Friday, March 29, 2013

Have You Hidden Your Eggs Yet?


Why do we hide eggs at Easter?

According to Ask.com, “Easter started as a Pagan holiday. The egg is a Pagan symbol for new life and fertility and was a part of their celebration of spring, known as Imbolc. After early Christian influence, some Pagans hid their eggs to avoid persecution. Some also believe that eggs were hidden because they were a forbidden food during Lent, and were found to signify the end of the Lenten period.”

So, now you know.

Have a great, safe Easter Holiday and take some time to remember the real meaning of Easter.

See you Monday.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Are They An Asset or a Liability?


In a meeting yesterday I asked Don Oldham, president of Sanford Contractors, what the biggest challenge for his business is…his answered stunned me.

He said, “The biggest human resource challenge is helping my folks understand that what they do today affects what their future will be like.”

We all know the truth of the statement but you’d think the leader of a multi-million dollar firm that builds bridges, develops large industrial and retail sites and builds roads would be thinking about technical issues.

He explained, “In this sort of work a lot of our people come to us with a high school diploma, if that. But, they can work into jobs that pay very well. And to have someone work for us for twenty years for a good salary and they end up living in a single-wide out in the country without a penny to their name…that shouldn’t happen.”

We talked about some of the educational, social and relationship reasons people make the decisions they make and end up with the lives they have.

Then Oldham made a comment that should appear in the air above the head of every person we meet. He said, “So often they don’t think about whether the people they bring into their lives are assets or liabilities.”

I know I’ve brought people into my life…friends, relationships, business connections…who definitely were assets. But, I’ve also brought people into my life who were definitely liabilities. I burned up years of my life being associated with them.

What if, when we met someone, the phrase “Asset or Liability?” appeared in the air above their head like the bright idea lightbulb in a cartoon? And yes, with some people you don’t really know for awhile, but you get the idea.

Take a moment and look around in your life. Who are the assets, the people who are supportive coaches and cheerleaders who’ll help you get to the life you imagine? And, who are the liabilities, the people who support the status quo, make you feel less than positive and act as weights to keep you from reaching your potential?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Getting a Second Wind


Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second. Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.
-- William James 1842-1910, Psychologist, Professor and Author

The quote above reminds me of people who say they are "burned out" when, in fact, they haven't even flamed up yet.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Don't Have a Cow!


Long before Bart Simpson on The Simpsons said, “Don’t have a cow!”I remember people using the phrase. I like it. It’s funny, low-stress and totally outrageous.

So, in a stressful situation, how do you keep from having a cow?

Step back.

Step back and take just a moment to realize that your emotional mind may be overwhelming your logical mind.

Step back.

Step back and ask yourself, “What is it about this situation that’s starting to make me angry?”

Step  back.

Step back and ask yourself if you can alter the situation.

Step back.

Step back and ask yourself if you can avoid the situation.

I can promise you this, in stressful situations, if you let yourself get cranked up and let yourself react to the stress you might not have a cow but you can easily step in what a cow might leave.

Simply step back.

Friday, March 22, 2013

She Wasn't Happy With Me


This week I had a situation in which a person did not have a happy encounter with me.

(And the encounter has helped me tremendously.)

She had made a commitment to me and I had gone out of my way to be sure I could offer the assistance she requested. She neither honored the commitment nor appreciated the assistance.

I didn’t blow her up. I simply told her that everything in life is a lesson and that the situation was a lesson in making a decision about what was important in life. She immediately had a series of excuses about what happened. I told her that I certainly understood that we all have lives and things happened but that in the vast majority of cases it all comes down to making choices.

She didn’t like it.

I’ve spent the last couple of days using the situation as a mirror. I’ve asked myself, “What are the choices I’m making that create the life I have?”

Please note the question: I’m NOT asking myself, “What are the choices I HAVE made that create the life I have?”

Increasingly, I’m not interested in what’s in the rearview mirror. I can’t change that.

Now, I’m focusing more and more on what’s happening today and the choices I’m making. Those choices affect today and the future.

What choices are you making? What type of day and future are you creating?

Have a great weekend…enjoy March Madness…see you Monday.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What We Need Around Here is Less Nox!!


Yeah! Today is the first day of Spring!

This is the Spring Equinox. Equinox comes from Latin: aequus (equal) and nox (night).

There are two equinoxes during a year. These are the days in which the center of the sun is even with the Earth’s equator.

From now until September the days get longer; more sun, more fun, more time to get things done. (Is it just me or did that rhyme? Shoot, that’s half of a country song right there!)

The great thing about the Spring Equinox is that it signals the end of winter, and while we again didn’t have a particularly difficult winter in the South it’s good to shed clothes (that’s good any time and to any extent), spend more time outside and maybe start tanning up a bit.

The best thing about spring, though, is that it’s a time of natural transformation—of growth.

If you’ve been mulling over an action or making plans for a dramatic change now is the time to get started. Nature’s calling, answer it!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

More, Give Me More to Do


When was the last time you asked for more responsibility?

It seems absurd to even ask the question.

The “normal” attitude about work seems to be to do the job, keep your head down and don’t be crazy enough to ask for more to do, more to think about or more for which you are responsible.

But, people DO want more money, more rewards, more “thank you’s” and more stuff.

Well, the way to get more of the good things is to ask for more of the difficult things. The more valuable you are the more you have the possibility of more rewards coming your way. If there truly is an American Way, that’s it.

And yes, there are some folks who are underpaid…teachers, law enforcement, nurses and, definitely, military personnel. For the most part, though, the people who seek those career paths do so not for the financial reward and the best of them seek and find rewards that fulfill them.

Ask for more to do, more for which you can be responsible for, more whom you might lead and the mere asking will shock your managers so much that you will stand out. Then, you have to live up to your request. If you can do that the rewards will be there.

Monday, March 18, 2013

On the Cutting Edge



“In most innovative companies, there is a significantly higher volume of thank-you’s than in companies of low innovation.” Rosabeth Moss Kanter, professor, Harvard Business School

Friday, March 15, 2013

What Would Caesar Say?


Good morning, class!

This morning the subject is Roman Numerals. Our first question is: What is the Roman Numeral for the number 4?

Is it IIII or IV?

Dum…dee…dee…dum…dee…dee (imagine the music they play on Jeopardy when the contestants are trying to come up with an answer in the bonus round)

Last Sunday I looked at the big wall clock in my living room—which has Roman Numerals for numbers—and noticed that the number four was represented by IIII. I thought, “Is that right?”

I looked on the back of the clock and noted that it was made in China.

Now class, you should remember that fact (along with an assumption I made) because it will be on the test later.

Night before last I stayed in the Coastline Hotal in Wilmington. The clock behind the check-in desk had Roman Numerals and the number 4 was represented by IIII.

A-Ha!! I asked the desk clerk to take the clock down and when I looked on the back it was…made in China!

So, my assumption was that some Chinese man or woman, years ago, made an a mistake and used IIII instead of IV and manufacturers repeated the mistake on all the millions of clocks they’ve made since then.

However, when I walked outside yesterday morning I noticed the 15-foot diameter clock on the front of the hotel had the same IIII in place.

Uh oh. Did they look at the clock in the lobby and decide to copy it?

So, whataya think? Here’s the test…Which is correct? IIII or IV?

Dum…dee…dee…dum…dee…dee! (imagine the music again)

It seems, according to Wikipedia, that either is correct, but the IIII is often used on clocks. Is there a logic? None that I can find.

Am I a xenophobe, hating people just because they are from another country? No. The Chinese are smart people…well…other than the fact that all the haircuts for men look like Moe from The Three Stooges.

But, I made an assumption. And we know what happens when we assume something.

However, I followed up and looked for an answer and it only took a few minutes. I didn’t spend days or years or the rest of my life operating on an incorrect assumption.

What’s a belief, thought or assumption you have that you kinda question? It probably won’t take but a moment to find the answer.

Have a great weekend…if you like basketball the madness is beginning!

See you Monday.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Purge Now, Think Later


Last night I set the timer on my phone to 15 minutes and got to work purging a lot of the files I have. When the timer rang I stopped, took a little break, then set the timer for 15 minutes and started again.

I spent four hours going through “To Read” files, skimming tossing and filing lots of articles I’ve set aside for the past few months. I consolidated and rearranged some files to make it easier to get to the information I need. Junk files got trashed.

Every six months or so you need to take a couple of hours and go through your stuff seeing what you can pare down and do without.

You don’t have to get the whole job done, it’s often overwhelming. Just pick a corner, a closet, a drawer and get to work.

Use the timer on your phone or a baking timer to set short chunks of time. And keep a glass of water handy. The longer you work the more dehydrated you get (especially working in the attic in warm weather) and then you ease over into fatigue and give up.

When was the last time you purged a lot of the stuff you have around?

PS…stop right this minute. If you are reading this in your home or office, look around and find something you can throw away. Don’t think, just do it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rent Free In Your Head


I’m a quote hound. I love to collect them. Quotes are like Jimmy Buffett’s comment about clich├ęs: “They say what they mean and mean what they say.”

A friend sent me a bunch of this quotes this morning. This one jumped out at me immediately: Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free in your
head” – unknown

I’d love to be able to say that I love all people…but, I don’t. I’d love to be able to say that I haven’t let some people get under my skin…but, I have. I’d love to say that I’m mature enough to let some offenses go…but, I’m not. I’d love to say that I can easily get them out of my head…but, I can’t.

I hadn’t thought about how they stay in my head rent free until I saw this quote. I immediately understood that I can figure out a mental game to play with the thoughts that helps me release them.

Who do you have living in your head rent free?

Monday, March 11, 2013

I Don't Know


If you want to surprise the people around you, gain new friends, acquire new knowledge and move closer to getting what you want in life…admit that you don’t know everything.

Years ago I was talking with a new friend about relationships and I explained, “You know, I’m pretty ignorant about that.”

They were stunned. They replied, “That’s the first time I’ve heard someone actually admit that they didn’t know everything.”

Most of us realize that we don’t know everything but we don’t want to admit it because we think it makes us look weak. Believe me, the only people who think you’re weak if you admit to not having all answers are either themselves weak or immature.

If you admit to not having all the answers—in anything—people start coming to your aid. It’s almost as if people with answers start coming out of thin air. You’ll make new friends, the answers you seek will miraculously appear and the area of life you were once uninformed about becomes an area in which you quickly become well-informed.

Actually, it’s really a little magical. It’s like the world is waiting with an answer and all you have to do is ask for it.

What are you short on answers about? Admit it, and do it out loud to someone you know. If they don’t offer up an answer keep mentioning it to people you meet and, believe me, someone will help you come up with an answer. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Carolina/Duke


I had a great blog already written and then it’s as if my hands started working on their own and writing the last paragraph below.

So I might as well end the week…and start the weekend like this:

Have a great weekend and….mmm…ok…here’s the deal….this is Carolina/Duke weekend so it’s time to suit up…go to Youtube.com and simply plug in Carolina/Duke Rivalry…the first one you’ll see is The Ultimate UNC-Duke Rivalry Mix…if you don’t get the emotion of the greatest sports rivalry in America (and that isn’t an over-the-top statement. Tons of sports experts will agree that Carolina/Duke beats any other college or pro rivalry) watch that and you’ll get a feel of what this is about…9 pm Saturday night…prime time…Go Heels!

See you Monday.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Trust and Takin' It To the Bank, Literally


When presenting to the Holt C Store folks I used a fun exercise to ask them about best and worst teachers. We posted large flip-chart pages on the walls and had the attendees list the qualities, values and skills they were impressed by in teachers they had had—positive and negative.

It just so happened that the last quality in the positive category turned out to be trustworthy. Then, when we had folks list the negative issues, the last quality mentioned was untrustworthy.

There have been some recent books and editorials in business magazines noting that the whole basis of the capitalist system is trust. I trust that what you are selling me will work and you trust that I will pay you for it.

Think about it. Trust is so important to us that the phrase, “In God We Trust,” is on the back of our money.

In the workplace, in our personal lives, trust is a key lubricant in positive relationships. Lack of trust is like sand in the gears of an engine.

Who do you trust in your life, and why? Who trusts you? Why? 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tell Me Why


The Beatles, Neil Young and Taylor Swift all have songs titled, “Tell Me Why.” The lyrics differ but the message is the same; it’s essentially, Tell me why you did what you did.

Yesterday, I was presenting to group of managers from Holt C Stores in Wilmington, a convenience store company. We were talking about the concept of Manager as Teacher. The folks were smart, fun and really got into describing their best teachers ever…and the worst teachers they ever had.

One of the basic points of manager as teacher is to be sure and tell people, here’s why we need you to do what you’re going to do.

Adults workers, especially, want to know the reasoning behind the directions. Unfortunately, too few managers are willing to take the time to explain why. Even more unfortunate is that too many managers don’t know the why. They were told to do something by their manager who never explained the why…who might not have known the why themselves.

Why are you doing what you do? Could you explain it in simple terms (other than, “I need to make a living”) to someone else?

Here’s the more difficult question: Can you explain it to yourself? 

Monday, March 4, 2013

You Ain't That Funny!


Just saw comedian Lewis Black on television.

Black’s a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate who returned to the University to do a show a few years ago. After the show he took an entourage of hangers-on to Top-of-the-Hill, a popular, local restaurant.

It just so happened that some friends and I had been at the restaurant for a few hours and were leaving as Black and his group approached the door. There was a long line waiting to get in. As we walked out the doorman let the Black bunch in ahead of everyone else. From the back of the line I heard a frustrated voice yell, “You ain’t that funny!”

Position has its privileges, but I’ve never thought Lewis Black was funny since that night.

Simple etiquette is increasingly rare. If you show good manners, a sense that you care about others, there will be a time that your consideration comes back to benefit you.

Friday, March 1, 2013

What and How


My word for the year is Tempo. I need to pick up the pace.

After having lunch yesterday with a smart friend I realized that increasing Tempo without having focus and structure is just tap-dancing, activity without achievement as writing legend Earnest Hemingway would say.

Knowing what you want—focus—and having a plan—structure—are the only ways to consistently achieve goals.

Have a great weekend, see you Monday.