Have You Ever?

Ever stared at a white sheet of paper knowing that you want to write something, and yet not quite sure what to write? Have you ever gone out to get one item, and returned home with everything except the one item you absolutely needed? Have you ever missed an important meeting, not because you did not want to go rather because you got tied up into any other things? These things do happen.

Why? Why, is an easy answer. We are human, and all humans have frailties. Mix that with a hectic lifestyle which many of us have and the danger of overlooking a need or desire becomes more prevalent. And yet, there is a multitude of possible cures and antidotes to improve the chances of completing what we really wanted to get done in the first place.

The biggest intervention we can use is our attitude. When things like this happen, we don’t want to go berserk or fly off the handle or get mad at ourselves. And at the same time, we don’t want to adopt an attitude of “Oh well,….” We need to find an approach that works for us, and no, not all approaches will work equally well for all people.

Each of us should find what works best for us. Many use a calendar and a to-do list. This works great for those who keep the list in the calendar up to date and in a small enough package to always have it handy. The smartphone works very well for this. The problem though is that we often fail to put things on our calendar or on our to-do list because in the back of our mind we believe they are too big to forget.

Others will write a sticky note at work and stick it to their ID badge, so they don’t forget. This works great until the note becomes unstuck and falls to the floor while walking down the hall. At that point, the note is no longer there to remind them. Four interruptions and one ad hoc meeting down the line, the person, may have completely forgotten about that important ‘whatever it was.’

Some managers will write themselves an email to remind them of what’s going on or why they did something in particular. If they don’t have a good system of filing their email, and if like most managers they get about 300 emails a day, it is easy for the facts to get lost in the electronic pile.

Does this mean that we’re hopeless, that we cannot overcome forgetfulness? We’re people, and people can overcome anything. In the last 5000 years how many things have threatened us, endangered us, tried to wipe us out? And yet, here we still are. To overcome this, we only need one thing. Habit.

We all have habits. Washing the car on a Saturday morning is a good habit. Playing games on the computer because I am bored and want to do something is a bad habit. We need to find habits that work for us, and we need to stick to them.

Can I tell you exactly which habits in which variations will work best for you? I am sorry I cannot. For most people reading this, we’ve never even really met face-to-face. What I can tell you is one habit I believe will work for you. As you are developing habits, try many things, drop those that don’t work, and keep those that do.

The other thing I could mention, cut back on electronic game playing. It’s always the frustrating ones that eat most of your time.

Yes, I Probably Should

Many people claim that they don’t like or want habits because they just do things when they’re needed. The truth of the matter is people don’t do things when they’re needed. They wait till everything is piled up, and it’s hard to walk across the floor, and you can’t see the sink anymore. Then the idea comes to mind, “I ought to clean this up.”

Usually, as we finish cleaning something up, it dawns on us that the time and work wasn’t too bad. And, as good as the place looks we should do this on a regular basis. And yes, I probably should.

When they’re up and fully running, habits are wonderful. Trying to get a habit up and running is tough. Times don’t work out, things get in the way, and believe it or not sometimes I just get tired.

I have to tell you I do not believe in bribery. I have been known, though, to initiate positive behavior modification. Positive behavior modification is a lot better than bribery. I modify behavior to meet a needed objective by having an incentive which is highly desired and only given after the modification conditions are fully met.

I want the dishes done every night and the kitchen cleaned before we watch TV. However, there are good shows on early in the evening, and I don’t want to miss any of them. Okay, how do I make this work?

I can clean the kitchen as I cook dinner, rinse and stack the dinner dishes into the dishwasher, and if full start it. If I get creative, I could spend about three or four minutes after each meal I eat, to rinse the dishes and stack them in the dishwasher. I could also pick up the kitchen as I cook whatever meal I’m eating. And that would also save time.

Please comment and tell me what other chores plague you, what you think a significant incentive would be to complete them, and how you would make them a habit.

We Have a Plan

Plans are important. If you think the plan will never change, you never faced a true enemy in combat. When you face-off in combat the first thing that changes are the plans. These days my plans normally revert to “yes dear” and “I’m sorry.”

As you craft your plans, the best idea to get everyone who is part of that plan involved. Not only do you get overall buy-in to the plan, but you also have the support of everyone, because they know and understand they are part of that plan.

I know this sounds strange that I’m telling you to plan and then tell you that your plans will change. To demonstrate this let me tell you about Boy Scout Troop which I helped run as a leader.

About four times a year the scouts would go out to a camporee, freezoree, or some other camping adventure with all of the troops in the Council. Imagine a vast field with between 75 and a hundred troops of boys in attendance and camping over the weekend. We used to hold an overnight camp-out a week or two before a camporee and train the scouts in our troop on all of the various skills which would be tested on in the games at the camporee.

Does this mean the kids had an automatic guarantee of winning the games? No. Like everything else in life, things do change. The boys were there to have fun and having a little knowledge about what they were doing made it more fun. The games were never exactly like what we taught them, yet having those skills helped to do well. They still had to do it, and adapt as things changed. But, at least they had a plan of how things work.

As you leave one comfort zone, even though you may not have been exactly comfortable with it at times, you need a plan. The plan alone does not guarantee an absolute victory. The plan and a little practice mean you have a good idea of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Will that plan change? Yes, dear, I’m sorry.

Protect What Is Valuable as We Move Forward

Sometimes when we live with jewels all of our life, we forget what is really precious. We sometimes take for granted the things that work so well. And, tend to ignore those people  that are always there.

When we make a change, the ripples of the change affect everything and everyone around us. The larger the change, the stronger the ripples around us are; and the more those who are near to us are affected. It is important that we are cognizant of, and pay attention, to those concerns.

Have you ever been in an earthquake? Having lived around the world, I have been in several earthquakes. Some that were over as soon as they started, and some that seemed to go on forever. The truth is, the time of earthquakes is usually shorter than you think. The reason it feels longer is that you don’t know when it’s going to stop. Just like the earthquake, ripples that are caused by the change of one person affect others more deeply when they do not know what is going on or where the changes are headed.

There is a really neat way to help dampen the ripples of change for both you and those around you. The nice thing is it doesn’t cost anything, it takes very little time, it provides everybody involved some great support. Just sit down with those concerned and talk to them about what is going on.

It’s amazing that when people know, they can work as a team and together they can do all sorts of wonderful things to meet challenges.  To grow, to move in  directions, and to set the basis to ultimately succeed, no matter what the odds are.  Whether you are moving to a new city, changing jobs, planning a retirement, or any number of other things, sit down with those around you and whatever you do you discuss it and do it together.

That is one mean old master sergeant’s thought for the day. Try talking to those around you, especially the ones you care about, and you’ll be surprised how much support and teamwork you actually will gain.

Talk to you again tomorrow, have a great one out there.

We change with the times

We have talked about the fact that nothing lasts forever. Even the glass bottle that we drink from and the glass vase that holds our flowers is actually in a liquid form very slowly, forever changing. And so we have a choice. As everything changes around us do we accept the fact and change with it? Or, do we put a stick in the sand and say, “Here I stand.”

We see this all the time. Because of this, some people are labeled as old fogies. Other people are just dismissed out of hand as not knowing because it was not of their generation. The truth is, it depends. It is actually up to you. Do you keep with the old times? Do you learn and grow and go with the new times? I vote for the latter. I am too young of the mind to start living in yesteryear and begin believing there are no worthwhile changes.

We see others, and sometimes ourselves, occasionally get stuck in the past. Does that mean we are forever doomed to live the life of what happened at the high school football game? Counting the rivets on a B-52 in North Dakota? The pain of a hangover a day after the frat party? The patrol that went sideways? Or whatever else is burdensome on our mind? I really don’t think we have to do that.

We have a choice. For me, I choose to remember the past, learn and live in the now, and celebrate the possibilities of the future.  We remember in order not fall into the same traps or repeat mistakes. Now is where I live. If I am not happy with now, I learned so that I can change it. I also learn to prepare my path into the future.

Right now I should not be living in the past nor in the future. Right now, I should live, except, and enjoy where and what I am now. I do this knowing that like glass, I am not a solid. Rather, I am something that is continually learning, growing, and reshaping my destiny.

Nothing is a forever

Nothing in our lives in this world lasts forever. Rarely is there an immediate change. Often the change is gradual. What is normal to us is what seems like slow progress, and is often viewed as a drastic change by those who leave and come back five or 10 years later.

To see changes in the galaxy, or in the universe, one would have to leave and come back in 1000 or 2000 years to notice a difference. Sometimes we change so slowly, we do not even recognize the changes within ourselves. One day we wake up, look at our reflection and wonder, “Where did that old Fart come from?”

Change is inevitable. I know that this is quoted until it’s  practically a cliché. However, it is still true. I am talking about the second law of thermodynamics. Everything will break down to its most common elements.

As change happens, we have a choice. We can look at change as a good thing, or we can look at change as a bad evil. If you read my blog for a while, you know why I believe change is good.

I look at all the ills in the world that have been cured. I look at better understanding and better thinking brought about by better communication which leads to better collaboration. I believe that the more we learn, the better we become as humans.

This week we will explore this topic in more detail. If you aren’t sure, we are working towards something here. Hopefully, it will be something good.

We will talk with you again tomorrow.

Laying Out the Day

Several weeks ago, we had a blog about laying out our clothes, shoes, socks, belt, wallet,  and accessories the night before work, rather than running down the day of work in trying to find everything.

What would you think if I told you you can do the same thing with your day at work for the next day. The nice thing about going over the next day the night before is it saves you time and emotion.

Just grab your calendar and go over it. Just to remind yourself of the meetings you have, whatever is due the next day and how much work you still have to do on at it, and how much free time you have and at what times during the day, because something will always come up to take care that free time.

If you understand what’s going on at the time, it is easier to face. A thank you and the office of the boss is smiles and grins and grips. Working with an unhappy customer make a cause for some contrition and an earnest pledge to find and fix whatever is wrong. And, counseling a team member who did not perform his tasks on time may cause the need for empathy, encouragement, and chiding in proper amounts.

Knowing all this ahead of time means that none of it catches you blindsided, and you have some time to think and prepare. Knowing ahead of time is nice because you are less likely to go off your script or make some foolish error based on lack of time to think and consider.