Thursday, March 15, 2018

This. Changes. Everything.

Just three inches and the world is completely different.

The entire look of your neighborhood.  Houses have a softer edge to them.  Streets and sidewalks are no longer brash grays and blacks, but a beautifully textured mix of white and charcoal.

Just three inches of snow changes your schedule.  You have to get up a little earlier to brush the powder from your car.  You have to allow a little more time for your commute.  You may have to make entirely new plans if school gets cancelled.

Three inches of snow changes your mood.  Snow seems to be one of those polarizing things in life.  People generally love it or hate it.  Regardless of the side of the coin on which you fall, it's very difficult to ignore it altogether.

So, what is it in your life that changes everything when you get just a little of it?   It may be relationships, special time with loved ones, prayer time with God, quiet time, etc.

The events in your life that change the way you see the world are not always obvious, but it's worth taking the time to figure them out.   Knowing your day-changing events will help you determine why your mood changes suddenly or why you're "in a bad mood" before your day even begins.  And more importantly, it will help you figure out how to get out of those ruts that we all get stuck in from time to time.

Think about it today.  Figure out what your day-changing events are.  And if you're in the northeast, enjoy the snow!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

20 ways to be an adult

  1. Put your phone down when you talk to people.
  2. Stop complaining. Kids complain. Adults problem solve.
  3. Stop talking about people behind their back, this isn't high school.
  4. Think before you speak and they'll be more likely to listen.
  5. Have civil conversations. Especially when you disagree.
  6. Care more about people than proving your point.
  7. Admit that you just might be on the wrong side of the issue.
  8. Plan your day before it starts.
  9. Be thankful for the small things.
  10. Get up early.
  11. Cut your fingernails. Biting them doesn't count.
  12. Read at least one book a year.
  13. Make it home for family dinner.
  14. Build something bigger than yourself.
  15. Do things that matter.
  16. Don't follow the crowd just so you can fit in.
  17. Take a walk by yourself with no phone.
  18. Also take a walk with a friend... and no phones.
  19. Become a better listener.
  20. Control what you can control.
Now if I could figure out how to do at least half of these on regular basis, I'd be doing okay. 😀

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

In support of the cynic

If you don't take a chance and fail once in awhile, who will they laugh at while watching from the sidelines?

If you don't become the best mom you can be by going against the status quo, who will they talk about in the school pick-up line?

If you don't raise your kids on Biblical principles instead of based on social norms, who will they make fun of on Saturday night while you're home laying out your church clothes?

If you don't speak up when you see injustice, how will they know which side to flip-flop to?

And if you don't speak the truth of who you are, how in the world will they know what to hate you for?

Cynics are everywhere. You might even be one yourself. But the cynics need support too. Here are some ways we can help:
  • Stay true to your beliefs even when people disagree with you.
  • Tell the truth, especially when it's unattractive.
  • Raise your kids against the status quo.
  • Keep your mouth shut and listen.
  • Try something new where you just might fail.
  • Put your hand up when volunteers are needed.
  • Try to change broken systems that have been around for way too long.
  • Don't argue your point, but instead be an example.
  • Don't fight back. Just do the thing that needs doing.
  • Stand up for those without the voice to do it themselves.
  • Be a better you tomorrow than you are today, even if it's unpopular.
You can never silence the critics. Actually, you shouldn't even try. Do that thing because it's the thing, not because someone told you that you couldn't.

If the cynics are weighing heavy on you, remember this: Cynics don't pick on the meaningless, the irrelevant or the insignificant. They only spend their time on the changemakers. So instead of listening to them, thank them for their input and keep changing the world.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The noisy killer of dreams

I ordered a pizza last night. Domino's has this amazing app that tells you when your pizza enters the oven, when it comes out, when the driver leaves the store, etc.

Ordering a pizza used to work like this:

  1. Call the pizza place and order a pizza.
  2. Give them your address and directions if needed.
  3. Wait for the doorbell to ring.
  4. Pay for the pizza.
Technology has made things easier. Now it looks like this:
  1. Order the pizza with the app that already has your address information saved.
  2. Check the app alert to see that your order was received.
  3. Check the app alert to see that the pizza was placed in the oven.
  4. Check the app alert to see that the pizza was removed from the oven.
  5. Check the app alert to see that the pizza passed the quality assurance testing (yes, this is a real alert)
  6. Check the app alert to see that the driver has left the store with your pizza.
  7. Check the window repeatedly since you know the driver must be close.
  8. Sign the receipt for your pizza.
What was supposed to be simpler has actually created more interruptions. And, because we've come to expect interruptions in mass we haven't even noticed. It's not just pizza.

Email was created as a way to communicate that did not require you to be present and ultra-responsive. Now many of us have email alerts on our phone.

Texting falls into the same category.

Everyone is alerting us to everything. Do we really need to know that our favorite store has a special going on for the next 24 hours? We feel like we do because marketers have convinced us that we'll miss out and be left behind if not.

But let's talk truth for a minute.

Everyone says they're busy. Everyone says they want more time. If we truly want more time there's a REALLY easy way to do it. Turn ALL notifications off.

Simply put your phone in "Do Not Disturb" mode for hours at a time. Don't allow any desktop notifications on your computer (you can Google it if you need help). You can check email, text messages and anything else you feel is important on YOUR time... not "theirs".

Interruptions are killing our productivity. And we can't keep complaining that we don't have enough time if we are volunteering our attention to every single friend, family member, and marketer that wants it.

Take control of your time and intentionally protect your attention. I mean, it is yours after all.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

1/100th and 100x

Everyone plans for expected results, but what about the unexpected?

If you're trying for 300 signups, what happens when you get 3? Or 3,3000?

We talk about planning for the unexpected, but we don't. We cross our fingers, close our eyes and complain when things don't work out.

Stop that.

Here's another idea on how to plan (and some examples to help):

  1. Figure out what you want to do (start a new business).
  2. Figure out what to measure you (number of products sold in the first 60 days)
  3. Define your goal number (maybe 300)
  4. Plan for what happens when you get 1/100 of your goal (what happens when you get 3 sales)
  5. Plan for what happens when you get 100 times your goal (what happens when you get 30,000 sales)
  6. Plan for what happens when you hit your goal
With this approach, you'll be ready when things go horribly wrong or horribly well. Most people plan for hitting their goal ("success") and missing their goal ("failure"). But few people plan for extreme success. On the surface, you can imagine the problems of not planning for over achieving. But that's not the real problem.

The real problem is that if you don't think about extreme success it doesn't even seem like a possibility. The traditional approach frames the goal as the upper limit of your potential. But it's not. Your upper limit is where you believe it is.

Aim higher. You never know where you might land! 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Have you ever cheated in math class?

Most of us are aware that we've become too busy. A byproduct of busyness is not taking care of ourselves.

And then it gets even worse.

We forget how to take care of ourselves. We think watching another movie or home renovation show will help us relax and rejuvenate. We forget that getting to the gym is really the thing. We think that going to bed earlier... or staying up later and getting "me" time is the best way to take care of ourselves. But maybe it's a nightly bath before bed with some soothing music.

Have you thought much about what you really need?

Is it a gym membership that you'll actually use? Is it a deep dive into a good book? Is it some uninterrupted prayer time? Is it to disconnect from your TV for 14 days? Is it to leave the house without your phone strapped to your hip? (Pro Tip: You can survive in a car while your phone is at home.)

Part of the reason we never find it is because we never look. We just watch what everyone else is doing and copy them.

"You binge watch Netflix? I should too!"

"You are tied to your phone 24/7. I should be too!"

"You stay up late and work 16 hours a day. I should too!"

Copying someone else's answer is for math class. This is your life. You have to figure it out. And it probably won't look like anyone else's when you do it right.

If you're able, take 5 minutes right now and disconnect from the world. Then brainstorm some ideas on what it really means to take care of yourself.

Step 2. Go do those things.

Have a great day!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

My opinion on opinions

Have you seen sunglasses that have the "Polarized" sticker on them?

First, I wish nerds and marketers would stop doing that because 95% of the world has no idea why polarized sunglasses are a thing. But I digress.

Now a brief lesson on sunglasses (stay with me - I promise there's a point).

Sun rays bounce in all different directions. The worst glares while we're driving typically come from the sun rays bouncing off of car windshields, trunks, hoods, etc. There's some weird sciencey thing that causes the rays that bounce off flat surfaces to all line up the same direction. Polarized sunglasses block out those rays, thus eliminating the majority of bright glares while you're driving. (Here's a deeper explanation for the nerds in the group.)

Brilliant, right?

Opinions are also like sun rays. They are bouncing all over the place. Some of them even come in "glares" from big groups pushing their ideals (#politics).

But the more dangerous ones come from people we interact with more regularly. From our friends. Our family. Our peers. Our classmates. Our colleagues. Our clients. Our bosses.

We need to work on filtering opinions just like our sunglasses filter sun rays. You get to choose what you let in and what you keep out. Here are some lists to help you out.

What to Let In:

  • Compliments
  • Opinions that contain new ideas
  • Opinions that contain different perspectives
  • Constructive criticism
  • Opinions of true authorities in a given space
  • Opinions that make the world a better place

What to Keep Out:
  • Opinions that are purely meant to be hurtful (you're ugly, you're fat, you're stupid... and the adult versions... that's a dumb idea, you'll never be good at ____, you've always been _____).
  • Opinions of smart people in areas that they know nothing about (e.g., actors giving opinions on the economy)
  • Opinions of people that love you giving their opinion on things they know nothing about (e.g., your mom's opinion of your career choice)
  • Compliments that mean well but are categorically false ("Honey, you're the best singer I've ever heard" definitely has its place with kids, but can be harmful once we're adults.)
  • Opinions that are just mean

Opinions are not like gifts. You are not obligated to accept them.

And don't feel obligated to give them either.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Opting for Obstacles

I've been running an obstacle course race for the last 4 years. I don't run the race for time or to break any records. I do it for fun. The obstacles are optional and the mud and muck are too (mostly).

I don't skip any obstacles. I do them all. And I love running through the mud even when it's optional. I opt for the difficulties. I choose to take the tougher path.

But life is not an obstacle course race. You shouldn't opt for the difficulties because everyone else is. You shouldn't choose the harder path because others are on that path.

We sometimes think life is about struggles. We think if we can just make it from one struggle to the next gracefully, then we are doing okay. But there's a better way. We could spend time looking for the easier... and probably less traveled path.

What are your obstacles? Where can you avoid the common obstacles and instead focus on the easier path?

Believe me, the obstacles will come without you looking for them. Opt out of the ones that don't make sense. That will leave you space and energy to opt into the other opportunities that are presented to you.

Monday, January 19, 2015

4 Easy Steps to Making Tough Decisions

Decisions. We run up against them daily and wrestle with them regularly. Why the wrestling match? And how do we know when we've won?

The decision is the hard part, but that's not really where we get stuck. We get stuck on thinking that we can figure out the result of the decision before the decision is made. That part is impossible.

When you have a tough decision to make, use these 4 easy steps so that you don't stay stuck for too long.

  1. Layout your options - all of them - on paper. We too often limit our decisions to "either-or" when there are many more possibilities. If we limit ourselves to only two options we often overlook the best decision.
  2. Play a little game of make believe. After you look at what your options really are, play a little game. Choose each one of the possible decisions and write down the best case scenario and the worst case scenario. Often times the best case isn't as good as we think and the worst case isn't as bad. If we just play the game in our head we can convince ourselves of whatever we want, but when we get it all down on paper it will become abundantly more clear.
  3. Realize that spending more time won't make the decision easier. We lie to ourselves in our heads when we believe that more time = a better decision. It's simply not true because of what I mentioned earlier. There is NO WAY to know how the scenario will actually play out no matter how long you take. Neither you nor I can predict the future. If you could, you wouldn't be here in the first place. It's time for the hard part.
  4. Make a decision. That decision may be to not change anything - to stay where you are. Every minute you spend consumed with a decision is using energy that you can't get back. We have thousands of decisions to make every day. There is some cool research that shows if you limit the number of small decisions you make that you could get better at making the difficult decisions, but that's a bigger mountain to climb. For today, choose something.
The steps are easy, but - much like dieting - the implementation is that hard part. Good luck!

What to do when it doesn't work

  1. Apologize
  2. Connect with your support group
  3. Breathe
  4. Evaluate the mistake
  5. Create a plan to overcome
  6. Learn your lesson, but let the failure go
  7. Try again.
  8. And again.

What NOT to do:
  1. Give up
  2. Let the failure define you
  3. Believe the naysayers
Everyone stumbles, miscalculates and falls short. You can never predict the successes and failures. But you can decide which list of above items you choose.

No one else gets to make that decision, just you.