Thursday, May 28, 2015

Waaaaay More Grown Up Than Me!

I’ve tried to point out on various occasions that lots of other folks are waaaay more grown-up than me. Let me offer an example…

It’s 7:18 am on a beautiful, cool, North Carolina, Thursday morning. The weekend is ahead (we don’t have to be anywhere special and the Belmont Stakes, final leg of The Triple Crown, is at 5:30 pm on Saturday), business looks great for the next 6 months, I’ve got a variety of fun projects in various stages, there are lots of great books to read and I’m going to work out in an hour. What a glorious feeling!!

The only real obstacle is that I’m sitting here at the computer thinking about what the blog should focus on. Elaine walks by and asks, “What’s up? You look concerned.”

I explain that I have a lot to do and I’m trying to think about what to write.

(Play ominous sounding music here)

So, she says, “Think about the worst, most difficult thing you have to do today.”

OMG!! Why would I want to do that?!!! Now, all that good stuff that was flying around in my head has turned into this chained-to-a-rock, workin’-in-the-coal mine To-Do List that seems to include watering each individual tomato leaf on the plants in the back yard and picking up each, individual, dead termite we found on the study floor this morning with tweezers and burying them in individual little terminate coffins.

See, she’s got me thinking about all the hard, non-fun, grinding, detail-oriented, grown-up stuff that has to be done to make sure the projects work, bills get paid and the neighbors don’t think I’m a sluggoe for riding a bike to the gym in the middle of the day wearing a SUCKERS!! t-shirt. 

I said, “I know, I know, if I go ahead and get the least desirable thing done it creates a sense of momentum, gives me a win and starts the day off on a positive, product note. Right?”

Elaine smiles that special smile she has; the one that says, “Please, Jesus, help him grow up just a little. I know he’s a dope and doesn’t get it, but at least he sounds like it right now.” We nod at each other as part of the—I’ve stated my problem and you’ve offered a solution that, if you’ll just do it, all will be right with the world—ritual. Then she walks into the kitchen to have her grown-up breakfast: coffee and yogurt with granola sprinkled on top.

But, wouldn’t two Snickers, a milkshake from McDonald’s, some frenchfries from Five Guys and a piece of Key Lime pie be better? I’m just sayin’.

Yes, she’s right. I’m going to pick one small, onerous task and do it; that way I’ll be a step closer to achieving the goals I have in the starry-eyed vision of what the future will be like. 

I’m going to rearrange all the sticky notes on my desk. The ones covered in reminders of what I was supposed to be doing yesterday. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Waterin' the 'Maters

I just watered the tomatoes we’re growing in pots in the back yard. Tomatoes are one of those plants that need a lot of water. If you’re not pretty diligent about keeping them hydrated they’ll quickly wither and die.

I’m not sure if other plants being “hearty” is a great thing. It doesn’t take much to grow milkweed or kudzu, but I’m fairly certain that a milkweed or kudzu sandwich doesn’t come close to the glory of a ‘mater-sammich on white bread with Duke’s mayonnaise and salt and pepper.

Some things need more attention. In certain areas of life, WE need more attention. As I get older, I become more convinced that if you come across someone who understands the areas of life in which you need more attention, and they are willing to offer it, life gets easier, happier and more satisfying.

And, just as important if not more so, if you know the areas of your life that need more attention and YOU can make sure you get it—fitness, learning, worship—life may seem more challenging, but it will certainly be more satisfying and fun.

Don’t come up with a laundry list of life areas to change. Pick a couple and do two things: Write them down (there’s a power to writing things down. It seems the universe starts lining up to help you with them) and read one thing today about how to improve that area. 

In fact, here’s a clue: Pick one area of improvement. Go online and search “10 Ways to Improve (Your Area).” You’ll be amazed at what comes up.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Flipping Life The Bird

I have GOT to get smarter!!!

The other day a friend got really angry with me about my technological ignorance. He's a great guy and I'm in awe of his techno-skills.  But, as you can imagine, he spends a ton of time sitting in front of a computer and can't understand why others don't do the same.

In my life a computer should be like refrigerators. Refrigerators keep things cold. When you open the door of a refrigerator the stuff inside is cold. You take your stuff out, use it, and then put the leftovers back...and they get and remain cold. Refrigerators essentially have one thing to do and they do it. That's it.

I want computers to do what I want them to do...and do it simply. I want them to manage my information with a minimum of hassle. And I don't want to have to spend hours looking for the answer to a relatively simple question only to find and answer, try it, and it doesn't work.

I know I sound like a Luddite (the Industrial Revolution English group who would tear up weaving machines because they wanted to go back to using looms). But no, I'm not for going back to phones connected to the walls, no computers and having to start our cars (if we have them) by using a crank in the front. I'm for me being smarter without having to spend hours/days/weeks learning something that will be obsolete by the time I learn it.

Ok...rant over.

Here's your assignment for the weekend. Go online and find the Holstee Manifesto It's the guiding light for thousands of folks and was instrumental in the motivation for startups from Google to Zappos.

If you can read the Holstee Manifesto and not want to step out your door and flip the world "The Bird" you're waaaaay more mature than I. But then, that wouldn't be a stretch, now would it?

I have the Holstee Manifesto hanging on my wall.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Graduate Me....Now!!!

This is graduation month for high schools, colleges and universities. I just received the graduation announcement for a wonderful young woman who, I believe, has an extraordinarily bright future. She’s one of those young people who is constantly looking for new things to learn and new ways to learn them.

Contrast her to the young person I saw in a story about a local college graduation. The guy was holding a sign that said, “Last class…EVER!”

I get the fact that he was probably ready to complete 16 years or more of sitting in classrooms, writing papers and worrying about grades. But, let’s hope life, a parent, a co-worker or someone helps him understand that those issues had about as much to do with real learning as a fish has to do with a bicycle. 

Let’s hope he understands that if he wants a real life he can never stop learning. Because, if he doesn’t consciously try to learn what he needs to learn in life, life will teach him the lesson…often more painfully than he would like. 

What did you learn yesterday? What do you want/need/have to learn today?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I Read THAT?!!

Last week I pulled Paul Johnson’s  A History of the American People off the shelf thinking, “One day I need to read this.” When I opened the book and saw all the notes I realized I had read it…all 1088 pages. A few years ago I read 20 pages a night, almost every night, over a couple of months.

Does it matter that I didn’t remember reading the book? No. The stuff I learned is in my mind and can be recalled when I need it. At my age it might take a few prompts for the facts and ideas to pop up, but pop up they will.

Sitting at my desk just now I looked up, saw a book and thought, “I didn’t know I had that!” I have lots of unread books on my shelves, Kindle, iPad and computer. As much as I like to read it’s like walking into a giant buffet and being overwhelmed.

What are you reading? How are you learning? What are you planning? Where are you going and how will you learn what you need to learn to get there?

You don’t have to spend hours and hours with your nose in a book or your butt in a class to learn things that help you have a more successful, happy life. A little bit here and there can make a world of difference.

It’s said that if you’re willing to read an hour a day in three years you can be in the top 1% of your profession. Whether that’s true or not is irrelevant. The truth is that expanding your mind is the key to having the life you want.

And you do want to have a life…don’t you?

Monday, May 11, 2015

The PTA Rule

According to the Harvard Business Review, 53% of the time we spend in meetings is worthless.

Think about that. How often are you sitting in a meeting and thinking, “If I was alone at my desk I’d actually be getting something done”?

When planning your next meeting try the PTA Rule. 
P…People: Make sure the right people are in the meeting and the wrong people aren’t. The wrong people often believe they should “contribute” to the meeting and what they contribute is a waste of time.
T…Time: Start on time and finish on time. If you have more than you can cover in the stated time, schedule another meeting and plan better next time.
A…Agenda: Have an agenda that let’s attendees know what will be covered and if at all possible get the agenda to them before the meeting.

I remember chairing a meeting a few years ago and at the end one of the attendees came up to me, stunned that we had started and stopped on time, gotten a lot done and finished with the group feeling positive about the progress that had been made. 

“How did you do that,” he asked. 

“The PTA Rule,” I answered.