We have something in common, we all do. We started as babies. I know, I know…too obvious right? And just as obvious is the fact that we soiled diapers, cried when we were hungry and laughed at funny faces. But more importantly…we ate cupcakes – yes, cupcakes. You probably don’t remember this, but we even ate them the exact same way. We sat in a highchair, reached for our favorite frosty flavor, and consumed about 10% of it. So what happened to the other 90% you ask? The breakdown goes something like this:
30% Covered our nose, cheeks, lips, hair, hands, shoulders, arms and hands.
30% Ended up in the dog’s belly
20% Landed on our bib
10% Never made it off the high chair
We never once, (I repeat) – NEVER – thought twice about the 90% we couldn’t get off the runway and into our pie hole. What mattered is that we managed to get a whopping 10% in contact with our taste buds. What mattered is that we had fun doing it. What mattered is that we lived in the moment. What mattered is that we somehow knew we’d eventually be able to consume an entire cupcake…or at least 98% – just like an adult.
This week, I invited a few coworkers to eat a cupcake as if they were still in a highchair. They all wholeheartedly refused. (And that’s even before I said I would be filming the adventure.)
THE CHALLENGE: Try something new, anything. Just try 10% of something. Forget that you will be the laughing stock of all your fake friends on social media. Forget that you will glue all ten fingers together the first time you try to construct a paper airplane or that you will burn the house down trying to invent your own gluten free gingerbread soldiers. Have fun wasting 90% of your efforts! If you enjoy 10% of your new adventure, keep it up…eventually you might even be ninety-something percent good at it.
Business lore cannot decide who it wants to attribute the “salt test” to. Some say Thomas Edison, others Henry Ford, not to mention household names like General MacArthur and a host of others.
What is the “salt test” anyway? Essentially, the salt test was a simple method devised to examine the character and personality of a potential employee.
It looks like this… Henry Ford takes you out to dinner, a small price to pay since you’ve applied for a key position in the company. Ol’ Henry keeps an eagle eye on you as the server delivers your requested meal. Your mouth waters as you reach for the salt. (NO! DON’T DO IT!) You proceed to smother your food in that all white ionic compound otherwise known as common table salt. You take a taste. Mr. Ford asks how your food is. You smile and provide enthusiastic feedback, “Delicious!”
You continue your attempt to dazzle. But, it’s too late. You’ve forfeited the job.
Henry Ford knows that premature salt application would indicate a person’s narrow thinking and inability to analyze fresh data. The action might also show a lack of appreciation for the host or a shortage of trust in the cook’s ability.
THE CHALLENGE: Leave the salt alone! Examine your self-talk. Do you season your language with negativity?
How much of this negative dialogue acts as premature seasoning?
When you meet people do you really listen? Do you learn their name? Do you care about what they are saying? Or, are you projecting your own judgements upon them?
As you go throughout the day, pay attention to how often a limited view is imposed on yourself or others. You may be surprised at the frequency at which we season our situations prematurely.
What do most (if not all) books have in common? A blank page defiled by the words “this page intentionally left blank.”
As if failure to declare this intention would result in a lawsuit. But who really cares in the first place?
I’ve bookmarked, color coded, tabbed, and dog eared countless pages. But that blank page always goes without attention. Maybe there is more to
be told on that singular page than any paragragraph in any book. At least
one beckoning message is for us to “leave room.”
Our lives are filled with obligations and we saturate every crevice of every hour with trivial distractions! I bet one thing they are not filled with is bordom. Think about it, when was the last time you were genuinely bored? I’m not suggesting our time should be idled away. But it is worth asking, have we left any blank space – with intent?
“Boredom is good when in a creative rut, often you will find gift wrapped answers.” -Stephen King
THE CHALLENGE: How many minutes of your day are intentionally left blank? No seriously, count them up. Do you leave any room to just sit and think? Do you leave enough white space to find those gift wrapped answers? I dare you to stop reading this, unplug, and go experience boredom for a few minutes. String together some blank pages and note the tremendous influence it yields on the remainder of your “book.”
In most situations, I’m a quiet guy. Somehow my dad nicknamed me “chatterbox” as child. The safety of my own home is probably the only time I lived up to such a name.
To this day I still hear people around me say, “watch out for the quiet ones, once they snap they’ll kill you.” Can’t say I’ve ever lived up to that.
In part however, I think there is some truth to the idea that the quiet folks tend to have a little more “clack” to their thunder, a little more “cold calculation” as words erupt like lava from a once stagnant volcano.
But it’s not just the quiet ones we need to be wary of. I think we ALL have an underground cable that if split will electrocute whomever dared to grasp the shovel.
I’m saddened with how quickly people go digging for cables. They long for contention and discord as if severed relationships were the rule and not the exception. They speak truth with no restrain, intent to hurt, intent to cause damage.
THE CHALLENGE: Brutal honesty (even if a skewed opinion) is often the shovel that will get you zapped. Brutal honesty has merit, but lacks sustainability. In dealing with those around you, look for the signs posted “warning, underground cable.” Stay away, dig somewhere else. Every personality has some territory that can be explored freely. Use tact. Use love.
As for your own cables, keep your signs posted. Avoid rust and decay. Sometimes we victimize ourselves when boundaries aren’t declared early and firmly.
Week 15 of the 2017 NFL season contained a solid lesson. Steelers hosted the Patriots and it came down to the wire. Great games are always decided by a key play or two and this one was no different. With less than a minute remaining in regulation, the Steelers’ tight end (Jesse James) caught what appeared to be a touchdown to secure the win. Instead…they lost.
The NFL rulebook states that if a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass he “must maintain control of the ball until afterhis initial contact with the ground.” During the lengthy official review, it was deemed evident that James did not “survive the ground” and the touchdown was overturned. Game over.
The sequence of these events reminded me of our goals and resolutions. I started 2017 with some clear goals that would demand a lot of attention. While some goals were achieved, others were virtually stillborn.
The first obstacle struck early in the year and I dropped the ball. I didn’t anticipate variables like the Grim Reaper, traveling, moving, or new goals to surface along the way. Of course, these are all excuses. Excuses make the ball pop out.
“Good resolutions are a pleasant crop to sow. The seed springs up so readily, and the blossoms open so soon with such a brave show, especially at first. But when the time of flowers has passed, what as to the fruit?”
THE CHALLENGE: A new year is upon us. What do you intend to achieve? Be a season ticket holder to the game of life. This game is measured in years with no offseason and the stakes are much higher than a measly sporting event. Remember, opposition will be knocking at your door. Like it or not, you will make contact with the turf. It is not enough to simply dream a goal, hope a goal, or even write down a goal. You must internalize it. It must excite you, you must dream about it, you must long for it… that is of course if you want to survive the ground.
If you want to experience accelerated learning, stop thinking of a traditional “learning curve.” We typically imagine a curve that gradually ascends to a sharp peak at the end. This may be a true depiction of the learning process, but it can still occur **passively**given enough time and experience.
To take an active approach, visualize a “learning curve ball” – that’s right, forget the stagnant graph. Picture the live action! Life is lived in motion. You are at bat and the balls are coming in at 100 miles per hour. The balls are not only coming fast, they curve! It is your job to swing and make the “connection.” (Make a big enough connection and you can even autograph the ball.)
Every day when you wake up, the bases are loaded. Loaded with problems and opportunities. Loaded with mysteries in plain sight. Loaded with failures. The fans are sometimes booing and sometimes cheering. Do you listen to them? Do you strike out? Do you knock life out of the park? You have the bat and life throws the ball. Make it an opportunity to learn. Make your mark!
This line, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” is so worn out it hurts. But there is wisdom here. This quote has stood the test of time (not that I know its origination or anything – so don’t believe the hype).
My personality type lends itself to getting along with anyone. I look for the best in people. I give lots of second chances. My good friend Travon described this tendency as finding the “bird with the broken wing.” I nurture the bird until it is ready to fly again. It helps that I know how to apply a little saliva and that I understand concepts like popcorn payoff and quadrilateral leadership. The last time I considered someone an enemy was in Jr. High School (Don’t worry Helga, I forgive you…wherever you are). I keep a handful of close friends and the rest are neutral. It is very liberating to live life like this.
THE CHALLENGE: Think of yourself like the Google search engine. Type “search” into Google and what is the first result? Yahoo Search! Crazy right? I can type “Bing” in a Google search bar and with the click of a mouse, mosey on over to Google’s competition.
I can type in “Google conspiracy”, “Google lies” and even go way out on a limb with “Google is the devil.” Guess what? There are results for all of these. Why would a company allow the risk of slandering it’s own reputation?
Google doesn’t care and neither should you, I know I don’t! For as much as we rely on Google, we sure haven’t learned much from it. She is the perfect example of holding both friends and enemies close by.
“When you don’t care about your reputation you tend to have a good one.”
– Nassim Taleb