Friday, February 28, 2014

Keeping It Together

While teaching at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Ft. Bragg I noticed that all the young sergeants in my class carried with them a small, notebook with a camouflaged cover.

When I asked about it one of the leaders pointed out that the notebook was a standard issue meant to help the students stay organized and focused.

Do you carry anything like that? And use it?

I keep an artist’s sketchbook handy at all times. I wrote notes, make drawings, doodle and test ideas. I even keep a glue stick in my bag and sometimes tear ads, ideas and pictures out of magazines and pasted them in the sketch book for inspiration, motivation and reminders.

We’re all smart, but we can’t remember everything; that’s what the folks at Ft. Bragg realized a long time ago.

If you don’t have a tool to help you remember, pick one up soon.

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Laser Focus and Lost

I’m all for having a laser focus on goals but if you don’t look around every now and then you miss the wonderful beauty of the world…and other people.

Keep your goals in front of you, but every now and then slow down and look around.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Roadbumps and Reasons

In my devotional reading this morning John Maxwell writes, “When it comes right down to it, I know of only one factor that separates those who consistently shine from those who don’t: The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.

We all run into roadbumps. 

Do we see them as a reason to stop? Or, do we simply slow down a bit, carefully pick our way through them, and then speed up again when we clear them?

Monday, February 24, 2014

How Ya Doin'?

Most people have their standard response to the question, “How ya doin’?”

The standard reply is, “Fine,” which can be stretched to the old country saying “Fine as frog hair.” I’ve always liked, “If I was any better I’d be twins.” 

Those are the positive ones. I’m not going to get into the negative responses because they are…well…negative.

For the longest time my basic reply when someone asked, “How ya doin’?” has been, “Trying to be a grown-up.” It’s kinda funny, quick, easy, most people get it and in a metaphysical way it’s true of all of us.

The problem is that it was too true in too many ways and in too many situations.

In John Maxwell’s newest book, Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn the last chapter is Maturity: The Value of Learning. If you’re smart you learn lessons and the learning leads to maturity…growing-up.

It seems that life is now offering lessons at every point of the compass. In every direction I turn there’s a major challenge to be faced and a lesson to be learned.

We live in a society in which many of us fight growing up in some area of our lives…all our lives. Sometimes the fight has few consequences other than a stumble or annoyance every now and then, but other times the fight becomes a war that keeps us from living lives of value.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate growing up as much as you do. But, sometimes life says, “The grown-up bus is leaving…and it may not be coming back. Are you on it or not?”

Can you look around and see a challenge and recognize that it might be time to grow up and step up?

One of my first decisions has been to change my response to, "How ya doin'?"

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Autopsy Moment

A friend tells me that when a project doesn’t go the way he hoped he has an Autopsy Moment. He takes a bit of time to ask, “Why didn’t this work the way I thought it would?”

That’s not a bad idea. We have the opportunity to do what less-than-smart folks don’t do, learn from our mistakes…or, if not mistakes, at least our efforts that didn’t go the way we thought they would.

However, be careful not to let the Autopsy Moment last too long. It’s easy to get tied up in Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda and What if’s?

The next thing you know a wonderful opportunity has passed you by ‘cause you missed it.

Think about what happens on television and in the movies. They do the autopsy, put the body on that big tray and then slide it in the cooler. They close the big door, sign some papers, turn away and cut the light out as they walk out the door.

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Like the Jitterbug, It'll Plum Evade You

Not everyone runs on the same schedule you do.

The simple, common sense thought that we all aren’t morning or afternoon or evening people is one of those understandings that is soooo basic that, as Jimmy Buffett once said, “It’s like the jitterbug, it plum evaded me!”

By 7:30 this morning I had already connected with a client and scheduled three programs.

Historically, I have not been a morning person, but it seems that due to a variety of challenges and stressors I’ve recently needed to be.

Ask yourself, “Are there times that being able to operate effectively in another time frame would help me?” “Are there people who’s help I could use who operate better at a different time than I?”

If so, how do you get geared up for that? Do you go to bed or get up earlier once a week? Do you make sure your energy level is high and stay after work a couple of days a week?

When is your best time of the day to work? When is your down time? What do you have to do to reverse them once in awhile?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Take a Road Trip in Your Head for Your Own Good

Want to lower your blood pressure? Want to make your blood chemistry better? Want to pump up the secretion of dopamine in your brain (that’s the chemical your brain pumps out when you feel a sense of joy, fun, elation, pleasure of some kind)?

Here’s how you do it: Start asking yourself these questions:
When was the last time I felt this feeling? Where was I? What was I doing? What else gives me that feeling? How did it look, smell, sound, feel, taste? Can I think of still more triggers? What can I do now to cultivate this feeling?

For example: Joy—When have you felt safe, relaxed, and joyful, utterly glad about what was happening in that moment? When have things truly gone your way, perhaps even better than you expected? When have you felt a spring in your step, an unstoppable smile, or a warm glow? When have you felt playful, as if you wanted to jump in and get involved?

Let yourself daydream for awhile and roll the answers around in your head. If your life is particularly stressful right now it might be difficult to focus on the positive, you’ll keep coming back to the now. But, take your time and pull yourself back to the good stuff.

Research has shown that thinking and feeling the good for even short periods of time has a wonderfully positive (pun intended) mental and physical impact.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Chipping Away at the Boulder

For the past year I’ve been working on a major project and last night I completed the biggest part of it. Almost as soon as I’d finished it felt like a ton of weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was calmer, other challenges didn’t look so great, life seemed easier.

That’s the good part.

The less-than-good part is that while I sat out on the back deck congratulating myself I thought of the negative impact the stress caused by the obstacle has had on me, relationships and other life situations
A lot of the stress had to do with my procrastination. I kept putting off completing this big chunk simply because it looked so…big. But, by taking it one bite at a time I finished shortly before a self-imposed deadline.

While I have a lot of confidence that this new project will be successful it will be difficult to forget the cost.

Look around in your life. What’s slowing you down? What one issue, if you could solve/complete/deal with it, would make your life simpler/easier/happier?

Let’s be honest, we all have these obstacles. It’s just damned hard to deal with them.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Slip-Sliding Ahead

It would appear that we’ve weathered winter storm, Pax. Today’s forecast is for clear skies and cold, but as the weekend progresses the temperature will rise, the ice will start to melt and we’ll be getting back to what we think of as normal.

At a little after 6 am I slowly and gingerly walked out to get the paper. I found my footsteps from yesterday frozen in the ice and by walking in the same footsteps I was able to safely make the trip down to the sidewalk and back.

Life’s like this, isn’t it? When we run into heavy weather—difficult times—we naturally look for the ways we’ve gotten ourselves through similar experiences in the past. Then, if we’ll look ahead to what would be a better future the vision gives us motivation to start moving forward.

We have to be careful to ask, “Is what got me through it then going to get me through it now?” If so, it’s time to start moving. If not, it’s time to learn a new way.

Unfortunately, progress always happens toooo slowly, doesn’t it? I certainly wasn’t traipsing down to the paper this morning. Once I realized how slippery the ice was I took my time, focused on each step, made sure I was balanced and moved steadily to my goal.

Pax is gone. Life’s still here.

Have a great weekend and see you Monday.

PS. Oh, and today is Valentine’s Day. Remember to tell someone you love them.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Batten Down the Hatches

The South and the upper East Coast appear to be in the path of winter storm Pax. The storm is either already hitting you or you’re battening down the hatches getting ready for it.

According to Wikipedia, “In sailing, battens are long, thin strips (usually fiberglass or some similar material nowadays, but historically wooden)… used to help secure tarpaulins over hatches.” Sailors battened down the hatches as serious weather approached.

We all batten down the hatches to get ready for bad weather, but do we look ahead to potential challenges in life and make preparations to deal with them?

Or, do we simply let the storm roll over us, water pouring through our hatches, and potentially sinking us?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Before and After

Have you ever had a before and after moment?

Your life was a certain way before the moment happened and after it happened life was never the same again.

Some before and after moments happen over which we have no control; a death, an accident (good or bad), a lottery-style win.

At other times, we determine that something that happens to us is a before and after moment. We say to ourselves either, “I’m not going to continue the way things were before this,” or, “From this moment I’m going to make sure that things are like this going forward.”

Henry Ford said, “Whether you can or you can’t, you’re right!”

Accidents happen, but in the vast majority of cases we determine whether the situation is a before and after moment  in our lives.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Do You Have a Simple System for....

“Systems permit ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results predictably. But without a system even extraordinary people find it difficult to predictably achieve even ordinary results.” Michael Gerber, The E Myth

Friday, February 7, 2014

How High Are the Hampton Mountains?

Sometimes you simply don’t know.

You think you do, but you don’t.

This morning, while reading an article in the paper I discovered that The Hamptons, the popular New York summer vacation destination, is a beach resort.Think Myrtle Beach, but with quaint villages and LOTS more money.

From the first time I heard the phrase The Hamptons I thought they were in the mountains.

While I feel a little silly I realize that me not knowing where The Hamptons are does not make a pinhead of difference in my life. If I was driving there this weekend it would matter, but I would have discovered my mistake by looking at a map.

This reminds me of a woman from New York who called me about 30 years ago after she read my book, The North Carolina Jobhunter’s Handbook, now out of print. She thought North Carolina would be a great place to live and Hillsborough looked really attractive to her. She wanted to know, “how long does it take to get from Hillsborough to Raleigh by subway?”

See, she simply didn’t know that in our state there are no subways.

What you know and don’t know only matters…if it matters.

We start slipping and sliding when we make incorrect assumptions about things that matter. But, if you’re wrong simply bonk yourself on the forehead and then ask a question.

If it’s a big deal, bonk harder.

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

"Exploration makes one wiser; even if the only wisdom gained is to know where not to return." Tommy Dewar 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wrestling or Dancing

“The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing.”
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Give It a Name

I always admire folks who know what they want and where they are going in life. They always seem so focused.

Lately, it seems I’ve been asking those “What?” and ”Where?” a lot.

Yesterday, I simply typed “What do I want?” into the search engine and got about a dozen articles and blogs with all kinds of help answering the question. It was a great exercise. If you’re wandering and streaking through one of these times of life you might try it.

One of the most helpful said, “We're all ‘Googling’ and doing other internet searches these days. However, before you can do any internet search at all, what is the one thing that you absolutely must have to get started? You must have a keyword. As you continue your search, the keyword may refine.”

Whatever challenge you’re facing, can you name it?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Get Back Up

Whether you’re into football or not, you have to recognize that there are a lot of disappointed people in Denver this morning.

No one—NO ONE—predicted that the Seattle would blow Denver out.

I’m always interested in how people deal with success, especially in sports. When people win you start finding out who they are by how they act. Do they show some class, or not?

More interesting though, is how people react to defeat. Think about it, there are a lot more losers than there are winners.

So, when someone loses, in whatever way, do they fold? Do they give up and walk away?

Or, do they determine why they lost and dedicate themselves to doing better next time?

There’s an old saying that determines success as not worrying about how many times you get knocked down…just be focused on getting back up.