Friday, June 27, 2014

Just 30 Minutes Earlier

My friends who invited me to breakfast yesterday have been getting together every Thursday morning at 7:15 for years.

I left my house at 6:45 am so I wouldn’t be late.


Here’s another thing I discovered: By noon I had driven to the other side of Raleigh and met the guys for breakfast, driven back to my house, done some work, gone to the gym and worked out, read the paper, read some work stuff, written a blog…I mean, I was…productive!

Made me wonder, if I got up a little earlier each morning what could I accomplish?

What time do you get up and what are you getting done? You know that dream you have…the one of writing a novel, losing weight, changing careers, painting, doing yoga, reading the classics…you remember, that dream? How much could you get done on making that dream come true if you got up a little earlier each day? Just 30 minutes earlier?

Have a great weekend! See you Monday!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Refrigerator Rights Relationships

Had breakfast this morning with two friends who’ve been inviting me to join them for two years. I kicked myself a couple of times under the table for not doing it sooner.

Recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that my circle, the group of people I come in contact with on a regular basis and from whom I can gain ideas and feedback, is too small. Like many of you, I meet a lot of people but don’t spend much quality time with them. And yes, you can work with the same people every day and not spend much quality time with them. So, I’m expanding my circle. I’m making a commitment to create more opportunities for connections.

There’s a wonderful book about networking and communicating, Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi. He says we need more people in our lives with whom we have refrigerator rights relationships; “the kind that are comfortable, informal and intimate enough to let us walk into one another’s kitchens and rummage through the refrigerator without asking.”

How many folks do you have refrigerator rights relationships with? If you can name them all on one hand—and they all live in your house—that’s too few.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lost or Found, Call Mama

While at the beach we found an iPhone lying on a dock at the waterway.

Before I could look in Settings and see the owner’s name my friend said, “Just look in the directory and see if they have a number for ‘Mama.’”

Sure enough, they did. When we called Mama’s number the lost phone’s owner answered. He was about two-hundred yards away and quickly came and retrieved his phone. After meeting him I’d have to say that he should Velcro his phone to his clothes. I’ve got a feeling that losing his phone, or a mishap like it, happens fairly frequently.

Later, we talked about the fact that in today’s world, everyone needs someone to whom folks can reach out if we go missing; a parent, sibling, friend, attorney, someone who might know where we are.

If you disappeared for a few days and someone needed to find you who would they contact? If you lost something important to you how would someone who found it get in touch with you?

Maybe it’s as easy as calling Mama, maybe not.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ignorant vs Stupid

Just finished reading an article about things men can do to be healthier. Getting help when depressed, varying workout intensity, eating in moderation and not dodging unpleasant procedures such as prostrate exams and colonoscopies were among the suggestions.

When we boil it down, why don’t we do those things? Are we ignorant or stupid?

Ignorant vs Stupid sounds a little harsh, but stay with me.

Ignorant means we don’t know we don’t know. Ignorant is the first stage of knowledge. Awareness, the second stage, means we know we don’t know. Once we move to awareness we can determine what we need to know and move on to Education (we know we know) and Second Nature (doing without thinking), the third and fourth levels of knowledge.

Stupid is a very different level. Stupid means we know what we should do, we’re in the Education stage, and we continue—knowingly—to do things we shouldn’t do.

We continue to do and think thing that are harmful to us for a wide variety of reasons: habit, pleasure, path of least resistance, lack of resources to make a change, life situation…we pick an appropriate reason/excuse.

The issue, though, is honesty. If we don’t know we’re simply ignorant. If we know and do anyway…we’re stupid.

So, now that we know the difference….

Friday, June 20, 2014

Goodbye to a Friend and Hello to Life

Lost a good friend yesterday. We all have at least a couple of good friends who lead lives such that we don’t want to get the call, but we aren’t surprised about getting it. Rich was one of those friends for me. Heck, to be honest, I’m probably one of those friends for some of the people I know.

Ironically, I had seen an article earlier in the week explaining why we humans need to tell ourselves stories about what happens after death in order to deal with the fear of it.

Let’s cut to the chase; last night someone looked at me and said, “Rich is in a happier place.” I get the logic, but that’s just one of the stories we tell ourselves to deal with the fear.

What if it isn’t a happier place? What if after-death is like the idea fundamentalists seem to convey, fire/brimstone/Republicans at every turn telling you how bad things are? What if eternity is being locked in a closet with a Wal-Mart Duke fan after the Dookies have beaten Carolina by 30 points?

Last night a mutual friend told me he’d worked in an emergency room and seen someone’s spirit leave their body and sit in the corner and laugh at the spectacle of the body simply turning into a dead vessel. He also said he’d been working 36 hour straight with no sleep so you never know.

We all deal with the fear in our own ways. So, here’s what I think about the Big Question: As humans we are the highest, most refined form of energy on the planet (and, maybe in the universe, as far as we know). If you do good in your life you refine your energy, you make it better/cleaner/brighter. If you don’t do good you sully/darken/weaken the energy you were given. 

When we die our energy goes back into what is essentially the energy bank that is life and mixes with the energy from others. Kinda like when it rains and the water goes into the rivers and the rivers flow back to the sea. 

At some point, some of the energy flows back out into another human (yes, it’s kinda like reincarnation, but probably more like that sweater your Aunt Martha gave to Goodwill and someone else who REALLY needed a sweater got it and used it and was warmed by it). Unless you’re that pharmacist who spent his career putting child-proof caps on prescription bottles that went to over-50 people who then got carpal-tunnel syndrome trying to get the caps off their prescription bottles. His energy became a slug in a waste dump in Uganda.

And then, the person who got some of what was your energy starts the process all over.

That’s what I think.

So, right now Rich’s energy is mixing with the energy of all the folks who passed away in the last day or two and some of it is already being doled out to babies who are as beautiful as my new great-niece, Charlotte.

Rich lived in a wide-open fashion that sometimes didn’t click with folks who lived more linear lives. I have to believe that, in some ways, his lifestyle caught up with him. I also believe that on some levels he was ready to move on. But, maybe that’s just the story I’m telling myself to try and make his loss easier.

See you Monday.

Friday, June 13, 2014

I've Just GOT to Have That!

Yesterday, a friend helped me jump into The Cloud.

Having your information stored somewhere other than on the computer sitting on the desk in front of you is a scary thing! I can hear my friend. He’d immediately say, “Well, you don’t have all your banking information on your computer, it’s on the servers at the bank.” I get that, but it’s still scary.

However, working with him through the afternoon got me thinking about how much “stuff” I really need and want…and I’m realizing that the list is pretty short. Like most folks, there are a few things I wear most of the time, I’m ok with sitting on the same couch and chairs, I eat a lot of the same stuff.

When it comes to information, though, I like a lot of it. But, I’m satisfied with being able to get most of it digitally. So, that starts cutting down on how many papers, files, books and magazines I need.

How about you? I get it that you don’t really mean it when you say, “I just couldn’t LIVE without those pearl strawberry seed tweezers Aunt Martha gave me!!”

But, what do you really need and want? I’m betting the list is a lot shorter than you’d guess a first. Wouldn't this be a good weekend to spend some time paring down/throwing out/repurposing some stuff?

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

PS…this is National Beef Jerky Day. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Are You "On the Dot"?

Are you an “On the dot” person? Do you walk into meetings, appointments or events right on the dot, at the minute the event is supposed to start? Getting to situations right on the dot may seems like an efficient way to manage your time and make you look professional, but that’s not the case.

Yesterday I presented a time management program with a start time of 9 am. Of ALL the programs I present the one I always try to start on time is…Time Management. One person walked in just as we started and two were late…to a time management program.

Just before the program started one of the attendees mentioned an old boss who had told her that “being on time means you’re late.” I remember hearing the comment from some of my friends who have served in the military and, actually, the legendary Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi told his players that if they were not in meetings fifteen minutes early they were late.

When you walk into meetings on the dot you’re probably interrupting the person starting the meeting. Your entry calls attention to you in a negative way. You’ve also probably made the people who called the meeting worry about whether or not you’ll show up. For years, because I traveled so much, I arrived at seminars on the dot, right on time. But, when the people who arranged the programs started telling me how they’d worried if I was coming I determined to be early. Now, I’m at least 15-30 minutes early for most presentations.

Being on the dot is not a plus…and being late is…well…being late.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Robots and Recognizing a Need

A 7th grade student from Santa Clara, California, wondered what it would be like to be blind.

When Shubham Banerjee’s parents received a mailer asking for money for a support group for the blind he did some Internet research. He was appalled that a Braille Printer, a device that prints Braille documents, cost $2000. He thought the cost put the necessary device out of the reach of a lot of the blind.

So, Shubham went to work. He used his Lego Mindstorms EV3, a kit used to create “toy” robots, to create a Braille Printer. Shubham’s invention costs $350 (the price of an EV3) for education, teaching and home-use purposes.

Combining a need with imagination and technology means the blind have a viable,  lower-cost alternative.

If you come in contact with young people and have that, “What’s happening to the world?!” feeling, think of Shubham Banerjee and realize there’s lots of good happening.

When you look around your world what problems/needs do see—right in front of you? And, how can you squirm out of the box and find a solution that might not readily appear?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Congratulations to Parents of Tony Winners!

The Tony Awards were on TV last night and I always love the energy of the show.

It isn’t that I’m a big Broadway guy, the closest I get to Times Square or 42nd Street is seeing a play in Raleigh or Durham once every couple of years.

But, every time I watch the show I think of the thousands of parents and millions of dollars invested in providing kids the opportunities to be involved in theatre/dance/singing lessons. In fact, it’s always great to see how many Tony winners thank their parents for supporting them.

You have to have the same respect for parents who provide kids with opportunities to play sports or participate in computer clubs.

I’m not a big believer in pushing kids to get involved in recreational/creative activities because the parent wants it to happen, but if a kid shows an interest it’s a good idea to try and give them a shot at seeing where the interest takes them.

It’s apparent that, for the folks on the Tonys, their interest has taken them to stardom. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fool's Hill

A friend was recently recounting some of his kid’s antics. The young guy is in his mid-20s and wrecked some cars and had some adventures.  My friend was telling me about talking to his own dad about the son’s challenges and the dad/grandfather said, “He just hasn’t made it over Fool’s Hill yet.”

My friend said his dad, an obviously older and wiser man, had always talked about the crazy stuff we do at various times in our lives as Fool’s Hill. I’m sure you get it. If you can make it over Fool’s Hill you get back on even ground and move ahead in life.

Sometimes I wonder if my life isn’t more like the foothills of North Carolina where there’s one hill after the other!

The best part of the story about the conversation was when my friend  asked his dad for some advice about the young guy. He asked, “Well, when is he going to be over Fool’s Hill?!”

His father answered, “When are you?”

Monday, June 2, 2014

Hello to Summer!

No matter what you or the weather or the sun might tell me, yesterday was the first day of summer.

I realize that feeling has more to do with societal conditioning than anything else, most of us spent 12-16 or more years in schools where everything pointed to summer vacations that started about now.

So, why fight it?! Why not go with what feels natural? As long as you're not hurting anyone else why not go with the feeling or flow that feels right to you?