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Showing posts from 2019

Once The Decision Is Made, Get Behind It

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Success can come in many different forms, which makes success hard to achieve. There isn't a magic set of steps if you follow them you will succeed. It is why people will often try to replicate the acts of those who are successful but find it a harder road than expected.

Because there are so many paths to success teams can easily find themselves debating about what is the right path they should be on. Each person has different experiences, strengths and knowledge that make different methods more or less appealing. The larger the team the more opinions. The more opinions the more room for debate about which one is right.

I believe success has far less to do with finding the right method and far more to do with everyone on the team buying into the selected method. If you can't support the decision then you are actually hurting your organizations chance of success. You are allowed to disagree and debate with others, but if a decision is made that you don't agree with you stil…

Stuck On The Tarmac, Who Should I Complain To?

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Had to make a business trip recently and it didn't exactly go well. I was flying from Minneapolis to Chicago, which is one of the shortest flights ever so how could it be bad? By the time you've reached cruising altitude they have to start the decent. The problem was there was some weather in Chicago the morning of my trip that caused everything to back up. Plane was delayed arriving into Minneapolis, so it was late taking off, then it got worse. We landed in Chicago and things were so backed up that we sat on the tarmac for an hour and forty minutes waiting for a gate to become available.

I can't really complain though, I've heard far worse stories of people being stuck on a plane in the past. Even on my flight there were people trying to get to a connecting flight but there were none for at least 2 days, I can't imagine what that would be like.

It is so easy when in a that situation to complain, talk to anyone who will listen about how screwed up the airport is, …

The Physics Behind Reframing Our Thinking

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One thing that brings me great satisfaction in life is anything causing me to look at something differently. To shift my beliefs with new knowledge and evidence. This is why two of my favorite authors are Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin, they are both good at reframing a long held belief I thought I understood.

It is why videos like the one below bring me such joy. It is a simple visual reminder of how what we think will be true isn't always true. Plus the nerd in me likes the physics of inertia, force and gravity too.

In our life we will limit our abilities by the beliefs and thinking we hold for ourselves. We think that our truth is the correct truth. We need to continuously look at things differently and explore other ideas. Test, experiment, fail, learn, grow - things that are perfectly okay to do because guess what, life is going to give them all to you.

What is one thing you need to shift your thinking on?

A straight line may be the shortest route but it doesn't mean it…

How To Finish The Goals That We Chase

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I just finished reading the book Finish by Jon Acuff. I've shared some posts and quotes from him before but this is the first book of his I've read. I think I may have had too high of expectations going in, I thought I was going to be crying laughing the whole time reading it, I didn't. When I got past my initial disappointment that my stomach didn't ache from laughing so hard I realized how impressive the insights in it were.

The premise is simple, we all have goals we want to accomplish, but we create whatever excuses we need to keep us from achieving them. It is why most New Year's resolutions fail before January is over. We find when we miss a day going to the gym or slipping on our diet plan that we just through the whole thing out the window, missed a day so you might as well take the week off.

If you want to actually achieve the goals you set for yourself, this book is full of practical advice and strategies on how to look at your goals. One of the best was …

When You Are Faced With A Very Hard Problem To Solve...

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Where is the shortcut? What is the path of least resistance? Can you show me the steps you did so I can copy them and not figure them out on my own? Can you just give me the answer?
Life at times gives us hard problems. Be it work, school, relationships, or teams - each at times throws us something that can be frustrating. The answers aren't right in front of us. Google doesn't lead you to the page with the step-by-step instructions on how to solve it. What do you do now?
Those hard problems are exactly what they need you to figure out. We need more people capable of taking a hard problem and finding a solution. It may mean banging your head against the wall until you find a break through, but it is a hard problem, it is okay that your head hurts a little coming out of it. If you want an easy answer that is easy to look up and repeat the same steps you are in for a world of hurt because the world is changing. Robotics and artificial intelligence is changing jobs rapidly. If th…

What The Colombian Civil War Taught Me About Resolving Conflict

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Another day, another set of events happening in our country causing people to pick sides, pontificating their view and deriding any opposing opinion. We have become a society struggling with communication and debate.

I recently listened to an episode of the #Solvable podcast with Juan Manuel Santos, former president of Colombia and Nobel Peace Laureate. He spoke of the mindset he used in helping to bring an end to his countries more than 50 year civil war. The key points I took away:

You have to listen to what the other side is asking for. This is always where we fail, we stop listening because we try to prove why what they are asking for is wrong. You have to be willing to compromise. If you expect the other side to just concede everything you will never end the battle.You have to find some common ground. It is there, you have to sometimes dig for it. In the Colombian civil war both sides wanted their children to have a chance at growing up in a world without fighting.  Pick any topic…

The Mayo Brothers, Healthcare 100 Years Ago, And Lessons For Today

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I recently watched the Ken Burns documentary about The Mayo Clinic (also available on Netflix at the time of writing). Ken Burns does a great job telling the story of the Mayo brothers following in their fathers footsteps and growing The Mayo Clinic into the medical enterprise it is today. There were some interesting principles that apply to any area for people to learn from. While they were both world renowned surgeons they were focused on providing the best care for the patients that came to them. They sought out the best doctors in other specialties to join them and grow their practice. They believed in a team based approach, where it isn't about having one doctor have all of the answers, but about having a team that can come together to help a patient.

After watching it I couldn't help but think about how broken our health care system is in our country. I'm not a health care expert, I'm barely a novice. I've just scratched the surface in my reading and comprehe…

On The Road To Greatness

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One of my all time favorite business books is Good To Great by Jim Collins. I have read all of his books and recently finished a short addendum to this called Turning The Flywheel. This was apparently what they call a monograph, a term I was unfamiliar with until reading this short 37 page gem. It was a reminder of how we often set definitions around things, like books and how they have to conform to a certain structure. The lesson is to deliver your product in the form that fits, not what culture tells you to be right.

The real takeaway I got from this book is from the last paragraph.
Good to Great is never done. The moment you think of yourself as great, your slide to mediocrity will have already begun.  A simple but powerful message. Seek greatness, but be humble enough to know you are never great. Think of it as a journey and not a destination. Companies, people, coaches, players and artists are great when others describe them as such, but rarely are great when they describe thems…

Do You Know What The Word Empowerment Really Means?

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Do you ever have those moments where you hear a word, one you've heard many times before, and suddenly you realize you didn't really understand it till now? That word for me is empowerment. You hear it a lot, especially in business. People want their employees to feel empowered, they want them to feel like the have authority and control over things so they take action.

Yet, we've all seen too often what it looks like in reality. When someone doesn't follow the exact process or they make a mistake, how do those same bosses react in those situations. Previous words now sound empty.

When you get a sense of what true empowerment looks like, you quickly realize how wrong your view was. True empowerment looks like your manager telling you that you will make a mistake, and that is okay because everyone has done it, so we learn from it and move forward. True empowerment is your mentor telling you that the way you performed a task isn't how they would do it but it got the j…

How Can We Make Something Better?

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There is a simple strategy on how to get better at your job, your hobby, a relationship, school, etc. Ask, then go do it. Simple, but yet often hard for us to do in reality. You see when you ask what you can do better, people might actually tell you things that you need to work on. Some of those things might even be items you thought you were pretty good at. There is a good chance that it will be a hit to your ego. But take heart, because I guarantee you your ego can handle it, and now you actually have some feedback you can do something about.

If you are doing something wrong, the first step in being able to fix it is realizing there is a problem. The second step is wanting to fix it. We get feedback and when we don't like it we start explaining why their feedback is wrong. You've missed a golden opportunity when you do that and now have probably ensured you will never get another opportunity again. When someone gives you feedback the best way to end it is to simply say, &quo…

Stop Being Influenced And Start Doing Your Own Influencing

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I have to admit, this whole world of Social Media Influencers baffles me. Did we seriously let this become a thing? There are people out there whose job it is to create a large enough audience so people pay them to advertise their goods and services to their tribe. What's worse is we have parents that are working hard to exploit their children to turn them into the next great influencer on YouTube or Instagram. There are kids that are millionaires before they turn 10. The easy argument is that if someone is willing to pay a kid the money, the child and parents have the right to accept that payment. I am actually completely okay with that.

What I am more concerned with is the fact that we the audience become so enamored with these influencers that we start blindly following them, liking what they want us to like and buying what they tell us to buy. As a society we continue to be hounded by people and companies vying for our limited attention. It is a slippery slope between looking …

You Are Special But You Are Not Entitled To Anything

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One of the hardest things I find to try and teach my kids is the balance between them knowing that they are special but they aren't so special that they are entitled to anything.

When I read about the rising levels of depression and suicidal thoughts in our world it scares me. The levels of bullying are very real and as any person who had a typical time growing up can tell you, kids can often be cruel. But in spite of all of that, every person is unique and special in so many ways. You are a unique individual that has your own set of gifts and talents for the world, something only you can bring.

On the flip side, I see so many more people feeling entitled, that feel like they are special above other people for one reason or another. I recently read a story where someone was telling of a co-worker that she overheard getting corrective feedback. The person didn't agree with the feedback and ultimately called their mom to complain about their boss and ask if she would call her bo…

The Truth Will Set You Free

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I'm not a fan of the news. I like to keep up on what is happening in the world but I hate the news because it is hard to tell when you are getting the actual story. In our attention driven culture we only notice the juicy headlines and stories that are often embellished to the point where the truth is lost. I get tired of listening to people give statements professing their version of the story as true only to have them reappear a few days later attempting to clarify their story after new damning evidence is released.
The truth can be hard. We all make mistakes in life because we are all human. We are all fallible creatures that try to hide our faults and mistakes. We tell ourselves reasons for it and sooner or later those stories we tell ourselves we start telling others. When the lies start they can be hard to stop. But eventually the truth comes out. The people we really care about, and care about us, can always see the truth. It is always better to hear the truth directly from…

Keeping Traditions - Building A Culture That Endures

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I know nothing about rugby, that needs to be stated out of the gate so if I have any rugby enthusiasts reading this I hopefully won't offend them. But I need to talk about rugby and probably the most famous rugby team, the New Zealand national team called the All Blacks. I recently finished Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Lifeby James Kerr, which talked about the culture and changes the team made over the years to maintain their elite status and rebuild when they weren't meeting their own expectations. You don't have to know anything about rugby to recognize their dominance. They hold a 77% winning record against their international competition. Since the inceptions of the World Rugby Rankings they have held the number one ranking longer than all other teams combined.

Part of what is intriguing about the All Blacks is their deep sense of culture and tradition. To wear the All Blacks jersey isn't something to be taken lightly. As a player y…

Objective: Be A Part Of A High Performing Team

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I've realized that one of my goals in life is to experience being part of a high performing team. I've always been a part of a team, and almost every team has been made up of great people working together. But when I say high performing team it is another level. In high school I played basketball and baseball. I played on teams and we won some games, I would never say we were a high performing team at any time. A high performing team is one that wins or competes for championships. You watch them and there is something special about them. Everyone else gets pumped up when they have to play them because they know they are going against the best. High performing teams are identified from those outside, others recognize their greatness, it is never self proclaimed.

When I look back on my 20+ year career I don't believe I could say I've ever been on a high performing team. The closest I've come was a 3-4 window where we had all of the right parts but just didn't qui…

Great Stories - Everyone Has One

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I'm reading through Legacyby James Kerr and there was a part talking about stories that reminded me how much I enjoy a good story. The best business books I've ever read all have an element of good story telling to them. Nobody wants to read a text book. We learn and engage better with stories. The best speakers are those that tell great stories. Stories are a foundation in our culture.

Most people think that their life is boring, they are a failure, or that nobody would care about their story. It isn't true though, your story just isn't finished. Every story has conflict, every hero has that moment where it seems like they are defeated and it is the end of the line. The key is that isn't the end of the story. It is at that moment that the hero has a choice to make. They can stay defeated, turn around and forget about the path they were on because it looks too hard. Or, they can find the strength to move forward, learn from the defeat and turn the tragedy into triu…

The World Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

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It is easy in life to take the safe route, to do the thing that you are comfortable with. There is risk in trying new things, because when we are new at something we are usually not very good at it. If you decide to take up golf because it looks fun but you've never played in your life, you are not going to be Tiger Woods when you tee off the first time. 
Great things can happen when you step outside of your comfort zone. There are great people to meet and interesting places to visit outside of your neighborhood. You might find a new hobby or a new job is more fun or more interesting than anything you had done before. It might be more work or effort than you've done before because you can't just slip back into your normal routines, allowing your muscle memory to just get you through the day. It might be more exhausting because it takes more energy. However the easy route, the safe route is rarely the most scenic. Don't let your comfort and fear of the unknown prevent y…

Servant Leadership - A Simple Test

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I fear that servant leadership has become one of those buzz words that gets thrown around too easily and has lost a lot of meaning. But then I think of what is seen a lot from leaders today wouldn't be considered servant leadership at all so even if people like the buzz word doesn't mean they are actually executing it.
I heard a concept once that has stuck with me that I think epitomizes what it means to be a servant leader. If you want to be a servant leader, your aim in life should not be becoming the hero, your goal should be becoming the wise leader that guides the hero. Don't be Luke Skywalker, become Yoda teaching Luke. Don't be Frodo, be Sam that is always by his side. Don't be Danial, be Mr. Miyagi. Don't be Harry Potter, be Professor Dumbledore. There are countless examples in stories where there is a secondary character that is vital in helping the hero become who they are meant to be. They are there to provide support, advice, friendship, encourageme…

Extreme Ownership

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We talk all the time about how important ownership is in your job. You need to own the projects assigned to you, the things that you have control over. But the part we so often fail to recognize is that we have more control than we think we do, so we need to look beyond ownership and instead practice extreme ownership. I just finished Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. If the military interests you, this is a great book as each principle is told through a story from their time as SEALs, a short overview of the principle itself, and a story that applies the principle in business.

The principles themselves though are tremendous. We need more of this thinking today. There is too much entitlement and feelings of, "What are you going to do for me?" Extreme ownership is about not making any excuses, not blaming anyone, not complaining, and never hiding the truth. If your manager isn't explaining why you are having to work on a …

Sometimes Our Greatest Opportunities Come From Our Greatest Setbacks

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There is nothing better than having teachable moments of real life with my girls. Recently I had the opportunity to help them learn about life's setbacks as we shared with them the reality of having lost my job. The reality of the world is that you could be doing a good job but consolidations and cost cutting moves happen all the time and you never know if you are completely safe. You do the best job you can but always be prepared for something unexpected happening, because that is part of life. It is never an easy thing to lose your job, but there are a few things you should always be doing.

First is to have a good practice of watching your spending and having a savings account. I know, it is hard to do when it is so easy to get credit to buy a new car or whatever toys you want. Being smart with your money is as simple as spending less than you make and making sure you save something every paycheck. When you watch your budget, and only spend what you have it is easier to save. St…

Tell Me It Is Okay To Be Nervous

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There are times for everyone in their life that they get nervous, but we often try to hide it. We think it is a bad thing to be nervous. When someone tells us they are nervous we tell them not to be. How many times have you told someone to not be nervous and they look at you and say, "Oh, you're right, I won't be." Probably never.
Being nervous, excited, adrenaline pumping, or anxious is okay, it just means something bigger than your normal average day is happening. We don't need to be scared or ashamed of it. Learn to focus in spite of the nerves and you can use that extra energy to get through what you are facing. Take a deep breath and enjoy the fact you have something in your life that is pushing you. Learn from it and use it because there will be another time in the future where you are nervous again.

What Do I Do With My Free Time?

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School is finally out for the summer, my girls are loving it as they have some free time. They aren't happy with me though, as I've already had them work on their list of things that they are going to work on over the summer. Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling them that it is a screen free summer, though there will be days that are screen free. They need time to relax, recharge and just have some fun. We all do, but too often the activities in our free time don't do much for us. What are the books you are going to read this summer? What are the things you want to learn how to do better? What is something new you want to learn? If they don't have any ideas I luckily have some ideas for them.

We should be no different. It never seems like it, but we all have free time. We need time to relax and refresh, but we should be using some of our free time to learn something new or get better. Those that lead and are successful use a portion of their free time to get bet…

What I Learned About Work Watching A Bug's Life

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One of my favorite scenes I use to describe workplaces comes from the Pixar movie A Bug's Life. It is far too common of a scene I'm guessing all of us have witnessed in our life. It is a humorous take on the two basic types of people at work. You have those that throw up their hands and say they don't know what to do when the exceptions happen and you have those that tell others not to panic and figure out a simple way around the challenge before them.

Any workplace, school or team has rules and procedures that you have to follow. However, every workplace, school and team find themselves dealing with problems that they never have faced before. There isn't a procedure on it because it is new, or not frequent enough to have a documented procedure on how to deal with it. When those come up how are you going to react? Are you going to panic over everything, even a tiny leaf? Or are you going to remain calm and just figure out a solution?

Today Is Going To Be A Good Day, And Here's Why

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This past weekend I was lucky enough to see Dear Evan Hansen, a great musical by Steven Levenson with music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (they did The Greatest Showman and many other projects). Besides the music being amazing, it has such an interesting story that deals with suicide and how easy it can be for people to feel alone or forgotten. It is a very dark topic to say the least but I believe almost everyone has felt like they were alone at some point in their life. We can live in a cruel world, full of bullying and hate speech on every corner of social media. We all know that not everyone in this world will be our friend or even like us. It is easy to fall into the trap from there where you start feeling like nobody likes you and you have no friends. I know I've been at that point in my life, feeling like I was all alone, wondering if I disappeared, if anyone would even notice.

The closing scene of Dear Evan Hansen gives us the perfect response for when we feel that way. Th…

Learning From Mistakes - Regardless Of Who Make Them

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When we make a mistake we think we need to hide it or come up with an excuse as to why it happened. Society makes it seem like you can't let on that you don't know something, or that you have a weakness. When we have scars we try to cover them. The fact is we are all fallible human beings, we all make mistakes, so why do we try so hard to hide them?

Some of the best life lessons have come from learning from my mistakes. The second best lessons come from learning from others mistakes. That is how society and innovation continue to progress forward, we build on what was learned in the previous generation. Everyone doesn't need to start out in life inventing the wheel and discovering fire. When you allow ourselves to be vulnerable and share your mistakes there is someone in your life that will benefit in learning about it. Unfortunately there are still plenty of people who will exploit your weaknesses and mistakes, so you have to be careful on who you share it with. The benef…

Your Ego And Agenda Or The Culture?

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You've probably heard the saying about culture beating strategy every time. But what does a strong culture look like in practice? We know what good strategy looks like - good products that are advertised, delivered, priced and supported well. We also know what a good culture and a bad culture looks like. Everyone can tell you if the company they work for has a good culture or one that could be improved. But usually people struggle in figuring out how to improve the culture.

To improve your culture you have to get past the biggest obstacle, the fact that you are dealing with people. The issue is that a company is made up of human beings. Humans have tendencies to have to protect themselves. Humans also have elements like emotions, ego and agendas. When individuals can't put their own personal ego and agenda aside the culture suffers. Trust isn't there. Open conversations don't happen because people are worried about protecting themselves. Or those that do open up find t…

The Refining Fire Of Life's Challenges

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There will be setbacks in life. Things will happen to you that aren't fun, things you wouldn't wish on anyone. People deal with many challenges, sometimes more than one. Death, sickness, job loss, financial struggles, accidents, and things we probably can't even imagine.

There is a dichotomy in life of being prepared without being paranoid of all that can go wrong. I could get in a car accident tomorrow, and while I don't need to hide in my house and never drive anywhere, I do need to do everything in my power to stay alert and avoid an accident. You buy insurance, create a savings account with 3 months minimum of your income, build a network for your career. But don't stop living life and being who you are. While not everyone appreciates or even likes you, that doesn't mean nobody likes you. You have gifts, knowledge and talents that are the perfect fit, sometimes it is just about finding the right fit. God has a plan for each of us, sometimes it isn't imm…

What Life Is All About - Lessons Learned From Reading The Alchemist

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I just finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It is a book that comes up in a lot of people's recommendations. I hadn't read a lot about it, just knew that people I admired and trusted highly recommended it. I have to admit that it wasn't what I was expecting. It was a story that presented some deep philosophical ideals that really make you think and reflect on things within your work, family and overall life. To give you a sample, here are some of my favorite concepts that come from some of the best quotes:

"It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting." - Everyone needs to have a dream. Without a dream we just mindlessly go through life day-by-day. If it is the dream of writing a book, starting a business, traveling the world, or starting a family, hold onto that dream and go after it."And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." - If you are true to the passions in your li…

Failure Is Not The End - It Is Just Another Step

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Many of you have probably seen this video that is making the rounds on the Internet. A little boy trying to break a board, fails, repeatedly, then succeeds. Watch it because it is worth a minute of your time.

Failure + Perseverance = Success pic.twitter.com/Nv7Lr2ifzR — Michael Loftman (@michael_loftman) May 13, 2019

There are so many lessons here:

Sometimes things are hard - don't quit because you will miss out on the joy once you actually accomplish your goal.You are going to want to quit - You will get sad, mad, angry and frustrated. Those feelings are real, persist in spite of them.When you see a friend/teammate/co-worker struggling with something, cheer them on, encourage them, they need your support. I love the one boy in front at the beginning, when he falls down he grabs him and pulls him back up.When someone succeeds, cheer for them. Loudly. Like you want to be cheered for when you accomplish a goal.Notice how there aren't any parents that step in and say they need to…

Another Dance Season - Another Reflection On What It Teaches Me

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Another dance season has passed us by as we wrapped up the end of the year recitals this past weekend. It is always a mixed emotions time for me as the exhaustion from a long weekend makes you happy that it is over but then I realize we are another year closer to it being done. Watching my daughters dance has been a major part of my life for the past 12 years, and when I think about how fast that time has gone the fact that I only have 3 years left to watch my oldest leaves me searching for a way to slow time down.

I only have one more father daughter dance left with her too. She might tell you that she is excited that there is only one more chance for me to embarrass her though. I hope that she, and my other daughters always knows how much I love being on stage with them. Any chance to have a little fun and spend time with my girls is worth it.

I've been asked before if I wished that any of my girls played sports or did something other than dance. I've never minded that they …

Learning To Teach - Appropriate For Teacher Appreciation Week

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My daughter is 15 and we are going through that right of passage in learning to drive a car. It has been a challenging learning experience, a few rough spots but I think I'm getting better at it, because I'm starting to learn more about her along the way. You see the biggest challenge hasn't been in teaching her to drive, the biggest challenge has been figuring out how to be a better teacher for her.

My only experience as a driving instructor is my own driving experience. It is so much different than hers. I grew up on a farm driving lawn mowers, tractors and even my dad's truck from when I was probably 10 or 11 years old. When I was old enough to drive a car on the road it was a formality. Contrast that with her experience of a go cart track a couple times in her life. When I navigate roads I know names, numbers, north, south, east and west. When I tell her that Madison runs parallel and south of 14, I am pretty sure I sound like Charlie Brown's teacher.

We all ha…

So You Don't Know How - Sounds Like The Best Time To Learn

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That new thing that you need to do, it is complex and unknown to you, I get it. Learning new things can be challenging. Figuring out something you've never done before is intimidating. Yet I know that you are fully capable of figuring it out. Usually the difference between learning something new and not figuring it out is our attitude when it comes to learning.

People that go on about how they have no idea how to do something yet put zero effort into actually trying to learn might be my greatest annoyance in life. I've built things for my house that I've never built before. I've learned about technology, processes and equipment that I've never used before. When I had some soreness in my wrist I learned how to use a mouse left handed so I can switch back and forth. Every time I could have easily given up, said I don't know how and made someone else do it for me. Instead I made a choice to learn something I wasn't familiar with. It took some effort on my part…

Dream Big Little One

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When we were little we dreamed about what our life would be like. Seemingly audacious goals of being a baseball player, an astronaut, a ninja, a cowboy, or a movie star. We grow up and we still have dreams, we just are afraid to follow them. The dreams may change, but there are still dreams there. There are big dreams. Too often we are afraid to go after them. Not real fear, just the things we tell ourselves that make us afraid.

Today our dreams might be to write a book, start a company, travel to Europe, or pursue your ideal job. Your dreams are attainable, they might not be easy, and they might not be quick. But you can have your dreams, don't let anyone tell you that you can't. What is the one thing you need to do today to start pursuing your dream?

Be An Original In A World Of Imitations

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Latest read I have finished is Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant. Some of my favorite books are those that have a deep research foundation and excellent stories that back up the research and make it come alive. This book is very much in that vein. What was most intriguing though is how it showed different ideas than you are used to. Things that you think are the best qualities to have and showing you how they can sometimes have the opposite effect you are going for.

As an example, when we are in a situation that makes us scared or nervous (giving a speech or going on a job interview) the common advice is to find ways to calm yourself down. The problem is that calm is an opposite emotion of fear, it is like slamming on the breaks going 80mph. Tell yourself to get excited about it, how great you are going to feel after you go through with it. Excitement is an easier conversion from fear because it has similar emotions to fear.

One of my favorite concepts that I…

It Doesn't Matter What Everyone Else Believes

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A lot has been written about Tiger Woods recently and his latest major win at the Masters. It had been over a decade since his last major victory. With all of his health issues and surgeries most people thought he was done, that his career was basically over. But at the age of 43 he did what so many thought couldn't happen. There were some people that believed in him, but the vast majority didn't.

There are a lot of things some people think you can't do. However, what others think doesn't matter. What matters is if you believe that you can.Don't let what others believe about you become what you believe about yourself.


Finding Your True Inner Voice

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A couple of years ago I wrote about the idea about talking to yourself rather than listening to yourself from The Carpenter by Jon Gordon (post). This idea of your inner voice, how we speak to ourselves is so vital to the level of joy in our life. No matter what is going on around us in our lives, how we are able to cope in the situations life throws at us is predicated on what our inner dialog is telling us. These excerpts say it better than I ever could.

From The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday: "Someone can't frustrate you, work can't overwhelm you - these are external objects, and they have no access to your mind. Those emotions you feel, as real as they are, come from the inside, not the outside."

From Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris: "The power broker in your life is the voice that no one ever hears. How well you revisit the tone and content of your private voice is what determines the quality of your life. It is the master storyteller, and the stories we tell …

Ideas, Insights, And Inspiration From Unlikely Places

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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?

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 …