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Welcome to ProcessImprovement.Me.  Each week we will post between one and three blog posts on change, how to improve at something in life or business, or learning something new.  Please join us and participate in the comments.  We would really like to hear your thoughts.  You cannot post a comment on the home page (just the way they set up the site.) All the other pages do afford the ability to post comments. We recommend you use the Blog Page for this.

Please join us, have fun, and interact with others in the same kindness that you would like others to interact with you.

You Are Brilliant

It is not just the title; it is true. You are brilliant. Do you take care of yourself? Bathe as needed? Sleep when needed? Take care of your finances? Take care of your home and help those around you? Well, don’t ever let anyone put you down. You are a valued person, and you are brilliant.

When I was a trainer at a contract manufacturing plant that built sophisticated computer systems and servers, the manager of one of our departments used to rant and rave that people who worked on the floor didn’t know and were incapable of doing anything. Some managers used to say if they knew something, they wouldn’t be working there.  I think they got that reversed.

 I believe it is sometimes easy for management to forget that they really don’t earn anything directly for the plant. The plant only makes money through direct labor doing value-added work. Building products, assembling, packaging for shipment are all value-added work. Those who buy the product are paying for value-added work. Overhead is charged as a ratio of what is being paid for that direct value-added work.

This means that if the people on the floor who were actually doing the work, failed to do it, or did it wrong, there would be no money to pay management. The workers on the floor were very sophisticated workers. They soldered integrated components onto boards with contacts not much larger than a human hair, working under microscopes. They were able to spot problems in machinery and fix them. They could identify problems using x-ray equipment, and they could manage their schedules to work as much is needed, especially at the end of the quarter when output is critical.

Although US citizens, many of our workers had come to us from other lands. People who evaded persecution in their own countries, those who had helped the United States when we needed assistance and then were brought to the United States because they were not safe in their own countries. Those who escaped on boats and rafts, and came to build new homes and to be citizens of the United States. They all came to add their part and to make our country greater.

The one thing you could say about these people and all the others who were proud to work for a living is that they knew what they were doing, and they have always done it with their own style and grace. Just because English is your second or third language, just because some of your customs are different and just because you have a humble and serene character, does not give anyone the right to look down on you. Why? You are brilliant.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Did you try?

I have a confession to make. I’m human. I think that’s okay, though. I bet you are a human too. That’s okay, a lot of my best friends are humans. Although as humans, we tend to get in our own way. We can even convince ourselves that doing things we know how to do are entirely wrong for us.

Moms and dads worrying about us and advising us not to do things are just natural. Same with friends and siblings. They only want to protect you and not see you get hurt.

I have somebody who cares for me deeply, and that is why the answer is ‘no’ to everything from righting a bike, grilling outback, fishing, walking or hiking, using a chainsaw or doing almost anything else interesting. It’s nice to have somebody care for you, and yet at the same time, there’s a point at which you have to step forward and live your life. I pick my times and places to step forward and live my life. And, I advise that you do the same.

I believe that the person who cares about me is looking out for my own good. The same as those who look out for you,  I am sure, are only looking out after your own good. Yet I have learned something along the way. No risk ends up providing no reward. A relatively safe or sound risk, entered into with eyes wide open, could very easily be an acceptable gamble.

No one can guarantee us anything, not even that tomorrow will come. When you take a chance that you have studied and understand, you are not tempting fate, you are merely working hard to do better. The dog you get may bite you, you may fall off the bike, you may burn your hand while grilling and the fish you catch might be a shark. Again, no guarantees. Still, if you’ve done your homework, and you know that there are no sharks in the local Lake and you find a puppy dog who likes you, probably you are going to do okay.

Not every chance you take will be a victory, yet each success you have will prepare you for the next possibility you take. And yes, there will be a percentage of failures. Failure doesn’t mean that you’re wrong or bad, it just means you had to learn a few more things to be more successful the next time you try.

We were born to try. It reminds me of a song talking about bleeding just to know you’re alive. It is something to think about. It would be terrible at the end of our days, to go back to where we came from with the body and mind that had never tried, and therefore never knew

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Guiding Your Future

Many people tell me that they cannot plan their future because there are too many variables.  And yes, variables do abound.  Guiding your future, though, is using those variables to your benefit and making good choices that help you to reach your goal. I’m willing to bet you do things like this now, on a much smaller scale. All you need to do is use the skills you already have with a slight widening of choices and lengthening of the timeline.

I can see the skeptics from here, so I’d like to give you a little demonstration. Let’s say that you went to work this morning, and your team invited you to go with them to see the new movie that was premiering tonight. Everyone’s going to meet at one person’s house near the movie theater to share some munchies and then go from there to watch the movie. You agree to go. And will bring some chips and dip. Now, there are things you need to do to get yourself organized and ready for the night’s festivities.

You’ll need to change from your work clothes into something more comfortable. By planning what you’re going to wear ahead of time, you’ll avoid having to make that decision when you get home. You’ll need to pick up some chips and dip. And you can save time by calling the grocery store that is on your way home and asking them to have a seven-layer dip in a large bag of tortilla chips ready for you so you can just run into the deli and get them on your way home.

Next, you want to have a little information about the movie. On your morning break, you look the film up online to see comments from the director, who stars in it, and exciting stories of what happened during the filming. That way you have some good things to talk about. These actions are ones you would probably do anyway. By getting organized, and planning them up front, you were able to make all the individual efforts easier on yourself.

The same is true for planning your future. You are going to want to do something, so start by figuring out what that something is. You may not know everything you want to know about it, so you start by looking it up online. Finding out about the career field and talking to others to understand what the career is really all about.

You’re going to need to test the waters. This includes taking some courses, talking with people who are in the career field and trying it out for yourself in small doses. Maybe you volunteer to help out to learn more things firsthand. The more of a social interchange which you can have with people who are where you want to be, the more you can learn. Remember there two sides to every coin. The front side says that everything’s okay. And the other side often telling the truth. A good mentor will ensure that you see both sides of that coin.

You really want to know if your desired profession is needed or will be needed when you are there. You want to know if your chosen profession will provide a living wage or will you have to modify the way you live to be able to work within the business. And you want to know if all the work and additional duties that go with such a profession will fit within your temperament.

You won’t have any of these answers until you really start planning and organizing your adventure. Until then, it’s just a pretty good pipedream. But you are smart, and you can learn. Do your best for you.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Go Forth and Do Good

Go Forth and Do Good

For many days now, we’ve been talking about emotion, caring, and passion. It is essential to understand where the feelings and emotions come from, and yet there is no forward motion without action. For better or for worse, no one can ever possibly take your steps for you. Those actions only happen when you make them so.

If you have noticed, no one has said it is going to be easy. And it rarely is. Yet, if you work hard to do good, you will know both the ecstasy and the agony of those who try, and those who do. And within that, you will find your own peace.

There are a couple things you can do, which will help you greatly. First, understand the idea that your passion leads you to and do all of your research on it. Too many plans go asunder because of minor details that could’ve been easily avoided with just a little research.

The second thing, which is a little harder to avoid, yet absolutely necessary to succeed is to ignore the naysayers. Everybody without a stake in the game will have an opinion. Unfortunately, most of those others with a view will have a negative one and a litany of reasons why you could not accomplish whatever it is you’re trying to do. And sadly, some people will listen to the naysayers and give up a perfectly viable project.

The best way to overcome the negatives is to do your research and put your plan in writing. Be aware that the plan will change. All plans do. Even the most sophisticated plans of the military usually are no longer sound at the moment they meet the enemy. Having a plan in writing, though, gives you a better ability to look at it and see what might happen, and plan contingencies accordingly.

Remember, not all plans will succeed. Although you should take a look at all the items being sold on the market these days. Some will succeed in the future, and some may fail. And some will go on for 100 years or more. The mere fact of everything that is being marketed and making a profit has to tell you it’s at least possible. Whether you are a large corporation, a mom and pop shop, or a social entrepreneur, the possibilities are there. And, win, lose or draw, the fact that you worked hard to do good can give you peace in your heart and the knowledge that at least you set forth and gave it a try.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again soon.

The Good Use of Passion

Passion used correctly is a positive tool for doing good for others. People like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates have all used their passions for the greater good of others. And yet they are only a few of the most notable. Because we all have passions. We also have the ability within us to turn those passions into something great for mankind. Easy? No. Doable? You bet.

To make passion work, you must make it work for both yourself and others. For passion to be positive, it needs to flow. Take a lesson from the river Jordan. The sea of Galilee thrives because it allows the Jordan River to flow through it. This allows the sea to have an abundance of sea life, fishing, trade, and commerce. The sea does well for those who live around it, making their lives better because it is open to the flow.

Look at the other end of the river, and what do you have? The Dead Sea. All of the good that happens in the Sea of Galilee is missing from the Dead Sea. And one small item which is missing causes this. The Dead Sea does not have flow. Everything going to the Dead Sea stays there. Because it is stuck in the Dead Sea and has nowhere to go (no flow,) nothing grows.

And, this is an object life lesson which we can avoid if we want our passion to grow and if we’re going to help others. We can create a flow of our passion and our knowledge from us to others. The best thing we can do to create this flow is to help others to leverage off of what we’ve created so that they can go forth and do even better. It is in the creation of these win-win situations that our passion finds its true potential and the ability to grow a life of its own.

I have a funny feeling that somebody is reading this and saying, “That sounds good, but I can’t give things away, I have to make a profit.”

And yes, everybody has to live and to do so everyone has to earn. Yet when I look at people such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, all the way back to Michelangelo and beyond, I don’t think that what they have shared with billions has ever hurt their bottom line. Remember, none of these people had a significant stake to start with, and yet no one can deny the greatness that they have done for both themselves and for others.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Passion

We discussed feelings. Feelings are our emotions, telling us what we like and what we don’t like. Then we talked about caring. Caring is like emotions, only you can care for anything. And you can care for things in various ways with different levels of how important the item or thought you care for is. Now we need to talk about what happens when you really care.

When you really care, you can feel a visceral experience where you just know what must happen and what you have to do. This experience is called passion. And passion is important because its intensity is the motivator. Passion makes you want to get things done. With passion in the driver seat, you are going places. You just need to ensure that it is what you want to do and where you want to go. I say this because there is also a danger involved with passion.

Passion is a two-edged sword. While passion makes you believe that the whole world believes with you, and the thing you want to happen is the same thing that everyone wants to have. However, in this world of over 7 ½ billion inhabitants, getting everybody together on something is a highly unlikely action.

We often see passions failures on the news. A person who is willing to kill everyone to have the wife he wants. The person who believes that anyone not believing like him or her needs to be eliminated. The person who believes that donning a vest and blowing up themselves and others are the will of the higher deity. False bravado pitifully fails to define these heinous acts which were perpetrated by gullible people in the wrong beliefs of passion.

Before we discount passion as a danger to humanity, we need to take a look at the other side of this valuable gem. When two people fall in love together and work together to make their lives better, passion is a great thing. The men who went to the moon started out earning a couple of hundred dollars a month. No one was in it for the money, or the notoriety, or the fame. The first man to step on the moon was actually an introvert. They did it because there was a passion For learning new knowledge from somewhere man had never been.  

Passion helps us to do what needs to be done. It helps us to protect, to aid, to go over and above what an average person can accomplish, and hopefully do good for ourselves and for others. We just need to make sure we are on the proper side of passion.

In this blog, I did not mean to downplay the positives of passion, nor did I want to make passion seem evil or highly dangerous. Please remember, there is good and evil in everything. That doesn’t mean the thing itself is good or bad, it just depends on how we use all of those items. Inanimate objects do not have passion. We are the ones burdened with the choice between good or evil. Please choose wisely.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

What Do You Care About

Just as we all have feelings, we all have things that we do or do not care about.  When you care more about something then you do other items, you will find the feelings and emotions not too far away. Where felt feelings could be grouped into categories of about 30, what you care about can be almost anything. And the things that you care about can bring a wide range of emotions along with them.

You can care about something a little bit, and it’s no big deal. Maybe you like succotash or peas; However, you really don’t like Brussels sprouts. It’s not worth losing any sleep over. If somebody serves you Brussels sprouts at a restaurant, you just don’t eat them. This is an excellent way to save room for more dessert. There are things that you care about far more than vegetables, and I’m sure when you realize what they are, it will make a profound difference in how you feel.

We care for family, and we want them to do well. This is a tendency for us to sometimes drive the family and ourselves a little overboard. Especially when a son or daughter has an entry in the science fair or is getting ready for a recital. It is good to care, yet we have to temper our care with sound judgment. Winners should be those entrants who thought up and designed something good and not what the moms and dads did for their kids. The latter just takes the fun out of it for the kids and makes them feel as though what they think and do doesn’t count.

Something else we also have to guard against is those who will play on our emotions and the things we care about to get money from us. We have all seen the commercials that are designed to help free us from our wallets. Sad songs coupled with pictures of abused dogs and cats and asking for a monthly contribution. Destitute children in foreign countries playing in puddles and suffering malnutrition and dubious claims of how many people could be fed for how little a day. Rather than being filmed, the children should be taking care of and fed.

One that really got me recently is a young man who showed up at my door with a tote of candy bars and other things and a card explaining what he wanted to sell and where the money was going. I told him I wasn’t interested in buying anything and I thanked him. And he said, “That’s okay.” And then he did something that shocked me. He put his arm over his face and began to fake cry.

I kept an eye on him, making sure he wasn’t really crying. He wasn’t. But he looked up to see if I was watching. Then he walked away from the house, still acting like he was crying. And when he got to the edge of the driveway, He turned around to look back to see if I would call him back.

I did not call him back, although I wish I had. Not to buy something from him. I should’ve brought them back and given him some useful tips on how to sell things legitimately. As an entrepreneur, I would be willing to work with him and pass on what I’ve learned and maybe even coach him a little in ways of finding the right product and a favorable sales technique. If I knew his family, I would certainly call and make the offer.

Next time, rather than standing shocked at petty deceit, I plan to be a little bit more inclined to make an offer that may genuinely help someone.

Thank you for being with me today. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.