Be the New You

Not one of us is one particular thing. We are an accumulation of everything that goes on around us. It is easy to want to ignore problem areas, yet they are back there in the back of your mind somewhere. Everything from the big question of I am going to afford to send my kids to college to the house payment often causes us to carry a lot of weight on our shoulders. 

There are also little things which irritate us. The kitchen was a mess when I walked into it this morning. The lawn needs to be raked and cut. The car needs to be washed. The place needs to be picked up. These are all small annoyances. I have a secret to tell you about small annoyances. When you’re already irritated, the little annoyances can start to carry the same weight as the big problems.

We see this at every level of command. I remember a commander I had once. He was a full bird colonel who is very good and caring about his job and his people. I understood that after he left our group, he went on to earn his stars as general. One day, he came over to my shop and spent a few hours of the afternoon watching me running a performance test on a piece of test equipment. What I was doing was a very tricky test to perform. It required a lot of delicate adjustments to get three different parts of the test equipment to work together to achieve accurate readings. I was preparing the machines for a trip I was going on at the end of the week to Guam.  I needed to make sure everything worked, and I was up on the procedure before I got there.

Although the afternoon had its ups and downs, the Colonel sat there and just watched me. He looked around the spotlessly clean shop where I had 25 people working, and I could tell by the look on his face he felt delighted and comfortable there. I did not understand at the time, and I later came to realize that everyone needs to get out of their environment every once in a while and go someplace it makes them feel good. Even if just for a few hours.

Try to schedule a trip each week to a comfortable place. Just a little niche somewhere where you can feel right about everything.

About those little things that irritate you around your place, take charge. Put time in the schedule to wash the car. Have a routine where you pick up the house and clean the kitchen at a particular time each day. If you clean it before you go to bed, you wake up to a cleaner place. And I bet that makes you feel better in the morning. Trying to blame others or demand results or act the boss just ends up making us look like the fool.

To make things better, each has to take leadership and ownership. Results may not be immediate, yet given time and consistency positive changes will happen.

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



Basic Truths

We have a lot of fun around our house. And, although some things are easy going, we have some basic truths that we live by. One reality is that if you’re hungry, there is a lot of food in the kitchen. Another fact that goes along with this first truth is, if you wait for somebody to cook something for you or make you something in the kitchen, you’re going to starve to death. There is also an axiom that goes with this that says nobody ever cleans up their own mess in the kitchen on purpose.

I know this sounds silly, and it may be, yet these rudimentary truths are essential because at the end of the day they are true. Who is the person responsible for you? Who knows if you’re hungry or not? Who knows what you like or hate, are addicted to (chocolate?) Or, are allergic to (dishpan hands?) All of these responsibilities belong to each and every one of us for ourselves. It is tough to guess what somebody else is thinking or feeling and actually be accurate.

I know this looks like I’m just having a little fun with you. Please let me tell you a true story of how this played out for me. Many years ago, I worked the night shift. One day I got out of bed, made it to the bathroom and was hit by severe dizziness and started severe vomiting. I was hanging on desperately to the floor, which I felt was moving in circles and would not stop. More vomiting at regular intervals intervened. I had never felt like this before, and I had no idea what was going on. All I could do was hang on for dear life.

While laying there on the floor, I had the idea that I needed to get up and do something. Unfortunately, I could not control myself to stand correctly. I laid there for another five minutes and then I formed another thought. The thought was, Mike, this is one of the dumbest places to die. I thought on that for a minute or two and then started calling to my wife. I explained to her what I felt even though I could not tell her why. She helped me to get some clothes on, then she helped me into the car. She drove me to our local military hospital while I held onto a bowl of regurgitated stomach contents.

At the emergency room, the doctors checked me over, ran some tests, and gave me some heavy antihistamines. They explained to me what I was experiencing and even gave it a name Ménière’s disease. All I can say is thank goodness Dragon Naturally Speaking knows how to spell it.

I learned a few things that day. I learned that if you ignore your body, it has ways of catching up with you. I learned that a loved one only one room away cannot help you until you ask them to. And, I learned that the only person who knows what’s going on with you is you. And, yes, I learned that to my way of thinking the bathroom floor would be a terrible place to die.

I tell you this story because we all have our own basic truths. These vary from person to person in both required action and intensity. When you have a little time think about this and see if you can identify some of your own.

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

Pace Yourself

When I see new things, I want to do them. I’m a very kinesthetic learner. This means I want to see, do, touch, try, rip apart and put back together. I want to know what it can do, what it could do, and where both it’s positives and negatives begin and end. If you aren’t sure, I am one more of those tumultuous ENFP people.

The problem is, I often find myself overbooked and tied to so many commitments and due-by dates, I cannot get anything done well. I am not the only person like this. I know many people in the corporate world who face this type of problem on a daily basis. Luckily, I once worked for the smartest Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force. When I found myself wrapped up in commitments, he would tell me to slow down.

When my Chief Master Sergeant told me to slow down, I had a tough time initially understanding what the Chief was trying to teach me. I was running full speed 12-hours a day, and I could not keep up. I had no idea how slowing down could get everything done. One thing I did know was that he never frivolously told anybody anything. If he told me to slow down, it was because he had been there, and he knew how to get out of the hole.

When a Chief Master Sergeant tells you to slow down, he is telling you to take grasp of your commitments. If something is needed and doable, do it. If other items are more urgent, do them first and get a reasonable extension for everything else. Have a plan of what you will do and when. Every time a new request or commitment comes in, put it into the plan. Does this mean your plans will change? Yep. A calendar or plan of To-Dos is never absolute. Plans and schedules are only directions that are hoped for until the next crisis or higher need shows up. You have to stay flexible in an ongoing situation.

This whole system only works if you are genuine to yourself and to those who are counting on you. You will need genuine communication skills to keep everyone you work with, and all your stakeholders in the loop. When a Chief Master Sergeant tells you to slow down, he is not telling you to take it easy. He is advising you to get yourself and those who count on you organized.

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


Believe In Your Work

If you’re going to do anything, you have to believe. You have to trust that you can learn to accomplish what you set out to do. You have to think it’s all right to make a mistake, or two, or three, or a dozen times, or even a gross of times. I believe it was Albert Einstein who said, “If you haven’t made a mistake you’ve never tried anything new.” All of this starts with someone believing in possibilities.

If you really, honestly, truly believe you can, then no one can stop you. If you really, honestly, think that you cannot, then you’re probably right. If it has to be done and you have no faith in your ability, then possibly you should turn the project over to someone who believes they can.

It is okay to be nervous, or scared, or panicky as you try something new. This is part of being human. And despite your best efforts, you have to realize that the first time you do, it will not be the apex of your creative goals. There will be lows and highs, setbacks and insights, failures and breakthroughs. Exactly how many times did Thomas Edison test different elements for the lightbulb? I am not sure, but the number 76 seems to stick in my mind.

If you are interested enough to do the work to get it right, you will eventually succeed. Just never give up trying. Never let others talk you out of your successes because of their lack of faith. Keep your faith and keep it close to you.

Realize what success will do for you, and realize what the success of your project can do to positively affect others. Never give up, never given, and never give out. Stay your course of what you know is right and always push towards the next goal.

I know you’re busy right now, and I don’t want to beat this point to death. If you pass a mirror along your way and see your reflection, tell yourself you are doing well and yes you will be okay.

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

Saving Time

It seems as though I’ve been fighting a cold this week. The illness is something that my wife gave to me. She likes to share. It’s not a significant event, yet it is an annoyance. It is one of those speed-bumps that just gets in the way of getting other things done.

I am trying to work from my desktop, and I have an annoyance where when I use dragon naturally speaking it crowds everything to one side of my widescreen monitor.  I don’t know why it is just another annoyance. It seems as though we are faced with annoyances on a daily basis, and I find that if I just look at them, and grumble about them, they come back for more.

I need to divide all my annoyances into various lists. A list of what I can correct, and a list of what I cannot correct. One way or another most things are correctable. The question comes down to does one have the skill to correct it, and do they have the time. Hence the ‘To Do List’ is born.

What we need is an ongoing list of items that need to be resolved. Review the ToDos first thing in the morning to see what you can do that day, and again before you go to sleep to help set up the next morning’s needs. Here is the big question though, where do we get the time to do so? Well over half of anything is organization, so if you can organize your To Do List, it will give you some of the time needed. Other time you can find by not playing a game on the electronic device for as long as you usually do. You can also save time by not looking at your emails and texts every 15 minutes. Look at them 4 times a day: morning, 2 o’clock, 5 o’clock, and right before you go to bed. Another way to save time is to clear out your email, so only those emails that are important to you get to you. If you work at this, there is always time hiding somewhere.

Do not short change your rest and do not shortchange those who you love.

Try this and see how it works. I am doing this also, and we can surely get together and exchange notes on what works and what does not.

I thank you for being with me today. I Hope to be with you again tomorrow.

No Is Not A Negative

I have begun to understand something new. If I need more time, I can put some things off. Okay, so that’s not the new part, I have done that for years. What I’m beginning to find out is that if I put things off, eventually they will come back, and I will have to do them anyway. And when I finally have to face them, I find myself under even more pressure to complete the items I have put off plus all the new demands that have come into my life.

So, what’s the trick? Sorry, no gimmicks. The only thing I have gained is the understanding that I need to do things as they are due and not put them off. Putting things off only asks for more grief. Instead of putting things off, use a two-letter word at the very beginning.

Everyone likes to be popular and to be so, we quite often feel we have to tell people what they want to hear. What do most people want to hear? Yes. Just think about that for a second. How many people come in and ask you a question hoping you’re going to say no and leave excitedly when you do tell them no? No may not be the most popular word, yet it could be the most honest.

To use the no word you have to understand what your time constraints are, what your job is, and what the positive and negative would be for taking on additional work which belongs to someone else. Quite often, with a person leaning over your desk and expecting a yes, it is hard to calculate the positives and negatives. That’s why they didn’t just send you an email. I think the best answer at that moment is, “Let me check my schedule to see if I can do you the best job I possibly can for you, and I will get back to you.”

Actually, take the time to see how busy you are with your work. Calculate the standing of the person who asked and what positives and negatives they could do for you. And then give them an honest answer.

I cannot tell you the right or wrong thing to say. I can only tell you that if you have time and can do a favor for someone you believe would repay that favor in the future, helping out could be a good move. If you have enough to do already and the person is just trying to put off their work onto you make sure you are able to do your best with your work. And no may be the most appropriate answer.

However you give the answer, be honest and genuine. No can be as good an answer as yes depending upon how you hand it back to the requester. In doing so, give them good suggestions. Offer to get back with them if your workload changes. Give ideas for others who may be able to help. Show interest in their work and check back in with them from time to time to see how things are going.

We are all a team. Dedication to the team starts with ensuring you can do your job to the best of your ability.

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

Travel Always Gives a True Light

I find it is travel that renews our spirits. It allows us to learn new customs, meet new people, and see new sites. My wife and I were blessed to enjoy such a trip this last week. I thank you for your patience when I went into areas and actions where daily blogging would be hard to accomplish.

I traveled for hours through the desert enjoying the cool air and the snow which was still present in crevices and washes where the sun had not yet shined on it. I had initially been worried about the heat I remembered from being stationed in Del Rio, Texas. I was very grateful to the kind people of Arizona who arranged a little snow and temperatures in the ’30s for us.

Part of my trip took me to Douglas, Arizona where I attended my son’s wedding and welcomed a wonderful new son-in-law into the family. I was also very privileged to meet his wonderful extended family and enjoy their gracious company.

I will tell you more of the grand hotel we stayed in later. It was the technical wonder of its day when first built, and even today, as it is being restored to former glory, all of the history and narrative of the local area is still visible and felt within its walls.

I will have much more to tell you about in upcoming blogs. For now, I wish to thank the people of Douglas. While I was there, I went out and walked the town. I always felt safe in this border crossing town. And the people were very friendly. I saw nice small shops, and I ate delicious local cuisine.

The hype I see on TV about terrorists, drug smugglers, rapists, and other terrors, I have learned is made up TV hype. I have been there and what I see in this nice border town is a community where people are living and enjoying daily life.

I want to thank all those I met, and all those I had a chance to talk with. Because of all these interactions, I have grown and hopefully become a better person because I have new ways to look at things.  Travel always helps to see things in a true light.

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