Friday, September 30, 2011

Let Me Jump On the Bandwagon About Moneyball

If you have not seen the movie, Moneyball, with Brad Pitt now is the time to go. It's still getting lots of press but the initial flood of viewers has died down so you shouldn't end up a in theatre crowded with people.

I saw it last night and loved it. It's a great story of people thinking outside the box in order to solve a problem.

Also, it's a great example of smart people managing their way through a variety of people issues.

What challenge are you running into that you need to approach from a new direction (and it may be a direction NO ONE in your organization, family or group thinks will work!)?

Have a great weekend. I'll see you Monday.

PS. Keep good thoughts for me about 9 am on Saturday; my first solo skydive.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

No, Don't Tell'em THAT!!

Am in Raeford, NC, doing a program for a leadership group.

In the introductions I had folks interview a co-attendee and introduce them. During the interview I had them ask, "What is something that folks might noT know about you that, if they knew, it would enrich their exprience of being around you."

My answer was that I wish people knew that I want to matter in their lives. I want them to take something away from their encounter with me that will make their lives better.

What is it about you, that if folks knew it, would enrich their exprience of being with you?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I’M NOT FAT, I’M JUST HUSKY!!

When I was little boy I was a pretty chunky kid…hell, I’m a pretty chunky adult now, but I’ll get to that.

I hated it when my mother took me shopping for school clothes and we had to buy the “Husky” size.

Recently, my doc suggested that I take a series of tests just to make sure I’m as healthy as we both believe I am.

The whole thing was pretty easy. They checked the health of my arteries, checked for abdominal aneurisms, heart disease and Lord knows what else.

For all I know they checked to see if I still had lead in my pencil. Which, come to think of it, would be a worthless test because right now I don’t have anyone to write to.

I aced four out of five of the tests. The only concern was my height/weight ratio, my Body Mass Index (BMI).

I’m not going to tell you what the number was, but I believe my category was…Hippo.

The explanation said that my weight was fine but I needed to be 6’3”.

WHAT THE HELL DO THEY KNOW. I ‘M THE ONE WHO SEES ME IN THE MIRROR EVERY DAY SO…oh, yeah….ok…. Shut up, Mike.

It hit me that if I’m going to get into this skydiving thing I probably can put less stress on myself by starting to get a little more serious about weight loss.

I’ve lifted weights for over 45 years and am in the gym about 3 times a week, but what I’m doing ain’t good for paring off flab. As Arnold said 30 years ago, “You can’t flex fat.” And I’ve been deluding myself for decades that husky is a good thing.

Time to get a little more serious about this and I need your help.

I’m going to put it out to you. I’M GOING TO LOSE 20 POUNDS BY JAN 1. That’s only a little over 6 pounds per month. A healthy way to do it.

So, if you see me, talk to me on the phone, email me, or see me on FaceBook I want you to ask, “How’s the weight loss thing goin’?”

What have you been fooling yourself about for years (it doesn’t have to be weight) and what do you need to face up to?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The New Five Second Rule

We all know about the five second rule: If you drop food on the floor and can grab it within five seconds it’s ok to eat.

Well, maybe not on MY floor, but you get the idea.

Mel Robbins, talk-show host and advice columnist, has another five second rule. She says, “Whenever you have a game-changer impulse, act on it within five seconds or it dies.”

That’s how I got into raking leaves on Sunday. I’d been thinking about cleaning out the leaves under my bushes for months. On Sunday I looked at them and thought, “Let’s do it.” Then I hopped up and did it. (If you read yesterday’s blog you know that I also immediately grabbed a beer and sat back down after doing it.)

Five seconds.

Think about it…five seconds could put you on the road to being more efficient, effective, thinner, smarter, more well-liked...more likely to make your dreams come true.

This is a game-changing idea because it initiates action and starts the momentum flowing.

What have you been meaning to get done that you could hop up right now and invest five seconds in?

Go!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wet Leaves and a VERY Large Beer

I have a large pile of wet leaves in my back yard.

For the last couple of months I’ve been looking at an area of my yard around some bushes that needs raking. So, yesterday, in between sitting on the deck listening to the Panthers game, smoking a great cigar, drinking a VERY large beer, reading the newspaper and magazines and fantasizing about…mmm…well…ok, moving on…, I thought, “Today’s the day we do something about those leaves.”

We, you understand, is me, so at a slow point in the game and before getting another VERY large beer we grabbed a rake and cleaned out the problem patch.

And left the pile of wet leaves in the middle of the yard.

I have some friends and neighbors who would have gained momentum by the initial outburst of energy and would have gone ahead and raked the rest of the yard, or at least would have raked the pile over with the rest of the leaves.

Not me.

I’m all about diminishing. You can eat an elephant one bite at a time (and believe me, if "elephant" is a metaphor for "buffets," I’ve tried). So, my short-term effort has diminished the leaf raking job by a little bit. And my logic was that if I let the leaves dry they wouldn’t weigh so much and be so hard to rake later.

One step at a time.

I cleaned out and straightened up my office on Friday night (don’t ask how sad that is) during the commercials of a NCIS festival.

Don’t worry about finishing the task. Just do one little thing and walk away.

What job could you take a bite out of right now?

Friday, September 23, 2011

We'll Be Comin' Down the Mountain

Was in Boone, NC, this morning to present to FirstpointResources...great group...smart, got the jokes, got the message.

Due to the altitude Boone is a little bit ahead of everyone else on the first day of fall. Some trees are turning and a few leaves are starting to fall.

Summer's over...time to put away the lotion and big towels and beach recliners. This past summer has been a wonderfully and stressfully eventful one; learned some lessons, took some licks, had some fun.

Fall's here. Time to start pulling out the sweaters and the quilts and opening windows to sleep in the cool.

Lots of folks drag their past seasons with them. But, the past is just the trail you left behind. Take the opportunity to see a new season and a new, fresh start.

However, don't forget to take a moment and "debrief" the last few months. What did you learn? What would you want to do again; what wouldn't you want to do again on a bet?

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

That's Not Dog Poop, Is It?

My neighbors were kind enough to aerate my lawn last Saturday.

You know how when you aerate your lawn it pulls little plugs of soil out? I know so little about that stuff that when I went out to get the paper on Sunday morning I thought dogs had pooped ALL OVER my front yard.

Anyway, I bought some seed and fertilizer and a little hand spreader (a cool tool, looks like a Star Wars gun) to try and get some more grass growing. When I was buying my stuff at Home Depot the guy said, "Be sure and put the fertilizer out first, then the grass seed."

After I got home one of my neighbors filled me in on the fact that water activates the fertilizer and grass seed.

So, what I learned is that the order in which you put the stuff out does matter and there are simple things that get the process moving.

I can hear your right now, "Well, Mr. Yard Wizard, everyone knows that!"

No, we don't. We know that the order in which we put our clothes on matters (try putting your underwear on over your shirt and pants...it's a conversation starter) and we know that putting the key in the ignition starts the car.

But, we often don't understand that those simple rules--order and activation--apply to lots of other processes.

How'd I know? I didn't assume that I knew. I acted dumb (I heard that!) and I asked questions.

What do you want to learn? And what questions do you need to ask?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sitting In the Passenger Seat and Reaching Over to Grab the Wheel

In the hilarious Monty Python movie, The Life of Brian, a group is standing so far away from Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount that they think they hear him say, “And the Greek shall inherit the earth.” One guy looks at another and says, “Which one?”

Of course, the word they missed was meek.

The trouble is that the vast majority of us have been missing on the word meek all our lives.

If you ask most folks to define meek they’ll say, “weak, wimpy, unwilling to stand up for yourself.”

But, that’s not what meek means at all. The Greek word used to record what Jesus taught meant, “strength under control.” The meaning in the spoken Aramaic meant, “teachable.”

A good way to think about meek is as an acknowledgment that we don’t know everything. Being meek means we’re willing to learn and we will have faith that things will come out the way we want.

For a lot of us who attempt to control life (imagine a giant arrow pointing from the sky at my head), being meek is a challenge because it is a deliberate restraint on a powerful ego (a quote from Science of Mind magazine).

When it comes to some of the challenges in your life are you willing to be meek?

Or, on those occasions when you’re sitting in the passenger seat of life, are you reaching over to grab the wheel when you see a bump coming?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Can't Wave Bye-Bye

Went to a family get-together yesterday and spent about two hours playing the cornhole game you see people playing at tailgates and in back yard parties.

This morning I couldn’t raise my right arm above my waist. I don’t know if that’s a sign of getting old or simple excess enthusiasm or simple…excess.

I do know that it was fun and I’d probably do it again.

My father was lactose-intolerant and if he drank even a small glass of milk his stomach would get upset…but he loved milk. I asked him once why he continued to drink milk even when he knew the adverse effects it would bring.

He said, “Sometimes you have to put up with the bad to get the good.”

Obviously, that’s different than putting up with the bad to get bad, like drug abuse or overspending.

But, understanding that you may have to put up with some less-than-desirable stuff in order to get the really good stuff is not a bad tradeoff.

Where are your tradeoffs? And, are there ways to make the less-than-desirable parts not so less-than-desirable or the better parts better?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wallpaper and The Rolling Stones

The other day someone told me that relationships are like wallpaper.

She said, “You go through all these books looking at tons of designs and colors and then…you find exactly what you want. But, they don’t have enough to wallpaper the whole room. You can keep looking, hoping you’ll find something else you like just as well, but you know you won’t. Or, you can settle for something else that they do have enough of, but you know that every time you look at your walls you’ll be reminded that that was not your first choice. Or, you can wallpaper one wall and then use colors and accents to dress it up.”

I like the metaphor.

Later, I thought about the Rolling Stones singing, “You can’t always get what you want, but you can get what you need.”

I’ve always been one of those folks who tried to figure out what I wanted and then went after it; I didn’t just settle for what I needed. Sometimes I got both. Very often I got neither.

But, maybe she’s got a point. If you know what you need and you can get that maybe you’ll be lucky enough to also end up getting what you want. Which might not be a bad deal. While you are working for what you want you at least have what you need.

So, that gets us to the question: If the Stones are right, do you know what you need?

Have a great weekend, it looks like fall is here. See you Monday.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Are You Mission Ready?

If you’ve ever encountered some of the heroes in our military you know that most of them are “mission ready.”

At the drop of a hat—or, more realistically, at the sound of a shot—they are ready to pick up their gear and go.

The reason our military is mission ready is because it’s the best trained force in the history of humankind. Overall in our society, the military probably does the best job of asking “What if?” and then growing the leaders, training the force, planning for equipment needs, completing the mission and then debriefing so they can learn from the experience.

If we all could do as good a job of handling those processes what would our individual and collective success rate be like?

I’ll go ahead and anticipate the thought that blistered through some of your minds just then, “If I had a budget like that I could do great stuff, too!”

No, Skippy, it ain’t about money…it’s about thinking.

Too many people don’t like to think…it makes their head hurt and it’s too much trouble.

And, believe me, there are lots of times that I’m right there with ya.

Are you—are we—am I—mission ready?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Run Screaming From the Room!!

I’m going to use a word that may make some of you run screaming from the room.

FOOTBALL!

Now, for the rest of you who are still with me….if you have not seen the Kenny Chesney-produced video, Boys of Fall…you need to.

When Tony Dungy, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts coach, says, “Football is like life, it just happens faster,” I realized that you could show this to anyone and simply ask them to look for the same life lessons in music, gardening, tattooing, your day at the office…whatever.

You may have to go online to Bestbuy.com or Amazon.com to get it, but I can assure you, it’s worth the trouble. Be sure you’re clear about which format, DVD or Blue-ray, you need. It’s only about $13 new and you can get used copies for $4.

Buy a bunch and give’em as presents. Watch it twice and then give it to someone and ask them to watch it.

Boys of Fall should be required viewing not only for anyone who plays or played, but for anyone who loves someone who does or did. Every mother of a football player, no matter how old (the player, not the mother); every wife, girlfriend or female pal; and every cheerleader should see it.

This is the best explanation of why a lot of us are kinda crazy for at least four months out of the year. And, yes, I record games and watch old games on ESPN Classic and ESPNU between seasons.

The comments from the coaches are worth the price of the video. Their thoughts about why they do what they do and the effect it has on young men are outstanding. (And, yes, there are a couple of coaches who are in the headlines right now, but listen to what they say)

One of our cultural challenges today is finding ways to expose young people to concepts that lead to success. Hell, we don’t have enough adults exposed to success strategies. Boys of Fall is an extraordinary example of a 21st Century version of elders sitting around the fire in front of the cave and explaining, “This is how we did it.”

It’s a wonderful combination of storytelling and technology.

Get Boys of Fall right now.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Drunk Moose In a Tree

An apparently drunken moose was freed from the fork of a tree in southwestern Sweden recently. The animal control team believed the moose had been eating fermented apples and got caught in the tree.

If you’re actually LIVING your life and not just spending every day coloring inside the lines and going by the rules you’ll find yourself caught in the fork of a tree every now and then; you’ll find yourself in an uncomfortable position.

The situation could be in a relationship, at work, in your spiritual life or related to your health or physical life. I’ve tried exercises that looked pretty cool in a magazine when a professional was doing them and it didn’t take long before my body started giving me that “uh, oh” feeling. But, at least I tried.

I’ve definitely had situations in relationships in which I was trying to find the answers to important questions and other folks didn’t like my methods. I know just how the moose in the tree fork felt.

Doing things in new or different (read that “your own”) ways will always put you on the fringe. Your methods, no matter how well-intentioned, will often attract comments, opinions and reactions that aren’t positive.

You simply have to deal with the impact, try to turn it into a positive, and keep LIVING.

If you haven’t been in the fork of a tree lately maybe you haven’t been eating enough fermented apples…or LIVING.

Do you spend every day coloring inside the lines?

Friday, September 9, 2011

What Lens Do You Use?

Thanks for being patient and letting me blather on this week about my new skydiving adventure. I promise I'll be on to another topic on Monday.

But, as you can tell, the experience has had a dramatic effect on me. I learned a ton of lessons in a short period of time.

The experience has given me a new lens—skydiving—through which to see life.

Everyone uses a lens of some type through which they see life. Some of my friends use music; others use football. Some use nature as a way to understand what goes on around them; other people see it all as a business proposition.

Psychologists call it “framing.” We all frame life in basic ways as good, bad, a challenge, a problem…we all frame.

The frame we use can easily lead us to automatically label others as competitors or teammates; enemies or friends.

My week, and probably yours, too, has brought some dramatic opportunities to fly…but, it’s also brought a couple of dramatic crashes (although not in skydiving, thank goodness).

Looking at life through my new lens I’m trying to learn that as long as you can get up and dust yourself off you get another chance to fly.

Through what lens do you see life?

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Just Blow Me Away

Spent yesterday afternoon at ParacleteXP, a $10 million, 3-story, vertical wind tunnel near Fayetteville. Go to paracletexp.com and check’em out.

Here’s the technical definition: “A Vertical Wind Tunnel is a wind tunnel that moves air up in a vertical column. It's mostly for purposes of recreation, but also serves as a valuable training device for skydivers and the military.”

Here’s my definition: THIS IS THE MOST FUN YOU CAN HAVE AND STILL HAVE YOUR CLOTHES ON!!

Although the wind, at 120-150 miles per hour depending on your weight, feels like it’s trying to blow your jumpsuit off.

My instructor, Justin Hodge, was great. Not once did he say, “What’s a 59-year old fat man like you doing this for?”

I did it because it’s as close to flying as you’ll truly get. A skydive is basically a controlled fall through the sky. Flying in the wind tunnel is…flying.

Justin gave me a pointer that has transferred into a life lesson: Small is fast and big is slow. The smaller you make your body (legs and arms in) the faster you go. When you spread your limbs out you slow down.

Ain’t life like that? The more stuff, involvements, baggage and stresses you have the slower you go. Think about a concept like your/our carbon footprint. The more you can shed some of that stuff the better we all are and the faster you can go. The more you speed up, the more fun you have.

For instance, I have a ton of books. I shed about half-a-ton earlier in the summer so I’d be able to better see what I have and can use. I’m getting ready to shed about half-a-ton more after learning my new lesson.

Small is faster and faster is better.

Don’t you need to be a little smaller so you can move a little faster and have a little more fun?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

THROW MIKE OUT OF THE PLANE!!

Hang with me on this one, it’s kinda wild.

Last night I was going through the online tutorial by the United States Parachute Association. It’s a great site that helps new skydivers go over everything from parts of the rig to entering and exiting the plane to landing. Good stuff.

What struck me most were instructions about what to do in various emergencies.

You know, the HOLY SH**! kind of stuff.

One of the emergencies—very infrequent, by the way—is called “chute out.” This means some or all of a parachute canopy has come out inside the plane. In simple terms, someone’s parachute starts coming out before they are out.

If the door is closed there’s usually no problem. You just corral the canopy, tie it up and get it into a safe place. However, if part of the canopy gets outside the door the wind force is so strong you probably can’t get it back in. And, if the canopy and lines get tangled around parts of the plane the effect can be catastrophic.

The USPA manual says, “Whoever the canopy part belongs to needs to exit the plane immediately. If that means you push people out of your way, or push the person with the issue out, do so. Having a canopy deploy outside the plane can be deadly not only to that jumper but can damage the aircraft and take the entire plane load of people down.”

I immediately thought of the instruction as it might relate to workplaces in which one or more people are causing problems, bucking change, underperforming or, in some way, endangering the performance of the group.

It could also apply to habits, attitudes, ideas or beliefs that keep your life from being what you want and need it to be.

Whatever it is, or whoever they are, you have to get them out. Sometimes it isn’t an easy decision, but if you don’t you and/or the group goes down.

So, who or what do you need to push out the door?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I GET IT, ALREADY!!

Hope you don’t get tired of hearing me talk about the tandem skydiving experience on Sunday but there were so many life lessons pressed into a short period of time.

My outstanding tandem instructor, Andrew Lee, told me six (6) times that we were connected at four points on the harness. He told me twice during the instructions phase and once while we were standing outside the hanger waiting to board the plane. He told me three times in the plane; once when we got seated, once at about seven thousand feet when he started hooking me up and again about three minutes before we started moving to the door.

Why?

Because he wanted me to be confident that we’d be safe and that the outcome would be what we planned and what he told me it would be. Also, because at the moment that I needed to perform he wanted my reaction to be as close to automatic as possible. (Why do you think coaches drill players on the same plays over and over and over and over?)

Humans forget 50-75% of what they are told within 24 hours and 90% within a week.

Imagine that you are in a stressful situation like a big change at work, a disagreement with a loved one, running out the door to get to work…or getting ready to jump out of an airplane. How attentive are you to start with?

If you are going to have relationships with other human beings you’ve got to understand that you probably can’t just tell them something one time and EXPECT THEM TO GET IT!

If, when you repeat something, they indicate that they got it and understand, fine, move on. But, subtly, and gently bring up the issue later, in another way, and you’ll discover if they REALLY GOT IT of were just blowing you off.

Every time Andrew told me we would be/were connected I acknowledged it. It was only on the fourth, fifth and sixth times that it clicked with me and built my confidence.

An old adage in public speaking is Tell’em What You’re Going to Tell’em, Tell’em and Tell’em What You Told’em.

To whom should you be telling something again?

Monday, September 5, 2011

PUNCHING A BIGA** HOLE IN A CLOUD!!!

I know it’s Labor Day and some of you will read this at work on Tuesday, but the simple fact that I’m writing it means I didn’t auger in on my tandem skydive on Sunday.

One word to describe the experience is: AWESOME! The word is a cliché but the “awe” part is wonderfully appropriate. We flew through the edge of a cloud!

Two words to describe it would be: Life Changing. That’s also a clichéd way to see an experience like this but think about using it as a lens through which to see life.

You are putting your life in the hands of a stranger you met a few minutes ago. The only way they can create and increase your confidence that you’ll come through the experience safely is to tell you (constantly and consistently) what they are doing, why they are doing it, what you need to do and what the positive outcomes will be if you do what they tell you to do.

Now, apply that to a potential marriage or management situation.

Too often we zoom off into relationships or work situations based on emotions or assumptions. There were no assumptions in the process of my jump yesterday. Andrew Lee, my tandem instructor, was outstanding. He was very professional, and laid back enough to make sure the experience was fun. I don’t think he realized the impact of the life lessons he was teaching.

I learned more about relationships in half-an-hour of riding up to 13,000 feet, being pushed out of a perfectly good airplane and floating to earth than I’ve learned in 40 years of interacting with people of the opposite sex.

I also learned that if organizations really wanted to offer a teambuilding exercise to new managers (hell, to all managers and executives) that, instead of a silly ropes course, would truly offer an experience that worked, they'd take'em all skydiving.

What challenge are you facing that you need more information, more confidence, more planning in order for it to be successful? Is it a relationship? Is it a change in workplace?

What if you knew you had to make a tandem skydive? You couldn't get out of it; you HAD to do it. How much planning and thought would you put into it? Why not do the same for your life situation?

Friday, September 2, 2011

AAAAAHHHHH!!!!! SPLAT!

On Sunday around noon if you experience a mild earthquake-type shaking you’ll know my skydiving experience didn’t end the way I expected.

I’ve wanted to get into skydiving since I was a little boy. I did a tandem jump twenty years ago but I’ve never taken the whole thing very seriously.

It takes about twenty-five jumps to get licensed and then you can jump anywhere. That’s the goal for me. I’ve seen pictures taken from the air of places all around the world and I’ve seen lots of America from the window of an airliner. I want to see some of those places hanging from a canopy.

When you listen to or read information about reaching goals one of the biggest steps is making it public. Shooting your mouth off about something you want puts some pressure on you to make it a reality, so this is me puttin’ it out there.

Yesterday a friend inferred that this might be an exercise in conquering a fear. There’s no fear here, only excitement. It wasn’t fear that kept me from doing this it was simple procrastination.

It’s time to step out the door or stop thinking about it.

What experience or goal do you have floating around out there that seems a little outrageous, a little too…too…you know?

Might be time for you to start thinking about easing up to the door, putting your foot on the edge and sticking your head out into the wind.

By the way, you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than you do getting seriously injured skydiving.

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Oh yeah, and for God’s sake don’t tell my mama I’m doing this.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

College Football...or Kittens?

If you’re a hater when it comes to college football you might as well Google, "pictures of kittens" and check out the felines. No kidding, they're cute!

But,those of us who live and breathe college football have been waiting since the first week of January for tonight’s season-opening games. Saturday is the first full day of the season and we’ll be able to relax for four months. Classic games on ESPN help feed our addiction but there’s nothing like the real thing.

Pacing, fuming, worrying and getting ticked off about something that is supposed to happen in the future is a waste. And worry is an even bigger waste: 40% of what we worry about will never come true; 30% of our worries are things that have already happened so there’s nothing we can do about it; 12% of our worries are physical issues that won’t come true; and 6% of our worries are events over which we have no control (ex. What if a meteor was on line to strike the earth?).

I’m all for the attitude, “Looking forward to the event increases my enjoyment of it.” But, looking forward to it doesn’t mean it’s here.

Whatever it is will come in its own time.

What event in the future are you worried about or anticipating so enthusiastically that it’s taking time, energy and thought away from what you should be focused on right now?

PS. You might as well fill the time until the event with something constructive…like looking at pictures of kittens.

PPS. I have an event that’s supposed to happen at noon on Sunday that I could REEEAAALLLLYYY get worked up about in a negative or positive way. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.