Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Call a Truce

 Yesterday, while panicking about not having my Christmas shopping done (have you seen the parking at the mall?!!!) I was listening to the radio and a short story came on about an incident during WWI at holiday time.

Here's the story according to Wikipedia: "The Christmas truce was a series of widespread, unofficial ceasefires that took place along the Western Front around Christmas 1914, during World War I. Through the week leading up to Christmas, parties of German and British soldiers began to exchange seasonal greetings and songs between their trenches; on occasion, the tension was reduced to the point that individuals would walk across to talk to their opposite numbers bearing gifts. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, many soldiers from both sides—as well as, to a lesser degree, from French units—independently ventured into "no man's land", where they mingled, exchanging food and souvenirs. As well as joint burial ceremonies, several meetings ended in carol-singing. Troops from both sides were also friendly enough to play games of soccer with one another.

If soldiers at war can call a truce you and I can take a step back from wishing some of our crazy relatives or acquaintances would step out in front of a bus.

Hey, it’s Christmas. Give it a rest.

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Test Tubes With Egg Nog

Christmas functions are like little laboratories. There are all kinds of subjects and experiments going on if you’ll simply keep your senses running wide open.

Last night I noticed a couple of interesting subjects. 

There were the standers and starers; the people who stood around with a drink, didn’t speak unless spoken to and simply stared at the people are moving around the party. Standers and starers are often the most interesting people at a party, they simply need someone to step up and draw them out.

There were the hummingbirds; folks who spoke to everyone for a short while, tried a little of each type of food, stayed a short while and then zoomed out the door.

As usual, there were squatters. I always find the squatters interesting. They find one place to sit or stand and hold court. Most are wonderfully communicative, but if you don’t approach their territory you’ll never meet or greet them. Some even have spouses or friends who bring them food so they don’t have to move.

Finally, there are the kindred spirits. They like people, they like the subjects and they want to be part of the experiments. Depending on how they experience the experiments they seem like bumper cars or a long-lost brother/sister.

This is the time of year for holiday functions. Which type of subject are you?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Four Tips That Let You Forget Holiday Health Rules

This is the weekend we all get serious about the holidays so I’m going to offer some holiday health/life advice you won’t get from anyone else.

Starting at 5 pm today, to heck with diets, nutrition tips, worrying about weight…all of it. Unless something you might do between now and January 2 is absolutely going to have a dramatically negative impact on your health (as in, your doctor told you not to do it or it’ll cause your meds to go crazy) just don’t worry about it.

Eat and drink what you want, stay out late, sleep in, eat and drink more of what you want, take a cab home, PARTY ON!!, don’t work out, smoke cigars, chew tobacco, don’t cut your toenails, have LOTS of sex if possible (and if not possible, think about it a lot) watch a Wives of Lumberton marathon and eat and drink everything you want.

You know, you only live once and you’ve got the rest of the year to recover.

Here are four ways to dial the damage level back for the next two weeks:
-        Drink water by the gallons. No kidding, make yourself drink a gallon of water a day. Low hydration is what really hammers us during hangovers. Also, lots of water means frequent trips to the loo which you can count as exercise, the trips allow you to make new friends and you keep seeing yourself in the mirror which allows you to do frequent damage assessment.

-        Buy Antacids. The more trash you push through your Alimentary Canal the more heartburn you’ll probably encounter so you might as well head it off at the pass…mmm…so to speak. Plan ahead and buy the multi-tube pack.

-        Take naps. Your hedonic-gluttonous marathon puts a lot of strain on your body so take any opportunity to cut your human vehicle some slack and let it rest up for the next bout of shots/cinnamon cake/whoopy.

-        Be Nice. This is expected at the holidays anyway so if you tend to be a jerk the rest of the year you’re going off the rails and fooling people for two weeks. Also, binging like this for two weeks means that sometime during the holidays you’ll need a friend; someone to drive you home/help you clean up what you spilled/hold your head/keep someone you WEREN’T nice to from smacking you. Being nice makes friends, even for the short-term.

Running wide open for two weeks is not easy, I can tell you that from experience. On January 2 you’ll feel like a meat sack that’s been tossed off a delivery truck.

But, it’s fun and life being what it is you might not get another chance to do it.

The best part is that you get to wake up on the morning of January 2, look in the mirror and say, “Gosh, I’ve really let myself go! I need to get my act together.” And you’ll have clear evidence that you do.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Goodbye Apps

The app world is so interesting that we often download work/games/personal/productivity apps with the best intentions.

"This is great! I'll use/play/consult this every day!"

And, then we don't.

And, the apps take up space and power and attention better used elsewhere.

Try this: About 15 seconds from now, when you've finished reading this blog, delete a few apps.

If you don't know how to delete icons on your device simply search, "How do I delete icons on a ________?" The few seconds it takes to learn this simple skill will pay big dividends as time goes by.

Get rid of unused apps/icons. They are distracting time wasters.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wind, Sand, History

About this time of day 110 years ago a couple of bicycle mechanics from Ohio, the Wright brothers, Wilbur and Orville, were pushing their flyer out on the sand at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

A few hours later they accomplished what no one else had, powered flight.

Last weekend the Chinese landed a robot rover on the surface of the Moon.

As humans we keep forgetting that we are capable of amazing feats. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

I Should Have Listened

In a recent discussion with a friend I confessed that I’d been pretty stupid and immature at times as a young man. I know some of you who are long-term friends and/or acquaintances find that surprising.

I look back now on some of my actions and inactions and, to be honest, I’m embarrassed and regretful.

(I always believe that people who say, “I have no regrets” just didn’t push the envelope far enough or they have no conciences)

Shoot, I’m regretful for things I did and said last week but that’s another story. My contention is that if you are going to actually LIVE (an active verb) you’re going to do some things that you eventually look back on and ask, “Can I get a do-over?”

Anyway, my point to my friend was that there were times in my past when people more mature than I tried to point out that I might not be taking a path that would turn out best for me; they tried to give me good advice. And I rarely listened, but at least I heard an alternative.

Her belief is that you have to let people live their lives and find their own ways.

The older I get the more I believe that depending on your relationship with the person you go ahead and offer the suggestion/advice and give them the opportunity to take it or not. 

Maybe I’m actually getting to the point in life at which I understand that others have gone before me and might have wisdom to share.

The path you are suggesting might be something that never occurred to them. Or, they weren’t aware that what they were doing was leading them to a less-than-positive outcome.

Granted, you have to pick your stances and pick your battles. And yes, others might not see your suggestion as wisdom; they might see it as meddling.

 I guess I’d rather be in the position of them saying/feeling, “Mind your own business,” rather than “I had no idea. Why didn’t you tell me?”

Friday, December 13, 2013

Think How?

Today is Friday the 13th and I’m presenting my last seminar for 2013 and believe me, the irony that the program is titled “Positivity” has not escaped me.

The key to positivity is to increase the quantity of small, positive experiences. Doing so raises our level of positive feeling.

Raising our level of positive feeling has been shown to improve health, make us more confident and improve our quality of life.

A wonderful example of positivity is the simple fact that I get to present a program like Positivity.

What 3 things will you do today that are positive? If you do’em I promise you’ll get a little bump in positive feeling. Do that enough and that little bump starts turning into a general feeling that things aren’t as tough as you might think.

Science is showing that the old talk about “think positive” really does has a therapeutic effect...it may even be able to offset Friday the 13th.

Have a great weekend and see you Monday.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Don't Stop

“Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been attained, progress stops.” Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Singing "Moves Like Jagger", "Strip" Darts and Balancing a Cheeto On Your Nose

This is a great week! My last seminar for the year is Friday and The Perfect Workday Company Christmas party is Friday night.

More than likely the party will be the usual celebration with a whole range of food (some of which will end up on the floor and clothes), rum and beer consumed, cigars smoked, lots of loud talking and laughing and REALLY loud music.

And I’ll be the only one in attendance.

Having a one-person company is, in many ways, very different from working in an organization with a few or many employees.

One of the different areas is etiquette. I don’t really worry if I show up in the office wearing cammo bedroom slippers, torn boxer shorts and the University of Hell T-shirt Elaine brought back to me from the Bahamas.

If you show up to work in the same outfit I doubt the welcome would be the same…but then, you never know.

This is the time of year business holiday parties—yours and clients/friends—get cranked up. And while my company party will be a singular affair, yours probably won't be.

Here are three tips from someone who did not handle the party scene very well early in their career, but figured it out pretty quickly.
Tip #1: Have a plan. Enter the party smiling, find the host and thank them for the invite (maybe even take a small gift), have one drink and then start drinking water/soda/coffee, have a little food (keep checking your teeth for specks and watch out for garlic), touch base with a few people and then leave the party after a couple of hours.
Tip #2: Stick to the plan. Holiday business parties are not parties they are tests, I don’t care what folks tell you. Try this…If you had a choice first thing on Monday morning which question would you rather answer: “Why’d you leave so early Friday night, the party was just getting wild?” Or, “HEY! YOU WERE OFF THE CHAIN ON FRIDAY NIGHT HAVE YOU SEEN THE YOUTUBE?!!” Google Drunks on video and get an idea of what your coworkers might see if you don't follow the plan.
Tip #3: Send a thank you note to the host. So few people will do this that the host/hostess will save the thank you note and show it around. And you’ll look like a champ.

I’ll say it again. Holiday parties are tests whether they are held in an office, your neighbors’ homes or the restaurant down the street.

Finally, a few last minute suggestions: Don’t gossip, you’ll hear it on Monday morning in the staff meeting; don’t show any tattoos; don’t sing unless everyone else does (and then it’s better to just mouth the words), don’t participate in any activity that starts with the word “strip”; don’t be the one who tells the boss what she/he “really needs to know”; don’t be the one to tell the woman in accounting that her make-up makes her look like a clown; don’t be the one who wins the “shots” game; and don’t drive home if you didn’t follow the plan.

I’m just sayin’.

Monday, December 9, 2013

How Foggy Is It?

There’s lots of fog here in North Carolina this morning.

Fog is a type of meteorological confusion. The air doesn’t know if it wants to be hot or cold. And, because of the confusion the air doesn’t know if it wants to be wet or dry.

We all have foggy times of life. We don’t know if we want to be happy or sad, in love or out, serious or silly.

What do we do in foggy times if we’re driving? We slow down a little, get our bearings, be aware of who and what is around us, turn on the wipers.

Sometimes the fog is so bad we have to pull over and stop for a little while and wait for the fog to lift enough for us to continue on our way.

Fog isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. It becomes a problem if we don’t respect it and know how to handle it.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The One Thing

This weekend someone you care about is likely to look at you and offer the wonderful/dreaded holiday question: “What do you want for Christmas?”

Here’s an easy answer: Tell’em you want THE ONE THING, a book by Gary Keller (Keller-Williams Real Estate) and Jay Papasan.

I’m almost through it and it’s one of the best tools I’ve encountered in awhile.

The basic theme is a question: What is the ONE THING I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

Keller and Papasan offer a variety of exercises to help readers focus on the ONE THING (their CAPS).

One of my main takeaways is that we all need to figure out what our big ONE THING is (our purpose) and what our small ONE THING is (the thing we need to be doing right now so we get closer to succeeding at the big thing).

For instance, if your big ONE THING is to matter in peoples’ lives what small ONE THING can you do today to matter in one person’s life.

If your big ONE THING is financial security your small ONE THING might be to make the calls necessary to sell whatever your product or service might be.

The small ONE THING is what we need to focus on first thing every day. Understanding that keeps us focused.

THE ONE THING has become one of those books I’m marking up like crazy. In fact, the authors underline some of the best thoughts in a way that looks like you underlined them yourself, which is kinda cool.

Have someone give you THE ONE THING for Christmas and you’ll be thanking them by Valentine’s Day.

Have a great weekend! See you Monday.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What If This Is True?

Every time I read the quote below from Marianne Williamson I think, “What if this is true?”

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

From: A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hedonna What?!

Good morning, class! Today we’ll learn a new phrase that can make you happier, healthier, smarter and….MIKE!!! STOP TALKING TO DAVID, TURN AROUND AND SIT UP! IF YOU DON’T STOP TALKING IN CLASS YOU LITTLE BRAT I’M GOING TO TEAR YOU A…..ahem…now…let’s get back to our lesson.

Today’s new phrase is, hedonic adaptation.

Hedonic means characterized or related to pleasure.

Simply put, hedonic adaptation means that we get adapted to, get used to, begin to take for granted, good things and we don’t appreciate and enjoy them as much as we did when we first attained them.

The current issue of Psychology Today notes a study in the journal, Social, Psychological and Personality Science, that offers four strategies for helping us continue to appreciate the good things in life.

-        Give it up. Jordi Quoidbach, one of the study’s authors suggests using a temporary-deprivation strategy for reappreciating everything from chocolate to sex.
-        Take a break. This sounds like the suggestion above, but Quoidbach suggests stopping the activity and restarting a little later. Stop in the middle of a television show you like and come back to it in a few hours or the next day. Take multiple short trips instead of one long vacation so you don’t have time to adjust to the vacation lifestyle.
-        Relish amateur status. If you are really good at something or you’ve been doing it a long time it’s easy to get jaded. Try to go back to the feelings/places/mindset/people/situations you were in when you first started.
-        Revisit your life without. Sonya Lyubomirsky, author of The Myths of Happiness, says we should picture our lives without the thing we’ve come to take for granted. How does the picture look? How do you feel about the loss?

BONUS PHRASE: Psychologists talk about habituating to happiness, essentially the same thing as hedonic adaptation. The thing/activity/person/feeling that made us happy becomes a habit…and we take it for granted.

Take a little break. Imagine your life without the thing/activity/person/feeling. Chances are that it won’t take long before you miss it and want it back. And when you get it back you’ll appreciate it a little more.

Just don’t forget that this is an ongoing process so it might not be a bad idea to plan for little breaks every now and then.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Which Direction?

Life gives us the information we need when we need it if we’ll simply pay attention. 

The older I get the more I believe this to be true.

The Buddhists say, “When the student is ready, the teacher shall appear.”

I just opened a book looking for something and two quotes fell out, “One decision can change your whole life,” and “Every path leads in two directions.”

Here’s my interpretation: Every decision has the potential to change your life for the better or the worse.

The problem is that we often don’t know which direction we’ve taken until we are a good ways down the path.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Death Threats and Stepping Into the Arena

Whether you’re a college football fan or not, hang with me on this one….

If you aren’t a college football fan you may have spent Saturday raking leaves or shopping or watching The History of Wedgewood China on PBS.

If you ARE a college football fan you couldn’t have missed the most exciting finish of a college football game anyone has seen…ever.

Alabama/Auburn game. Tied, 28-28. One second to go. Freshman kicker Adam Griffith to try a 57-yard field goal for the Alabama win. Auburn return man, Chris Davis, is waiting in the endzone in case the kick is short and he can try a runback.

If you want a great view of what happened go to:

Since it’s been all over the news this is not a spoiler; the kick is short and Davis returns it 109 yards for the win.

Here’s the point, though: Adam Griffith is receiving death threats on Twitter…after missing a kick…in a college football game.

If your life is so devoid of meaning that the outcome of a football game causes you to threaten a college freshman’s life then, in the game of lifetime musical chairs, when the music stops I’m thinking you’re one of the ones left standing.

Griffith and Davis won’t have to remember last Saturday night for the rest of their lives, other people will remind them…for the rest…of their lives.

In 1991, Florida State kicker Gerry Thomas missed a 34-yard potential game-winner against Miami causing thousands of fans and sportscasters to stick FSU with the name Wide Right University. Thomas not only received death threats but his fellow students razzed him so badly on campus that he left FSU and transferred to another school.

Everyone makes mistakes and has failures, some with bigger consequences than others. Most of the time, the people giving those who failed a hard time are people who don’t have the courage to try. As President Theodore Roosevelt would say, they are people not willing to step into the arena.

Friday, November 29, 2013

One Month

Whatever you’re doing this morning—recuperating, going to work as usual, sleeping in, getting ready to rake the leaves—you have just as much time until the end of the year as the rest of us.

So, what will you do with it?

Remember a year ago when you started coming up with those New Year’s resolutions? Or, you may be one of those folks who don’t make resolutions because you don’t want to break’em.

That’s fine.

The question is still, “You have a little over a month until the end of the year, what will you do with it?”

Pick one thing. Pick one short-term, relatively easy-to-reach goal and go for it. End the year on a positive note.

See you Monday. Have a big weekend and, if you’re venturing out, don’t let the stores make you crazy.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Friday...Bring It On!!

Yesterday on FaceBook I sent out a request for suggestions about how to deal with poor customer service when shopping during the holidays. I asked that folks understand that during the holidays we’re in a hurry and stressed. Here are the Top Ten best tips:

1.     Is it you? If you’re already in a stressed or angry mood—for whatever reason—you’re more likely to let a service glitch crank you up. So, check yourself first.

2.     Be Nice. Lots of folks offered this. Service people run into so many folks who are suffering from #1 so you being nice is a breath of fresh air for them.

3.     Be Nice #2. Thank’em First. Start off the encounter by smiling and thanking them for their help. This unexpected bit of Southern Charm, as Katherine Culbreth Martin calls it, sets a positive mood and leads to…

4.     You Be the Powerful One. Donnie Douglas says that allowing another person’s service to affect your mood/experience/day is surrendering a lot of power. You’re the one with the power. However, forget the one-upsmanship game. That’s not about power, that’s about ego and ego doesn’t get the job done.

5.     Ask for the Manager. A number of folks suggested this. It works if the manager can get to you quickly and make a decision. If not…

6.     Forget the Manager and Move On. You don’t have time for a United Nations discussion. Complaining on the spot makes things worse and you really won’t feel better. The Christmas shopping experience is all about what happens in that moment. Move on. Go somewhere else…even if it’s to another employee in the same department.

7.     The Waiting Game. If you are too busy or lazy or uncoordinated to wrap your own presents you’ll be waiting. Russ Seagle suggested stashing a book in your pocket or purse to give you something to do during the wait.

8.     Make a List and Check it Twice. Don’t be too picky. No matter what you might believe there is rarely ONE PERFECT PRESENT for the 20 percent of your list that really matters. Have a couple of options for your important people. Not being able to find that one perfect present cranks your stress level higher. For the 80 percent for whom you need to buy SOMETHING go with a generic gift (candy, book, gift card) that’s easy to find and buy a bunch of them.

9.     Give Yourself Rewards. Tell yourself that after this stop you’ll have a cup of coffee and a doughnut, a beer, do something fun, sit down and rest…whatever seems positive. Too often, shopping turns into some kind of Bataan Deathmarch. Break the experience up into short missions.

10.  Here’s the best one…as you’re talking to the person who is being difficult visualize the phrase “POOPY PANTS” tattooed on their forehead. The tactic will make you smile, give you a feeling of power, they’ll wonder what you’re smiling about and it makes the experience much more positive. But remember, don’t YOU act in a manner such that the service person is seeing “POOPY PANTS” on YOUR forehead.

Happy Shopping!