Showing posts from 2020

It Is Time For A Change

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…

When You Are Learning To Dance, You Might Step On A Few Toes

The phrase, "I didn't want to step on your toes" has been said a number of times at my work place lately. I find it interesting that in our society we don't seem to care who we offend, but at our jobs we try so hard not to offend we become more passive then we need to be at our job. 
You need to have good working relationships with people so it is right to try not to offend anyone. We don't need to be scared so we aren't doing what we need to though. If we are focused on the same goal, I should never be offended by someone trying to get some work done. 
When you are learning to dance, there is a good chance that you will make the wrong steps, even step on your partners toes once in a while. If you are dancing a cha-cha and your partner is dancing a waltz it is going to be ugly, there is even a chance someone could get hurt. But if you are dancing the same style, your goal is the same. It might be a little rough at first but with practice and learning about each…

So You Don't Agree? Try Anyway

You have likely been in a situation where your boss, teacher, or coach gave you a task or exercise which didn't really make sense. Your first thought is it feels like a waste of time and you immediately gripe to your friends, co-workers, or teammates. None of you can make any sense of it. You believe it will turn out as a disaster and secretly hope the whole thing blows up so you can confirm your dissenting view.

We often don't have control of the things we are assigned, but we are in control of how we react to them. If you don't agree with something, rather than complaining maybe what you need to do is put all of your energy into figuring out how to make it work. It might turn out you were right and it was a disaster, but by putting your energy into making it work you are going to learn more and better understand where things fell apart.

Even when we know something isn't going to work, we try anyway. There is a reason for the assignment you were given, you might not s…

Multi-Sport Athletes And Polymaths

There had been a trend in youth sports I'm happy to see finally start to shift. When I was growing up if you played sports you played many sports, you didn't play just one. There wasn't specializing. Somewhere along the line that changed and if you became good at a sport it became all you did. You have your in season team, your off season traveling team, your camps and workshops. If you wanted to be great you had to have a singular focus.

Today you see more emphasis from college and professional coaches and scouts talking about multi-sport athletes. Most professional drafts have some mention of the percent of first round draft picks who played multiple sports in high school. If you are a great athlete you can still be a kid and try lots of things. You don't need to cut every other thing out of your life if you want to go pro, from the numbers, it seems like that hurts you more than it helps. Which makes sense, because how many kids probably burnt out playing one sport …

The Difference Between Fear And Respect

As we've been in this global shut down for over 2 months now you can tell people are getting restless. We continue to learn more about the disease, how it spreads and how deadly it is, yet we still have much to learn. We don't have a vaccine and won't have one for at least another year, and then the questions will arise on how much testing has been done and how safe it is. There are doubts and questions and endless opinions (oh so many opinions) of people who aren't experts pointing to articles by theoretical experts or actual experts who share their opinions based on what little data they have. Too much of the information we are being fed is meant to generate fear.

The problem that is going on right now is a divide between keeping things shut down for safety and opening things back up to get businesses moving again. The issue is both things are true. The disease is deadly, though not as deadly as once suspected. Just because it isn't as deadly doesn't mean we …

Learn The History Of What You Love

If you are a sports fan you've probably heard about The Last Dance, the documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls currently airing. Anyone who saw Jordan will tell you he is the greatest basketball player to have played the game. That has come under debate recently with many current NBA fans claiming LeBron James is the greatest ever. I'm not hear to debate who is better, what interests me is how much people, especially young people, only know of recent players. It happens in every generation to a degree but I think as time goes by people get less interested in the history of the thing they love. Because of the documentary many people are listing their top 5 or top 10 players of all time, and they are listing Jordan but they are leaving out greats of the past. To appreciate LeBron you need to understand what Jordan did. To appreciate Jordan you have to understand what Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell did before him.

The Obstacles That Block Our Path

If you are in a state of being motivated to start something new, but haven't started it yet, I have a warning for you. You are about to get hit by every obstacle imaginable.

You are wanting to spend some time working on a project around the house, or maybe read a book that has been sitting on your shelf. Some sort of family situation will pop up that consumes your weekends. Back in the day this would have been kids sports and activities, now it might be homework and meal prepping for the week.

You are have an idea you want to put some thoughts together on for work. You get hit with a project, report or presentation that you are spending every extra minute on to get it done on time.

You want to start exercising, you get injured or sick. You want to start eating healthier, someone brings donuts into the office, or worse the employee fun committee plans a potluck/goody day.

The obstacles are real and challenging, but if you want something nobody said it was going to be easy. There is…

Strive To Learn Something In Every Interaction

Learning and teaching. I think most of our interactions with others can be summarized that we are either learning or we are teaching. One is primarily about listening, one is primarily about talking. Of course during a conversation you can flip back and forth between talking and listening. Both are necessary, but which one do you primarily operate from? Where do you naturally go first?

One of my triggers I've developed to help me starts withe the feeling of having to argue more to make a point, or just generally feeling like people aren't getting what I am saying. It is a pretty clear indication I need to stop talking and listen more. I need to go into learning mode so I can understand the other position or what details I'm not understanding. If people aren't getting what I'm saying, and it seems simple, I'm probably missing some details that are making it less clear for others.

The alternative is spending more time coming up with strategies and bullet points o…

Nobody Cares, Work Harder

I'm human. Just like everyone else I can get in those down times where it feels like nothing is going right. There is the ever expanding task list at work and at home. The joy of crossing an item off your list disappears when you realize three new things came in. Dealing with uncertainty and unknowns but trying to move forward. Stressing out about how to figure everything out. Dealing with people and answering questions that do nothing but slow you down.

When you are in these situations many of us feel the need to vent or complain. It can be a good outlet, just letting off steam. But at the end of the day it is up to you to figure out a solution. Sometimes you just need to work harder. Working harder doesn't mean putting more hours in, it means working harder with your mind to find a solution. Work harder at organizing your priorities better. Work harder at delegating things that others can help you with. Work harder at learning to communicate clearly and succinctly. Work hard…

Life Is Like Learning To Ride A Bike - Part 2

In my last post about bike riding, I talked about when you are first learning to ride a bike you have to figure out how to go in a straight line. As we progressed in our bike riding proficiency we realize that going straight is important, but just the start. Once you learn how to maintain balance and keep it straight, you have a whole new set of challenges. Those challenges and how to deal with them contain more lessons for us.

The first thing you need to do is learn how to stop. I swear every kid I've ever known, no matter how many times you tell them how to stop their bike, when they start going where they don't want to the feet go down. Pedals get tangled with feet, falls happen, things escalate quickly. You have to learn how to break safely, when you get into a situation that isn't safe you need to slow down or stop. If you don't know how to break things can get very dangerous. In life we have to learn to recognize when we need to slow down or even stop. People can…

Life Is Like Learning To Ride A Bike

Stuck at home, finally taking the big leap with my youngest to learn to ride a bike without training wheels. The beauty of having three kids is you've cut your teeth on teaching the first two how to ride, this one is feeling like a piece of cake. A friend of mine gave me the best advice when I was first teaching my kids to ride, and I continue to use it. To balance better you need to go faster. Your natural instinct is to try and go really slow and balance the best you can. But balancing is a lot harder when you are going slow. When you go fast your momentum keeps you up right.

The other piece of advice that I repeat often is to make little adjustments, not big ones. To go in a straight line, when you feel yourself starting to go left your instinct is to jerk it back to the right. Which is always an over correction and quickly turns into what looks like someone emphatically shaking their head no as the wheel jerks back and forth. To keep it straight it takes just the slightest of …

Each Day Is Its Own Victory

We have been at this shelter at home stage for 6 weeks now. We've settled into a pretty decent routine with work, home schooling, and when the best time to venture out for groceries and other necessities is to limit exposure. We have our days that we order takeout that we look at as a reward. Do the days feel like it is the same thing day in and day out? Certainly. Do we try to find different activities to break up the monotony? Of course, with what limited options we have. Still the repetitive feeling doesn't go away. Many others feel the same way, some feel like they are going to lose their mind if something doesn't change.

All we can do is keep on moving forward. Each day its own little victory. Another step forward and closer to the finish line. We don't know how many steps there are but we know each step is progress. We don't have to be a superstar every day, we just need to take a step.

In a year we will look back and be amazed at how far we've come.

If You Went Viral, What Would People Catch?

Does anyone else find it ironic we are dealing with a pandemic when our social medial culture talks so much about going viral? The number of people who have a hobby or even make a living trying to get TikTok famous is ridiculous. Frantically checking back on their posts to see how many likes they got.

Seth Godin has talked for years about how ideas spread much like a virus. It doesn't matter if the ideas are good or bad, it is a matter of if you can get people to talk and share it. There are people that will try to share anything, just to get the likes and clicks. We all have a voice. We all have a choice on what words we share. If you went viral what would people catch from you?

Financial Literacy - Something Everyone Needs To Understand

There are two main topics at the top of everyone's mind right now with COVID-19. The first is obviously the health and wellness of everyone. The second is the economy and the elements related to it. With good reason as unemployment rates soar to levels not seen since the Great Depression. Many predicted we would be heading towards a recession in 2020, long before the economic downturn from the pandemic. If you've looked at your 401k lately you'll know things have taken a big hit. (If you haven't looked, don't, just know that it is a long term investment and look in 2022.)

All of this is just another reminder of our need as individuals to have a solid foundation in financial literacy. Most people are finding more time on their hands, what better way to spend it than to figure out how to understand your personal financial situation and what you need to do differently for the next crisis. There might not be a global pandemic but there will always be job losses, medica…

Spend No More Than 5 Minutes Per Day On The News

I heard recently all you really need every day is 5 minutes of news. In just 5 minutes you can be updated on the key items going on in your community and world. The key is stopping at 5 minutes because the rest in my opinion is propaganda that media tries to drive home and stir up more clicks and viewers. It doesn't matter if you lean right or left, there is a news source that will bend the narrative to fit whatever picture you want to be painted.

If you stop at 5 minutes you have a lot more free time every day. If you have time you aren't reading the latest doomsday or conspiracy stories what can you do with your time? We are going to look back at this time and the level of innovation, art, stories and new ideas that come from this time where we are locked inside will be one of the greatest in history. The reason I know this is it has happened before.

This pandemic isn't the first plague that has swept over the world. When you look back over history,  during some of the g…

Control The Things You Can Control

I feel like I have written about this topic before, but given our current situation in the world I think it can't be stated enough. The only things I should worry about are the things I can control. If I can't control it, no amount of worrying will change things so it is wasted energy. If I can control something there isn't any point in worrying, I should take action.

I also realize that I don't have a lot of room to worry. We have been lucky in our house that our jobs haven't been impacted. Yes it has been annoying and there is a fear of what happens if we were to catch it, but when I think of people working in hospitals and other high risk jobs my problems pale in comparison.

There is a big difference between a less than ideal day and a bad day. For most of us our days are less than ideal now. Life is too short to waste time worrying about things that aren't that big of a deal, even in the middle of a pandemic. Stay safe, be smart, but make the best of each d…

On Not Vilifying Someone Who Doesn't Think Like You

It is interesting to see how people react to the new world we live in. Even more interesting is how people react to others reactions. Social media is an interesting space, it always has been. You have the people who seem to rip on everything and love to argue without facts. A time like this, full of fear, anxiety and a host of questions has only compounded the problem. You also have many people who try to spread positive or uplifting quotes and nuggets of information, just trying to help people make the best of this terrible situation. Sometimes those paths cross and it is an interesting look at human nature.

I was reading a post from an author that is known for being very positive, some might even say he is over the top, he's a Pollyanna. He shared a post about how we have a choice in how we react to the situation we are in. Someone came back at him and vilified him for stating such a thing. When there are people losing jobs, getting sick and losing loved ones to tell them it was…

Today Is Unique, Special and Beautiful

Today is trash/recycling day and I'm oddly excited about it. Partly because we've been doing some cleaning and finding things we just need to get rid of, which fills up the trash can pretty quickly, so it needs to be emptied. The other reason, I have been looking for ways to be excited and thankful for the little things that make each day unique. 
When we are in a time like this where the days start running together I find it important to look for little things to break up each day and have something to make each day unique. I know I'm not alone in this based on the number of times I talk with others and somewhere in the conversation eventually the question is raised, "Wait, what day is it today?"
If all we talk about is how it feels like the movie Groundhog Day then that is what we see. If we talk about the uniqueness of each day and the joy of it being trash day each day becomes unique and special. 
When we consider that most people will have 25,000-30,000 days…

We Are All In Marketing

I was reminded of a book by Seth Godin recently called All Marketers Are Liars. If you are in marketing those might be harsh words to hear but I would encourage you most of all to read it.

The reason I've been thinking about it is because of some of the different messages I've been hearing lately. These messages are all stories. Everyone has a story to tell. Every person, every team, every company and every organization has a story. Everyone is in marketing trying to make their story sound as good as they possibly can. The issue is when you start manipulating the story. You are sharing feedback from the handful of customers that applaud a decision and ignoring the hundreds of complaints you've received. When you start altering the story so far from the truth, yet you've repeated the story to yourself so much you honestly believe it is the truth.

We need to listen to our audience and we need to be authentic. If you don't like your story, don't make something up,…

Boredom - Surprisingly A Word You Don't Hear A Lot Right Now

I find it interesting that as crazy as our world is right now, one word I'm not hearing a lot of is boredom. My kids know better than to say they are bored to me because I can find them something to do so fast it gives them whiplash. Beyond that I have talked to more people that are doing things they've put off. Watching some of those movies they haven't had a chance to see that everyone has talked about. Reading a book that they haven't had a chance to start. Working on a project around the house. I've heard more people talk about painting something in their house I wish I had bought stock in Sherwin Williams.

I've spent more time on framing my basement. The kids are spending time going through areas and rooms of the house that are desperately in need of organizing and cleaning. Toys that have been forgotten about have been rediscovered. Countless art projects have been done. We've watched a couple of movies together as a family.

Yes, things are different …

Flexibility - Or Adapting To The Way Things Are

Being able to go with the flow is generally a pretty good quality to have. Circumstances change, information changes, people leave companies or move away. As things change having the resiliency to adapt to the new circumstances is an important quality.

Now more than ever we need to be flexible. We are having to live in new and different ways. People learning to work from home, do online school, figure out ways to stay in shape and able to perform in their activity of choice.

Challenges are nothing more than learning opportunities. The key is to accept things aren't like they used to be. Complaining about it doesn't change any of your current circumstances. So often in life the only thing we can control is how we respond in various situations. The situations we can rarely control, but we can always own our response.

We must also remember that not everyone faces the same challenges. While some of us are complaining of having to work in the same room as our spouse every day, othe…

Sometimes There Is More Than One Lesson To Learn

I try to always stay positive and look at the good in the world. Recently it has been a lot more challenging to do so. It is certainly a time where there is a lot of fear and anxiety, yet I believe we are going to look back on this time and recognize the impact it had on us as individuals, families, communities, nations and the world. I've shared before that many of the worst events in my life have had the most positive change. This virus is tragic, it is killing people and wreaking havoc on economies. At the same time we are also being presented with things many of us haven't seen in our lifetime.

Air quality numbers in many cities have dramatically improved in just a few days.The water in the canals in Venice is clearer than it has been in decades.Marine life is approaching shores like Sardinia they usually avoid due to the abundance of water traffic.Companies are learning how to operate with people working from home. Some companies have embraced a work from home culture but …

What Is Needed Most During A Global Pandemic

Five months ago I wrote a post about propaganda. The whole idea was around how companies, governments, organizations and institutions create propaganda and how we need to be knowledgeable about the methods used. We need to seek the truth. Fast forward to today when we are in the midst of the largest global crisis since World War II. Most of us (90% or more of the world's population) were not alive during that time, we just read about it in history books and learn about it from Steven Spielberg movies. We are living in unprecedented times, dealing with something of this magnitude with access to the information that we do is new territory for us.
There are countless, news stories, eyewitness accounts and "facts" shared from people that "know someone" in any number of epicenters around the world. Whatever your view is on the situation, no matter if you believe everything happening is an overreaction, underreaction, or just the right reaction, you can find informat…

There Are Two Types Of Businesses - Which One Are You?

I am convinced there are basically two styles of running a business.I'm going to speak in some extreme generalizations here, but stay with me. I know there are infinite ways to run a business and there are nuances within each of these groups, but I think you will agree with me.
Businesses are either customer first or business first. 
In a customer first business you adapt and change your business based on the needs of your customer. You gather feedback on how they feel, you listen to them, and you do everything you can to accommodate them. Of course you can't do everything they want, but then you explain it, you help them understand why things are the way they are. If you can't give a good explanation on a policy, you will change it.
On the other side we have the business first organizations who act like the customer doesn't matter. There is an air about them of believing the customer should feel privileged to be paying them for their product or service. The biggest si…

Are You Able To Talk To A Stranger?

Work has been a little crazy for me in 2020 which has cut into my reading time in the evenings of late. I was fortunate however to finish reading Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know. I've always been a big fan of Gladwell, his ability to tell stories and make you think is phenomenal. He is a story teller, but rather than writing fiction he takes real stories and can weave them together to present a concept you never realized was something you should think about.

This book starts and ends telling the story of the arrest and death of Sandra Bland in 2015, which happened amidst the contentious race relations with police when it was at its peak around this time. Gladwell takes you through court transcripts and recordings of the interaction, to present a different way of looking at the situation. Not trying to prove who was right or wrong, just presenting all of the information that led to the unfortunate even…

The Important Parts Of Any Race - The Beginning, The Middle, And The End

If you are a runner, you know what a finishing kick is. For those of us who don't run it is the extra burst as you are nearing the end of the race. Timing it right is key because if you go too early you expend all of your energy before you get across the finish line. Start too late and you have untapped resources and probably didn't finish as well as you could have.

When you have a project or an assignment due, there is often a push at the end. If things didn't go well in the other parts of the project we think we can just sprint our way till the end. The deadline is fast approaching so we try to kick things into a higher gear. If you are trying to figure out how to do things at the end, you are probably too late, and certainly not conditioned for what is to come. There is a balance and planning that is needed.

So many things in our life can be considered a race, and any race has three key components:

Start - You want to get out to a fast start. Any journey begins with the …

Having My Back Without Sheltering Me

We all know that crazy things will happen in life. There are daily risks and opportunities to learn something. For many of us sometimes we have to walk through a challenge to learn our lessons. When we are young our parents told us a thousand times to be careful by the stove, it is hot. It often never really stuck with us until the one time we accidentally touched it and we learned what they meant when they said it was hot. Next time I guarantee you were much more cautious around the stove.

We protect our kids, when they are really little we don't let them near the stove. When they get older we might stand next to them and warn them as they get too close. Protection makes sense up to a point. If your kid is about to go off to college and you've never let them in the kitchen for fear they might get burned you are going to have a problem. Sheltering them is not helping to protect them.

Any team, any relationship, you want to have a culture where everyone feels others have their …

Just Keep Swimming

Have you ever stopped to think how brilliant Dory is? You know, Dory from Finding Nemo. If you forgot her she would understand. She had this motto that work wonders no matter what you face. Good things happen to us in life. Bad things happen in life. Frustrations happen. Setbacks. Losses. Wins. Through all of it, you really need to "Just Keep Swimming."

When things are going well for you, it is easy to get lazy with what got you there. You need to keep improving, keep getting better. You need to "Just Keep Swimming."

When things aren't going well for you, it is easy to give up. Setbacks don't define you. Most people will tell you out of their greatest defeats led to something even better. Learn from it and move forward. You need to "Just Keep Swimming."

Life will throw all kinds of craziness your way. Whatever happens, good or bad, "Just Keep Swimming."

In Most Situations, How You Feel Doesn't Matter

I was listening to episode 80 of the Jocko Podcast and they were talking about being able to detach. This isn't about detaching as in pulling away and not interacting with another human being. It is about being in a heated situation and not getting caught up in the moment, keeping your cool to make rational decisions. Granted Jocko is a decorated Navy SEAL who later in his career was in charge of training new SEALs. He has been in engagements that make whatever your situation is trivial. The skill is useful to all of us even though we will likely never be in a combat situation.
One of the best examples Jocko talked about was whenever his kids are fighting, he instantly detaches and steps in. He doesn't get emotional, he doesn't yell at his kids to stop fighting or else. He calmly steps in, assess the situation, gathers the facts and details needed, and quickly makes a decision. 
Haven't we all been in a situation where we loose our cool? We look back on a situation and…

Having Hope When Things Look Hopeless

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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?

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?

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

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?

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

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

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 …