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.”


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.


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

Beating a dead horse, or mule, or whatever…

Mom…dad…aunt…dead, all this year.

What was it like on their deathbed? They all knew it was their time to go. Were they thinking about selfies? TV? How to discipline others? A mediocre lesson? Enemies? The business card they meant to give away?


They were thinking about the sum total of their lives. They were thinking about bricks! They were thinking about their pain (and thirst). Something happens on our death bed. We let go of all the stuff we thought was important.

A good friend once told me, “You only have to make it until you die.” This helps me stay cool, calm and collected. I try not to carry the “stuff” with me along the way. I can only control what I can control and eventually the clock hit’s zero.

“After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.”

Knowing what I will eventually become makes it easy to keep yellow flags in my pocket. It is also worth questioning if my perspective is even correct. I love children’s art! There is something so pure and authentic in EVERY single doodle they create. Often I would ask my young children, “What is that?” after they come running up to me to show me a masterpiece.

In the child’s mind, the picture doesn’t need any explanation. “It’s right there dad, duh…can’t you see it?” But sometimes I can only see what looks like scribbles. The child is not concerned with line, form, shape, value, color, and texture. They can only limit themselves to the expression of their idea, their way.

I wonder how often we view the world equivalent to a child’s artwork. How often do we impose our will upon others when trying to lead “the right way.” We might be making a ruckus in an attempt to lead others “our way” when in reality what we are waving around is childlike “artwork.” We might be saying, “Duh…it’s right there, can’t you see it?” But, did we present our vision with enough artistic elements? Did we use complimentary colors, formal balance, and proportion?

THE CHALLENGE: As a leader, know the rules. Know what is stated in black and white. This will give you the power to direct. It will provide a common framework for all to understand. Avoid being abstract when assigning tasks or giving orders. Be direct, be clear, be firm. The more you do this, the better you lead. The better you lead, the more bricks you make. The more bricks you make, the more satisfied you will feel when it’s your time to pass.

Photo by Kerry

The Oldest Trick in the Book

Have you identified your f7? There isn’t a chess player alive who hasn’t fallen for a ‘gimmicky’ checkmate. The most common of these occur when a white bishop and white queen unite to bear down on black’s f7 square.

I fell for this trap today. It only took a total of 7 moves. How is it that I can fall for the “oldest trick in the book” – even after many hundreds of games throughout my life? I’m still in disbelief!

The opposition in your life goes straight for your f7 doesn’t it? You know what goal you have or what habit you want to break. Perhaps these perpetually go unrealized. Why? Because we persist in falling for the oldest trick in the book. We know the booby traps and trip wires. Unlike my loss today, we are not “surprised” when we meet with repeated failure. That thorn in the flesh doesn’t go away until YOU do something about it.

So that’s the defense in a nutshell. Here’s what this principle looks like offensively…

It’s been said that “we all have a goose that slow cooks.” This explains why we enjoy going blow for blow and round for round when it only takes seconds to kill a man. We sit at life’s chess board expecting to take the scenic route. We want the long haul.

I propose we save some gas. What if we all introduced a few more shortcuts in our lives? You know, trim the fat a little bit. Let’s face it, every problem has an f7 square. Now go identify it and attack! Just go for the kill and move on to the next chapter in your life. Time isn’t waiting for you. Nor is it waiting for me. There is no pause button.