Friday, September 28, 2012

But, You Promised!!!

Have you ever seen a kid do the, “But you promised!” whine to a parent?

Customers/citizens/patients/members/partners/spouses do it in their heads when we don’t come through on what we’ve promised them.

Obviously, we don’t hear it but the statement is there. And it really isn’t a whine, it’s a comment of disappointment. You promised me something and you didn’t fulfill your promise!

Whether it’s in your personal relationships or at work, what are you promising?

When you take an oath of marriage you promise fidelity, support in sickness and health, love and a variety of other benefits that accrue to each of you. When a person is inducted into the military they swear to protect the United States against enemies foreign and domestic; same type of thing with law enforcement officers. Doctors have the Hippocratic Oath.

What if workplaces had something like this? And you can be assured that it would not be you promising to simply show up and maintain a steady respiration.

What promises are you making in your life…whether they are implicit (you state them specifically and out loud) or implied?

Would the people around you, at work and in your personal life, say that you are coming through on your promises? Are they doing it for you?

I promise to see you again on Monday. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

File This Under "Success"

Do you have a Success file?

No? Then how do you remember the good things you’ve done, the successes that have moved you ahead in life?

You say you’ve got them all in your mind?

Get’em out of your head and into a file. Keep a file of Thank You notes, positive emails, endorsements and notes of when things went right.

Then, when things don’t go right you can call on those resources to remind you that life isn’t always an uphill slog.

Is this habit of capturing the good stuff and keeping it close, even on display, an egotistical habit? Not if it doesn’t become the central issue of your existence.

Studies show that over half of our thoughts are of a negative nature; over half of our conversations touch a negative nerve. Much of what we think about on the way home after work is what went wrong today.

Professor Barbara Frederickson at UNC-Chapel Hill has discovered that we need three positives to counteract each negative in our lives…to keep us balanced.

What’s going right for you? Jot a couple of notes about it. Keep a Success journal or a trophy wall.

Remind yourself about your wins and you’ll have more of them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Touchdown! Uh, no.

Since it seems that everyone except for the nutcase who is president of Iran is talking about the blown official’s call in the Seattle/Green Bay game on Sunday night I will, too.

Here’s my two cents, and my three points, worth:

First…yes, it was a blown call and yes, the replacement officials are probably not doing as good a job as the regular folks on every play.

Second…it doesn’t matter in the long run. No one is going to stop watching pro football because of the replacement refs. So, the owners don’t really care and they don’t have to. In fact, more yammering about football means more people will watch it just to see if the refs screw up again…same reason people watch NASCAR to see the wrecks.

Third…it REALLY doesn’t matter in the big scheme of life. There were five…count’em…five articles in the Wall Street Journal this morning relating to the call.

Think about it; if the world's premier business publication focuses that much ink and space on a silly issue like this something's wrong. If that ain't a sign of the Apocalypse then I'm a Japanese aviator. (Actually, I’ve always thought that line was funny and have never had a chance to use it!)

I’m certainly not the first one to note that we seem to be a society too easily distracted by the silly and not focused on the serious. This is ridiculous.

Try this: Jot down the three most important things you have to do today. Start working on the most important one. Be aware of how many things distract you; things that aren’t important but pull your attention away. Refocus on the task. The more you go through this little exercise the more you get done and the less the frivolous things steal your time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Little Late On This One

Ok, I’m a little late on this one but I just found out that on September 22 there were 100 days left in the year.

What could you and I accomplish in 100 days?

On the first blog of this year, Monday, January 2, I said, “If you want to be financially successful (or successful in any other area) you aren’t going to pray it into existence. You’re going to have to work for it.0”

So, what goals did you set for the year? Have you reached them? How close are you?

I’ll go ahead and admit I am a grand total of 3 pounds—count’em, 3 pounds—closer to the significant weight goal I set for myself at the first of the year. I know because I weigh every morning and write the results down on a calendar in my kitchen. And yes, it’s a pretty dismal record. (hmmmm….maybe that’s not starting my day off the most positive way…realizing I’m still Little Tubby Two-Shoes)

There are some goals I’ve reached, a few other goals I’m a little closer to reaching and some I’ve given up on.

How are you doing?

Here’s the deal: We have 97 days. What are we going to get accomplished in the next 97 days?

PS…the Mr. Olympia Contest starts Thursday…looks like I’ll have to pass for this year

Monday, September 24, 2012

Get a Move On!

Readers Digest recently noted a Jimmy Kimmel joke: “Lance Armstrong is in trouble again. An anti-doping agency accused him of using performance enhancing drugs. Federal authorities got suspicious when they noticed an American was exercising.”

Fifteen minutes after I read the joke and got a laugh out of it I ran into an article in the Sunday Parade magazine in the newspaper.

The headline read, “If There Really Is a Fountain of Youth It’s Exercise.”

If those aren’t a couple of omens I don’t know what they are.

We don’t have to be training for the Olympics, but we need to move more.

I’m waddling into my gym today. What’ll you do?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Shut Up! It's My Turn to Talk!

The writer Fran Lebowitz once said, “The opposite of talking isn’t listening, it’s waiting.”

How true!

The other person is talking and we’re waiting and thinking, “If you’ll just shut up I’ll be able to tell you what I’m going to say.”

And it doesn’t help that while the average person talks at a rate of 120-180 words a minute we can hear and understand 400-600 words a minute. That’s a lot of time in between their words to think about something else.

By listening and focusing on what your communications partner (and yes, that is what they are—no matter who they are) is saying you start picking up all kinds of clues about what types of information they want (details or broad concepts), how they want it (fast or slow), is it the truth (uh oh!) or are there nuances you hadn’t noticed before (is it actually funny when they didn’t plan it that way)?

Try listening this weekend for a change. See—or hear—the difference.

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Can You Create a Perfect Workday?

Yesterday was about as perfect as it could get. It seemed that everything went right.

I was on time for everything I had to do. People in my seminar were great. The technology I had to use worked perfectly. I even had green lights at almost every intersection I approached.

Last night I kept asking myself, “How much of today was in my control and how much was luck?”

The answer was clear. While I couldn’t account for the green lights quite a few of the other things were in my control and with some simple planning and the habit of being on time I could make most of the day work to my favor.

How often do you have perfect days?

How much can you control?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Did You Get My Email?

You’ve just received an email from someone asking for information that you absolutely, positively knew you had sent them?

Yep, the mystery email could be out there just hanging out on a corner in the ether, drinking a beer, talking to other emails and goofing off.


You think you sent it, but didn’t.

At the end of the day hit the Send button and scan the emails you sent. You’ll sometimes discover that the important email you think you sent, wasn’t. Send it right then or put it on your To-Do List for tomorrow.

NOTE: Checking your sent emails is a great idea first thing in the morning after a night of being REALLY mad at someone and drinking. You’ll find out if you stupidly sent the message you know would tell them off. Been there…done that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Whine On, Brother!

Great article in a recent issue of The Wall Street Journal about how to deal with whiners at work.

The old advice goes in two directions: Walk away or just nod and go about your business. However, if you walk away the whiner may take offense and their negative feelings set up barriers to working with them. Worse yet, they may start yammering about what a jerk you are to other workers.

Nodding and simply moving on is almost as bad. When you’re nodding the whiner and others may see the gesture as agreement with the complaining. The whiner then believes you’re on his side and other people lump you in with the whiner. A Lose-Lose if there ever was one.

The best response to whining and the one I like is to ask the whiner, “What solution do you have?” Or, “What would you do about this?”

Usually, you’ll get some mumbling or a complaint that nothing can be done. If that’s the case simply shrug your shoulders and walk away. By putting the monkey on the whiner’s back you take yourself out of the equation. The best part is that if you ask for their solution often enough they’ll stop seeing you as an easy target and leave you alone or, at least, won’t complain around you. Win-Win!

Finally, the great thing about asking if they have a solution is that once in a Blue Moon, one chance in a hundred, they’ll have a solution that no one else thought about. The whining (at least about that topic) stops, they feel great for coming up with a solution and you created a positive situation.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Caught a Bug...YIKES!!!

Somehow I caught a bug over the weekend so I’ve alternated between slow and speedy (if you know what I mean) for the last 24 hours.

So, whataya do? Lay in the bed the whole time, out of it? Or, try and get something done between the sprints?

Kinda depends on how bad it is.

I’ve come back around to the point that I can get about 10-15 minutes of work done before another attack.

I did a little To-Do list of things to get done that take short periods of time. And, in fact, since I use this strategy to work during commercials when a game is on, I’m tying up some loose ends, getting some projects started and sending out some messages.

Amazing what you can get done in short chunks of…mmmm…uh oh….gotta go!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Where's Your Crockpot?

As a member of the adjunct faculty at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (ain’t that a mouthful?) I teach in the nationally-ranked executive masters program.

The workshop I teach is, “Getting It All Done: Time Management for Champions.”

Recently, I told my students that the symbol of getting a graduate degree while working should be a crockpot.

So often we take on activities—or have them thrust upon us—such as seeking a graduate degree, having kids or taking care of a parent and the time commitment is almost overwhelming. Anything you can do to maximize your time (you really can’t save time) is a good thing.

Here’s the question: Where’s your crockpot or slow cooker? If you’re reading this blog on a regular basis I’m pretty sure you lead a busy, stressful life. You’re reading the blog to get tips for making it through your day in a more effective way. Using a crockpot is a simple, effective way to maximize time and make your life easier. There are lots of tools and services that can do the same thing.

Right now I’ve got a pound of hamburger and half a cup of red wine in my slow cooker. I’ll dump a bunch of onions, carrots and celery in with it, pour some barbecue sauce over it and have a great a great meal with a quick salad and some bread tonight.

Drag that old crockpot out and put it to use.

And, if you work for an organization that could use some great time management training zap me an email

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Do, Don't, or Read

This blog title makes little sense so let me explain.

I ran across a quote recently that said, “The money is in the doing, not the reading.”

Over the years I had developed a bad habit of reading all kinds of success, motivation, business and get-it-done books and articles…and doing nothing with what I read.

I could talk a good game and lie in bed at night and dream, but too seldom did I put the information to work. Yeah, there were some victories but not in the quantity and at the pace I wanted.

Then it hit me, simply owning and reading the books didn’t help my bank account, or my personal life.

I know the lesson seems so simple and right-up-in-your-face, but I’ve never been accused of being all that smart.

There’s a wonderful thought using the word LUCK as an acronym: L.U.C.K. means, Laboring Under Correct Knowledge.

What I finally understood was that you can have all the Correct Knowledge you want but if you aren’t willing to Labor with it, it’s worthless.

So, whataya know? And what are you doing with it?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ZipLoc to Success

Get a gallon ZipLoc bag and put in Post-It Notes, a small pad, pens, pencils, some paper clips, one of the small, hand-held calculators, scissors and some other simple, office supplies.

If you’re like me you always have an idea you want to remember or some other work issue you need to handle while in your car. The ZipLoc idea creates a wonderful office-in-the-car.

And no, you don’t want to pull it out, open it up, fumble through it and work while driving.

But, seriously, how many times have you needed some of the items above while traveling and didn’t have them.

Stick it under the seat or in the trunk.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Silent Disco, Rock ON!

Silent Disco is a new activity being tried at zoos in the UK and America. It's usually a fundraising social event held in the evening after regular hours. Attendees wear headphones and listen to music while walking around looking at the animals and having a cocktail.

Since the animals can’t hear the music they aren’t disturbed.

The idea came from concerts held in urban areas in the UK where loud music later in the evening would disturb the neighbors. Concert goers can crank the music up and dance their hearts out and the neighbors can go to bed happy.

The first time I saw this done was in the mid-60’s. One of the popular surfing movies had kids on a beach in California (where else?) wearing transistor radios  with earbuds. They’d be dancing away and the people next to them couldn’t hear a thing. Kinda cool to see that used 50 years later.

Finding an imaginative solution to a challenge often means going into the past to find the future. Post-It Notes came from a 3M adhesive that had failed 5 years before the new use was created.

 If you’re facing a vexing problem slow down and look back. Your solution may be sitting on the side of the road. You passed it long ago and didn’t think it would be useful.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Your Best Day...Ever?!

If you’re reading this at work ask yourself a simple question: What is the best day you’ve ever had at work?

If your answer is, “I wasn’t here” that would be a vacation day, not a work day.

No kiddin’. What has been your best day, ever, at work?

What were you doing? What happened that made it a great day? Were you working with certain people or by yourself? What were the results of your work? Or, were the results secondary to the process of the work? What were you wearing (was comfort or appearance a key)? How long did you work? Did it feel like work or play?

If you know what made it such a great day why not create that sort of day again?

Why not try to create as many days as possible that include the elements of the great day?

Friday, September 7, 2012

You Aren't Sitting On Your Cellphone Are You?

If you don’t have anything to worry about this weekend ponder this: Researchers at the University of Arizona and in Great Britain have found that cellphones often have more germs than toilet seats.

One of the major culprits seems to be handing your phone to someone else and letting them listen and talk which adds their germs to yours. It doesn’t help that so many people eat and talk on the phone which sprays food and germs onto the phone’s surface.

A big breeder is also the fact that few people clean their phones so germs actually date and mate on your phone (that’s kind of a gross visual) and run around and talk to each other and talk on their own little cell phones and tell their friends to come over so they can…well…you get it.

Interestingly, British scientists also discovered that cash machines have similar levels of pseudomonads and bacillus, bacterias which are known to cause sickness and diarrhea, as they found in public toilets. Computer keyboards are also five times dirtier than the average lavatory seat.

And I was thinking pseudomonads were people from Pseudomonadstan and bacillus was standing next to Brutus during the Ides of March Madness.

Here’s the deal: Use a soft cloth lightly dampened with rubbing alcohol to wipe down your phone. Be careful around the charger opening, you don’t want to get liquid inside. Do this a couple of times a week.

So, the next time Bob and Neal (the folks at the office who try to hand you their phone everytime someone tells them a joke) offers you their phone you can say, “Heave off, cretins!! I’ll have none of your pseudomonads and keep your bacillus to yourself!”

Or, something to that effect.

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Washing the Pig

I’m in the middle of completing an onerous task. This is something I don’t want to do, wish I didn’t have to do, goes against all my strengths, hits me in my weaknesses, is NOT fun and has floundered around on my desk, in my head and in my life, not just for days, weeks or months but for a couple of years.

I’d just as soon someone come to my house and give me a beating as do this. In fact, if you’ll come do it I’ll not only pay you to do it I’ll let you beat me afterwards.

And yes, I could pay someone to do it but I have to be the one who completes it.

Worse yet, it is expected to be completed by people I like and respect by 3:30 pm on Friday.

So, at this moment I have 30 ½ hours to finish it.

I’ve used two strategies to keep going: First, I gave the project a funny name. Rather than calling it what it really is I call it, “Washing the pig.” Whenever I think about it or refer to it I talk about washing the pig and how much has been washed. Right now I have the head, back and two legs washed. Coming up is the worst part; washing the butt.

Only a couple of people know about this project and when I talk to them they ask how far along I am with the pig. In fact, I asked them to keep asking about it so I’d continue to keep the challenge in front of me.

Second, I’m doing one little thing at the time. I’ll do a little bit during commercials of a football game or use my iPhone as a timer and work on the project for 15 minutes at a time.

I know, I know, all you grown-ups and tuffies are saying, “Just step up! Be a man! Get it done! Imagine how good you’ll feel when you complete this.”

I did. I am. I will. I won’t.

But, the pig will be washed at 3:30 tomorrow. I can promise you that.

What pig do you need to wash? Can you come up with a better name? Can you take it one small step at a time?

Imagine how good you’ll *%$#@ feel when….mmm….what’s that smell?

Harrumph! It’s pig. I’d better get back to work.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Sign That There Is a God

It was announced yesterday that the reality show, Jersey Shore, has been cancelled.

While I’m sure lots of religious groups are rejoicing because Snooki and The Situation and the other Jersey rednecks are out of jobs, let’s you and me take a higher road.

The cancellation of Jersey Shore shows that we don’t want to stay as stupid as we sometimes act.

There have got to be times that God, in Her infinite wisdom, looks down when we do some of the things we do and asks Herself, “Humans...what was I thinking?”

In fact, we all have moments like that. We do something that we later look back on and ask, “Whyyyyy did I do that?!”

A friend tells me that her philosophy is that we all have crazy stages, we just don’t all go through them at the same time.

That would explain some folks smoking pot in middle school while others buy a red, BMW convertible and run away with the nanny when they’re fifty.

We all go crazy. Forgive yourself, get over it and move on.

As I’ve noted in the past, one of America’s great philosophers, Albert Ashby Ward, said, “Sometimes crazy looks like fun from across the room.”

Let’s hope that next up on the cancellation schedule is that Honey Boo Boo ridiculosity (yes, I just made that word up…a combination of ridiculous and monstrosity).

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Get Up and Clean Up

Welcome back to the real world!

Off and on during Labor Day I cleaned up my email list, desk, computer desktop and the trunk of my car.

I’m a spurt worker; I work more effectively for short, intense chunks of time. I don’t do well working steadily for long periods. So, I used television commercials during football games, short (timed with the stopwatch on my iPhone) bits of time; and interludes between all kinds of activities as ways to get things done.

You know all those petty things that fill your To-Do List and clutter your day? Try my simple strategy and you’ll see lots of that annoying stuff disappear.