Monday, March 19, 2018

Protecting the Secret Sauce

“If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it!”  How many times in our lifetime have we heard those words?  I am sure the owner of the horse crop supply store said that at the beginning of the 1900’s.  Of course, he did not believe that the up and coming “horseless carriage” was going to be a thing.  How about the movie producers that said “talkies will never catch on”?  How about Dick Rowe who famously said, “Guitar bands are on the way out, Mr. Epstein.”  Mr. Epstein, as in Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles, was hoping Decca Records would sign up the Beatles and the rejection.  Who would have thought the greatest toy store growing up and while my kids were little would one day shutter their doors?  If we do not change our perspective and remain with a singular point of view, nothing will break, so we will never fix (change) things.  However, once we step out of our narrow focus, we can begin to see that we could be left behind (do we still need fax machines?) as the rest of the world progresses forward.

If the above is true, then why do we waste precious time and effort to protect what we have instead of focusing on what is a better benefit for the greater good of our future?  I understand that we all work hard towards our achievements, have had wonderful experiences and fond (and sometimes not so fond) memories of past events.  These are the things that help to shape us, in some cases to define us and our outlook, and provide comfort to our existence.  It has been pointed out that success does not stay with us but is something that is fleeting, which means that if we are to focus and enjoy the journey - once we have reached the goal, instead of sitting on our laurels we should be heading out onto the next journey.

These thoughts are rattling around my brain as I am heading towards completion of a project that started over a year ago and the opportunity before me to become president of a volunteer organization where I am one of the younger board members.  For the project, as with most projects, the user community is comfortable with what they have in front of them.  They will make it clear, they are used to going to a specific spot to perform a specific task.  In the volunteer world, many of the people I work alongside can talk of the “golden era” which was before I came into view.  It is nice to reminisce, but that does nothing to help address the issues staring us in the face.  In both cases, people are working hard to sell their position based on the past.  It is similar to meeting an adult that talks about the glory days of their high school football accomplishments, living as though the calendar has not marched forward 25 years.  This is a trap that is easy to fall into.  We have no problem to draw a circle around ourselves, keeping ourselves inside the comfort zone, or in some cases, as we age we tend to take less risks for fear of losing what we have.

Once the world moves forward, it will never be in the same place again.  Our challenge, therefore, is to look towards tomorrow, to try to see where the future is going, and to participate in that potential future.  Otherwise, like the horse crop, the Polaroid camera, the telex machine, or the mimeograph, we too will be sent out to pasture.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Oh, No - The Time Has Come

As I was putting the touches on last week’s blog, I realized the posting date: March 5th.  It seems ironic that as I am writing about marking time, the date posting is significant in Debbie and my life.  As of this date, March 5th, my children are no longer children!  Both of my children have officially crossed the threshold into young adulthood.  Our baby is a baby no more!  A year ago, Bec did not embrace the age of 20, where, in her words, she became a somebody.  But turning 21, she could not be more excited!  Legally, there are different ages that come with different steps towards this status (i.e., driving age, voting age, etc.).  21 is just a special age for young adults.

The funny thing, my mom always said to my brothers and I that no matter how old we got, we would still be her babies.  We used to laugh – we were no longer babies.  Now as an adult, with two kids of my own, I can finally understand and appreciate her words.  My little girls (and yes, they still know how to act like little girls when they want something) are young adults venturing forth in the world, so they are no longer children.  They have ideas and thoughts for themselves and their potential futures, so they are no longer children.  They are no longer living full time in our house, so they are no longer children.  Do I sometimes wish that they were younger and we could have the same great fun together?  Of course!  However, I do love spending this time with them as they are today, because, in reality, the only time I can spend with them is now. 

I guess that my parents’ words to me were true; that you do not see yourself growing older, but you see how old you have become by watching your children grow up.  While celebrating my brother’s birthday, we looked, acted and behaved as we always have.  We are aging at the same rate, facing similar age related things.  When we are with our girls, we can clearly see the different phases in their lives.  With each phase means that we also have also moved onto a new phase.  As they grow and mature, we realize we also have grown (I cannot, as always, comment on my own maturity levels).

So, we can raise the virtual glass and toast Bec and the age of 21!  Here’s to a great year, a year of firsts and a year of new adventures and experiences.  As always, I look forward to the wonderful things that comes next…

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Marking of Time

“Your baby brother turned 50,” my cousin recently remarked and “how old I must feel”.  Nope, I do not feel old, nor do either of us act older.  In fact, both of my brothers and I, and a brother from another mother, had the opportunity to celebrate the ringing in of the second half of the century.  I do not remember what we did when my dad turned 50 (I would have been 22).  I do not think it included being away together, enjoying some music and “eating and drinking like kings” in 80-degree weather.  As far as I am concerned, my journey…our journey through life is hardly nearing the end cycle, as there is still more to see, do and experience.

One would think that the easy way, at this juncture in life, is to start to plan for winding down, do the things that are safe and comfortable, and “reaping the seeds that we have sown.”  F that sh*t, man!  While I am still able, capable and have the energy, I am still taking the steps that Lao Tzu stated in the famous quote, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  I still believe in trying new things, working towards getting out of the circles that define us, and erasing the “ruts” in our lives.  We recently finished watching the two seasons of “Better Late Than Never” with Henry Winkler (b. 1945), George Foreman (b. 1949), Terry Bradshaw (b. 1948) and William Shatner (b. 1931).  The cool thing is that these guys, at their age (along with the comparatively young Jeff Dye), are willing to have new adventures, to travel to places they have never been and to experience new (and sometimes unusual) things.  A “reality show” that truly is inspiring.

At this point in my life, I travel to and from the airport by car – it is what I have always done and is comfortable.  For my brother’s birthday celebration, it would mean going from work to Florida, then being back in the office Monday morning; a quick adventure.  I decided to do something different for me – for the first time, I traveled from work to the airport by train.  By getting out of my routine and making this happen, the payoff was going to see the greatest living banjo player (according to, behind the legendary Earl Scruggs), Bela Fleck, with his talented band the Flecktones.  This was followed by an evening of birthday celebrations.  The next day, we got to surprise my Dad (not an easy thing to do) to a wonderful dinner.  Another great night before the next day when we had a great lunch eating like Neanderthals at Joe’s Crab Shack before each of us starting to head home.

We are busy all the time, I get it.  But we need to sometimes step back and enjoy the adventures before us.  It is all about the journey, and in having multifaceted lives, the journeys can come from different directions.  We are never too old to step outside the circles that we draw around us.  So, for my brother, traveling along his journey of a thousand miles, his birthday was merely a mile marker along the path, a place to pause, a stop along the way.  One can look back and marvel at where they have come, or more importantly, look forward to the horizon and continue the epic journey that lays ahead, towards new experiences and adventures.

Monday, February 26, 2018

I’ll Get You my Pretties!

They are out there to get you!  Looking to derail your goals, your hopes and ambitions.  Like some gremlin hiding in the corner, they seem to work tirelessly at their task.  We have all come across people in our lives that say you cannot do something – whether it was a teacher, a friend or a family member.  And sometimes, it is ourselves that work to talk us out of doing something.  We get into our own heads, and we also let others get into our heads, like the wicked witch yelling, “I’ll get you my pretties!”

In the song “Good Old Days,” Macklemore sings (as an example of getting into one’s own head),
“Wish I made it to homecoming
Got up the courage to ask her
Wish I would've gotten out of my shell”

Our own voice in our head, at times seems to be constantly riffing about something or other.  We have the ability to talk ourselves out of most things.  Or, we sit there and analyze all potential aspects, begin to procrastinate, then get nothing accomplished (this happens sometimes when I am writing).  We experience “paralysis through analysis.”  It takes practice to step back from ourselves and clear our minds so that we can focus on what we need to.  When I was in network marketing, the way to pique people’s interest was through a phone call.  There were many times that instead of taking direct action, I sat there in front of the phone, hand on the receiver, and had a massive dialog going on in my head, then made no calls.  I was my own worst enemy!

Then we let other people get into our heads.  There can be an emotional component in this case, depending on who is chirping in our ears (or other communication method).  I know someone who seems to have lost their way, became bitter and began to weave a world of half-truths, fabrications and causes to point their finger at others instead of taking the time to evaluate what hand they played to have the situation unfold and the position they put themselves in.  When this person sends out an attack, it has the potential to get in my head, the emotions kick in and I want to respond in like kind.  Once I take a deep breath, or Debbie reminds me, I take that proverbial step back, realize the source and then move on.  My daughter Gab pointed out to me that during the daily morning news broadcast on Z100, they advise to take a deep breath every hour in order to regroup yourself.

When under an attack, it is all too easy to drop our guard and drop down to their level and do something that might be out of character.  This can undermine our integrity and cause us to lose focus.  This is why Darren Hardy, Jim Rohn, and the many other mentors, talk about removing the negative people and things from our lives.  It is hard enough to maintain focus and remember to stay on track without unnecessary distractions.

While the story of the “Wizard of Oz” has led to various analysis regarding the main characters, the basic story is simple.  Dorothy is removed from her home and all she wants to do is get back home.  She starts off knowing her WHY (to go home).  After talking (and listening), she learns the path, or the HOW, that she has to take (“Follow the Yellow Brick Road”) and the tasks needed, the WHAT.  The Wicked Witch is a constant negative distraction, but in the end, Dorothy remains true to herself, over comes / removes the negative factors, and achieves her goal.  A great example to follow.  Who or what are the wicked witches in your life?