless You. We’ll put your picture on a stamp, retire your jersey, and salute your statute out in front of the post office.

The rest of us are human and often need to look ahead to those folks who have blazed the trail in life and show us the way to do things.

Here are four of my role models (I have more, but you’ll get the idea). In no particular order they are: Thomas Jefferson, Jimmy Buffett, Ron Rice, and Bob Parsons.

Jefferson is self-explanatory. President John F. Kennedy once hosted a group of Nobel Prize Winners at the White House. He said, “Never before has there been so much intelligence gathered at the White House…with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

Jimmy Buffett proved that you could turn a beachcomber/sailor/troubadour lifestyle into a brand and make a living at it.

Ron Rice invented Hawaiian Tropic. He proved that you could be a lifeguard forever. I once had the pleasure of interviewing Rice. I asked him for the secret to a successful life. He said, “Mike, I’ll tell you something no one else will tell you. Go where you want to be. Then find a way to make a living so you can stay there in the style you would like.”

Bob Parsons created Godaddy.com. He showed the way for making a living in the Wild, Wild West of the 21st Century, the Internet.

Who is your role model? We all need’em. Except for the statue folks.

It’s 4 pm on a beautiful fall Friday in Chapel Hill and I’m listening to Buffett right now. I can hear something cold and wet calling my name (no, it’s not a dog’s nose). Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Keepin' LIfe In Front of You

Yesterday I bought a medium-sized (24”x36”), cork bulletin board. I put it on the wall in front of my desk. I’m using it to post notes and information that I need to keep in front of me. Over time I found that, considering the schedule and life I have, there are a variety of responsibilities, tasks, issues, and ideas that I want to be reminded of and I needed a better system.

It’s easy to fall into work and life habits that, over time, lose their effectiveness. The key to being successful over the long term is to continue to try new ideas.

Check your life for these three areas and see if a new system, a new habit, might help:
1. How do you see time? What type of calendar system, idea generation system, and tickler file do you use?
2. How do you build fitness and health into your day? Remember ELMO! Every Little MOvement. If you are going up in a building less than four floors take the stairs. Stop at every water fountain you see and take three swallows of water.
3. How do you connect with whatever the Divine Reality might be? Make a point each day to stop for 1 minute and appreciate the beauty of life around you and the fact that you are maintaining a heartbeat and steady respiration.

You get to pick other areas that are important to you. The above are three simple ones that, if you pay attention to them, will improve your life.

Finally, my Tar Heels are on national television tonight playing Florida State on ESPN. If you don’t have a dog in the hunt pull of the guys in light blue.

Go Heels!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Right Direction

I read a wonderful Buddhist saying last night: When you are faced in the right direction you only need to keep walking.

Wonderful advice!

As long as you believe it's the right direction, step out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kickin' a Pig

One of my favorite movies is Lonesome Dove starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones as former Texas Rangers Augustus (Gus) McRae and Woodrow Call. If you haven’t seen it (and you should, multiple times) you have to know that the movie is one of the greatest buddy flicks of all time; it includes multiple love stories; and is the most outstanding statement on honor and commitment to be shown on television in the last 40 years.

Here’s the synopsis: In order to make their fortunes—and to please Gus, who is the only one who understands that men need adventures and worlds to conquer—the two are going to move a herd of cattle from Texas to Montana. Along the way they encounter all kinds of adventures; good, bad and terrible.

Gus catches an arrow in the leg fighting off Indians and as his leg festers he is told by the doctor that if he does not have his leg amputated he will die. He obstinately refuses the operation.

The following exchange occurs as Gus lies in bed:
Woodrow Call: What do you want legs for anyway? You don't like to do nothing but sit on the porch and drink whiskey!
Gus McCrae: I like to kick a pig every once in a while. How would I do that?

Knowing the basic things you need—and why—to have the life you want is the first step to having the life you want.

‘Cause there’s hardly ever a pig around when you need one.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Sliver of Blue Sky

In the current issue of The New Yorker magazine writer Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, Outliers) writes about the connection between dogfighting and the NFL. NOW, DON’T CLICK OFF JUST YET…WAIT FOR THE POINT!

Gladwell notes research that an increasing number of NFL alums suffer from dementia of a special type. It looks like Alzheimer’s, but isn’t. The condition isn’t a neurological problem, its source is external. It comes from the repeated trauma of getting hit in the helmet. Linemen seem to suffer more than backs and receivers. Every little hit seems to have a cumulative effect that sets these guys up to suffer from this debilitating condition. The UNC-Chapel Hill football program is providing research right now.

Life is like that. Every little ding, each emotional slap, all the negative hits you take tend to mount up. I believe the hits we take go a long way in determining whether we have a positive/optimistic outlook on life or a negative/pessimistic view of the future. Unless you’re careful it’s easy to let all that stuff take the joy out of life and put you in a hole so deep that it sometimes seems impossible to dig your way out.

The key is to understand that you make the choice whether or not to dig yourself out. You can stay in the hole and look up and see a sliver of blue sky. Or, you can start chipping footholds on the hole wall and little by little climb out.

Others can help you. They can stand at the top of the hole and beckon; but, only you make the decision to climb.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hook'em Horns!

Sorry, I missed talking with you yesterday…

Today is a big day in the Southwest. It’s the annual Texas/Oklahoma game in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl. If you don’t like college football you can watch The History of Wedgewood China on PBS or take a walk.

Now, I’m not so much a Longhorn fan as I am a Mac Brown fan. Lots of folks hammer Mac for leaving the Tar Heels but the fault was as much ours as anything. The powers-that-be at the time couldn’t abide having another sport compete with basketball at Carolina.

But, here’s the point: For his entire career Mac Brown has been focused on one thing, rising to the top of his profession; being the best college football coach he could be. You can’t fault anyone for that. I have to say that I admire that sort of dedication.

As I get older I find that watching college sports (I love the color, excitement, positive energy as opposed to the negative energy the pros seem to generate, and the “evergreen” quality of college ) is like watching a science project. You get to see the participants grow and improve or fail, you see management in action, and you see the effect of emotions—not money—on performance.

The Texas/Oklahoma game this year has the potential to be a classic. If you get a chance, tune in.

Hook’em Horns!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ice Cream and Cheesecake for Dinner...Just Shoot Me

Here’s my confession for the day: Last night I had butter almond ice cream and cheesecake for dinner.

Why? Because it was the best thing to do.

Ok…there were other reasons….I was about half-ticked at life, the weather was cold and rainy and altogether terrible, my computer and projector wouldn’t work the way I needed them to, there are a number of people who aren’t cooperating on important life issues, kinda messed up my back lifting weights, office was too messy to find a couple of things I needed (I know, I teach this stuff but sometimes it just happens), the only foods in The Cave were tuna and spinach, and I’m out of those little Kleenex-looking things you throw into the dryer to make stuff fluffy and smellin’ good.

Now, I’ll step up and be man enough to admit that I’m whining. And I realize that the stereotype of a real man is that we don't whine. But, you know what, If you are going to stay sane there are some days you get to whine.

Granted, you only get a few whine days, but there are some days that you just don’t want to suck it up, be tough, handle it, put the shoulder to it, be a man, do your best, or be Stoic about it. You want to rant, throw something, punch something, cuss somebody, get drunk, or tear something up. Or, whine.

There was a day when I would have done some of the things in the first two sentences in the last paragraph. But, if you live long enough you start understanding that some days you don’t want to do the things in the first sentence…and, as one of my best friends, Al, would say, “and that’s OK.” You also come to understand that the stuff in the second sentence usually hurts more than it help.

So, I ate butter almond ice cream and cheesecake...shoot me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Song for the South

I love it…we Southerners are finally getting the praise and respect we deserve.

You might remember the Charlotte-bound jetliner that miraculously crashed in the Hudson River about a year ago. The plane was piloted by Captain Sully Sullenberger. In a book released on Tuesday, “Miracle on the Hudson: The Survivors of Flight 1549,” 118 of the 150 passengers gave interviews to writers/spouses William Prochnau and Laura Parker.

According to them, a key reason evacuation of the jetliner went so smoothly was because it was largely populated by Southerners.

“An inbred politeness seemed to work,” said Prochnau. “Whenever someone would feel a rising sense of panic, others in the group would settle them genteelly and direct them to safety.”

At a time when rap musicians, politicians, and tennis stars are showing their a**es in ill-mannered outbursts a bunch of Southerners in a clear life or death situation faced the challenge with a sense of courage and grace. All the superior attitudes, cheesesteaks, operas and big buildings can’t beat that.

Right, y’all?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Get On With It!

I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read my blog. But, who do I read? The only blog I read EVERY day is Seth Godin’s (sethgodin.typepad.com). Seth has a great handle on marketing and leadership and, as I’ve mentioned before, wrote the best leadership book I’ve read in the last ten years, Tribes.

Over the last few days Seth has blogged about two areas that are high on my list right now. Apparent Risk vs Actual Risk, and Decisions. Obviously, the two are connected.

Too often the Actual Risk is waaaaay less than the Apparent Risk. A great example is traveling. It’s much safer to fly than to get out on America’s roads and drive. In terms of health, we’ll take handfuls of vitamins when, in fact, the best thing we could do for our health is eat about half what we eat.

In today's blog, Seth’s point about Decisions is to make one. Make a lot of them. The worst thing you can do is not make a Decision. The old attitude that says if you don’t make a decision things will probably shake out by themselves is just that…old. In today’s world things happen so fast that even if you make a wrong decision you’ll probably have an opportunity to come back around and make another decision that corrects the situation and gets you going in another direction.

In business the current strategy is to get a product into the marketplace as fast as possible...don't try to make it perfect...and then let the desires of the marketplace help you make corrections.

The message I’m taking away is to get the information you need to make Decisions, but make sure that you know the difference between Actual Risk and Apparent Risk.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Any Vs Every

Have you ever had one of those moments in which you come to a conclusion that defines where you are in life? As soon as you have the thought you know that it can change your life if you take it and run with it.

Here’s mine: I can have any life I want. But, I can’t have everything I want.

Wish I'd figured that out decades ago.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Life's Yard Sale

Saw a sign last night near where I live that said, “Community Yard Sale Saturday.”

For some reason a quote I read recently popped into my mind, “Someone needs something you have.”

Whether we know it or not that’s life in a nutshell. No one has everything they need no matter what they tell you. I’m not talking so much about the material life like the stuff we see at a yard sale. I’m talking about the connections we need with other people.

Whether it’s knowledge, love, affirmation, companionship, or friendship we need something from others. Humans are communal creatures and no matter how much someone says that they are self-sufficient we all need something from someone else. In fact, the people who seem the most self-sufficient often seem to be the most boring people.

There is a slogan some education groups use, “Steal Shamelessly and Share Selflessly.” I like that when it comes to professional behavior. In our personal lives I would like to see, “Receive Openly and Share Selflessly.”

That should be the mantra for life’s yard sale any day of the week.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Deep Thinker?

The other day I had someone accuse me of being a “deep thinker.” Whataya think, should I take it as a compliment or not?

Actually, I do take it as a compliment because I believe it refers to someone who asks some of life’s big questions. I don’t know if I come up with any better answers than anyone else could, but it seems to me that, at least once in awhile, ya gotta take a look at something bigger than whether or not the Panthers will win a game or if Salma Hayak really is the most beautiful woman in the world.

The answer to the Panthers question is “probably.” The answer to the Salma question is, “ab-so-skippin’-lutely!”

Sorry, the Salma factor threw me off track.

The tough thing about the big questions is that they often don’t come with yes/no, black/white answers. Seems to be a lot of, “it depends” and gray.

And, don’tcha wonder about those folks who have the definitive answers? They seem so sure of themselves.

The other day I asked a friend if, when God spoke to her, did God speak in her voice or sound different. (like James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, Casey Kasem or Pee Wee Herman…or Salma Hayak) My friend is in the God business and has a great sense of humor and she said, “Well Mike, it doesn’t work like that.”

Maybe not. Or, maybe it does.

A deep thinker?

Hmmm…..let me think about that.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

They Can't All Be Human, Can They?

Every day I check the birthday list to see who’s celebrating. I’m always amazed at the irony of some of the Happy Birthday Boys and Girls. Today is one of those days.

Desmond Tutu is 78. If there has ever been a walking, talking symbol of courage it is the South African archbishop. At the other end of the, They Can’t Be of the Same Species, list is Simon Cowell, 50, the acerbic talent judge on American Idol. In the middle is Russia's Spy For Life Vladimir Putin, 57.

However, here’s the thing they all have in common: They understood early in their lives what their talents were, and they maximized their gifts, for good or ill.

Floating through life punching a time clock and wondering what you’re good at won’t feed the bulldog, as a friend of mine from Georgia says. You’ve got to identify your gifts and put them to use. It’s a sin and disgrace not to.

I’ve got to believe that a century from now no one will know or care who Simon Cowell or Vladimir Putin were. But, American children will still be reading about Desmond Tutu in their history books, and South African children will still be singing songs about him.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Peanut Butter and Raisins

I’m eating breakfast as I write this. My breakfast today, as it is probably 80% of the time, is a sandwich made on 15-grain bread with Jiff Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter with raisins sprinkled on it, an apple, and a big glass of milk.

Now, I’m not a health Nazi at all (although I do think it’s a reasonably healthy breakfast and it provides a lot of energy), it’s just that I like this breakfast so I have it as often as I can.

We make a ton of little decisions everyday based on what we like, what we want. But, are you making some of your big decisions based on what you would like, or on what you think you should do, or on what someone else would like?

The other day a friend told me that she had once asked her mother, “Mom, what do you want?” And her mother couldn’t come up with an answer. She had spent so much of her life doing for others that she didn’t know what she wanted.

There are those who would say that the woman was someone who had spent her life in selfless service to others. That sounds wonderfully grand. If the service was her choice that’s one thing, but if she never took a moment to ask, “Do I have a choice?” I think that’s sad.

You do have a choice, you know. And if you can’t immediately offer up what you want, that’s fine. Ask yourself, “What is it that makes me feel alive?”

If you don’t know what makes you feel alive….that is sad.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Damned Shame

Are you being wasted?

No, I didn’t ask, “Are you wasted?” I think your answer to that would be, “No.” If you were you wouldn’t be in much condition to read this blog. And, it’s Monday morning. So, if you are already wasted on a Monday morning you’re either on vacation or you have more problems than I can help you with.

But, I digress.

Again, are you being wasted?

Are you maximizing your gifts? Are you capable of so much more creativity, accomplishment, effort, love, passion than you are now exhibiting? If your answer to the first question is, “No,” and your answer to the second question is, “Yes” then you are being wasted.

And I don’t really want to hear, “But, Mike, I’m too busy, too tired, too involved with my job/kids/parents/whatever.” That can be true, but it’s still an excuse.

It hit me last Friday like a lightning bolt that I’m being wasted. Even with all the stuff I’m trying to do, I’m still being wasted.

And here’s the thing that bites us in the butt (or, at least it bit me in mine)…no one wastes you but you. We all make the decision to be wasted. If you are waiting on someone else to make use of you you are almost always going to be disappointed.

The legendary singer Bill Withers does a fantastic love song, “Use Me Up.” Well, the only way to have that happen is to put yourself in situations in which you will be used up—situations in which you won’t be wasted—and the only person who can do that is you/me.

Considering our potential as human beings, being wasted is a damned shame.

Time to stop being wasted.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Are You OK?

When are you OK?

Traveled to spend a night with my mother last night. She's 81 and my brother and I are trying to touch base on a regular basis to make sure she's doing OK.

She's pretty spry. She takes care of herself with minimal problems (as far as we know), has a great sense of humor, pays her bills, and finds her way around town. But, she's getting to the point that she will ask the same question multiple times in the same conversation. When we bring that issue to her attention she calls it "old timers' disease." So, we're patient and as long as there are no serious episodes that we think we should react to, we guess that she's fine.

(This reminds me of the joke where the kid watches his family and says, "When the baby lays on the bed and waves at the ceiling fan you guys think it's funny. When grandpa does it, he's senile. What's that all about?")

Anyway, I think lots of us have times in our lives at which we question, "Am I OK?" The situations can range from the general feeling of malaise when you're a teenager to more specific questions focusing on financial, intellectual, and emotional health as we get older.

A shrink I know recently told me, "If you're living life like you want to; you're as close to the people you want to be close to; and you're taking care of yourself, you're OK."

So, are you OK?

Have a big weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Come Oooooooonnnnnnn!

I thought about doing a blog about Patience and then I thought, “Oh, what the hell, let’s just get on with it!”

Whether it’s prisoners doing time or children waiting for a birthday we all encounter situations when we wish time would go faster. Come ooooooooonnnnnn!

I can remember being young and talking to older people who would say, “Why are you in such a hurry?” And I’m thinking, “ 'Cause I want to get on with life!” What they didn’t tell me was that I was living life at that moment and I should slow down a bit and look around and enjoy it.

A wonderful little booklet, Patience Pays Off, lists these sources of impatience: obstacles, frustration, retaliation, confusion, lack of priorities, cold feet, fear, lack of self-confidence, competitiveness, the need for control, the need for rapid closure, and monotony. Pick your poison.

My devotion yesterday talked about “divine timing:” things will happen when their time comes.

If the spiritual reasoning doesn’t click for you just look around. Nature never hurries. Whether it’s the tides or the sun and moon or a growing rose everything happens on its own schedule. Try this: Go to a rose and say, “Come oooooooonnnnnn!” Right.

Shakespeare wrote of the patience of nature in Othello, “How poor are they that have not patience. What wound did ever heal but by degrees.”

I certainly wish it was different. But it isn’t.

Everything in its own time.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Body Under the Sheet

My encounter with Eric Simpson was only momentary. I was a driver slowly passing through an intersection on the outskirts of Durham and he was a body lying in the middle of the intersection.

I would not have known Eric to see him. All I saw were tennis-shoed feet showing out from under a white sheet. The covering was red-stained where his head lay and a pool of blood flowed out into the little, low places on the pavement.

Eric was 27 and a manager at a local Barnes and Noble. He was on his way to open the store early Tuesday morning when he was hit and killed. His coworkers described him as “likeable, talented, energetic, enthusiastic and happy-go-lucky.”

I’m sure that there are people who love (not loved) Eric…(you don’t stop loving people just because they’re gone) Those people went to bed last night with sad hearts and awake this morning in a world that, for the time being, is a little smaller than it was this time yesterday morning.

Life is fleeting is a cliché. The reality is not. I catch myself looking down the tunnel of life, and while I can’t see the headlight of the train yet, I can put my foot on a rail and distinctly feel the clack, clack, clack of its wheels.

When I saw Eric I had an overwhelming feeling to call the people I love and tell them that. So, I did. The reality of life is that in the next moment I might not be able to.

I don’t know what your belief system or life philosophy tells you, but mine tells me that you don’t get another ticket into the park. You’d better ride all the rides, see all the exhibits, and eat all the fair food you can.

Call the people you love today and say the magic words to them. And take a moment to remember Eric in a prayer.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Flippin' the Triangle

Go grab a sheet of paper and a pen, you’ll need’em.

At the beginning of The Perfect Workday seminar I describe a perfect workday/time management as the interplay of Time, People, and Stuff (emails, paperwork, equipment).

I start by drawing a triangle on the board (you might want to do that on your sheet of paper right now). Then I label the sides: Time is the left side, People is the right, and Stuff is the bottom. I begin my description with Time.

I have to tell you that I am changing how I teach this part of the program. Here’s how and why:

From now on I’m going to draw and label the triangle as in the past…and then turn it one click counterclockwise. Try it. The turn automatically creates an upside-down triangle with a flat top.
The top becomes People. This why I’m changing: The biggest problem we have with People is Miscommunication and the best way to lower Miscommunication is by asking more and better Questions.

Instead of starting your day by trying to figure out what to do with your Time, start it by asking Questions; of yourself and others. The answers to the Questions will tell you what you need to do with your Time and Stuff.

The Questions begin with What, Why, Who, Where, When, How, How Much.

Start asking.

Monday, September 28, 2009

And Now, Class...a New Word

Hysteresis is a new word I learned this weekend. It describes the lag phenomenon between when a cause has been applied to an object or a system and when the effect occurs. Think about pushing on a foam pad. The foam doesn’t automatically pop back out, it takes a few seconds. That’s hysteresis.

The word comes from the Greek, husteros, which means late. The ultimate state of hysteresis is when a cause is applied that makes the system snap in such a way that it can’t be fixed; it won’t bounce back to its original state. Think what happens when you bend a plastic ruler until it breaks, or you drop a lightbulb.

The word is usually used in physics and metalwork. However, hysteresis is being used to refer to the economy and the question is, “Is the economy broken in a way that can’t be fixed?”

But, the word can also be used to refer to other issues such as relationships, business practices, or habits. When a business offers training or announces a new change, if it takes the employees awhile to implement the training…to get it…that’s hysteresis.

In relationships of all types things change, one person has a new idea or perspective and it may take the other person or people awhile to catch up to the new concept or understanding. That’s hysteresis.

However, some people don’t want to catch up, or change, and it could be for a variety of reasons. Habits, in action or thought, are hard to change.

Here’s today’s point: Some people and situations will not change. Sometimes we have to understand that the situation has evolved to a point at which it can’t or won’t bounce back. At that point you have a decision to make: Put up with things the way they are, or make more permanent corrections.

I see this all the time in business. An organization is attempting to change with the times and some employees just don’t or won’t get it. If the company can’t find a productive position for the laggers they are either tolerated (to the detriment of the organization) or, mercifully, moved out. Again, the time it takes from cause to decision/action is hysteresis.

In today’s world, the shorter the lag, the shorter the hysteresis, the better off you are.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

On My Knees On the Gravel at B's

(Okay, I know that this is the second blog today, but I'm on the road in Kitty Hawk and won't have time tomorrow to write.)

I love it when a business is so good you can't wait to tell people about it.

Here's the deal...if you want the best BBQ chicken on Planet Earth go to B's in Greenville, NC. They even have a road named after them and rumor has it that the food is so good and they have so much pull in Pitt County that they are getting the county/state to widen the road in front of the restaurant. I saw it being done today.

Now, B's is an absolute hole-in-the-wall restaurant. It looks like it was an old country store at one time; small and maybe 15 tables and booths. I don't know who cooks (maybe B), but the women who make it run go wide-open until the food runs out and then they close. They are all wonderful and Southern (kinda goes together, doesn't it) and sweatin' (no glistening at B's) and are totally committed to you walking out like you just had your last meal and it was exactly what you wanted.

B's only serves BBQ pork and chicken with some coleslaw (the best) and taters on the side. Throw in cornsticks and a drink and you don't need anything else. Yes, they do have some kind of desert but I don't have a clue what it is because I've never gotten that far.

B's only does one thing. But, it does that one thing so well that you don't think about the fact that they do only one thing. They concentrate on that one thing being the absolute best it can be. And it is.

Every time I leave B's I'm tempted to get on my knees in the gravel parking lot and thank God for the experience I just had. It reminds me that it can be flat-out fun being human.

What have you run into recently that gave you that experience? If you haven't had something like that....you have my permission to look for it this weekend.

See you Monday.

Yuck It Up!

Laughing is so therapeutic that some astute physicians are starting to prescribe it.

For the last couple of days I’ve been listening to some of the Sirius radio comedy channels in the car.

I’ve cracked up at Larry the Cable Guy, Ray Romano, John Capanera, Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White and lots of comedians I’ve never heard of.

It’s surprising how positive my outlook is after I’ve been laughing for half-an-hour.

What makes you laugh? If you can dial it up, like I have been doing, or buy a CD, or visit a comedy club, or listen to a joke from a friend or read a joke in a book or online why not use that strategy to deal with stressful or down times?

So, a preacher, a nun, and a live badger walk into a bar and..........

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Goodbye Summer of Crazy!!

First day of fall yesterday. I’ll have to say that this is the first time in my life that I was glad to see a summer end. Summer of Crazy!

The great thing about life is that you can declare the start of a new day--or a new life--anytime you want. Sure, there are lots of things that will be the same as yesterday; the you you see in the mirror, for instance. But, life is truly in your mind. So, you get to decide when the new you starts…other people don’t get to decide that.

How about it? Wanna join me? I’m planning on 2010 being one of the best years ever and I’m going to spend the next 90 days planning and creating the foundation for 2010.

What is one thing you can do that will have a dramatically positive effect on your life next year…and what can you do to get started on it—today?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All Hail the Shire!

Today is Hobbit Day!

Today commemorates the birthdays of the main characters of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins; and their creator, J.R.R. Tolkein.

Tolkein modeled the Baggins’ village, The Shire, after the garden at Exeter College, Oxford University. While at Oxford as a student I lived at Exeter College. The garden, especially the huge oak tree at its border, is a wonderfully relaxing, inviting place.

All Hail the Shire!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

That's the Way, Uh Huh, Uh Huh, I Like It!

I woke this morning to KC and the Sunshine Band’s 1975 hit, “That’s the Way (I Like It).”

While I lay in that gray area just before becoming fully awake I realized that this past weekend included a lot of things I like: The Tar Heels won (31-17 over ECU), my wife and I had a great time, saw some old friends, beer was cold, burgers were perfect, taxi rides were fast, weather was wonderful, did I say the Tar Heels won?, music was danceable, church was memorable, a couple of walks through the trees on campus at Carolina were relaxing, Franklin Street was alive with people, workout was invigorating, and I did mention that the Tar Heels won, didn’t I?

Knowing what you like, what gives you the feeling of being happy, is one of the greatest realizations you can come to in life. If you don’t have a clear idea of what makes you happy, what you like, you’re simply floating through life hoping for pleasant accidents. Knowing what you like, planning for those events or experiences, and then actively working to make them happen is one of the keys to happiness. There is an often-repeated Chinese proverb that says the keys to happiness are: Having someone to love. Having something to do. Having something to look forward to.

Knowing what you like and planning for it means you having something to look forward to. Take a moment and write a list of ten things you like. Simple things. Like butter pecan ice cream. Now, make a point of experiencing three of the things on your list during the next 48 hours.

Trivia Point: The last I heard, Harry Wayne Casey (KC) lives in the exclusive Governor’s Club outside Chapel Hill, NC.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dog Poop in Hell

Here’s a story I can’t resist passing on.

A guy breaks into a house in Myrtle Beach on a Sunday morning. The owner, a elderly woman, is at church. While ransacking her house the burglar is bitten by the woman’s pug dog. So he puts the dog in the oven and turns the oven on; props a chair against the oven door so the dog can’t get out. Dog dies. Yesterday, the burglar was sentenced to eleven years in prison.

Now, I’ve got to admit that I didn’t get all worn out about Michael Vick and the dog fighting stuff.

But, I’ve got to wonder about the burglar and the dog and the oven. I’m figuring that if there is a Heaven and Hell there has to be a special place in Hell for people who would do something like that. Like he’ll spend eternity cleaning up dog poop in Hell with the souls of bad dogs (that assumes that there is a dog Hell, too.) bitin’ him on the butt every time he bends over to pick up the dog poop. Karma.

Oh yeah, Jimmy Hendrix died 39 years ago today. Another happy note.

Have a great weekend…and pet a dog if you get the chance…or play Purple Haze.

See you Monday.