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.

How to Break Bread

A bird landed in my backyard and started to peck at a stale chunk of bread. Can’t blame him – he was hungry. Then, out of nowhere another bird swooped in and snatched the morsel from its beak and flew away.

bird

I often hear the term “break bread” as it refers to social interaction. “Hey, let’s go break some bread.” In other words, it’s time for us to hang out. Hanging out with people takes precious time – herein lies the lesson.

Spending time with friends is great. But how often do we get “spammed“? How many social interactions do you engage in that are a mile wide, yet paper thin?  How often do you let others take you hostage with shallow conversations?

In an attempt to leave work on time today I got stopped by several individuals, one after the other, in sequence. I lost almost an hour of my day. Nothing that was said was truly relevant. Nothing was urgent and all of it could have waited for tomorrow. I allowed them to steal my bread and fly away.

THE CHALLENGE: When someone spams you – when they approach you like a pop-up ad – remember, you have the option to hit the “skip advertisement” button. Guard your bread!

Photo by Tom Lee

What’s Your Batting Average?

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.)

curve

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!

 

Photo by Josh May

A Question For the Ladies, a Tip For the Gents.

My son was enjoying an animated film this afternoon. “Hey, Dad, watch this part – these two characters GET in love.”

BrockSky

I knew what he meant and I gently corrected him. I appreciate how some words get twisted coming out of the mouth of my (now) six-year-old. It makes me smile and sometimes teaches a lesson.

Falling in love just happens. A void of emptiness gets filled with a magical chemistry. If you’ve felt it, you know what I mean. All of a sudden that special someone occupies your every thought and motivates your every action. You can’t sleep at night and you look forward to the next opportunity to chat or be together.

Then, over time, love matures. It evolves into something “different.” If you have a long time companion, you’ll know what I mean. If you are not careful, boredom and complacency may set it. My love grows deeper as the years pass by, but the “magic” feeling takes some work.

“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.” ~Bruce Lee

Let’s call this process “GET in love.”  Falling in love is mostly passive, “getting” in love is active. This is where the work comes in. This is where you ask your lover for a hint at how you can best make their heart skip a beat. Maybe you already know the answer. Are you doing it?  How often?

To the great husbands and fathers out there, I salute you – keep it up!  Truth is, some of you gentlemen might not want to ask for a hint because you’ll get smacked in the face with Waldo. Let me save you some trouble, or at least offer a few considerations born out of observation (and sadly, it doesn’t take a whole lot).

(1) If your heart and eyes are elsewhere, reign them back in. This includes flirtatious behavior with so-called “friends.” As a matter of fact, that friend might be cancerous to your marriage.  If you’d rather spend more time with someone else than your spouse, that’s a problem.

(2) Are you a deadbeat dad? Do you read to your kids? Do you have one-on-one time with them – daddy daughter dates? Do you help with the homework? Do you teach them hard work? Manners? Cleanliness? Or, is your video game more important? Maybe you’re more in love with watching sports or nurturing a bromance.

(3) Do you help around the house? Do you take out the trash? Help with the dishes or laundry? Do you wash the car? Do you offer to pump the gas? Do you hold the door open? Do you go out on dates or is romance dead? Would you rather pay for the date or the meal?

QUESTION: Ladies, what would you add to this list?  Give the men out there a hint…what can we do better?  Leave a comment and pass it along.

Have You Found Waldo Yet?

In a recent post, I wrote about how quick we are to give up on riddles.  You can check it out here.  Let’s take another look at this, maybe from a different angle.

Think of someone who has what you want.  It can be a talent, skill, wealth, knowledge, travel, charisma etc.  Let’s presume you approach this person and ask them for their entire blueprint to success by saying, “Hey – I want what you have and I’m here for the taking.  I want it all!”  What type of response would you get?  You might get a handshake, or you might get a smack in the face.  What you WON’T get is 100% of the knowledge (at least not right away).  In fact, it doesn’t matter how you approach them – there is no shortcut to experience.

Thankfully, most people are willing to share at least a little SOMETHING.  Which brings me to today’s point.  Find Waldo.

waldo

Just like riddles, Waldo can be a royal pain in the butt.  You have to scan the page deliberately.  No being lazy.  No shortcuts.  As a child what did you do?  What do most children do?

ANSWER: “Mom, Dad…I can’t find Waldo.  Can you give me a hint?”

For kids, this works for everything.  They understand you won’t tell them what Santa Clause is bringing (not without a fight anyway).  So, they just ask for a hint.

They know you won’t solve their homework problem, so they ask for a hint.

You won’t tell them the surprise movie you have in store, so they ask for a hint.

If they can’t “solve the riddle” with a big hint, they’ll ask for a smaller one.  If that information is too obscure, they’ll ask for another hint, and another, and another.


THE CHALLENGE:  Be a kid again.  Ask for a hint.  Don’t be annoying, but don’t give up on something that came so naturally to you as a youngster.  Maybe you’d like to remember someone’s name, do a little work for it, ask them for a hint.

Perhaps you want a raise, maybe you can ask something like, “I would like to put myself in a position to get a raise next quarter.  Can you give me a hint as to how I can achieve this?”

Maybe you’re mad at God or simply impatient, instead of asking for the crystal ball try asking for a hint.

Asking for hints is a great nonconfrontational approach to reach others and will give you great leverage when used properly.  Now go find YOUR Waldo!

Blenders Hurt…Bad!

Have you ever had a bad handshake?  How does it feel?  Nasty right?  Perhaps the giver extended a “limp fish,” maybe their hands were wet, or dirty.  You might suspect they just came from the bathroom and didn’t wash, or they just picked their nose.  Fortunately, not all handshakes are bad.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I got to shake their hand!“?  As if they met someone so acclaimed and celebrated you questioned your friend’s grip on reality (no pun intended).  Maybe you wondered if your buddy would ever wash their hands again. Or maybe they even boast about “front row seats” and “how close” they got to someone famous.

Google a list of the “10 most famous people” and you will amass a frightening medley of lineups.  Just picking a list of the 10 best athletes, musicians or actors is hard enough (Not that I have ever tried, or care to).  But who can’t think of someone they wouldn’t mind brushing shoulders with?  Whose hand would you shake?

What if we treated ourselves with the same adulation as the person you just thought of? What if we acted with so much integrity that we knew a simple handshake with ourselves made any ambition of ours a DONE DEAL?

blender

THE CHALLENGE:  Instead of sticking your hand in the blender every time you make a commitment to yourself.  Meditate upon the high degree of honor, integrity, and passion you will devote to your pledge.  Start appreciating the handshakes with yourself just as you would for that celebrity of choice.

Images by Julia Taylor and pixishared

If you like this article you may also enjoy
(1) Bunny’s Dilemma
(2) Painful Pervasive Poaching
(3) Don’t Drop Your Nuts
(4) The Oldest Trick in the Book
(5) Goal Punching

 

Take Ownership of Your Stewardship

Do you remember bunny’s dilemma? (You can read about it here)  That concept discusses the need to look both ways.  Yesterday, I built upon this concept with Three Lessons From Neil Armstrong adding the need to look up.  Today I want to talk about looking down.

In 2009 I was driving to work where my ship had been in drydock for a few months. I had the morning commute down to a science.  It was like clockwork and I was on autopilot.  I left the house at the same time every morning, drove the same route, and even parked on the same street.

One morning while turning right onto the final street where I normally park, I heard an unusual thump at the rear passenger window.  I thought it was a ball or a bird.  It didn’t feel like much. Turned out to be a motorcyclist, a Senior Chief in the U.S. Navy.  Even though I believed he was at fault – you can imagine how I felt as a young Sailor.

In 2011 we were stationed at the same command.  Little did I know that we would brush shoulders again.  As soon as he saw me he said, “Hey everyone, this is the guy that hit me on my motorcycle!”  We laughed and parted ways.  I didn’t see him again for almost a year.

When we did cross paths again, he taught me a simple lesson that has had a profound effect on me.  I was coming back from physical training and he was leaving for the day. We were walking different directions in a high traffic area.  I got the dreaded, “Hey SHIPMATE – come here!”  He pointed down to a piece of trash on the ground and asked, “You’re going to pick that up right?  I know you saw it!”

He was wrong.  I didn’t see it.  I wasn’t looking down and even if I had been, I wasn’t tuned in to keeping an eye out for trash.  I understood his point though and picked up the trash without question.  As we say in the Navy, “I carried on smartly.”

I will ever be grateful for his willingness to teach me.  He could have very easily ignored the trash as well as me, “the guy who’s car was in the way of his motorcycle.” Instead, he gave me a taste of REAL deckplate leadership.  The lesson stuck with me and to this day, I often pick up trash just because it’s in front of me.

THE CHALLENGE:

(1) Look down!  There is too much laziness and passivity when it comes to trash.  We tend to think it’s someone else’s job.  Maybe so, but try it out.  I’m not asking you to put on an orange vest and walk down the highway, but if you pass over some rubbish and there is a trash can nearby – toss it.  It’s an easy task that will make you feel good.  Take pride in your surroundings.  Take ownership of your stewardship.

(2) There are always difficult lessons that need to be taught.  These opportunities are never convenient.  You run the risk of offending or embarrassing others.  But give it a try. When that lesson finally does sink in with someone you will influence them forever and may add tremendous value to society.

 

Photo by Jes

Three Lessons From Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong earned the distinction of being the first man to walk on the moon. What can we learn from him?  Here are my three takeaways.

Armstrong joined the U.S. Navy in 1949 as an aviator and flew combat missions up until 1952. In the last two years of that service, he flew 78 combat missions over Korea. He transitioned to the U.S. Naval Reserve and remained there for eight years until resigning from his commission in 1960. During his time in the Navy, Armstrong logged a total of 2,600 hours in flight, including 1,100 in jet aircraft. He later became an astronaut and the rest is history.

(1)  Find passion in what you do. Would Neil Armstrong have landed on the moon if he did not find a passion for being airborne? Would he have had the confidence to go into unknown territory if he had not risked his life in 78 combat missions? He not only went into outer space but did so with the intent of walking on the moon. I wonder if the thought of “moon walking” ever occurred to him during his first combat flight over Korea. Try not to think about just “getting through the day” but how everything we do can lead to something much bigger than initially supposed.

(2) Contemplate boundaries. Armstrong’s accomplishments reveal so much about boundaries, both literal and perceived. The early colonists in 1775 (at the time of the Navy’s birth) were virtually landlocked.  To the west, they were smothered by thriving forests. To the east, they had the ocean (a mighty long swim before finding a substantial land mass). They may have viewed either direction as their “outer space”, an unknown distance of unexplored territory on one hand and uncharted fathoms of a deadly ocean on the other, not to mention any number of unsympathetic enemies found in both human and animal form. We ought to take inventory of our boundaries, again both literal and perceived. Strive to gain and maintain a firm grasp on the territory in which you may legally operate while keeping in the back of your mind the possibility of breaking out and doing the impossible. America’s early settlers weren’t thinking about exploring the far side of the moon any more than Niel Armstrong was thinking about the world wide web. What possibilities do we presently overlook?

(3) Take a trip for yourself. I personally will never travel to the moon, at least not in a physical sense.  That does not mean I can’t let my mind wander (preferably not at a red light).  For me, it is important to take creative mental expeditions. Refuse to let your mind grow stale. Feed your brain with daily “combat missions.”  Don’t just “veg out” in front of the TV and let others do the thinking for you, don’t be a couch potato.  Find ways to do some mental moonwalking such as book exploration, blogging, journaling, meditation, yoga or some type of art or music. Do whatever it is that sets your mind free and allow yourself time to think outside the box.  Yes, there are infinite prospects to your left and right – just be sure to “look up” from time to time in order to find those overlooked possibilities.

 

Photo by possan

Jolt Revolt

I wasn’t much of a handyman in my first house. Some things I had to learn the hard way, barely evading death or serious injury.  One such experience came when I decided to remove a patch of drywall in the bathroom.  I jammed a 6″ saw tooth blade into the wall and before I could even start hacking away, I found the precise spot where electrical wires were fitted to the stud.  A powerful jolt of electricity hollered at me as if to say, “YOU IDIOT!” Visible sparks flickered about in an odorous puff of smoke just inches from my face.  The circuit breaker tripped.  The room was left dark.  I was shaking like a leaf! “WOW, that was stupid!” I said to myself.

Many years have passed since that first terrible encounter with electrical current.  I now approach the subject with great reverence.  In fact, I’m a little too cautious and quickly hire an electrician regardless of expense (in my mind, that’s a small price to pay).

I’ve never seen anyone bypass the playground to take their kids to an electrical plant. Sure, we may ignore the speed limit, but never a high voltage sign.  Ironically, the high voltage isn’t the killer in our lives, it’s low voltage!  In other words…

“we dig our graves with our teeth.”

It’s not the first cigarette that kills you nor is it the last argument which causes divorce.  It’s the “pack a day” for 30 years or the premarital baggage and built up resentment over time that prevents the “happily ever afters.”  The kids who avoid the first cigarette as if it had a “high voltage” sign are the winners.  The same goes for the diet of cheesecake, Twinkies, Devil Dogs and Fudge Rounds; or the marriage based on deceit or wandering eyes (including other body parts).  Staying FAR away from the small discrepancies ensures peace and safety.

THE CHALLENGE:  I recommend using this idea in conjunction with “goal punching?” (You can read about it here.)

When you are faced with a small discrepancy, treat it like a massive one.  Take immediate mental action by putting a “high voltage” sign on it.  Stop telling yourself a little bit won’t hurt. Just because you don’t see visible sparks doesn’t mean you aren’t getting zapped.  A little bit does hurt.  Small leaks are capable of sinking big ships.

Photo by Ian Bailey-Mortimer