Friday, August 31, 2012

Happiness is a Choice

Everyone has problems, challenges and disappointments (PCD).  How we deal with them is a choice that permeates every facet of our lives.  If we all chose to focus primarily on PCD we would be perpetually unhappy, certainly pessimistic and eventually a relationship-wounder/killer. 

I'm not naive.  I have definitely deeply mourned untimely deaths, dealt with unfavorable diagnoses and overcome many other obstacles.  Nonetheless, I deeply believe that we can create our own happiness.  Regardless of our PCD, we can focus some of our thoughts on the people for whom we are grateful, the things that we enjoy, and the myriad freedoms and blessings that we, as Americans, often take for granted.

Happiness is the healthiest and best choice!  Depending upon our PCDs we may begin with moments of happiness, which can be extended to hours, days and years.

We must deal with our PCDs, but focusing on appreciation for all that is right in our lives, acknowledging the positive meaning and impact of others who are significant in our lives, and rejecting non-situational unhappiness allows us to snuff out an ongoing state of unhappiness. 

With practice, happiness will prevail!

Choose Happiness
Acknowledge PCD
Choose Happiness

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Do You Mean by Can't?

When we say we can't do something it can mean:
  • we have a conflict
  • we don't want to
  • we don't know how
  • we are not physically able
  • we don't have the qualifications
  • we are not geographically near the opportunity
  • we don't have permission
  • we don't have time
  • we don't have resources
  • we've already done it and it's a one-time opportunity
When it's something we'd like to pursue if the reasons above could be overcome, it's helpful to think in terms of I haven't rather than I can't. 

If I say that I haven't yet done something, it leaves the door open for barriers to achievement to be removed. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Flight Departs at 7:32

The airlines don't accept any excuses for a passenger arriving late for a flight.  They have a posted schedule and we all know that if we want to get to our destination on time, we must board before the doors close.  The rest of life doesn't seem to adhere to such punctuality.  I've ushered in church and admitted parishioners who arrived after the sermon ended.

What if we treated commitments with our family members, friends and colleagues with the same respect that we hold for airline reservations? 

The airlines don't allow us to be 5 minutes late, so we allow adequate time for weather, traffic and other contingencies. If we treated all important commitments with the same importance as we do flights, we'd reduce stress, increase credibility, improve productivity and reduce hurt feelings. 

Maybe I'll set my next committee meeting at 7:32 to stand out from the standard start times.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stress of Waiting

My newest great-nephew was born on Sunday.  Mom and baby are healthy and happy! Nine months to prepare for a birth is one thing.  Waiting for delivery once labor begins adds another dimension to the stress of waiting.  Extended family members and friends become acutely aware and interested in the pending miracle of birth.  Geographically distant relatives and friends call or wait impatiently for updates.  Once a healthy baby is welcomed into the world and the new mom is okay, the stress dissipates and the celebration begins.

Daily waiting for tardy family members, guests, attendees, employees or volunteers is also stressful, without a joyous event to celebrate upon arrival.  

Babies can't reduce the stress of waiting.  The rest of us can.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Run or Retreat?

This weekend, I was enjoying a nice run in Port Mansfield, and was excited to spot a nice buck along the route.  This was quite a different site than my normal Houston runs!  Once the deer determined that I was no threat, he quickly resumed his morning meal and I happily continued my adventure.

Soon, a smaller four-legged creature challenged my right to continue.   A feisty, territorial pointer began barking threateningly as soon as I came into sight.  Though I was on the other side of the street, he didn't think I belonged anywhere in his neighborhood.  And since it's a sparsely populated area, there wasn't anyone to ask for assistance.  Though I continued to retreat, walking backwards with my eyes on him, he was not content.  Finally, a passing car distracted him and I turned and ran back to the club. 

Everyone is fearful or insecure about something. How we address these discomforts matters.  Knowing when to run and when to retreat is part instinct and part experience.  The more experienced we are the better our instincts become. 

Sometimes running is the answer.  And other times we need to retreat. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Run to Something

I thoroughly enjoyed dinner this evening with a group of friends.  Each of us has been through major job changes during the past year.  Three of us are now very happy with our opportunities, another is consulting and looking for a job, and the other is quite discontent. It was easy for the rest of us to advise our dissatisfied friend not to simply run from her situation, but to wait and run to something truly exciting.

When things aren't rosy, escape often looks very attractive.  That's when we most need our well-meaning friends to remind us to consider the positives of the current job (in her case - 5 minutes from home, terrific company and great compensation) and to look beyond the frustrations of the immediate situation.  Merely running from a frustrating job, rather than running to something demonstrably better, will yield short-term satisfaction, at best. 

And when we find an opportunity that is a truly a great fit, we should run, run, run as fast as we can.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Measure It

We all know the importance of setting goals.  Goals without measurement have very little chance for success.  Without accountability it's easy to lose track of time or overestimate achievement.  My running has given me a concrete way to see how important it is to track each outing.  My year end goal is 365 miles.  I'm 56% of the way there 64% into the year.  Knowing what it will take to reach my goal keeps me motivated.  The numbers don't care if I'm tired or it's hot or raining.  They just provide a way for me to always know what it's going to take to succeed. 

When a goal is important, we need to measure it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summarize It

We're all busy and inundated with information from many sources.  I know I'm not the only one who gets countless attachments for meetings.  It's far easier for the sender to pass along information received rather than taking the time to highlight key points.  But, it's intimidating for the recipient to tackle 6 or more attachments.  Often, when the material looks like it's going to take a lot of time to process, the recipient sets it aside for later.  Unfortunately, later doesn't always come, and the shared information remains unread.

When I want action or buy-in, it's worked well for me to summarize the contents of documents in 1-2 pages to share with others, rather than hoping they find time to sort through myriad documents.  Though I offer to share the source documents, my recipients are generally grateful to simply hit the highlights.  This allows us to streamline prep time and devote meeting time to key issues.

For one project that I'm leading, I've scheduled weekly 30 minute meetings using this method.  As an incentive to committee members, once they've achieved 100% for their commitments, they can opt out of the weekly meetings.  With time as a precious commodity, 30 found minutes per week motivates quick action.

The time spent summarizing information, at the beginning, provides great time effectiveness and efficiency through the life of the project.

Just summarize it!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Joys of Reading

I've just finished another terrific novel by one of my favorite authors.  What fun it is to become so engrossed in a book that you don't want to put it down! The love of reading is a lifetime gift we can share with children of all ages.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lucky Penny Experiment Results

Many thanks to all who have spread good luck to others!  Though other lucky pennies may still be returned, it's exciting to know that 141 people in 16 states and 2 non-U.S. countries have shared good wishes for great luck in the Lucky Penny Experiment. 

One recipient included a wonderful affirmation for the project:
"May you never fail to express all of the wild and wondrous things you are.  Have only one rule: Be your wild, courageous, brilliant self every single day.  No matter what."

Only one lucky penny broke through the envelope, and landed who knows where, rather than arriving safely back to be redeployed.

And the good wishes will continue as I share the cancelled Toy Story stamps on the returned cards to enhance my friend's stamp collection.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Changing the Things We Can

Generally, only babies with a soiled diaper truly appreciate and readily accept change.  The rest of us need some time to adjust. 

It's often hard to accept the adjustment period others need to consider and embrace change once we have carefully developed a plan, after weighing alternatives.  Or when we want to introduce a program we've successfully used in another environment, but we're met with "that's not the way we do things here" - it's discouraging. 

Trying to introduce change has reinforced:
  • Patience is a (sometimes painfully acquired) virtue.
  • Just because it's clear to me, it may take require many "show and tell" opportunities for others to agree.
  • Small victories deserve celebration.
  • I can lead the way, but I can't make others do anything they don't choose or accept.  I can just keep leading.
  • Though I trust until shown that a party is not trustworthy, others distrust until trustworthiness is proven.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Out with the Old and In with the New

In many cases, more is better.  But, I was vividly reminded that eyesight is best when it's the way Goldilocks expected - just right. 

Though mine are extended wear contacts, I've finally resolved to remove them almost every night, after years of continuous wear.  One recent morning, I opened and inserted a new pair of contacts, but didn't pause to discard the old lenses from my case.  By that evening, rote memory took over and as I removed my lenses, I placed them in the case.  The following morning, I unknowingly inserted two left lenses.  My extremely blurred vision reminded me that I'd failed to discard the old lens when I inserted the new one. 

Life Lessons reinforced are:
  • Finish the job - when the old is no longer needed, deal with it appropriately, but don't let it obstruct the new by default
  • Determine the Goldilocks amount - more is not always better

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Embracing Today

We intellectually know that dwelling on the past won't change the outcome.  However, we all have those in our circle who live in the past.  And we know those who incessantly worry about the future.  It great to remember, important to plan and critical for well-being to seize what today offers.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Putting Our Best Hand and Foot Forward

We've always heard we should put our best foot forward.  Many things come in pairs. Perhaps we should add "hand"to that conventional wisdom of making a good impression.  Putting our best hand forward can have many positive connotations including:
  • friendly - wave
  • supportive - pat on the back
  • attentive to detail - well manicured
  • helpful - helping hand
  • confident - professional handshake
  • handy - tactically adept problem solver
  • trustworthy - seal the deal handshake
  • uniqueness - fingerprints

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Give Yourself a Break

Those who know me well, realize that I'm writing this as a much-needed self pep talk, as well as for anyone else who pushes too hard. 

When we give our best to every other effort, we owe it to ourselves to consciously schedule "me" time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Superficial, Not Meaningless

There are many superficial (shallow) initial conversations.  However, for those of us who believe that everything's connected we recognize that every conversation could lead to something significant.  Many (seemingly) superficial conversations are the necessary first steps toward building a meaningful relationship.

Success results from creating meaningful connections.  


Lucky Pennies are Well Traveled

With one more week to go in the Lucky Penny Experiment, two more pennies have returned.  And they've spread luck far and wide:
  • New York City
  • Singapore
  • Austin
  • Portsmouth, NH
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Dubai, UAE
  • Rochester, MN
  • Boston
  • Chesapeake, VA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Brenhan, TX
  • San Francisco
  • Mountain View, CA
  • Killeen, TX
  • Airville, TX
  • Biffer, FL
Thank you to all who are sharing summer fun and good luck wishes!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rate It

One of my favorite colleagues put things in great perspective this week when she shared a tip for reacting to actions, inactions or statements that cause us angst.  Regardless of how ridiculous we think the situation is, it can be helpful to mentally rate, from 1-10, how important it is.  This simple action can give much needed perspective in choosing the battles we choose to fight. 

Fewer battles = more harmony and much less stress.