Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Body Challenge

Recently, some folks in my gym recruited me onto their team for a 90-day body challenge competition. It started simply. One person caught me leaving the gym and said, “Hey, you should try this with us.”

The challenge is one of those events where the team that loses the most pounds or most inches or largest percentage of bodyfat wins.

Now let’s be honest…I’ve got about as challenging a body as you can get. Throw a red sportcoat on me and stand me on a corner and a firetruck is likely to try and attach a hose to me.

Weigh-in is Saturday so I’m eating like a starving convict. Weight quickly gained can be quickly lost so I’m taking advantage of gluttony as long as I can.

I’ve been in and out of gyms for over 40 years and this is the first competition like this I’ve ever been involved in. I don’t see me going on a strictly chicken breast and water diet for the next 3 months but I’ve got a feeling the beer/ice cream/baklava binge I’ve been on this summer is coming to an end. I might not help the team but I don’t want to hurt it.

Sometimes you need an experience that shakes up your life and points you to a goal.

Sometimes the shake-up starts with a simple invitation.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Do or Do Not

The other day someone told me they would try one of the tips I offered in a seminar.

Whenever I hear someone use the word try I think of the one quote I remember from all the Star Wars movies. It came in the first one. Yoda is talking with Luke Skywalker and when Luke says he’ll try Yoda replies, “Do or do not, there is not try.”

So often, when we think about trying we make a half-hearted effort.

Do or do not, there is not try.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Question Yourself

“We can only change, grow and improve in areas where we acknowledge that we need to improve.” John C. Maxwell

This morning I made the last of three follow-up calls to a group for which I did some management training.

In each case I offered, “Is there an area of your work you’d like to improve? Tell me what it is and I’ll track down some information that will help you.”

Three of the eight people in the group have taken me up on my offer and have received information that, if they implement it, will make them more successful, more professional and more valuable—more employable.

Now, think about that: What if someone called you and offered to be your information scout, to seek out information you could turn into knowledge that might make you more successful? You don’t have to pay them anything, the service is already paid for.

If I called you right now and made the same offer what would you tell me? Would you do as three people did and take me up on the offer? Or, would you do what five people did and say, “No, I’m fine.”

Too few of us are willing to do a self-examination and identify areas of improvement. And, of the few who are willing to identify areas that need improvement even fewer are willing to seek out the answers that strengthen the weaknesses.

Where do you need to improve? How can you do it?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Time Yourself

Using a simple baking timer or the timer on your phone is a great way to create urgency when getting less-than-fun jobs, big projects, and multi-step tasks done.

Set the timer to fifteen minutes and start your task. When the alarm goes off you get to quit if you like.

Lots of folks find that by the time the alarm sounds they’ve built some momentum and can continue on and get the task done. Others see that they’ve at least gotten a start on the task and can continue it or get another chunk done later.

Have a great weekend! See you Monday.

PS…this is the last weekend of July…the summer is 2/3 over. If you aren’t having any fun yet you’d better get crackin’!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bi-Coastal Magic

Whew! The last eight days have kinda been a blur. San Francisco last week and Wrightsville Beach this week.

It was fun, though, to see the Pacific on Sunday and then, within 48 hours, to be sticking a toe in the Atlantic.

The technology that allows us to quickly and easily move our thoughts, voices and bodies across vast distances still amazes me. As the writer and futurist Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

During the next two weeks I’ll be creating two new websites (you’ll start seeing this blog on one of them), putting a video and an e-book on, changing the hosting for my email and making better use of some of the technological tools I have.

To me, all of that is magic. I have only minimal knowledge today about how to do it. But, with the help of the folks at and some other professionals the tasks will—at the end of two weeks—seem easier than I envision them to be right now.

Consider the fact that the computing power we have in the cell phones we use is literally thousands of times more powerful than the computers used in the manned Apollo capsules we sent to the moon.

It’s crazy not to use that power if it will help us be more efficient and effective.

Try to learn one new technology trick every week. The cumulative power of what you’ll learn will be…magical.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Rock

Spent the last five days in San Francisco and presented a change program for a group from Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals.

I can’t imagine a bigger change than going to prison.

We spent an afternoon on Alcatraz while in San Francisco and it was a sobering experience. The majority of the cells are 5’x9’, barely big enough for an average-sized man to do a pushup on the floor. Inmates got the basics; food, clothing, medical attention and a cell. Everything else was a privilege.

And the phrase, The Rock, is no simple label. Alcatraz is built on a rock island in San Francisco harbor. The wind blows wildly and constantly. In the middle of summer it’s cold and wet and although winters in San Francisco are relatively mild The Rock is still a nasty place to spend much time.

The guide told us that on New Year’s Eve the sounds of parties—music and people laughing—could be heard from across the bay.

Here’s my point: We all get down on ourselves for doing or not doing a variety of things in life. But…hey…you’re probably not going to prison for any of those things and you certainly aren’t going to Alcatraz…so, lighten up on yourself.

The best thing about Alcatraz…we could get on a boat and leave.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bye! I'm Gone On Vacation!

After writing the blog on Monday about not being able to fully relax on a vacation I was interested to see an article in this week’s Time magazine about that topic.

One point in the article made a lot of sense. If you are going on a vacation you should spend some time thinking about:
1.     Who should know about projects you’re working on (what if you get hit by a bus?)
2.     How much contact your boss wants you to have with the office during the vacation (They may get antsy if they don’t believe you can be easily reached)
3.     How much contact you want to have with the office (you may get antsy that they can do without you)

Yes, it would be nice if you could just wave at’em from the door with a “see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya!” smile and head out on vacation, but the dynamics have changed.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Is a Vacation Simply Work-Lite?

Today is my first day back from my first vacation of the year. I have some weeks in the next few months that I’ll be taking off, but the last two weeks have been the first good-sized chunks of time I haven’t been presenting seminars.

But, I don’t feel like I’ve been on vacation; at least I don’t feel like I think I’m supposed to feel, rested and ready to jump into new challenges.

I’ved ended up just like a lot of you. I feel anxious that I haven’t been working on the stuff that’s been flying around in my head.

For the last two weeks, whenever I had a work-oriented thought I’d say to myself, “Ok, you’re supposed to be on vacation so don’t think about work, think about something vacationy.” Then I’d go try and read some fiction or work out or drink a beer.

Sometimes I’d say, “Stop it!” out loud to try and get myself to listen, but it rarely worked.

I bet I’ve spent waaaaay over half my time thinking about work I have coming up.

In the past when I’d actually take a vacation and not do any work or work-related activities I’d have a very difficult time getting back up to speed when I got back to work.

So, it looks like it’s a trade-off. Either I vacation half-way and get some work/planning done (which I have to admit is fun since I love what I do) and realize I simply can’t take what folks describe as a “vacation,” or I simply realize that vacation time is kinda like work-lite. Sounds the same doesn’t it?

What’s your strategy, tactic or tip? How do you let go of work—or do you—and come back all refreshed and ready to jump on new challenges?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Running Around In the Rain

Sitting here looking out at another grey day and I’ve got the folks on CBS and my local channel telling me there’s more rain coming. I’m thinking of who my heart goes out to….

Parents who are trapped in a house with kids!!

Here’s a thought: If you don’t hear thunder or see lightning let’em go play in the rain. They’ll love it, it’s like walking around in a pool, and all you have to do is have a bunch of towels and some dry clothes at the door or in the garage.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked, run, biked and swam in the rain. It’s a delight! If you’ve never ducked your head underwater in a lake or pool in the middle of a heavy rainstorm and heard that roar of the rain on the surface you haven’t lived.

Take a walk in the rain and you’ll be amazed at the sense of freedom you get (and yes, the more cynical will say, “And the sense of wet”).

Here’s the thing: In subtle ways we see rain as something that keeps us inside and limits our lives. We make the decision to let that happen.

Some folks don’t have a choice about staying inside or not. Postal carriers, police foot patrols, power line repair personnel and the military often have no choice about operating in the rain.

But, most of us do.

Step out the door into the rain and you are making a choice to be the initiator in your life. That sounds kind of la-de-da but it’s the truth. Step out into the rain and you’ll discover one less thing that limits your life.

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

PS. You know all that stuff about how walking in the rain will make you sick. Not true. If that worries you, simply bundle up and you’ll be fine.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lil' Squash Blossom

Every morning when I get the paper one of the first things I read is the “Birthdays” section. It’s on the back of the front page and right above “Today In History,” another favorite.

While on vacation I’m spending more time than usual on the less serious parts of the paper and watching too much television.

In this morning’s paper I discovered that today is the birthday of rappers Lil’ Kim (38) and Lil’ Zane (31).

For all I know about rap the “Lil’” could be part of a name like “El” is for a lot of folks in the Mid-East. Out of curiosity I checked Wikipedia to learn about the two musicians and during my research I got to thinking, “Do I need a new name?”

“Lil’ Mike” sounds a little too…mmm...plain. “Lil’ Loudmouth from Lumberton” or “Chapel Hill Chatterbox” are too long and the whole, “Lil’” and “Loudmouth” just don’t seem to go together.

I could add “Lil’” to some of the things I’ve been called by various people in arguments of varying intensities but, well, some of those descriptions shouldn’t be used in public, much less in the media.

Then, a friend who’s trying her hand at gardening came up with a great combination that has a musical sound, is non-threatening, and could be used until I take the last train home (Lil’ Kim will sound kind of silly when she’s 80).

Lil’ Squash Blossom!

I know, I know, the silliness factor is pretty high, but that kinda fits. And hey, who doesn’t like squash and there’s a positive expectation about blossoming!

Look for Lil’ Squash Blossom T-shirts, coffee cups, key chains, phone apps, ringtones and bumper stickers. CD can be downloaded from

Now, enough with the silliness: In 1798, the United States Marine Corps was created.

First in. Last out.

We can’t say, “Thank You,” enough. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vacation Tip

Vacation Tip #62…go to and watch “minions banana mini movie.”

No matter what your age, if you can watch this thing and not bust out laughing you need to watch all the clips with the Minions from the Despicable Me 2 movie.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How Do You Go On Vacation?

I’m doing my best to be on vacation—or, to be honest, home-cation—but, as Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) said in Godfather III, “I’m tryin’ to get out but they keep pullin’ me back in!”

If I could simply do an out-of-office message for email, leave an I’m-on-vacation message on my phone and click my mind off (and yes, there are those who would contend that my mind has never been clicked ON) maybe I could experience all the relaxing benefits of being on vacation….but, I can’t.

Like you, I keep getting emails and phone calls and texts from folks who want to talk or send me information about work; which means I then think about it.

If you have some tips about how to click your mind off and actually be on vacation please leave a comment. I’ll make sure to pass on the best ones.

Monday, July 8, 2013

You'll LOVE This Week!!!

Here I was, waking up this morning and thinking, "Dang! The next holiday is Labor Day, almost two months away!"

Then, the wonderful folks at Chase's Calendar of Events (a site you should check on a regular basis) showed me that this week is NATIONAL NUDE RECREATION WEEK!!!

Yeah! Not only do we get to go skinny dipping but I can imagine skinny softball and volleyball, skinny bicycling, skinny movies...skinny McDonald's, skinny driving down I-95 and skinny going out to get the paper in the morning!

Well, that got out of hand, now didn't it?

Let's remember: Some ideas and activities sound a lot better than they are in reality. Imagine me in my birthday suit (don'tcha love that phrase?!) playing volleyball with some of the folks  you see on the "People of Wal-Mart" website. Eeeeyyewwww!

Everyone owning a gun, letting the poor fend for themselves and shooting your mouth off about politics without knowing what you're talking about sound good...but...

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ben, the King of Happiness

One of the joys of July 4th was watching a major fireworks display with a 3-year old who had never seen fireworks before.

Ben excitedly ran in circles, clamped his hand over his ears, grabbed his britches, laughed, rolled in the grass, pointed, screamed…and never stopped smiling from ear to ear.

About five minutes into the display he exclaimed, “I LOVE FIREWORKS!”

The best moment of the evening, and absolutely one of the best of the day came at the ten minute mark. Ben threw his hands into the air, closed his eyes and yelled, “I AM SOOOOO HAPPY!!”

What if finding happiness is as easy as watching fireworks? Or enjoying a cold drink on a hot day? Or talking with friends? Or a long walk? Or a nap on a rainy day?

It can be.

The cover story for this week’s issue of Time magazine is “The Pursuit of Happiness.” A great weekend happiness exercise might be to track down the magazine and read the article.

You can see short summaries at

The gist of the segment comes in a Mark Twain quote, “Every man is a suffering-machine and a happiness-machine combined. The two functions work together harmoniously, with a fine and delicate precision, on the give-and-take principle.”

Give and take some happiness and have a great weekend!

See you Monday.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4th?? Are You Sure?

It's July 4th and we should remember that things are rarely as they seem…our independence was not declared on July 4th.

The Declaration of Independence is dated “July 4” but most historians agree that the declaration was made on July 2.

And yes, that may seem like a case of being a little too picky. But just think, our country has celebrated its independence for about 237 years on July 4 because that’s what it said on a piece of paper.

I’m not saying we should change our celebration date. I’m saying we should all look at our lives and ask, “Are there habits I’ve developed simply because someone told me that was what I was supposed to do?”

Sometimes the habits help us. Sometimes they hurt us.

Have a great July 4th

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sleeping With No Socks

This morning on the Let’s Give a 5th Grade Class a Camera Show (also known as Good Morning America on ABC TV) they did a story about the temperature at which folks like to sleep.

Tomorrow’s July 4th story lineup includes “What Color Shoes Did Martha Washington Prefer?” “Why Did Thomas Jefferson’s Hair Always Look Like The Supremes?” and “Who Invented the Dot in GoodMorningAmerica.Com?”

Once again, vacation—or, vacamacation, as I like to call it—has caused me to stray from my path.

In the story about sleeping temperature they used the term “meat locker.” At that point, I perked up. I LOVE a cold room when I sleep. I have a friend, though, who’d just as soon sleep under 7 quilts with the bed on fire, a hot blowdryer hanging from the ceiling and pointed at her head, and a kerosene heater in the room turned to “High.”

Makes for an interesting combination.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be comfortable but being in a steady, easy, non-challenging state for too long makes us lazy, careless and easy to defeat. (and don’t get me started on the belief that we, as Americans, are sliding into that sort of societal situation)

Everyone needs an area of life in which we are challenged; an area that pushes to keep us at the top of our game, at least in that area. Some folks look for those challenges at work, others in their workout routines and still others in relationships.

 Are you at the top of your game in any area of life? If so, great!

If not, find an area and push yourself a little. We’ve long known that by pushing to succeed or discipline ourselves in one area of life we learn skills we can carry over into other activities.

When my brother and I were little boys our father wouldn’t let us wear socks to bed, even on the coldest nights. He thought it made us tougher. I don’t know if that happened but I do know I love sleeping in a cold-as-a-meat-locker room. 

And yes, in the dead of winter I sleep wearing socks.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vacation Reading. Lies! Lies!

The media often lie to us. I know that’s a surprising—even astounding—thought, but my vacation reading is proving it on an hourly basis.

Here’s an example. This month’s Men’s Health magazine has an article, “Instant Weight Loss.”

I read the article. Didn’t happen.

So, the next article I read was, “Your Gut-Shrinking Power Move.” No kidding, that’s the article. Check the July/August issue of MH.

It would appear that my power move is to my mouth. During my reading I had a VERY large bowl of cereal with cashews and blueberries, about a half-gallon of milk…another, smaller bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats, half a peanut butter sandwich…more milk…two bites of chicken…half an apple and…more milk.

Why would they do this to us…lie, I mean? Why get our hopes up? Every few paragraphs I kept looking down at my waistline to check for progress.


In fact, I felt and seemed to look...BIGGER…my waistline seemed to have expanded WHILE I WAS WATCHING. Is it a bad thing if your navel faces up like a cup in your skin?

I happen to know that I have washboard abs…it’s just that there’s a lot of dirty laundry piled on top.

Next article: “Abs! Get’em While It’s Hot”

Monday, July 1, 2013

Zip Code 17325

Today is the Golden Anniversary of the Zip Code.

Fifty years ago was the beginning of something most Americans today find surprising…government worked. Instituting a simple 5-digit code for the 46,000+ communities in the United States meant the United States Postal Service didn’t have to guess where a letter was going if, for instance, someone addressed a letter to “Chapel Hill” and forgot to add the state. 

Fifty-one years ago it would have been a problem. There are 26 Chapel Hills in the country; 4 in Alabama, alone. Simply adding 27514 meant the letter would be headed to Chapel Hill, NC…the one in Orange County (There’s also one in Madison County, NC).

Zip codes are the basis of the nation’s 911 system.

Zip Code 17325 means Gettysburg, PA…not Gettysburg, SD, Gettysburg, OH or Gettysburg, MD.

As interesting as the anniversary of the Zip Code might be it is far overshadowed by the sesquicentennial—150th Anniversary—of The Battle of Gettysburg. Starting on July 1, 1863, the battle caused the largest number of casualties of any conflict during the war. Approximately 50,000 soldiers were killed or wounded. Each side had more men killed than people lost in the 9/11 terrorists attacks. The Battle of Gettysburg is often considered the turning point in The Civil War.