Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Horse of a Different Color

A good friend of mine has thrown his hat into the ring for US Senate. His name is Marcus Williams and you can check him out by Googling Marcus Williams for US Senate.
Marcus is thoughtful, energetic, honest as the day is long, and extraordinarily intelligent.

He's also run for office a number of times in the past and, I believe, has not been elected because he refuses to go along with the status-quo when it comes to politics. He doesn't curry the favor of the major parties or powerbrokers who could grease the wheels for him.

Going your own way and succeeding can be wonderfully satisfying. You get a double-dose of "I told you so!" Going your own way and not succeeding can have a couple of outcomes: You are proved wrong; your way didn't work. Or, it didn't work, but you have the satisfaction that you did it your way.

Look around in your life and take a moment to take stock. What's working, and why? What's not working, and why? Do you need to change how you are doing things...in either category? Even though something is going right in your life maybe it's time for some creative destruction, a new way. For the areas that aren't going right, are you satisfied with the failure or is it time to realize that you are riding the wrong horse?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dancin' With the Sluggoes

I have a confession to make. It's one that could lower your estimation of me as a person so I make the confession with reservations.

Drumroll, please.

Here it is: I watched Dancing With the Stars last night.

I know, I know. As the moments clicked by I could actually hear my testosterone level lowering. I had to click away and watch Oklahoma/Nebraska football on ESPN Classic..you know the game where Johnny Rogers runs the punt back at the end and Jack Mildren...mmm...ok...I'm digressing.

My main reason for watching was to see Buzz Aldrin, second man on the moon, dance. Unfortunately, Buzz dances with almost the same grace that he walked on the moon. But, on the moon he was wearing a bulky space suit.

Actually, some of the action (do you call it that?) was interesting. All the little cutaways that showed the conflicts dancers encountered when practicing was kinda...ok...I've already showed that I paid waaaaaaaaaaay more attention than was good for me.

However, the key point I took away was this: It's interesting to watch people who are really good at something paired up with people who aren't. The gap between the pros and the "stars" is pretty obvious. The pros have more snap to their moves, more energy, more precision....more consistency.

Think about it this way: We are rarely judged by what we do once in awhile; we are almost always judged by what we consistently do.

Are you consistently good at what you do? Or, as the parlance goes in football and basketball, do you take a play off every now and then?

If you are consistently good at what you do you know what other's judgements of you are, right? Some will admire you and a lot of them will believe that you are blowing the curve for everyone else. You're setting the bar too high. You're makin'em look bad by comparison.

I don't think that's a bad thing.

If we're going to pull out of this business/societal mess we are in we have to weed out some of the sluggoes.

Dance on.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Try a Mini-Vacation

When was the last time you tried a mini-vacation?

New neuroscience research is proving what a lot of folks have known all along, taking short breaks reenergizes and renews you.

Listening to a song, taking a walk, flipping through a magazine (that doesn’t have anything to do with work)…and…yes…even going on FaceBook can give you and your brain a break.

What are the three things you could do for 3-5 minutes…right now…that would reenergize you?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Meetings Are Timesucks

The recent issue of Inc. magazine has a wonderful article about how to be more productive. They interviewed a wide variety of entrepreneurs and asked for their best tip.

My favorite tip came from Caterina Fake, one of the founders of Flickr, the photo-swapping site; the tip is a meeting strategy.

Before a meeting she sends an agenda by email to every participant. Folks are encouraged to do their homework. When it’s meeting time no one sits, everyone stands. And here’s the best part: Before the meeting everyone has to drink 16 ounces of water.

The meeting ends when the first person has to go to the bathroom.

Ya gotta love that!!

Can’t you see folks doing the little foot-to-foot dance because they have to go and want to get in a point in the discussion?!

Meetings are often timesucks. Have fewer of them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dancin' on the Moon

Buzz Aldrin, second man on the moon, is on Dancin' With the Stars. And I thought that when Emmit Smith and Jason Taylor were on I'd seen about everything. I couldn't imagine how badly their NFL friends busted them.

But, Aldrin? 74 years old.

I guess I should say, "Go get'em Buzz!"

If I had walked on the moon I'd have cruised around the world in a Shelby GT500 with a moon rock for a hood ornament. I'd have stopped at every great bar I could find and wouldn't have to buy a cocktail for the rest of my life.

Uhhhhh, yeah. And I'd work for world peace, too.

Yeah, that's the ticket!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Less Obfuscation!

I love language, words, information and the pursuit of knowledge.

Sometimes, though, it seems that someone, somewhere made up some rules or…mmmm…stuff, just to make life more difficult.

For instance, the comedian Doug Larson once said, “If the English language made any sense, lackadaisical would have something to with a shortage of flowers.”

I love that!

My point today is that it’s often easy to get slowed up by nitpicking the little things or worrying about those molehills when we should be focused on the big picture. Lawyers are the best; the language they often use seems designed to confuse and obfuscate (actually, obfuscate means “to confuse,” and I’ve always wanted to use it…so…TODAY’S THE DAY!!).

I’ve started trying to keep my eye on the big picture and not worry about those ankle-biting, silly, not-that-important things that distract us.

I’ve decided to cut down on the obfuscation.

What little things slow you down and create confusion?

Might be time to cut some of that stuff out.

Have a big weekend!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tiger: Let It Go

The sports world is all agog at the news that Tiger Woods will resume his golf career at the Masters Tournament in a couple of weeks.

You don't have to like golf to admire Woods' accomplishments and you don't have to have been married to understand the pain, confusion and difficulties he and his family are encountering due to the issues relating to his marriage.

But, I'll say it again: The Tiger Woods story HAS ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT ON YOUR LIFE.

The attention paid to his professional career is appropriate. The attention paid to his personal life is unseemly. It reflects negatively on the media professionals who do it and on those who are following every little spin in the story.

You have better things to do.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rockin' the New

Recently, I discovered some new music.

Well, it’s not really new, but it’s new to me.

The band is Nickelback. If you know anything about their music you know that the lyrics are not appropriate for anyone under the age of …mmm….35.

I have to say that a lot of their songs have a hit-your-stomach-and-kick-you-in-the-pants beat. They’re kicka** rock and roll, no doubt about it.

And seriously, if you are offended by sex, drugs and rock and roll you probably won’t like their music.

However, the energy they kick out is undeniable. I’ve had one of their CDs in my car for about two weeks and have played some of their songs probably 20 times or more. Every time I play them I smile and get energized.

Very often change does not come in a clean, easy-to-deal-with package. Change can be (and often is) messy, hurtful, surprising, difficult and hard. And your change may not be appropriate for someone else.

But, if you can work your way through the hard stuff you may be able to come out with the good stuff.

I don’t recommend Nickelback for everyone, and I won't be giving up my beach music to listen only to headbanging rock and roll. But, just like I don’t recommend my way of changing and dealing with change for everyone I believe that if you are willing to be open to change you’ll find a broader and more colorful world.

Try something new today.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Power of Three

I don’t know about you, but difficulties seem to come at me in Three’s. If I have a little or big bump-up in life I can be assured that there are two more coming within a reasonable length of time.

So, I’m waiting for the third shoe to drop. A power outage about a week ago wrecked the contents of my refrigerator and has left my living area smelling like spoiled chicken no matter how much I spray air deodorizer. Yesterday, my computer went on the fritz. Talk about a panic! I was more worried about that than not having power.

So, both of the issues have been technology based in one way or the other. Wonder what the final flare-up will be?

You know as well as I do that every Perfect Workday can’t be bluebirds and lemonade. All you can do is play, “What If?” and plan for the things you think might happen.

Just remember, to paraphrase Mark Twain, “I thought about a lot of terrible things in my life…and most of them didn’t happen.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

Walk Away Without Victory

Sometimes you just want things to be over. Or, as my friend Al said, “It’s time to go on home.”

I’m sure some of you aren’t into sports but hang with me on this.

The Tar Heels men’s basketball team has been plagued this year by lack of effort, no leadership, injuries, and a general sense of…well…non-sense. Their loss to Georgia Tech last night in the ACC Tournament bumped them out of further play this year unless the National Invitational Tournament (also known now as the losers’ tournament because the only people invited to play are the teams NOT invited to the NCAA Tournament, March Madness).

It was time for the season to be over. Tar Heel fans have literally been embarrassed watching these kids fumble around and Coach Roy Williams has been beside himself trying to figure out how to motivate them…and he has been unsuccessful for once in his stellar career.

So, what does this have to do with you and Perfect Workdays?

I’m all for giving things in life second and third chances. But, sometimes you have to read the writing on the wall, take the hint, catch the drift, read the tea leaves, drop the bones, check your palm, see the burning bush, cut your losses, or have God speak to you from the heavens and understand, “This just ain’t gonna happen.”

As I noted in a previous blog; the most successful people in life are often the best at determining what to leave out of their lives.

Sometimes you just have to walk away and start fresh.

Think about it this weekend: What could you walk away from and the move would make your life better?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Comfort Food

What takes you back?

Last night I had country-style steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, and collards. The fragrance took me back to my grandmother's house 50 years ago.

Food like that is comfort food for me. It takes me back to a time when life seemed simpler (at least in retrospect), joy was greater, and I felt safe.

Now, life sure seems more complicated, too often joy is lessened by a lot of those complications, and views of the future show a range of challenges advancing.

But, for a short while, with a comfort meal and friends, life seems to slow down and take on a warm feeling, a glow.

We all need a respite, an island in the storm, no matter how short and impermanent. Some people find it in worship, others in meditation (I slipped on the typing for a second and wrote medication, maybe that was a Freudian slip)or exercise, or being with family.

Quite often, I find it in food. Taken to extreme it can be a less-than-healthy choice, but it's better than a whole range of self-medication options.

But, I have to say that the fragrance of country-style steak and a plate with mashed-potatoes and gravy, and collards, beats any beer I've ever had.

What takes you to a place of comfort?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Have I Reached the Party to Whom I Am Speaking?

When you finish reading this blog I want you to call someone and say, “Mr. Watson, come here, I need you.”

They may hang up, thinking it’s a wrong number, or worse, a crank call.

Or, they may get it. The request was the first telephone call and it happened on March 10, 1876.

Alexander Graham Bell could not have imagined what his invention has evolved into. iPhones, Palm Pilots, phones that play music, wake us up, play games, serve as calendars, let us text each other and, with the variety of apps, allow us to perform thousands of functions.

Thanks, Dr. Bell.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Your Legacy?

One of the devotions that comes to my email each day recently asked, “What legacy do you want to leave?”

It’s a great question to ask. I’ve known folks who did not care a whit about leaving a legacy. It seemed that they simply wanted to spend their time on earth, take up as much space and resources as possible and pass on with great fanfare. But, maybe I was misreading them and it did mattered to them whether or not they mattered and I was just not smart enough to recognize it.

What legacy do you want to leave?

On the day you retire do you want folks to stand and cheer, “Thank God she’s gone!” Or, do you want them to shake your hand and sincerely say, “We sure hate losing you”?

And, what of your family? What will be your legacy in terms of the people who probably know you best?

I once wrote a profile of a real estate mogul in Raleigh who, when I asked him about his legacy, said, “I always made money for my friends.” During the entire interview he never once mentioned his family and had no pictures or any reminders of them in his office.

What legacy do you want to leave?

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Flick of the Switch

I was prompted to think about the folks in Haiti and Chili today. Awoke this morning with the power off. Must have gone off not long after I went to bed. Stuff in the freezer was starting to thaw.

The power company folks came by and threw a breaker on the end of the building and I’VE GOT LIGHTS! Spent a lot of the morning cooking all the stuff in the freezer so it wouldn’t spoil; so I’m set for food for the rest of the week.

But, I got to thinking about how we take for granted something as simple as flicking a switch and having lights, music, computer connections and television.

What would it be like to not even be able to get a drink of clean water…but you can look up and see a jetliner flying over at 20,000 feet and know that the folks ensconced in comfort in that craft are sipping wine and eating peanuts from little bags and they can walk down a short aisle to go to the bathroom?

We take some many people, gifts, life situations and simple pleasures for granted. Right now I’m appreciating power.

What might you appreciate right now?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Comatose-To-Gone

John Belushi died 28 years ago today. Sure doesn’t seem like that long. In fact, I remember being on a golf course and having a radio on (I know, I know, sounds like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack) and being stunned by the news.

By all reports, Belushi was one of those guys for whom “high” was never high enough. And that didn’t relate only to drug use. He pushed his work farther and farther out to the edge. But, he also pulled it in for movies like Continental Divide.

If we really want to live life…and I mean live to be an active verb…we have to walk a fine line between being so conservative that we don’t take advantage of the life we have and so far out there that we can’t get back.

Today begins Spring Break for UNC. In last week’s fraternity meeting I told the chapter I advise to “Have a great Spring Break but be careful about doing something that is so far out there that you can’t pull it back in.”

Recently, I’ve had two people comment that I seem more at peace, more contented, than I have in a long time. I’ve been out there for a long time in a variety of ways and it seems that I’m learning how to pull it back in…at least I believe that I’ve found a place that pulls me back in, and lets me go back out.

Make sense?

Where do you think you stand on the Comatose-to-Gone Continuum?

Which direction would it be healthy for you to go to gain or maintain a sense of balance?

Go there this weekend. Maybe it’ll be a couple of shots of tequila…or a nap on the couch.

I’m going to try both.

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Life Always Says "Yes"

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you can’t…you’re right.”

Life always says, “Yes.”

Whatever you think about yourself will form the basis of what happens to you in life. If you think you are too dumb, too fat, too young or too old…you are. Or, a better way to say it would be…you will be.

Even when things go right for you you’ll be thinking, “Well, that was just luck because I’m too______ for that to really be my doing.”

However, if you lean in a more positive direction: I can do that. I can’t be stopped. I’m just the right person to (fill in the blank)…you’re more likely to have a positive outcome.

A wagon load of philosophers, notably Thoreau, have pointed out that if you move confidently in the direction of your dreams the universe seems to line up to make them come true.

Here’s the key though: Very often your dream doesn’t come true exactly the way you envisioned. You have to be willing to allow life to fulfill your dream in a way that fits you.

Remember, life always says, “Yes.”

What are you asking? To what do you want life to say “Yes”?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Witches and Little Women

Today is the anniversary of the beginning of the Salem Witch Hysteria in 1692.

In February, 1692 several teenaged girls exhibited strange behavior and attributed their ailments to witches. Under pressure of questioning, a West Indian slave, Tituba, admitted to being a witch.

My question would be, How do you tell that teenaged girls behavior is strange, and not just normal? That should have been a clue right off the bat.

By April, 19 women had been accused of witchcraft and were in jail…including a 4-year old child. Governor Sir William Phips ordered trials held.

By October, when the trials were ended due to public outcry of unjust proceedings, 19people had been hanged, 5 died in jail, 1 was tortured to death and more than 150 had been imprisoned. Two dogs were executed.

By 1711, all those accused of witchcraft had been pardoned by the colony legislature. I'm sure that was comforting to those who had been killed.

Looking back 300+ years the witchcraft episode seems so…primitive. But, we’re doing the same thing today, just with different issues.

How often in our lives do we paint our fears on other people or situations? If they are gay, or a different race, have different religious beliefs, or belong to a different political party they must be exhibiting strange behaviors and should be feared, hated or worse.

‘Bout time to smarten up, don’t you think?

And by the way, the majority of what teenaged girls do is strange…and that makes it normal.

But ya gotta watch out for the dogs!