“Extra! Extra!”

Before TV, radio, and the internet, people got their information from newspapers. In those days it was a lot harder to “tweet” out a message to the world. Newspaper carriers would call out the phrase “Extra! extra! Read all about it!” This indicated that there was “breaking news” that occurred after the originally intended newspaper had printed. An extra section was then printed to include the latest and greatest happenings.

news

I suspect the publishers had to be judicious with their additions. It was a massive undertaking. The stories had to be good enough to recoup the cost of production.

Today’s communication medium has no such limitation. This is unfortunate indeed. Why? We miss the main story! All day long we consume the “extra! extra!” stories. We are drowning in information but starving for wisdom. We are liable to waste time browsing rather than searching. Our minds are radically malnourished on the media’s nutrition plan.

THE CHALLENGE:  Get away from all the “extra” information you don’t need. If you are following my blog (thank you) it means you STILL have goals and aspirations to fulfill, which means you need TIME to make them happen. Do you really need to scroll your social media, again?  Do you really need to open that junk mail? Will you really fall for that click bait? Stick with the main story, preferably your own!

Photo by Dustin Diaz

Humps For Days

“Hey dad, what should I draw next?”

“Draw a camel.”

“Okay, how many humps do you want it to have?”

“Just one”

camel

Camel humps store fat (not water). These humps provide nourishment to the camel when food sources are low. When the fat reserves are utilized, the humps sag like deflated balloons. It takes two things to “re-inflate” the hump:

(1) Food

(2) Rest

Your dreams, your vision for what you REALLY WANT TO DO OR BECOME is like a camel hump. There are times when it is full and robust. There are times when it is drooping and appears like a wilted flower. A vision must be fed, then affirmed through appropriate action. A vision must be protected (like rhino horns). Achieving a vision doesn’t occur overnight, so take some rest. Allow time for your thoughts and efforts to digest. Dream, act, rest.  Dream, act, rest.  Dream, act, rest. It’s a constant cycle. If you are not where you want to be it is because one or more elements of this cycle have been neglected.

THE CHALLENGE:  Too many “humps” equates to mediocrity. Pick a single hump to focus on. After tending to all of life’s responsibilities, that’s about all we really have time for anyway. Now, go re-inflate your hump! Here are three way to do this…

(1) Go dream

(2) Go act

(3) Go rest

 

Photo by compassrose_04

Shark Attack

Cubicles are dreadfully uninspiring and most of my workday is presently spent in the unforgiving grasp of four drab walls. I make it a point to frequently stand up and wander the office space. Today, an observant watchstander made a clever estimation after he saw me roam the building, “Nasfell, what are you doing? You’re like a shark swimming around a tank.”

shark

On the way home I was listening to a Neil Gaiman book where he stated, “Sharks are better at being sharks than anything else.” (Okay, okay that settles it…I know what I have to write about.)

I love this idea from Neil, although I’ve always applied it to chess pieces. A knight is powerful because it moves like a knight. A bishop is powerful because it moves like a bishop. A rook does not try to imitate a knight or a bishop. Each piece is impeccably flawless and fiercely powerful in its own right.

chess

THE CHALLENGE:  You are like a chess piece. Determine what “piece” you are and stay true to that, and that alone. We spend too much time trying to change – and not enough time trying to be what we are. In your social interactions, remember – we are different – and that is okay! Genetic diversity is nature’s strength as it is society’s. Be careful not to judge a fish for its inability to climb a tree.

Photos by Nan Palmero and Steve Johnson

“A New Car!” Part-2

Click here for part-1.

HondaE

In 2004 I purchased (via a whole lot of debt) a Honda Element. Unfortunately, the salesman was brand new to the job. He told me I could get the car in blue, that it was located on another lot – he lied! After hours at the dealership and well into the paperwork I saw the word “green” designating the vehicle’s color. I questioned the sales rep. “I thought you said I was getting blue?” He told me that he was mistaken and that green was the only color available. I was extremely disappointed. Still, I signed on the dotted line. Why?

I was impatient. I had already decided in my mind that I was driving away in the car that I wanted. I envisioned “a boy and his dog” taking tons of camping and road trips, going to the beach and hauling my bike around.

hondaSurf

Unfortunately, just like the salesman, my story was a lie. I rehomed my dog, rarely went camping, and didn’t take a single road trip (at least no trip that couldn’t have been achieved in the vehicle I traded in). I took a job that required lots of highway travel. This accrued many unnecessary miles and “swilled” (to drink something greedily or to excess; guzzle) lots of gas (try flying an airplane shaped like a toaster and see how long you remain airborne).

It didn’t take long for the Honda to receive many battle scars – from intentional scratches, induced by delinquents, to rocks cracking the windshield, to bad drivers (not that I am blameless, for I punctured the rear bumper last year).

In any event, the car got old and dirty and I was comfortable with this – too comfortable. While I firmly believe in being humble and modest as to material possessions, I also believe in cleanliness and good order. I believe in quality craftsmanship and maintenance. Cleaning out my car for the last time caused me to realize that I had been toting around “junk” for years! This was an embarrassing moment of self-awareness and a catalyst for change. Do I really need a map in my car? Do I really need a small fire extinguisher? Do I really need that extra plastic spoon or highlighter? Do I need floss in my glove box? When do I ever use these things?

It was a fantastic vehicle for its consistent performance and reliability and I recommend Honda to anyone. I abandoned my plan to drive her until the wheels fell off and made the call to take a preemptive strike as a preventative measure. For me, she represented something I didn’t really want from the beginning and now that she was showing signs of fatigue it was time to spend money either way.

I chose a new car, new make, new model, new mode of power – electricity. (I’m sure you can guess the generic questions I get.)

Here are three things you should know about electric cars:

(1)  They are scary smooth. Test drive one of these and you are likely to get hooked. They are quiet…reeeeaaaallllyyy quiet. After three days I still have trouble telling if it is running. It is truly a delight to drive. The immediate response time is amazing – no more waiting for combustion! If you prefer to quickly scoot around Sunday drivers this technology will be most satisfying.

(2)  If you drive your vehicle until the gas tank is on empty, then this is definitely not the type of car for you. If you forget to charge your phone at night, don’t even think about electric. You will want to plug your car in every day just like a phone. The benefit of fuel savings will be replaced with the “burden” of charging. All the time you save NOT doing oil changes will be spent at charging stations.

(3) Don’t expect to travel across the country. In fact, don’t expect to go far at all – in some cases that might mean the next big city. Your potential distance will be cut to a small fraction of what it is now. If you like to “get up and go” with no aim or forethought….you guessed it, not the car for you. (Unless of course, you are willing to trade a mortgage for a Tesla, which offers respectable mileage per charge). There are plenty of charging stations in the urban environments but if the back country is your thing – good luck.

(4)  It’s good for the environment (and when I say environment I mean lungs – nothing worse than a face full of exhaust when I’m out for a run). I happen to believe that climate change is not the senior ranking threat facing mankind. But, since I’m in a position to contribute to a positive movement, why not?

Number three listed above will take some getting used to. But I’m okay with that. I stopped telling myself a lie that I need a car to travel to “who knows where”. I hate traffic. I go to work and come home and do my thing. I go down to the beach for my run and have a couple of nature spots to sit and read or reflect. That’s all I need. While writing this, my wife (ironically) told me that she’s sitting in traffic. Why is there traffic?  Because there is a whole society on four wheels without limitations. Have you ever stopped to think how your life would change if we all had to revert to horseback? Life as we know it would be flipped upside down.

THE CHALLENGE:  What lies do you tell yourself? Do you drive a big truck imagining that you will spend most of your time on muddy roads shooting at wildlife? Do you drive a fancy sports car thinking that you will pick up a bunch of “chicks” (or dudes – more on that word later)? Do you sink a bunch of money into a car so you can “eventually” race it? Is your garage occupied with a fixer-upper that you will “one day” make look brand new?

If you do what you love, great! If not, stop believing your own false narrative. This applies to everything, not just cars. Get your story straight, then get your surroundings straight.

Images tactically acquired from Car Buzz

“A NEW CAR!”

When I was a kid, daytime television used to be strikingly bland.  The most excitement you could seize was by watching the game show “The Price Is Right”.  It looked like a mock-up cardboard version of Las Vegas Blvd.

Price_is_Right

The pinnacle of each episode was when the host (Bob Barker) would announce the prize we all knew was coming “A NEEEEEWWW CARRR!”

Bob Barker

Contestants would jump up and down, smile, shake, cry, scream and all but lose their minds. And yet, we as viewers were never taken by surprise.  It was our dopamine fix.

Even after 45 years, the game show is still going “strong” – and still corny as ever.  If you like magicians pulling wool over your eyes, this is a good place to be.  If you like watching adults act more immature than 5-year-olds, then this is the show for you.  (click this link and you’ll see exactly what I mean.)

For the majority of society, this show is an afterthought.  Marketers and bankers have our attention in a different way.  “Sign here and we’ll give you the real thing.”  We go straight for the credit crack pipe…and do so more frequently.  “Oh, there’s a better car this year than last year?  Where do I sign?”

Around 2003 I was unemployed.  In fact, if it wasn’t for a good friend I would have been homeless.  My bed was a sleeping bag on a hard floor, my diet consisted of eggs and green beans, and my transportation was a BMX bike. I was happy.  Very happy.  But I knew I was living beneath my potential.  Would it have been nice to have a car?  Yes!  Did I dream of owning a house in that city?  Yes!  But, I didn’t know how to bridge the gap. I’d look at houses on the mountainside or new cars on the road and it truly baffled me.  I couldn’t comprehend how people could afford it – even on credit.

I prayed…a lot!  “How do I improve my position?  How do I close the gap?  How is this even possible?”  The answers didn’t come right away.  Like a maze, “backward” was the way “forward”.  I took a very scenic route to have those questions answered and realized in a precisely detailed, visceral and intimate fashion.

As a man handles his troubles during the day, he goes to bed at night a general, captain or private.

Yesterday, I walked into a dealership and paid cash for a car.  Part of the aforementioned “scenic route” taught me never to buy a brand new car off of the lot.  So, I got a slightly older model in “like new” condition for half the price. But it was nice to know that price wouldn’t have been a factor either way.

My next post will cover a hard lesson learned on this journey and why I chose to purchase an all electric vehicle.

THE CHALLENGE:  Assuming you are normal (and human), there is something you want but which is presently out of your reach.  Be patient! The law of the harvest is real.  You reap what you sow.  Don’t give in to the glitz and glamour of Vegas, the illusion of game shows, the captivity of debt, or the barren promise of a quick fix scheme. 

“Poverty treads on the heels of great and unexpected riches”

Work hard, remain diligent, educate yourself, stay devoted to the principles you know are true, invest in the quality of your character and your dreams will come to fruition in due time.

Under New Management

The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet Commander was relieved yesterday (8/24/17) due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.  On the surface, this appears to be good logic for good cause.  But if you dig deeper, “firing” employees is a cultural norm that does not necessarily address the root of the issue.

Drive around any urban environment and you are bound to see signage that reads, Under New Management.  We are suckers for this verbiage.  We are suckers for anything “new”. We are suckers for a quick fix.

UnderNew

Fans of the NFL (National Football League ) don’t have to look much further to see what a farce this concept is.  Coaches are hired and fired almost as fast as consumers scratch off lottery tickets looking for the solution to all their problems.  New management is (mostly) an illusion.  Who’s to say that this new management is much better than the old? Team owners fail to recognize the fact that players lead locker rooms, not coaches! Coaches may be a catalyst to spark a move in the right direction – but to change or create a culture they need the right players surrounding them…and a little luck.

THE CHALLENGE:  If you tend to blame leaders for failing you, you are on the wrong planet.  If you want the president, queen, king, prince, or dictator to solve all of your problems, you are on the wrong planet.  If you jump the fence because the grass is greener on the other side, you’ll probably land in a big mountain of fecal matter – and you’re still on the wrong planet.  People will always, always, always fall short of your expectations.

I am not trying to undermine the responsibility of leaders.  But a leader who has not yet “arrived” should not be the cause of fury, hate, and discontent.  “Under New Management” is really an old method of managing growing pains – don’t be a sucker! Give people room to grow.  in the meantime, be content.  Be stoic.  Find joy in doing the work that YOU can do. Lead those that YOU can lead. Be present in every moment of YOUR life!

Behave Like a Tailor

In my world, it’s bad advice to “make a goal and then tell everyone you know so that they will help hold you accountable.”  Maybe that’s because I fail a lot.  Even when I tell my most trusted friends and family members – I still fail.

“Tell the world what you are going to do, but first…SHOW them!”

I take that back.  I don’t fail.  (I often say “fail faster” – but not in the sense of ultimate failure.)  I change.  I learn and grow.  I adapt.  I aim, pull the trigger and then adjust accordingly.  Sometimes I realize that a target is out of reach, or too close. Sometimes it’s the wrong target altogether. Admiditly, there are occasions when I don’t know what the heck to shoot next.

“Be fluid because flexible is too rigid.”

The reason I try to keep my mouth shut and play “show then tell” is because I dislike explaining my decision(s) to people.  Can you relate?  I found a quote today that I believe is worth reflecting on.

tailor

“I had become a new person, and those who knew the old person laughed at me.  The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailor: he took my measure anew every time he saw me, whilst all the rest went in with their old measurements and expected them to fit me.”  George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950).  Man and Superman 1, 1903

THE CHALLENGE:  People around you are constantly changing from day to day.  We are on a personal journey twisting and turning as a leaf falling from a tree.  Every day as you encounter your associates, friends, and most especially your family members – behave like a tailor and take their measurements.  See how they feel.  See what outlook they have.  See if anything has changed from your last encounter.  Allow them space to transform or modify their thought process.  This will add a rich dimension to your relationships and conversations.