Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hamster On a Wheel

We’ve all seen a hamster running on a wheel. 

In our minds, that’s called ruminating.

When you take a negative thought for a run you end up going ‘round and ‘round with it until all you see is the problem.

In fact, neuroscientists say that when we ruminate on a negative thought our minds spiral down until all we see is the problem.

Psychologists tell us that ruminating is one of the basic habits that leads to depression.

So, stop ruminating! Find a simple ritual so that when you feel yourself heading down that negative road you can stop yourself and turn around. 

Lately, when I catch myself sliding down that negative slope, I use the technique I mentioned awhile back. I’ll say to myself, “Look what the cat dragged in!” The phrase makes me smile, laugh out loud and jump off the hamster wheel.  I turn around and head back in a positive direction.

Monday, April 27, 2015



It’s 8:52 on Monday morning. I called a colleague about 20 minutes ago so that made it 8:32. She answered immediately.

Now, if that doesn’t surprise you, that someone would answer their phone at 8:32 on a Monday morning, then you’re like me. You expect folks to be at work and ready to go first thing on Monday morning. ‘Cause, well, it’s time to go to work!

She has a coworker down the hall who has asked me to help with a project and has scheduled me to work on the effort this afternoon. However, other than an initial, “Thanks for saying ‘Yes’” email, I haven’t heard anything else from the person. And I’m kinda wondering if this thing is still on.

So, my friend gave me her coworker’s number, which I called…at 8:52. Did I get an answer? No.

I know what some of you are thinking. You nicer folks are thinking, “Well, it could be anything; she’s sick, her kids are sick, she got caught in traffic, it’s the Rapture and those of us who are still on Earth are screwed.” 

Yep, I get it.

But, there are another bunch of us who expect to get someone on the phone at 8:52 on Monday morning. 

While I know this sounds like whining and moaning, it’s an issue in so many organizations and it costs our economy billions in lost productivity.

Ask yourself this question: What if you drank that extra cup of coffee, went to the can, read the paper, chatted with your coworker BEFORE 8:30 on Monday morning? 

How much more could you get done?

If the question matters to you, you’re one kind of person. If it doesn’t…I guess I’ll call back about 11.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

So, the Robot Bartender Said....

There’s an old joke about a robot bartender that I won’t go into. But, it appears there are such things as robot bartenders now…or, at least there are inventors working on them. 
In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal there’s a story about ThinBot. With flashing lights and a blue chilling chamber the four-foot tall robot makes about 15 different kinds of cocktails. 
However, while ThinBot might make a mean cosmopolitan, can the robot card someone, wipe down the bar or listen to your problems and offer sage advice?
Can ThinBot cut the lights on at 1 am and yell to patrons as I used to do in my bartender days, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!!”
Come to think of it, ThinBot could be programmed to do that.
But, robot bartenders are wonderful examples of the dividing line between what machines can do and what they can’t. Some things just need the human touch. We’ll always be needed.
Which reminds me of a joke. In the early days of space exploration a craft was sent into space with a computer, a dog and a man. The computer ran the ship. If the lights on the computer went out the man was supposed to push the reset button. The dog went along to bite the man if he tried to do anything other than touch the reset button.
Here’s the long-awaited point: Whether it’s a machine or person everything and everyone is good at something. The more you work to your strengths and let someone or something else handle the things you’re not good at the better off and happier you’ll be. 

Play to your strengths, pass off to your weaknesses/challenges.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Thomas Jefferson's Birthday!

Today is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday! Here are three quotes from one of our greatest Americans.

“The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money.”

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Shut Up and Listen

This afternoon I’m meeting a friend/boss from the past. She’s a really smart woman who, forty-one years ago, hired me for my first REAL job.

Last year, forty years after I had last seen her, she sat in on one of my seminars.

This afternoon we’re meeting to talk about the directions my business and I might take. It’s time for some changes and I’m reaching out to people I know who are smart, sometimes opinionated  (some opinions with which I might not agree), and resourceful.

Are you talking to people on a regular basis who can give you feedback about where you are going? If so, that’s great! Ask’em direct questions, don’t let them be nice for the sake of being nice and thank them for their input.

If you aren’t getting feedback on a regular basis you’re flying with one rudder as a pilot friend of mine would say. You better hope you’re omnipotent and the smartest person on the planet. I can promise you there are challenges out here—people and situations—you haven’t anticipated and requiring skills you don’t have.

If you aren’t finding ways to expose yourself to new ideas and feedback  get your ego out of the way and a seek them out.

This afternoon, after the basic catching up and niceties, I’m going to ask, “Here’s the direction I’m thinking about going in, whataya think?

And then—and I know my friends will find this hard to believe—I’m going to shut up and listen.

Monday, April 6, 2015

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tell'em To Do It Naked!

Want to have more successful relationships with other people--at work and in your personal life? Start figuring out who they are in relation to who you are.

Are they detail-oriented, but you're just interested in the basics? Are they people-people while you're more interested in tasks and things? Do they talk about any and everything while you're more focused on what's right in front of you?

Go online and simply search the phrases, "personality surveys" and "behavioral surveys." You'll find a variety of free examples. Take'em just for the fun of it and see what your results are. Let folks with whom you work take them. Give them to people you're in a relationship with. Few things start discussions like comparing results on these sorts of surveys.

Now, I'm not going to get all Sigmund Freud on you about this...yes, some of the surveys can be skewed based on a variety of educational/social/racial/economic backgrounds. And, the whole "if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?" silliness is easy to dismiss. Annnnd, some of the comparisons will generate discussions that may be less than pleasant.

But, on the whole, getting a better feel for who you are and with whom you spend your life, personally and professionally, is a good thing.

A woman who attended one of my programs took a survey I use and made copies. She and her husband sat down one night with a bottle of wine and did this: First, they each graded themselves based on how they saw THEMSELVES in their marriage. Then, they took a survey and graded how they saw their PARTNER in the marriage.

Her email to me afterwards was classic. She said, "Tell people if they are going to do this that it's a great way to start important discussions about relationships. But, tell'em that if they're going to do it, do it naked, the argument won't get but so bad."

Mmmmm, yeah.