Monday, December 29, 2014

Goals vs Resolutions

In about 48 hours millions of people will essentially start lying to themselves and others...they'll start making New Year's Resolutions.

Lose weight
Drink less
Get a raise
Go to church more
Lose weight
Stop being so messy
Get more exercise
Save more (or start saving) money
Oh yeah, and lose weight

Yep, I've made'em all and broken them; usually within the first 90 days of the new year.

However, my cousin Susan Makitka has a great way of looking at the New Year. Instead of making resolutions she sets goals.

The great--and different--thing about setting goals versus resolutions is that a resolution is a statement while a goal involves a process.

THIS YEAR I'LL LOSE WEIGHT!!! Ok. How much? By when? And how?

When you start setting goals you start asking simple questions: How will you know you've reached the goal? How will you make it happen? What resources will you need and who can help? What's the deadline?

Stop making resolutions, they don't work. Start setting goals.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

There's a Lid for Every Pot

Celia Rivenbark is wonderful, Wilmington,NC-based writer whose column appears every Sunday in the Raleigh News and Observer. She's the author of Bless Your Heart, Tramp; You Can't Drink All Day if You Don't Start in the Morning; and Don't Dress Your Six Year-Old Like a Skank (tips on Southern Etiquette).

Just from the titles of the books  you can see why she'd be great. If you're scrambling for Christmas presents for friends you should check out Celia's work.

The other day she used a phrase that has stuck with me. She said an aunt of hers had noted that, "there's a lid for every pot," meaning that there is a match for everyone.

I think that works on a variety of levels whether it's people, cars, jobs, haircuts, books, TV programs (ain't that the truth), places to live, sports positions, hobbies or seasons.

So often we don't end up with the lid we expected on our pot, but as long as if fits, that's the deal, now isn't it?

In the last couple of years I've been fortunate enough to find a couple of lids that fit me. Luck had a lot to do with it, but I was also actively open to finding the lid and was willing to try different lids.

Believe me, if you find the lid that fits you can flat-out do some cookin'!

Which pot in your life do you need to find a lid for?

Friday, December 12, 2014

What Did You Do With My Elvis Santa?!!!


I never cease to  be amazed at how much change jumps up and bites me.

You'd think I'd be able to handle change smoothly considering how much I teach it all over the country.

Three weeks ago I moved  and we combined houses. I'm delighted about the move (other than the fact that I keep stubbing my toe on things that I don't remember being THERE!)

So, it's Christmas and this is tree and decoration weekend and we need to decide whose ornaments, lights, Santas, dishes, elf hats, reindeer, fake mistletoe, doorhangers, Santas (an army) and footy pajamas to use...ok, that last one was probably TMI.

I pulled out all our stuff and it fills half a room and while it would make sense to start paring down the selection, this weekend is not the time. Next July, with a couple of bottles of wine and some cold beers we can make those decisions.

This year the process will probably go something like this, "I like that, let's put it over there." and "I've always put this out, you ok with it?"

But, there will surely be a, "You're not really going to put that out, are you?" and "Holy S***! Don't tell me you put that out at Christmas!!"

Laughter will follow because we have that kind of relationship, but there'll definitely be an, "Ok, we can put it out, but put it over there (where it's unlikely to be seen)."

Dealing with change effectively in any setting comes down to a few basics; awareness, communications, patience and action.

And, oh yeah, wine and cold beer.

See you Monday, have a great weekend.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Feet On the Floor...1400 Blogs

Today is the 1400th blog for The Perfect Workday. If you are a consistent reader and, especially, if you are kind enough to pass a blog on to a friend or colleague, all I can say is, "Thank you!"

I won't bore you with all that's happened in life since the first blog in 2009. I'll simply say it's been a journey.

The constant, though, has been that every morning upon waking I put my feet on the floor and open my eyes and find some things in the world have changed and some seem to have stayed pretty much the same.

All you can do is either ignore or try to improve what suits you and enjoy/appreciate/do more of the good things.

The scary realization for most folks is that they have to make the choice for themselves; it means they have responsibility for their lives.

Don't just pay lip service to the reality that you make the choices that create your life. Make choices that matter to you.

There's been no magic in writing 1400 blogs. I simply make the choice on most workday mornings to get up, walk to the computer and start writing. But, when most people hear "1400 blogs" they surprise up to and including, "ARE YOU SH****** ME?!!"

There is a goal in life that's important to you and you can reach it the same way I blog, one day at a time.

Remember, when your feet hit the floor and you open your eyes the choice is yours.

The simple fact that you have a choice is the magic.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Teaching a Pig to Sing

Yesterday I had a wonderful opportunity to talk with a group about doing a change presentation for their workforce. The management group is kind, enthusiastic and imaginative. Their hearts are in the right place and they are realistic enough to know one program won't get everyone on-board. They are just the type of folks you want to do business with.

The challenge is this: They are trying to teach a pig to sing.

I'm sure you know the old saying, "It's a waste of time trying to teach a pig to sing. It annoys the pig and frustrates you."

The group they want to create an experience for is a classic 20/60/20 group. Twenty percent of the folks will be all-in, good participants who will look for something to learn and will take something away from the session.

Sixty percent can go either way depending on everything from their attitude about work, their innate sense of curiosity, how they relate to their colleagues, what the weather is like or how tight their underwear might be...their up/down can come from anything.

The final twenty percent wouldn't get anything from the experience if you gave them a bonus to come to it and spoon fed the material to them. The bottom twenty percent is the essence of the pig, and the negative power they hold with the rest of the group will determine the success or failure of the effort.

So, why do it? Because the number of folks you can affect who are in the sixty percent block will determine whether or not you can improve the culture in the whole group...even a little. And, the folks leading the group are sincere about wanting to get better, to step ahead of mediocrity.

In a workplace in which about eighty percent of workers describe themselves as disengaged or actively disengaged (the sixty and bottom twenty percent) making an effort to improve the culture in ANY group--making it more positive, productive, happier--matters.

As my Aussie friends would say, "Good on'em!"

Monday, December 1, 2014

Jeepers Peepers

This may seem like an odd question, but...How are your eyes?

Recently, I've been having headaches of varying intensities and one of the first questions my doc asked was, "When's the last time you had your eyes checked?"

To be honest, it's been awhile. A few years ago I got glasses for distance because I couldn't read the names or, to be honest, the numbers on the backs of jerseys when watching a Carolina  football game from the stands.

(I know, I know, considering the season I can't say I wouldn't have been better off blind this year)

So, in the next couple of weeks I'll have my peepers checked again and I'm pretty sure I'll need an update on glasses.

The simple point is that so often the solution to what seems like a complex/difficult/scary problem is something simple.

And, there's no reason to go stumbling around...visually, or in life...if the solution is as close as a couple of inches from the end of your nose.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Don't Pay the Ransom, I've Escaped!!

Sorry about missing blogs the last week or so. Life sometimes takes precedent. Moving, work, travel and all the same things the rest of you are experiencing. Will be back to full speed on Monday.

But, Happy Thanksgiving weekend!!

Couple of quick thoughts:

If you aren't aware of you've got to go to the site and see their Thanksgiving cards...wonderfully funny, irreverent, sarcastic and TRUE!

To our friends in the North, keep digging.

To all, be careful on the roads.

So, enjoy the last of the turkey, glory in OD'ing on football and--considering that it's Black Friday--BUY LOCAL!!

See you Monday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cheese or Laugh...Which One Are You?

Last weekend was homecoming weekend at UNC-Chapel Hill. Fortunately, the Tar Heels pulled out a win so most of the frozen spectators who made it ‘til the end of the game were happy.

One of the great things about homecoming at a college, church or family reunion is that you get to see places and folks you haven’t seen for awhile. Memories flood back and new memories are made.

For the last ten years, one of my fraternity brothers has had a get-together on the Friday night before Homecoming Saturday. I’m the youngest one of the group. Most of the guys are mid- or late-60s, and they joke about the fact that I’m the pledge so I have to answer the telephone (needless to say, we were in school before all the hazing was publicized).

It’s great seeing these guys and seeing/talking about/hearing the commonalities (health issues, relationships, mortality thoughts and hating what is happening at UNC-CH) and the differences (various ranges of success, relationships and life views).

Guys who were 10-feet tall and bulletproof in college now have a more measured view of life. Some of the ones who were introverts are now wonderfully outgoing and full of life.

Most of us change as time goes by; physically, certainly, but also in how we view life. After a particularly funny biological moment during a photo session a thought came to me that sums up what we all learn as life goes on…

When we look at all the people we come in contact with in life we can break’em down into two groups; those who spend all their time acting as if life cheesed, and the ones who act as if life laughed. The best thing is that we get to choose which one we’re going to be. And, the very best folks are the ones who, when the first thing happens…they do the second.

Or, is it the other way around?

Monday, November 10, 2014

What Language Do You Speak?

This morning I've had two very different conversations about situations in which businesses have messed up their service to me. The people I talked with were speaking different languages.

In the first case, with LifeTime Fitness on Capitol Blvd. in Raleigh, their representative apologized for the mess-up, asked pertinent questions, apologized again, fixed the problem and asked if they could do anything else to help...then apologized again. Her name was Evelyn and she was GREAT!!

The next call didn't go the same way. I'm not going to describe the who and what because you've had calls that quickly went south so I'd just be wasting your time describing an experience you've had.

Here's the key, though. The second person's comments to me were filled with jargon; words and phrases that, while wonderfully clear to her and her colleagues, sounded to me like she was speaking Farsi.

When I explained that I had no idea what she was saying she said, "Well, we'll have to get back to you..." ...which was the same thing they told me 10 days ago when I called.

And that...was that.

No matter what business you're in you have your own language. Not everyone understands the language. Even some of the folks in your industry don't understand it...especially rookies.

When clients/customers/patients/citizens indicate they don't understand it doesn't mean they are matter how simple it sounds to you.

If you're going to make an assumption when dealing with folks (and we all know what happens when you ass-u-me something) it's probably better to assume they don't know your language. Speak simply.

Friday, November 7, 2014

What's Your Job Description?

“That’s not in my job description.”

If you’re like me, the phrase above is one of those comments that’ll set you off quicker than almost anything else.

If you read this blog on a regular basis you’re probably not one of the folks who uses the not my job phrase. Reading this is a commitment to investing in yourself and folks who use the phrase don’t usually have that mindset.

The attitude comes from a Have/Be/Do philosophy of life. It says if I Have the reward I’ll Be what you want me to be and Do what you want me to do.

The problem is that the vast majority of life doesn’t work that way—at least for people interested in success. For them, life is a Do/Be/Have journey. I’ll Do what I need to do so I’ll Be who I need to be and in so doing I’ll Have what I want to have.

Doing comes first…and that means doing things outside your job description.

Have a great weekend! See you Monday!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Laugh, Cry or Shut Up

Ok...elections are over and now real life starts again.

Are you laughing with joy that you won?

Are you crying that you lost?

Here's the reality, though...if you didn't vote, shut up. If you didn't vote you don't get to complain, you're sitting in the back seats getting driven around by people who were put in the driver's seat by the folks who voted.

And, if you don't like how things turned out you'll get another chance for change in two, get to work making that happen.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Life Sandwich Store

Today is National Sandwich have a sandwich for lunch...and dinner!

Started thinking about how we live our lives and maybe the sandwich metaphor is not a bad one to use.

Maybe we use our basic values--family/spirituality/work/staying healthy--as the bread and then we put a variety important issues--hobbies/travel/recreation/work--in the middle.

Some folks have life sandwiches that look like those Hardees Thickburgers while others have a simple but healthy PBJ.

The great thing about life is that on any day we can choose to change our life sandwich; different bread, different fillings.

If you were standing at the counter at the Life Sandwich restaurant what would you be ordering?

Thursday, October 30, 2014


When water comes into your home it doesn’t know what it’s going to be used for; drinking, cooking, washing…the water doesn’t know and doesn’t care.

(and yes, I know some of you are thinking…”well, water isn’t a conscious thing so it can’t think or care” yada, yada, yada…don’t overthink this…just roll with me)

Your energy is the same. When you get up every morning your energy doesn’t know or care if it’s going to be used for good or bad, or for constructive or destructive purposes. The energy is simply there to be used, like water when you turn on the tap.

So, whether you are setting goals and accomplishing the tasks that get you to your goals or you are on Facebook or burning energy thinking about that sluggo at work/home/the car dealership or wherever who just got on your last nerve!…you’re burning up valuable energy.

Wasting energy is no different than having that spigot outside that drip-drip-drips water onto the ground.

It’s your decision, how are you using your energy today?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Likker Store Boxes and Life

Most of us look at successful people and think are amazed at all they accomplish.

What we don’t see is what the successful people don’t do.

The people I know who are truly accomplished and getting things done are not trying to pull more things into their lives they are trying to cut things out…so they can spend more time/energy/money and focus on the things that really matter to them.

Here’s an example: I’ve made an important decision in life that will require more focus and one of the things I’ve got to do to accomplish my goal is to have fewer books. There simply isn’t enough space where I’m going to accommodate all the books I have. So, I’ve but a box (likker store size) in front of each bookcase and when I walk by I look for a book I can do without. I take it off the shelf and drop it in the box (and yes, it’s painful, but whatcha gonna do? Right?) In a few days I’ll reach my goal of gone-books and can move on to the next stage of reaching the goal.

How about you? What are the issues/situations/people/things that really matter to you? And, which are the ones that, if you could cut them out, slide them aside, forget about them, not call them ever again, not spend time with them, give them away or flush them, would leave you more resources to spend on what really matters?

Start tossing stuff. I’m sure that literally or figuratively there’s a likker store in your area.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Four Dollars and Change

Four dollars and change. That's what it took for a car salesman  to turn me from a lover to a hater. Now, don't zip away, this isn't a hater's screed, it's a point that can get you closer to the life you'd like to have so hang with me.

I'm looking for a new ride. My bomb is on its last wheels and as much as I don't want a payment I realize it's time to make a change.

There are two things you need to know about me and automobiles: First, call it small minded or not, but I like cars. I get the logic that they are simply boxes that get us from Point A to Point B, but  you know what, some people like dogs or houses or surfboards or rings; I like a ride that's kinda cool.

There have been hot cars (a black Trans Am and three Mustangs), convertibles, a van, a couple of SUVs and a small Mercedes sedan among the 16 vehicles I've owned.  I want to see something I like when I'm walking up to what I'll drive away.

So, last week I stopped by a large dealership on US 64 close to Wendell, NC,  and found something that seemed to fit my needs and tried not to dance. You know the sales dance when you're buying a car, the one where you go back and forth and lie to each other and they act like you're family and you act like they have Ebola?

Now, here's the second thing: I don't like the dance. I think it's demeaning for them and insulting to me and it's worth money to me to not have to play it. I'm not going to spend a lot of time weaseling a salesperson down to a greasy spot. Usually, the difference in their offer after I say, "C'mon, what's your best price" and what I might get if I weaseled is about what I make for having fun talking to folks for a few hours or writing something. If we can get even remotely in the neighborhood of what I think is fair I'll pay it.

And, that's what I told the sales folks. I even told them the dollar amount, "Get us to X per monthly payment and we're fine." I KNEW they'd be making a better-than-average chunk of money on me, but it didn't matter. It would be a win/win.

Well, they either didn't believe me or they couldn't fathom that someone would be that open with them...'cause they came back with a figure that was four dollars and change over what I told them I'd pay.

I know what you're thinking, "After running the numbers they found that X plus $4 and change is what they had to have."

Nope. It's gotten ugly now. They're begging like a drunk for a drink five minutes after closing time. They've come back with a monthly payment that is X minus $10. If they had come back, originally, with X minus 2 dollars I'd have been their friend for life, buying'em drinks and saying good things about them. They would have gotten first look for vehicles in the future. As it is, I'm writing this blog and telling my neighbors not to buy cars from them.

Here's the lesson: All of this could have been avoided if they'd listened. They had a customer who was being honest with them and they couldn't believe it. They couldn't believe someone wouldn't want to dance. For four dollars and change they've converted a customer into a hater...and this happens every day in every industry.

In your career, in life, are YOU listening?