Are You an Original?

A simple question.   Are you an original or are you a duplicate?

It’s also a silly question, one asked, not to be insulting or demeaning; rather, one to look at considering. And either answer is all right

I am an adult educator and trainer by profession. I am also a writer and an artist. For some of these roles, I’ve done years of extensive schooling. For others, I have either taken other classes or worked with the help of mentors and informal education.

I keep an eye on what’s being talked about looked and taught online. I do this, first, because I need to learn and continue learning. Knowledge continuously changes and grows. I like to keep up with my contemporaries.  I truly believe that online learning, done right, is the best training you can possibly get.   Online learning can fit both into your time and your economic constraints (of these two items, time is the most valuable.)

I look at many offers for classes online, each selling the idea that they have the secret and that if you follow their way of doing things hundreds of thousands of dollars could easily be yours every year.  I have seen some ads which talk about a quick $5000, and others that suggest up to a seven-figure annual earnings.

The interesting part is as you look at their offerings and go to their webinars they start to merge together. Various deliveries give you the same information and lead you to the same actions and conclusions.

This puzzled me at first, then, as I looked at and contemplated this I began to understand. I came up with a plan which was suggested from one of my mentors.

 It works like this; the happiest, richest, and most content people are often those who pick a road early on and stay on it as they walked through life. This is true in religion, it is true in marriage, and it is very true in education. The reason for this is that the alternative to taking all roads at once turns out to be physically impossible and economically impossible. You just can’t do it, and it’s not very productive. Anyone jumping between roads headed towards their destination will find that the changes and costs will keep pulling them back towards the beginning, away from their goals.

If you have a religion that meets your needs, brings you closer to your God, to your beliefs and makes you a better person, follow it. If you have a marriage and children and it looks like a lot of work, that’s okay. Work it. Although things look better elsewhere, the look is just the wrapping on a package of things you don’t even know about yet. If you commit, stick with it. There are hundreds upon hundreds of educators online willing to show you the path to riches and greatness. If you have three or four that you believe in, follow them and stay with them. Jumping between various mentors and trainers can become costly, confusing, and more than taking your money it can steal your time. You can always get money, yet each of us only has so much time and no matter how we use it when it is used it is gone forever.

Yesterday I talked about outliers and the difference between being an outlier and following the crowd. If you wish to be an outlier, don’t be the crowd and don’t be a duplicate.

Be the Outlier…

                                  …Be Original.

 

 

On Your Mark, Get Set, Start

Have you noticed how hard it is sometimes just to get something started?

Sometimes, it seems, we can sit and look at a problem for hours, days or weeks. Sometimes we can’t stand it, and we have to fix it right away.

I used to wait till everyone else went to bed. I used to wait to rearrange the room, paint the walls or clean the kitchen. I could get more done, I felt, by doing it was no one else around. Unfortunately, my body talks to me now an action such as that it no longer tolerates.

I often wonder why it is that it’s so hard to get started, and much easier to keep going when something is started. I look back to the physics of motion. It takes much more energy to start an object into motion than it takes to keep it in motion. You would not think that that would be true of the mind, and yet the mind is connected to a physical body. That connection makes it totally plausible.

This weekend I think I found, if not the answer, at least an answer that works for me. And of course, like Pavlov’s dog, it deals with action and reward. To answer your question no I did not salivate, and my reward was not dog food. Nor did I sit around waiting to hear a bell.

This weekend, I cleaned rooms, did laundry, straighten the place up, and other chores. As a reward, I worked on one of my many paintings that sat for years waiting for attention. The Canvas is an old under-painting of a part of the Grand Canyon with echoing  walls. I had always wanted to work on it and complete it, and time was never there. As a reward, I sat down for an hour and started painting on it. Changing the sky, starting thunderclouds and rain, and even dropping in part of the golden orange background as the sun is sets.

We know that we are social creatures, creatures of desire, and creatures who do like work and rewards. The painting, as a reward, did not cost me anything. I had all the resources. I know that within that hour of work I now have three new mistakes on the canvas I need to fix. And, I also know that I have five dollars in my pocket that say this thing will never hang in the Louvre. Nevertheless, it was the happiest hour I had in some time. Because after a decade, I started painting again.

What are your rewards? They do not have to require expenses, and quite often the simplest things mean more. What did you used to love to do that you don’t anymore? And, what would you do to have that experience again? If you figure that out, you now know your true motivators.

It is the motivators that get things done.

The Vibration of the Atom and the Tick of the Second Hand

Hope everybody’s doing well today.

One thing, we can all agree, is that time is precious. We cannot manufacture more time, and we can’t dispose of time. Time is a constant. Is time relative? Yes, I believe it is.

Time can be measured through the vibration of an atom, the orbits of the solar system and the movement of the stars within our galaxy. What is a lifetime to us, as humans, is an almost insignificant time on a galactic scale. The time it takes us to make a full rotation within the Milky Way is almost unfathomable.  And yet through all this, the vibration of the atom and the tick of the second hand keep a steady beat.

So what do we do with this wonderful thing called time? To devise ways to go forward or backward within time would seem to be a waste. For our time would keep moving steadily forward while we either try to understand the debates about what went on before us, or what will happen to us later.

I think we get the idea of doing this because of our driven desire for voyeurism. Before you get too excited, I challenge you to think. We go to the movies or sit in front of a TV (or laptop,) where we watch wonderful shows: romance, horror, thrillers, science fiction, comedy, or tragedy. When we watch this, we sometimes have a feeling of having accomplished something or done something based on the show we watched

Truth be told, all we have really done is sit in a seat, and maybe eat some candy or popcorn. We were entertained by somebody else pretending to do something. We did not kiss the lady or the man, climbed the Matterhorn, go to the bottom of the sea, or to strange new worlds. The people in the movie did not do that either, they merely pretended to.

Time is precious, and I am not against movies or television or film clips on the computer. I just wonder sometimes if I could not spend my time a little better by doing some of that for myself.

What would it be like for me to ride or drive a race car? What it would be like for me to fly in a fighter jet? Or jump out of a plane? Or even better, interact with others?

What would it be like for me to interact with others and help to make their lives better? Can I do that sitting in my easy chair watching a rectangular screen? I don’t think so.

I live in a house with just two occupants and very few visitors. If I want to interact with others, have fun, or do some things for myself rather than sitting and watching other people pretend to do it, I need to move out of the comfort zone that I have developed and venture into a new realm called, “outside the house.”

My challenge to myself for the next week is to go out for a walk every day. To meet a neighbor, or talk to a pet in the neighborhood (I talk to the dogs next door.) 

The dogs next door were snarly in barking when they first moved in. I did not approach them, I just talked to them across the fence. Within about 2 ½ weeks they went from being the fierce defenders of the home to a pair of pups jumping up with paws on the fence and looking to get a scratch on the head. I recommend starting out by just talking.

I know it seems as though I’m talking about things that are distractions. Things that take away time from other needs or duties. Yet, you may be surprised. That daily walk may give you a new and vigorous strength, make you feel good, help the body out a little bit, and although the clock keeps ticking and the atom keeps vibrating, you may find yourself more productive with the time you do have.

Just one person’s thought.

Hope to be with you again next week.

Pareto Chart

Hi, there this is Mike.

I want to thank everybody who wrote in earlier this week and answered my three questions. The more I know about what you are looking for, the easier it is for me to develop the content you like and can use.

We plan to double down on the things you like while improving some of the ways we deliver the content. Just because I’m not asking every day what you like or don’t like and what you can use or cannot use, does not mean that we’re not interested. As you find entries that are useful, please let us know. If you find things you can do without, that’s even more important for us to know.

I know some people are concerned because they’re afraid if they make a comment, they will end up on my mailing list somewhere.  I’d make everybody this promise, “I will never put anyone on a mailing just because they commented on one of my blogs.”

If you would wish to be on my mailing list, please let me know. Otherwise, reading and commenting on the blog will not put you on a mailing list. This is a promise between friends, me and you.

As promised, today we are looking at a real Pareto chart.  I was going to use a computer build line to show it.  I thought it would be better if I used SAM and his scenario as the backdrop for this.  We all know about SAM’s work.

SAM has been keeping a tick sheet with the number of each type of problem he encountered.  This was before everything got fixed last week.  The tick sheet looked like This:

 

Problem Occurrences Tic marks
Car will not start 6 XXXXXX
Lost car keys 10 XXXXXXXXXX
Saw snakes 2 XX
Had to borrow money 1 X
House over 80° 1 X
Total 20

 

Once SAM collected these numbers, then he could make the Pareto chart. You often hear that the Pareto chart shows where 20% of your problems cause 80% of your work

Rear Real Pareto

The chart shows us what to tackle first to get rid of the biggest hitters. Very small numbers are showing minutia. Minutia is a word for all those little bitty annoyances, they don’t cause the big problems and fixing them won’t fix the big problems. That’s why we use the Pareto chart so we can identify and fix the largest problems first.

Once those problems are fixed, guess what, the smaller problems have moved up to be the largest of the problems. This is presuming another unknown large problem has not shown itself yet. And once the medium and smaller problems are now our top problems, we can turn attention to those and fix those also. We don’t leave problems unfixed, we just fix them in order.

I hope this helps.  Tomorrow I will have a new article, and next week I will start a story that is told in graphics and pictures.

Have a great day.

Enjoying Fish Bones

Have you played the affinity game?

Now is the time to do something with the data that you got from that game. Remember the five areas for the headers of all the Post-it notes that everyone placed on the board? Those headers were Plans, People, Processes, Prosperity, and Papa Nature. Well now, we can use the information you gathered to fill out a cause-and-effect chart.

The cause-and-effect chart is often known as a Fish-bone diagram. That is because it often looks like the skeleton of a fish. The one I have above probably bends that rule a little bit. The area where we have the effect is what you can think of as the head of the fish. And all the bones of the fish are all the things that we are filling in. This area is known as the causes. Thus, the cause-and-effect chart.

I should take time right now, to let you know you don’t have to be a master draftsman or artist to do this, or any of the charts and diagrams that we are going to make along the way. Each person does their best at arts and crafts. There will always be someone better and always be someone worse along the way, yet that never matters. The whole idea is that you are doing what you can when you work on these goals and games.

Go ahead and draw the outline for your Fish-bone diagram (Cause-and-effect chart.) And place the labels on. If you notice I wrote the word Effect below the line so you can write in what the effect is above the line. Please remember everything to the left of the head(effect) are the causes. When drawing the chart out, you do not have to put in the small horizontal lines coming off the ribs until you need to do so. I placed them in mine so you can have an idea of where they will go when you need them.

The effect could be, “We need to save more money.”, “We need to save more time.”, “I need to make better grades in school.”, Or anything else that you’re looking to improve. What this chart will show, as you fill it out is that all the causes equal the effect.

At this point take your post it’s, and start to fill in the five ribs on the cause side of the chart. At this point, the better the data that you put into the chart, the better the outcome. The whole idea of the chart is to see what’s happening now, and what effect that has. If you start doctoring the causes, or not putting some important data in, the chart will not be as effective.

The best thing about The cause and effect chart is that it is a very easy visual. You see what is happening, and what it causes. Too much late-night TV, not enough sleep, too many video games, not enough book time, it is easy to see what to change, to possibly raise your grades. Too many credit cards, not being paid regularly, a few emergencies, it’s easy to see what you can do to better manage her money. ‘My business is stagnating’ could equal, too many distractions, fewer classes, and more work, not enough interaction with the public, need to join some Facebook groups.

Everybody’s chart will be different, depending on the person, where they are, and where they want to go. There is no right and wrong in this. There is only where you are and where you want to go.

Tomorrow, I will introduce you to Sam. Sam’s been having a problem and wants to get back on track. We will use Sam as a case study. I will give you his affinity diagram, and his Fish-bone diagram. (Remember, the Fish-bone diagram and the cause-and-effect chart are the same things, and either name can be applied.) I am doing this because as we go on, it will be good to have some data to talk about.

I look forward to next time when we will go over Sam’s information and figure out the next step in helping him out.

Hope you have a wonderful day.

On this day, we celebrate the Declaration of Independence

Hi, because today is a holiday, I wanted to pass along this holiday note for the fourth.  We continue our normal blogs tomorrow.

Long distance relationships almost never last.  Mine did not last, although we are still good friends.  The relationship between England and the American Colonies did not last, although Britain and the United States are the best of friends now.

On this day, we celebrate the Declaration of Independence. Actually, it was signed on the second of July.  With no mass communications and no copiers in 1776, it took a couple of days to write copies and to get the word out.

It makes me wonder.  If long distance communication were available at that time, would it have made a difference?  Money is the root of many breakups. Could, however, the economic problems, between England and the Colonies be settled amicably before they grew so large that the two entities had no choice except the War of Independence and the legal separation, which was akin to a divorce of peoples?

This sounds like an academic quandary to be debated, and yet, we are on the cusp of the exact same problems in the very near future.  The people of Earth are planning to colonize the Moon and Mars.

The distance to the Moon and especially the distance to Mars will test the ability of communications. Not that communications are as slow as the 1700’s, there is a lag time that will start out as a nuisance.

Just as with England and the American Colonies. When the colonists of the Moon and Mars mine their ores, their focus will be on their work and not as much on the massive cost the Earth spent to get them to their colonies and provide for them as they began.  The Earth, like England, may be in a rush to reclaim the money spent to set up the colonists.

Special care needs to be planned for the missions to ensure a premium is placed on collaboration and communication.  These must be real communication and collaboration processes, not just buzz words.

Understanding what lead up to the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago is vital to future plans of colonization.  George Santayana reminded us why, when he said, “Those who cannot remember their past are condemned to repeat it.” (Wikipedia, last updated, 2/13/2006)

A special thank you to Paul Nielsen for his discussions and suggestions on this blog.  Thank you.

Enjoy Each Moment for Where You Are

Morning. I hope everybody had a wonderful weekend.

Last week we mapped out a set of goals and milestones. Before we move on to our next round of ideas and workshops, I would like to give one more thought on reaching your goals. I wish to do this because many people look at the goal as the end. As you get to your goal, you’re going to find out, most likely, that the goal you have reached is merely the stepping stone to the next and even greater thing.

It seems that in nature and in life nothing is as simple as start-middle-end. For as each end is seen, new beginnings emerge. And, as new beginnings emerge they denote the end of something in the past.

And yet, not really, for when there are new beginnings. It is more flow from one thing to the next. The flow is natural and it is to be expected. I’m not telling you something as simple as go with the flow.  And, I know it’s a cliché to say each ending is a new beginning. I guess what I’m trying to say is everything is continuous. Therefore, enjoy each moment for where you are and who you are with.

Tomorrow, we are going to look at forestry, in a sense. We are going to grow a forest of decision trees. Decision trees are great, and they will help you in making some tough decisions, sometimes.

Please enjoy today, and we look forward to tomorrow’s discussion.

Thanks for being with us. 

Help Define if You’re Happy or Would Like to Reach Out

Did you get an opportunity to read yesterday’s blog? If not, I suggest you read it, because there are things in there you might want to consider.

Did anybody stand up and make a move yesterday? Up the stairs, out to the library, to say hi to a neighbor, or something else?

Sometimes it’s hard to know when to start. And sometimes you must stop and think about where that starting point is. And, then it is okay.

Start by getting something to write on, and something to write with, and the list everything around you. Don’t turn this into a novel that makes War and Peace look like a comic book. Just a few simple lists will do. One should tell you who you have around you, those who support you, those you support, those you get along with, those you do not get along with, yet could not do without.

The next list should list what you have. A home, an apartment, a big-screen TV set, bills, list whatever you have. It doesn’t have to be complete but give it some thought; and, then next to each item list whether you like it or not and why.

Now you know where you are. This should help you to find and define where you are, and if you’re happy where you are or if you would like to reach out and do something. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers. Only where you are and what you feel right now.

This will take you a little while maybe 30 minutes or an hour, and it is important. Therefore, I am not going to hold you up. We will meet again tomorrow.

Exciting Times for ReadingSticks

I want to thank everybody who’s following my blog. I appreciate you, and I hope that I bring some joy or some good into your life.

I have been quiet this week because here at ReadingSticks we are hip deep, building new websites and developing maps for moving in new directions. I do not want to spoil the excitement by letting the cat out of the bag too early. However, starting Monday blogs will probably come to you either on a daily, or every other day basis. Each blog, will be short and take up his little of your time as possible.

Please watch for these blogs as they will direct you to many of the new and exciting projects and programs that we are developing for you. Until then, I thank you for being with us. I also want to wish you a great weekend. We have a new month and the start of the new season ahead.

I look forward to our next blog on Monday.

Some truths are universal, and they will never change.

One of the greatest things that we are going to have to learn soon and many smart people have already learned now is self-determination. It used to be that manufacturing, whether it be the wool industry, cotton textiles in America, early watchmaking or weapons manufacturing for settlers and the military required a vast army of workers both skilled and unskilled to build the quantities of finished products required. Automation, taking the place of workers, is not new. It was always sought by the best and the brightest of manufacturing.

The desire to build something cheaper, faster, or better has lived with us since the first product was made and sold. In our own colonial days, a rifle was sold by the purchaser piling up pelts next to the rifle stock, standing on end, until the gun and pelts were of equal height. One pile pelts for one rifle. The traders got smart fast and built rifles with longer barrels to maximize their profits.

The watch, which until around 1850 was too costly for most people, was affordable to almost everyone once the small gears and other parts became mass-produced. At the cost of only $13, rather than hundreds of dollars, the watch could then be purchased for military personnel, anyone needing to synchronize with railroads or children, mainly young men who were given the watch as a sign they were going to go places.

The fact is if somebody or something does a job better than you, faster than you, or smarter than you unless you are an outlier, you are not going to be able to take their job away from them. If you are an outlier, you’re probably not going to try to take that job away. Mainly because you know better.

You need to work on what you can do better. Better than others, better than computers, better than the present technology. If you can do this, you will probably be able to have jobs continuously. There are some catches involved.

If you want a job or series of jobs that you can count on you need to be an outlier. Outliers are not followers. Outliers are the people that others follow. Outliers do so because they are driven, not because someone is driving them. Outliers are like the young cadets at the Air Force Academy. Cadets are told the first day they came to the Academy, I’m sure most days after that, that they cannot go through the Academy for anybody else. Cadets must go through the Air Force Academy for themselves. If cadets don’t want to put up with the Academy’s rigid standards, and hard work, they will not be able to survive the riggers, just because somebody else wants them to. The same is true of outliers.

What do outliers do? Outliers figure out what they’re good at and what they like to do. Outliers learn everything they can about their profession and stay abreast of all current trends, usually setting those trends. Outliers never follow the crowd, they lead the crowd. Outliers never worry about being alone or lonely, because leaders rarely find themselves along, everyone else is looking to follow them.

Jobs will change. 

Times will change.

Needs will change.

People will change.

Some truths are universal, and they will never change.

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