Monday, August 5, 2019

Uh, Oh! Time To Pull Over

Recently, I saw a wonderful posting on FaceBook. 

It read, “Do you ever feel like your body’s ‘check engine light’ is on and you’re still driving it like, ‘naaah, it’ll be fine’?”

When we are young and relatively stupid we often ignore the warnings our bodies and vehicles give us until we’re sitting/lying on the side of the road.

I will admit to being guilty on both counts.

Now, though, I’m at a point in life at which I pay much more attention to what my body, mind and heart are telling me. 

I am acutely aware when I need more water, food, sleep and/or exercise. And, instead of pushing my limits as I used to do (often a decision made by my ego), I’ll slow down a bit and, literally, ask, “Mike, what do you need?’

It’s amazing how often I’ll start to convince myself that something serious is happening when, in fact, I simply need to drink a big glass of water.

A few years ago I started checking the list above—water, food, sleep, exercise—when I began to slow down and get the, “Uh, oh“ feeling. 

If I go through my list and there is a check beside each item I know my down feeling comes from something inside my head or heart. So, I’ve added, “Positivity” to the list.

Sometimes a life event, negative thought, or memory will start holding me back and I’ll feel myself easing or oozing into a funk. 

At that point I realize I need a Positive experience/thought/person…and I, purposely, seek it or them out. 

I might watch a movie I know I’ll like, go to a museum or book store, get together with a friend, read something positive (maybe spiritual), look for a positive experience (meditation or going for a walk), or simply make a list of the things that are going right, right now.

As the wonderful Philly group, The Stylistics, sang in 1971, “Stop, Look, Listen.” Very often, that’s all it takes to start getting back on a positive/healthy track.

What is your body/mind/heart telling you—right this minute—you need to pay attention to? 

Use my simple list—water, food, sleep, exercise, Positivity.

Now, ease into it…….

Monday, July 29, 2019

I Don't Want to Grow Up...But....

If you were to talk to some of my best friends they would tell you that I have resisted being a grown-up most of my life. 

And, in many ways--good and not-so-good--I've succeeded; at least from outward appearances.

It seems, though, that we are moving through a time in which even the folks who are supposed to be the grown-ups in the room are acting out. 

In a recent interview, Gayle King of CBS This Morning, said, “The world seems upside down. We are encouraged to be our worst selves. In all levels."

Remember the homecoming parade in the wonderful movie, Animal House? One of the best scenes was when one of the Delta Fraternity guys led the Faber College band down a blind alley.

We are moving through one of those times in America when the folks at the front of the parade aren't leading us where we need to go.

So, if the grown-ups aren't going to act grown-up, what do we do?

Gayle King added, "We need to start holding it down, individually.”

And yes, I hate it! I've spent more than 4 decades perfecting my I'm not a grown-up act.

But, the outcome we are looking at--think again of the Faber College band in the alley--is not something any of us want.

So, here's our first contribution: You and I can do/talk/think something positive. When folks start down the negativity road we are hearing in conversations, seeing on television and online, and feeling in many situations, ask, "What is something good that is happening?"

I know it sounds trite. And, I know there will be some people who talk about the negative as if it is a good thing, but we need to bring them back to the positive. 

Remember, in some of our darkest days the real grown-ups--Lincoln, Roosevelt, King--focused on the future and the positive. 

It seems that we all need to step out and be grown-ups. 

If I'm willing to do it, you certainly can.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

You Take Care of You

One of the lectures we all get as children is, “Don’t be selfish!” 

Unfortunately, a lot of us take that directive waaaay too seriously. We internalize it to mean that almost anytime we are watching out for ourselves we are being “selfish.” 

Please take this moment as permission to take care of yourself. 

If self-care is new to you, start simply; drink more water, take a walk on a regular basis and try to get a little more sleep. 

It’s OK, you now have permission.

 Even the people who lectured you will agree. 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Dealing a Hand of Misery Poker

I bet you have an acquaintance like one of mine, someone who loves to play Misery Poker. If Pouting Paul is in the room when someone notes a challenge, defeat or hurt he always has a worse story. 

Your mentioning that you bumped your hip on the kitchen island this morning brings a tale of woe from PP that has him figuratively helicoptered to Duke Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. 

Now, when he starts dealing a hand of Misery Poker I’ll gently ask, “Paul, what happened today that is good?” 

His awareness is starting to light up.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The 4th Is Over! What's Next?

We’ve all been in jobs in which we were asked to provide annual projections, sometimes 36-months forecasts. 

Long-range corporate planning needs those guesstimates but, from a practical standpoint, I’ve always been more focused and worked with more urgency looking at shorter horizons. 

I use holidays. 

Last weekend’s July 4th holiday signaled the middle of summer; next up, Labor Day. 

I can stay more focused and get a lot done if I'm staring down the barrel of 6-7 weeks instead of 12 months. 

Then, Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year—Easter—Memorial Day. 

From a practical standpoint, what if you looked at the year in chunks from 6-7 weeks to 3 months? 

And yes, if it works better for you to look at the year and break it up into chunks like that then go right ahead. 

Whatever works for you, works for you.

Have a great summer....and get those used fireworks stems out of the front yard...the neighbors were watching.

Saturday, June 29, 2019


Got a haircut yesterday and my barber schooled me.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the slang word, schooled. It means to be taught something in an embarrassing way.

My barber, Chris, is a good guy, laid-back, and has been my barber for years. Yesterday, we were comparing notes on the summer. 

Chris said he had only a few plans and asked what I had coming up.

I said, “Not much going on. Might go to the beach. But, I’ve got a book I’m writing that I’ve just got to finish.”

At this point I was schooled: Chris said, “Oh yeah, you told me about that.”

Now, I only see Chris every 3 weeks, or so, and it takes about as long to cut my hair as it does to eat a reasonably decent cheeseburger. So, if Chris can remember sayingI had to finish a book and I only see him every 3 weeks I’ve probably said something about the book a couple of times. 

In other words, I’ve shot my mouth off about it and have done very little.

Simple. Seven words. “Oh yeah, you told me about that.”


Wisdom—true wisdom—is stunningly valuable. As such, we should take wisdom anywhere we find it. 

Thanks, Chris. I’ll finish the book by the next time I see you.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Just Get Me to 5 O'clock

I’m sure you’ve had one of these days.

Have a 10 am meeting so I’m up and at’em.

Get in the car and the tire light is on. Get out and check and, sure enough, one of the rear tires is almost flat. Nearest air pump is at a local convenience store so I take off. 

Realize on the way that I have no cash for the air machine. But, YES! the machine takes an ATM card! Fill tire so it’s good. I’m rolling.

Make a stop and need the ATM card. Nowhere to be found. Search throughout the car and even call some friends and tell them to look out for my card. 

Than, I realize I left it in the air machine!

Get back in the car and the tire light is on again!

Call my meeting friend and we reschedule.

Head to my local BB&T and Allison, the welcomer, couldn’t have been nicer. Temporary ATM card and am now at the tire place getting the tire checked.

And, it is not even 10 am.

This is one of those days on which you thank God, in all Her wisdom, that today is Friday.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

National Vanilla Milkshake Day!

Today, June 20, is National Vanilla Milkshake Day! 

Now, I'm all for being healthy and eating right and getting some exercise. In fact, for me, today is a gym day.

But, sometimes we get a little too tightly-wound about life issues and miss the fun of life  

I don't drink a vanilla milkshake every day even though it might be healthier than some of the other things I consume. 

However, I AM going to have one of those vanilla treats today.

Find a simple, fun, easy-to-accomplish activity today and do it; we're only in this ride that is life for a short while, we should enjoy it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Aaaah!!!!! My Eyes!!!!

God Bless those of you who love to awaken early enough to see the sun rise! Sunrises are beautiful! 

I just wish hey happened later in the morning. 

I get the fact that rising later doesn’t fit with 8-5 jobs. But, if you control your schedule enough to decide when you get up there may be benefits you haven’t expected.

One study says late sleepers are more intelligent than those “meet the sun” advocates; another says we are more creative. I like that.

Winston Churchill spent the first few hours of the day in bed…working. His secretary would sit in a chair across from him as he dictated. He held meetings with a wide range of people while in bed.

Simply go online and check out “famous late risers” and you’ll see a Who’s Who of art and business.

Stop feeling guilty about rising a little later. If you get the job done, who cares what time you get up?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

And, In This Corner!!!!

How’s that black eye doing? Or, your bruised ribs? You know, the ones you gave yourself by beating yourself up in that boxing ring in your mind. 

Be honest, you've been smacking yourself about who you are, what you are doing, what you did in the thing and then another. We all do it and we do it too often.

As long as you're occupied trying to knock yourself out you can't really get anything done. 

Don't you think it's about time to ring the bell and walk to the corner and give yourself a rest? 

Here's a simple suggestion: Anytime you hear yourself in your own head starting a thought with, "I really wish I hadn't..." or, something similar, that's you taking a swing at yourself.

I'm not saying you shouldn't try to learn from the times you stumbled. Yes, when you see areas in which you can improve that's a good thing.

I'm just saying we spend waaaaay too much time pounding ourselves for things that are already done. 

Try this: Stop swinging in your mind for just a second. Put your mental bare fists on your hips, stand in the middle of your ring and think about my new favorite quote, "Maybe, life is not about finding the straightest path to success. Or the simplest. Or even the smoothest. Maybe, it’s about finding one, just one, that allows you to get there at all. But that requires letting go of our old beliefs.”  Nikolas Goke

Your old beliefs are smeared on the knuckles of those mental fists. Every time you pop yourself with a fist you are punishing yourself for those old stumbles.

Now, go to your corner, sit on your stool and take a breather. Forgive yourself by putting some ice on that eye.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

All I'm Asking For Is One Hour

Here’s a simple challenge: Can you be the best you for one hour? 

Not the best you you think you’re supposed to be, but the best you as you are. 

Most of us simply zoom through every day trying to deal with all of—IT—and we rarely approach our potential. The pressure crushes our motivation. 

So, for today, pick one area; health, work, family, mental, social, spiritual or financial and do the best you can for one hour.

I'm betting you'll amaze yourself.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Ridin' and Learnin'

What are you listening to as you drive? I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s so important I’m bringing it up again. We spend sooo much time in our vehicles it’s crazy not to spend that time more profitably. Music is fine some of the time, but I’m betting your system would allow you to listen to informational/educational videos on Thumbs down on talk radio, it makes us crazy. Listen to something that makes life bigger, better and more profitable. And be safe, don’t fool with your phone while driving.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Drunk By 7

A friend said about a mutual acquaintance, “You’d better call before 7 pm ‘cause he’ll be drunk by 7.”  

Now, your reaction to that revelation probably ranged from outright laughter to a sad shake of the head.

However, if you were going to connect with our friend the tippler the tidbit above would be good to know. 

Years ago, I worked with a sales professional who kept a cheat sheet on his clients. The notes included birthdays, family connections, hobbies and trivia such as their favorite cocktail or recreational activity. The information helped him connect in positive—and profitable—ways.

My colleague learned the strategy while reading Harvey McKay’s, Swim With the Sharks. 

McKay, owner of McKay Envelope Company in Minneapolis, and author of other business classics, asked his salespeople to fill out a 51-question form on each of their clients. The form included questions ranging from spouses’ and pets’ names to who their favorite sports teams were. 

McKay believed that learning more about clients than simply who could sign a check helped his salespeople connect more closely. The closer connections lowered communications barriers and resulted in business relationships that developed into friendships or, at least, closer acquaintanceships.

How well do you know the people with whom you work, associate and live?

By the way…what’s your best friend’s favorite color?

Friday, May 3, 2019

Change Agents?

How many of you have a relative who, at family functions, stirs things up, creates challenges and then exits, leaving everyone to clean up the mess? 

It’s like that in our work lives. There are folks who bill themselves as Change Agents and promise to “shake things up” and “challenge the status quo” and “set a new direction.” 

That’s great! 

We all fall into ruts and need to move to new frontiers. 

However, if the Change Agents don’t also bring practical steps to moving in the new direction you should beware. 

Ask them, “What are 3 simple, doable actions that move us in the new direction?” 

If they have the 3 that’s GREAT! If not…well…

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Say Ole'!

Not long ago a friend was telling me that he is changing his attitude about some of the challenges he confronts in life. 

He said, “From now on I’m going to look at life like a bull fighter!” 

So, I said, “Yeah!! Grab life by the horns and…” 

He shook his head and laughed; then he stood up and held his hands out like he was holding a cape like a bullfighter. “You don’t understand. From now on I’m gong to look at some things in life and say, ‘Ole'!’ and let them go by!” and he whipped his hands and his imaginary cape to the side.

Maybe that’s a good strategy for some of the bulls we're facing in our lives. Say, "Ole'!" and let them go by!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Left Hand and The Right Hand

My brother has long been a wonderful guitarist. We were talking the other day about music and he said something that was so cool and on-target that I expected Keith Richards, George Benson or Brad Paisley to walk up to our table and say, “Joe’s right.”

He said about playing guitar, “The left hand is what you know, the right hand is who you are.”

Think about that; as a right-handed player your left hand moves through the chords and notes you’ve learned, while your right hand picks or strums based on the rhythm you feel or want to present. Obviously, it’s just the opposite for left-handed musicians.

When he said, “The left hand is what you know, the right hand is who you are,” I stopped the conversation for a bit because I wanted to be sure to remember the comment and the moment.

Apply the logic to our lives: we all have a wonderful amount of knowledge stored up…but, how do we express the knowledge through who we are? 

Do we move through life in our own style? 

Or, are we living someone else’s life because of what we’ve been told? Do we simply put one foot in front of the other and check boxes until we’re…well…in a box?

“The left hand is what you know, the right hand is who you are.”

Thanks, Joe.

Monday, April 15, 2019

A Tale By the Tiger

Whether you’re a Tiger Woods fan or not, whether you even care a bit about golf…you’ve got to be impressed.

In the late-90s, early-2000s, the coverage of Tiger Woods made this year’s focus on Zion Williamson look like a blip on a television/computer screen.

Then it all came down; personal issues, back/neck/knee problems. As Woods said, “I couldn’t even go into the back yard and play with my son, Charlie.”

So, his comeback last week at The Masters and winning on Sunday in such a dramatic fashion, you’ve got to admire the dedication, focus, tenacity and sheer will-to-win he showed.

A wonderful lesson for all of us who are out here trying; keep swinging.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Lucky Shots Aren't Lucky

So, who are you pulling for tonight? The Virginia/Texas Tech game will be the culmination of another exciting college basketball season.

This year we’ve seen a ton of great, last second, lucky shots. These OMG! moments thrill one side and crush another. 

But, are the shots really lucky? My definition of lucky is they pulled some slob who’s never had a basketball in his hands out of the stands, put him at mid-court, and he drains the shot. That’s lucky! (And, let’s be honest, it’s more of a fling than a shot.)

However, some kid who has been playing for years, spent untold hours practicing, has been coached to the max and is in great physical condition isn’t lucky when the ball bounces and rolls around the 18-inches of NO!…and then drops in; he or she is fortunate. They were a little off the mark, but not so much that they miss. 

Do you see the difference? One is the outcome of chance, the other is the outcome of trying.

That difference is much bigger than we often recognize. If you are willing to try you have a opportunity. If you don’t try, your chance of scoring is zero.

As Michael Jordan once said, “I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

What do you know you should be trying, but aren’t? What do you deeply want, but right now it’s simply a dream? What type of trying gets you closer to the dream? The chances of the dream just walking through the door is really low.

The number of times a slob comes out of the stands and hits that mid-court shot is so small it is almost non-existent. The kid who is hurt and tired and puts it up with 2 seconds on the clock, thousands of people screaming and a championship on the line has tried this shot before…thousands of times…and has a lot better chance of that 18-inches of No! saying….YES!!!

Come on out on the court with us and start trying. We’ll welcome the teamwork or the competition.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Imposing Your Will

One of the wonderful things about March Madness is watching teams win. You can listen to all the talking heads, but I’ll tell you in three words why teams, why individuals, win: they are “Imposing Their Will” on the other team and on the game. 

Winners impose their will on the people or situations that matter to them. When watching basketball at the end of the season if you hear that someone is taking over the game you are hearing about players imposing their will on the game and other players. Winners impose their will on the people or situations that matter to them. 

Imposing your will does not have to infer force or, at its most extreme, violence. The phrase, and action, can simply mean guiding and encouraging others, and the situation, to an outcome believed to be positive. 

However, imposing your will on others simply for the satisfaction of doing so is something else…it’s bullying. 

What goals, what outcomes, are important enough to you to impose your will on the people and/or forces necessary to bring about the outcome you desire?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

First World Problems

What challenges are you facing? You forgot your paperwork? You can’t find a parking space? DANG! You’ve run out of milk? 

A friend of mine and I have a wonderful agreement. When one of us starts to complain about issues like those we refer to them as First World Problems. 

Neither of us, and no one we know, is walking an hour to get clean water. We aren’t worried where our next meal is coming from or where we can find health care…and if you are reading this you aren’t concerned about those issues either.

 It isn’t that our challenges aren’t, well, challenging. But, sometimes it is difficult look beyond our immediate stresses, isn’t it? 

Try this: Jot down three things you appreciate. They could relate to family, health, home, work, spirit. Focus on those for a few minutes. 

A University of Miami study showed that listing a few appreciations at the end of each day helps lower stress—including blood pressure—and gives us a more positive outlook. 

Try it right now.