Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's That Burnt, Black Stuff?!!

If you’ve ever tried to cook soup or stew and you just filled the pot on the stove, turned up the heat and came back a couple of hours later you know what happens. When you stirred the pot there’s some burnt, black stuff that comes up from the bottom and the whole mess is entirely inedible.

But, if you had kept checking on the pot and stirring on a regular basis you would have ended up with something wonderful.

Life’s like that. If you keep stirring, trying new things, making an effort, keeping tabs on what’s going on…you end up with something wonderful. If you just keep doing the same things and don’t make the efforts you get…well…you know what you get.

One of the amazing truths I discovered is that I can put together a great plan and implement it and, while it sometimes doesn’t turn out the way I planned, something else that’s good will pop up.

If I keep stirring the pot I get good surprises. And I’m convinced that it’s the process of stirring that makes things happen.

So, are you stirring?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

You're Thiiiiisssss Close!

Have you ever noticed that so often, when you're thiiiissss close to reaching a goal, an obstacle pops up that threatens to defeat you?

It's happened to me so often that now I simply plan for the obstacle.

I don't know what it'll be but I know it'll be something!

Since I can't plan for what the challenge will be I prepare by telling myself to not let whatever it is get me down or, in some cases, slow me down.

Depending on which strategy I think will work I either double my efforts, pick up the pace, or back off a little, relax, and let things work themselves out.

If you're pumping away on a project how will you react if an obstacle pops up?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Red Bull and Mountain Dew, Yummmmm!

Have you heard about the woman who is giving her 5-year old daughter a mixture of Red Bull and Mountain Dew so the little girl will stay awake during the late hours of a Little Miss Contest?

The mother calls it “Go Go Juice” and not only is she not repentant about her stupidity but she seems oblivious to the health implications for her daughter.

The silliness of spending over $1000 on dresses, transportation, lodging, registration and incidentals so your kid has the chance to win a $25 trophy is not lost on me. But then, I spend hours in a gym picking up heavy things for the fun of it so who am I to point a finger.

It does seem, though, that some folks will do some stupid things to reach their goals (which, if you see the mother, might be a redneck, meatsack-looking woman living vicariously through a little 5-year old).

Whatever your goals, take a moment to step back and look at what you are doing or sacrificing to reach them. I’m all over goal-setting but sometimes you’ve got to take a reality check.

Friday, February 24, 2012

PROJECT X Coming To Your Back Yard

The movie, Project X, premieres a week from today on March 2. While the previews show that it looks like a fun comedy to watch—it’s about some dopey high school kids who have an extraordinary party—some parents and neighborhoods better get ready for kids doing a higher than average number of stupid things.

Animal House and Old School gave lots of college kids new ideas about how to do crazy things and Project X is going to do the same thing for some high school students.

Whether we are willing to admit or not we all take cues on how to act from watching others, whether it’s in person, on television or in the movies, or in the newspapers. We see a behavior or activity and think, “That might work for me.”

And I’m not just talking about parties…it could be at work, in a marriage or raising kids.

I always believe the NCAA Tournament is a great laboratory for watching how coaches—who are basically managers—handle a bunch of 17-23 year-olds in high pressure situations. You can take cues about how to manage people from watching successful coaches.

But, back to Project X. While it may not do any good, if you have kids who will see the movie you might want to continue to remind them that it’s just a movie.

I mean…Animal House was just a movie and no one actually had a toga party where they…mmm….ok…but it was JUST THAT ONE TIME!!

Have a great weekend and Google Project X and watch the trailer for it.

See you Monday.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Have You Seen the Violin Story?

I don’t believe in lifting stories directly from the news and running them here, but this is too good to pass up. Credit goes to Josh Nonnenmacher for the story.

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

By: Josh Nonnenmocher

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese

My Myrtle Beach buddy, Petesy Reynolds, sent me this today:

“The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”

I LOVE that!

It tells me that you better be aware of what’s going on around you. It might not hurt to step back and collect your thoughts.

Diving in to solve a problem may impress some people but very often your over-eager response gets you trapped.

What problem in your life—or in someone else’s life—is beckoning you to jump in and solve it?

PS. If you ever get a chance to hear Petesy speak…go…he’s great

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Praise and Positivity

Had a great time yesterday speaking to a group of social workers in Fayetteville who work with homeless and challenging kids in the school system. Dedicated, smart, fun people.

We talked about catching someone doing something right each day. The habit builds a more positive workplace and life. We agreed that catching one of the kids they work with doing something right and praising may be the only good thing that happens to that kid that day.

Adults in the workplace are no different. We’re all on challenging paths. Catch someone doing something right and praise them (coworker, manager, executive, someone you manage…it doesn’t matter) and you are creating a better workplace and a more positive life…and that’s a great thing.

Who will you catch today?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Don't Eat the Blue Iguanas

A friend just returned from a cruise in the western Carribean. She said she ate iguana, snails and frog legs.

I asked if had actually seen an iguana. She said yes, and that there are two types: Blue and Green.

"But you're not supposed to eat the blue iguanas." she said.

Any time you're in a new situation, personal or professional, there are going to be rules. Following the rules often means having a better experience.

You can break the rules but it's probably better to do so after you know they exist. And, yes, I understand the logic of asking for forgiveness rather than permission. But, even then, knowing the rules gives you a better feel for which ones you can constructively break and in what ways.

Not asking about rules and breaking them is just stupid.

Are there blue iguanas in your life that you shouldn't eat?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ya Better Get a Better Valentine Next Year!

The Worst Valentine award goes to the woman in New Jersey who stabbed her boyfriend because he gave her such a crummy Valentine present. Now, there’s a person with expectations!

On Wednesday I stopped by Blue Cross Blue Shield in Durham to pay a bill. The woman taking my money had a Valentine’s Card on her desk so I asked, “How was your Valentine’s Day?” just to make conversation.

She said, “It’s the last one with this guy. He bought me the cheapest box of candy you can get and this lousy card.”

Again, expectations.

So many of the people who orbit us have expectations of what their relationship with us will be like. When expectations are met they think, “OK, that’s what I thought should happen.” But, if expectations are not met…whooo boy!

We’re the same. We have expectations of others we want met.

Buddhists believe that peace comes through not having expectations and attachments. They believe we should live in, appreciate and enjoy each moment.

Hard to do, but doable.

What expectations do you have of others that, when not met, pull your life into a less than positive feeling?

Appreciate today, it’s Friday and the weekend is almost here.

See you Monday.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Love Me Like My Dog!

Ya gotta go to and check out country singer Billy Currington’s song, “Like My Dog!” Check out the one titled, “Billy Currington-Like My Dog”. One of the videos is the lyrics and they’re worth reading.

The point of the song is: Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone loved you like your dog does?

Think about it…what if some of the important people in our lives loved us like our pets?

Well…hmmm…come to think of it I’ve been loved like a cat loves you…if they actually do….you know how they look at you like the only thing good about you is that you feed’em and rub’em where they want to be rubbed. And then they sniff at you and ignore you and pee a map of Afghanistan on your best sportcoat. Ok, so it only happened one time.

And fish…I don’t think they really love us they just watch us through the glass and think, “Wonder what’s going on out there?”

And snakes…you kind of hope they don’t love you too much…but all that wrappin’ around you wouldn’t be too bad come to think of it.

What about birds? My old roommate, Al, had birds and all they did was flit around, squawk and poop on the curtains. Wait, I dated someone in 1977 that..ok..enough about that.

My favorite line in the song is, “When I come home I want you to just go crazy!”

Yea, if someone did that I wouldn't even mind cleaning up after them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Are You Watching Where You're Going?

So often we go through life with our attention scattering to lots of different topics, people and issues. We know where we want to end up but don’t stay focused on the goal. It’s like walking on a path through the woods at night with a flashlight. You point the light here and there--sometimes you turn it around and point it along the path you’ve traveled—and then you turn back around and focus it on the path ahead.

Then you stumble or hear something out in the woods and your focus is narrowed to that place on the path or looking out to identify the mystery. You focus more completely on the goal.

I’ve just stumbled on the path. Am working on dealing with a family emergency. Something like this quickly narrows focus and demands that you step up and perform. It is not unlike meeting a challenge on the path or stumbling over a rock or vine as you walk through the woods at night.

I’ve identified a feeling that may or may not be a good thing. The feeling I get is that I’ve spent too much time strolling on the path and not enough time in focused travel.

Are you strolling or focused on getting where you say you want to go?

Monday, February 13, 2012

You Can't Make This Stuff Up!

A West Virginia student is suing his fraternity. He alleges that he fell off a deck after being startled by the discharge of a bottle rocket.

The rocket was launched by one of his fraternity brothers and fired out of his own...well...butt.

The suing student's attorney says that sort of thing "constitutes an 'ultrahazardous' activity."

Ya think?

And what in the wide, wide world of work might this have to do with your workday...other than making you laugh?

Just being a bystander when someone else does something stupid can be enough to get you burned, too.

Who's the bottle rocket person in your workplace?

Friday, February 10, 2012

What Would You Say to a Younger You?

If you could go back in time and meet the younger you what would you say?

Would you tell the younger you different things if you met them at 19 or 35 or 50?

If I could go back and meet Mike Collins at 19 I'd tell him two things: First, if you're going to go to college go to class. If you just go to class you can make B's. Needless to say, I did neither the first time through. The second thing I'd tell me would're going to run into people who are older and wiser than you and it'd be a good thing to listen to them instead of thinking you know everything.

If I met me at 35 I'd tell myself to get more serious about saving money, relationships and writing.

If I met me at 50 I'd tell me the same three things I would have told myself at 35.

It's taken a decade more to listen to myself and I'm still not doing as good a job as I should.

What would you tell you if you could go back?

Are you telling yourself the same things today?

Are you listening?

How long will it take you to get the message?

Have a great weekend! See you Monday.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Let's Go to the Dairy Qeen!

Steve Young, the Hall of Fame quarterback, once said, “I wish parents would understand that if their child drops eight fly balls one day, then only drops six the next, that’s reason to go to the Dairy Queen. ”

I love that. It’s all about being rewarded for small consistent improvements.

Are you getting better every day? The improvements don’t have to be big and flashy, they can be small, one-step-at-a-time kinds of efforts. And, you don’t have to go to the Dairy Queen every day you can pat yourself on the back in your own mind. But, you are getting better and recognizing it.

If more managers would take a second and catch people doing things right they’d have better employees and fewer problems.

And if you do go to the Dairy Queen, have the wet walnuts, whipped cream and a cherry…do it up right!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Are You Mission-Focused

Was in Jacksonville, NC, presenting a seminar and ran into a couple of Marines. One was retired and the other was active duty

The majority of Marines I've ever met always seem "mission-focused." They have a presence about them that they are going to accomplish whatever task they are focused on.

How many folks in your world of work have that focus? How many seem like they want to be anywhere other than helping you or contributing in the workplace?

Here's the question where we skate out on thin ice...if one of your co-workers was asked about you, would they say you have a "mission-focused" presence?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Exchange

"Discussiom is an exchange of knowledge; an argument is an exchange of ignorance."

Journalist Robert Quillen

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Head Hurts This Morning!

Ok, I’ll admit that I’m one of the millions who celebrated a little too much during the Super Bowl last night. And yes, it’s taking me a little while to get up to speed this morning. If you’re in the same boat with me….AND STOP ROCKING IT, PUHLEEEZE!!! are ten hangover remedies from And don’t read them out loud!!

Hair of the dog…Most docs will tell you this is not a good thing but some folks swear by a Bloody Mary the next morning. However, your dog will know something’s up when you’re coming at him with that razor. Ok, that was bad.

Breakfast…Eat something light and easy to digest. One friend suggested a honey sandwich. Not sure who “honey” is but this doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

Alka-Seltzer…Don’t drink it. Put the tablet in your mouth and it’ll make you look rabid when the foam drools out. It’ll make you laugh and, for my money, laughter beats just about anything else as a hangover remedy.

Aspirin or ibuprofen…Two to four every four hours.

Hangover pills…Forget these unless they are covered in chocolate or honey.

Coffee…Liquid hangover pills.

Water and sports drinks…Actually, this IS the Number One hangover remedy according to the experts. Alcohol gets you dehydrated and rehydrating gets you back in good shape.

Exercise…Don’t try bombing and blasting or anything that requires super coordination, you may end up hurt. Take a walk or an easy swim. I wouldn’t even suggest biking depending on the severity of your hangover.

Sauna…Sweating some of the alcohol out sounds good but if you are already dehydrated you may want to rethink losing more liquid.

Sleep…If at all possible, take a nap later today.

“Oh, Honey…where’s my sleeping mask?”

Friday, February 3, 2012

We Can't All Be Athletes, But We Can All Be Athletic Supporters

Las Vegas and New York oddsmakers have set the Super Bowl as pretty much a pick'em.

That means there is no clear favorite.

The Super Bowl has become a defacto national holiday with tens of thousands of folks calling in sick on Monday morning. To other folks...I know, I know...they're communists, Chinese dissidents, English soccer addicts and many Duke fans...the day is an unnecessary interruption of life for silly people.

But, ya gotta have fun, distractions, hobbies and those activities that provide the color and excitement in life.

So, if you're into the Super Bowl this weekend, get INTO it. Wear something that shows your loyalties (even if it has nothing to do with football), cheer hard, eat something bad for you, have a beverage, enjoy the commercials (often the best part of the broadcast) and suffer through Madonna at half-time. Have some fun and then get back to life on Monday.

And remember, we can't all be athletes, but we can all be athletic supporters.

Have a great weekend, see you Monday, and GO GIANTS!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cleared For Take-off

I'm one of those folks who's running pretty wide open as soon as I get up. I'm not necessarily an early riser, 7 am is my usual start time, but at 7:01 I'm at full throttle.

I have friends who need a LOT of quiet runway before they take off every morning.

Neither way is better. Both styles work.

Knowing your style and working with it--not fighting it--makes you more effective.

Which style are you?