Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tough Time Tips

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” Margaret Thatcher

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.” Walter Elliott

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” Newt Gingrich

“Fall seven times, get up eight.” Japanese Proverb

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.” James Michener, Chesapeake

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'm Not Helping Anymore

(this is a tad long, but hang with me)

There’s a philosophy that says if you put something out there, positive or negative—an emotion/effort/comment/thought—it’ll come back to you soon after.

Yesterday morning I busted some of the meatheads in our human herd who were stopped on a bridge after a little fender bender, blocking traffic and creating a dangerous situation for the rest of their fellow drivers.

The payback didn’t take long….three people flipped me off on the highway within a couple of hours.

The first one was at a red light and evidently I didn’t start moving the instant it turned green.

The second was at another stoplight. I looked both ways, saw it was clear, and turned right on red. I didn’t realize some guy in a pickup was doing 119 miles an hour and coming up on my left. He whizzed around me, flipped me off and continued to stare at me through his rear window for at least 50 yards.

The third member of The Exalted Order of The Flipper was my favorite.

I’m on four-lane US 1 and traffic is kinda creeping along. I hear a horn blowing behind me and to my left. I look in my rear view and side view mirrors and I see a beat-up, old Lincoln with the left turn signal flickering with that, “I’ve been blinkin’ for miles and I’m tired” look.

We come up on a stoplight (what is it with the stoplights?!!) and as the car rolls up beside me he honks again. I look over and the windows are down and there’s male driver and female passenger. They both look rough, about sixty or so, and both dress out at around 300 pounds.

I roll down my window (I know, I know) and ask, “Hey, what’s the deal with the horn?” He points at the driver ahead and blathers something I don’t hear.

To which, I answer….

Let me stop right here and say that, yes, I realized that I was going to say something smartass and that I shouldn’t...but, I couldn’t stop myself. Besides, I thought my comment might be helpful.

I said, “Well, Scooter, you’re the one riding forever with your left turn signal bangin’ away.”

Just then the light changed, Thank God. Mr. and Mrs. Shrek screamed something unintelligible at me and digitally told me I was Number 1.

That’s it. I’m not helping anyone anymore.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Are We All In the Same Herd?

It’s about 6:50 on Tuesday morning and I’m watching the local news. They’ve got a shot of a car and truck that obviously had a bump-up in the morning traffic. It happened on an on-ramp coming up to a bridge over US 1.

Both drivers stopped ON THE BRIDGE and the shot showed them out on the highway standing near their vehicles. Traffic was backed up (or, down since they were lined up back down the on-ramp) for half-a-mile behind them.

North Carolina has a law stating that if you are in a minor accident that blocks traffic and your vehicles can be moved you should pull over to the shoulder of the road and wait for authorities.

We all get caught up in situations and our logic escapes us but these dopes seemed oblivious to a variety of hazards.

Is it just me or, considering the number of meat-heads running with us in the herd, are we simply lucky to make it through some days? 

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Memorial Day Thank You to Don McKenzie and the Rest

Yesterday, a friend and I walked about a half-mile from my house to a Buffalo Wild Wings and had drinks, played video games and watched golf/baseball/fights and the end of the Indy 500.

Along the way, no one asked us for our papers, threatened us because we were from a different tribe or religious sect or were a different color, and we didn’t have to carry guns with us.

Here’s why:

Don McKenzie was 22 when he was killed in Vietnam on December 10, 1968.

Don lived at the end of the street I grew up on. He was 6 years older than me so when I was in that impressionable 10-12 year-old time he was one of my high school heroes. He was the first person close to my age whom I remember losing to the war in Vietnam.

For 230+ years all sorts of Americans, men and women, young and old, rich and poor, white/black/Native/Hispanic/Asian and other nationalities, have died to make sure that you and I didn’t have to carry “papers” or guns wherever we go in America. They are the reason we can argue about silliness like whether or not we should censor what’s on television/internet/books, what people wear or whether consenting adults who love each other and happen to be of the same sex can get married.

In the searing light of day and in the dark of night, in mud/sandstorms/typhoons and hurricanes/snow, in the scariest places on earth Americans have heroically died some of the most horrible deaths imaginable so that we can worship wherever we like and then go to a grocery store and choose among 27 types of barbecue sauce.

I’m all for having that feeling of superiority that being an American seems to give us…the feeling that the red, white and blue makes us better…I am unashamedly proud of the feeling of entitlement that gives me.

Now, if you want to feel guilty, let your imagination slide over to what it felt like to be a young guy from a small town in North Carolina, lying in tall grass in a country on the other side of the world and dying of small arms fire. And, he did it so you and I could safely walk out to the driveway each morning without feeling threatened and pick up a newspaper in which are written stories that, in some countries in the world, would get the reporters hung.

Thank you, Don.

Thank you all.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How Stupid Is This?

 A kid in Cary, NC, was stealing stuff from his neighbors’ garages.

In the process he dropped his cell phone.

The cops simply took the cell phone and pressed, “Mom.”

It could be me, but if you are choosing a life of crime you might want to be smarter. But, if you’re choosing a life of crime you can’t be that smart in the first place.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!

See you Monday.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Empathy, Not Sympathy

“Don’t confuse ‘soft’ with seeing the other guy’s point of view.” President George H.W. Bush

In the seminar yesterday the word “empathy” came up and I asked if folks knew the meaning. Someone finally said, “You’ve been in their shoes.”

Understanding a little about the other person’s personal and work life is a good thing. You can get a feel for how they might see life.

With whom do you work/live/love? How much do you know about how they see life? 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spin On

A friend of mine has a collection of tops; the old kind that you spin with your hand or wind a string around and when you pull the string they spin like crazy.

Whenever I look see the tops I think about all the hands that have touched them and enjoyed them over the years. Some are really old and worn so you know they’ve done a lot of spinning.

Our lives are like that. Sometimes we spin like tops and it seems like we’ll never stop spinning. Other times we’re laying over to the side and wondering if we’ll ever get to spin again.

I’m all for balance and I’m all for rest, but to tell the truth, I’d rather be spinning…and the faster the better.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Who Are You Today?

We are always affirming something. Every day we affirm who we are; what type of person we believe ourselves to be.

Who are you affirming you are today?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Good Advice from Gunfighters

Not long ago a line in a NASCAR movie caught my attention, “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” Had to Google it to see where it came from.

There appear to be a variety of sources getting credit. It’s attributed to Marshal Wyatt Earp and also Medal of Honor Winner Alvin York (from Sgt. York fame). Gunman Doc Holiday said, “Take your time in a hurry.” All three men survived many life-threatening situations by being able to shoot quickly and accurately.

The logic is, of course, that if you slow down a little—if you don’t panic—you are better able to handle the situation. You can focus on the movements or thought processes that lead to success. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

Marine snipers add a line. They say, “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast and fast is lethal.”

If people who spend most of their time trying to figure out how to stay alive in deadly situations think this works, I’m tryin’ it.

Slow down just a little. You’ll focus more effectively, get more done and keep a lower stress level.

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Do Horses Know They've Lost?

The 137th Preakness Stakes horse race will be run on Saturday at Pimlico Racetrack in Maryland. Post time is around 6 pm.

The Preakness is the second race in The Triple Crown. The first is The Kentucky Derby and the final race is the Belmont Stakes.

My question is, “Do the horses that raced in The Kentucky Derby and lost know they lost?”

If they do they could experience added motivation to win this time or they could run with a loser’s attitude of, “Uh oh, there’s that same stud that beat me last time.”

I don’t think they know. I think to each horse it’s just another race with another crowd, another bucket of oats and another bath and rubdown.

What if life was like that for us? You wouldn’t know that something—a job, a romance, a race you ran—was unsuccessful. You simply stepped up and tried again.

And yes, I get the Groundhog Day movie connection and the fact that we learn from our mistakes and successes.

I’m just asking, if we could release the baggage of our past failures how quickly could we (pardon the pun) get back in the saddle?

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

PS…that whole bucket of oats (that would be a cold beer), bath and rubdown thing does sound inviting doesn’t it?
PPS….bet on Bodemeister to win.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lightning Strike

Walked out to get the paper this morning and checked the mail. My Progress Energy bill had come.

On the front of the envelope was the question: Ready for lightning season?

It was a sales pitch for surge protectors and said I could save 50% on installation until May 15. Today is May 17, but that’s another story.

I thought about the “lightning season” and realized that any time can be lightning season in life. We can be struck by issues good or bad, lucky or unlucky, happy or sad.

By the way, the odds of being struck by lightning are 576,000 to 1…pretty high, I’d think.

You can probably raise your chances of being struck by standing in the middle of an open field in a lightning storm and holding a golf club up in the air. If you want to lower your chances, seek shelter.

So, the simple thought is this…if you want to improve your chances of getting struck by things that are good, lucky and happy, do the things that make it more likely that good things come your way…and keep trying. If you want to get hit by the bad, unlucky and sad stuff, keep doing what drags you down.

What are you doing that raises the chances that you’ll be struck by either type of life lightning?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Just Shoot Me

Police in upstate New York arrested a young man for shooting his friend in the leg.

It seems that the friend wanted to see what it felt like to be shot and his buddy helped him out.

Is it just me, or does the likelihood that alcohol was involved occur to you, too?

I’ll say it again: To quote one of America’s great philosophers, my friend Al Ward, “Crazy looks like fun from across the room.”

And yes, Al would probably shoot me if I asked him.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Tale of Two T-Shirts

Yesterday I walked into my post office and two guys standing in line were wearing T-shirts that attracted my attention.

One guy was wearing a Grumpy (Seven Dwarfs) shirt and the other had “Do I Look Like I Give a Damn?” on his.

The guy in the Give a Damn shirt was holding a child’s hand.

The sight yesterday could not have given me a better opening for the seminar I’m presenting this morning: Mean Is Not Good: Dealing With Difficult People in the Workplace.

I realize the shirts were probably either worn in fun or the last clean thing they had in a drawer, but the messages create a less than positive impression in a world where we all need more positivity.

What impression, through what you wear/how you look/your facial expression and body language, are you putting out there?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Shut Up! No, You Shut Up!

Sometimes life presents us with wonderful opportunities to simply keep our mouths shut.

The question is: Are we up to the task?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Time to Come Out of the Game

My high school football coach, Alton “Tunney” Brooks, will be buried today. In addition to coaching for over 40 years he was an all-star athlete in high school, a star on the baseball and basketball teams at Wake Forest University and was a member of America’s first Pan American baseball team.

At the visitation yesterday there were dozens of men whose lives Coach Brooks had a strong hand in molding.

In addition to my experience playing for him I worked as a lifeguard at a pool he managed each summer.

In the summer of 1972 I saw him dive off a 3-meter board and do something I can’t describe. It looked like some sort of Olympic dive and when he entered the water he hardly made a splash. He was 45-years old.

I remember watching him get out of the pool and thought, “We might have to get older but we don’t have to get old.”

That thought has been a guiding force in my life for the last 40 years. Coaches and teachers can’t ask for a more important impact than that.

Thank you, Coach. Now, it’s time to come out of the game and take a rest.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Would You Like $500 Per Hour?

Yesterday in USA Today newspaper a simple graph showed a startling revelation.

A survey asked 400 small business owners how much one more productive hour would be worth. Don’t let the fact that the respondents owned small businesses slow you down, this sort of question is important for anyone.

Twenty-five percent said an extra hour of productive time would be worth up to $10. (I don’t know what those folks do for a business but I can mow lawns with a push mower and make more than $10 an hour so let’s slide on by them.)

Here’s where it gets interesting:
-        24% said an extra hour would be worth up to $200
-        11% said up to $300
-        5% said up to $400
-        35% said ….. more than $500

Think about it; a few, simple time management strategies and some focus and your efficiency, effectiveness and income could jump dramatically.

How much would an extra productive hour be worth to you?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Munchkins Singing Christmas Carols and a Magic Carpet

I had a dream this morning that included the Munchkins singing Christmas carols. One of them was playing a piano while wearing red gloves. We were all at my old fraternity house and there were lots of new and old friends whom I had flown to the house on a large magic carpet. My college roommate was sitting at a bar looking sad and when I asked asked how he was doing he simply told me, "I'll tell you later." When I was walking out, just before the alarm went off and I awoke, I noticed that the sidelite next to the front door was broken.

When I told a friend about the dream she said, "A shrink would love to get ahold of you for that one."

In the past I've been told that our dreams signify our greatest desires and our worst fears. I've got my own interpretation of what the dream meant (whether it's valid or not) and I can frame it as good or bad.

If you consistently tell yourself what you want to dream just before you go to sleep you'll often dream something like your desire. It's a great way to set yourself up to create a more positive mindset. Try it and see.

But, damn...the Munchkins!?


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Peddle On, Brother!

I recently bought an exercise bicycle for $30 from Play It Again Sports. I love those guys! If you play any sort of sport and don’t check with them first, you’re crazy.

In fact, they thought I was crazy. The electronic gizmo (that’s the technical term) that shows mileage, speed and pedal reps didn’t work and there was a hitch in the pedal/rowing handle when you pedaled the bike. And, did I mention that it was about 20-years old?

However, something told me that with a few little adjustments it would fit my needs. I got it home and discovered (as I thought) that the batteries in the electronic thingamajig (another highly technical term) were dead and the pedal hitch was caused by a worn out bolt.

My guys at All-Star Bike Shop helped me with the bolt (a big $2) and I bought batteries at CVS for $4.

So, I’ve got a great exercise bike, it’s called an Airgometer from the now-defunct DP Industries, for $36.

Sometimes it only takes a few adjustments and a little understanding to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

What situation in your life could you turn to gold with a couple of economical, easy adjustments?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Aaannnndddd, the Winner Is...!!!!!

So, all of you who were smart enough to follow my advice and bet on the horse I’ll Have Another to win the Kentucky Derby are reading this while sitting on the beach in Aruba.

Those of you who did not, are not.

I’m not a big gambler with money. While I like winning it, it always seems that I fear losing it more than I enjoy winning so I don’t do a lot of betting.

However, in life I’ve taken some pretty big gambles and I’d say that my winning percentage is more than 50-50.

The great thing about life is that most of the time you get to look ahead, do some preparation and adjust your course along the way.

When was the last time you took a chance; gambled on life? Did you win or lose? If you won, congratulations! If you didn’t win what did you learn to give yourself a better chance to win next time.

Or, did you simply give up before you reached the finish line?

Friday, May 4, 2012

A 12-1 Shot

Saturday starts World Cocktail Week.

The ironic and wonderful thing is that Saturday is both Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby.

Two good reasons to pour a libation!!

So, if you need a note to get out there on the edge, here it is:

“For whatever reason, Your Name needs a cocktail. It’s World Cocktail Week, so they have our permission. Cut’em some slack.”

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

PS…I hate to add to any bad habits you may have, but if you go buy Bacardi’s Gran Melon, put it in the freezer, take a shot if it when it’s REALLY COLD and chase it with Corona, you’ll see paradise.

And, as for the Derby…I’m for I’ll Have Another, a 12-1 shot…good luck!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Simply a Season

I just took a sledge hammer outside and beat the hard drive for my old computer to a pulp…or more accurately, a lump of busted metal and plastic.

The old machine had pretty much died, I have a laptop that works and a new iPad and I just didn’t need the old guy anymore. Yeah, I recycled the box at Best Buys but I took the hard drive out so I could destroy it.

As I was whacking away I thought of all the information that had flowed through that computer over the last four or five years I’d owned it; lots of money made, a divorce, tons of new knowledge and a dump truck full of funny stuff.

Yesterday, in my seminar, a woman characterized a relationship she had been in as, “We had our season.” I liked that. It explains a lot and is a wonderfully useful phrase.

My computer and I had our season. Sometimes that thought works with habits or with people in our lives.

Look around, with what have you had your season?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

If You're Late, You're Losing

America’s leading executive coach, Dan Sullivan, says if you’re 30 seconds late for a meeting you’ve lost at least half your credibility; it doesn’t really matter what the reason might be.

Being on time is simple good manners and shows respect for the person or people with whom you are meeting.

Plan ahead. Be on time.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

There's Your Ship!

“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it!” Comedian Jonathan Winters

I just ran across the quote above and I love it!

Too often we sit waiting for life to deliver happiness, fun, salvation and good fortune to our door.

Most of the time that ain’t gonna happen.

Your best bet is to walk out the door and go looking for it.