Friday, March 30, 2012

Fast Talking and Thinking

We can think four times as fast as we can talk.

In fact, fast talkers are cranking out words at about 180 words a minute while we can hear and understand 400-600 words a minute.

That’s why are minds are able to spend a lot of time wandering around thinking other things instead of focusing on what someone is telling us.

The first key to active listening is concentrating. When someone else is talking and we’re thinking, “You know, if you’ll just shut up I’ll tell you what I think.”

Try this: As someone is talking to you ask yourself, “Are they giving me lots of details or just the broad concepts.” Details vs Basics is the first issue in understanding others. It tells you volumes about who they are. Make it a game and figure it out.

Was that too many details?

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

PS…am going to a chili and beer festival on Saturday. Not sure how smart that combination is so listen for an explosion about 3 pm near Cary, NC.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Friends or Accomplices?

You’re trying to lose weight and you’re having dinner at your mom’s.

As you pass the desert table you hear her say, “One little piece of pie won’t hurt you.”

When you keep walking she feigns a hurt look and half-jokingly adds, “You know, I won’t always be here to make pie for you.”

Ok, mom. Serve it up.

You’re trying to up your game at work to put yourself in a position for a promotion (or, in today’s economy, to keep your job) so you’re trying to put in some overtime.

Your friends want you to join them for beers most days after work. When you beg off one of them jokes that you’re a “brown-noser” and hanging on to the boss’s skirt.

As much as you care about these folks they are accomplices, not friends. They want to maintain the status quo while you want to change.

Any time you are trying to make a change in your life you should ask yourself, “Who are my friends and who are accomplices?” Some folks are supportive of the change while others want to keep you right where you are.

Look around right now. You know you want life to be better and for it to be better you’re going to have to change some things. Who are your friends and who are accomplices?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Power of Now

Ran across this phrase this morning: All power resides in the moment.

If you spend a lot of time regretting the past or worrying about the future you miss the joy and possibility of the present.

You get to choose what you think and do in this moment.

What will you do with this moment?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Who Eats the Donut?

The first real argument my parents had was over a donut.

They were on their honeymoon and had stopped in a little diner in Summerton, SC, for dinner. Donuts were desert and there were three of them. After they each had a donut one was left on the plate.

According to my mother my father told her to eat the last one. She didn’t want it and told him so in, according to her, “nice terms.” He told her again to eat it and, as they say, it was on.

There are a couple of ways to look at this and we can open these cans of worms with questions:
- How often do we let petty things cause big problems?
- How often do little issues represent bigger issues?
- Are we able to look past the silliness and get to the heart of the matter?
- Are we better off simply ignoring it all and moving ahead?
- Do we just eat the donut and say thank you?
- Do we say, “I’ll eat it later” and throw it away as soon as we get a chance?
- Do we use the situation as a testing ground for the relationship?
- Do we use it as a conversation starter?

If it’s a Kryspy Kreme glazed I’d just eat it and shut up.

Friday, March 23, 2012

No Fly Zones

My friend, marketing expert and all-'round raconteur, Chuck Nall, refers to off-limits areas of life as "No-Fly Zones."

No-Fly Zones are those areas of business, relationships, politics, religion, where you simply don't go. They may be subjects you don't talk about; they could be business opportunities that don't make sense to pursue; they could even be topics or activities in relationships that either party has decided aren't enjoyable or constructive to talk about or do.

We all have No-Fly Zones....or, at least, we probably should. If you don't have ANY No-Fly Zones you're willing to try anything and everything and that can quickly get you into trouble.

If your No-Fly Zones are big your life can get pretty narrow, pretty quickly.

Successful, happy people have reasonable No-Fly Zones that allow them to navigate through life while skirting potentially dangerous areas.

What are your No-Fly Zones?

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Blonde Walks Into a Bar...Ow!

How do you know a blonde has been using your computer?

There’s White Out on the screen.

Ok, ok, I apologize to all blondes…but, hey… it’s funny.

Why is it funny, though?

It’s funny because it reinforces a stereotype about blondes, which means we get it quickly.

Understanding stereotypes makes life simpler and more easily understood. They also lead us to make assumptions.

But, do some of the stereotypes we have about gender, race, age or culture make life better?

You know what happens when you assume things, don’t you?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On the Road to Amazing

“I do not agree with the big way of doing things. Love needs to start with an individual.” Mother Theresa Simple Path

Sometimes we don’t start projects because we don’t have ALL our ducks in a row, all the details covered, every brick in the wall, all the gas in the tank….ok, you get it.

Let’s be honest. You’re probably not going to save the world. But, you can start with one small corner of it.

Do this: Catch someone doing something right today. It can be the person at the convenience store where you get your coffee, or someone in your workplace, or a family member.

Catch them doing something right and watch their face. Appreciation is so rare in today’s world that the person will probably be amazed.

And amazement—like love—often starts with one person.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Was Glad When the Goldfish Died

The other day a friend of mine was telling me about her past life that included raising kids, leading groups in the workplace, serving on boards of non-profits and dealing with a wide range of responsibilities.

She said, “You know, I was happy when the goldfish died.”

My reaction was probably what yours would have been, “What in the world are you talking about?

She explained that when a lot of the responsibilities were easing away one of the last things she had to take care of was the goldfish. When they died she understood that she was, essentially, free to pursue the life she wanted without lots of traditional responsibilities.

What are your goldfish?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stay Focused!!

Learned a valuable lesson this week: No matter how important it is to me to matter in people’s lives in a positive way, some folks just don’t want it.

It’s really important to me that folks get some of the points I offer in seminars. If they get a few of the ideas and use them their lives will be better and that means their contact with me has mattered in their lives in a positive way. That’s really important to me.

But, some folks who sit in my seminars were made to go, or they’re preoccupied, or they simply aren’t smart enough to get it, or I’m not smart enough to explain it in a way they can get it, or they're just having a bad day…or any of a hundred reasons why they aren’t getting the ideas.

And I can’t do much about a lot of those things.

The best thing I can do—and this is the lesson I hope I learned—is not to get so annoyed at their inattention that I let them pull me off task. There is a measure of satisfaction in essentially saying, “Hey, grow up, act like an adult, or get out.” Lashing out, though, doesn’t help anyone.

The real lesson is to stay on task, see them as an obstacle to be overcome with patience, and move on.

What gets you off task? Is it a person, a feeling, a thought, a situation?

Stay focused.

Believe me, that will be the message from dozens of coaches to their teams this weekend in the NCAA Tournament.

Stay focused and have a great weekend.

See you Monday.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chewing Through the Restraints

Yesterday seemed filled with friction. It was one of those days that, as a friend of mine would say, “It seemed that the best thing that happened was that I was able to chew through my restraints.”

But, I ended the day sitting outside on a wonderfully cool, pre-spring night looking up at the stars. When I walked in the house I felt a thousand percent better.

I keep a set of binoculars next to the back door and on nights like last night I’ll sit in a chair, pick out a particular star and check it out. The amazing thing is to see how many stars can’t be seen with the naked eye but they pop into view with binoculars or a telescope.

Life is like that. We often get so focused on what’s causing the squeakiest wheel, the hottest fire or biggest problem and we miss the beauty around it, or the new opportunity, or the obvious solution.

Best to take a step back, look around and collect your thoughts, and then move ahead.

What’s catching your attention right now? Do you need some binoculars to see what might be hidden?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's Krispy Kreme's Fault!

Let me put this Krispy Kreme doughnut down.

Wait…maybe not…I’ll just…yum, yum…there!

Ooops, sugar on my shirt.

(If you’re not into rants you might want to move on.)

According to the OECD—the Organisation of Economic Development—we’re tied with Mexico as the fattest people on the planet. One in three Americans is obese. In Mexico I guess that’s unos en tres.

When I checked up on the OECD I found that it’s a bunch of government employees working in Paris and bankrolled by a lot of the countries in the United Nations, not the least of which is the United States.

I’ve got to believe that a lot, if not most, of the staff of the OECD are French.

The French are not known as a chunky people, but how fat can you get eating snails, slugs and cheese that smells like people’s feet?

Bring’em over here where they can get Krispy Kreme, Baskin-Robbins, Barbecue Lodge and a Chinese buffet on every corner and let’s see how thin Pierre and Bridget stay.

(Which brings to mind the question of why you never see fat Chinese, but that’s a query for another day.)

It’s obvious that we’re a husky society. In almost any sidewalk shot of a U.S. city half the people (well, one-third according to the OECD) look like meat sacks on two feet.

I mean, watch two minutes of Mike and Molly on CBS and you’ll beg to enroll in Jenny Craig. Every time I see those folks I want to jump on my coffee table and yell like Ahab, “Thar they blows!”

And I’m one to talk. If you meet me in a hall it’s about as easy to jump over me as it is to try and squeeze by me (stole that joke from Larry the Cable Guy).

The OECD has put governments around the world on Red Alert and pushed them to develop policies to help citizens get healthier. First Lady Michelle Obama is leading the “Let’s Move!” campaign.

That’s a great idea! I’m moving towards another Krispy Kreme!

PS…only 4 percent of the Japanese and Korean populations are obese. Bait as food…you tell me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SPPRROOIINNGG!! Spring is Here!

Don Martin was an artist for Mad Magazine for over 30 years. He’s the guy who created words such as SPPRROOIINNGG! FLOOOFF! PUHTAANNNGGG!!! to characterize sounds.

This morning when I walked out to get the paper I heard SPPRROOIINNGG!. Spring is here!

We may get a cold snap sometime after this week but for right now the trees are budding, my bulbs are blossoming, the grass is greening and it smells like spring.

I had missed it until this morning. Some life challenges have taken most of my attention so I’ve had my head down and have been pulling against the weight and missing what was going on around me.

I totally missed the whole “spring forward” time change last weekend and didn’t realize it until I had left the gym on Sunday and heard it on the radio.

It’s easy to let life overwhelm us to the point that we miss LIFE.

Take a moment today. Slow down just a bit when you go outside. Look around. Take a deep breath.

Your senses will probably go, PUHHTAANNNGGG!!!

And, that’s a good thing.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cyberloafing, the New Watercooler

People who get less sleep are more likely to cyberloaf, surfing entertainment websites instead of working.

According to researchers in the Journal of Applied Psychology, workers and students who sleep less are more likely to search YouTube and other sites instead of focusing on the tasks they should be working on.

We’ve long known that computers and hand-held devices pull our focus away and to less important tasks, but research shows that if we combine them with less sleep or outright fatigue the result is more goofing off.

All the more reason to get to bed at a decent hour.

Oh, so the reason you’re not in bed on time is because….you’re logged into watching a cat chase a spot of light across a room or playing a video game against someone in Pig Snout, Arkansas.

Hmmm…

Here’s a little test…try and keep track of how much time you spend online at work checking out something that has nothing to do with your tasks.

And, by the way, if you want to see something really cool…go to “TED 2012 Vijay Kumar.” It’s a video from the recent TED Conference and shows flying robots playing the James Bond theme.

Educational…I’m just sayin'.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I Think I'll Call In Stupid Today

Throughout the South today millions of dollars in productivity will be lost because people will be watching and listening to the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament. Or, as we simply refer to it, The Tournament.

Tens of thousands of fans would do better to just call in “stupid” today and not go to work.

My Tar Heels play Maryland at noon. I’m recording the game because I have to be a grown-up and get some things done. I’ll hope I don’t see a score and then watch it later in the afternoon or early evening.

Using technology to make our lives easier and more enjoyable is one of the wonderful things about living in today’s society. Like millions of people I record a couple of TV shows I like and watch them when it’s convenient.

But, there are still lots of folks who don’t take advantage of the available technology to make their lives easier and more productive. A basic problem is simple ignorance; they either don’t know the technology exists or they know but don’t know how to use it.

It ain’t that hard…learning might take a little time but the investment pays dividends from then on.

Make your life easier. Learn one new thing on your cellphone or computer each week. It doesn’t have to be complicated and drawn out. If you don’t know how to set the alarm clock on your phone, learn that first. Then, learn how to set the timer so the alarm goes off in 15 minutes. You can use that tool to get more organized.

HOWEVER, NONE OF THAT IS AS IMPORTANT AS KEEPING UP WITH THE TOURNAMENT! AND DON’T TELL PEOPLE YOU’RE NOT INTERESTED! EVEN IF YOU AREN’T! THE COMMENT MAKES YOU SOUND LIKE A DISINTERESTED DOPE!

mmmmm….sorry….got a little out of hand there…have a wonderful weekend…if you aren’t interested in The Tournament I can tell you that reruns of “Cat Poop: The Gardner’s Friend” is on the Home and Garden network all weekend. Watch that.

GO HEELS! BEAT EVERYBODY!

See you Monday.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Are You a Vampire?

A guy walks into a bar with a set of jumper cables. The bartender looks at him and says, “Ok, don’t come in here and try to start somethin’!”

A friend of mine loves that joke and cackles when she hears it. She says she’s not good at telling jokes but she’s one of those folks who just does or says things and it comes out funny.

People like my friend are energy generators. The people who suck the air out of the room are energy vampires.

You want to stay close to the first type and stay away from the second type.

Here’s a game you can play today. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side write the names of energy generators you know. On the other side write the names of energy vampires.

Which group do you spend the most time with?

And here’s the killer question: If some of those people were playing the game which side would they put your name on?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Knowing That You Don't Know

Lots of you are running into life challenges in which your basic thought is "What the hell is going on?!!"

When that happens you'd do well to remember the four states of knowledge:
- You don't know that you don't know (Simple ignorance)
- You know that you don't know
- You know that you know
- You know something so well that you do it based on second nature.

If you know where you are in the four you can figure out how to acquire the knowledge you need to accomplish your goals.

As far as your challenges are concerned, where are you?

"He who knows most knows how little he knows."
Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Is That a Thought Leaking Out of My Ears?

Sometimes you can overthink an issue

I don’t know if overthink is a word, but if it isn’t, it should be.

I’m not saying that when you’re trying to make an important decision you shouldn’t line up ever single important issue and start doing a back and forth comparison, pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses. That’s good critical thinking.

And I’m not saying you should just jump in with both feet and let emotion sweep you away.

But, when we go back over and over issues that seem to be decided and that make sense we’re worrying the issue to death.

Paralysis by analysis is a phrase you hear a lot in critical thinking programs. It refers to the habit of spending so much time and energy on thinking the problem through that you freeze into inaction. It happens with lots of people who want to start small businesses. They want every little point to be perfect and never step out and try their idea.

Are you overthinking?

Makes your head hurt, doesn’t it?

Monday, March 5, 2012

If This Ain't For Monday I Don't Know What Is!

It’s Monday morning. What’s your state of mind? You get to choose.

“The last of the human freedoms—the ability to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances” Viktor Frankel, psychologist and Holocaust survivor, on concentration camps.

Quote from The Little Big Things: You, by Tom Peters

Friday, March 2, 2012

Light Me Up!

Last weekend a guy down in Havelock, NC was at a party, picked up a drink and took a big swig. The glass was filled with gasoline.

He spit the gas out but unfortunately got a lot of it on himself and his clothes.

A few minutes later he walked outside, lit a cigarette and set himself on fire.

You have to believe that alcohol represented a large part of the entertainment the party.

Now, I’d never find amusement in someone doing something that stupid…well…almost never.

But, ya gotta believe that if the guy was half-way smart or half-way sober he’d connect the outcome of combining the gas smell (himself) with fire.

We all do things in life that, in retrospect, we ask, “Why in the world did I do that?”

You just have to hope what you did isn’t so stupid that it takes you out.

If you want to read about lots of folks taking the last train home by doing something stupid simply Google “The Darwin Awards.”

And if you’re at a party this weekend and drinkin’ and smokin’…be careful

See you Monday.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Are You Stirring?

The idea of stirring has grabbed me during the last 24 hours.

Stir has a range of definitions: “to move or change position slightly; to rouse from sleep, lethargy, indifference; to put oneself into motion or activity, especially briskly; to move, shake, agitate; to begin to show signs of activity, begin to come to life; to move to a state of excitement, commotion, tumult; to excite the feelings of, move strongly.”

If you notice, the common theme is to move.

Sitting back waiting for something to happen—in any area of life—rarely gets you closer to the life you envision.

You’ve got to move, you’ve got to stir.