We Don’t Always Know the Why’s

We don’t always know why things happen. Yesterday it was 75° here. And by this evening we will be enjoying the snow. With 2 – 5 inches due by tomorrow.  Most people here don’t understand why the weather changes so fast. The only thing we can say is, “Welcome to the wonderful world of Colorado weather.” This may be an extreme example, yet the idea behind it is real for more than just Colorado. We see this throughout our lives. We see things happen both good and evil, and can only ask ‘Why?’

We try to attach meaning to events to make them more understandable.  And yet, why a plane ends up in the sea, or a car crashes or anything else happens, is often beyond our understanding.  Many times, I see things, and I can only ask why because I don’t know.  Why did this or that happen? Why?

I do not want to blame everything on random chance.  I also do not want to blame all tragedies on pre-ordained fate.  As a process engineer who believes in continuous improvement, I know that as we understand more, safety and health improve.  And, in this, there is some understanding.  Because someone a long time ago stood next to some shiny leaves and got a rash, we now know to stay away from poison ivy.  Someone had to make the error so the rest of us could learn.

The next time something happens, we could blame it on fate.  We can blame the pre-ordination of man, or we can empathize with the who and what, and learn something that could help us, and everyone else.

It is hard to say why things happen.  I know I do not understand a lot in the larger scheme of things. I do know that time, life, and knowledge are essential.  I feel I need to pay more attention.

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

Difficult Things Made Easy

Sometimes what looks like the hardest and most difficult things to do, are the things we need to do anyway. If we try to maneuver around them for the sake of ease and timing, they can often blow up in our face. If we just do them to start with, we find things to be much more comfortable, and our life, better lived because of the actions.

Sometimes I get grumpy. I don’t clean the kitchen, I don’t pick up things I’m working with once I’m done with them, and I do not dust. When I get like this, I find myself looking at a dirty, dusty house. The sink is full of dishes, junk is all over the countertops, and books and manuscripts are strewn throughout the house. Wherever I look, there is no peace or place for quiet contemplation. The sight is just a mess. Even the yard is a mess because I didn’t take care of it either.

Even though I tend to forget this lesson every now and then, and I have to go back and do a little relearning. 20 minutes a day in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner leaves both good looks and good smells through the night and well into the next day. An hour, two days a week to cut the lawn and trim some trees gives us a good Vista to sit outside and write an article while enjoying the fresh air. I can spend 10 minutes a day to pick up the house and do some dusting, or I can let it go and spend a full week once a quarter.

I am an ornery student, yet I have learned the hard way, 10 minutes a day is much better than a full week. Not only that, it gives me at least 70 days of better views and better smells.

I don’t write this to talk about what a poor housekeeper I’ve been. I write this to remind myself that taking care of things up front actually saves a lot of time and energy. Looking at this as the process improvement specialist, I believe that there are things we can all do, not just to save ourselves time, money and anguish, also to give us a better daily outlook on life.

If you think you need to, you probably need to.  Is this not true in most of our life’s endeavors?

Just one mean old Master Sergeant’s thoughts.

Thank you for spending some time with a mean old Master Sergeant. I hope to be with you again tomorrow.

Oh No, Not Habits!

When I was young, I hated habits. My standard defense to them was we should not do things out of habit, we should do things that just need to be done. And, by the same token, we should not do things which are a waste of time. If I slept in the bed last night and I was going to sleep in it tonight, and nothing was going on in the bedroom, why should I make the bed in the morning if I was just going to mess it up again that evening?

After many years, and a lot of growing older, I  realized that I wasn’t getting rid of habits, I was only choosing the ones I wanted to follow. Watching TV every night is a habit. Whether you get up early, get up a little later or just turn off the alarm and go back to sleep, if you do it again and again, it is a habit. Stopping by the store in the morning to pick up a donut is a habit.

The truth is, we are all creatures of habit. We cannot help it. As I have grown older, I have come to understand that the trick is not to get rid of habits. Instead, we need to understand which habits get us to where we want to go and what we want to do, and which ones do not.

Do I really want to waste my evening, every evening just sitting in front of a television? Or sometimes what I like to read a book, go out to see a movie, or do something on the computer? Once we realize the choices are ours to make and we don’t have to just follow a pattern, life gets more interesting. We get to do more things. If our surroundings look better, we feel better.

I have learned that I can empty and fill the dishwasher is less than seven minutes. I can pick up a messy office in less than 10. And as for making the bed, every article I read about those who have made their billions in high-tech or other entrepreneurial endeavors, they all make their bed when they get up in the morning. It does set a good start to the day.

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

Talking to Others

Did you know that you can say just about anything to just about anyone and have it well received? Absolutely true.

It is not what you say, instead of how you say it.  I have taught so many classes and given so many line training sessions in my career that I have learned how to do this.

No one can run into a strange situation with a bunch of strangers, just say something and expect them to understand and agree with what you are saying. You need to be a known quantity who cares for and respects your audience.

I think it’s time I told you the secret, and also let you in on a secret of mine.

There is a tone that you can use when speaking to people. It’s the same tone that you use when you talk to a puppy dog. If you want a puppy dog to pay attention you have to speak to the dog nicely. You need a calm voice and an easy-going cadence. We start off telling the puppy dog that it is a good dog and you know that it is doing good things.

When you first start doing this do not go over and try to pet the puppy dog. That is how people end up with the nickname lefty. Rather, talk nicely to the puppy dog, and fairly soon it will come to you and nuzzle your hand for a pet or lick your hand. I usually speak to puppy dogs through a fence. When I do so, at some point, whether it is 10 minutes or 10 days, the puppy dog will put its front paws up on the fence, and then I can cautiously offer it my hand.

The same is true with humans. Talk to them nicely, tell them you appreciate what they do, let them know you’re here to help and give them enough space that they feel comfortable. Use the same calm voice and consistency. Understand their problems and explain that you are here to help them.

The humans probably will not lick your hand. If they do, it may be the time to involve HR. You will be able to tell you are making a good impression on the humans when they start trusting you enough to ask why, or they start to participate in the activities.

For you, this is a learned activity. The more you work on the way you talk, the easier it will become. Like everything else, start slowly at first and build upon your successes.

My secret? I used to be very embarrassed to tell people they needed to talk to other people like they should talk to puppy dogs. Actually, I got that wrong. You should talk to puppy dogs like you should talk to other people.

Do You Wish For More Time?

Many of you wish for more time. If you ever find a way to get more time, please write me and let me know. I believe that we only have so much time. Each of us has 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day. We have seven days in a week, 52 weeks in a year, 10 years to a decade and, if we are lucky, we should have between seven and 10 decades to our life.

What we really want is a better quality of the time we have. And that, with a little work, we can do.

How many of you are like me? I sit in my TV room downstairs and look around at the mess. I wish I could find more time to do something about it, yet I only sit there. I get up and go into my office where I sit in my office chair and look at the piles of messes everywhere. I wish I had time to clean everything up, yet I just sit there. I can name any other room in the house and yet the view and the outcomes on the same.

I’m amazed that I always have time to read, watch TV, play games, and yet room to room nothing ever gets better. And nothing can get better until I decide to stop looking for more time and instead seek better time.

Better time is easy to do. It only takes a little forethought. You can start your road to a better time by first making a few notes which will help you to figure out what is more important to you. Sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper or some post-its and write down everything you do.  Include the games, the TV, the computer, the books, etc. If you’re using Post-it notes, list one item per post-it.

The next thing to do is to take the list and prioritize it. You can start anywhere and be prepared to put things above and below because as you add more items some will be a higher priority, and some will be a lower priority. If you are using Post-it’s, please be careful not to put them in an area where they could mar the paint. As you come across items that need to be repeated daily or weekly please list that next to the item with an RD for daily, RW for weekly, and RM for monthly, etc.

Typically, you will get your calendar. To start, add what you want to do based on your priorities. You’re going to place your highest priorities on the calendar first, and then add more priorities until the calendar is full. For many people, this ends up looking like an extensive to-do list. The problem with to-do lists is that they never allocate time and therefore little really gets done because you have more items to do than you have time to deal with.

What I’m proposing you do which is different is the setting up of the time to do each item. Start with those things which are reoccurring. Find time for what you need to do daily, and then what you need to do weekly and then what you need to do monthly, etc.

The initial cleaning of a messy office may take 8 to 10 hours spread out over a week. And you will not have to do that every week unless you really like to make messes as fast as you clean them. Tidying up an office daily could take five minutes. The same with cleaning the kitchen or any other room in the house.

Once you have all your reoccurring items of priority placed into the calendar, then start with your highest priority item and put that on the calendar, and then set the next item into the calendar. Please, allow enough time to complete each item you place on the calendar. If possible to do so, it is understandable that you may want to have two or three different sessions to complete a significant task.

Some people end up with a lot of time left over when loading the calendar. That is good, and you can think of things that you’ve always wanted to do, which you can plug into those times. Some people will end up with too many items and not enough time. And, this is where some decisions have to be made. The choices are whether to place this task on the back burner until time becomes available or, to bump another task and put this one in its place.

Quite often it takes a little time to get used to the idea of using a calendar and sticking to what needs to be done when. This is especially true if you are not used to the practice of using a calendar. If you put in the energy and give the new ideas a little time, it will work for you. If you need a little incentive, go to the mirror, raise your right hand and promise the person in the mirror, that you are willing to work at making this happen. When you do use this method, you will be able to see your priorities actually come to fruition.

 

 

 

Collaberate Within

Good morning.

I have a great question for you this morning. What have you done lately for the person in the mirror?

Have you sat down and had an honest talk with the person? That’s right, the one in the mirror.

In here worried that somebody is going to consider you certifiable when they find you talking to that person in the mirror, do when you’re alone. Do it in the morning when you first get up, or in the evening before you go to bed. Point is to compare with that person and do it often.

Why? Only you truly know how you feel. Only you really know what you think. And only you, are the person who can make this happen, for you.

Yes, to make things happen on the follow-through, you need to reach out to everyone you can think of who may be a stakeholder or part of what you want to do and where you want to go. Only you can start the way and keep the ball rolling and be the primary guide through its journey to a successful conclusion.

Everybody has people who can help them. Sometimes when you start doing even know who those people are going to be. Yet, they are out there, and as you open up about your work, you will find them and sometimes they will find you. The thing is if you’re not out there trying, they will not know to come to your basement and seek you out.

You need to go forth in good faith and demonstrate the path you walk. For as you do, you will find many footsteps both seen and unseen walking with you.

Initial Momentum

Good morning.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I was able to get out in my yard and trimmed back all the invasive bushes some of which had gained a good 6 feet and thought they were going to be trees.

It is incredible how we can be stymied by so many things to do. So many things that we can’t get anything done. And yet the piles still grow and grow. And then all of a sudden, one small piece of serendipity, a break in the calendar of things to do, or something else happens, and we can suddenly be swamped doing everything that had us crying uncle just a few days before.  Truth is the initial momentum to start moving something takes more energy than that needed to keep it in motion.

Because of that three extra hours that kicked everything off, this week I have a meeting with the tax lady to complete her taxes, and a procedure on Thursday. One of those procedures for people over 50 that we have to prep for. Well for a little bit I guess we have to be careful of what we wish for. In this case, though everything is indeed a blessing to be able to get it done.

I recommend that everybody look for that small break, that one thing that can get you started. Once you are started, you can go as far as you want to. My idea: never stop.  After all, it takes less energy to keep something moving than to start it moving in the first place.