April, 2011


28
Apr 11

Stop or you’ll lose your hand

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G’day mate.

After 135 blog entries I got tired of the run of the mill greetings such as – howdy, hi there, and welcome back.  On two rare occasions I ventured into the international arena with a simple “hola” or “Ciao”.

For whatever reason today felt a bit more cheerful and inviting so a “G’day mate” just trickled down my fingers to the keyboard and on to the screen.

Maybe I’m cheerful because the sun is out.  This morning was crisp, brilliant and beautiful.  Even the birds seemed to happier and chirpier.

I don’t know where you live but in our part of the country we have been drowning in rain.  Our area may set a new record for the most amount of rain to fall in any month since keeping records.  Needless to say, there is no shortage of water here or people feeling down because of the seemingly continual overcast skies.

Isn’t it funny (odd may be the better word choice) how things such as weather affect our moods and impact our emotional state?

Moods seem weird to me for some reason.  If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that I get in a crappy mood every now and then.  I even wrote about my mood earlier this month.

Side Note: Humm… maybe I am moodier than I think?

Nah, self enlightenment is not on my agenda for today.  Maybe that’s an insight to explore another day.

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Generally I am in a pretty good mood.  I tend to be a pretty positive person overall.

But have you ever met someone who always seems to have a stick up their butt.  You know, the person you hesitate to address.  They are, what you might call, even tempered – Always in a bad mood.

Frankly I don’t understand it.  It can’t be very fun to be them.  It is definitely not fun to be around them.

You may be wondering about the picture of the Jack Russell Terrier at the top of the page.  The picture is actually related to this point.

If you don’t know about Jack Russell Terriers they are amazing dogs.  Don’t let that cute face and little body fool you.  They are a big dog in a little body.  They are smart, energetic, spirited and shall we say… can be a bit temperamental if not managed carefully.

My wife and I were in Scotland a few years ago and spent the night in a small rather obscure village called Inveraray in County Argyll.

After dinner we were walking through this quaint village and noticed an older gentleman taking his Jack Russell on their evening walk.

As we approached the delightful duo, my wife being a dog lover, asked the fellow if she could pet the dog.

The setting, the duo and his simple response is one of those memorable moments that you carry with you and reflect on with fondness.  One of those memories you think about and smile.

With a strong Scottish brogue, he nicely, but matter-of-factly, said,

“Oh no mam.  He doesn’t even like himself.”

So we kept our hands to ourselves and strolled on enjoying the evening and smiling.

I don’t know about you but I find it hard to walk away smiling from people who tend to snap at an outstretched hand.  But I can’t let their snappy bad mood rub off on me.

Now if I am completely honest (uggh, honesty) I need to make sure that when I am in a snappy bad mood that I don’t bite people’s hands.

It’s not a good thing to do… tasty at times but not good.

Side Note: Frankly I think that I just impressed myself.

Somehow I started this blog with an Australian G’day Mate and ended up in Scotland with a Jack Russell terrier.

Don’t ask me how but somehow I did.

See you Monday mate.

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25
Apr 11

The Grind

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Hi there.

I have started this blog about fifteen times… seriously.  My mind is active and my fingers are moving but nothing worthwhile is being produced.  At least not yet.

The process has been going something like this – peck away on the keyboard, get some words on the page, read, grimace, delete, pause, repeat process.

I’m not giving up.  I’ll keep pecking away and I feel good about it… a bit frustrated but feeling good.

I believe that life rewards those who stick with something.

Sticking with something doesn’t guarantee success but it does guarantee (for me) satisfaction.  It is the satisfaction that only comes from pressing forward when things are NOT pleasant or fun.

It’s easy to keep going with things are going well and the energy of success is oozing out all over the place.  It doesn’t take any courage or sacrifice during those times when things are  fun, exciting and success is dancing in your hands.

Another thing that heightens the satisfaction level for me is that I can see where I have grown.  Historically I would have blown off the responsibility and moved on to something more enjoyable, more fun and less challenging… embarrassing, but true.

A personal ah ha for me is the realization that there is a difference between success and progress.

“All change is not growth; all movement is not forward.”

- Ellen Glasgow

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I would like to add to this quote… all success is not progress.

Success can be very deceptive.  The world we live in primarily focuses on success and measures one by those standards.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not slamming success.  I want to be successful and I admire successful people.

The bigger questions in life are: Are we moving forward?  Are we making progress?

The points of forward motion are where the stress, friction, difficulty and challenges lie.  These are the areas that require resolve and commitment.

I heard a coach say one time that every player likes the day of the game.  The excitement, cheers of the crowds, the attention.

But few are the players  who are willing to put in the time and energy on a hot field to improve their skills.  There is no roar of the crowd or success dancing on the finger tips – just the hard grind.

So bottom line is, I am feeling pretty good.  I feel I am accomplishing something and I am moving forward.  I like that feeling, its fulfilling.

Success has its rewards, and I want them.

But grinding along, putting one foot in front of another, moving forward and making progress has its reward too – fulfillment.  What a joy.

“I will go anywhere, provided it be forward.”

David Livingstone

So I am glad I kept pecking away.  I don’t know if the blog helped you but it sure helped me.

See you Thursday.


21
Apr 11

Tilt-A-Whirl World

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Hello.  It’s good to have you pop in and visit for a while.

I don’t know about you but sometimes my head starts spinning with all the changes around me.  Whew. 

Sometimes it feels like I am on a societal tilt-a-whirl spinning round and round.  The only scary news is that this tilt-a-whirl doesn’t stop to let you get off.  Is it a constant spin with no end.  In fact, it is only speeding up.

Side Note:  One memory I would like to forget involves a tilt-a-whirl.  I was eighteen and took a girl on a first date to Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

As you can see I was a cool dude… uh… maybe dud would be a better descriptor. 

Yes, the story is pretty predictable.  Being the “live on the edge” kind of guy we took the tilt-a-whirl for a… spin (sorry I just had to say it).  Well as you can guess the spinning got to me and I threw up. 

Let us just say, it was not a pretty sight.  And yes, it was a short and only date.  As a tip for future reference… tacos and tilt-a-whirls don’t mix.

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Anyway, I digress.

The world is whirling and changing so fast it’s hard to keep up.  I barely get my bearings and things change again.

I know change is going to occur.  We’re assured of that.  It’s the velocity that gets to me. 

I ran across some quotes that I found quite interesting.

“A new factor, that of rapid change, has come into the world. We have not yet learned how to adjust ourselves to its economic and social consequences.”

“The world is too big for us. There is too much doing, too many crimes, casualties, violence, and excitements. Try as you will, you get behind the race despite yourself. It is an incessant strain to keep pace and still you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world witnesses new scenes so rapidly that you are out of breath trying to keep up with them.”

“All is flux, nothing stays still.”

As you can see, we are not the only ones that struggle with the constant, speeding change.  But there is something interesting about these insights that I quoted above.

The first comment was written in the page of Harvard Business Review by Wallace Donham in 1932. The second one comes from the Atlantic Journal in 1837. The last remark was made by the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, five hundred years before the birth of Christ.

Humm, I guess this “change” thing has been a nuisance for a while. 

I think we need to hang on, enjoy the ride and try not to fight the current. 
See you Monday.


18
Apr 11

Lesson Learned… or Not Learned

Howdy.

I heard something a while back that has stuck around in my head.

You know… the kind of weighty thought that hangs around the edges and periodically pokes its head around the corner to let you know its still around.

Although not heavy, the presence of the persistent gentle weight over time demands attention… a closer examination.

So today is the day I take a closer look.

A teenage girl was being interviewed on television about a traumatic and challenging event in her life and how it impacted her.

Before I go further I have to get my embarrassment out of the way.  I neither know the girl’s name nor the details of her ordeal.  The TV was on in the background and I was only catching bits of her story about the tragedy she experienced and the blessings that have been realized as a result.

It was at the end of her interview when she made a statement that captured my attention and caused me pause.  She said…

“Things like I went through are the only times in life where lessons are learned after the test.”

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I don’t know about you but I think the statement is quite profound.  It has really made me think.

Our entire school experience is base on studying and then being tested to determine the level of retention.  You noticed I said retention.  Honestly I can’t think of many things in school (other than the basics of reading, writing, and math) that have served me directly in my life.

I learned facts and then try to regurgitate them at test time.

In the spirit of full disclosure I have to admit that I didn’t remember too many facts during test time.  The reason is simple… I didn’t study.

My grades were bad, really bad.  Let’s just say that I was in the half of the class that made the upper half possible.

But I digress; the kind of learning the girl was talking about is real world stuff.  The kind of learning that impacts the trajectory of one’s life.

Most of the challenges in life are not addressed by our academic prowess but the way we view the situation and the way we think.

Unfortunately life can offer some severe blows.  And let’s face it, some bad stuff we bring on ourselves and at other times it is thrust upon us without regard for who we are, how good we are, or how diligent we are about being responsible.

It’s life and life can be hard and seem very unfair.

We can spend a lot of energy bemoaning this reality and fearing the worst.  But that leads to and feeds the traps of fear and victimization.

I don’t pretend to know what you have gone through.  But then again you don’t know what I’ve experienced.  There is little value, if any, in sharing our war stories.

The greater issue is how well do we emerge from the war we experience.  What have we become?  What have we learned?

At these points in our life it doesn’t matter how we did at learning as we prepared for the test in school.

But now the issue is, how good are we at learning after the test has been given.

See you Thursday.


14
Apr 11

Plaid Shirt or Pocket Protector

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Hi there.

Well, it’s 7:30 a.m. and I am feeling the pressure to write something worthy of reading.

I know a lot of people who say that they work best under pressure.  In fact, I used to feel the same way.  That is until one day I got smacked with a reality check.

Someone told me that it’s not that you work best under pressure but it’s that you’re more motivated under pressure.  Uuugh… I didn’t want to hear that.  But it was true.

In a time pinch I am forced to focus my energy on the task at hand.  A looming deadline requires me to limit my options and tackle the project.  As you can probably guess I am a somewhat loose creative type that likes to…shall we say… flow… keep my options open.

Please understand, I am not complaining that I tend to be looser in my approach to life.  The good parts of my personality type are wonderful.  I love the serendipity of life and all the surprises just around the corner.  To experience these things one needs to be somewhat fluid and open.

But there is an ugly side too.  Like all things there is a ying and yang dimension.

There are some people who live their lives so loosely and freely that they won’t stop hugging baby seals long enough to get anything done.

They can’t even make simple decisions.  Their favorite color is plaid.

I am not bragging but I think I have learned to enjoy to positives and minimize the negatives.

Now I know that those of you who live at the other end of the personality continuum have a tough time understanding we creative types… humm, small world.  You confuse us too.

But the reality is, it’s the same for you.  Let’s say that you’re the buttoned down type.  You may be more organized and disciplined.  I admire and envy these great qualities.  Impressive.

Just like me, you reap the benefits of your good qualities that make life enjoyable and meaningful.

But before you get all arrogant and cocky about your superior attributes you may need to put that pen back in your pocket protector.

But let’s face it; your style has a dark side too.

Some of you need to get a life.  Some of you are wound a bit too tight.  For some, your butts are so tight you can pick up a dime.

I guess what I am saying is that we are all blessed to live in an amazing world with wonderful variety.  And we and our differing styles are part of that variety.

So for you creative types, focus on something for a minute and get something done.  You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to accomplish something.

And for you disciplined types, look around.  Believe it or not, there is a world just beyond your check list.

I know it’s scary to get too far from your “feel good” sheet but I want you to know that there’s a multitude of great things to enjoy that does not carry the guilt of feeling you have to accomplish something.

Hopefully I will see you back on Thursday.


11
Apr 11

Ooops! That was ugly.

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Have you ever just blown it?  I mean really blown it!

I am not talking about a moral failure but a performance collapse.

Side Note: Uuuh… guys… I am not talking about that kind of performance collapse.  Get your mind back in the game where it belongs.

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Sorry ladies, I just had to take a quick side step to do a little man management.  I needed to make sure they didn’t go down a totally different path of thought.

OK, back to the question.  Has there ever been a time that you completely dropped the ball doing something at which you are considered very good?

You know, one of those times you collapsed like a cheap lawn chair.

I saw this happen yesterday.

Twenty-one year old Rory McIlroy was leading the Master’s golf tournament by two strokes at the beginning of the day.  By the time it was over he shot a +8 for the round and dropped to fifteenth in position.

I wasn’t particularly rooting for him to win but I sure didn’t want him to experience humiliation in front of a hundred million people around the world.

Believe it or not this blog is not about Rory and his collapse.

The truth is we all fail at one time or another.  Fortunately my failures are not as public, nor are yours would be my guess.

The fact that we fail is not the heart of the issue.  The bigger question is what we do with the failure.

I contend that more is revealed about the person who dramatically fails than the one in the winner’s circle.

Unfortunately, sometimes a dramatic failure breaks something.  Something is never the same.  A confidence or swagger is lost that is important for sustained success.

Or the failure reinforces something.  A resolve to learn, improve and come out better on the other side.

Rory when interviewed seemed pretty poised and matter of fact about the collapse.  He sounded mature and appeared to see his set-back in context of the big picture.

I hope so, but only time will tell.

This may sound odd but failure has a powerful presence in success.

Failure is the flame that tempers the steel.  The painful trauma displaces the rigidity and the character of the element is that of flexible strength.

Doesn’t that ring so true in life?

It seems that the people who have weathered the greatest storms possess a quiet strength that transcends the moment.  There is a secure knowledge and confidence that “this too will pass” and good will come from it.

How do you handle failure?  I am not trying to pry… just asking.  I have to ask the same question of myself.

It’s ironically funny in that we spend our entire lives trying to avoid failure, yet it is failure that lays the foundation for success.

See you Thursday.


7
Apr 11

Gone Fishin’

Good day… or evening or whenever.  I just hope you’re good regardless of when you’re reading this.

Finally!  We are having a nice spring day.  It is a wonderful break after experiencing a very cruel relentless winter.

But today is different.  The abundance of sunshine, blue skies and singing birds become a siren song to…

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The hypnotic song of sights and sounds easily intoxicate me with the notion of taking off.

But unfortunately the responsibilities of the day are the wax in the ears that keep the sweet siren song from taking hold and preventing me from my assigned mission, work stuff.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Playing hooky is not beyond me what-so-ever.  I have done my share of bolting for the door.  I don’t even need good weather as an excuse.

But I must confess, I am much better at playing hooky as an adult than as a teenager.

It seemed that when I was a kid every time I tried the hooky thing I got caught.  Moms have a way of finding out those kinds of things.  You know exactly what I mean.  The magical and mysterious knowledge that put fear into every move you made… cause she knew… somehow she knew.

There are some people who do not risk playing hooky by physically leaving, but they play hooky in their head.

Their body sits at the desk and their hands are on the keyboard but they are not there.  The trancelike look in the eye and the drool on the shirt is a dead give-a-way that they’ve checked out for the day.

Side Note: Believe it or not I am actually going to make a point of all of this.  I am not totally sure how but it’s my plan none the less.

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The hooky thing is fun to think about and I am sure just mentioning the word brings back memories.

I am not an advocate of blowing off responsibilities but playing hooky is something we all need to do on occasion.

Side Note: Some of you reading this blog are experts at hooky.  You don’t need me encouraging you to take off.

If anything, you need to stop playing hooky and get your ass back to work.

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Now those of you who have a tough time letting go… listen up.  Play hooky sometime.

But here’s the tricky part.

If you decide to play hooky… don’t spoil it by feeling guilty.

Here’s my advice.  Give yourself permission to take a break.

Uh… I guess I will finish now because I am keeping you from taking a grand adventure.  Have a good time.

While you go to have a good time I have to get my hooky playing ass back to work.

See you on Monday.


3
Apr 11

Don’t Give Me any Crap

Howdy.  Good to see you.

I have a question for you.  Do you ever just feel… crappy?  There may be no specific reason for the mood, it’s just that you feel bad.

I am sure you have your times just like me.  Today I feel crappy.

I know you don’t want to read a blog about me feeling blah.  I sure wouldn’t want to read something that’s a downer.  Hopefully by the time you finish you will find it to be an encouragement.

The bigger question is what do you do when you’re feeling down.

Honestly I am like everyone else.  When I feel crappy I just huff and puff around the house and growl when someone gets too close.  Pleasant huh?

Surprisingly, there is another option.  Sounds simple, but its not always easy.

The other option is… choice.  Choosing to change our attitude.

There are times when I must grab the mood by the neck, push it against a wall and put it in its place.

I am not saying it is easy, but it’s absolutely doable.  It’s our choice.  I can choose to stay in a crappy mood and allow it suck the life out of me.

It is not much fun being around someone who is in a terrible mood.  When you think about it… how self centered.  If you’re going to stay in a bad mood just sequester yourself in isolation as not to ruin everyone else’s day.

By choosing to stay in a bad mood and continue to be around other people I become a carrier of crap infecting all that I come in contact with.

I in no way pretend to have a handle on this gift… choice.  But there is someone who has amazing insight and experience with this very thing.

Someone who knows about choosing ones attitude is Viktor Frankl.

Viktor Frankl

He was a prisoner at a concentration camp during WWII.  He later became a Psychiatrist and wrote a book Man’s Search for Meaning.

“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

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In his book he said that being in camp always required a decision.  Everyday there it was a decision to choose your attitude or “…become a plaything to the influences in camp.”

He talked about those who would rise above the surroundings and give their last bit of food or encourage.  People daily made choice of a noble nature, and others chose a lower path.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”

- Viktor Frankl

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How convicting!  Yes we all have struggles and challenges in our lives.  I am not making light of the things you or I face.  They’re real and they’re difficult.

But there is proof that there is a better way.

I don’t know about you but I want to choose.  I choose to force through the funk and write this blog.  You know what?  I feel lot’s better.  In fact, I feel really good.

I can’t figure out why so many times I settle for less when more is available.

Feeling crappy?  Make a choice and then look around for a task needing done… and do it.

See you Thursday.