Showing posts from 2019

Ideas, Insights, And Inspiration From Unlikely Places

I recently read a tweet (source) about how Kobe Bryant changed his fade away jump shot after watching a Discovery Channel show about how cheetah's hunt. It called out how interdisciplinary learning can be one of the greatest advantages in life. If Kobe Bryant had only spent his time learning about other great shooters in basketball and studied video of their shots, he might not have come up with what he did. Looking outside what most people consider normal you can find all kind of new ideas.

I have found in my life that I discover a lot of ideas from unlikely places. I've learned ideas to apply to software development from reading about manufacturing processes. I have tried things as a parent that I learned from management books. I have learned how to be a better leader from reading theology books. The answers we need are not always in the most likely places we will look.

Ironically some of the greatest discoveries in history were found by accident. Look up the histories of pe…

What Should I Do With My Life?

As we are getting closer to graduation season and my daughters are coming to the end of another dance season it is impossible to ignore the fact that there are some of these girls that we've known for a decade or more are moving on to college and the next chapter in their lives. I just finished reading Tribe Of Mentorsby Tim Ferris and couldn't help but reflect on this transition as I read through the closing statements which talked about how the big questions we ask ourselves in our lives are probably not the right questions we should be asking. We shouldn't ignore planning but asking ourselves, "What should I do with my life?" is a bad practice. How many people know what their plan is getting out of high school and it actually taking that path? How many people in their lives use
the degree they went to college for? I am but I didn't decide on my major until my junior year in college, even then my career has taken a few turns along the way I certainly didn&…

Don't Be Afraid To Work Yourself Out Of Your Job

One of my key philosophies in my career has always been to look at working myself out of my job. This quote though takes that idea to a whole new level:
I'm going on the road and I'm trying to replace you. Your job is to teach the new guys how to take your job and know they can't do it." - Erik Chinander I know that sports is different than a typical workplace but I love this. If you are operating out of a scared mindset that you need to protect your job, and keep everyone below you, what often happens is you end up making yourself look weaker and you certainly make your team weaker.

If you want a winning team, help make sure everyone is working to be better than you and that you are working to be better than everyone else. I have always looked at it myself that there is enough change new opportunities are going to come up, new challenges will arise that I might be interested in. If I'm so buried trying to hold onto what I have it will be harder to let go of it wh…

Things Aren't Going As You Planned - Now What?

No matter how much you think you have a plan and a schedule in your life, things will come up that will take you off track. You have a plan for the day or the week and you get sick so you can't do any of the things that you were planning on. Problems come up that you have to deal with but they take away from the work that was on your schedule that day.

You can complain about your problems, or you can figure out how to adapt. I get that things aren't going as you planned, but this is reality now. The next steps are up to you. Your attitude is up to you. It might feel like you don't have control over anything, but you have more control than you think. It is just one more problem for you to solve.

Don't Let The Perfect Be The Enemy Of The Good

I've heard this saying a number of times recently, in a variety of formats. I like the version that is attributed to Voltaire mostly because I like pretending to be smart by quoting Voltaire.

There are too many times we don't like to move forward because we don't have all of the information, haven't covered all of the scenarios, or feel like we don't have all of the experience we need. We don't apply for our dream job because we feel like we don't have the experience needed or are simply afraid of being told we aren't right for the position. We don't want to start writing because we feel like there are lots of other writers that are much better than us. The part we never see is the countless hours of practice and bad writing that happened to become better, to be the writer we see today.

Everyone starts out as a novice, a beginner. You can still make music even if you aren't Mozart. You can still write even if you aren't Shakespeare. You can…

Nobody Gets Through Life Without Any Scars

I had to take my 12 year old daughter for one of her two annual checkups for her heart recently. Two days later I see this tweet from @montaguemaura:
Don’t hide your scars. They are evidence that you are fighting. You have to be in the battle to win it.You can’t get through this life without a few battle scars. Nothing to be ashamed of. God has Grace for that. My daughter has been through a number of battles, that has left her with some scars. We all have scars though, some you just can't easily see.

Our life is not defined by what does or doesn't happen to us. We aren't defined by our scars, we are defined by how we react. We all have struggles that we go through. We have challenges, mistakes and regrets. We follow a path we think is right, only to realize we made the wrong choice. We say things we shouldn't have and don't speak up when we should. We are even the cause of some scars in others.

The terrible times and bad mistakes are not the last door to ever be op…

Everyone Wants To Get There Fast

We are working on a project now at work that has taken much longer than we at first estimated. It is a terrible feeling to miss the mark the way we have, but the number one reason we are taking longer is because we are trying to build something beyond a one time fix, something with real lasting power that will work for lots of similar situations down the road.

There is always a trade-off, the more people you involve, the more scenarios you try to fix with your solution, the longer it will take. Hopefully those extra meetings and the extra time has a benefit of something far greater created for the long run.

You have to know what your goal is, and as a leader be okay with making a sacrifice because you can't have it all. Is your goal to be first in a hundred meter sprint or do you need a relay like the Pony Express to get something over a great distance? Everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too, no one ever has.

Meetings Musings - I Waste Too Much Time In Meetings

Have you ever had those times when you know that God is really trying to get your attention on something? I've had that recently thinking about meetings.

It started when I read a quote from Tribe of Mentorsattributed to John Arnold:
There are many organizations that fret over small, direct expenses, yet have no misgivings about keeping superfluous staff tied up in a conference room for hours. I then looked at my calendar and the number of meetings I have in a week and I could see why I don't ever get anything done. Just this week if have 36 meetings on my calendar, in just 5 days. It includes meetings that I've scheduled, 1-on-1's with employees, daily Scrum calls that take no more than 15 minutes, project status calls, etc. I won't go to all of them either, as there are 4 that I'm double booked for. But it is easy to see why I'm starting to analyze my meetings and where I'm spending my time.

The number one thing I'm working on is trying to be more …

Better Management And More Humanity

Heard an interesting quote recently by Jim Collins (author of Good to Great and other titles) attempting to summarize Peter Drucker's life and work, who was probably the greatest management thinker and author of all time. He said that Drucker spent his life trying to answer the question, "How do we make our society both more productive (i.e. better management) and more humane?"

As a manager this idea definitely hit me hard because it is something I struggle with, and I see most people in management positions struggle with. We have a very competitive nature in the business world and this need to either be successful or just hold on to our jobs over people that seems to have no morals. Where direction given is sometimes simply, "Just get the job done."

I use a lot of sports analogies in my job, and most successful teams have a coach that has been strict, or pushed them to reach higher levels of performance. There is a balance there in so many places in life, how …

Seize Every Opportunity You Can In Life

There are opportunities that come along in our life that we have to dare to jump at. There are times that you get a chance to try for something and failure is a possibility. You have a moment to go on stage and perform a solo or give a speech, in front of 100's of people, and yes, it could go horribly wrong. That fear sets in, you don't want to be embarrassed. You wonder what people will think of you if it doesn't go well. It is easy to play it safe and turn down the offer.

Take the chance anyway.

You don't want to live your life just wishing you had taken the opportunity. Regretting that you didn't take the chance of embarrassment to feel the rush of performing, with all eyes on you. You might not be the greatest ever to do it, but you are one of the few that actually did try. Your first time might not go perfectly, but you can learn from it. Realize that it wasn't as bad as you thought and determine what you need to do the next time to make it better.

So You Had A Bad Day - Now What?

A recent tweet by @JonAcuff (a very entertaining follow) talked about the most dangerous day for any goal is "The Day After Perfect." It was referring to the times we break an accomplishment streak and we just let the slide take over. How true it is that we let one off day define us. One bad day break us down that we figure since we already missed yesterday what is the point of hitting today.

We all have bad days, when things don't go as we want. Don't let the bad day keep you down. Your bad day is in the past, today is the day you can define who you want to be.

A New Appreciation Of The Power In Words

Words are a funny thing. A word can have multiple meanings, like mine (it's mine vs. dig coal in a mine), organ (instrument or body part) or date (fruit, calendar day or person you are going out with). Words can change meaning over time like how tweet used to just be the sound a bird made. Words can even mean different things to different groups of people, if I say something is lit it will mean something very different to my daughter than it would to my mother.

Definitions of words can be a funny thing too. People don't often look up the words they use and yet often we have definitions in our heads that don't match what is in the dictionary. This happened to me recently in a conversation where we were talking about humility. When you look up the word humility in the dictionary it is, "a modest or low view of one's own importance." That is very different then what I always thought of embodied in C.S. Lewis' quote, "A truly humble man will not be think…

You Are The Piece That Completes The Puzzle

I hate to break it to you, but not everyone likes you, and that is okay. That doesn't mean you are broken or worthless. It just means that you are unique. Just like a puzzle where each unique piece has its spot that completes the picture, you are the unique piece that fits into God's creation to make His picture beautiful. Every piece matter though and don't let anyone tell you differently, especially yourself.

Should we try to get along with the people we work with, live next to, go to school with, cross paths with in the store and every area of life? Certainly, be a good human, but not everyone will want to be best friends.

Continue to try to be the best person you can be, but accept that you will never be perfect.

Once we realize that about ourselves, we also need to realize it about everyone we cross paths with. They also aren't perfect so we shouldn't expect them to be.

People Are Not Issues

When we make mistakes it is easy to see ourselves as the issue. When people point out our mistakes it is easy to get defensive or beat ourselves up. It is easy to see issues as the people themselves and that is what our society likes to do today, but it isn't about the people, it is about the issue.

My kids make mistakes, and when they do sometimes I get mad or disappointed. Often they feel hurt and will tell me that it feels like I don't like them. I tell them that I love them and that what I don't like is the choice they made. I'm not mad at them, I'm mad about their decisions

I think most parents think and feel the same way, yet when it comes to the people that we work with or go to school with, we think of them as the issue, when it really shouldn't be any different.

We need to start recognizing that people are people and issues are issues and treat each appropriately.

Beware Of Shortcuts - They Usually Give The Wrong Impression

We all have those moments when it feels like we have more to do than there is any feasible way of getting it all done. It is easy in those moments to look for shortcuts. To try and find the quickest way of getting done just enough that you can cross it off your list.

That is the easy way, but it doesn't get you very far.

The other way to look at it - how can you deliver your best work given the obstacles in front of you? Can you spare 10 minutes to make it just a little bit better then the minimum? How much time will it take to deliver something you can be proud of?

A key to being successful is finding the right mix of getting it done and getting it done well. Proofreading your report one time, yes, please take the time to do it at least once. But you probably don't need to proof it 20 times, somewhere along the way your time proofreading becomes wasted.

Finding ways to be more efficient and effective with our time is a good thing. Finding shortcuts usually just shows people y…

Is Hard Work Enough?

In a recent conversation we were discussing things our group could do to get better. A comment was made about how mistakes were made yes, but they were working hard on the problem. It got me thinking about how often we are working hard, but yet aren't being effective. The analogy that popped into my head as I reflected on this concept was as follows.

Imagine if you have to put a post in your yard, you know you have to dig a hole. You dig that hole and you work hard at it. When you are done you have a hole and worked up quite a sweat doing it. You are probably sore and maybe even have a few blisters. Nobody would deny that you didn't work hard. But if the hole is in the wrong spot in your yard that hard work really meant nothing. Worse, if you started digging and didn't call the utility companies you could have dug a hole and cut a wire causing a very expensive and perhaps even deadly problem.

Working hard is important, but make sure we are working hard at the right things.

Maybe We Need To Start Doing Things More Radically

I've been working my way through Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferris. It is a nice book to read daily, reading one section at a time. If you like inspirational quotes, ideas, book recommendations it is a great resource (you can buy it here).

One of the quotes I read that really struck a chord with me was by Ray Dalio, "Think for yourself while being radically open-minded."

I love this idea. We tell people to think for themselves, come up with your own ideas, don't wait for someone to tell you what to do. But we all know those people that go too far with this concept, they think their idea is great and they argue against everyone.

Being open-minded means that you are open to input and suggestions. You welcome feedback and listen to it even if it isn't what you want to hear. When you add the word radically in front you take this concept to a whole new level. The definitions of radically is "in a thorough or fundamental w…

What A Little Kindness Can Do

I was at the grocery store recently and I had the opportunity to help a lady who had her hands full put her cart away, it literally took less than ten seconds of my time. I walked away thinking about how good that smile and thank you felt. I realized something about myself that I hadn't ever really given much thought to, how much I like being kind to others. I don't know how much of an impact it really has on a persons life, but I hope that in a world with so much negativity that I can make a small positive impact.

If you think of your own life, I imagine you can think of some random acts of kindness that someone did to you, and most importantly you remember how it made you feel. I had to make an appointment one time and the receptionist made a comment about getting things setup with the important person, and I told her that she was the most important person right now because without her I wouldn't get an appointment. I imagine that she has a difficult job at times, dealin…

Past, Present and Future - The Need For Balance.

As we journey through life we can look forward, look backwards or look around at where we are. You need to do all three, and one is not more important than the other.

You need to look back. It is valuable to see how far you've come. If you only focus on the future and where you want to go you can get discouraged, forgetting that even though you aren't where you want to be you are still farther than where you were.

You need to look at where you are. We need to be present, enjoying the moments and relationships of each day. Being ready to seize the opportunities of the moment that present themselves. If we are only focusing on the future or the past we miss the life that is right in front of us.

We need to look forward. You can't be content with how far you've come. You have a goal of where you want to go, you can't be content with how far you've come if you still haven't reached your destination. If you are looking to go from LA to New York, if you are in Oh…

How Much Should I Think About Little Things?

It has been a crazy period at work lately, I've found that little things have been tripping up my team. Little things in communication. Little things in our testing process. Little things in the requirements gathering. You name the phase of software development it hasn't been kind to us lately. It got me thinking about the little things and how important they are. Or are they not important? A quick Google search and it doesn't really surprise me why we get confused with the conflicting messages before us on how we should view the little things. 

Enjoy the little thingsDon't sweat the small stuffIt's the little things that matter mostThe devil is in the detailsLittle things can make big things happen
It seems to me that there is a balance, or a yin and yang effect when it comes to the little things. As a parent, watching my child go through major heart surgery three times in her life I can see that the little things don't matter and they do matter. It doesn't…

What Parts Of Our Life Keep Us Captive?

I love how a single quote will resonate with me and connect with multiple areas of my life. I haven't read any books by Erwin McManus but words like this are enticing.

What are the things that keep us captive and what is our freedom? For some it might be staying in a job we don't like because it pays the bills rather than taking a risk on a career change or starting your own business. It could picking your classes and career path based on what your parents or others of influence tell you. Some could be following the crowd rather than declaring who they are and accepting that not everyone may like them but that is okay.

We get comfortable and complacent, slowing letting the days go by feeling unexcited and uninspired. We do our jobs even though there are things we know could be better, afraid that challenging the status quo could impact our position. Scared to speak up, following the processes given to us and responding, "That is how I was told to do it."

The greatest…

If You Are Looking For Inspiration, Here Is Where You Can Find It

Everyone talks about the million dollar idea. That spark of ingenuity that creates something incredible. A work of art that others talk about. The tweet that goes viral. The best seller in the sea of infinite choices.

Most of us sit around and wait for inspiration to strike, to have an idea hit us that nobody has thought of and have the ability to turn it into something. Unfortunately that is why so many people in the world spend their days unfulfilled, hoping for a spark. We have a lot of people that are stuck in a routine of doing the same thing, day after day, because someone said that is the way it is done.

Change, growth, art and advancements come from new ideas and fresh thinking. Sometimes to find quality ideas you have to go through a large quantity of ideas. Look at some of the best known creators in history:

Shakespeare produced 37 plays and 154 sonnets in a span of 20 yearsMozart composed more than 600 pieces before he died at age 35Picasso's work includes more than 1800…

You Perform As You Practice

A statement said and heard often in our house lately is you perform as you practice. Whether it is at school, dance or at cheer we try to emphasize how important every practice is. It is so easy to get bored with the grind of the practice, waiting for the excitement and adrenaline rush that comes from the actual performance, in front of a crowd. Champions are made based on the performance, but that performance is made based on the practice.

Practicing at school or at work is no different. Every homework assignment is practice to prepare you for the performance of the test. At work every project or code release, no matter how insignificant or low risk it seems is an opportunity to hone your craft.

If you want to be the best, learn to love the grind of the practice. Learn to love all of the details, the exercises, the little things that you drill over and over again until they become second nature. When you practice at an elite level the performance will take care of itself. You don'…

Fyre Festival And The Frog In The Boiling Water

Just watched the documentary on the Fyre Festival, a luxury music festival that never was. It was a fascinating look at how momentum and the wrong kind of leadership can lead people into a complete disaster.

After watching I was reminded of the saying about how you can't kill a frog by dropping him into hot water, he reacts too quickly and he immediately jumps out, no harm done. But if you put a frog in cold water and gradually warm it up until it is boiling hot, you have a cooked frog without him even realizing it is happening.

There were lots of people involved with putting on the Fyre Festival, and almost all of them didn't do anything criminally wrong. The thing that is interesting was the number of people that knew something was off but couldn't seem to do anything to stop it.

I believe that many of us face situations like this in our lives, probably not as big of a disaster as Fyre Festival, but it is still a lesson for us. When my instincts tell me something is wrong…

Paying Attention To Customer Happiness

When you ignore the times the Internet seems to be one flame war after another you can find those great moments when you discover something really interesting. Recently I learned a little about Derek Sivers, an entrepreneur who has started a number of businesses over the years helping to reshape the music industry. He now is focused on helping people build companies in a number of foreign countries.

What really got me thinking is a couple of his quotes about customers.
Care about your customers more than about yourself, and you'll do well. - Derek Sivers I've seen businesses go to a point of not caring about their customers at all with their actions and they don't even know it. They think they do, but when customers try to tell them that they aren't happy they try to explain away their actions with what they've convinced themselves are legitimate good reasons. All the while their customer base shrinks as they go to the competition or other alternatives.

We need to l…

Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness - Choose To Be A Light

We celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day yesterday and I think it is an important holiday that doesn't get the attention that it deserves. Not only is it important to remember what this man did in our nations history, but more importantly remembering the ideals and principles that he asked that we all believe in. Our world today is filled with so much hatred and vitriol, fed by media conglomerates that play to their demographics desires. Martin Luther King Jr. desired for our nation to hold onto the ideals that are stated in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Freedom and equality for all is something that we still don't see in our nation. 
In our schools and workplaces lines are drawn and allegiances are formed in battles over status, power and ego. Darkness and hate seem to be winning in our world, but the secret weapon is you. Each of us have the ability to simply choose to be light and love in the world we are a part of, no matter how big or how small. Ev…

Thoughts On Leadership - If You Don't Think You Are A Leader Read Anyway

I just finished reading Todd Gongwer's great book, Lead...for God's Sake!: A Parable for Finding the Heart of Leadership. It really got me thinking about leadership and how there is such a lack of good leaders. Why is that? Too often I believe people think of leadership as managing, controlling or being in charge. Leadership is none of those things as many of us have experienced far too often in life.

There are two keys to leadership that differentiate a person we view as a leader.

First, they focus more on how they can help others than how they can help themselves. Looking at how they can encourage, support and listen to those they come in contact with.

Second, they know that they have to start with leading themselves first. They worry about what they say, how they act, the effort they put in and the attitude they display. There has never been a successful do as I say not as I do leader. If you want to make an impact it is important to recognize the example you are setting fo…

Now What?

Now what?
Two words I ask myself a lot and challenge others with. It is so easy to complain, whine really about how hard things are. Things are hard. Life is hard. All of us face conflicts and struggle with things, but most of the time the things we complain about aren't that big of a deal. Having to get a project done and seemingly not enough time to do it is is hard, but not as hard as not being able to find work to pay rent. 
All of those challenges that you complain about, my question to you is, "Now what?" You know what the problem is, you can complain about it to anyone who will give you the time of day. The question is what are you going to do about it now? What actions are you going to take? What are you going to read or learn to improve your skills? How can you get more training? Who can you ask for advice or feedback on how to resolve your issue? When can you spend some extra time thinking about and solving a problem rather than binge watching your favorite sho…

What Does It Mean To Be A Family?

After watching Clemson win the National Championship I am reminded how much I love Dabo Swinney. Listening to the man speak and reading his quotes you can tell how much he cares for his players and just how unified they are as a team. There is something special and unique about the culture they have, something that very few teams have.

It got me thinking about how some teams are families and what the word family means. I see Clemson football as a family. Often you see a correlation between the degree with which you are family and the level of success you achieve. All teams are not families though. It can be true for more than just sports teams too. You can have companies or organizations that have a culture of a family. You can also have blood relatives but not have a family but have close friends that you think of as a brother or a sister. 

Relatives, co-workers and teammates are people you have a relationship with. But to find success, it is about moving beyond having a relationship …

The One Choice Nobody Can Take From You

I need to reread Viktor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning as I've been reflecting on some of his quotes around choice and attitude lately. If you aren't familiar with Viktor Frankl he survived years in a Nazi labor camps, including Auschwitz, where his parents, brother and pregnant wife died. Out of a situation that most of us can't even truly grasp, he came out of it to give us words like this.

You think about the things we complain about in our lives, and the things we feel have no control over, they are most often inconsequential. Yet we let these things control our thoughts and feelings.

I realize that some of my core values in my life are based around lessons Viktor Frankl has given.

I can't control what life throws at me, but I can control my attitude and how I react to the situations I'm in.It does no good to worry about things that I can't control.Most things we worry about in life aren't really that big of a deal. I get that things in your l…

Finding Your Purpose

As we get rolling on 2019 the goal setting is well under way, the resolutions are still in tact and the changes that you've promised to yourself many times are renewed telling yourself this time you're really going to do it. For some though, you might be feeling stuck, like you aren't really sure what your goals are for the year. The idea of goal setting and resolutions got me thinking about purpose. Often times we fail because we forget why the goal is important. Two quotes entered my mind around finding our purpose as we start 2019.
We don't get burned out because of what we do. We get burned out because we forget why we do it. Purpose keeps you fresh! - Jon Gordon
We are each created by God with a unique purpose to fulfill in this world. If it feels like you are just going through the motions and it is an unsettling feeling, that is because that is not who you were created to be. We aren't all going to be famous, manage companies, write a best seller or run for …

My One Word For 2019

Rather than setting goals or making New Year's resolutions I pick One Word for the year. Jon Gordon has an article with links to videos and other resources explaining the concept, you can find it here. This will be the fourth time for me, here were my past words:2016 - Move2017 - Fire2018 - Discipline My word for 2019, with a nod to Seth Godin, is Ruckus. It was an easy pick for me, in many ways it has haunted me for most of 2018. I've thought about it a lot and it really fits where I feel like I'm at with my work and life. 
The most important thing about picking a word is what it means for you. On the surface ruckus might be an odd word because when you look it up the definition it is a disturbance or commotion. When you hear Seth Godin talk though he encourages everyone to create a ruckus. Stop doing things the way they have always been done. Start disrupting things in a positive way.
I like this graphic from Leyla Acaroglu's "Disruptive Design" e-book to h…