April, 2012


30
Apr 12

What Next?

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Yep… me again.  Thanks for hanging out with me for a while.

As you may or may not know I have spent the last three blogs talking about the power of Choice, the number of choices we have, and the challenges this presents.

So I think I have massaged, poked at, and beaten the Choice topic sufficiently.

But your journey does not end with the selection of a choice or the making of a decision.  In fact, this is just the beginning.

Life is a continual series of steps.  There were several steps that led up to making a choice.  But the moment a choice is made, that moment becomes the past.

So, what’s next determines the destination.

We can only act in the present.  The past is gone and future is “not yet”.

Our choice reveals the desired destination but the action in the moment determines where we end up.

I would like to encourage and challenge you with a couple of thoughts as to moving forward when a decision is made.

First, I want to encourage you to “not to settle” for less than what can be for you.

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When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take, choose the bolder.
-  Sir William Slim
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I love this quote.  It really challenges me.  I have found myself asking this question in situations and have been the better for it.

Yes, it is easier and less stressful to take the more predictable path.  The bolder path has more unknowns.

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The ability to feel fear and keep moving forward distinguishes the living from the merely breathing.
- Nicholas Lore, The Pathfinder

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Life is too short to settle.

Secondly, don’t wait… move, take the step.

You have thought through the implications while making the decision.  Now is the time to act and act quickly.

The longer you wait the less likely you will move.  MOVE NOW!

There is power in action.

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In actual life every great enterprise begins with and takes its first forward step in faith.

-  Friedrich Von Schlegel

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Thirdly, don’t look back.

Face forward and move.  I have said this several times in my blog over the years, don’t let the past corrupt the future.

Looking back is wasted energy.

Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.

- Pope John XXIII
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I, like you, have stepped out and failed my fair share of times.

It is not pleasant.

But if I want a full life, I choose to

  • Make a choice
  • Make the bolder choice
  • Take a step
  • Not look  back

Life is a grand adventure… what a joy.

See you Thursday.

Ciao!


26
Apr 12

My Choice to Choose!

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It’s good to see that you came back to visit.

I promise there are no lengthy videos today.  The video in the last blog entry was really good with some great information but a little too long and a bit on the academic side… but worth it none-the-less.

If you read the last blog we talked about the incalculable multiplication of choices we face in everyday life and the chaos this creates.

Side Note: I am still in the quandary as to why we need over a hundred and seventy choices of salad dressing.

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This proliferation of choices raises one of the most important questions we need to ask ourselves.

IMPORTANT QUESTION

How do we shift our focus from the multitude of different choices that clutter our lives to the few choices that make a difference in our life?

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In other words… we have to make a choice about our choices.

Frankly, it’s easy to become intoxicated by the options we have and ignore the larger questions that bring stability and saneness to a chaotic life.

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“We think we want the freedom to choose – rather than make the choices that bring freedom”

- Joyce Meyer

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If not careful we can get caught in the blizzard of choices and become snow blind to other options.

Pretty soon we feel like life is happening to us and we are caught in a current that drags us along with or without our permission.

We find ourselves constantly (there’s that constant thing again) having to react to the decisions we face as we slowly loose sight of what we wanted our life to be.

Here’s the amazing reality.  We are not doomed to be the plaything of life or circumstances.

Believe it or not we can make the choice to stop the insanity of our lives brought on by the choices we have in life.  Weird huh?

Let’s be real world for a moment.  We cannot always choose our circumstances or the things that happen to us but we can choose our response.

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Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
- Viktor E. Frankl
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Please hear loud and clear, there is freedom of choice that brings true freedom.  I am not talking about the choice of a shelf full of different coffees but the choice to change the trajectory of your life.

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Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.
- Viktor E. Frankl
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I don’t know what your life is like or the struggles you are having with all the choices you face.

I have no idea if you live a life that is so cluttered that you can’t see any light; or whether you are at the other end of the continuum where you have disengaged from life.

Some of you need to make some hard decisions to stop and others need to make the hard decision to start.

I am at the point in the blog that I need to stop… so I am.

Ciao.  See you Monday.


23
Apr 12

Humm… which one should I pick?

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Hi… thanks for making the choice to check out my blog today.

The last four blogs I have been digging into the three Universal constants that impact every aspect of life.

If you read the last blog entry you know that I promised to go deeper into the third constant – CHOICE.

There is so much to this topic that I will need to break it up into bite size pieces.  The first thing I need to do is just address the magnitude of the choices.  It’s mind boggling.

Whether we like it or not, choice is the center of everything we do.

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A human being is a deciding being.
- Viktor E. Frankl
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We are constantly choosing and making decisions.  Do you ever get tired of having to make choices?

The reality is you cannot get away from making a choice.

Think about it, not to make a choice… is a choice.  Scary huh?

And to make things worse the customer centric world we live in has exploded the options we have in virtually everything.

All you have to do is go to the supermarket and look at the number of choices you have in just the chocolate aisle alone.

This begs the all important question.  Is the explosion of choices a good thing?

The answer is simply answered – Yes and No!

Human nature likes to have a choice.

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When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.

- Mae West

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There is something in our American DNA that loves options – the more the better.  And we are repulsed by anything that seems to restrict or limit our choices.

I ran across an amazing video, The Paradox of Choice by psychologist Barry Schartz.  He says that in reality the increased number of choices has two paradoxical implications.

First, the number of choices we have paralyzes rather than liberates, and secondly there is decreased satisfaction.

I have attached the video for those of you who want to dig into the topic a bit more.  The video is a little long (20 minutes) but very, very interesting.

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YouTube Preview Image

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Interesting huh?

I don’t know if I agree with everything but he makes some terrific points.

All these choices have cluttered our lives rather than simplify.  I don’t know about you but I want my life to be as simple as possible.

This takes us to the next aspect of the topic of choice.  What drives our decisions?

I will tackle this on Thursday.

Ciao.


19
Apr 12

The BIG Decision

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Howdy.  I’m glad you decided to pop in today.

I have to do something I haven’t been able to do in any of my blogs… write and post the entry in less than an hour.

Some of you that are regulars are probably amused that it takes me more than an hour to write these little discourses on life and the world.  Like I said from the beginning, I am not a writer nor am I the most colorful crayon in the box.

In the last three blogs I have written about the constants in our world that impact every aspect of our lives.

If we don’t understand them, or embrace them, our lives sadly occupy space toward the bottom of the pond where the debris and yucky stuff settle.  We can never fully enjoy the fresher, brighter waters toward the top.

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Side Note: Please, don’t ask me where these metaphors come from.  I have no idea.

They just seem to seep out as I type.  And yes, it frightens me too.

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The first two constants were Change (everything around us is constantly changing and moving), and Changelessness (the Universal Laws of nature and life that never change).

If you want a deeper understanding please go back and read them.  Remember, I only have less than an hour to pull this blog thing off.

Please don’t miss this next point.  The first two constants exist and we have NO control over them.  They are constants whether we like it or believe it.

They were in existence long before we popped out of our mother’s womb and will be in existence long after we have returned to dust.

The third constant is totally different.  This constant is completely within our control and exists only as long as we exist.

The constant is CHOICE.

It is our ability to choose and make decisions in respect to the other two constants.  We choose what we do and how we interface with the constants that impact our lives.

My wife and I recently watched an average romantic comedy called The Prince and Me.  It was cute but it would never win any awards.

But in the movie there was a statement made by one of the characters that just jumped off the TV screen to me.

The Prince was talking to his ailing father (the King) about the commoner he wanted to marry.  The King told his son:

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“It’s at the end of a man’s life when he realizes how important his decisions (choices) were at the beginning of his life.”

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How true!

Everyone one of us can look back and see choices that were good and… not so good.

We celebrate the good ones and try to forget the bad ones.

We are constantly making choices in regards to life and the two constants that swirl around us.  So we need to get it as right as we can.

I want to spend some time over the next couple of blogs to talk about Choice.

I hope you hang out with me as I poke at this topic a bit.

See you Monday.

P.S.  For those who are interested, I did finish in time.


16
Apr 12

Staying Afloat

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Hi, welcome back.

At the end of the last blog entry I made a fairly bold statement.  I said that in today’s entry I will talk about a constant that if taken to heart will fundamentally transform your life.

Yikes!  I’ve got a lot to live up to.  But I will give it a shot.

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Side Note: If you didn’t read the last entry I suggest that you take some time and scroll down the page and take a look.  I think you will get more out today’s entry if you do.

Don’t worry, you won’t go to hell if you don’t but it’s just a suggestion.

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As you know I have started talking about three Universal constants that impact our lives.  The first constant, change, has been our focus.

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Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.

- Arthur Schopenhauer
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I’m sure Arthur is a smart guy… but he’s wrong.  I think that if he removed the word “alone” from his statement he will be closer to the truth.

Today we will talk about a constant that sounds totally contradictory to Change.  The second constant is Changelessness.

Yes, things are constantly in motion, but… there are some things that NEVER change.  They are changeless.

There are Universal laws and principles that are constant.  And thank goodness they are.  We would not survive the constant change without the constant changelessness.

You can come up with your own list but there are laws of physics, math, science, etc.

All the changing that occurs still has to take into consideration or accommodate the things that never change.

Although aviation has changed dramatically and continues to change, the engineers still have to deal with the Laws of Physics.

You’re probably sitting there quickly scanning this blog and wondering, what’s the big whoop-de-do about this B.G.O. (Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious).

And to top it off you’re wondering how this meets the lofty standard I placed on this when I mentioned that if we really grasp this it will transform our life.

Fair question… just keep your head open and keep reading.  There are a couple of insights that I believe will elevate the constant of changelessness.

As mentioned, there are obviously the physical laws of nature.  Although these laws are abstract they are manifested in very tangible and measureable terms.

But we need to understand that there are other changeless laws that are just as real but not easily measured and quantified.

These are the changeless laws of relationships, heart and spirit.  They are just as real as the physical laws and must be a part of our consideration as we encounter and deal with change.

Allow me to give you a perfect example.  I mentioned that there are changeless laws of relationships.  The reality is, you cannot have a meaningful deep relationship with anyone without TRUST.

Trust is just as real to the law of relationships as gravity is to the law of physics.  It is a constant.

I do not have a list of all the laws of relationships, heart and spirit.  It is for us to discover.  I am sure you have discovered some on your own.  Share them if you would like.

Here are a couple from different people.

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Truth, though it has many disadvantages, is at least changeless. You can always find it where you left it.
- Phyllis Bottome

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Eternal principles that govern happiness apply equally to all.
- Russell M. Nelson
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I have one extremely important closing point.  I alluded to it earlier.

We talked about the turmoil and challenge we face as we navigate the teeming sea of change in which we live.

The way we successfully deal with the rough seas of change… is with changelessness.

These changeless principles are not anchors that keep us from changing but serve as ballast that keeps us upright and afloat.

That’s why it’s so important to know and understand the changeless principles of life.

Whew… this is a lot to take in and absorb.

But the next entry will tackle the greatest constant of all.

See you Thursday.


12
Apr 12

Go with the flow!

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Yep… me again.

In the last blog entry I started digging into the power of constancy.

On the surface it may sound boring but the implications for our life and the fulfillment we can experience in our life is profound.  Seriously, really, really profound.

Stick with me and I’ll prove it.

According to the dictionary constancy is invariable, uniform, continually occurring or recurring.  It is marked by steadfast resolution or faithfulness.

Okay, enough with the academic.  What does this mean for us in the real world?

I mentioned that there are three things that are Universal constants.  They are – Change, Changelessness and Choice.

In the last blog I poked at the issue of Change.  It is constant, never ceasing, relentless.

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“You never step into the same river twice.”

- Chinese Proverb

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The first time I read the proverb I tilted my head and had this puzzled look in my mind.  I didn’t immediately understand it at first.  Yes… you’re probably a brighter bulb than I am.  So don’t scoff.

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“He who laughs last, thinks slowest.”

- Unknown

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It took me a moment because I told myself that I have been in the same river many times.  But in reality, it wasn’t the same river.  The river is in constant motion and constantly changing.  It was always a different river.

Once again, life is in constant motion and we must continue to adjust and shift or change will force us to move.

Let me speak from experience, getting to the point where you are forced to change or move is not pleasant.  And it is never a gentle process.

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The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.
- Charles Kettering
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Our attitude toward change dictates our success in navigating the shifting landscape.  If not careful we can waste an inordinate amount of energy and life fighting the inevitable.

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It’s the most unhappy people who most fear change.
- Mignon McLaughlin

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The most fulfilled and successful at navigating these waters are those who accept change and work to be on the front edge.  This allows them to help channel the current in productive directions.

Wow… sorry if I have hammered this change thing too much.  But it is critical that we understand and accept this life dynamic.

I am probably like most of you in that it’s pretty easy to understand but accepting is pretty tough.

In good conscious in need to ask a couple of pretty pointed questions.

  1. What is something in the past you have hung on too for much too long?
  2. What were the consequences?
  3. Is there something now that you know in your heart that you need to release and shift with the change?

In the next blog I will talk about a constant that will sound exactly the opposite of what I have been saying.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I have NEVER said anything like what I am about to say.

The next blog entry will literally transform our life if we take it to heart.

See you Monday.

Ciao.


9
Apr 12

Motion Sickness

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Hello again.

I don’t know about you but it seems like the world is moving faster and faster.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to be able to push the pause button on life, catch my breath, get my bearings and press start again.

But… we can’t.

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“The only problem with life is that it’s so constant.”

- Unknown

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That’s the thing about something that is constant. It’s relentless.  It never stops.  There is no end.

You cannot fight something that’s constant… well… on second thought you can fight it… but you’ll lose.

Over time we either are worn down, worn out or we learn how to take the thing that is constant and use it to our favor.

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Constant dripping hollows out a stone.
- Lucretius
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I heard someone say onetime that there are three Universal constants – Change, Changelessness and Choice.

I think these three things are worth poking at for a while because they impact virtually every aspect of our lives.

In fact, I will make a pretty bold statement.

To the degree we understand them, accept them, and know how best to interface with these constants determines our level of happiness, fulfillment and success.

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CHANGE

Let’s face it… we live in a constant state of change.

As much as we want things to remain the same, change is inevitable.

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“It’s hard for me to get use to these changing times.  I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty.”

- George Burns

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Those of you who are parents can relate to what I am about to say.  There are times when you are with your child and you wish you could stop time and capture the moment.

But the reality is, moments are fleeting.

Those special times evaporate quickly and what remains are a few mementos and the memories.

It’s sort of like a ring in the bathtub.  We know that something was there, something happened and all we have is the residue.

The interesting thing about memories is that we don’t tend to remember the details, we remember the emotions… the way we felt.

Life, our bodies, our families, our work, everything is in a continual state of motion.  Yes, the speed of motion will vary but motion none-the-less.

We can fight change… but change wins.

Yes, change is tiring.  It’s relentless and we all suffer from change fatigue.

The key to dealing with change is to be on the front end of change, not the back end.

Being on the front end of change allows you to help guide it to your benefit.  I see this in companies all the time.

A company will fight an industry or societal change and before you know it… you’re irrelevant.

Kodak is a perfect example.  They led the field of photography but ended up on the back end of change in a digital world.

The same is true for us personally.  We either flow with change and grow, or we fight it and get the crap beat out of us.

Humm… I don’t know about you but I’ll take the first option.

Over the next couple of blogs I plan to unpack the other two constants… that is… unless something changes.

See you Thursday.


5
Apr 12

Jump Off or Hang On?

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Howdy, it’s nice to have you visit.

Well… if you read the last blog you know that I am taking a sharp turn to the left.

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Side Note: In case you are wondering, this is a metaphorical turn to the left not  political.

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In the last blog I waxed eloquent on the difference between Effectiveness and Efficiency.  And toward the end of the blog I mentioned that I thought it was worthy of a couple of more blog entries.

Wow!  What was I thinking?

As I was typing away I almost fell asleep.  Man was it boring.

I don’t know where my head was to believe a discourse on efficiency was going to be interesting enough for someone to read.

So instead I will use the opportunity to make a different “life point”.

At first when I considered scrapping the topic (which I had already announced) it crossed my mind that I was running from something.  Something hard or difficult.

I never want to be one who runs from difficulty.  And I especially don’t want to leave something that I had made a commitment too.

So when confronted with a problem in life we have one of two productive alternatives.  First, push through the difficulty and press on; or have enough sense to know it isn’t a good decision and make a change early.

Historically I probably hang on too long.  That tends to be a flat spot for me.  Other people’s flat spot may be that they jump ship too soon.

Both have their consequences if carried too far.  And both have amazing reward if executed correctly.

I could have continued the topic out of obligation and commitment and the results would have been an unsatisfied writer and a very bored and disinterested reader.

The remarkable thing is that it takes courage and strength to go against your tendency and do the right thing… and just as importantly, at the right time.

So some of you reading may be hanging on to something that needs to be released, or continuing something that needs to be stopped.

Cut your losses and move on.  Seriously… let it go and move on.

There are others reading this blog and your tendency is to jump off and run to something else when things get a bit tough or uncomfortable.

What a wuuse!   Yes,YOU.

I probably didn’t spell it right but you are still one regardless of how it’s spelled.

This is the beauty of life.  We are all different.

We are all trying to make our way in the world and trying to make a good life for ourselves and the people we love.

It is easier to stay with our tendency – hang on too long or jump off too soon.  If we are honest we can see these tendencies in different aspects of our life.

To grow and become better we have to push against our tendency.

I sure have a long way to go… a very long way.

But today I did not get trapped by my tendency and hang on to trying to make something work that needed to be dropped.

I feel better about today’s blog.  And let me assure you… if you read my other blog you would totally agree.

See you Monday.

Ciao.


2
Apr 12

Cultivate or Assembly Line


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Yep… me again… it must be a Monday or Thursday.

Here I am pecking away on my trusty computer keyboard praying that something worthwhile will somehow wiggle its way out of the gray matter and eventually flow through my fingertips on to the keys.

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Dance fingers dance.

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I find that it’s pretty easy to get my fingers to dance; it’s getting them to say something meaningful that’s the challenge.

What’s really frustrating is that something meaningful and creative cannot be forced.

Isn’t that fairly reflective of life?

The things that seem the most rewarding, fulfilling and meaningful are things you cannot force.  One can only create the environment and remove the clutter allowing these wonderful things to become a reality.

In fact, trying to force something typically hinders the very thing you want.

I’m sorry if I get a bit too philosophical but… here goes.

First, I have found that most things in life tend to fall into one of two categories.  There are things that tend to be fluid (organic) and things that are more linear (mechanical).  Yes, these are interwoven and seemingly inseparable but distinct none-the-less.

Secondly, I find that we naturally tend to be better at understanding and managing one over the other.

And thirdly (and here’s the trap if not careful), we try to navigate or manage both categories to the direction of our strength.

Yes, it’s logical to gravitate toward the direction that we are naturally gifted.  But to be successful we must understand, learn and approach the fluid and non-fluid totally differently.

How do we approach these two aspects of life?  I don’t mean to overly simplify the complexity of these two categories but in broad terms our approach is this.  Dealing with things that are fluid we must think in terms of being effective, with linear things we must think in terms of  efficiency.

Efficient vs. Effective

This is a pretty good delineation of how to approach most things of life.

For example, you must be efficient with things and effective with people.

As I said earlier, things that are fluid tend to be more organic, living, and evolving.  Relationships are a perfect illustration.

To prove my point, let me ask you a question.

Have you ever tried to be efficient with a teenager?  How did that work for you?

When we try to force fluid things it gets really really messy.  Conversely, when we allow too much looseness and flexibility with a system, that too gets very very messy.

I think that this is worth digging into over the next couple of blogs.

Hopefully I can be effective in talking with you and motivate you to come back to visit.  I will provide some real world examples that I believe you will find helpful.

Also, I will toss in some fun stuff to not make it too dry or boring.

Or I could try to be efficient and just tell you that you need to read this and your time to read this is Thursday at 10:00.

Uhhh… I could feel some of you just cringe.

Hey, I hope you check in.  I would love to have you visit.

Ciao.