Monday, February 28, 2011

When Was the Last Time You Did Nothing?

There is a Spanish proverb that speaks of how good it is to “do nothing and rest afterward.”

It may seem odd to begin a week with a blog about leisure. But, Monday morning is a wonderful time to assess how good and leisure-filled your weekend was.

Or, did you spend your weekend working...whether it was your work job, parent job, child job, church job, chore job...get it?

The ebb and flow of life demands that we take some time for ourselves to slow down and recoup; to recreate ourselves.

If you aren’t taking the time to renew yourself I can promise that stress, dis-ease, and confusion will, in some way, take the time.

Look ahead at this week: Can you find a chunk of time to devote to yourself? Can you find a few minutes each day to slow down a bit and recharge?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The big picture Within the Big Picture

While talking to a friend the other day about a situation that concerned me, and that I thought was pretty important, she said, “But, that’s not the Big Picture.”

She added, “Yes, it (the thing I was concerned about) is a big picture, but it’s a big picture within a Big Picture.”

It’s easy to get distracted by and then focused on something that, while important at the moment, is not overly important in the grand scheme of things. The problem is that we often don’t realize until much later that the thing that we didn’t want to focus too much time and energy on was something that had a big impact on the Big Picture.

That’s life, though.

Are you focusing on the Big Picture or just today’s big picture?

Have a great weekend. Spring’s on it’s way.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Are You Crazy, or What?

A young friend of mine had a run-in with a teacher yesterday. Sound familiar?

As we grow up with learn that we don’t like everyone. The key is trying to learn how to get along with most folks.

This morning I’m presenting, “Why Do People Act Crazy at Work?!” for a group in Fayetteville. My definition of crazy includes those habits, traits, or activities from ourselves or others that interfere with a good working atmosphere.

The key is to learn how to be cordial and professional, get the job done and move on.

You can do that as a co-worker; you can do it as a student.

What is it that others do that just gets on your last nerve?

Take a pause, focus on the job at hand, and move on.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Get Out of My Life!

Recently I discovered a wonderful book about raising teenagers, Get Out of My Life! But First Could You Take Me and Cheryl to the Mall?, by Anthony E. Wolfe.

It's filled with great tips, tactics and strategies about how to deal with young people who at times seem to be creatures from another planet.

But, what first caught my eye was the title. You have to love it!

The whole range of life experiences is caught up in two simple phrases. You have:
- The plea for control in life
- The acknowledgement that others often control our destiny
- The conflict between wanting to be young and wanting to be an adult

Here's what really struck me though...no matter what our ages most of us are still struggling with some of these issues. We still want to be totally in control but we hope there is someone or something watching over us. Very often we want lives in which two or more issues are diametrically opposed. We hate the fact that there may be some individuals, institutions or forces that hold sway over us.

So, maybe life doesn't change all that much as we go along. Maybe we just get a little better at handling the craziness.

What beliefs or actions in life do you need to cut yourself a little slack for? If you were parenting the teenage you, how would you handle the situation?

PS. If you have a teenager (on the other hand, maybe we don't have teenagers...maybe they are like cats...they have US as long as they want us) or if you know someone who is a parent to teenagers, Get Out of My Life! can be a great resource.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Getting Your Ticket Punched

Years ago I visited the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and talked to a VP on their staff about the possibility of getting an MBA.

He was a smart guy with lots of experience and he quickly discerned that I did not need an MBA to accomplish my goals. He said, “What you need is a union card.”

Say what?

“A union card,” he went on, “A passport, some credential that gets you into the situation you want to do business in.”

I getcha.

What life situation would you like to explore, what goal would you like to reach that demands some sort of credential…a union card or passport?

And your ticket to success doesn’t have to be tangible, it could be a way of thinking or a decision you make.

Whatever it is it helps you and others understand that you belong.

What would it take to get your passport to the life you want to lead?

Monday, February 21, 2011

The 500 and Forever

Trevor Bayne, 20, a NASCAR rookie, won the Daytona 500 yesterday.

Now, don’t immediately click away simply because you saw the word “NASCAR.”

Here’s the point of today’s blog: Is Trevor winning NASCAR’s biggest race (stock car racing is the only sport that has its biggest event at the beginning of the season) a good thing or not?

It’ll sure mean more sponsors, more exposure, more money, more…companionship.

But, with the win comes a level of expectation that may be hard to live up to, or live down.

How sad would it be to think that the high point of your life happened before you could legally buy a drink?

How many folks do you know who won big early in life with a discovery, job, athletic accomplishment or relationship…and that was the peak of their lives? And they’ve been resting on those wilted laurels ever since?

Cruising only happens when you’re going downhill.

What have you done for us…or yourself…lately?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gravy, Again!

What do gravy and tight economic times have to do with each other?

Like many men I’ll put gravy on ANYTHING! In fact, I’m convinced that spaghetti sauce is actually gravy for pasta, dressing is gravy for salad and syrup is gravy for ice cream.

Yesterday I jotted a fun note about my love for gravy on my FaceBook page and I’ve had about 20 comments come back to me. Obviously, I hit a nerve.

Gravy is one of those simple pleasures of life that doesn’t cost much, isn’t hard to find and provides a level of satisfaction that is difficult to match.

Finding simple pleasures is a great thing in tight economic times. Yesterday, the governor of North Carolina used the word “austerity” in her state of the state speech a number of times. The whole range of media is noting the trend away from conspicuous consumption and towards simpler lives.

If something as simple and economical as gravy provides a safe, legal, high level of satisfaction, then it’s a good thing.

And yes, I can hear the nattering nabobs of negativity (A Reagan phrase) screeching that gravy is bad for us. Well, don’t drink it by the glass; although, I was once caught sipping brown gravy from a small condiment cup at Golden Corral.

What simple pleasure in your life can you turn to that provides a high level of satisfaction? It doesn’t have to be food. It could be a walk, a talk with a special someone, a book…it’s up to you.

Whatever it is, try some of it this weekend. And have a great one.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

We're Relaxed...Not Lazy

A lot of folks in other areas of the country think some of we Southerners have a…mmm…relaxed…attitude about life.

Ever wonder where the relaxed view of life originated? According to eminent English historian Paul Johnson in A History of the American People it probably started with the weather.

New England Pilgrims in the 1600s faced dramatic weather changes with shorter growing seasons so they had to be industrious and put up food stores for the winter. In the South settlers experienced warmer weather and longer growing seasons so they could relax a little and take life a little slower and easier.

I bet you’re thinking, “What on earth does this have to do with me having a Perfect Workday?”

Sometimes the forces that have an impact on how we think and act are more subtle than we might imagine. If Johnson’s thesis is correct weather/growing seasons effected how we look at life.

What forces rule your life? What impacts could parenthood, aging, health, debt, spiritual beliefs…even the way you go to work each day, have on your outlook on life?

Are those forces changing? Which forces can you change? Which forces will you change?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

The issue of change seems to be taking over my life.

I’m thinking about it, talking about it, living it.

Whether you realize it or not, you are, too.

But, it isn’t the change that’s the challenge…it’s the transitions.

Change is external. Transitions are internal. And, that’s reality not a matter of semantics.

The You you see in the mirror every morning is aging. That’s change and that’s external. How you come to grips with the change is internal and that’s a transition.

What’s the best way to work through transition in a positive way? (because you sure don’t want to do it in a negative way)

Think in terms of solutions, not problems.

It’s that simple: Solutions, not problems.

What transitions are you in the middle of?
(if you don’t have any I’ll be glad to give you six or seven of mine!)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

TV Commercials and Eating the Elephant

We all have onerous tasks to complete every now and then. They might range from cleaning out a closet to serving as executor of an estate after the loss of a loved one.

Procrastination is a normal response.

Let me tell you, spending a lot of time trying to figure out why you are procrastinating is simply an exercise in…procrastination.

I’ve told folks for years that the best way to beat procrastination is to find a reward that matters to you and put it on the other side of the task you are putting off. The reward will often pull you through.

However, even if you have the reward out there, how do you get started?

One…step… at… a… time.

One tiny thing you can do to get you moving.

My personal strategy involves TV commercials. If I’m watching a program I like, during every commercial I’ll hop up (or sit down at the computer) and do something on my project.

Little by little it gets me into the flow and allows me to chip away at the task.

Eating the elephant one bite at a time works like magic.

What’s your elephant looking like right now?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Driving, Kissing and Multi-Tasking

Some of you know that I am against multi-tasking. All the evidence shows that we are less effective with the different tasks we are trying to blend when we attempt to multi-task. When we text and drive it’s so dangerous that it’s against the law in some states.

So, here it is Valentine’s Day…one of the few days in the year that begs for focus and no less than Albert Einstein has spoken out against multi-tasking.

He said, “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

Amen.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Funny Is On the Money

The North Carolina Comedy Festival is running in Chapel Hill and Carrboro from yesterday until next Sunday. Eleven days of laughs! There's stand-up, improv, skits, comedy workshops; all kinds of comedy.

I'm going to attend some of the events to laugh and learn.

But, when you think about it, there's lots more funny stuff out in the real world.

The average child laughs over 40 times a day; the average adult laughs about 12. So often we let the negative in the world get us down, but if we keep our eyes open the stuff people do can crack us up and lift us up.

Look for the funny and you won't be disappointed; look for the negative and you'll get all you need and more.

What has made you laugh in the last 24 hours?

If you can't think of anything you aren't looking hard enough.

Make a point this weekend to look for the funny, even in depressing situations.

Have a great one!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Life Doesn't Have to Be This Hard

I often have a PBJ and a big glass of milk for breakfast. I bought a bunch of the same blue-striped, button-down shirts to wear when I do presentations. I don’t own a copier (there’s a simple copy function on my computer printer but I only use it to make a single copy ever now and then) I go to FedEx/Kinko’s to make all my copies.

All those examples are simple solutions to needs.

Life doesn’t have to be as complicated as we often make it.

Find simple solutions to everyday needs and use them. Some folks will say you’re a creature of habit but that’s not a bad thing in a lot of areas of life. It saves time, energy and thought. It’s the path of least resistance.

You’re saving resources to use on the things that really matter.

What’s one area of your life in which you’d like for things to be simpler? How difficult or costly would it be to start doing things the one way that gets the job done so you can use that time, energy, money on something that really matters?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nana...Everyone Knows That!

When I think of all the possibilities that new technologies offer I’m staggered.

Something as seemingly simple as what a cellphone can do today is amazing and programs such as Wordpress can turn almost anyone into a website wizard.

However, who has the time to learn this stuff? It’s like when I watch my young friends play combat video games or Madden Football and I realize that they’ve spent hours on a couch somewhere learning how to make it look so easy.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the hours for that.

Here’s the challenge: You have to find time to learn. It’s that simple. It probably won’t take hours for you to learn something simple you can do on our cellphone that will help you work, play, get more fit, or explore a topic that interests you.

I keep telling seminar attendees, “Get your children or grandchildren to teach you one new thing on your cellphone each week.” And if you don’t have children or grandchildren, find a young person and ask a question.

Ten minutes. What can you learn about new technology in ten minutes?

PS…and when a young person teaches you something don’t say, “I hate these things.” It makes you sound old and stupid….not an attractive combination.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What Do You Think About the Next Big Thing?

Everywhere you turn in the business and popular media today you’re seeing either information about or examples of “change.”

Yesterday, as the 2011 Super Bowl concluded, the talking heads were all raving that Green Bay quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, was the new big thing…change.

Recent articles in The Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, and trashcan loads (literal and digital) of magazines and websites, all talk about hyperchange and how we will be affected by it and can deal with it.

But, here’s the challenge: Most folks don’t understand the difference between change and transitions.

Change is external. Company policies and government regulations change, our bodies change, where we live and how we get from one place to another changes.

Transitions are internal. How we deal with all the changes, and how long it takes us to get to the new reality after the change is what is truly difficult for us. How we feel about it.

You can talk about change all you want to, but it’s the transitions we get caught up in.

What transitions are you going through now? How ya doin’?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pick a Team

Super Bowl Weekend!

Whether you like pro football or not you have to recognize Sunday as an unofficial American holiday.

Pick a team! Pull for them or against the opponent.

I’m pulling for the Steelers. Long snapper Greg Warren is a Carolina guy and his grandparents used to sit next to me at Carolina games.

But, do NOT let anyone hear you say, “I just don’t care.”

That comment marks you as a negative person.

Have a great weekend. Go Steelers!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Have Something to Tell You

Giving friends difficult news is never easy. Tonight, I had to have a conversation with a friend in which I had to tell him some things that were stressful for him.

I was pretty straightforward. Pulling the bandaid off quickly instead of slowly.

But, still, it isn’t/wasn’t enjoyable.

As I’ve noted before, John C. Maxwell, the person I believe is the best in the country right now when talking about leadership, says, “Your probability of having a successful, happy life is going to be based on your willingness to have difficult conversations.”

It ain’t fun, though.

If you could step up and do it, with whom should you have a forthright, but difficult conversation…right now?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How 'Bout That Groundhog?

Today is Groundhog Day. According to the superstition, if the groundhog sees his shadow we have 6 more weeks of winter weather.

Considering the major storm covering ¾ of the country I’m sure lots of folks believe the groundhog had a big shadow sometime in the past.

But, we all know it’s a superstition. A superstition is “an irrational belief in or notion of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance or occurence” according to Webster.

If you look at your life you’ll see lots of superstitions you rely on to make decisions about situations, people and activities. I’ve always thought that things happen to me in threes. I something happens once I’ve usually got two other occurrences right around the corner. The other day I spilled a glass of milk. Immediately, I thought, “Ok…I’ve got two more coming.” Sure enough, within a day or two I had spilled two more glasses of liquid. And, that’s not something that happens to me on anything like a regular basis. \

Yes, I realize that my belief is not based on logic.

What superstitions are you holding on to?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Matches? What Matches?

Today is my 600th blog...gotta get some points for persistence.

Visited with my mother last night and, as usual, learned a valuable lesson. She's 82 and in pretty good physical health. Mentally, in terms of short-term memory, she's sliding a little.

Recently mom bought a couple of boxes of those big kitchen matches. They're easier to use when lighting a candle in a glass container. She had misplaced them and looked all around her house. I was going to come in and be the hero and find the matches; I figured she'd just laid them down somewhere and forgotten where they were.

I looked high and low, in the bathroom, in her dresser drawers (and, yes, I'm 58 and it's still unsettling to see your my mother's underwear so, if you're a guy, you're no different), I even looked in the refrigerator and...no matches.

So, after dinner we rode around to a few stores and I found a Dollar General that sold kitchen matches and bought a four boxes. I'm the hero.

We get back to the house and as soon as we walked in the back door I opened the broom closet to put the matches on a shelf and.....right....the lost matches were on a shelf in plain sight. The broom closet, probably the most obvious place, was the one place I had not looked.

I'm a dope.

Well, not really a dope, but human.

Mom and I had a laugh about it and moved on.

Sometimes when we screw up in life the best thing to do is to just chalk it up to being human, laugh at yourself, and slide on down the road.

(But you can bet that I left those damn new matches out in plain sight!)

What have you done recently that you should just cut yourself some slack about and simply move on?