Spring Cleaning

When I retired from the Air Force, I bought a house and settled down. I have not made a permanent move since. For somebody who’s spent his entire life moving first with his dad in the Army, and then with the Air Force, I had some things I had to learn. Some of these things took almost 25 years for me to realize. The fact that if you don’t do spring cleanings things just pile up for 25 years was one of those real shockers. I had many others along the way, and it made me realize a few things.

If you had fun using something in the past, and you have moved on from that thing, you probably are not going to return and use it again. The more time grows between the last use and now, the less likely it is going to be used. The higher the likelihood you should give it to somebody who will use it, or just get rid of it. I believe civilians call it ‘Spring Cleaning.’ I used to call it a ‘Permanent Change of Station (PCS)’ move. They would usually happen every three or four years and were an excellent reason to close old chapters and get rid of items no longer being used.

Spring cleaning is not just for material things. It is good to lay those mental worries and problems that we seem to carry with us to rest. If we can’t change it, and we can’t. Is time to focus on the now, and how now helps to propel us to where we would like to go in the future.

I do not want to seem glib and make it look as it is easy as just putting it out of your mind. Because it rarely is that easy. So, here is an idea on how to do it. For those who actually read my work, I know you have read this before. Please bear with me.

Start by getting an empty wastepaper basket. Put the wastepaper basket in the middle of your table or desk or some other elevated flat surface. I want you to go to a position in front of the wastepaper basket and order all negative thoughts out of yourself, and stuff them into that wastepaper basket. Do not endanger yourself in removing the thoughts.  Just will them into your hands. Be sure to stuff them in the waste-paper basket down tight so that they can’t get back out. Then take the wastepaper basket outside and dump its contents in the trashcan. If you need to repeat this a couple times to get it all out, do so.

If you live in a place without trash cans, you can do the same thing with the bathroom toilet by filling it with all those old thoughts that haunt you, and flushing. Do not stick any part of yourself into the toilet. This too may need to be accomplished from time to time as old thoughts try to creep back into the memory.

Does it really work? It depends on whether or not you allow it to work or not. I have used this technique with many people I have worked with, and many teams I have led. And yes, it will work, you just have to let it.

Don’t take my word for it, try it.

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

Time Wasters and Accelerators

There are more time wasters out there then you could ever imagine. Luckily, there are also some fabulous time accelerators that allow you to do so much more in much less time. Today we look at some of our biggest time wasters. And, I am afraid a few of them may shock you. After all, although work is good, it is not meaningful if you’re just doing something for someone else, and even worse when you pay someone else to do so.

The worst time-waster is worrying about the past. First off, you can’t go back and change the past no matter how hard you try. Also, you are only remembering your big picture of your history, which is actually only a tiny sliver of what was going on. And to make matters worse, you remember a memory of the past and not the real thing. All this put together means spending a whole lot of time fretting over nothing. If you are not happy with your memories and you want to do something about it, quit looking behind you and focus on where you are now. That’s the place you can change things and do better. If you’re going to use the past, use the lessons as a guide stick to making the present better.

The next biggest mistake is worrying about the future. You don’t know what’s going to happen yet.  Worrying about something that hasn’t happened means you are concerned about something that may not ever exist. And unfortunately, there is not a lot of time savings in doing that.

If you want to do something useful and productive, work for today. Don’t worry, work. You get things done if you work at them. Worry never accomplishes much.  All worry ever does is give you grief.  

Be careful not to spend your time doing someone else’s job. This happens more often than you think. You meet someone online who has courses for sale, and they talk you into taking one. They make it seem like they have all the answers to your real needs. Unfortunately, sometimes you find yourself two-thirds of the way through the course and asking the question, ‘Am I learning what I need to learn from this course, or am I just learning what this person wants to teach me.’ Worse yet, you are probably paying this person, and in doing so, you are doing the job for him, or her. The real job is to get people to pay to take that course. And sure enough, that’s what you’re doing. Always ask yourself will this course give me something I need so that I can do better.

So how do we save you time? Unfortunately, we can only give you a few hints for using time better. Something that takes more than 20 minutes during your day should be giving you something back.  If you’re playing games for hours at a time on the iPad, what are you really accomplishing? I put on a few games from time to time, and when I realize what’s going on, I usually take them all off.

I find that getting the timing right is a never-ending struggle. If I plan my time using a schedule, I usually do better than standing in the middle of the room and trying to remember what’s next. If I have a shortlist of what to do with the time as it shows up, I can use the extra 15 or 20 minutes that pops up here or there. Is it easy? Well, it’s not hard. I just have to take a daily look at where I am, and where I am trying to go.

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

Not the Same for Everyone

This week we are looking at time efficiency. We know we can’t create more time, so how do we use the time we have to our advantage. And yes, it can be done. Before we talk about time efficiency and time management, we have to talk about why something does not work the same for everyone.

I have a good friend who believed that people are lazy or frauds because they post as professionals and yet do not have protocols that would work equally across the board on everyone. The truth of the matter is, each and every one of us is different. Our DNA sequence is different, our genes and our thought patterns are different. And, all of our experiences are different because of the way we work differently in various situations.

Before anybody strives to help anyone else, they must first understand how the person works. They must know the person and how medicines react (if given) with the person, how situations affect a person, and how stresses react with that person. If you are not sure how these things react with you, it’s time to pay a little better attention to yourself.

This seems like someone is a grumpy old master sergeant today, yet I assure you that I am writing the things you should consider when you start trying to improve. I hate to see people who get excited, overcommit themselves, burn-out, and then look at themselves as failures. Nobody who attempts something is a failure, they just haven’t found the right formula yet.

If you want to do something, you can. Yet, if you burn out, you probably won’t go far. The trick is not to look at what other people are doing, you want to look at what you were capable of and how your work can be best situated to the problem. A master craftsman always understands his or her tools and what they can do for him. You should understand yourself and look at the person in the mirror as your greatest asset.

Some people are night people, and some people work best in the morning. Some people push hard for 72 hours, and others work best in spurts two or three times a day. If you put 100 people in a theater, I am sure you will find there are at least 105 different ways those people do things best.

We like to mimic others, and that is fine for some things. But when it comes to the way we do serious work, we each stand alone. Maybe not in the overall generalities, yet most assuredly in the fine details of genius.

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

 

 

 

 

The Aftermath

 

The small skirmishes started in the mid-afternoon. Civilians who really were like mere children, not knowing how to execute a real campaign and having no idea of the barrages they would soon face.  As an observer to the melee that was about to happen, I was worried about the safety and well-being of all those who were about to start their battle for power.

The initial onset was confirmed with the pops and crackles of light ordnance.    This was the kid’s stuff really, overseen by the veterans who have had to face these actions time and time again. As the initial skirmishes grew through the afternoon, various units were reinforced with seasoned veterans of these actions.

About dinnertime, portable grills, and cook stoves were brought out to feed the troops before the events of the evening unfolded. Activities that they knew would happen. They had seen them before and knew that they would have to face them again. A little libation was used to celebrate where they had come from and their plans to be victorious this night. They just hoped and wished that everybody would still be together and in one piece in the morning.

After dinner, more types of ordnance were heard as various groups started to get anxious in anticipation, knowing that the time of action was growing nearer. The light ordnance was now beginning to grow louder, and soon, some aerial flares were added to the mixture, probing to see what might be accomplished. By the time dusk was near, several independent groups had started aerial barrages. Along with ground assaults and displays which kept everyone busy.

As dusk fell into night, government forces stepped in with the ‘Shock and Awe’ of an unbelievable aerial bombardment which went on for over a half an hour. Although one would think that alone would have been enough to quiet all the splinter groups, it was not to be. The gigantic show of force only whetted the appetite of all those ready to join the melee. Various methods for these aerial bombardments, including color, noise, and anything else they could use to heighten the senses.  Although many groups had given up the battle before midnight, some stalwart groups kept the fight going until well after one in the morning.

I inspected the battlefield the following morning. To my surprise, nothing had been burned, nothing had been destroyed, and the participating groups had even policed their own areas for debris. Thank goodness.

We have all survived another Fourth of July.

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

Rockets Red Glare

Tomorrow we celebrate the founding of our country.  It is the official day of our Declaration of Independence.  This is the summer holiday we look forward to enjoying each year.   

We honor those who initially stood to make our country a reality.  We also remember those who have fallen while defending our freedoms at home and abroad.  Everyone in America has paid the price in helping to make this country great. And we take time to remember those who have paid that ultimate sacrifice.

There will be sports games and picnics, reunions and remembrances and great cookouts. Along with hot dogs and hamburgers and potato salad, fantastic food from each nation that we come from will also be made and consumed. For although we are one country, we can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. Our forefathers have come from around the world, and because of this, we are a nation of delicious foods and great traditions.

Some people will camp, fish, hike, sail on a lake, waterski, or enjoy the beach. Others will go to a movie to stay cool in some of our warmer climates. Others will take part in family reunions because it’s always great to see those who make up your family tree and are a meaningful part of your life. There are many activities, and everyone gets to do what they want to do. This is to enjoy some of the things that our forefathers fought and died for us to have.

There will be parades in many places. I will never forget the parade I marched in after the first gulf war. During that war, I was assigned to a small island in the Atlantic. Because of the role we played, I was picked to march in a local parade. I had joined the Air Force during the Vietnam War, and the military wasn’t thought of very well back then, so I was a little nervous marching in the parade. Yet, when we stepped onto the parade route and started to march, there was a cheer from the crowd, and that cheer lasted the entire parade route. By the end of the parade, I knew I had found my new home.

For many, the best part of the Fourth of July does not happen until the sun goes down. We are talking about fireworks. Fireworks are bright and light up the sky in beautiful colors and look magnificent. Each year they add new types of fireworks with fancy designs that blaze across the sky. After the fireworks show itself is over, my neighborhood kicks in and by the end of the night, all you see is a blue haze from all the fireworks that they have set off. Everything from Roman candles to firecrackers.

It’s a beautiful sight to see, yet I really believe the professionals should do the fireworks. Along with people getting hurt while setting them off, and the potential for starting fires, there’s another thing to consider. Some of our combat veterans have problems with some of the very loud fireworks. If you had ever been on a receiving end of a howitzer barrage, you would understand.

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

Leaders

Leaders

This is the week we celebrate a country that was founded on including everyone.  From the time of the Mayflower, the first ship from England reached our shores, the overall idea was to work together and share in the rewards together.  This was part of the Mayflower compact.

Over time the greed of men takes over.  We forget that we had altruistic beliefs that would allow everyone to work and share in the rewards.  Although some looked to raise the common good and help all to be better, others lost their way in using other people and our vast resources to make a fortune that would not be equally shared amongst all who toiled. 

At this point, seeking revenge for sins of the misguided and ruthless individuals who have gone before does little more than fan the flames of hate.  We must step forward, hand-in-hand, and multiply our talents working together, for the good of and reward to all. For we who live now hold it within our hands and our minds to do the right things.

Easy? No. Attainable? Only if we work at it together. A top-down directive? I don’t see that working. A grassroots initiative for peace and prosperity? I think it’s the only chance we have. Am I talking about over-throwing the current system? Absolutely not. What we need to do is work within the system to make it better. At the same time, we work with those on our blocks, our neighborhood, and in our city, to curb violence and find ways to work together towards the common good.

Instead of looking to the past, we need to look to the youth of today. The young people we teach and groom today are our leaders of tomorrow.

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