Showing posts from October, 2019

Wasting Time Solving Problems We Don't Understand

We are all very capable of wasting time. Everyone has their peak effective time. Some can crank out work really well in the morning. Some do their best work at night when it is quiet and there are no distractions. For some of us it is very easy to get sucked into a conversation that isn't actually relevant to your job. Social media and binge watching Netflix are other obvious time wasters.

When it comes to being at work, one of the biggest time wasters I've found is when you are trying to solve a problem but you don't really understand what the problem is. I love to solve problems, finding solutions is the most rewarding part of my job. But when the problem isn't understood, trying different solutions is just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.

One of the simplest ways to get to the root cause of a problem is using the 5 whys. The idea is to keep asking why until you get to the true root cause. They say 5 because at a minimum it forces you to dig deepe…

What A Little Kindness Can Do

You can never go wrong in life by being kind and generous. You may have seen this story as it has gone viral, about a girl who gave two hockey pucks to a couple of boys next to her during warm-ups, one of which desperately wanted to get a puck. At the end of the video you could see the admiration the young boy had as he told her thank you.

A simple act of kindness, a story which could have ended there. However, with the power of the Internet, it was not the end of the story. The Minnesota Wild organization was able to track down 11-year-old Emily and they repaid her kindness by inviting her back to the next game, allowing her to meet some of the team and they presented her with a signed jersey and signed pucks from every member of the team.

We don't act kind to others because we expect or even hope to get something in return. Emily didn't do it because she expected to become a viral sensation and be presented with some amazing gifts from her favorite team. She did it because i…

The One Person It Is Worthwhile To Judge Their Behaviors

I've been working through The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday this year, it is filled with nuggets of wisdom. Last week there was a passage that has been the highlight for me where it basically talked about how we need to not judge other people's behavior and only judge our own.

If we are honest with ourselves, we get this backwards all of the time. Spend any time on social media and you will have endless rantings about something someone said, or did or thought about. When something goes wrong our focus goes immediately to what others need to do better.

If we have to look at ourselves, our instinct is to defend our motivations. Explain why we were justified in our behavior.

You will never be able to change someone else's behavior, only they can decide to change it themselves. If we all focused on worrying about ourselves what an amazing and different world we would live in.

The Way Of The Warrior Is Inside Each Of Us

I am just finishing up reading The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi, as he is commonly known, is considered one of, if not thee greatest swordsman and samurai in Japanese history. In this book he wrote about his philosophy and fighting style. Musashi lived from 1584 to 1645, so times are certainly different now. Most of us aren't going to be going out and dueling other samurai to the death. Yet in his writing you can see concepts still valid today and I can see why many authors and business people have referenced his teachings.

There is a passage where he speaks of using different weapons, some teachers believe that an extra long sword is more important, because they can have distance from their enemy. Or others that claim a short sword is more important for when you are in close combat. Musashi believed his way was the best strategy. He practiced it endlessly and studied his opponents methods to learn how to overcome them. He didn't need the biggest or most exp…

Going Fast Sometimes Doesn't Get You There Quicker

The feeling of accomplishment at the end of a project is something that never gets old. It is awesome to get a project over the finish line and look at something you were able to accomplish. At times the finish line can become very exciting and you get in a rush to get there. You see it in runners, towards the end of a race, determining when the right moment is to go into their final burst to the finish line. Start too soon and you could tire out before you actually get over the finish line. Start too late and you won't be able to make up the distance you need.

When you get close to the end, it is easy to let you adrenaline kick in and urgently push for the finish line. But there are times when going faster in a project actually slows you down. I've done it before and it is something I have to remind myself on the projects I work on. Taking the time to make sure you aren't skipping steps and you have all of the facts and details straight is as important at the end of a pro…

It Is Incredibly Easy For Our Greatest Strengths To Become Our Greatest Weakness

Identifying your strengths is one of the most important things you can do in your life. I believe everyone has certain skills or abilities they are truly great at. There is a level of humility we have to maintain with our strengths though, or they can very quickly become a weakness for us.
Someone that is bigger and stronger than everyone else can easily become a bully.
Someone that is very knowledgeable about a given subject can easily talk condescendingly to others.
Someone that is very helpful to others can easily be taken advantage of and asked to "help" with things others can do for themselves.
Someone that is good at driving to get things done can easily become a bull in a china shop.
Someone that is generous with their money can put themselves into troubling financial situations.
We have to be honest about our strengths and what limits should be put on them. You can be one of the strongest people but if you try to lift too much weight you can injure yourself. Limits a…

The Difference Between I And We

Nobody does anything on there own. If you work for a company, are a member of a sports team, a production group, or any other organization you are on a team. Even if you are a sole proprietor or independent freelancer, your team includes your customers and your suppliers/vendors. Your family is a team. Unless you are off the grid, living off the land and have no interaction with another human being you are a member of a team.

Since you are on a team, is it about you or is it about the team?

One of the simplest yet most profound tests you can use to determine how much it is about the team is to measure your use of I/me/my and we/us/our. Listen to yourself and others. Read through emails or messages and see how often you talk about yourself versus the team.

We all want to feel appreciated and to be recognized for our accomplishments. Nothing will erode others views of you faster though than putting yourself above the team.

Do We Recognize The Propaganda We Are Bombarded With?

My latest read is a book called Propaganda by Edward Bernays. I came across it from some online discussions around how we as a society are manipulated by the information and messages we choose to take in. It is a short book, very academic and not an easy read, but it is a fascinating look at how businesses and the government influence the public. The author examines how public opinion is shaped and controlled in politics, business, art, education and science. Listen to the opening line and think about the information we are exposed to:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. Think about the manipulation of the news by the media to attract clicks and viewers. Think of the messages put out by politicians that aim to separate us and leave no room for compromise. Think about ho…

Rising Above The Ceiling Society Places On People

I know it seems at times like you have it hard. It seems like the deck is stacked against you. I was reminded this week, a person is capable than more than we often think they are. There are countless examples in this world where people overcame the odds that were stacked against them. The thing about the odds are there is always a chance. (For those of you that have the Dumb and Dumber line running through your head, the same thing happened to me when I wrote it.)

I came upon two stories this week that remind us that just because something is a long shot doesn't mean that it is impossible.

The first is a story about a player on the Penn State volleyball team that was born with a hearing deficit. Not only is she playing at a collegiate level, she is playing at an extremely high level. I love the story about an entire crowd that was silent through the first 9 points of a match to raise awareness and show their support.
Jonni Parker was born with a hearing deficit that was discovere…

How Do You Feel About Your New Team?

You've just been assigned a new project, made a team or have been reassigned to a different department. You quickly asses who else is on the team with you and you aren't happy. Some of the other members of the team are not exactly what you would call A players. A few you are shocked actually made the same team as you because they are more suited for JV or the easy projects.

You complain to others who think the same way as you so you can feel vindicated in your assessment. Of course they agree with you, why wouldn't they?

You feel insulted. You may even contemplate quitting because if they think you are on the same level then they must obviously not value your skills and abilities so you might as well take them elsewhere.

It is easy to feel this way, we've all felt it because we've all been a part of a team. Choose to be better. There are a number of things you should keep in mind before you make those judgments.

If it isn't your job to pick the teams or assign p…