Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Today Matters

What is the one thing that, if you can get it done today, will get you closer to some of your major goals in life?

If you don’t have goals of some type you’re already falling behind the curve.

If you don’t know what action needs to be started or completed today—no matter how small—you’re losing time.

I know, I know, it’s easy to jump in and say, “That’s the sort of attitude that keeps us all on the treadmill,” but it’s the truth.

Goals, and the series of actions that accomplish them, define the type of life you have.

And you do want to have a life….don’t you?

Monday, November 29, 2010

7 Doughnuts a Day

Fitness clown Richard Simmons would burst into tears if he had any idea how many doughnuts I ate over the Thanksgiving holiday. It seemed that everywhere I turned there were doughnuts and I thought, “It’s the holidays! Why not?”

This time of year pushes excess on a wide variety of fronts; food, buying things, seeing people, annoyances, joys (if you’ll let them happen).

Today is a wonderful day to bring it all back into balance. There’s no sense in continuing the moving food feast for the next 5 weeks. Why not get back on schedule until Christmas Eve and then blow it out for two days. Then, back on track until New Year’s and you get another couple of days of fun.

My friends realize that I’m not a moderate kind of guy, but what I can do is be moderate part of the time so that I can be a glutton at other times.

In your life, what do you need to dial back for a few days so you can enjoy the excess again?

By the way, I’m having an apple, some turkey (I know, I know), and a glass of milk for breakfast even though I have doughnuts and cake in the kitchen. In fact, I’m going to toss the doughnuts and cake….and that makes ME burst into tears.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Six Weeks of Excess

Stereotypically, today begins six weeks of excess. Lots of folks use today as the first day of the Thanksgiving Holiday and continue celebrating until the week of New Year’s.

Six weeks of blowing it out seems a little much to our waistlines, wallets, patience and stress levels.

The best way to move through a time that, for some, may be difficult, is to remember what you have to be thankful for.

In previous blogs I’ve mentioned the University of Miami study that led to the practice called, “The Three Blessings.” Researchers discovered that people who, at the end of the day, wrote down 3-5 things they were grateful for in their lives, tended to have fewer depressive episodes, lower blood pressure and a more positive outlook on life.

What are you thankful for?

Whoever you are, if you are reading this, I’m thankful for you. I certainly enjoy creating these messages and I appreciate the fact that you take time from your day to accept them. I only hope that they contribute in some small way to you having a better workday.

Have a great Thanksgiving! Be careful. And I’ll see you next Monday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Marvin, Pull'em Up, Dude

Thinking and feeling like you’re King or Queen of the Universe is a wonderful experience. If you start believing it, though, life can go off the rails pretty quickly; two events in the last 24 hours have provided me with examples of that.

Last night I went to see Russell Crowe’s new movie, “The Last 3 Days.” It’s ok..kinda slow…but a good message. Anyway, I’m coming out of the theatre and here’s Marvin Austin, UNC’s preseason All America at defensive tackle who has been the cornerstone of a humiliating NCAA investigation, traipsing out of another theatre with his jeans down around his butt and looking every bit the silly man-child who dashed Carolina’s dreams of a great season. Living, walking proof of my mantra this season, “High hopes dashed by dopes.”

This morning, the Raleigh News and Observer noted that former-governor Mike Easley would accept a plea bargain with state and federal authorities for campaign expense improprieties. He’ll be the first governor in the history of North Carolina to be convicted in court of a crime related to his official service.

Both these guys thought they were Kings of the Universe and lots of folks around them encouraged that belief. And the belief that they were invincible led them to color outside the lines.

In the South we have a phrase; we say that someone has gotten “too big for their britches.” The NCAA, UNC and state and federal authorities have shrunk these guys down a size or two.

I know I’ve got an area of life in which I need to get a more realistic grip. Do you?

One last thought. Marvin, pull’em up, dude.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Frustration is one of those emotions that none of us seem to have a good handle on. The dictionary defines it as, “a deep, chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs.”

Sometimes it suuuuuure gets inviting to simply give up and quit. When you get that feeling, try these simple steps:

1. Ask Yourself, “What Is Working in This Situation?” When you discover something that is going right the action puts you back into a positive frame of mind.

2. Focus On What You Want to Happen. Sometimes we get so tied up in the frustration we forget what was supposed to happen. Ask two simple questions:
- What do you want to happen differently this time?
- What do you need to do in order to get there?

3. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify. Usually, any big problem can be boiled down to a few basic issues. Clear the clutter and focus on them.

4. Come Up With Multiple Solutions. There’s usually more than one way to handle a situation. Knowing that you have options calms you down. However, new research shows that too many choices also slows you down. Pick the one you think is best and….

5. Take Action. Nothing happens until you do something, even if it’s wrong. If it’s right, that’s great. If it’s wrong you correct it and move on.

6. Visualize a Positive Outcome to the Situation. Focusing on what you don’t want to happen keeps you in a negative loop.

7. Stay Positive. Like the old song says, “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.”

A state of frustration is not a fun place to be and it leads to another “tion” that makes things worse; procrastination.

Get off the pot. Do something. Correct as you go. Get moving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Next Step

“They would often change who would find happiness and wisdom.” Confucious

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Telling a Lie First Thing In the Morning

A good friend of mine is absolutely one of the most positive people I've ever met. Every time I've ever called him and asked how he was doing he has answered, "Fantastic!" If I feel myself slipping I'll call him just to get a shot of positive.

I once asked him about his perspective and he said, "You've got to be positive. If you don't the negative stuff can overwhelm you." Simple.

My father and mother used to have a banter that went something like this when my father got up grumpy: My mother would say, "Bill, as soon as your feet hit the floor why don't you just say, 'I feel great and it's going to be a wonderful day!'? If you do that, it will be." To which my father would laugh and answer, "Marie, why get up and lie to yourself first thing in the morning?"

The key is that you have a choice. Whether you believe that the day will be great or not is your choice. Hoping it will be and being surprised is better than being sure it won't be and being proved right.

My parents had a friend who joked that the first thing he did in the morning was read the obituaries. He said that if he, himself, was not in them it was a good day.

Being vertical and maintaining a steady respiration are good enough reasons to be positive.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Old Me, Meet the New Me

Recently, two young men just strolled into the Kenan Football Complex at Kenan Stadium at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and stole a football helmet and some other football-related items.

Security has them on video but you can’t see their faces. The University and local police have released the videos to the media and have asked for the public’s help in identifying the culprits. One of the police said, “Somebody may actually know these people. A high-end football helmet would typically stand out a bit on somebody’s mantel.”

The last line is what scares me a bit. I have a decorative Carolina football helmet on top of a bookshelf and it’s easily visible when people walk by my place.

My friends who really know me could rightly question whether or not it was the stolen helmet and if I was one of the guys in the video. It could have been if this had happened 40, 30….even 20 years ago. But now, no.

Sooner or later most of us do learn our lessons. And, as the philosophers instruct, life keeps providing the lessons until we finally learn them.

What lesson do you need to learn?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Runaway Train

Yesterday I saw the new movie, “Unstoppable,” about a runaway train and two engineers’ attempts to stop it. The film is based on a true story of a runaway train in Pennsylvania.

Denzel Washington and newcomer Chris Pine (Captain Kirk in last summers’ “Star Trek”) are the stars and, while I won’t spoil the ending for you, I’ll just say that they both live through the movie. If you like action you certainly won’t be disappointed by the last third of it.

I knew a little about the original story and Washington and Pine did a great job of showing two regular guys who get caught up in an extraordinary event.

I believe that most of us wonder from time to time what we would do in an extraordinary situation. We play “What If?” in our minds. Studies show that the simple exercise can be a great practice session for the real thing. Our minds can create wonderfully real scenarios into which we place ourselves; then we decide how we would react. Positive reactions to our mental exercise can create a foundation that gives us confidence.

That’s a roundabout way of saying, “Ask yourself, ‘What If?’,” and then imagine yourself moving through the situation successfully. You’ll end up more confident and better able to handle difficult situations in the future. It’s mental practice.

Imagining negative outcomes has the opposite effect. The activity is a negative runaway train in your mind that leads to less confidence.

Play “What If?” and win.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Are You Thinking, Or Are You Thunk?

Last week one of the folks in a seminar came up to me afterwards and offered a quote that has had me thinking ever since.

The quote is: “A man who has an hour to waste should always waste it with a man who doesn’t have it.”

My knee-jerk reaction is to apologize for the political incorrectness of the gender focus, but you get the idea.

I don’t have a clue about the quote’s origin. Googled it and what came up was Charles Darwin’s, “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”

My interpretation of the quote is that if you have an hour to waste do it with someone who is productive so you can use them as a guide, mentor, or model.

In short, you’ll learn something.

The cynical approach is that if you have an hour to waste spend it with someone who’s busy so you can slow them down, too; they’re blowing the curve for the rest of us! LOL!

The metaphysical approach is that you NEVER waste an hour. You’re doing what you are supposed to be doing at each moment.

What do you think the quote means?

See there, gotcha thinking, didn’t I? Any moment spent thinking isn’t wasted.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lovely Rita Meter Maid

I got a parking ticket yesterday. The meter lady was writing it out as I walked up.

I didn’t think I’d be away from the car that long but I got caught up in a discussion and it threw off my timing.

Life’s like that. You think you have things planned perfectly and then…well…life pops up and delays you or speeds you up and you fly right past the opportunity you were counting on.

The cliché that timing is everything is right. In business, love, and life you can maneuver some things to work out the way you want them to but all too often it’s the timing that makes them click…or not.

Expect the best for yourself, do the best you can, and things will happen the way they’re going to happen.

Have a great weekend. Fall is here, don’t miss the colors. See you Monday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Tip of the Spear

Today is Veterans Day. So, let’s face it. One of the main reasons you are able to sit at a computer in comfort and safety and read this blog is because some 19 or 20-year old had the courage to pick up a weapon and stand to post at some God-forsaken dirt pile on the other side of the world. He or she has chosen, on our behalf, to be the tip of the spear.

The older I get the more in awe I am of people in uniform. You may not agree with their missions at times but you have to respect the courage and dedication it takes to do their jobs.

If you are serving, have served, are going to serve, or you are a member of a veteran’s family, thank you.

Remember veterans and their families today with a moment of gratitude, and tonight remember them in your prayers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We Are All Batman's Villain, Two-Faced

A seminar attendee in yesterday’s program was telling me that he has twin daughters; four-years old.

He was saying that they are opposites; one loud, the other quiet; one courageous, the other seeks security. He said, “One wants to swim to the deepest part of the ocean while the other won’t get her ankles wet.”

I left thinking that we are all like that to some degree. We have the opposites of style and behavior in us and what we hope we do is show the appropriate side when necessary (kinda like the Batman villain Two-Face).

When we show one side more than the other we get a reputation of being that way; and we may come to assume that we are that behavior (ex. I’m cautious, or quiet, or a saver, or…you get it).

Making a leap to the opposite and rejecting what you’ve always done is difficult. I love the fact that the act can be thought of as courageous, but the label seems to only apply when the leap works. If it doesn’t, and you see the cliff on which you had hoped to land start rising above you as you fall, the jump seemed foolhardy.

No wonder we, as humans, seek safety and security. The benefits we gain rarely seem worth the pain until we get them.

Unless the thrill of the leap itself is the benefit....and we are not concerned about whether we land or not.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's Tuesday, Now Get After It!

Tuesday is a great day to get something done!

Think about it, you aren’t whining because it’s a Monday. It isn’t Hump Day, Wednesday, when you spend a lot of the morning thinking, “All I gotta do is get to lunch and it’s a downhill slide to the weekend.” Thursday is almost useless because you can see the weekend just over the horizon and it’s time to start planning for it. And then, Ta Daaaaa!, it’s Friday and and 5 o’clock and Yipppeeee!

So, get focused, it’s Tuesday,

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Jimmy Buffett's Birthday

Welcome to a new week!

This will be my only Christmas rant, so bare with me. (Is that right…bare? Or, is it bear? Since I’m sitting here in what passes for my pajamas would bare with me have a whole new meaning? Or, would bear with me mean we’d both be kinda overwhelming, as in being a bear to deal with? But, I digress.)

It’s 47 days until Christmas and Santa appeared at a local mall on Saturday. Tons of retailers, especially the big boys, have had their Christmas decorations up since 5 minutes past midnight on Halloween. Santa caps are available at grocery store checkout aisles, and a local radio station announced that it’ll run Christmas music 24/7 starting in a few days.

I’m all for planning ahead, gettin’ deals and making sure what the kids want is available, but, as Coach Bobby Bowden would say, “Dad-gum!”

Let’s enjoy the fall a little and get cranked up about Christmas at 5 minutes past midnight on Thanksgiving.

End of rant.

Thank you for your patience, I’ll be here all week, please tip your waiters and waitresses.

PS...and, yes, Jimmy Buffett was born on Christmas Day.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pan's Music

All too often, when we are trying to move into new experiences, our concerns, cautions and fears lead us into feelings of "panic."

The word comes from the Greek meaning "related to Pan."

Pan was the Greek goat-god that led warriors and armies to victory by encouraging fear in their opponents.

Later, though, Greeks and Romans interpreted Pan to also mean passion, excitement and the kind of music (with his flute) that leads us into mystery and magic.

The new and different can bring bring feelings of panic. You can let the feelings convince you to turn back, or you can use them as emotional music that encourages you to quicken your step into a new reality.

Find something to do that scares you this weekend, and have a great one.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Curiouser and Curiouser

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. Fortunately, there is no cure for curiosity.” Anonymous

I love that quote!

The problem is that the rest of the quote probably should be, “Unfortunately, life beats the curiosity out of a lot of us.”

Following your curiosity takes time, energy, and focus. And, in these days and times, it seems that those three resources are in short supply.

But, following your curiosity helps you find new paths, emotionally, financially and professionally.

Curiosity feeds the new you.

Try this simple, quick exercise: Ask yourself, “What was my favorite subject in school?”

Now, when you finish reading this blog, Google the topic and see what you learn. Take a few minutes to follow the thread of information and thinking.

What you’ve done is give candy to you mind. It loves thinking and thinking about something new renews your mind, makes you smarter and may make you mentally younger; all good things.

How curious are you?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

If You Don't Play, You Can't Say

Are you voting today?

Are you waaaaay past ready for all the negative political ads to end?

Are you even waaaaayyyyeeeerrrrr past hearing all the doom and gloom forecasts of what will happen no matter who wins?

Me, too.

But, remember, if you don't vote you don't get to complain.

So, stop whining and get out there amongst'um as my father used to say.

A large portion of the human rsce would kill, or is killing, to get the privilege to vote.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Every Day Is Halloween

On Saturday night and Sunday I saw everything from astronauts to zebras in downtown Chapel Hill.

Halloween is a big deal here. They close Franklin Street for Homegrown Halloween and thousands come to walk around, look and celebrate. In 2007, 80.000 people filled downtown Chapel Hill.

I love Halloween. I have a big, silver HAZMAT helmet; combine that with some overalls and a pair of Carolina blue, Converse Chuck Taylor high-tops and you have a costume for life.

If you think about it, though, the basic Halloween question, “What are you going to be?” takes an interesting twist if you apply it to life.

We ask people the same question in different ways throughout life. “What will you be when you grow up?” “What are you going to do after college?” “What will you do in retirement?”

Basically, it’s all the same.

But, what if being who you are going to be was as easy as going into your closet and pulling out an old hat, an over-sized coat and a mask?

In fact, it is. We all make decisions first thing every morning about who we will be that day. And the accumulation of decisions determines not only who we are that day, but what our life will be like.

So, who are you going to be today?