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Showing posts from 2021

Overcoming Our Selfish Human Nature

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I truly believe human beings are incredibly selfish creatures at our core. There is something inside all of us that causes us to want to take care of ourselves first. There is probably something in our core as a mammal which makes us prone to a base flight or fight mentality. Of course we aren't surviving in the wild or being hunted, but it is still in our nature. You see it when we compare ourselves to others, it is that same base instinct coming out.  For most people, when they recognize they are being selfish the want to ensure they are not viewed that way. Doing the little things like saying please and thank you, acknowledging to others when we fall down, and helping others out counter balances our selfish impulses. Two things come into play, causing us to show our selfish nature. One of course is the fact that we are selfish at our core, it is a base characteristic we have. The other is understanding when we are under pressure our base habits and traits come out. Pressure can

It Is Not About Being The Expert, Just Increase Your Expertise

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I was thinking about experts recently. One of the reasons it was on my mind stemmed from the COVID situation and how much we think about what the experts are saying. We desire experts to provide us all of the answers and to never be wrong. Many are frustrated because different experts and "experts" have made different claims on how things will go over the past year, and they are continuing to make predictions for a go forward plan. Chances are no prediction that is perfect, some are closer than others, but it is impossible to predict the future. Yet when it doesn't happen like you expect the expert gets ridiculed. Being an expert does not mean you have all the answers, you just have more than most of the people around you. I see this at work, for myself and for others. At my company I've become the so called expert on a couple of platforms. The main reason is because I was the first person to start working with them so I simply have the benefit of having a head start.

Passing The Last Test Doesn't Mean You Don't Study For The Next

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Just because you passed the last test you aren't guaranteed to have the same success on the next one. Yet you always have winners that get cocky. The hare stops to take a nap because it expects to win, and we know how that turned out. I see this in dance with my girls, they often compete with others groups from our own studio or see the same studio and dancers at another competition. How they placed last time doesn't mean anything. You have different judges and different levels of performance. Finding success in the past should encourage you though. You know that you are capable of doing it, just need to recognize it isn't guaranteed. You still need to put in the work and effort that got you there last time. You might need to do even more because this time the competition recognizes you are the defending champ. Nothing in your past guarantees anything for the future. Past success doesn't guarantee future success anymore than past failures have no indication on if you wi

Better Electronic Communication And Trying To Not Be That Person

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I hate email. Which is kind of unfair, because my real issue is any type of communication when it is inefficient. Today we have so many different methods of communication. On a typical day at work I will get messages in email, Teams, Slack, Basecamp, three different service desk ticket systems, project tickets and issue logs. Every tool has its purpose and value. I work in a world with different clients and vendors who all have different preferences and tool sets. I don't really mind it. What never ceases to amaze me though is the number of times I will get a message in one medium asking if I saw a message in another.  Now, to be fair, I'm probably just as guilty as the next person. I can recall sending a Teams message to a developer asking if they saw the update in Basecamp and if they need me to create a Jira ticket for it. That is insane. Here are the rules I try to live by to hopefully make sure I'm not adding to the problem any more than is absolutely necessary. Other

The Lost Art Of Constructive Criticism

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Back when I was in school, we often did this exercise where we would have to review a fellow classmate's work. We were taught how to point out things they do well and to share our thoughts on something that could be better. Constructive criticism is what we were taught that was. How to tell someone that something needed to be better without making them feel bad. I think we've lost site of that as a society. It seems like if you on one side you are not allowed to criticize anything. If you are not touting it as the greatest thing ever, perfect in every way, then you aren't a true fan. On the other side, if you are against something you have to shout from the roof tops that it is the most wicked creation that has ever existed on this planet. Of course I'm thinking some about politics, but maybe politics is just reflecting the state of our society that we react this way over everything. Employees aren't allowed to criticize anything about their work. Teammates can'

The Dichotomy Of Emotions

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If you've been a reader for some time you know how I love the idea of dichotomies. Things like how often our greatest strengths can also be our greatest weakness. Recently I've been thinking about emotions at work and how they are both a positive and a negative. There are many sayings about not taking things personally and getting upset. "It's not personal, it's just business." What a load of crap. Tell it that it isn't personal to the small business owner when the big box moves into town. Tell that to the person that just got passed over for a promotion they've been busting their tail for. It is virtually impossible to not react emotionally in those situations. In my career I've had every emotional state. I've felt anger, joy, jealousy, boredom, happiness, pride, ambition, fear, surprise and disgust.  It is good to be passionate, but you can't become so overzealous that bumps in the road consume you. You can't be so frustrated that you

Overcome The Obstacles In Your Mind

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We all face obstacles, every day. Part of why I look for things that inspire me is because it gets too easy to focus on the things blocking our path rather than the things making us believe we can get over the obstacles. No persons obstacles look the same, but we can learn something by watching others and how they handle their obstacles. Even when they don't look like ours it could give us ideas on how to overcome them. Part of why I like studying a broad array of subjects is because there are always lessons to find and apply elsewhere. I've done that a lot with dance. Having three daughters who dance tends to dictate the amount of time you spend talking about and watching dance. You learn stories and then you see things that jump out at you, like this clip of a young dancer. Dream your dreams. Live your dreams. Best thing you’ll see today... pic.twitter.com/Mt8fbPCcps — Rex Chapman (@RexChapman) February 4, 2021 Watch the clip again and think about whatever the problems are y

Internal And External Competition - Where Is Your Focus?

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I live in a very competitive house. My wife and I don't really play games together because neither of us like to lose so it tends to get a little too tense. Being great parents and all we have passed that competitive spirit down to our kids, who all stomped off after losing in a kids vs. parents Pictionary grudge match. My girls also dance so they have had it ingrained early from their very first dance competition. Competition is just a part of life.  Competition is funny though because it can be a good thing, but if taken too far or not looked at correctly it can become a problem. You see on any team you have internal competition and external competition. For instance in sports, you have competition on a team where you have to see first who is going to make the team, then when you figure out who your starters are going to be. So the competition is also your teammate. When you are teammates you then need to work together to beat the competition. Whether you are the starter or the b

The Perception Of Time With The Passage Of Time

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I read an interesting fact posted by @chrisderose  about the show The Wonder Years , which premiered 33 years ago in 1988. The show depicted events 20 years earlier in 1968. A similar show today would be set in 2001. His tweet about this blew up because it is crazy to think about. I, like so many, remember watching that show growing up and it seemed like it was based on events from so long ago. It makes me wonder, did my parents recall those events as easily as I can recall events like 9/11 or the hanging chad of Bush vs. Gore?  I was thinking of music the other day when I realized I was listening to the "oldies" station playing music from the 80's and 90's. I remember growing up listing to music from the 50's and 60's, I spent some time searching for a station that played that era of music and I couldn't find one near me. You could find a channel on Spotify or Amazon Music of course, Alexa would serve it up for me no problem.  Things change as does our pe

Turning Busy Into Something More Valuable

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We are all busy, so busy we miss opportunities to do the things that will really add value. We all have things filling our day which feel like the make our lives more hectic, and in reality most of them we likely don't need. But we do them anyway.  They are put there either by others or by ourselves. It is easy to complain about the things given to us by others. The report you have to write or the project you need to take care of. You often wonder if anyone actually looks at it, would anyone notice if you just didn't do it. Then there are the things we create for ourselves that make us busy. Nobody is forcing us to do them, but it is important for us to do them for whatever reason we believe. No matter the source of the task, the hard question always needs to be asked about the value of a task. Maybe it is a task that doesn't seem important but it is like pushing the button on Lost every 108 minutes, if you don't do it catastrophe could follow. But if there is no value

Great Leadership Is Based On Emotions

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I've been reflecting on leadership recently. There are lots of definitions, quotes, anecdotes and stories about what good leadership looks like. We often speak of it in the simplest form as the person in charge. But we all know that isn't where it ends because it is easy to spot people that are in charge but are not good leaders. If you asked people to expound on what leadership means they would likely say things about someone who inspires, motivates, creates a vision, helps people grow, and communicates.  For all the words and ways we have to explain what leadership is, it is still one of those things which is very hard to describe. There are so many definitions used, or often times the descriptions are vague. Yet everyone knows it when they see it. I think it is because leadership is more of an emotion.  Think about it, if you had to describe what happy or sad mean, you end up using other emotions to describe them. If you are happy you are joyful, excited, the opposite of sad

Balancing The Views And Reception You Have Of Feedback

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We all know that it is good to get feedback and of course there are two types of feedback. There is the positive stuff, the things people tell us we did well. When they are proud of us and slap us on the back for being great at something. Then there is the negative feedback. What all of us say we are open to hear but never really like. The things we didn't do so well. Where we need to improve. The hard truth on the thing we most want that is never going to come to fruition.  It seems like today things are either too soft or too harsh. We get soft when we coddle people and dance around the hard truth just because we don't want to hurt their feelings. On the flip side there are the people that don't seem to care at all about anyone's feelings and will say whatever they are thinking. When we are the messenger it is important to try to deliver the information with as much care as possible, but at the end of the day it is far more important to the receiver to hear the truth.

A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

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The words of Abraham Lincoln have been ringing in my ears for some time now, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." The words spoken were brought about because of the divide in our country over the topic of slavery. Our country was divided from the colonial establishments in North America where the slaves were first brought in 1619. The practice grew and after the Revolutionary War, were we fought for our freedom, stipulations were drawn around what the term "all men" in the Declaration of Independence really meant. The Three-fifths Compromise was added to the Constitution. Some of the the most revered men in our countries history were flawed humans, like we all are, who made wrong decisions though they felt they were right. Our country grew but the division was still there. People turned a blind eye, or fought to make things right, or compromised while justifying their actions in their minds but not in their hearts. Then in 1858 Abraham Lincoln spoke these

Expecting Better Of Something Doesn't Mean You Hate It

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Anyone who is a parent has probably had a time where they had to tell their kids they did something wrong. You reset expectations, say you are disappointed, and explain the behavior you expect. At no time do you ever stop loving your child. It is interesting how often today, if you are in a position of not agreeing with a decision or action you are automatically viewed as the enemy. If you are a fan of a sports team and don't like the decisions the coach is making there is a potential for people to attack you because you aren't a true fan.  In politics, no matter if you are conservative, liberal or moderate, if you criticize you are unpatriotic. If you don't agree with something your employer is doing, people want to know why you still work there.  Just because something isn't perfect, or not living up to the expectations we have, doesn't mean we love it any less.  We can demand better from our government leaders and still love our country. We can criticize decision

Many Great Ideas Are Not An Overnight Success

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One of the biggest shows on Netflix this year was The Queen's Gambit . It is a fascinating story about a child chess prodigy that has you on the edge of your seat watching the various chess matches. It is said that 62 million people watched the show, which quickly became an overnight sensation.  I love hearing the stories behind getting this show made as it is a great reminder of the realities of the world. As phenomenal of a show as it turned out to be, it took almost 30 years to finally get made. I can only imagine the feelings of the studios and others that passed over it or weren't able to get it made have after seeing the success it has had.  There are countless stories like this out there like this. Look at J.K. Rowling, she was rejected by 12 different publishers before someone took a chance on Harry Potter. There are two lessons here. The first, if you are in a position where you hear different ideas, it is important to be as open minded as possible. Nobody knows what t

2020 - The Year Of The Funk

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2020 was a heck of a year. I don't think anyone came out from the year thinking things were better for them than the previous one, that was certainly the case for me. I recognize that it became the year of the funk. It felt like the movie Groundhog Day far too often, not being able to tell one day apart from the next. Having to remind myself what day of the week it was. I was one of the lucky ones, my routine didn't change. I had my same job, still working from my home office, still able to support my family just like before. I should have nothing to complain about but as the year went on I could see myself falling further into the funk. When I look back on the year, I could see the elements that were missing that filled areas of my life. Elements that when missing the funk found its way in further.  Dance season is usually a time of competitions and recitals. Time interacting with other dance families over three to four day weekends. It was supposed to be a nationals year whic