Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Comfortable Change

“Changes do not always unfold comfortably.”

I read the above quote this morning in my daily devotional and it exploded in my head like a firecracker.

I’m presenting a program about change four times in the next 60 hours. One of the things I’ll be telling people is that we all want change to be comfortable, easy and lasting.

Unfortunately, that is seldom case.

We all have changes going on in our lives. In fact, if we don’t change we end up as frustrated, rusted versions of who we are now.

I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Well, now ain’t all that bad.” I’m with ya. But, if life stays the same we humans get to a point at which we have a tendency to think, “Ok…is this it?”

There are two schools of thought about change: One group says, “Expect change to be difficult and work through it.” The other bunch answers, “If you expect it to be difficult it will be and it’ll be harder than it should be. Expect it to be smooth, and it will be.”

I’m for this attitude: Plan for challenges as much as you can, enjoy the easy parts, and simply understand that the discomfort is part of the ride.

I’ve got a couple of changes I’m feeling a little squirmy about right now. How about you?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Forgive Me

Are you a forgiver?

Are you that person who—when injured or offended—automatically says and/or thinks, “That’s OK, I forgive you”?

Do you believe that forgiving is a good thing and so you end up feeling bad sometimes because you just…can’t…forgive?

In today’s Wall Street Journal (last section, front page) an excellent article by Elizabeth Bernstein shows that forgiveness may put you on the road to feeling like a doormat.

One study noted that, “people who forgave not-so-nice partners were less happy. People who refused to forgive not-so-nice partners remained happy.”

Conversely, people who forgave nice partners were happy.

Sonja Luubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness and a professor at the University of California, Riverside, explained that there are times when it is appropriate to withhold forgiveness:
-        - You know you want to keep in contact (or must stay in contact, such as a co-worker) and continue having a relationship with the person.
-        - The person is not likely to repeat the specific transgression.
-       -  The person rarely does behaviors like this.

If any of the three criteria are negative you may want to be more judicious when it comes to offering forgiveness.

The article does a great job of explaining the concept of empathy; you’ve probably done things that needed forgiving so you should put yourself in the other person’s shoes. And not forgiving may estrange you from people who, over time, would reestablish trust with you and be important in your life.

But, the main point is that automatically forgiving may not be the best choice for your happiness.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Blowin' Up a Storm

Hurricane Sandy presents a serious threat to the most populous corridor in America.

Combine a fast-moving hurricane with 150-mile an hour, cold, jet-stream winds and a full moon (increases the gravitational pull on waves) and you get a storm seen once in a generation.

If you live in the path of Hurricane Sandy take the necessary precautions to stay safe.

Now that you’ve been warned…try this: Look at life through the same type of lens as you would a hurricane.

If you’re a reasonably intelligent person and you live in the path of a hurricane you would take precautions and, if you can, travel away from the threatened area. The dopes, or the people with few resources, hunker down and try to ride it out

How often do we take the same approach in life? We recognize threats in health, work, relationships, thought processes and sources of joy and we….hunker down and try to ride out the dangers instead of taking precautions and/or moving away from the bad stuff.

We all have hurricanes in our lives. How do we face them?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Short Trip in the Morning

What are you thinking about on the short trip from your vehicle to the front door of your workplace?

Let’s look at this logically; If you’re thinking about all the things that went wrong yesterday, the people who were jerks, the people who will be jerks today and the things that will/might go wrong today what kind of mental state are you in when you reach for the door to walk into work?

Neuroscience is showing that focusing on solutions not problems literally changes the makeup of our brains. It’s called neuroplasticity.

Thinking about solutions instead of problems, and thinking of the problems as challenges, creates a more positive mindset, a more positive attitude

What’s your next solution?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Short Trip In the Night

Last night I woke up and had to make a short trip.

I had that great feeling of having slept deeply and being rested.

When I came back to bed I checked the clock: 12:35 am!!

Really?! I’ve only been asleep for an hour-and-a-half and have 6 more hours to sleep!

What a great feeling!

Here’s the thing…the more you recognize and celebrate the little joys in life the more you experience life as being positive.

The more you experience life as being positive the more likely you feel yourself as being happy.

Happy is good…go for happy.

What simple, everyday experience have you had in the last few minutes that you should appreciate and celebrate?

Monday, October 22, 2012

You've Got to Do What You Do So I Can Do What I Do

I’m sure you know as well as I do that the work world has changed.

One of the biggest changes is that there is more interdependence than there has ever been. One person has to do what they do (hopefully, well) so that you can do what you do.

I discovered this morning that one of the folks with whom I work has not done their job very well…so it’s makes it more difficult for me to do my job.

You may have been in a situation like this. If so, you wonder what your response should be. Do you let it go and hope they do better next time? Do you say something to them about their lapse?

Your response kinda depends on the severity of the lapse, who the person is, how much they might affect your job down the road; a whole variety of factors. And, thinking about and dealing with the situation takes time that, very often, you don’t have to invest in another person’s mistakes.

In short, their mistake is costing you in time, energy (mental and, sometimes, physical), and possibly reputation.

Now, turn the situation around. Doesn’t it make sense to do the best job you can so you don’t cause the same kinds of problems for others? Because hopefully, others will see you as a role model, see you as taking the lead, and want to emulate your behavior

Be the person you want others to be.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Fat Boy at the Fair

Went to the North Carolina State Fair yesterday.

The state fair is an exercise in gluttony and sensory overload. And yes, you have to fight some traffic and some of the people you see make you think, “Holy Moley! Thank God that ain’t me!” and the prizes are cheesy and you bump into folks…but hey, it’s the fair!

Had an ostrich burger, roasted corn, chicken and beef kabob, liver pudding, French fries, fried mushrooms, a falafel and fudge (evidently, the entire “f” foodgroup).

Saw all kinds of people: white, black, red, yellow, green (effects of the various food groups I’m sure), fat, skinny, challenged, old and young.

And yes, when I watched a lot of the crowds I had that feeling of, “How in the name of democracy did we win two world wars and become the greatest nation on Earth?”

Smelled all kinds of fragrances: Sharp, sweet, stinky, dusky, simple and complex.

Did not ride any rides.

Washed our hands in a safety exhibit to see how many germs would be left…I did good…my friend wiped her hands on my shirt.

Heard some great music…musical music…and real life music, the sounds of people and places.

Won a toy throwing darts…needed the help of the vendor to pop one.

Got rained on a little but didn’t melt.

Walked too much.

However, my favorite part of the state fair is seeing the award-winning crafts, foods, animals, toys, and vehicles. I especially like the crafts. Kids win blue ribbons and their parents can say, “Tina won a blue ribbon at the state fair.” It’s something the child will remember the rest of their life.

When I feel the energy and watch the joy on the faces of a lot of the people and see the examples of innovation and industry I understand why we are who we are. I can’t think of anywhere else on Earth I’d rather be.

If you are reading this in North Carolina and haven’t been to the fair you have three more days. If you are in another state and your fair hasn’t happened…go.

See you Monday. Have a great weekened!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ponies, Pennies and Stubbed Toes

Was in a hurry this morning when I left the house. Got 10 miles away and realized that I had forgotten my cellphone.

At this point in human evolution we don’t have our communications devices implanted in our heads (yes, it’s coming) so I had to make the decision to turn around and go back and get the phone.

Most of the way back I was beating myself up for being so dumb. However, not long after I headed back out with the phone I had an epiphany about a project I’m starting to work on. The idea could be so big that it would revolutionize the entire project, make it much more likely to be successful and help me create the finished product in half the time and at higher quality.

And yes, I might have come up with the idea anyway, even if the runaround issue hadn’t happened so that I ended up in the car and thinking for a longer period of time than usual.

But, I’m choosing to see the idea as a silver lining to my cloud of forgetfulness, the seed of success in a moment of failure, the pony in the pile of horse----….ok…you get it.

If you can condition yourself to look for the good in difficult situations you end up with lots more ideas and a less stressful life.

How have you stubbed your toe recently in life and, in looking down at your toe, you discovered a shiny new penny?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chevybird, Yum!

The Red Flower Chinese restaurant in Williamsburg, Ky., was shut down recently for allegedly serving road kill. Health inspector Paul Lawson said it was the craziest thing he’d ever seen. He said, “They didn’t know that they weren’t allowed to.”

Rule 1 in the workplace: Know the rules.
Rule 2 in the workplace: When they catch you screwing up tell’em you didn’t know the rules.
Rule 3….don’t order the Number 7 Special.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Jump From Heaven

On Sunday, Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner, 43, said, “It’s time to go home,” and stepped off the platform of his capsule at 129,000 feet, 24 miles above Earth.

Wearing a specially-designed, pressurized suit, Baumgartner reached 834 miles-an-hour, becoming the first human to break the sound barrier without being in a plane or rocket. In a standard skydive terminal speed for an adult—the fastest speed possible considering weight and gravity—is 120 miles-per-hour.

According to the Associated Press Baumgartner's accomplishment came on the 65th anniversary of the day U.S. test pilot Chuck Yeager became the first person to officially break the sound barrier in a jet. Yeager, in fact, commemorated his feat on Sunday, flying in the back seat of an F-15 Eagle as it broke the sound barrier at more than 30,000 feet above California's Mojave Desert.

Baumgartner, known as “Fearless Felix” in Austria, trained for seven years to make the jump which was supposed to be made last summer. He was delayed a number of times due to high winds, damage to the capsule which occurred during two practice jumps from 15 and 19 miles up, and a bout of claustrophobia suffered when he began practicing in the small capsule and tight suit.

After landing he told reporters, “You have to get really high up to realize how small we are.”

The project, called Red Bull Stratos, was sponsored by the energy drink company which refused to divulge the total cost of the project. Red Bull enlisted the help of NASA and variety of private corporations to create the largest balloon ever made, the special suit and the capsule.

Baumgartner broke the record of Joe Kittinger, a former Air Force colonel who jumped from 19 miles high in the mid-60s. Kittinger, now 84, worked in the Red Bull Stratos project as advisor and capsule communicator. His voice was the only voice Baumgartner heard while rising to jump altitude and stepping out on the platform.

Whether jumping from 24 miles high or raising good kids or going the extra mile in the workplace we can all do great things.

Baumgartner and Kittinger are simply examples of the figurative and literal heights to which humans can rise.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The 1000th Blog

Today is the 1000th blog for The Perfect Workday.

Thanks for reading!

Started the blog in 2008. Lots has happened since then.

In the last four years there have been victories and setbacks, celebrations and licking-wounds, peace and confusion, joy and sadness.

There are lots of quotes saying we learn more from defeat than success, but I think you’d agree the successes sure are more fun, more profitable and easier to take.

As the cliché goes, “It is what it is,” or “It was what it was.”

I wouldn’t want to go back through the last four years

However, I’ve been thinking a lot about the time and I believe I’ve learned some important lessons. I’m going to take the victories of the last 48 months and expand on them.

Take a moment and remember some of the wins of your last four years—great or small—and expand on them.

You are not your defeats. They were simply bumps in the road and bumps are going to appear when you’re living your life and not someone else’s.

As says my favorite quote, “There is only one success, to be able to spend your life in your own way.” (Englishman Philip Marley)

Thanks again for reading.

Have a great 1,000th day!

Friday, October 12, 2012

It's a Game! Yaaaaay!

Yesterday I experienced my first fire drill since the early ‘70s when someone phoned in a bomb threat during an exam in college.

I was at a community college and the drill was planned so I knew it was coming. I was walking through the parking lot a classroom building when the alarm went off.

People started streaming out of the building and the differences in facial expressions were amazing.

Lots of the folks had a ticked-off, annoyed look like they were smelling something bad. A few had a, sweet!-I’m-out-of-the-office look.

The best expressions were from a group of mentally-challenged adults. They have a class in the building every day and almost every one of them had a huge smile like they were thinking it’s a game! Yaaaaay!!

I watched some of the employees watching the group and I could tell that some of the folks felt sorry for the challenged group.

But, I started imagining a what if?….what if some of the challenged group was watching the workers and thinking, “Why do you people look so sad and annoyed? You get to come here and play games and have fun with your friends in this beautiful building on a beautiful day!”

What if?

What if we looked at work like that? We get to hang out with our friends and play games and create and compete and have fun and accomplish stuff and celebrate and go home and tell our family about it and then get up and do it all over again the next day!

What if?

Monday will be my 1000th blog. Thanks for reading. See you then.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mirror, Mirror

On Monday I was exchanging family members with dementia stories with a good friend.

Now, don’t give me that, “Awwwww, I can’t believe you’d do that!” comment. If you don’t keep some sort of sense of humor about all this it’ll kill your soul.

Anyway, my friend is telling me about being 13 and staying with her grandparents. Her grandfather was a big’ole guy who suffered from dementia.

One day grandpa was walking up and down the hall and stops in front of the mirror…and starts talking to the image in the mirror as if it’s another person; just carrying on a one-sided conversation.

My friend was standing down the hall watching grandpa when she saw him lean forward and say, “You know, you are an attractive fellow.”

We both cracked up.

Later, I was thinking, “How many of us have conversations with ourselves in our minds and the conversations aren’t very positive?” Most research shows that over half of our thoughts are of a negative nature. And, that’s not good for our mental health.

Try this somewhat silly experiment…in private. Stand in front of a mirror and look yourself in the eyes as you would another person…and hold it for thirty seconds. If you can do it, hold it for a minute.

What, and who, do you see? Once you get by the, “I see wrinkles or spots or I need to cut my nose hair,” look upon yourself more kindly; as you would see a friend.

Cut yourself some slack.

Now have a talk with yourself.

“Hey, how ya’ doin?”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Success On the Back of Your Hand

Russell Wilson, the former star at NC State and Wisconsin is now the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.

On Sunday he led the Seahawks to a victory over the Carolina Panthers.

During the game, and especially during the rally at the end that led them victory, he kept looking at his wrist. Before every game Wilson writes a word that is the focus of the day for him.

The word on Sunday was Poise.

“Today was poise,” said Wilson. “No matter what’s going on in the game, bring that to the table, bring that to our offense.”

What if we did that in our work/personal lives? We would have a word-of-the-day or thought-of-the-day? Lots of coaches do it to keep players focused.

The word might be anything: poise, focus, dream, innovate, time, share, help, organize, communicate.

What would be your word for today?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Working In Tribute

A friend of a friend does Elvis impersonations.

Well, he doesn't call them impersonations or imitations...he calls them "tributes."

From what I've heard he's really good; so good that women of a certain age swoon at his...mmm...tribute.

So, here's the question: With whom have you worked who was professional enough, effective enough, good enough that you would want to work as a tribute to that person?

You can call them a role model or standard if you like.

If you've had someone like that in your life, you're fortunate. If you can't quickly think of someone keep trying. I'm betting there's been a teacher, coach, manager, co-worker, family member, friend or someone you've encountered who impressed you with their work ethic.

To whom would you work in tribute?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Which Way, Kimosabi?

I’m sure it’s just me, but I’ve seen another sign that the Apocalypse is close.

No, it wasn’t the debate last night. And yes, they could have put one of those coin-operated fortune-telling machines in moderator Jim Lehrer’s chair and it would have had about as much effect.

The sign that our civilization is on the fast train to Hellsville is this: Disney is producing a new Lone Ranger movie and Tonto is being played by…Johnny Depp.

Now, you have to understand, I like Depp. His take on the pirate in the three Caribbean movies was great, especially since he used Keith Richards as the model (no kidding, he said it).

But, puhleeeeze…Johnny Depp as Tonto?!

Jay Silverheels has got to be spinning in his grave.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Feet First

Tom Willis, 53, was born without arms so he’s taught himself to carry out everyday tasks with his feet.

Last week he threw out the first pitch at a major league baseball game in Chicago. In fact, he’s now thrown out the first pitch at 18 major league stadiums and has a goal of doing the same in all 30 MLB stadiums.

Nine of his pitches have been strikes.

Whenever I hear something like this I look in the mirror and ask, “What are you complaining about?”

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Reward Yourself

Champions give themselves rewards.

Long before we may see the trophies, medals and ribbons, and hear the award speeches champions are giving themselves little rewards as they train and sharpen their skills.

Rewards are for “little wins.”

In our work lives we seldom have someone standing beside us to pat us on the back when we turn in a report on time or early, deal with a difficult customer or pass up the buffet we usually have. Those are the times we need to reward ourselves.

As you get little or big wins in life give yourself rewards.

Don’t wait and wonder about the rewards. Take a moment and jot down a list of ten little and big rewards you’d like to have.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Grasp the Handle

A line in my morning devotional reading jumped off the page at me.

“There is nothing more unsettling than an idea that must be worked out.”

I’m sure there are folks who are able to say, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow,” like Gone With the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara, but unfortunately, I’m not one of them. Sometimes an idea, a thought, a feeling grabs me and just won’t let go. I’m sure some of you are like that.

A friend who’s a good bit more spiritual than I would offer that it’s God, The Infinite Being, The Divine Reality or the wind (Mother Nature) sending a message.

Another friend…not quite so spiritual…would attribute the ongoing feeling to gas. I can hear him now, “Yeah, brutha, a little more fiber in your diet would clear that attitude right up!”

Whatever it is it’s an issue that must be resolved before I, or you, can continue to move ahead in life.

Sometimes we can bull our way through the situation, make a choice and move on. Other times it seems best to sit back, let the situation play out for awhile to see what happens (maybe the situation will decide itself), and then move ahead.

I keep coming around to Thomas Jefferson’s advice, “Take things always by the smooth handle.”

Sometimes we make things harder on ourselves than we should.