Thursday, December 29, 2011

If Ya Wanna Play, Ya Gotta Pay

Sorry about missing yesterday. It mystifies me why, if you stay in a budget hotel the internet connection is free, but if you stay in a nice place, like I'm doing in DC, you have to pay for it.

If you're not into sports you may want to skip today. But, believe it or not this issue affects your life and taxes whether you're into college sports or not.

In the last two days there have been articles in USA Today, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal about the beyond-reason power big-time college coaches exert on their universities.

The presidents of The University of Connecticut and Miami University have both said more attention needs to be paid to donors and "sources of revenue that are not a part of the academic mission" of the university.

That's wonderful, coming as it does from the leaders of two universities that are being smacked by the NCAA at this time.

But, the toothpaste is out of the tube on this issue. It's like a coach once said about a great runner, "we can't stop him, all we can hope to do is contain him."

That's the issue on big-time football and basketball. Unfortunately, we'll continue to see problems and they'll come in waves accompanied by handwringing and penalties and the same ole-same ole...are ya listenin' Ohio State?

So, athletic departments can say that the coaches salaries are paid through donations but all the equipment, facilities, most of the scholarships and the upkeep is paid

Someone once asked Babe Ruth if he thought he was worth his $100,000 yearly salary (this was when a hundred grand was really worth a hundred grand)because it was more than the President of the United States made. Babe said, "Sure, I'm worth it. I had a better year."

Chip Kelly, the football coach at Oregon makes more than four times the COMBINED salaries of the president of the University of Oregon and the president of the Oregon university system. Think about that.

Go Ducks!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Flag on the Work

I watched football for the 6 ½ hours yesterday and last night.

A thought hit me while I was half-dozed. What if there were referees in the workplace? When someone was slack or messed up or managed incorrectly a referee would come in and throw a flag? And then, the person would be docked a certain number of dollars in their pay?

Also, if someone went above and beyond their job description the referee would come in and drop a little bonus on their desk or put it in their pocket?

If that happened, don’t you think folks would learn faster, watch more closely what they did and said, and be more motivated to go the extra mile?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Whew! It's Over!


You think it's over?


Ooops, channeling John Belushi in Animal House.

All of a sudden Christmas is over and December 26 is such an odd day for most of us. If you don't have to run in to work today can be a day of recollecting yourself, starting to clean up a little (I'm not watering my tree anymore 'cause it's history at the end of the week), maybe seeing some friends you missed last week and over the weekend and building your energy levels for the run at New Year's this weekend.

You could spend some time thinking about resolutions for the coming year if you do that sort of thing. Only 7% of Americans actually keep their resolutions.

You could watch my Tar Heels play a bowl game at 5 pm against Missouri.

You could try to fix that toy your kids just HAD to have but broke within the first five minutes.

You could try and figure out the new technology you received.

You could spend one more moment thinking about the people who were not in your Christmas this year.

You could spend the rest of your time appreciating the people who came into and ARE in your life this year.

Yep, December 26 is an odd day. But then, any day you're vertical and breathing is a good day. Enjoy it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

OK, Put Your Head Between Your Knees and Just Breath

Ok, let’s sit down for a minute…I know, I know, you’re getting more stressed about Christmas being 48 hours away.

But, let’s be honest. If you’ve waited this long to try and find that “just right” present…well, you should have been shopping on Labor Day when the decorations went up.

So, in order to help you out, I’m reprinting my ’08 article about “Men and Holiday Shopping” (©2008 Mike Collins).

Please feel free to forward.

Men and Holiday Shopping

In the spirit of the season here are “The 10 Secrets Men Use When Shopping for the Holidays.” I realize that I am risking my standing with my brothers by revealing these secrets. In fact, this is chapter seven in Things Every Guy Should Know, the book we are given at birth. It is the same book that explains why we leave the toilet lid up and why body noises and The Three Stooges are funny. We are not supposed to share these secrets but I’m tired of hearing the complaining.

The 10 Secrets Men Use When Shopping for the Holidays

1. We understand that the focus is not holiday shopping, it is holiday buying. Shopping infers comparison and that takes time. Men only shop for things we want, like golf clubs, waders, or barbecue tongs. We don’t comparison shop for gifts for others. Spending an extraordinary amount of time searching for and buying “just the right gift” is more of a gift to the giver than the recipient. Buy it and move on. The shopping vs. buying rule is the basic difference in men and women when it comes to holiday shopping, Being buying-focused is the Number One Time Saver in holiday shopping.

2. We are experts at feigned ignorance and incompetence. Men escape more work--not just shopping and wrapping--by faking being clueless than with any other strategies. We buy or do something we know is stupid or inappropriate early in a relationship and then women assume that we just can‘t handle shopping. Think about it, our brothers created The Theory of Relativity, brain surgery, fantasy football and Snuggies. It isn’t that we can’t shop, it’s just that we don’t want to.

3. We delegate. We aren’t shy about asking someone to shop for us. This can be an extension of Rule #2 as in, “Honey, you know I never buy the right gift.” Or, we claim to be too busy, hurt, sad or confused. My favorite is, “I can do this but I know you love the whole shopping experience so here‘s the money, have fun.”
Also, we aren’t shy about letting some thing, a computer, do our shopping. This is where online shopping can help, but any man who does all his Christmas shopping sitting in front of a computer is forgetting the basic rule of manliness, “Every now and then you have to venture into the jungle.”

4. We know that re-gifting is a wonderful example of being environmentally friendly and if it was that good a gift other people ought to get to enjoy it. It isn’t that we are uncaring when we recycle a gift, it’s just plain good sense. Our logic about past gifts is that if we haven’t used it we probably didn’t need it so maybe someone else will enjoy it. A great recycling strategy is to pass on an artifact. Giving an old glove or soccer ball or passing on an item owned by a relative who has, well, passed on (now, don‘t do that aaaaawwwww sound, they don’t need it any more) means we may not even have to leave the house to obtain a gift.

5. We realize that using humor as a strategy makes gift acquisition a form of entertainment. A singing, vibrating, battery-operated hampster costs the same as a 3-pack of socks and squeezing the activation switches on six or seven of the little devices one after the other in the store is worth the trip. And if the gift is opened in front of others it serves a dual purpose, a gift for one and fun for all.

6. We clearly understand the GATT Treaty. Centuries ago men signed the Gift Acquisition and Time Treaty. The treaty states that we do not have to travel so far to get a gift that it endangers getting back in time for the game. The point is that there is no need to travel very far for gifts (See Rule #7).

7. We understand that one source can often fill most, and maybe all, of a gift list. Chain pharmacies have turned into mini-department stores with candy, toiletries, books, specialty items such as eyebrow snippers and singing, vibrating, battery-operated hampsters sitting side-by-side. Gift bags are also available, so no wrapping. I’ve been accused of doing most of my shopping on aisle 9 at CVS Pharmacy. That would be incorrect. Aisle 9 is the one with the incontinence products and I‘m not there yet. NOTE: Do NOT go to the Big Box Stores. The selection is overwhelming which leads to comparison shopping (see Rule #1) and we don‘t want to walk that much without a remote control, golf club, gun or fishing rod in our hands.

8. We look at our list and ask, “How many of these people might cross paths during the next year?” Gift recipients who don’t or won’t know each other are unlikely to compare gifts or givers. We can buy one type of gift (ex. candy) and give it to multiple recipients.

9. We know that at least every five years we can give the same type of gift to EVERYONE. For instance, everyone likes some type of book, cd or gift certificate. One visit to a media store and the job is done. The ultimate one gift is literally that, one gift for everyone on the list. If a man is willing to step up and send his gift list on a cruise it means one purchase and everyone is done.

10. Finally, men know sincerity is the key to true gift-giving. Once you can fake sincerity you’re home free… “I searched everywhere for this and it‘s JUST what I wanted you to have.” One man I know can give a shovel as a gift and have the recipient believe the search for the shovel ranged across continents, took decades, involved wise men and, therefore, is the best shovel on earth. A dissapointed recipient feels terrible by acting miffed.
The rest of us realize only a few people really matter to us. We spend 80 percent of our time on the 20 percent of the people on our list whom we truly love. We’ll do whatever it takes to see them smile at the holidays…even go shopping.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Get'n Down and Get'n Up

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In Roman times the Solstice was celebrated by Saturnalia, a harvest festival honoring the god Saturn who, by all accounts, was a pretty cool dude.

Many of you who know me understand why Saturnalia might appeal to me. Originally, the basic rules of Saturnalia were that the roles of master and slave were reversed, moral restrictions were loosened, and the rules of etiquette ignored. Sounds like a weekend at the Collins house.

According to Wikipedia, “Saturn was a major god presiding over agriculture and the harvest time. His reign was depicted as a golden age of abundance and peace… In medieval times he was known as the Roman god of agriculture, justice and strength.”

Believe it or not, as Saturnalia morphed into a festival celebrating rebirth and the sun (DAMN! Grown-ups ruin all the fun!) Christians appropriated the celebration and most of the aspects of Christmas that we in the West celebrate came from Saturnalia.

Which reminds me; last night I heard a great line from the late business philosopher Jim Rohn that clicks with the concept of rebirth. He said, “You can tear up your life script for the last five years and write a new script.”

Saturnalia was a week-long festival. Why not look at the next week leading up to the new year as a time of rebirth. Tear up your old script and start thinking about a new one.

But, dang, that whole “moral restrictions were loosened, and the rules of etiquette ignored” thing sure sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Stealing a Moment to Chat

When I think of the phrase bank robbery two images come to mind: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Robert Dinero and his crew in the best cops and robbers movie ever made, Heat.

But, bank robbery obviously ain’t what it used to be according to the FBI. In the last decade bank robberies in North Carolina dropped from 406 (2001) to 98 so far this year.

Why? The use of new technology by banks and customers has helped.

The biggest factor, though, has been a time-tested method. Raleigh Police Chief Harry Patrick Dolan said, “Birds fly, fish swim and people talk.” Dolan added, “Nothing beats that person picking up the phone and saying, ‘I think I have some information.’ ”

Life is the same. Getting people to talk, to communicate, is still the best way to discover opportunities, challenges, problems and rewards. Great communication squashes assumptions and is the foundation of great relationships, communities and nations.

Do a better job of getting the people in your life talking and you’ll end up with a better life. You might not like what you hear at first, but good, honest communications acts as a guide to the life you want.

So, whataya say?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Karats in the Kettles

Salvation Army workers in Raleigh found a woman’s wedding rings wrapped in a $100 bill in one of their kettles over the weekend. They were so amazed by the rings they forgot to ask where the kettle was located.

There are lots of ways to see this; a fed-up wife rejecting a two-timing spouse, a widow or widower offering a good deed in honor of their late spouse, or, it could be someone rejecting materialism in support of helping those in need. You can create your own story.

The key point in the gesture is one of letting go. The giver could be letting go of the hope for a successful marriage; or the tangible recognition of a marriage ended by death, or a need to let things define a life.

Letting go can be the hardest thing any of us ever do in life. Our hopes, desires, needs and habits are deeply ingrained and aren’t easily released. In essence, we are letting go of the life we thought we would have.

And it…just…isn’t…easy. In the book, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar, Mark Twain said, “Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.”

There’s some thing, habit or need we all need to let go of?

What’s yours?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Crazy Christmas Weeks

Happy Monday!

Today is the first day of two weeks that can be kinda crazy. Some folks take this week off to get ready for Christmas. Others will vacation next week—the week between Christmas and New Year—because so little gets done.

However, some of you are stressing because it’s end-of-month, end-of-year and you may have quotas to reach, goals to accomplish or tasks to wrap addition to all the Christmas craziness.

Here are three suggestions that get you closer to sending 2011 out on a positive note while lowering your stress level:
- Do a Master To-Do List. Write down everything you need to do before the end of the year…everything…personal and professional. You may be a little overwhelmed by what you see but having a list helps you set priorities and keeps you from forgetting things.
- Ask more questions. You can’t get everything done and asking questions helps you focus on the things that are truly important to you and others.
- Get a little more organized. Don’t leave your house in the morning, don’t leave your desk at lunch or the end of the day, and don’t go to bed at night without taking 30 seconds each time to straighten a few things up. The cumulative effect is stunning. 30 seconds here and there will get you organized and keep you organized. Walking away from your work area on December 31 and being able to look back and see it organized is a great way to send off the old year.

Start with the To-Do List. It’ll only take a couple of minutes. Do it right now.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Gift to You

For all you procrastinators and guys who think it’s cool to wait until Christmas Eve to buy gifts let me be the one to inform you….THIS IS THE LAST WEEKEND BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!

There were seven people standing at the post office door this morning when I showed up to mail my cards.

So, it’s time to get serious about it!

With that thought in mind I want to share a valued family secret and tradition. Don’t tell anyone about this unless you want to send it to all your friends.

My Famous Tequila Cake Recipe...
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup water
1 tsp. salt
1 cup brown sugar
Lime juice
4 large eggs
1 bottle tequila
2 cups dried fruit
Sample the tequila to check quality. Take a large bowl; check the
tequila again to be sure it is of the highest quality. Repeat. Turn on
the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add
1 teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point, it is best to make
sure the tequila is still OK. Try another cup just in case. Turn off
the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eegs and add to the bowl and chuck iin the
cup of dried fruit. Pick the fruit up off the floor. Mix on the
turner. If the fried druit getas stuck in the beaterers, just pry it
loose with a drewscriver. Sample the tequila to test for tonsisticity.
Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or something. Check the tequila. Now shift
the lime ice strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar,
or somefink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin
360 s and try not to fall over. Don't forget to beat off the turner.
Finally, throw the bowl through the window. Finish the tequila and
wipe the counter with the cat.
Cherry Mristmas

Have a wonderful weekend…see you Monday!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rollin' to a Miracle

Dutch paralympic athlete Monique van der Vorst, 27, has been paralyzed from the waist down since she was 13. She won two silver medals for hand-cycling at the 2008 Paralympic Games.

Last year she regained sensation in her legs after a crash during training.

Since then she has trained on an ordinary bicycle and last week won a place on a professional cycling team. Her goal is to compete in the Olympic Games in 2016.

She said, “In sport, everything is possible.”

When all we hear in news is the bad stuff I thought you might like evidence that miracles do happen.

Here’s what I got from this story. Monique wasn’t sittin’ at home praying that something good would happen. She had accepted her reality and was doing the best she could with what she had…and something good happened.

You go, Monique!!

What have you given up on?

Keep rollin’ around. You never know where you’ll find your miracle.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Who's the Real You?

Good Morning, Class! We have a pop quiz today. Who are these people?

1. Clayton Holmes Grissom
2. Allen Stewart Konigsberg
3. Carlos Ray
4. Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra
5. Jo Raquel Tejada
6. Todd Jones

The people above were willing to spend years doing the work necessary to reach the success and dreams they imagined. They were willing to make a life change many of us would find incredibly difficult…they changed their names.

1. Clay Aiken
2. Woody Allen
3. Chuck Norris
4. Meg Ryan
5. Raquel Welch
6. James Earl Jones

You probably don’t have to change your name in order to get closer to the life you’d like to have. What small change could you make?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nobody Wants to Go to Heaven Now

A song and a quote grabbed my attention yesterday because they seemed connected.

Quote: “It’s often harder to have the discipline and self-regulation skills to stop doing an activity that is causing obvious problems than to simply and stubbornly continue,” Richard Winnett (professor at Virginia Tech and author of The Ageless Athlete)

Song: “Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Go Now.” Kenny Chesney

How many states of existence would be heaven to us: Good health, wonderful relationship, spiritual awareness, success at work…but we’re not willing to move away from the comfort-zone habits that keep us mired in the reality we experience today?

Once we get locked into a thought process or activity it’s hard as the dickens (have ALWAYS wanted to find a reason to use that silly-sounding phrase) to stop it, even if it’s not good for us.

So, here are two words that can change your life: STOP IT!

And go to heaven now.

What do you need to stop?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Step Away From the Rocky Road

Two of my friends are in the security business. One sells retinal scan and fingerprint technology while the other has a company marketing a new palm scanner that will link your identity to your health records.

The palm scan technology is pretty cool. If you enter a hospital and they scan your palm they can immediately download your records from your doctor’s office; faster follow-up, better care.

This stuff worries me, though.

Here’s what I see coming: Let's say you're in the line at the grocery store and you have some Rocky Road ice cream.

Wait a minute…it gets me a little swimmy-headed to even say “Rocky Road.”

Anyway, when the clerk swiped your little, plastic, key-thingy the machine scanned YOU. Then it quickly contacted your doc’s office and got your weight, vital stats like blood pressure and cholesterol, and the doctor’s recommendations. (Which, in my case, usually start with, “Hey, Shamu, have you thought about birthing this baby?”)

Now, as your items are being scanned the computer is making a judgment about what is good for you. AND IF YOUR ITEM ISN’T GOOD FOR YOU THE STORE WON’T SELL IT TO YOU!!

Is that a billion dollar idea, or what?!

People get healthier and live longer (it won’t be as much fun, but you get the idea), health care costs go down, grocery stores get smaller ‘cause they’re not selling all the bad stuff (except to those anorexic, bulimic cover models) and farmers who grow the good stuff will be more successful.

Here’s the best part: A humongous, illicit, food industry will be created. There’ll be black ice-cream trucks pulling up to peoples’ houses at midnight. There’ll be a back door somewhere with a naked light bulb flickering above it and a sliding slot in the door where’ll you have to have a secret password and then they’ll slip you a Snickers. Some jittery dude on a corner will have Hot Pockets inside his…mmm….pockets.

In the immortal words of one of America’s great philosophers, Butch Cassidy, when he and the Sundance Kid were escaping the train robbery, “I have visions and the world sees through bifocals.”

Have a great Monday.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Little Something Under the Tree

Last week a Florida woman killed her elderly roommate and hid the body under some presents beneath their Christmas tree.

The woman was caught in North Carolina early this week when authorities tracked her by checking where the murdered woman’s ATM card was being used. Santa’s helper is being sent back to Florida for trial.

Now, it could just be me, but if that don’t give new meaning to “a little something under the tree” I don’t know what does.

I mean, over time there’s not enough Christmas tree scent to cover that up.

I told a friend about this and she said, “Well, there’s a lot of crazy people out here with the rest of us.”

You what? She’s wrong. There aren’t a lot of crazy people out here with us. There are some people who are so stressed or so crazy they’ll do things that any of us would recognize as coloring outside the lines, big-time.

But, if we believe there are a LOT of people like that we start circling the wagons and not going out and not having much contact with others due to fear.

I’m for believing that most folks are OK and some have problems. Remember the saying, “Be gentle with people, you don’t know what battles they’re fighting.”

‘Course, there are some who are crazy as damned bedbugs.

Have a great weekend and get your tree if you haven’t already…and be careful what you put under it.

See you Monday.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It Won't Kill You To Be Nice

Saw Hall and Oates at the Durham Performing Arts Center last night. These guys are the biggest selling duo in rock and roll history and they were extraordinary. When I heard “Sara Smile,” “Rich Girl” and “I Can’t Go For That,” the songs took me back to wonderful memories.

But, after I left the concert I kept thinking about the DPAC employees I had encountered. Each of the five or six people I came in contact with—ushers, security, concession people—were unfailingly gracious, efficient and friendly.

In today’s low expectations culture of customer service these folks were champions.

I immediately thought of an ad used by Hilton Hotels years ago. It said, “We don’t train our people to be friendly we simply hire friendly people.”

I’m willing to bet that the people I encountered are nice, friendly people whether they are working or not.

And, here’s the point…they choose to be friendly, courteous, gracious and fun to be around.

We choose to be who we are. If you’re saying other people make you act like you do you’re wrong. You’ve chosen to react to difficult people or situations in a specific way. You’re using an excuse to blame others for behaviors you chose to exhibit.

To be blunt…if you act like an ass…you’ve chosen to be an ass. “They” didn’t make you do it.

Are you blaming someone today for your behavior?

PS…thanks to the folks at DPAC and Hall and Oates for a great experience.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Four Hours On Cruise Control

Presented a seminar in Richmond, Va, yesterday morning and another one in Lumberton, NC, last night. That’s four hours on I-95 doing about 75 mph on cruise control.

As you can imagine, spending that much time riding gives you a lot of time think and your mind zooms across a wide range of topics. You can solve most of the world problems, find solutions to some of your life challenges, come up with new life issues, solve problems for other people and make a variety of profound observations that, unfortunately, no one else is there to hear.

One observation that kept coming up was that people show you who they are by how they drive. If I had the opportunity to meet some of my fellow I-95 travelers I might have a different opinion of them, but our encounters at high speed were all I had to go on.

You see these folks like I did: The Bumper-Hugger, The Safe-Space Driver, Zoomer, Crawler, Line Crosser, The Irritated “You’re Number One” Finger Giver, God Is a Trucker, The Wave at Everyone Guy, The Left Turn Signal On Since Jersey Woman, The Kids Making Out While Driving, Cell Phone Sandi (that’s what plate on the front of the car said) and The Racer.

As irritating as my encounters were with some of those folks…the drive is over and it’s time to move on. However, you and I know people who would continue to talk about those drivers and the encounters for…ev…er.

Let’em go.

Do the same thing with the irritating encounters you have each day. Don’t drag them into the next day with you…you don’t need the baggage.

Think for a second about the friction you encountered yesterday.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Look Out the Window!

Most of the time mymethod of checking the weather is to simply look out the window. I have friends, though, who are addicted to the weather channel.

Am in Richmond preparing to present The Perfect Workday for the staff of the Virginia State Senate. It looks a little cloudy outside so I hit the weather app on my iPhone.

Usually, Local Forecast tells me what it will be like in Raleigh.

(Some of you can see this coming) This time the GPS in the phone told the app where I was and I got the weather in Richmond.

For those of you who are thinking, "So what?"...God Bless You...I'm still amazed at what technology can do.

And, you should be, too.

Each week you should learn one, new, simple thing your technology can do. Whether it's your phone, computer or microwave you, me, none of us, understand and use even a small amount of what technology can do for us.

What might you learn today?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Award Shows and Bowl Games...Too Many or Not Enough?

Yesterday during one of the pro games there was a promo for a music awards show. Troy Aikman, Pro Football Hall of Famer and TV color analyst said, “You know, these music award shows are like bowl games, it seems like there’s one every other day.” He immediately caught himself and said, “well that’s an example of ‘open mouth, insert foot’” because his network is the one carrying the show.

However, I agree with Troy. And the networks make tons of money from the award shows and the bowls.

But, take a moment and look at them from a different perspective. Both the award shows and the bowls are tangible rewards for people doing something RIGHT.

I love that thought.

What if we caught people doing things right more often in our day-to-day lives? My guess is that by congratulating and rewarding people more often they’d do good things…more often!

Have your own little rewards show this week. Contact 5 people you appreciate and tell them “thank you.” You’ll be amazed at the result.

Who can you call first?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fins to the Left of Us, Fins to the Right of Us

(Yesterday was the 800th Perfect Workday Blog. Thanks for reading!)

Two men fishing off Wrightsville Beach recently got a visit from an 18-foot Great White shark. Jaws swam around their boat investigating it and eventually bumped the side. At that point the men decide it was time to leave.

When I heard the report I had the thought that hits me every time I hear a shark story: How many people have been scared away from the ocean by the movie Jaws?

Stephen Speilberg told a great story but I’ve often wondered how the money he made for the movie studio and theatre operators compares to the billions lost by coastal communities because millions of people (based on stories by psychologists about shark fears I’m not exaggerating) don’t spend as much time at the beach as they might.

I’ll readily admit, I’m one of those people. I love the surf and will take any opportunity to head to the coast and go body surfing. But, I catch myself constantly scanning the water and looking out to sea anticipating fins.

My hypervigilance lessens my enjoyment of being in the water.

Here’s the catch: You have a better chance of being killed by lightning or bee stings than you do of being attacked by a shark. For the most part, our fears are groundless.

How often do our fears keep us from having the life we could have?

We’re simply the newest version of the caveman who feared venturing out of his cave because of the shadows thrown on the wall by his own fire.

Get out of your cave and have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hello? Is This the Front Desk?

Spent the night last night in a hotel in Greensboro. At about 11 pm I called the desk and arranged a wake-up call for 7. I then set a 7 am alarm on my cellphone.

Then I got to thinking that most of the time in life we get wake-up calls as surprises and often at the worst times. Something happens in our health, families or careers and it jumps up an bites us. The event makes us realize we need to change what we’re doing or make life arrangements we didn’t want to make or had hoped we wouldn’t have to make.

We rarely plan wake-up calls.

But, what if we did plan wake-up calls in life like we do in hotels. Would we call someone or make some sort of arrangements so that we were alerted that it was time to change.

I’d love to say that I’ve got a better idea about how to do this than the simple idea in the last paragraph, but right now I don’t. I think it’s an interesting idea and if you’ve got a way to give yourself a wake-up call let me know at mike@; put "Wake-Up Call" on the subject line.

If your idea seems workable for a bigger audience I’ll spread it here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You're Being Replaced With a Bobblehead Doll

Saw a cartoon this morning. Two guys sitting on a bench and one says to the other, “I was saying ‘no’ so many times my boss replaced me with a bobblehead doll.”

Is your default reaction to almost any situation a ‘no’?

Don’t automatically take the reaction as a bad thing.

Saying ‘no’ keeps you from taking risks which can lead to mistakes or failures which can lead to all kinds of bad outcomes.

There’s a whole management philosophy based around saying ‘no’ initially until the other party has either come down to a bargain price for you or proved their case to the point that you know they can’t fail.

On the other hand (a friend of mine at this point would say, “she has a tattoo,” but that’s an old joke and I digress) by saying ‘no’ automatically you self-select out of experiences that could be successful, career-changing or…life-changing.

When you are exposed to new people, situations, opportunities and experiences is your default reaction… ‘no’?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

God, Bikinis and Baseball Bats

An Eastern North Carolina woman recently ended up in jail after she beat her husband with a baseball bat. She said she’d had enough of him getting drunk and playing loud music.

When I heard the story I immediately thought of a poster and email photo that’s been around for a few years. There’s a beautiful, young woman in a bikini and the tag line at the bottom says, “Yeah, she’s hot. But, somewhere there’s a guy who’s just tired of her &#$%!!”

Relationships are not easy. I’m reminded of the woman who, while in couples therapy with her husband, said, “We have religious differences. He thinks he’s God and I don’t.”

As I’m writing this the Huey Lewis song, “Stuck With You,” is playing in the background and the line, “I’m happy to be stuck with you” jumps out.

Whether it’s your work life or personal life finding people you’re happy to be stuck with can be difficult. Or, it could be as simple as finding effective ways to put up with their &#$%!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Do They Smell Better Than You?

So, how was your Thanksgiving? Hope you enjoyed a great time with wonderful food and friends.

One of the main rewards of the holidays for many of us is that we get to see folks we don’t see on a regular basis. That can be good and…well…you know…

A friend recently told me he appreciated the holidays because it was the only time he had to put up with some of his relatives.

When I pushed him a little he owned up to the fact that one of his relatives has been pretty successful and in comparison my friend doesn’t come out looking so good…to him.

That’s the problem with comparing, you can ALWAYS find someone who is richer, taller, prettier, stronger or smells better.

If you want to look to other folks for examples of accomplishment or some other issue that's fine if you’re using those examples to put together your plan of goals to reach. If you’re using them to beat yourself up because you’re not there, that’s not fine.

Compare your progress to your plan and nothing else.

The issue isn’t so much where you are, it’s do you have a plan at all? And how do you compare to that? If you don’t have a plan you’re just wandering around out here in life and now you’re ticked off because other folks who’ve made more progress planned for it and are doing it.

And you ain’t lookin’ so good, are you?

A loose plan is better than no plan at all.

PS…and don’t tell me you’re simply enjoying each moment…I get the Zen connection, but if that’s all life is to you you’ll come to a moment you won’t enjoy.

What’s your plan?

Friday, November 25, 2011

If the Only Prayer You Ever Say Is....

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.
Meister Eckhart

Be careful if you are traveling.

Happy Thanksgiving!

See you Monday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Get the Cattle Prod

The next few days will, depending on who you’re talking with, be a shopper’s dream or nightmare.

Overcrowded stores, surly salespeople, tired and frustrated shoppers, toooo much traffic, long lines, crying children, toooooo little money…pick your combination or just lump them all into the experience.

So, here’s a tip for lowering your frustration level and raising your enjoyment of holiday shopping…expect less.

Expect less of the salespeople, expect people to be less courteous when driving, expect the stores to be overcrowded so plan ahead and take more time, expect to budget your money.

If you expect less the experience itself becomes the key. Enjoy the people you’re with. Revel in the hunt when shopping. Savor that iced tea/Coke/coffee/cold beer you have during a break in the action.

Expect less and you’ll end up with more.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Still Living In the 8th Century

Are friends who stop by and bring food the best or what?!!

A good friend stopped by last night and brought dinner. He’s a great guy who travels around the world for fun and he has a VERY practical view of life based on what he’s seen.

The topic of the Mideast came up and I said, “A lot of those folks would be better off if they didn’t cling to living in the eighth century.”

His answer was wonderfully astute. He said, “Why should they change? If you’re a male in that part of the world you have all the power, you don’t educate anyone who might be a threat, you don’t build roads for people who might oppose you, and it’s all about you. As Americans we believe it’s supposed to be about everyone else. We believe we have all the answers. What if we don’t?”

We also agreed that the Penn State scandal was caused by people who ducked their moral responsibility because they wanted to maintain and be part of the power elite. They wanted it to be all about them.

Fear is a strong motivator. Whether you’re living in Libya or coaching in State College, PA, fear of a change in the status quo, whether you admit it or not, can be a primary force behind your actions. Whether we admit it or not we all do things based on fears that life won’t turn out the way we want it to.

When we answer the call of fear we are less than we can be. But, as minister T.D. Jakes points out, “Even strong people stumble.”

If you don’t do what’s right (and you know in your heart what that is) you never sleep well at night.

What keeps you up at night?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sometimes a Man's Gotta Do What a Child's Gotta Do

Happy Feet Two premieres today and I’m all over it.

If you saw the first Happy Feet movie and loved it as I did you’re trying to figure out a way to call in stupid this afternoon and head to the local cineplexathon. If you didn’t like it I understand, you’ll be at work bemoaning the fact that your 401-k is now a 201-k and thinking other grown-up thoughts.

If you live long enough you become an adult. It’s a biological thing. Being a grown-up is a psychological thing and sometimes you have to unzip that grown-up suit and let that runnin’ wide-open kid out. Happy Feet does that for me.

Plus, you can’t pass up Robin Williams as the Mexican penguin and there are two new characters. Matt Damon and Brad Pitt are the voices of two krill (little bottom-feeding shrimp-like creatures) and early reviews say the come close to stealing the show.

So, to you grown-ups who’ll be at work all afternoon, don’t steal any office supplies. To those of you who like me are scrounging in the couch for popcorn money, I’ll see you there. And to you semi-grown-ups who’ll at least have the good sense to go to the movie but can’t stop thinking about work, TURN OFF THOSE DAMNED CELL PHONES!!

Have a great weekend! See you Monday.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

You Calling You? How Does That Work?

In the small business programs I present I suggest that budding entrepreneurs call ten people during their planning/research process. The calls can be to suppliers, potential customers and, especially, people who are in the business/industry they hope to be in.

Then I ask, “To whom should your first call be made?” (The answer is an association that supports the industry. They are always a treasure trove of information about the business.)

I get all kinds of answers; your spouse, a friend, my pastor, my lawyer or CPA…all kinds of answers.

But, the one that has always amazed me is, “My first call should be to myself.”

Now, I have to admit..and I’m embarrassed to confess this…I’ve always busted people who offered the comment. I always thought, “How dopey is that?” And I’ll mimic holding a phone to my ear and saying, “Mike, do you think this is a good idea?” Do you get the joke?

Well, the joke is on me.

Whenever we think about trying something new in our lives, making a change or challenging ourselves we DO, in essence, call ourselves. We ask ourselves in our hearts and minds, “Am I up to this? Can I do it?”
The answer you get back, positive or negative, will often set the course for how the experience will go.

Do you hear that ringtone in your head right now? That’s you calling to tell you whether you are or are not up to doing something you’re considering. Pick up the phone.

What’s your answer?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cocoanut Radios and the Titanic

If you’re old enough to remember Gilligan’s Island (’64-‘67), the situation comedy about an unlikely group of people stranded on an island, you’ll remember The Professor.

The Professor was the go-to guy for knowledge and technical skills. In fact, in one episode, he made a radio out of a cocoanut.

Now, my question is this: If The Professor was so smart why couldn’t he fix the hole in the boat and get the group off the island?

I’ll bet you know someone like The Professor; they spend most of their time solving problems that don’t really need to be solved while ignoring the most important ones. They’re like the person who spends a ton of money on weight-loss gadgets but wouldn’t walk around the block if you held a gun to their head. They’re the guy rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

The psychological reasons for why we don’t solve the problems right in front of us could fill a textbook…in fact, they do. Everything from lack of simple skills to a fear of success keeps us from getting to work on key issues.

Try this: Don’t worry about what you do or don’t have, what will or won’t happen, or who will or won’t have something to say about what you are doing…just…get…started. There’s magic in right action.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How Lucky Are You?

In almost all of my programs there’s a moment in which I talk about luck.

I write LUCK on the board or show it in a PowerPoint and then I explain that LUCK is an acronym, L.U.C.K., that means, Laboring Under Correct Knowledge.

Then I spend some time talking about the importance of Correct Knowledge. I’ve NEVER directly addressed the importance of Laboring…until now.

Oh, I talk about the importance of getting things done and can show you lots of ways to do things more efficiently and effectively. But, I’ve recently realized that I’ve been assuming that folks knew the importance of action. And, we all know what happens when we assume things, right?

A lot of my recent reading and research keeps pointing to the fact that action, even if it’s in the wrong direction at first, is more important than we realize.

The key entrepreneurs of today understand that starting the thing has a power of its own. Actionseems to attract forces that help move the thing toward success.

I’m all for the carpenter’s adage, “Measure twice, cut once,” but in a lot of areas of life the best thing to do is get to cuttin’.

I recently wrote about the importance of 5 minutes. What could you do in the next 5 minutes that would get you started on something?

PS…yesterday I spent an hour raking leaves to the curb in front of The Cottage…5 minutes after that the city truck came by and sucked’em up! How lucky is that?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Knowing the Path Is Not the Same As.....

Yesterday I caught a small bit of the first Matrix movie and was rewarded with one of those, This Happened for a Reason moments.

Morpheus, the Laurence Fishburn character, says to Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, “Knowing the path is different from walking the path.”

Take just a moment and let that sink in as I did.

I run into lots of folks in my small business seminars who, I believe, know the basics of what it takes to start and run a small business. But, they won’t take a first step out the door and start one.

Relationships are the same way, I believe. Folks know that it takes to have a positive relationship, but they won’t do the hard work.

Which, for some reason, brings to mind the thought, “Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right?” Seems like a natural connection there.

And, if you’ll indulge me for throwing in a gratuitous skydiving reference: Everybody knows how skydiving works, but getting on the plane, stepping out the door and landing a parachute is…a…VERY…different…thing.

What do you know but won’t do?

PS…at the end of the question above if you had one of those middle school or parental thoughts like, “I know how to slam my hand in a car door, but I wouldn’t do that!” Grow up! This is your life we’re talking about and none of us are gettin’ any younger!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Long Leaf's Fall

A few minutes ago I walked out to get my paper. Turning to back into the house I looked up and saw a bright, yellow leaf fall from the top of the beautiful tree in my front yard to the ground.

In the 8-9 seconds it took the leaf to get to the ground I wasn’t thinking about the Penn State mess, the dangerous situations many of our troops are in around the world, the NCAA stupidity at Carolina, my ankles hurting from a skydiving landing, relationship silliness or the fact that I’ve GOT to clean up this house.

Mini-vacations like that can save your sanity.

Hang tuff. It’s fall, it’s Friday, the weekend is around the corner, The Heels are playing The Spartans ON AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER tonight! If that isn’t America on a variety of levels I don’t know what is!

What is a momentary vacation you could take right now?

Have a great weekend and remember to take a quiet moment to thank the veterans for the freedom and safety in which we lead our lives.

See you Monday.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Look Down. What's On Your Shirt?

Yesterday a client paid me a wonderful compliment. He had asked, “How’s business?” And, when I told him that I was pretty well booked for the coming winter and spring he said, “A number of your competitors have been telling me that bookings are down, you obviously don’t have that problem. Can I tell you why I think that is?”


He said, “I’ve noticed that you don’t have twenty choices of seminar topics. You have only a few and you’re really, really good at them.”


Being a generalist has its advantages, but in today’s marketplace being a specialist, especially if your skills solve today’s challenges, is the way to go.

The tough thing is that in a tight marketplace there’s a tendency to want to try and jump after any opportunity because it means gaining some…any…business.

If you focus on what you’re good at and methodically seek out people who need that talent, skill, solution you can at least create a state of sufficiency.

(Sufficiency is a useful new word I just learned and it refers to having enough)

What are you good at? In today’s marketplace if you’re good at screwing off, ducking work, schmoozing instead of producing and taking credit for work you didn’t do, then I promise you you’ve got a bullseye on your shirt. You’ll be found out sooner or later. And, in this marketplace, if your managers are even reasonably mature you’ve already been found out and they’re simply looking for a way to drop you.

However, if you have a useable skill and you’re good at it, let people know. Now is the time for problem solvers and workers. If you’re one of those folks who have a star instead of a bullseye on your shirt, which my client believes I have and I know I have, now’s our time.

What solution do you provide? What’s on your shirt?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pull Off At the Rest Area

Am on I-95 on my way to present a seminar. Needed to take a short break so I pulled off at a rest area.

Life's kind of like that. Sometimes you simply need to pull off and take a short break.

Most of us can't take sabaticals from our jobs or families but we can find a place, situation or activity that gives us a little respite.

The pull-off could be for a few minutes, days or months.

This isn't so much a vacation as it is a relaxation; we all know that sometimes vacations aren't relaxing.

My rest area is my little house, The Cottage. Lying on the couch watching the leaves fall, listening to some tunes and reading with the fire going is about as restful a situation as I've ever encountered.

What's your rest area?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stairway to Heaven....and The Big O

Forty years ago today Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven debuted on the band’s fourth album. Let’s slide right by the fact that the song is about a drug connection and to the fact that, according to experts in a wide range of music, Heaven is the greatest rock and roll song (some say the greatest song) of all time. One reviewer said it was the closest music has ever come to reproducing an orgasm.

Mmmmmm…..I’ll be back in a minute, let’s see if I can find that CD.

OK, I’m back!

For those of you who automatically chose, Happy Birthday to You!, as the greatest song, God Bless you. You can close your books and go wait outside for your parents to come pick you up.

I don’t know if I’m on the greatest song bandwagon—or even the greatest rock and roll song—but I know it can be a wonderful positive message song if you listen with different ears.

Here’s the question: What is your stairway to heaven?

We all have one. Is it a relationship? Money, or the pursuit of money? Sex? Adrenaline rushes? Being right? Spiritual awareness? Going to a specific place? Being with a certain person?

Sometimes we don’t know our stairway to heaven and we have to have the faith that, “the piper will lead us to reason.” So, who or what is your piper? We all have one. What or who is a driving force for you? Is it “the norm,” “the status quo,” and “traditional values?” Or, is it being “different,” “one of a kind,” “an artist?”

Our piper is often based on the image we hold of who we are. And, that leads to how we frame, experience and pursue life.

Better, though, that we choose as our piper the person we hope ourselves to be; the image that is the happiest, most positive, best we can be.

Which leads to my favorite two lines in the song:
“Yes. There are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

Ultimately, as Jimmy Page yells at the beginning of the song, “It’s a song of hope!”

If you don’t have the song handy play it on your computer sometime today for no other reason than as a tribute to the good rock and roll has done in the last 60 years.

Oh yeah, and you might want to play it in private….just in case.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Ground Comes Up Pretty Fast

I wish I was a good enough writer to tell you how beautiful the sunset is when you see it while you're hanging from a parachute at about 4,000 feet. It’s incredible.

I also wish I could tell how how to land a parachute…but I can’t…yet.
So, I’m lying here on the couch with my ankle iced realizing that it’ll be a week or two before I can get back in the sky.

Learning to fly and land a parachute appears to be a slow process and, obviously, I’m a slow learner. Remember, my last landing dinged up a part of my body we’ll leave unmentioned. To paraphrase Michael Corleone in the third Godfather movie, “Just as one bodypart was healing another one needs help.”

The folks teaching me to skydive are wonderfully patient and encouraging. My fellow rookies are showing me that I’m not the only one limping away from the first few landings as one guy put it.

And, yes, the question, “Is what I’m going through worth it?” has come up; so far, it is.

Learning to skydive continues to be a wonderful metaphor for a variety of life issues. It isn’t as easy as I’d like for it to be but I have to keep trying until I either get it or it stops being worth trying.

There’s some issue you’re asking the Is it still worth it? question about…and you know the answer in your heart. It may be difficult to face…but…you…know…the…answer.

What’s the issue?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Monty! What's Behind Door Number 2?!!

What if life was like a Let’s Make a Deal show?

You remember Monty Hall telling us what was behind some of the doors and then asking the contestant, “Which door will you choose, Number 1, Number 2 or Number 3?”

Life’s kinda like that. You broadly know what might be behind some of the choices you could make but let’s be honest, you don’t rrrreeeaaallllyyyy know…now, do you?

I’m running into a time like that. Lack of clarity is creating some anxiety and I’m confused about doors. Serendipitously, I’ve just taught a couple of classes on goal-setting.

Ha! The blind leading the blind!

Also, it just happened—or did it—that my devotions for the first few days of this month have been about clarity, focus and purpose. Hmmmm, when the student is ready the teacher shall appear.

Once we’re clear on our purpose, on where we want to go, the path is often self-evident. Finding or deciding on the purpose is often a struggle, though.

But, if you don’t define your purpose, goal, direction, then you’re just floating. As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice in the Wonderland, “If you don’t care where you’re going it doesn’t much matter which road you take.”

I don’t know if I’m tired of floating, anxious about lack of direction or feel that I’m wasting precious energy walking in circles.

Whatever the reason, it’s gettin’ close to time for me to look at the audience, look at Monty, look up at heaven and point. “Monty, I’ll take door Number……..”

There’s something in life you’re trying to make a choice about. What door will you choose?

Have a great weekend. Keep me in mind, I may be skydiving on Sunday. See you Monday.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where Are You Putting Your Nose, Lately?

Not long ago a good friend paid me a wonderful compliment. He said, “I just want to be reading what you’re reading. What book do you have your nose in right now?”

Like a lot of you I do try to read widely and I find that reading beyond my field helps create all kinds of wonderful connections and ideas.
Well, Christmas is right around the corner, so between now and then I’ll offer suggestions for books that could be wonderful stocking stuffers or gifts.

Here’s the first: A History of the World In Six Glasses by Tom Standage. You can get it for $5 or less at This is a wonderful book for: the beach (lots of what you read will make you want something cool and wet to drink), winter (you’re holed up in the cold anyway, you might as well learn something) or the bathroom (you can read a few pages at the time and still get some great info).

Standage shows that six drinks represent the progress and history of mankind over the last few thousand years. Beer, wine, distilled spirits, coffee, tea and Coca Cola have changed the world.

One section I continue to think about was his comment that the coffee houses of Europe were the Internet of their day. They were places people could go to exchange ideas, find out what’s hot and get folks jazzed up about accomplishing tasks.

This is one of those book gifts that surprise and then delight folks. It’s an, “I’m glad you gave me this,” kind of gift they’ll end up starting on Christmas afternoon.

What book do you have your nose in these days? Zap me at and tell me or tell me on Facebook. I’m always looking for a good place to put my nose.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

There's No Good In Being a Good Guy

Yesterday I was informed of a breach of confidence that may harm my business.

I was trying to be a good guy and help someone out and I asked them to keep the gesture between us. They appear to have revealed the gesture and it may backfire on me.

Increasingly, it’s being proved to me in a number of areas of life that trying to be a good guy may not be worth the effort. In fact, the effort may not be seen as a positive gesture at all.

So, what’s the solution? Do I assume that the negative side of life wins out every time and be a jerk and do a preemptive strike?

It’s really tempting. If you take the negative view of life you’re right a lot of the time and when you’re wrong and things work out for the good you’re pleasantly surprised. If you take the positive view you’re wrong a lot of the time and when you’re right you’re not surprised.

It would be nice if most folks were smarter and believed that most of the time we’re operating on the basis of our better angels. It’s just frustrating waiting for them to catch up.

Who are you trying to be today, the good you, or your evil twin?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No Costume? Are You Kiddin'?!

If you had visitors for Halloween last night who had the best costume?

I had the usual troop of princesses, butterflies and vampires. There were soldiers, dancers, Mario Brothers characters and werewolves. I didn’t see many cowboys but I think that’s more an issue of my age and the TV shows I grew up with.

My most imaginative visitor was a kid who came as a stack of pancakes. Surrounding him were layers of foam about 3” thick and some kind of goo that looked like syrup. I kept him at the door to ask about the costume and gave him a ton of candy.

However, I was surprised at how many kids made no effort whatsoever to come up with a costume. They or their parents had spent $1.99 on a plastic pumpkin bucket and they simply showed up at the door (no “Trick or Treat?!” request either), held out the bucket and expected candy.

I usually gave’em one piece (didn’t want to stiff’em, they might come back and egg my house) and they turned, usually without a comment, and walked away.

At the end of the evening I asked, “Why?” and immediately starting making the usual excuses for them….parents were busy, parents were unimaginative (You don’t need a lot of money to create something, though), kids were unimaginative…or…they were simply lazy and felt entitled.

Here’s a basic point about life…more so today than ever before…if you aren’t willing to give a little extra, to get a little bit out of your comfort zone, you won’t get much more than the basic share.

Now, maybe that’s enough for you, and if it is, God Bless You. But, don’t complain about how little you have. Just sit there with your bowl of gruel, be satisfied and shut up.

If you want something more, though, something better, you’d better step up with a more-than-the-minimum performance in work, relationships, sports, spiritual life…whatever.

So, what’s your plan today? Are you comin’ to the door as a stack of pancakes or showin’ up with just a bucket?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Is a Burning Bag of Poop on the Porch a Trick or a Treat?

Get this, there’s a new phone app that allows parents to track their kids on Halloween night. If the app had been in existence a little over 40 years ago my parents would have figured out that I was the one who put the burning bag of poop on the Roberts’ front porch.

Fun Facts to Know and Learn---Halloween has a variety of historical links: Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruits and seeds; the festival of the dead called Parentalia; and, the more accepted, the end-of-summer Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-an or sow-in). There was a sense that this was the time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were closest and magical things could happen. To ward off these spirits, the Irish built huge bonfires and invoked the help of the gods through animal and perhaps even human sacrifice.

Halloween is also thought to have been heavily influenced by the Christian holy days of All Saints' Day (also known as Hallowmas, All Hallows, Hallowtide) and All Souls' Day. Falling on November 1st and 2nd respectively, collectively they were a time for honoring the Saints and praying for the recently departed who had yet to reach heaven.

(please note that I’m not that smart so the historical notes came from Wikipedia)

So, how’d the whole costumes on kids and trick-or-treating thing start? There were so many tricks being done on Halloween ( a favorite was pushing outhouses over when people were in them…I LOVE that!) in the early 20th Century that towns started having fall and Halloween festivals for families to keep the hooligans busy.

Now, to my point: Halloween can be a time to dress up and be someone or something else…to fake it. Truthfully, fake it 'til you make it can be an extraordinary strategy for success, especially in times of change. In a tight situation you ask yourself, “If I was Bill Gates or a smart executive or Seal Team Six or a patient parent or a Werewolf or a loving spouse or a writer or a sexy French maid who…..(ok, you get the idea). How would I act?”

And then act the part.

You’ll be surprised how soon you’ll develop the confidence you need to act in that manner on a consistent basis.

Halloween can be a great time to be something else, something better. Every day can be that, too.

Trick or Treat?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Viagra, The Wisdom Drug?

There’s a Viagra commercial running now that touts this as being “The age of knowing what to do,” for men of a certain age who might need a boost in at least one area of life.

What if Viagra did make us smarter? If only finding answers to difficult questions was as easy as taking a pill.

We all find answers in different ways. Sometimes we feel the answer in our gut, head, heart or hands. Other times we simply have to choose and hope.

Maybe it’s as easy as taking a nap. In the new issue of Scientific American Mind an article is headlined, Answers In Your Dreams. The article says that while we sleep, “we continue focusing on all the same issues that concern us while we are awake.” It advises us to pose a question to our minds before we go to sleep and let our subconscious work on it.

YAAAAWWWWNNNN!!! I feel the need for a nap, don’t you?

Or, we could just pop a purple pill. NOT THAT I NEED VIAGRA, YOU UNDERSTAND! I’M JUST SAYIN'!!

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

PS….I’ve always preferred powdered rhino horn to Viagra…I’m just sayin’.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ouch!! If You Stick Me With That Needle Again I'll........

I have a friend who’ll stick a needle in you in a skinny minute.
She directs a lab for a medical practice and she’s really good at drawing blood…I mean really good. She can do it so fast and so easily that you hardly feel a thing. She takes great pride in handling patients other lab techs can’t or won’t work with.

Another friend could sell Obama’s healthcare plan to the Republicans. He is unbelievably positive and motivated and he’s been extraordinarily successful in sales.

One of my great friends is a DJ and he does tons of weddings and celebrations. It isn’t his fulltime job, but his ability to play just the right song at the right moment and his line of patter helps make great moments even better and more memorable for hundreds of people every year.

I think I’m reasonably good at public speaking and writing. I’m not General Patton at the podium or Hemingway at the keyboard, but I believe I can put together a coherent message in educational, entertaining and informative ways (that’s paraphrasing Mark Twain, by the way).

We’re all good at something. It may not make money but it’s a talent or skill that gives us pride and in which we can find a sense of joy.

If you aren’t using your gift you should look for it (it’s that thing people tell you you’re good at or, when you do it, you feel like you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing), find it, and use it.

It’ a…gift; a present. So, use it in…the….present. Now.

What’s your gift?
Are you using it?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If You're Waiting On Willpower, You're Crazy

So many folks rely on willpower to get them through difficult situations. Whether it’s losing weight, slowing down on drinking, easing away from a relationship or changing their behavior at work they think, “I can tough it out.”

Unfortunately, willpower is not one of the stronger resources on which you can rely. Everyone who’s ever tried to lose weight know how easily willpower slips away when we’re tired or stressed or Mama says, “A second little helping of pie never hurt anyone."

However, add some knowledge and skill to the mix and you can equal exceed your power of will. The multiple authors of Change Anything point out that there are six categories of knowledge and skill, in addition to will, that can help you, as the book says, change anything.

I won’t go into all of them now, maybe on another day, but here are three that can help:
- Make good things closer and more convenient and bad things harder and farther away.
- Change the cues that prompt you to exhibit behavior you’d like to change
- Decide who in your life is an accomplice (they enable negative behavior) and who are friends (coaches and fans).

Those simple tips can help you change anything in life and you aren’t relying on willpower to resist what can be very difficult challenges.

What do you want to change?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Get the Depends and Geritol!

Is "Teenage Genius" an oxymoron?

New research into educational advances show that today’s average teenager would have been judged a genius in 1900. The research was part of broader studies proving that, believe it or not, we live in a smarter, safer, less violent world than in past centuries.

Ok, Ok, I hear all you cynics with the smarty-pants comments. But, you’re not going to hear that from me…at least not today. I’m convinced that positive thoughts can lead to positive actions which lead to a more positive, better world. So, all this is a good thing.

Really, though, a genius?!

I’ve seen pictures from 1900 and young guys wore their pants around their waists, 9-year olds didn’t dress like Lady Gaga, no one had cellphones attached to their hands, and no one said, “Whatever,” every other sentence.

Wait, did I sound like a cynical, old sluggo just then?

Damn. Get the Depends and the Geritol.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Do I Smell Like Gravy?

My wonderful neighbor make a Rice Pak for me to use on my back injury (dinged it skydiving).

It’s like a hand towel that has been sewn into compartments and you put rice in them. Put the Rice Pak in the microwave for 3 minutes and it comes out radiating moist heat. It’s great!

There's been two wonderful side effects to my Rice Pak. The fragrance of the rice and an extraordinary realization.

I’ve talked here before about my love of gravy. I’ll put it on anything! Gravy is an enchancer. Spaghetti sauce is gravy for noodles. Salad dressing is gravy for lettuce. Make-up is actually gravy for womens’ faces. Gravy is…well…you get it.

So, in addition to the wonderfully relaxing feeling I get from using the Rice Pak I’ve been jolted into the realization, “This is what gravy feels like when it’s spread on rice!”

No wonder I like gravy.

Spread some positive vibes like gravy over your office stress….well…uh…ok…maybe that’s reaching on the gravy metaphor a little.

Have a great Monday.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Football, Faith and Fantasy

As the scandal in Chapel Hill involving the athletic department and the football program drags on many reports suggest that the university will need to win back supporters it has lost.

I am one of the lost. For the record: I’m an alum (Class of ‘74). I am an adjunct faculty member of The Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill. I could also be classified as a supporter and longtime fan for 40+ years. I’m a member of the Educational Foundation (The Ram’s Club); on the day of my first marriage, September 19, 1981, my bride and I strolled through Kenan Stadium wearing tux and wedding gown (a victory over Ohio University); the final weekend of my second honeymoon was spent attending the Carolina/Clemson football game in 1996; a few years ago I was featured as the Carolina fan in a spread in the News and Observer about ACC fans; I have a very large Ram’s Head Tattoo on my left shoulder; and I served eight years as the president of my fraternity alumni association at UNC-Chapel Hill.

While the media has done a great job of chronicling every little detail in the series of events creating the situation few have noted the process fans, alumni and supporters have gone through in order to be lost.

In his books, Transitions and The Way of Transition, author William Bridges explains the process people move through when significant change happens in their lives. The process can certainly be applied to what has happened in Chapel Hill since Summer, 2010 when the athletic department revelations began to surface.

To say things have changed for many Carolina supporters would be a gross understatement. But, the changes aren’t the issues, it’s the transitions that create stress and problems. Changes—the revelations about various ethical and legal transgressions, Head Coach Butch Davis’ firing, Athletic Director Dick Badour’s resignation—are all external. Transitions are internal. Transitions are what people go through in their minds and hearts when some part of their lives end. Being lost is part of a transition.

A transition begins with an Ending (Bridges’ term) that redefines reality. In many cases the ending is the end of a fantasy. The ending for thousands of Carolina fans, alumni and supporters has been in how they see Carolina in their lives and, in some cases, how they see themselves. Unfortunately, many of us are realizing that what we believed was a fantasy.

Bridges notes six Dis’s we move through in times of transition. All six, and one more, are starkly evident for many Carolina fans.

Disorientation: When stories appeared about possible misconduct among athletes and coaches first appeared many folks thought, “What the heck is going on?” As the revelations became allegations, the NCAA stepped in, lawyers are being quoted and university officials are bobbing and weaving the questions changed to, “What the hell is going on in Chapel Hill?!”

Disenchantment: “This is not the Carolina I know,” was the comment I heard from a fellow-alum. That thought was the mantra of disenchantment and the end of the fantasy for many of us. The raw feeling of disenchantment is disappointment. We had always thought we, Carolina, were above the sort of thing we thought about when hearing about USC, Oklahoma, SMU, Miami and the other universities that have permanent files at NCAA headquarters. I’ve seen the process of transition, and the loss of the fantasy, played out with friends who have been members of the military, executives with well-known corporations, professionals in a range of specialties and who have had their spiritual faith shaken.

Disrespect: This is my addition to Bridges’ six Dis’s. The disappointment of disenchantment has led to disrespect. Athletes we admired showed they were not worthy of our admiration. Officials we trusted were not overseeing an agency funded by our tax dollars and contributions, and supported by our faith.

Disidentification: Why would you want to be identified with something you disrespect and in which you are disenchanted? Like many Carolina fans and supporters I was heavily invested in the fantasy that we were special. Our file, if there was one, was never in the same drawer at NCAA headquarters with those other scoundrels. Now, we’re one of the scoundrels. This may be the most damaging area of transition. When one very important life area is questioned, an issue that has been part of the foundation of who you are, it’s a quick jump to start looking around at other areas and wondering how solid they are.

Disengagement: Empty seats in Kenan Stadium, fewer dollars contributed. This is the first fall in over 40 years that I haven’t cared whether or not I was in Kenan Stadium on a gorgeous, Carolina Blue sky, fall afternoon. And I while I understand that much of the Carolina Nation is simply saying, “Let’s just get to basketball season and everything will be alright,” I’m ambivalent. We’ll have a great season, go to the NCAAs and maybe win it all. I hope we do. But, while no allegations have been leveled against the basketball program, it’s all part of Carolina and there’s some luster that just isn’t there.

Disloyalty: Some Carolina fans see the simple act of questioning what is going on in Chapel Hill as disloyalty. Obviously, it isn’t. Most of us have not lost the love we have for Carolina but the fantasy is over, the curtain has been pulled back and the Great Oz of the commercialization of college sports and its effects are clearly in the open now… and we don’t like having our dreams taken from us. The feelings are not disloyalty, they are part of the grief process due to the loss of the fantasy. It is less an issue of the university having to win back lost supporters; it is very much an issue that, as supporters, we have lost part of the fantasy, part of ourselves, of what Carolina was about in our lives.

Discovery: The most difficult time of transition is, according to Bridges, the Neutral Zone. Moving through the disorientation, disenchantment, disidentification, disengagement and possible disloyalty cause anger, anxiety, denial; all the stages of grief. However, sooner or later the transition ends and we arrive at a New Beginning (Bridges’ term). Thousands of Carolina fans are still sitting in Kenan Stadium at football games while others have discovered new ways to use their Saturday afternoons and tens of thousands will be glued to televised games when basketball season starts in a few weeks. However, the greatest discovery many people are making is something most of us have known all along. Watching an athlete perform while wearing Carolina Blue is a very small part of what Carolina is really all about.

A key to moving through transitions is looking for what is not, or has not, changed. What hasn’t changed is that The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is about helping young people create lives they could not have imagined when they arrived in Chapel Hill. It’s about smart people doing smart things that improve the lives of Tar Heels, Americans and people around the world.

The final step of a transition, the New Beginning, is simply the Ending of the previous reality. Let’s hope this New Beginning helps us understand what is truly important about Carolina and what is an attractive and entertaining sideshow.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Moammar Gadhafi and the Pompitous of Love

If you’re a shrink—professional or amateur—you’ll have a field day with this one…

This morning, when I opened the newspaper to see that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi (the crazy guy with dyed-black hair that looked like Larry’s in the Three Stooges) had been murdered by rebels I immediately thought of the Steve Miller song, “The Joker.”

In the first verse he sings about “the pompitous of love.” Pompitous is a neologism, a made-up word, and only God knows what Miller meant by it other than a reference to one of his other songs.

My connection, though, was that with Ghadhafi, life and love sometimes we don’t know when to let go. We want to hang on for a whole range of reasons, some that make sense and some that don’t, and we often hang on too long. In America we have the mythology that giving it one more shot will win.

In The Personal MBA, author Josh Kaufman talks about sunk costs in business. We spend so much trying to make a go of a venture, but at some point we come to the realization that it just won’t work. Unfortunately, we often double down to try and win our losses back. It never works. Sunk costs are what we’ve sunk into the venture and we might as well chalk them up to experience and move on.

It’s really, really hard to do that though.

But, you know what? Wherever on the spiritual plane Moammar is right now I bet he’s wishing he was sitting in exile in some mansion in the south of France thinking, “Those bastards never really appreciated me.” We all think that about the sunk costs.

Have a great weekend! Enjoy the beginning of fall. See you Monday.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Head Down and Moving Out

I’m presenting 3, 3-hour seminars in 3 separate towns today.

This is a rarity, 9 hours of teaching in one day; it’s just the way the schedule turned out.

All 3 seminars are fun and easy to teach and I have good groups waiting. This is one of those days in which I have to just put my head down, keep moving, keep talking, and by 9 pm tonight I’ll be done and headed home.

Some days are like that for a lot of us, just keep moving and get it done.

But, all of us don’t have days like this. Tens of thousands of Americans are waking up to another day in which they don’t have a job, they don’t have the privilege and pleasure and hope of making a living.

So, I’m lucky and even you don’t particularly like what you do, if you’re getting ready to go to work or at work right now, realize how fortunate you are.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Mensa Candidate at the McDonald's Counter

A group of waitpeople in San Francisco is pushing for minimum tips of 25% and want restauranteurs to automatically include the amount on restaurant and bar bills. Some of their group want the tips deal to apply to fast food workers like the Mensa candidate at the counter who attempts to take your order.

Most of their logic is based on a slower economy and the need for more income. No argument there.

Is it just me, though, who believes that a tip is supposed to be for service above and beyond just taking your order, bringing it to you and checking on you once or twice. Isn’t that what they get paid for, anyway.

I’ve worked as a waiter and I’ve run a restaurant so I get the fact that service people are only paid minimum wage. And I’ve experienced situations where I gave someone extraordinary service and they stiffed me. The worst table you want is a group of well-dressed, middle-aged women, believe me. But, that’s the ups and downs of the occupation.

If you automatically spot someone 25% they start believing it’s part of their salary, that they’re entitled to it. Then, if you try to adjust it at a later date, unless the adjustment is upward, they’ll scream that things were always this way and that you’re messing with their entitlement. A staggering percentage of the American population thinks that way today and our country is the worse for it.

If you get good service, recognize it. When that happens the server is more likely to give good service the next time, hoping to get rewarded again. The cumulative effect is a better server, more satisfied customers, a more successful business, and more customers which means the server gets more opportunities.

This doesn’t just work with food and drinks. Try it in your work setting. Catch someone doing something right and praise them. Do it every day. You’ll get a better workplace.

Who do you need to catch doing something right right now?

I HEARD THAT!!!! You were thinking, “Mike, no one around here does a damn thing right!”

Gotcha. Catch the least-worst person doing something right. Try it. Right now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

You Shut Up! No, You Shut Up! No! You......

Are you really listening? Or, are you thinking about what you're going to say when they finally shut up?

Sometimes we have to shut up ourselves and just get it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Shave a Cat and Make a Finger Puppet

Kaori Tsutaya, a catlover from Japan, has written Crafting With Cat Hair: Cute Handicrafts to Make With Your Cat. The book is about using the hair cat owners find all over their pants, coats, couches and beds to make finger puppets, book covers, tote bags, pin cushions and other crafts. She points out the best months for hairballs (April and May) and that you shouldn’t shave your cat to get the hair.

Actually, the whole “shave your cat” part creates my favorite visual image.

I’m starting off the week with this priceless information for a reason.

If Ms. Tsutaya can fantasize a shave-your-cat hobby that can eventually be turned into a Burberry rain coat no idea you have is too outrageous to be considered.

Hey, I’m jumping out of airplanes at 60-years old. If I can do that your dreams are possible, too.

What dream have you bounced around for years? What practical step can you take this week that would at least give you a feel for making it real?

You’re sitting at a computer right now, take a moment and Google something that has to do with your desire or idea. That’s a practical step.

Shave your cat…I just love that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Woke Up and Got Up

On a summer evening in what now seems like another life my stepson, Joseph, was asked, “What did you do today?” Joseph was 17 at the time and enjoying the summer. He thought a moment and said, “Woke up and got up.” As far as he was concerned, that was a successful day.

I was reminded of that moment recently when I again read the Woody Allen quote, “Ninety percent of success is showing up.”

In his new book, Up, Down, Or Sideways, author Mark Sanborn asks, “What are the three or four things you are doing every day to insure your continued success?”

I can tell you right now that with all due respect to a 17-year old Joseph and Woody Allen, if the only things you are doing each day are waking up, getting up and showing up there will come a day when they haven’t been enough.

Last week a Greenville, NC, man bought at a lottery ticket at a convenience store near his home and won half of the $114 million mega prize.

Unfortunately, life is rarely like that. You don’t usually do one thing and have it pay off bigtime. Success in life is usually based on the cumulative value of lots of little and big efforts.

So, what are the 3-4 things you do most days that lead to the success in work, health, relationships, spirit, knowledge and fun you hope to enjoy?

Have a big weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How About Now?

Have you ever had one of those moments when life, God, inspiration, conspiracy theorists, Big Bird or whoever you think really runs things was sending you a message?

I got one this morning.

An article in the paper screamed at me….READ THIS AND PAY ATTENTION TO IT!!!

It was a piece about the most famous rabbi in history, Rabbi Hillel. In the first century his teachings revolved around a few basic questions. The one that exploded out of the paper for me was, “If not now, when?”

In one way or another we’re all waitin’ on something; some question to be answered.

If not now, when?

If it really isn’t now and you can tell me when I get to decide if I want to wait until then or I can prepare for that time.

It’s the not knowing that saps our strength and conviction. It’s the confusion that dilutes our motivation. It’s the questioning that steals our courage.

What’s your question? And, if not now, when?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The One Thing Is the One Thing

Yesterday I presented a customer service program at a community college. The group was fun and smart with a wide range of occupations.

At the start of the program I simply asked, “What’s the most important thing in customer service?”

After a wide-ranging discussion the key issue came down to ….. Be Nice.

If you’ll Be Nice folks will show a lot of forgiveness, understanding and patience.

Be Nice.

What about in your personal relationships, not just work?

Be Nice.

What about to strangers, even when they are buttheads?

Be Nice.

Sounds too simple to work doesn’t it?

Be Nice.

Have you been nice to folks today?

Here’s a thought that is so sick it borders on hilarious….If you are nice to folks and they act really surprised what does that say about how you’ve been treating them?

Be Nice.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quitters Never Win, And....

In 1972, at the end of my sophomore year in college, I sat in our kitchen at home with my parents and announced that I wanted to step away from college for a year. I had joined a fraternity and was having more fun than the law ought to allow, I was not going to class very regularly (they just seemed to be so time consuming), and I realized that wasting my parents’ hard-earned money was not a good thing on a wide variety of levels. It was a fully thought-out, mature decision.

My mother wouldn’t hear of it. She said, “Quitters never win, and winners never quit,” and that, as they say, was that. I returned to Chapel Hill in the fall.

My reaction to the situation was an immature one, though. I thought, “If they don’t respect me enough to take my decision into consideration I’ll just have a large time.” I did exactly that for the next two years, didn’t graduate on schedule, stopped out of college for 4 years and came back and graduated in '79.

That kitchen conversation was 40 years ago and I still think my original decision was correct and would have led to a more mature outlook on life.

I have a wonderful quote on the bulletin board in my kitchen, “By all means consider your feelings, but be guided by your judgment.”

Most of the time we truly do know what’s best for us. Having the courage to fight through our impulses, fears, unrealistic dreams and what other people (even those who love us) think can be so difficult that, at times, we’re paralyzed when trying to make a decision…and the bigger the decision the more powerful the paralysis.

There’s a decision floating out there that you have to make, isn’t there? What do you know is the right thing to do?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sittin' On Ice

My first solo skydive was a success!

Am a little dinged up from my amateurish landing (will be sitting on an ice pack for a few days) but I walked away laughing that the only way I could have been farther away from the landing area would have been to have landed in another zip code.

But, if you can walk away from a parachute landing…and laugh…that’s a good thing.

As I’ve noted before, I’m learning all kinds of life lessons as I jump into this new “hobby.” One of my great instructors, Randy Hamberlin, a former paratrooper and Vietnam Veteran, offered the best lesson yesterday. (Randy asks all kinds of questions that I don’t have a clue how to answer and never once has he made me feel like a dope.)

Hamberlin asked, “What do you think we’re teaching you?”

I figured it was a trick question and “skydiving” was not the answer, so I said what I thought and, for once, got it right… “how to be safe doing this.”

Hamberlin’s expression never changed. He said, “Yep. We’ll teach you a little bit about how to skydive. But, what we’re more interested in you knowing is how to get up and down safely.”

Is there an activity in life…your work, for instance…that you think you’re doing for one reason but, in fact, you’re doing for another? You may think you’re there to make a living, but you’re really there for the sense of security? If so, where’s the feeling of security coming from? If you have a relationship or family, what’s the primary purpose in your life?

Not many people want to ask those types of questions, especially after they may have invested decades in a life based on what other people expected of them. The key is to get more of what your real motivation is and less of the other silliness.

Last weekend Hamlin mentioned a Duke University professor who studied extreme sports participants and why they got involved. (My definition of an extreme sport is something that can get you killed. Skateboarding is not an extreme sport.) The professor said, “Some people live life holding onto ropes and they get to a point at which they have to let go.”

Not everyone needs to let go. But, if you’ve got that dangling feeling it might be time to look for another rope.

Gotta go, time to change the ice pack.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why Depend on the Suits in NY and LA?

I’m getting more sleep, feeling better and getting more done.

The way I’m doing it may not be a secret to some but too few are using this strategy...I'm recording more programs.

Here’s the deal: I’m doing a better job of watching the few TV shows and sports events I like when I want to watch them and not necessarily when they’re scheduled.

If you don’t know how to record programs, learn. The few minutes it takes to master the simple skill pays off in hours of sleep and time you can use to get more important things done.

If you have a great Internet connection maybe you can watch some of them on the Web.

Life’s too short to wait for a TV program to come on. Record it and watch it when YOU want to, not when some suit in NY or LA wants you to.

Have a big weekend! I’ll be getting to bed early Saturday night so I can skydive on Sunday so I’ll be recording the Texas/Oklahoma game and watching it later.

See you Monday.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What Can I Do?

Two of my friends are facing serious health issues. One guy just received a Parkinson’s diagnosis, the other friend is bipolar.

We often don’t know what to say in times like these. “I’m sorry” seems too little and an overreaction comes across as pity or, worse, condescension.

In both cases I simply asked, “What can I do?”

We almost always know what we need and too often other people don’t have a clue.

With both friends, at least for now, what they needed were two things: for me to listen, and distraction from the current situation.

So, I listened and told them jokes and tales about my skydiving adventures.

Before long both were laughing and I could see their stress levels, at least for the moment, dropping.

What you have to realize is that, as much as you’d like, you can’t cure or fix other people. They know it and you know it. What you can do is take them to a place where, again, at least for a moment, life is close to what it was before they entered their new reality.

Everyone has someone who needs a call and a, “What can I do?”

Pick up the phone or send a text. Do it right now.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hearing Their Heads Rattle

This morning, the wonderful cartoon, Pickles, showed a grandmother talking with her young grandson.

She said, “Nelson, it’s just silly for a boy of your age to want to grow a mustache. And it’s even sillier to think that putting bacon grease on your lip will make it grow.”

The grandson says, “Grampa said it would work.”

Grandmother, “Grampa said, huh? What do I keep telling you about Grampa?”

Grandson, “He talks just to hear his head rattle.”

That’s not a bad bit of advice to consider when encountering a lot of the people we come in contact with.

I’m all for the, “We’re all God’s children and there’s something special about each one of us,” philosophy. But, let’s be honest. It can take waaaaaaayyyyyy too long and too much effort to discover what that little gem of specialness might be in them.

Maybe them hearing their head rattle is the best thing that will happen to them all day long. So, God Bless’em. Smile and move on your way.

Of course, if you’re hearing rattling in your head…well,…I’m just sayin’.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blue Hairs on the Boulevard

An older couple just walked by on the sidewalk in front of The Cottage. They were holding hands, cruising along at a steady speed, and just as they passed by my front yard they entered a sunlit area. Wonderful scene.

The cynical side of me thought they looked like an ad for a retirement community or a preneed company.

The other side of me was so envious that I wanted to chase them down and ask, “How’d you do it? How did you weather all the craziness and stresses and conflicts all the…


I got an answer I didn’t expect. The folks are in their mid-70s. They’ve been married for only five years. They knew each other as couples for years and when their spouses died they found each other and created a new, different kind of relationship. He’s recently had a stroke and she’s easing him back to health.

Walking back in The Cottage my thought was, “It’s all a journey. You just never know where the journey will take you.”

Where’s your journey taking you?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hate to Admit It, But I'm a Hater

I know it’s immature to be, but mature to admit being, a hater.

I’m not a hater about everything and everyone. I don’t hate people simply due to their race. I’m not a misogynist or a xenophobe (if you’re a Duke fan, those words mean hating someone just because they’re a woman or because they're from another country).

Wait a minute, that last comment showed that I’m a hater towards Duke and Duke fans…well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But, I digress….

I questioned going to my high school reunion because I knew there’d be some folks there who were bullies in jr. high school and I still hold grudges against those bastards.

Mostly, my hates are directed towards slights and perceived insults…and that silliness is slowing me down. I need to work on letting it go.

This morning I may have found an answer. Every Monday I receive a wonderful email from the folks at about practical knowledge. Today, this was the lesson:

Forget the Past

A wise man once sat in the audience and cracked a joke.

All laughed like crazy.

After a moment he cracked the same joke again and fewer people laughed this time.

He cracked the same joke again. This time there was no laughter in the crowd.

He smiled and said, "When you cannot laugh on the same joke again and again, then why do you keep crying over the same thing over and over again"?

Forget the past and move on!

Author Unkown

What do you need to let go of?

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


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”.


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?