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Showing posts from 2020

Don't Let A Bad Day Turn You Into A Bad Person

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The topic of grace has been discussed recently in our house. Came about because in discussing different scenarios our girls have been in they see people they know acting differently. We as humans are complex and each interaction we have can be impacted by what happened before. Think of the times you've had a bad day at work and then you yell at your kids or spouse for something trivial, certainly not something worth getting upset about. Those moments are what each of us experience. So when you are on the receiving end of it you have to ask yourself if this is a normal behavior or abnormal? If this is unusual behavior that is where grace comes in. You don't know what other hardships someone is going through causing them to behaving in a different way.Just as important though is to understand when you are having a bad day, it doesn't give you freedom to treat others poorly. We need to have the self awareness to realize that something in our situation is causing us to not act…

We Are Warriors

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I love this quote from Tim Tebow:I believe that sometimes God gives His toughest assignments to His greatest warriors.— Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) October 26, 2020It makes me think of all of the kids that face medical issues, attacking them with courage and strength while remaining more joyful than those that have no real issues to complain about.It makes me think of the people who struggle through losing a job and finding a way to provide for their family. Sacrificing, working 2 or 3 jobs to supply what their kids need to succeed.I think of so many people who struggle with things we have no idea about.We all have challenges and battles that we have to face in life. But we are warriors and you have the strength to take on the assignments that you are facing. 

Change Is Inevitable

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As my kids are getting older it is fun to have more adult conversations with them. My oldest and I were talking recently about COVID and the mandate to wear a mask. She was saying how it was hard to understand why there are so many people that refuse to wear one. For her, she thinks that the longer that it goes on and the more she wears one, the less you even notice it. In the beginning it was weird and different, but time and routine have a way of making the weird and different into something normal, something you don't even notice.Throughout history, and in each of our lives, changes come along that we find bizarre at first, or just very different, but then we get used to it and we don't even notice it. Technology is a great example of this. The computers used in the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969 required a significant sized room to house them. The smart phone that you carry around in your pocket is roughly 100 million times more powerful. We get so used to them we don'…

Finding Home

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Last week we took my daughter on her first college visit to the University of Nebraska Lincoln. We had been in Lincoln and on the campus a handful of times the past few years. As we drove around a bit then toured the campus my wife and I both commented how, though we couldn't explain it, Lincoln felt like home. Thinking about that feeling and the word home. The feeling for me is a sense of serenity and butterflies in the stomach. There is just a sense of joy and peace being in that place. Each of us have places that feel like home to us. It can vary for each person. It could be the place you live now. Many people when they go to the town they grew up in have that feeling of being home. For some they have a dream of one day living in New York, Paris or London. Others have that vacation spot they visit once a year and when they are there it is just like home.As I think of my daughter going off to college and the adventure of life beginning for her, the idea of home becomes more prev…

Don't Settle For Having Winners And Losers

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In America we certainly like our sports. The games we watch or play bring out our competitive spirit. We want to win and we want the other team to lose. For most of us we can't play sports so we try to take that competitive spirit into our workplaces, be it a corporation, a government organization or a non-profit. If we aren't winning we are losing. We want to turn everything into a game where there is a clear winner and a clear loser, because that is what we understand the best.It sickens me to watch what is happening in the political arena in our country as we descend further into the black and white of needing to have only one winner. There has always been a difference of opinion and two parties who don't have the same ideology, but it felt like it used to be more about how to take those differences of opinions and find a way to make something work that everyone can agree on. You can't watch a debate or political ad, read a news article or the latest social media po…

Spend Your Energy On Moving Forward, Not Looking Back

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The mind is a tremendous tool that can be of great benefit to us and it can be a hindrance at times also. We can overthink, overanalyze and become hyper-focused on topics that don't provide a lot of value. We all have a tendency to focus on a topic and dwell on it much longer than is needed. If we are thinking about it there is some value, there is a level of importance, but after a while the additional time and energy spent focused on it doesn't add any more value and actually becomes a problem. I see it in projects at work, when things start going off the path where we need them to be we talk a lot about how things got off course, who is to blame and how it isn't our fault. There is some benefit in figuring out where things went wrong to make sure it doesn't happen again. However more energy needs to be put in how do we move forward and get where we need to. Post mortems are a good thing until they deteriorate into a whining and complaining session. Learn from the pa…

How Much Do We Really Appreciate Our Refrigerator?

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Have you ever realized how much food fits in your refrigerator? It is a lot. I needed to make a repair on our fridge that required defrosting it as there was a heat component that needed to be replaced. For the few days leading up to it my family was lectured how they had to eat something from the fridge any time they were hungry. The day before I was going to start the repair, for lunch I did my part by having the left over chili, a small amount of mac & cheese, a single taco with the left over meet from taco night, a container of yogurt and a slice of cheesecake for dessert. It was my own customized 5 course meal. So I did my part and our fridge had never been so empty. I then gathered every cooler I could find in my house, used all of the ice and ice packs I could find and used freeze pops to help keep things cold knowing they would refreeze just fine. I was amazed at how much stuff we still had in the fridge even being as empty as it had ever been in the last decade. All I tho…

Never Forward Until The Kings And Subjects Unite

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Centuries ago generally the government was handled by a king of some sort. The king had territory and all who lived within it were subject to the king. If you had a good king things could be pretty good, if you had a bad king things could get ugly. If you were the king life was great. Servants took care of your every need, you had riches and castles to live in. If you were a subject, you would have to answer the kings call when needed. If the king decided he wanted to attack his neighbor to try to expand his land, then you would have to go to war for him. If you survived and were victorious your prize was basically getting to return home to your family.The ages of kings is mostly gone now because as time has gone on it became pretty clear that society and civilization doesn't progress unless everyone is able to progress. If the king is the only person that can see improvement in their standing the only way to move up is to kill the king. But there can still only be one.There is so…

Are You Feeling Burned Out?

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In these crazy times I've started hearing stories about how people are becoming burned out. It seems like as many companies are struggling and laying people off, those that are surviving, or even thriving are hesitant to add staff because the future is so unknown. The financial outlook of their company is stable at the moment but every day feels like the bottom could drop. If you are an employee, you know what is going on in the world. Many people are losing their jobs or taking pay cuts with unemployment rates still very high. You don't want to rock the boat. You like your job and you certainly don't want to lose it so a little more work expected of you is accepted based on the comparison to the alternative. As I was thinking about burnout and doing some reading I came across this quote by Marissa Mayer where she said burnout is really about resentment. How right that is. If you've ever felt burned out, or having that feeling of wanting to find something new or differ…

Who Is The Good Guy In The Karate Kid?

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If you grew up in the 80's like I did you are familiar with The Karate Kid. I was bullied in school and it is one of those films that inspired me. I thought I could find a way to stand up to the bullies, win the heart of the girl and be the champion at the end. I, like everyone cheered for Daniel LaRusso because he was the hero and Johnny Lawrence was the villain. But was it true, or was it just the story from Daniel's point of view?The tale of Daniel and Johnny has resurfaced recently. Their resurgence is thanks to a show called Cobra Kai whose first two seasons moved to Netflix, with a third set to air in 2021. The show is outstanding. There are some great nostalgic references to the 80's, but what makes it really great is how you see things from both Daniel and Johnny's perspective. You spend the entire show trying to figure out who the good guy is and who the bad guy is. You see both of them make mistakes, say things they want to take back and make both poor and go…

When Weird Becomes The New Normal

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I freely admit the word weird has been used to describe me, many different times in my life. I've been okay with the fact I'm not like everyone else for a very long time.Here is an example. Early in our relationship, my wife and I would be walking in a public place and I would pretend to fall down. For absolutely no reason other than to embarrass her. I did some theater in my life and had an unusual amount of stage combat and stage falling training. I figured the best way to use these skills was in such a way as falling down in a public place. I'm still really surprised some days she never broke up with me.I don't randomly fall in public places anymore, but it persists. My kids understand it. When one of my daughters asks me why I'm being weird before I can answer one of her sisters will say, "That's just how dad is."I always thought part of what I can offer this world is some wit and humor to make even the most boring situations a little more fun. Bu…

What Do Others Feelings Mean To You?

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In my last post I talked about controlling your thinking. Very internally focused. However too often we get focused on others. Not only what they are thinking but what they are feeling. When someone doesn't think like we do, we want to change their thinking. We want to tell people not to feel what their are feeling. Neither actually works. You can't control what people think and what they feel.The only thing we can do is understand them and build a relationship with them. If we have a relationship and care about that relationship we will work to understand what they think and how they feel. We see it too often in our world, nobody cares about what someone else feels, and we are surprised when there are tensions stemming from it. Sides are chosen and the war to change the other persons thoughts and feelings begins...and never ends. Not until one side chooses to understand the other. When the choice of peace and unity becomes stronger than the choice of war and division. 

Reduce Stress By Controlling Your Thinking

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It is easy to get lost in our thoughts. Dwell on a topic, over-analyze it, and let it consume our thoughts. While there is some respect for focus, dwelling on things we shouldn't can be harmful. The ability to control our thoughts, control what we are thinking about can go a long way to making us happier and more productive.Controlling your thoughts is harder than it seems. The more we tell ourselves to stop thinking about something, it causes us to think about it more. You are focused on what you don't want to think about, and you get caught in a spiral.The only way to break out of it is to find something to take your mind off of things. Find a different task to work on. Take up a hobby that focuses your mind. Pick up a book or watch a movie. All great things to cause you to escape what you were thinking about.When we dwell on an item it causes a level of stress that none of us need. We need to find ways to recognize when we are dwelling on something we don't need to so w…

New School Year, New Challenges, New Opportunities To Adapt

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School is starting up for us in Minnesota finally. It is a strange feeling because it is all so new. It has been 6 months since my kids have been in a classroom. Of course it feels strange. Plus the model now looks very different than the survive to the end of the school year we faced in the spring. Teachers have even told us as much.Add into it the complexities of our three kids, in three different buildings, following three completely different models. One is doing a rotation of 2 days in school 4 days at home. Another is doing half of her days in school and half at home. My youngest is going every day but it is a shortened day. They all have contingency plans if there is an outbreak or a mandate to switch to all distance learning. Add in new protocols for cleaning, eating lunch in your classroom, and teachers rotating not the students. My kids are going to have a number of things to adjust to this year, it will be strange and hard at first, but I have no doubt they will do just fin…

How We Disagree Is The Indicator Of Our Ability To Move Forward

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I saw a short video recently from Charles Stanley in 1985 (link) that I think is tremendously relevant for today. He talked about how within the organization he was addressing there would be disagreements. From those disagreements, what would show the most as people looked into what transpired at their convention was how they disagreed. In our organizations, schools, cities, workplaces, states, countries and in the world, we are going to have disagreements. How do we treat someone we disagree with? Just because you don't agree with someone doesn't mean they are evil. Just because someone has a different opinion doesn't mean there isn't something you can learn from them. How do you disagree with someone? Is it with yelling, taunting and degrading? Or is it with compassion, empathy and patience? It is impossible to move forward when you are playing tug-of-war. The first start in us pulling in the same direction it all about how we treat those we disagree with.

What Excites You?

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I was thinking about the word excited recently and how things can seem unexciting and routine lately. We have our routines, get done the things we need to, but is any of it exciting? Probably not. So what does excite you? What gives you energy? What motivates you? What do you look forward to?
If we don't have something that is exciting, if we are just going through the motions in our same boring routine, aren't we just wasting our lives?
Fear plays a part because the things that excite us are usually the things that require the most courage. The best example of this is when I met my wife. I realized this was a person I wanted to know more, to date and eventually ask to marry me. Of course it was exciting, and definitely scary. Your heart starts racing, palms get sweaty, wondering how she feels. Scared to put yourself out there for fear of being rejected, wanting to do it anyway because there is just something about her. 
Too often we listed to the fear, and we rein ourselves in. …

It Isn't The Idea, It Is The Execution

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You ever see a new business open, or a new product that is on the market, and they are the hottest thing? Everyone is buying and talking about it and you start telling all of your friends how you had the idea already? You go to bed every night kicking yourself about how you didn't act on your idea earlier and what it could mean for you if you had.Everyone is looking for the million dollar idea. You see something created and wonder why you couldn't come up with it yourself. The funny thing is it isn't the idea as much as it is the ability to act on it. Most ideas are generally available. Go on the Internet and a quick search will likely get you to the companies who already do what you are thinking of. That doesn't mean to abandon your idea, you just have to figure out how to execute in spite of the competition.Stealing ideas is easy, stealing the execution of an idea is impossible. Similarly, as an individual nobody can steal your effort, preparation and drive. It might…

Rest, Recovery and Rejuvenation

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When we told my 7 year old we would be going home the next day from our vacation, she didn't want to go. She just wanted to stay longer. It is fun to get away, take time to visit somewhere new, learn new things, see interesting sights, and learn some history. But few of us can afford to be on vacation our entire lives. We need time to rest and step away from our normal lives to rejuvenate. But the vacation comes to an end and it is time to get back to work.
A day of rest now and then is a good thing. The Bible was clear in explaining that you should work for 6 days and rest on the 7th. There is a lot of wisdom in allowing our body and mind to recuperate. It is something we don't often do. Sure most of us only work 5 days a week, but we are running kids all weekend to activities, have house work and yard work to do, pay bills, and countless other errands and tasks needed. In our fast paced world we go all the time, and don't stop. We wonder why we burn out, have high stress …

Enjoying The Black Hills, Though They Were Stolen

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My family recently took a vacation to the Black Hills in South Dakota. It is an area with lots to see and do, beautiful scenery and a rich history. Of course there is Mount Rushmore, which is an inspiring place if you are interested in the founding fathers of our country. Then there is Deadwood, where Wild Bill Hickok was killed and is burred. The real history which ties these two things together, what nobody wants to talk about, is how we stole this land from the Native Americans for whom the Black Hills are sacred. There was a treaty signed by the US Government that defined the borders and gave the Black Hills to the Sioux tribe in 1868. However the discovery of gold less than 10 years later caused the US to break the treaty and push them from their land. Around 50 years later, an idea was formed to carve a statue into a mountain to promote tourism in the area. It worked, as I spend my money to support these elements. I can't help but wonder what our nation would look like if we…

Extreme Listening

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Listened to a great podcast recently on Simon Sinek's A Bit of Optimism. Sinek interviewed filmmaker Deeyah Kahn. The topic of conversation was Extreme Listening, which sounds like an unusual term, but when you hear Deeyah tell her stories it makes sense. Deeyah is a Muslim and made a film called White Right: Meeting the Enemy. The documentary is about her spending time with white supremacists. Her work is all centered around people most of us would consider horrible human beings that you would never want to come into contact with. But listening to her tell the stories and how she got to know these people, it really made me think about how much we don't like to listen to others. It is where Sinek came up with such a great concept as extreme listening. We argue and debate by trying to convince everyone why I am right and my opponent is wrong. It puts all of the focus on me, my opinion, why my way is better. That isn't how you change peoples opinion. Deeyah Kahn was able to …

Why Does A Vacation Not Feel Like A Vacation?

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I am taking a vacation soon. It has been two years since I took an actual vacation. I take time off, but it is a day here and there, extended weekends, dance competitions, dance competition recovery days, the basics. But not a real full week off going somewhere. I'm excited.I'm also stressed about it. Why is taking a longer vacation so hard? You have your normal work and craziness you deal with all of the time, then you add on top of it the planning and prepping you have to do with work to make sure everything is set for the week you will be out. We won't talk about the flood of emails and chaos you will come back to. Then you also have the planning, packing and checklists to make sure you have everything you need for the vacation itself. I think I need a new goal of always being prepared to take a week off. What does that look like to not have things so piled up you can step away for a few days and not have anything miss a beat? For most businesses that would indicate you…

Do You Want To Solve Your Problem Or Figure Out How To Live With It?

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When it comes to problem solving, the challenge is we generally start from a place of what we know. Perhaps we have been doing something in our company for a long time but now growth or some other change has increased the demand on the old way of doing it. Or maybe you've been able to deal with your kid in a certain way but then they get older and their friends change and they have different ideas that has to change how you interact with them. We deal with problems and most of the time problems come about from some sort of change. If things happened the same way it would be easy to figure out how to manage your problems, find solutions that fix them and get things humming. The hard part is just when you think you have a problem solved something else changes and a new problem comes along. My wife and I have joked for years how every time we start to feel like we have this parenting thing down our kids grow out of one stage and into another. I mean you can try to parent a teenager t…

The Number One Task Of A Leader Is To Provide Clarity

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We all know that some times leaders don't have all of the answers. Each of us have been in situations where you basically feel like you are making it up as you go. You might be in one of those situations now, especially with how crazy and constantly changing this year is.With the health in our country the way it is we are probably dealing with a lot more work absences this year. Maybe you are a manager or a small business owner and you have an employee who you don't know when, or even if they are going to return. You have customers and co-workers that are relying on that person. You can't be certain of how things are going to transpire, but you have to make an effort to provide some clarity. If you don't that is when the rumors get started and frustrations come out as people talk and try to make sense of it. When people have no information from leaders it creates a vacuum which is quickly filled with whatever people can conjure up.I think one of the main qualities of a…

Making An Impact By Observing

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With my job there are at times late night calls to execute a change to minimize the impact if something goes wrong. One of the benefits of this is you can learn some new and interesting things as you are talking with people outside of normal hours. This week I learned about something called the Observer Effect which is my new favorite concept.
The Observer Effect is a theory in physics that by simply observing a phenomenon you are impacting the phenomenon. A great example of this is checking the air pressure in your tires. When you check the air pressure you let some of the air out in the process to get the reading of the air pressure. It is a miniscule amount but it is there none the less. 
If you want to see this effect in real life, pick a friend or spouse and observe them. Don't say anything, just sit down with a pen and paper and take notes about what you observe. I guarantee that you you will have an impact on them, simply from your observation. 
The reason I love this concept …

There Are Times The Smart Thing To Do Is Work Harder

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The old saying telling us we should work smarter not harder is great, and we all want to do so whenever we can. Sometimes it just doesn't make sense to.
For instance, I've been doing some landscaping, and that has required a lot of digging and hauling of decorative rock. Now, that whole process would have gone a lot faster if I had a skid loader. But if you look at the time it would take to be proficient to dig up what I wanted to and not hit what I didn't, it might not have actually saved that much time overall. Plus there is the cost to rent the machine and the risk of actually hitting something by accident and causing more work. 
So sometimes you just have to pick up a shovel and start scooping. 
There are lots of tasks that require hard work to get done. There are better and smarter ways, but we don't always have the luxury of being able to develop the skills needed to operate at a more efficient level. So we do the work, learn our lessons and prepare ourselves for th…

Surviving The Day Is Also A Victory

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Tough situations happen. Work gets crazy. Kids schedules get hectic. You figure your only options are to figure out how to clone yourself, invent a time machine or give up and sit in the corner crying. 
The actual solution is to get through it. Sometimes we just get through it, barely, and that is okay. One step in front of the other. Being able to say you got through another day is a victory. Celebrate that as a small victory and sooner than you think a big victory will come along.

The Lost Art Of Thinking Before Speaking

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I wonder what it was really like during World War II in our country. Reading the history I know that most Americans opposed entry into the war until the attack on Pearl Harbor. Even after we were drawn into the war there were groups of people that opposed the war thinking Nazism was preferable to Communism as well as other more racist stances. Amidst all of that the overwhelming stories handed down were about the Greatest Generation and how everyone did their part, no matter how small, to support the war effort. Everyone knew that sacrifices had to be made, even the sacrifice of so many lives.
I think about that generation, trying to understand how in 80 years it has become hard to find a similar spirit of unity. We are a divided country and I see no desire on either side to try to reconcile. The concept of evaluating the words you say before you say them has been lost with the anonymity of social media. Asking ourselves, "Is it helpful? Is it kind?" before speaking to someon…

If You Have Free Time Prepare For The Unknown

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One of the great questions out right now is what school is going to look like in the fall. There are still a lot of unknowns around COVID-19 and what the right decision is. Education, mental health, social growth, nutritional well being are all factors that need to be weighed along with the health risks of the virus. 
Parents know the end of the school year was not great. It was pure survival mode for everyone, trying to make the best of a situation we were thrown into. There has been a lot of grief given to teachers and administrators expecting a rock solid plan as we approach heading back to school, which is too bad. The problem is there is still a number of options on how it would look. Each option would require a different structure and game plan for teachers. They need to prepare for all of the scenarios, and also the possibility of having to switch to a plan B over the weekend multiple times throughout the year. 
It reminded me of how hard it is to plan. We all get thrown into sit…

Maintaining The Status Quo

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One of my favorite movies is National Treasure. I am a history fan and enjoy stories that involve solving a puzzle so it is right up my alley. Towards the end of the movie as the cat and mouse game with the bad guys comes to its climax there are a few lines about maintaining the status quo that have always stuck with me. The good guys and bad guys are working together because they both have a piece of the puzzle. Patrick: Look, cooperation only lasts as long as the status quo remains unchanged. As soon as this guy gets where this thing ends, he won't need you anymore. Or any of us.
Ben: So we find a way to make sure the status quo changes in our favor. Status quo is a Latin phrase meaning the existing state of affairs. This idea of maintaining the status quo to retain your position, or your bargaining power is all to common. Individuals want to maintain everything  they currently have and expect in a negotiation the other side concede to their wishes. Of course the other side is als…

The Energy You Give In Every Interaction

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Most of your interactions with people generally go in one of two ways, those that give you energy and those that suck the energy right out of you. The same person might do both depending on the circumstances. Anyone that is a parent knows this because there are times that your kids just lift you up and bring you so much joy. There are those times though they drive you to the point of demanding that your spouse find a babysitter for the night before you lose your mind.
This is likely the case at work or school also where there are those people we struggle to be around when they get in a mood. 
Have you ever wondered what type of a person you are to other people? When you are talking with someone and the conversation has you energized and motivated, have you ever wondered if the other person feels the same way? Communication is more than just the words we say. You can tell by someone's tone and their responses if they just want the conversation to be over with. 
We have to remember tha…

When You Have A Chance To Make Someone's Day - Do It

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There are a lot of things going on in the world that can bring a person down. If you took a poll of everyone and had them rank on a scale of 1 to 10 how good they feel life is at the moment, what do you think the average would be? Lower than any of us would like it I'm sure.
You see things opening back up, the talk of sports finding ways to return and seeing more people out and about. It is a good thing but then we hear the rise of more cases and the unknowns of what we are truly dealing with. 
It feels gloomy right now. Like you are either waiting for a rain storm or it starting to lighten up. Off in the distance you can see sunshine trying to peak through and you wonder which way the wind is blowing. Does the future bring sunshine or more storms? 
It is hard to find the sun at times, so we need to be the sunshine in each others lives. Little gestures, to make someone smile is that first ray of sun poking through on a rainy day. We need to ask ourselves every day, with every person …

What Entrepreneurs Can Teach Us About Risk

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The standard view of entrepreneurship is someone who starts businesses, taking on a higher level of the risk and therefore being entitled to more of the potential rewards. This idea of taking on the risks is interesting, because what is a risk to some people isn't true for others. Risk is like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. I believe someone who is a small business owner probably takes on more risk than an entrepreneur. 
Entrepreneurs look to fill a gap they see in the marketplace. The often aren't the inventors, they are the people who see different inventions and advancements and can apply them to different situations. An entrepreneur is able to take a set of processes and apply them to a wide variety of businesses. They often look at how they can start different ventures with the least amount of risk. They aren't risk takers, they see the risks and figure out how to mitigate them.
For some people the thought of opening their own business or being an entrepreneu…

The Cost Of Bad Curb Appeal

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My project of late has been updating our landscaping. We've been in our house over a decade and things were definitely starting to show their wear. We started with the front of our house for the whole curb appeal and all. Things were nice, we had a nice layer of mulch and a variety of plants. Time went by and some plants died, some plants spread like crazy and some areas had far more weeds than we could keep on top of. As for the back of the house, just never really got around to it. So when a pandemic hits and you find yourself with more time on your hands than normal, it is decided it is high time we did something about it. It isn't the most fun job in the world, it is pretty physical and you are hot, sweaty and dirty. But the payoff is what it does to the value and appeal of your home. 
Thinking about the value of good landscaping got me thinking about the value of good design in anything. Having a pristine, well manicured yard might increase the value of your house, but you…

History Has Its Eyes On You

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Hamilton is coming out on Disney+ tomorrow and I am so excited to watch it. I've been singing along with the album for the last 4 years and have never had the chance to see the show. I remember when I first learned about it I started reading more about the history behind the musical. I had heard about the famous dual and knew Hamilton was one of the Founding Fathers, but there was a lot that I didn't know.
I've been learning some new things, doing some new research lately as I have have once again realized how little I really know about the history of our country. I've heard the terms before but didn't really know much beyond the surface of the Reconstruction era, Jim Crow laws and the Civil Rights movement. I was this many years old before I had heard about Juneteenth, celebrating the actual end of slavery in the United States. I grew up knowing about Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, and that was in the middle of the Civil War, but I'm still s…

What To Do With Your Great Idea

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Most organizations will put out the claim they want your feedback and your ideas. If you have a way to make it better they want to hear it. 
The culture dictates what the picture looks like in reality, how people truly share those ideas and feedback. Are ideas received well? Even if you don't do anything with it, thanking the person for the idea and what you like about it.Are ideas shot down nicely? Not all ideas are good. Sometimes they won't work, but explaining why, laying out the obstacles or flaws in an idea so that the idea can be improved upon. Are ideas shared and discussed? Most ideas are not home runs on the first presentation. An idea has to be cultivated, discussed and enhanced to formulate a working plan. Ideas require a feedback cycle to take them somewhere.Are ideas implemented recognized? Do you publicly appreciate those that share ideas, no matter how small, when they benefit your organization?This is true in all levels too. Most think the problems with idea sha…

The Voice We Hear The Most

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All of us have flaws. All of us have things we want to improve on. It is a slippery slope we too often fall into where all we see is what is wrong with ourselves and we forget or overlook the things that are great about the person we see in the mirror.
God created you and He doesn't make mistakes. When you believe you are less than what you truly are, it is the same as telling God He doesn't know what He is doing. God doesn't make mistakes.
We need to change the words we tell ourselves and ensure there is a positive undertone. We need to be our own best coach because the voice we hear the most is our own. Instead of saying, "I'm bad at..." we need to tell ourselves, "I want to get better at..." The first one is just complaining, insulting yourself. The second one is an action plan, a goal, something to work towards and achieve. 
If the voice in your head was a person, do they act like a best friend? Someone to tell you the truth in a kind way but is al…

Sorry To Break It To You, You Aren't The Best

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I play a variety of roles in my job. Roles like project manager, business analyst, solutions architect, application administrator, integration analyst and tester. Every day you can find me in at least one, but likely all of those roles to some capacity. Some of those roles I'm better at than others. Each of those roles I could improve on, there is always room to get better. 
One thing I've learned over time is to accept the fact that in any one of those roles there are thousands of people that are better at it than me. There are people who also have to play each of those roles in their job and they are better overall than I am. Somewhere in this world there is someone who is the absolute best at any given subject or activity, I'm pretty sure it isn't me.
Does that mean that I'm bad at my job? Of course not. I can still be very good at my job even if I'm not the best project manager in the world. The fallacy we fall into is to believe that if we aren't the bes…

Play As A Team But Don't Follow The Crowd

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To be a good team member, you have to adapt and be willing to help the team succeed. Sometimes it means doing things which aren't your strengths, or even things you don't like to do. If there is a process in place everyone else follows it is important as a team to follow that process.
It is also important for you to remember you are a unique individual. You have different strengths and talents. You might have a different approach than others do. You see this a lot in sports where someone has an unusual stance or throwing style. Everything says it shouldn't work but it is effective for them. The same is true for you, you bring a unique view of things. 
You also may see something that is a problem that others don't. Even if you follow the policy you know you are still going to have an issue. You need to be able to speak up, take a stand when something is not right.
It is one of many dichotomies in life. You need to be a good team mate, but you also need to be the best versi…

Life Can Be A Battle, Just Keep Fighting

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I know every day feels like a battle. That is because it is true. Every day is a battle. When you are in a battle you get tired. Sometimes you feel like you are winning, some times you feel like you are losing. There are even times it feels hopeless, that a part of you just wants to give up.
We want to win a battle that is super easy and straight forward. When there isn't a lot of thought or energy needed to coast to victory. But those aren't really battles, those are just practice. Championships are rarely the contest when you are able to put in your second string. Complex problems don't have easy answers, otherwise we would just call them simple problems. 
In life you are going to have battles and there aren't going to be easy answers. So you have two choices, you can quit, or you can keep fighting. Fighting, learning, and adapting until you find a way through.You will find your victories, your moments of joy, and then there will be another battle. It may sound pessimi…

To De-escalate You Have To Want To

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One of the joys of having multiple children are the fights that inevitably happen. I have to admit it annoys me far more than it should. I know when I was younger I had dumb arguments with my sister or other kids too. I just want them to see what took me a long time to learn, how it doesn't do any good to dig your heals in and try to prove you are absolutely right and the other person is absolutely wrong.
When you are in a disagreement with someone, if you want it to end you are going to have to find a compromise. Or at least reach an amicable end so nobody walks away bloody. To reach an agreement there are going to have to be concessions on both sides of the table. If you want to win, your actions typically escalate the tensions. If you want to de-escalate the tensions, if your goal is to actually resolve it, then maybe you will have to be the first to compromise.
If you are arguing a point and end up proving yourself right, but in the process you humiliate the opposition you are g…

Observation Is Key - To Change It You First Have To See It

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I will admit, there are things around the house which aren't as apparent to me as they should be. My wife used to get upset because I was oblivious to things that needed to be done. I'm sure I'm not much better but I do know I try to be observant. Now when I go to put my dirty dishes in the sink and there isn't room, I can usually recognize I should load the dishwasher.
I knew that I wanted to make a change, and that didn't just magically happen. I had to choose to be more observant. I had to notice things lying around that needed to be picked up. I wouldn't act unless I was able to notice that something needed to be done.

Observation is the key. We can't change anything if we don't open our eyes to see it. If we aren't looking for the items that we want to change we are not going to see them. That doesn't mean we are ignoring it either. Ignoring something means you are aware of it but you are refusing to acknowledge. Sometimes it just doesn't…

Before The Last Buzzer Sounds - We Can Still Win

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I write and think about leadership a lot here. It is because I believe we are all leaders. We might not be in high profile management type positions, but we all have a sphere of influence which gives us the opportunity to be a leader. We are in great need of leadership because this year has been crazy, and we aren't even half way through it. That is a huge opportunity for us to change the narrative on the rest of 2020. But we need leadership.

I saw this quote by Doc Rivers and think of the times we've seen great second half comebacks, maybe you've even been a part of one. When you are down at halftime the coach needs to lead, but you also need the players on the team to step up. Everyone can't just throw up their hands, assume the game is lost so try to not to get hurt or have them laughing at you. There are plenty of teams that have that attitude, and we would label their coaches as bad. The great coaches, the great leaders, inspire us to give everything we can to turn…

It Is Time For A Change

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Every month that goes by in the year 2020 we continue to think that the world can't possibly get any more screwed up. We need to all stop saying that because there is always something worse. In May it got worse when we all saw the senseless murder of George Floyd. I was sickened, outraged, and scared. I knew what the state of the country was. I was scared because I knew what the reaction was going to be and we've all seen how that has played out.
I never would have thought I would have to be teaching my children about the difference between protesting, rioting and looting. The words come up as we try to explain why the black community is angry and why they have the right to be. Explaining how this problem does not have a simple solution. How there are people that are trying to manipulate the narrative to make us think something other than the truth. How there isn't one problem to solve but a complex web of interconnected issues that have been built up over time and contribu…