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Showing posts from 2020

Having Hope When Things Look Hopeless

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There are times when things look utterly hopeless. You are exhausted and feel like there is no way out of a situation you are in. In those times we need to remember there is always hope. There are always choices and alternatives to consider. There are more options and you have more control than you think you do. When I start to feel hopeless in a situation, I remind myself it is an emotional response and I try to focus harder on non-emotional aspects. What are the facts of this situation? How can I logically think through the options?
We are blessed with having both a heart and a head. We need to recognize when one is doing more work than the other and things are out of balance. A few ways I have learned for myself that help me: Make a list of all of the options/choices available. No matter how extreme or off the wall they are. An option always available, no matter the situation, is to sell everything and move to an island in the Caribbean. That option has never been selected, but just…

Success Is One Step Forward

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I recently hit a milestone at work, I was a part of launching my first project, it was a great feeling after 232 days, not that I was counting. Is that success? The client said it was one of the smoothest launches they had been a part of. Is that success? I haven't been laid off from my job yet. Is that success?
I know I talk a lot about success, and how we can all find more success. I am always looking for the little tips and ideas to find every 0.0001% I can find in every area of my life to be a better employee, teammate, father, and husband. When we are striving for better we are finding success. Getting better, finding ways to improve in every little way will lead to success. People will always have different definitions of what success looks like, to me success is showing forward progress. 
When you think about failure it isn't about the first mistake, it is about repeating the mistake and never correcting enough to show forward progress. The rookie on the team isn't …

Your Expectations Are Probably Going To Be Met

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Expectations have been on my mind lately so I started doing some searching looking for quotes. I was amazed, most of the quotes coming up first had a very similar tone:
No expectations, no disappointments.The secret of happiness is low expectations.When you have expectations you are setting yourself up for disappointment. It made me sad. I get I can't expect to play for the winning Super Bowl team next year. But to have expectations so low, basically expecting nothing good is going to happen will almost guarantee nothing good will happen.

I believe what you expect is likely what will happen. Realistic expectations are always good, but if you expect that people will disappoint you, that is likely what you will see, all of the areas they disappoint you. If you expect people to do great things, to surprise you, to exceed your expectations, you will see all the ways they do.

The definition of expectation is a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. Anothe…

Swimming Through Life's Troubled Waters

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Sometimes things suck. If anyone told you life was going to always give you exactly what you wanted they were lying. You get a bad grade on your test, the project you are working on doesn't go smooth, people you thought were your friends talk about you behind your back. The cliched answer is you win some you learn some. Everything we see as a loss is really just a learning opportunity.

Speaking for myself every time something major happened in my life that most would consider to be a loss, eventually things turned around into something positive. The cliche is unfortunately true, what seemed like losses were my best learning opportunities. I learned more about myself, grew more, and figured out what was important in life by some of the biggest "loses".

As you learn more about yourself, you also discover that our greatest enemies in life are not other people. Our enemies are the doubts, fears, apprehension, mistrust and other harmful self talk in our own minds. We can eith…

Throwing Stones And Catching Eggs

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We all know, if you live in a glass house you shouldn't throw stones. This is not a good analogy for how the world actually works. Yes, we all live in brittle glass houses, as the imperfect beings we are. But it isn't as simple as not throwing stones like we are a starting pitcher for the Yankees. We are going to get stones thrown our way, some intentionally, but like a rock hitting your windshield sometimes the circumstances are just right. If you've ever been cut from a team, lost a job, or been given some critiques on things you can do better, it isn't hard to feel like big stones aimed right at you.
The fact is sometimes we need to be told things aren't good or need to be improved. It is easy to avoid having hard conversations because you don't want to throw stones. But it doesn't help the other person improve. I always tell people if they see something that I can do better, I want to know. It sucks to hear but I can't improve things unless I know a…

The Weakest Yet Most Beautiful Part

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I'm no geologist, but I have heard with stone like granite and marble you often find the prettiest and most interesting patterns are also likely the weakest point in the stone. I'm guessing there have been some people, out shopping for a new counter top, if they've heard this concept they decide to be smart and select the one that has fewer weak points. Unfortunately they have also selected the most boring stone on the lot.

Yes, that stone has a weak spot, but it is still stone. It is still going to be durable and do what you probably need it too. If you accept the one with some more weak spots you also get something far more colorful and intriguing.

Everything and everyone has weak spots. These weaknesses make life interesting. The trials or challenges that we face and survive. The stresses that build character. These elements build up a beautiful picture. Yes, they might be your weakest point, but they build a far more interesting picture of who you are.

While it may fee…

What Comes After I Don't Know?

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There is a lot we don't know. Not only is knowledge increasing over time giving us more to learn, it is impossible for a person to know everything. We can pick and choose what we learn. We have our interests and what we are required to know for our jobs or our families.

There are many questions we get asked where the answer is, "I don't know." What happens next is where the true value comes.

First there is the information where you don't know and you don't care. Some people might be asked this week who the starting quarterbacks are in the Super Bowl. For many they don't know and they don't care. That information is of zero value in their life. If the information provides no value to you, then not caring is an okay response.

The other clear area is when it is information you need to know. Information vital for your job, knowing when you have to pick the kids up, or what time your meeting is. If you say I don't know for these your response is going …

Why Do We Add Complexity To Prevent Mistakes?

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I started listing to an interesting podcast call Cautionary Tales. I love listening to good stories where you have an opportunity to learn. One episode really got my attention talking about when the Academy Awards mixed up the winner and announced the wrong movie as Best Picture. It was all about how sometimes you put systems in place to catch an error but they actually cause the problem.

In talking about that mistake the speaker talked about Charles Perrow, an author who brought about a concept that explains how sometimes we try so hard to prevent a mistake that we end up causing it.

Every time we try to prevent a mistake, we put a process or system in place to catch or prevent the error. But for every process and system we put into place we make the whole endeavor more complex. Where you have more complexity you have more opportunities for failure. Perrow talked about how some systems are vulnerable to catastrophic failure to the point that it is all but inevitable for a failure to …

Are You Playing Checkers Or Chess?

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The game of chess is fascinating, it is really quite simple in concept, yet it can be extremely complex and nuanced. I myself know how to play chess, but I'm not very good at it. The great players can see 20 or more moves ahead as they calculate out their strategy. I'm probably in the 2-3 moves ahead if I'm lucky. Beyond the game itself, the concept of chess is one that is well known. In sports or business, someone that is good at planning and seeing multiple steps ahead is referred to as a chess master.

What I've been noticing a lot lately is how we often talk about things like it is checkers, when in reality it is more like chess. For instance, I've been working on framing my basement. The concept is pretty simple, nail some 2x4's together so they are 16 inches apart and secure it into place. Easy to understand, but it takes time to measure and level and square up everything. There are details much deeper than the initial concept you have to know. I also noti…

Make Sure To Refuel Before You Are Running On Empty

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It has been a tough week for me, putting in more hours than I normally do and working a lot over the weekend. I'm not complaining, it comes with the job and sometimes there is just more work that needs to get done. It isn't a regular occurrence and I really like my job so you do what is needed.

What I noticed is how off I felt today. Feeling like I'm forgetting information I shouldn't or just not being able to focus like I normally can. It really shouldn't surprise me though, because my tank was on empty. As I sat down to write this post I looked back through the nuggets I find on the Internet and of course this tweet popped out at me.
If we are always available, we aren’t worth much. All of us need down time, think time, rest, time to reflect & pray. We give out of the overflow, not out of the fumes of an empty tank. — Michael Catt (@MichaelCatt) January 16, 2020 It didn't hit me last week when I saved it but I'm not surprised I did based on how releva…

Why Is Delegating So Hard?

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Delegation is a concept heard a lot in the business world. Most people think of it as the boss dumping the work they don't want to do on their employees. It can certainly happen that way, but I think it is far more complex. Delegation is getting a team to work as efficiently and effectively as possible. It becomes less about getting rid of work and more about  having the person that is best suited for a job doing a task. For instance, I know how to open Photoshop and I can do some very basic things. I am not going to be quick about it and the product I produce nobody would want. Taking longer for a worse product is the exact opposite of what we are aiming for. If I have a project that needs design work, I need to delegate that to a Graphic Designer, it is more efficient and effective. Learning to delegate involves knowing the skills and abilities of the people on your team and being honest about what you aren't good at.

Delegation is also about time, there is a transfer of kno…

Knowing When To Go Fast And When To Go Slow

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Going fast or going slow - is one more important than the other? We are told to take the time to think through things. Don't over analyze. Jump on an opportunity. Don't rush into a big decision. Which one is it?

I was recently watching a basketball game and the commentary was around the skill of the point guard. He is amazingly quick, with or without a basketball. But what they really took note of is how he could slow things down when needed. It was his ability to go fast or go slow that kept the defense on their toes.

Baseball is the same thing when it comes to pitching. The most successful pitchers are those who can change the speed of their pitches but make their arm motion look the same. The hitters then don't know how to time their swing.

You know the lesson coming. There isn't a rule on when to go fast or slow, it is about knowing when to use both effectively that will make you more successful. I see it in my work where there are times that it is important to slo…

Where There Are People There Is Friction

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I'm guessing you are a person who has to deal with other people in your life. I know there are a few people that choose to live a reclusive lifestyle, but chances are they aren't reading this. For the rest of us we have other people we deal with.

Parents, children, spouses, co-workers, friends, family, classmates, teammates, and even the people you pass on the road or in a store. I did some quick research on interactions per day, and like any topic there were too many studies to count. Generally speaking it looks like the average number of interactions per person per day is between 10 and 25. I did a quick recap of my day and I counted 35 people I interacted with. Above average, but probably nothing compared to people that work in retail or customer service positions. However you count it we interact with a lot of different people.

All of those interactions and all of those people lead to many opportunities for what I will call friction. Many interactions can be positive, but …

Read To Lead

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One of the most common New Year's resolutions you will find up there with exercise, eating healthier and managing finances better is to read more. I am a big believer in reading. There are countless concepts and ideas that I've used throughout my career, with my family and in relationships. I also believe any time you engage your mind in learning something new it is like exercising your body. Learning something new opens up possibilities and connects seemingly unrelated concepts.

Every year many aim to start reading more than they did in the past but have a hard time reaching their goal. Setting a goal is easy, where many fall down is setting up systems to turn their goal from a fantasy to something realistic. The two most important things you can do is set a time each day you are going to read and set the number of pages you will read during that time. Reading 10 pages a day will get you through most books in a month. I know you can read 10 pages a day, depending on what work…

A New Year - A New Word For 2020

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As we start a new year it is the time I reflect briefly on the past year and I look forward to 2020 and what I want to accomplish. Each year I have ideas for goals but I choose to focus on One Word that helps encapsulate what I want the year to be. You can read more on my One Word page that has links to more information about the concept.

My word for 2019 was ruckus, which I think was a perfect fit as I look back, but it wasn't what I thought it was going to mean. At the start of 2019 I thought I was going to be a disruptive force to bring about some positive changes and get some high value tasks completed. But, it turned out I wasn't always going to cause the ruckus, sometimes I was going to have to endure it. If you look up ruckus in the dictionary it means a disturbance or commotion. Part way through 2019 I lost my job, if that doesn't scream ruckus what does? But that ruckus set into motion changes I'm very grateful for. It wasn't how I expected the year to end…