Monday, January 31, 2011

What If? Part 2

Here in North Carolina, January started out with snow and is ending with 60+ temperatures in some places.

Being ready for extremes in temperatures can be as easy as tossing a bathing suit and a heavy coat in your vehicle’s trunk.

In life, being ready for extremes means playing “What If?” on a regular basis. I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.

How often do you play, “What If?” As in, What if I sell only half as much? Or, What if I sell twice as much? What if they walk in today and let me go? What if they walk in today and promote me? What if he/she wants an answer RIGHT NOW!?

Asking What If? is a good exercise first thing in the year; and not a bad thing to do every six months or once-a-month.

What should you ask What If? about right now?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Is the Real You On-line?

Are you the same person on-line as you are as a flesh-and-blood human?

The question is being asked a lot now and not for reasons you might expect…if you ever expected the question to be asked at all.

It’s estimated that 375,000 FaceBook users die annually. What happens to their digital assets? Blogs, tweets, web-based game avatars, FaceBook and YouTube posts are all digital assets.

The term digital assets is being used by a couple of Raleigh techies and entrepreneurs who have a site, thedigitalbeyond.com. Check it out.

But, let’s go back to the original question: If, after reading this blog, you dropped dead, would the readers or viewers of all the digital assets you’ve posted on the Web have an accurate view of who you are…mmm…were?

I have a friend who’s a human resources professional. When he interviews people now one of the conditions of the interview is that they “friend” him on FaceBook and give him their Twitter address if they have an account. He goes back to their posts and sees what type of things they write or show.

I’m trying to convince the young guys in the fraternity I advise that what they post on-line lives forever…for…ev…er. And, if they think my HR friend is a rarity, they’re wrong.

Who are you on-line?

See you Monday.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Answers>?

One of the keys to success is knowing that you don’t know…and then knowing where to find the answer.

In the early 1900s, Henry Ford was hauled into court for a lawsuit. During the proceeds Ford was questioned by an attorney and asked a variety of questions about national and world affairs. The purpose of the questioning was to show that Ford was uninformed, ignorant of what was going on in the world around him.

Ford suffered the questioning for awhile and then said, “Young man, I do not need to know the answers to your questions. On my desk I have a button and if I push that button a wide variety of experts are at my command to answer any question I put to them. So, why should I waste my time cluttering up my mind with things I do not need to know.”

Knowing is important. But, when you don’t know, knowing where to find the answers is doubly important.

What don’t you know that you wish you did? And where will you find the answers?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's On/In Your Mind?

I’m noticing that more of the stories I’m reading about the economy are optimistic. It seems that we are slowly pulling out of the quagmire of the last 18-24 months.

The fact that I can simply believe that things are getting better is the start of things getting better.

It works like that in all phases of life. We attract what we think about most of the time. If you think about abundance, you’ll get abundance. If you think about lack, that’s what you get.

Every source from the Bible to philosophers to your grandma has told us that we are what we think.

So, whatcha thinkin’ about?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Have a Glass of Carrot Juice

In some of the seminars I present I use a Values survey to give folks an idea about what their focus at work and in life might be.

As you’d expect, a lot of the attendees check off values that they “hope” other people see in them or that they talk about, not what they are really like. It’s a wonderfully human trait.

I end the exercise by asking, “If I went to the people you love and the people you work with and ask, ‘Does this person really live this value?’ what would they say? Are you living your value?” There’s a high degree of squirming after I ask those questions.

Jack LaLanne died on Sunday. If there ever was a person who lived his values; who lived his story, it was Jack. He was the personification of a healthy lifestyle.

After 3,000 television shows, millions of exercises, and 96 years of living he was still active, vital and ready to take life on. He said, “I can’t die, it would ruin my image.”

Whether you want to have a story or not, you do. Are you living your story? And, if so, is it a story worth living?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chaser! Get It, Girl!

Chaser, a border collie in South Carolina, has the largest vocabulary of any known dog. Supposedly, Chaser can respond to over 1,000 proper nouns.

I’m assuming that means that if you have a pile of stuff with a baby doll in it you can say, “baby doll,” and Chaser goes and gets it.

When I saw the article I immediately thought of all the managers, parents, teachers and coaches who wish their charges were as smart as Chaser.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Are You On My T.E.A.M.?

At one time or another almost everyone has encountered the acronym, T.E.A.M.

You’ve probably understood it to mean, “Together Everyone Achieves More.”

I always liked that cliché. It always makes me think I’m going to hear the fight song of life playing in the background.

There’s another meaning for the T.E.A.M. acronym that may seem more fitting in today’s workplace… “Today Everyone Acknowledges Me!”

Lots of folks think that’s a bad thing, but I’m not one of them.

If I have a good employee or volunteer and they need a little extra praise or stroking, I’m going to be right there praisin’ and strokin’ away.

That silliness about treating everyone the same is just that, silly. Treat people they way they need to be treated in order to get the results you need.

Now, don’t take this so literally as to mean that you have to disrupt the cohesiveness of the team just to give someone a little extra due.

But, if a little extra due keeps’em happy it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Remember The Platinum Rule: Do Unto Others the Way They Would Have It Be Done To Them.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Feeling Inadequate

Seminar in Jacksonville, NC, today. Whenever I get close to Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg, Pope Air Force Base, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, or New River Air Station I start thinking about the sacrifices those folks are making for us and I tend to feel….grateful.

A friend of mine is going to Afghanistan in a few months and will be there a year. He’s going through “Misery Month” here in the states to get ready for the deployment.

Whenever I try to think of something to say to some of those folks, “Thank You,” always seems so inadequate.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Life is a 4-Way Stop

For most of us life is like standing in the middle of a 4-way Stop intersection and not knowing which road to take. There are all kinds of benefits, rewards and challenges on all the roads.

How do you choose?

It could be that in each direction you can look down the road and see benefits and challenges? Or, you might just see challenges? Too seldom do we only see all benefits.

You might take the one that looks easiest.

What to do?

If you have a map your decision is easy. If you know where you want to end up you’ll know which road to take.

But, if you don’t have a map you’re Alice, in Alice in Wonderland when she meets the Cheshire Cat.

“Which road do I take?" (Alice)
"Where do you want to go?" (Cat)
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter. If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

Where do you want to go? Which road are you taking?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What's Your Wind?

2010 was a tumultuous year for a lot of reasons. At the end of the year I saw quite a few stories in newspapers and magazines offering thanks that 2010 and the decade it completed were over.

I’m with’em. 2009 and ’10 were incredibly difficult and I’m glad to see them in my rearview mirror.

During the last two weeks I’ve been asking myself, “What did I learn last year?” so, hopefully, I don’t make the same mistakes again.

Interestingly, my lesson came at the very end of the year while watching Fareed Zakiara’s show, GPS (Global Public Square). On a special show about leadership, Richard C. Levin, president of Yale University, said, “It’s easier to lead with the wind at your back.”

I immediately wrote down the comment. It’s a sailing term. It means that the wind is pushing you along rather than you having to tack back and forth (work harder) to catch the wind.

I quickly realized that, not only is it easier to lead with the wind at your back, LIFE is easier with the wind at your back.

But, here’s the interesting part as I interpret it: Wind means different things to different people. And your wind might change depending on where you are in life.

Wind for some folks might be money. It’s usually easier to get along in life if you have some. For others, it might be a relationship. As long as you feel secure in your primary relationship you can deal with the slings and arrows of life. Wind might be spiritual beliefs, good health, a job; it’s the primary thing needed to feel secure and content so that you can address the other challenges in life.

I now understand what my wind is.

What’s your wind?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Windshield University

In a little while I’ll be starting a 3+ hour drive to the coast for two days of seminars.

I’m looking forward to the drive. I keep a supply of books on CDs so I can learn while in the car.

The average American spends about 1,000 hours a year driving. Some experts even call the time Windshield University. One study offered that you could get a college education in five years by listening to books in your car (‘course, that wouldn’t count the beer drinking, sleeping late, watching football games and trying to talk your date into staying over…at least some of that couldn’t be done in your car…but then, some could…but that’s another blog).

And listening and driving is not that distracting. I only listen out on the interstate and I don’t usually listen to fiction; my mind starts to wander and I miss some of the plot. But, with nonfiction I can simply reverse or click back to the section I missed and listen again.

I have a friend who was in the great ice-induced gridlock in Raleigh a few years ago and said she almost had a “running fit” (I love that phrase!) in the hours she spent in her car in traffic. I had a great time. I listened to about 5 books on CD.

Do you use your time behind the wheel constructively or do you go brain dead? Put your windshield time to good use, learn something. Get smarter.

What topic interests you that you might think, “I’d love to know more about this but I just don’t have time to spend reading about it”? I can assure you that there is a book on CD somewhere about the topic.

Enjoy the weekend. Stay warm.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Deviant's Dilemma

At times in the past I’ve mentioned Tom Morris, a modern-day public philosopher who lives in Wilmington, NC. Tom is a Carolina grad who, after receiving a Ph.D. in both philosophy and religious studies from Yale University, won about ever teaching award given at Notre Dame University. He heads up the Morris Institute and has written a bag-full of great books. My favorite is True Success. Google "Tom Morris" after reading this and you'll see some good stuff.

Anyway, Tom had an essay published online on The Huffington Post recently and the gist of it was that he says this is the year to “Be True To You!”

He makes a great point that “penguins don’t flourish in Miami Beach. Nor do alligators in Antartica.”

There’s lots of this, “You be you,” kind of advice out there. Russell Simmons says, “Do you.”

So, why don’t we?

What keeps us from truly being…well….us?

Usually the fears of being “found out” keep us walking on the paths others have defined for us.

Think about it…if they find out what we are really like, what will they think? Will they stop loving us? Will they think we are weird or gross or perverted or….what?

There’s a wonderful word I love…deviant. I’ve never seen deviant in the very negative sense that it’s often used. I’ve always seen it as someone or some activity that is simply out there on the edge.

And I can assure you from personal experience, the farther out on the edge you are the more they won’t like it…won’t agree with it…and will see you as an outsider. Which, in essence, you are.

So, here are the questions of the day: Is it better to be who you really are and risk living out there on the edge…and maybe being happy with folks who are also like you? Or, is it better to move with the herd, secure in your place in the group, confident and at peace that you are just…like….them?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cold In the Shadows

Here in Paradise…or Chapel Hill, as some would call it…most of the snow has been melted away by the sun, except what’s in the shadows.

There’s a wonderful metaphor in there if you look for it.

It’s shady and dark in the shadows. Just the place to keep things cold. And cold slows activity.

If you stay in the shadows you may feel safe, but you slow down. In today’s world slow is not good…unless you’re a sniper and as they say, “slow is smooth and smooth is fast,” but that’s another blog and I digress.

Walking through the shadows you can feel the cold. That’s not what life, at least most of life, is supposed to feel like if you want to feel alive.

So, step out into the sun. Might be risky, might get a little too hot once in awhile, but that’s life.

Where are the shadows in your life? Where are the places that seem safe, but are actually slowing you down and keeping you from experiencing life?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow and Plan B

If you live in the South you probably have snow…or ice…or snow and ice.

I just received an email canceling the next two days of seminars.

Which, on the whole, is not a bad thing. I’ve got a list of things that need to be done and that I don’t want to waste weekend time doing. Sooooo, it looks like I can get a lot of those things done and still relax.

If life doesn’t go the way it should do you have a Plan B?

I’m always amazed at how often, when I ask someone, “If this doesn’t pan out, what’s your Plan B?” And they say, “I don’t have one.”

So, if you are snowed in, what’s your Plan B?

Monday, January 10, 2011

In Praise of Kindle

If computers came along about halfway through your life like they did in mine you understand the frustration and stress of learning a new technology.

…..unless it solved a problem you didn’t know you had and worked wonderfully.

I got a Kindle over the Christmas holidays and I feel like I’m five years old and have a new bike.

I already have nineteen books downloaded and have read a couple. It’s great for fiction but somewhat problematic when it comes to skimming…but right now, that’s ok with me. Anything that is the size of a paperback book, weighs less than a pound and can hold 3.500 books is about as close to David Copperfield magic as I’ve ever been.

What simple tool, technology or idea, if you had it, could change your life?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hacking Life

There's not much that beats a PBJ and a big glass of ice-cold milk for breakfast. If you use multi-grain or whole wheat bread you're getting a ton of what you need to start the day.

Ellington Darden, Ph.D., one of the best sources of nutrition and fitness information I've found over the last 40 years, says that a person can eat the same breakfast and lunch for 6 weeks before getting tired of it and moving on to something else.

I'm a big advocate of trying new things and working on change skills. But, sometimes when you find a winner that makes your life easier just ride it for awhile. It's one less thing to think about.

However, every now and then, and six weeks is a good time frame, ask yourself, "Is this still working for me or has it developed into a rut?"

In today's parlance the term would be a "hack": a technique of strategy that is a shortcut.The word came from the activity of hacking into computers. The old use of the word meant "put up with," as in, "I just can't hack going to work today."

So, what's your favorite hack? Ask others about their favorite hacks and you start getting all kinds of tips to get through life more easilier, faster and more successuflly.

PS...you might want to check out the book, Hacking Life.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Strolling Into the New Year

This year has started the same as the last and the one before that and the one before that………

I want to hit the ground running, but I always seem to bump the ground strolling.

I'll spend the last few weeks of the previous year heavily involved in looking back and grading the year and looking ahead to opportunities and doing some planning.

And then the festivities and open days hit and I’m catching up on movies and working out more which at least offsets the eating and partying more.

And then the first few workdays of the new year are upon me and I’m watching bowl games and sleeping a little late and thinking, “I have GOT to get this planning finished!”

But, something else happens…I always get a few important things done and new clients call about exciting opportunities.

Strolling is not that bad if things…even a few things…are getting done.

The key is to simply pick up speed…and the next thing you know you’re sprinting towards the new year or away from the last. I can feel myself doing both.

Come join me!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Better

It’s going to be a good year.

Today is the first workday of the new year and most of the stories I saw in the newspaper this morning point to improvements in the economy; job growth, more banks are lending money and more companies are ordering products.

Your specific situation might not be great, but the economy as a whole seems to be turning around.

Why is that important?

Because, if overall confidence about the economy goes up there’s a better chance that your specific situation will improve in a variety of ways. If you feel more confident you look and act more confident and potential employers pick up on that. Wouldn’t you rather hire a confident person than one who isn’t?

How do you feel about the coming year?

Look around, the signs are pointing up.