Friday, December 31, 2010

A Ticking Clock and a Second Chance

As I’ve said before, I’m always hesitant to use sports analogies in situations where there are readers or audience participants who aren’t into sports.

However, my Tar Heels’ victory last night over Tennessee in double overtime in Nashville’s Music City Bowl is too good to pass up.

The game went back and forth, up and down. It looked like the referees were going to steal the game, penalties played a crucial role and every time you turned around it looked like a Tennessee player was trying to start a fight. Some kids went from hero to goat and back in the course of a single play.

And then, we won!

I had to go out and buy two newspapers this morning to make sure it really happened.

But, for the last hour or so I’ve thought about the game in relation to the concept of second chances. I’ve given you more game details than you probably want, but the win was based on the fact that the Tar Heels got a second chance at the end of the game.

Life is like that. Depending on how you frame your experiences and your life you can almost always get a second chance…even with life. Energy is a force that cannot be destroyed, it simply changes form. So, even at death our energy moves on to another form; we get a second chance.

There are few better times to recognize the potential of a second chance than New Year’s.

If you need a second chance, take it.

And have a great New Year’s…and New Year.

See you Monday.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The STUFF Is Winning!

I’d love to be able to say that my work area is always as organized as what I teach in some of my seminars. (A shrink once asked me if I ever listened to what I tell other people to do in my seminars.)

Well, sometimes.

It’s the end of the year and so much of my office has become a catch’all for ideas, books, papers, folders and technology I have to learn how to use.

Are you feelin’ my pain? Are you running into the same problem?

I’ve used my 30-Second Secret (take 30 seconds to put up and clean up), and usually it works to keep me organized, but I’ve been overwhelmed by so much STUFF during the last few weeks that the STUFF has won at this point.

However, today’s the day I get started with getting things straight. My goal is to have everything in its place or thrown out by noon on New Year’s Eve.

Here’s my plan: I’m going to divide the office into segments…the bookcase…top of the desk…Pile #1 on the floor…and so on. Then, I’m going to tackle each segment. When I finish a segment I’ll reward myself…go to the gym…eat a Krispy Kreme doughnut…go for a walk…eat another Krispy Kreme. You get the idea.

Also, I’ll keep a football game or music going in the background. This slows me down a bit as I stop every now and then to watch or listen, but it makes the whole process more enjoyable.

Do you have a quagmire to dig yourself out of? Do you have a plan? When will you know what “done” looks like?

Have a plan. Have a deadline.

Let’s get ready to blow out this decade and welcome the next.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snow

(The lyrics of the song, Snow, from the movie, White Christmas)

Snow, it won't be long before we'll all be there with snow
Snow, I want to wash my hands, my face and hair with snow

Snow, I long to clear a path and lift a spade of snow
Snow, oh, to see a great big man entirely made of snow

Where it's snowing
All winter through
That's where I want to be
Snowball throwing
That's what I'll do
How I'm longing to ski
Through the

Snow, those glist'ning houses that seem to be built of snow
Snow, oh, to see a mountain covered with a quilt of snow

What is Christmas with no snow
No white Christmas with no snow
Snow

I'll soon be there with snow
I'll wash my hair with snow
And with a spade of snow
I'll build a man that's made of snow
I'd love to stay up with you but I recommend a little shuteye
Go to sleep
And dream
Of snow, snow, snow, snow, snow

Monday, December 20, 2010

What Guys Think About

Spent the last 24 hours with 5 guys; some of whom I knew and some I didn’t.

The group ranged in ages from about mid-40s to upper-50s, in education from high school or less to advanced degrees, in income from “not a proverbial pot” to a lot of money, in fitness from “would have trouble walking a mile” to a triathlete, and in street smarts from innocent to extremely knowledgeable. Needless to say it was a diverse group.

And I can tell you up front that this was not a Bible study group.

One of our guys was treating all of us to a Charlotte Panthers game and a wide range of recreational and after-dark activities.

It was one of those times that proved to me that people are people.

Someone once said, “Small people talk about people; very small people talk about themselves; great people talk about ideas.”

I was obviously with a group of great people because some of the ideas discussed ranged through: girls, travel, women, Christmas trees, beer, sports, cars, philosophical ideas of life, women, guns, vacations, books, tequila and “brown water,” Kindles, haunted houses, bowling, women, kids, wives, ex-wives, multiple ex-wives, work, could you really laugh yourself to death?, fire control, kitchen equipment, cheating in college athletics, money, women, movies, drugs, spirituality vs church, hat sizes and women.

People are people. We are all concerned with being happy, finding love and doing something that matters. How we reach the goals we desire within those three things can be different for all kinds of people, but life boils down to those three issues; happiness, love and mattering.

How ya doin’ in those three areas?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Why In the World Would You Think I'd Like THAT?!!

Was able to do the vast majority of my Christmas shopping yesterday.

Bumped into a friend at the mall and we got into what turned out to be an animated discussion about present buying.

She is adamantly opposed to gift certificates while I think that in lots of cases they are the perfect gift.

Her logic is that gift certificates signify “the easy way out” and that they show the giver as someone who didn’t want to put a lot of thought into the gift.

My logic is that while her argument might be true in some cases I believe that people should get what they want for a gift and not necessarily what someone thinks they ought to have. And, the best way to guarantee that the getter gets what they want is to let them pick it out. Without having the getter standing beside the giver and picking out the gift the gift certificate is the best way to go.

My logic comes from experiences of putting thought into what someone might want only to have them say something like, “Eeeeeeewwwww! Why in God’s name would you think I’d like that?!!” or, “If you cared about me you’d know what I want!” or “It’s…uh…cute…but I don’t like the (fill in the blank).” Or, you never again see them wear it, use it, eat it. Or, you see it regifted to someone else.

So, I decided that very often the best way to go is with the GC.

Good luck if you’re shopping this weekend.

And remember, if you can’t find a Carolina Blue sweater in XL, gift certificates are fine.

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Expect Delays Ahead

It’s been snowing, raining, and sleeting here in the Research Triangle of North Carolina.

If you go out driving on I-40 you’ll see big signs that say, “Inclement Weather, Expect Delays.”

We should look for signs like that in our lives; times that we can expect delays. If we see the sign we can plan for a better way to maneuver around the person, situation or issue that is causing the delay.

The holidays are supposed to be joyous times, but we often run into (I’ll say it again) people, situations or issues that cause delays (friction, conflict).

So, whataya say we expect the delay and come up with a strategy ahead of time that moves us over, under, around or through the delay?

What “delays” do you see on the road ahead during the next couple of weeks?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You Go, Middle Class!

Today must be Values Day.

My devotional reading this morning was all about understanding your personal values and being true to yourself.

Then, an article by New York Times columnist David Brooks focused on the global rise of middle class values such as “industry, prudence, ambition, neatness, order, moderation and continuing self-improvement.”

Ok, Ok, so those of you who know me are questioning my commitment to prudence, neatness and moderation. I gotcha. Let’s move on.

Brooks’ point is that an increasing middle class (from 430 million world-wide in 2000 to 1.5 billion by 2030) bodes well for America. We INVENTED middle class.

What I took away from the article was an optimism about where the world is headed. If the objectives of an increasing number of the world’s people are to have more comfortable lifestyles, children with better lives, and reasonable retirements then terrorism, theocracy and intolerance simply can’t win in the long run.

We need to keep the hammer down on terrorism—especially cyberterrorism—but let’s focus on getting people back to work so they can have better lives.

I mean, without a job you can’t by a Barcalounger. It’s hard to think about blowing something up when you’re laid back in a recliner watching football.

Pass those cashews over here, will ya?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Looking Back to Look Forward

It’s the middle of December and now’s as good a time as any to start looking back at 2010 and deciding if it was a good year for you, or not; and then to start looking ahead to 2011 and deciding what type of year you want it to be.

The best guide I’ve seen in a long time for retrospection and future planning is online at http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/how-to-conduct-your-own-annual-review/.

The author, Chris Guillebeau, wrote The Art of Non-Conformity. I found out about Chris’s work from the Seth Godin blog.

The annual review has a great feel for categories, ways to create action steps to get you to your goals, and encouragement to create a theme for the coming year.

The best line in the article is absolute truth: “We overestimate what we can get done in a day, and we underestimate what we can get done in a year.”

Have you looked back? Are looking forward?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pick UP Your POOP!

“Pick UP Your POOP!” is a sign being carried by four kids in a Cary neighborhood.

Two boys and two girls, all under 12-years old, decided that some of the adults in their area had been too slack in cleaning up after their pets so the kids created the sign and started going door-to-door to enlist families in an awareness program.

“One old lady shook her fist at my dad when he asked her to clean up her dog’s poop,” said one boy.

These kids are learning some great lessons. Obviously, they are learning teamwork, goal-setting and communications.

But, they are also learning that some folks just don’t care about the mess they make and they have no intention of cleaning it up.

Do you know people like that in your workplace?

So, what do you do?

In the workplace, if you can point out the poop in a reasonable way, some will become aware of it and clean it up, or stop doing whatever the poop-creating activity might be.

Other people won’t care, won’t clean it up, and won’t stop.

At that point, you have some interesting decisions to make, don’t you?

PS. A Zen attitude would simply say, “Pick UP their POOP, throw it away, forget it and move on.” Thinking and worrying and obsessing about their poop causes more friction than the simple task.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Do You Look, Listen or Live?

Good teachers know that to be understood you must communicate in a way the student understands. That’s why you’ll hear educators talk the fact that we learn in three ways: visually, auditorially (hearing) and kinesthetically (feeling or movement).

In fact, the best teachers will include examples or experiences in all three learning styles when making a point; that way they know they should have everyone covered.

We all have a dominant style. The majority of folks learn visually…we see it, learn it, know it. The next most popular style is auditory, then kinesthetic.

Do you know and understand your dominant learning style. It may be a combination of two or three of the styles.

If you know your learning style it can make learning, changing and growing so much easier and faster.

Pick something simple to learn this weekend and see which style clicks for you.

Have a great weekend and stay warm.

See you Monday.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Steal and Share

Recently, I saw a great sign at a conference for educators. It read:

“Steal shamelessly and share selflessly.”

What a great life philosophy.

There are all kinds of great ideas out here…steal’em! And then share them with others.

If more people worked from that kind of attitude we’d have a faster spread of the ideas that worked. We’d also have a faster recognition of the ideas that don’t.

What can you steal and share today?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Huh?

What do you think about all day?

Do you think about good health and abundance or do you dwell on your aches and pains and the fact that you are always behind the eight-ball, financially?

Throughout the history of humans philosophers around the world have offered one consistent message…we are what we think.

So, if you want to change your life you have to change your thoughts.

What are you thinking right this instant about the last line?

Are you thinking, “That’s a bunch of that positive thinking, change your life kind of hooey;” or, “That’s true. What we think becomes who we are;” or, “That’s interesting, how does it work?”

Or, are you thinking, “Huh?”

Whichever of those four thoughts were in your mind says a lot about the life you have…and the type of life you could have.

So, whataya think?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Book Blog #2

Someone actually reads and understands this blog.

Last Friday I said that there were two books I’d read recently that were outstanding; one was Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, Crush It! and I said I’d talk about the other one on Monday.

Weeelllll, I forgot about the other book for yesterday’s blog and a friend mentioned it.

So, here’s the book: Different, by Harvard Professor Youngme Moon does a wonderful job of explaining why the best companies are doing outrageous things to stand out and be different.

The basic problem is that most companies are doing the same and come across as the same. Think McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Hardees and Burger King. Yes, there are small differences like fried vs flame broiled. But, for the most part they are the same.

Now, think about companies like Jet Blue that only have one seating selection, no food, and go to only a few places. But, their seats are extraordinarily comfortable and you have lots of leg room. Different.

If you own a business or really want to know what works in marketing, get Different.

Monday, December 6, 2010

How Do It Know?

There is a wonderful old joke about the country boy who, when asked what the smartest thing in the world was, replied, “A thermos.”

Why?

“’Cause, it keeps hot stuff hot and cold stuff cold. How do it know?” was the answer.

Recently, my chiropractor gave me an All-Temp Comfort Pack to use to reduce inflammation in my back. It can be put in the freezer for cold or in the microwave for hot. Actually, it looks like a flat, rectangular breast implant.

Now, someone smart invented this product. And, while I don’t have a clue about the chemical process that makes it works, all I know is that it works.

Every day we take for granted ingenious tools that, a century ago, someone would have thought were magic.

We spend so much time worrying about all the troubles and challenges swirling around us that we often forget to be grateful for the complexity/simplicity of our tools and toys.

What have you used in the last 24 hours that didn’t exist even 10 years ago?

Friday, December 3, 2010

What the Wine Seller Knows

Every now and then a business book comes along that is different; one that brings information we can actually use and isn't just a rehash of what’s been done before.

In the last month I’ve read two books you need to be aware of. The first is Crush It, by Gary Vaynerchuk. If the wild last name clicks with you, you must love wine.

Vaynerchuk does winelibrary.com and has a following of over 100,000 people who watch his video blog about wine every day. He’s been on Letterman and The Today Show. He also has his own site, garyvaynerchuk.com. He’s a wild guy, a New Yorker, and his message is that we should all look for whatever that thing is that gets us excited about life and find a way to turn it into a living.

The Live What You Love message is older than Mark Twain saying, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

But what Gary V. does that’s different is provide a practical roadmap for promoting your interest and getting your personal brand out into the digital world with Twitter, FaceBook and other social media. If you continue to wonder about the importance of social media this book is the best thing I’ve seen so far to explain these new media.

Your opportunity to have lots of Perfect Workdays may be based on how you promote yourself. Vaynerchuk shows you how to do that in practical terms.

I’ll tell you about the other book on Monday.

Have a big weekend and stay safe.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I Screwed Up

The basic question of yesterday’s blog was, “What did you learn?”

This morning I received a difficult and expensive lesson.

I messed up. And it was a pretty big mess-up that put some folks I like a lot into a tough, embarrassing situation. It would not have been so bad if the mistake had been one of commission…if I had failed forward. But, it wasn’t. It was a silly omission on my part; something that could easily have been prevented.

All I can do is say that I’m sorry and try to do something to make it up to them.

But, screwing up like this isn’t fun, smart or professional, three descriptions that I hope relate to me most of the time.

It’s easy to say, “We all make mistakes,” and let it go.

The key, I believe, is that you don’t let it go. You remember it, and don’t do it again.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

End of Day Question

What did you learn yesterday?

Every day you have the opportunity to learn something that will help you the next day, and the next, and the next.

If you’re sitting there thinking, “I didn’t learn anything yesterday” it’s your own fault.

You don’t have to sit for hours contemplating your navel and wondering about the big questions in life. The simple question at the end of each day, “What did I learn today?” will suffice. Asking the question gets your brain working and gets you out of the rut of life that it’s so easy to fall into.

I learned about couple of things yesterday; one is small and useful, the other is part of something big. Both are helpful.

What did you learn yesterday?