Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Being thankful

This week is Thanksgiving and there is no doubt that many folks will take time to reflect and be thankful. That is a very good thing.


The truth is that the spirit of thankfulness is something we should have every day of our lives and there is no need to make it a holiday. At the same time, the coming together of family and friends plus a chance to eat three slices of pie in a day is something I do not plan to pass up.


Daily thankfulness and an attitude of gratitude are important for a happy life. Gratitude or “the state of being grateful” would seem like a simple thing, unfortunately, there are way too many people that just do not get it.


When we place ourselves in a grateful state the world seems less burdensome and the future is brighter. I believe that anyone can dig deep no matter their current situation and find a reason to be grateful.


Not only does this state feel good but there are many studies which show people who live with a spirit of gratitude experience healthier and happier lives. This is one of the “duh” type revelations yet for some reason I do seem to find a lot of angry people.


What if the person flipping you off on the drive home were to instead focus on gratefulness about having a car rather than to be walking? Just having a car will put you in the top 10% of the world population. That is a pretty cool thing.


I see little items of gratitude as bricks to build my house of happiness. That is why I keep a list of my thanks. Over the years this list has grown and when I have a down moment I pull this list up and reflect on the hundreds of blessings I have captured. How in the world can I possibly feel down when there is so much good?


Some examples right from my list
  • Hugs
  • My wife’s smile
  • Dirt between my toes
  • Cookies
  • Mondays
  • Hope
  • My dog


My gratitude list is long and as I look at the words in most cases I can go back to when I added them and for just a few seconds return to that grateful moment.

So here’s the deal. Be thankful this week, eat your pie and enjoy the holiday. After, start a list and consider every day to be Thanksgiving. Happy is easier than bitter and far more fun.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Riding and aging

That is me at the bottom right
Last night was the last Bike Lab group ride of the season. I made it to more group rides this year than any year in the past as part of my goals for 2017.

I had tremendous gains in my cycling fitness this year and more importantly, for me, I got out of my comfort zone to participate in group rides with people I know we're faster than me.


All at the ripe age of 50.


Through all these years starting more than 30 years ago, cycling has been something that has brought me fun and fitness. It all started back in college when I finally got fed up with being overweight and out of shape. It was a $75 mountain bike from Wal-Mart that first got me moving.


Since that time I have owned several bikes and have ridden thousands of miles. Along the way, I experienced adventure, learned about perseverance and continued to battle my weight. I can’t imagine what my life and fitness would have been like had I not strapped on a helmet for the first time and hit the road all those years ago.

I do not fear the years to come as now I also know many people in their 60s and 70s that are still riding strong and enjoying the sport. Many of them can outdo me on any ride and any race. The lesson of 2017 for me is that it is never too late to push forward with a goal. Time is no the enemy and barriers only exist in the mind.

Now I am already setting new goals for 2018 and know the some of the best times in my fitness live are still to come. Bring it on 60! I am going to be ready for you.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Quit focusing on your weaknesses

Let’s face it. 
We all have faults that make us at times less than the person we would like to be. 
Awareness of these issues for me has been a bit of an obsession which I know is a result of my personality type. I have taken assessments galore, sought feedback from those around me and spent considerable time in self-reflection.(a true INFP)  
Awareness of my gaps have been critical to my growth over the years and many times has served as motivation for education or behavioral changes. However, there is an important watch out that took me a few years to understand. 
Back in my early days of introspective I more often than not found myself focused completely on “fixing” all the things that in my mind I saw as negatives. When I was a trainer, I would take the one or two negative comments and obsess over the feedback totally ignoring the value of the many positives. 
When I became a manager, I took the DiSC assessment and scored very low in the directive quadrant which is somewhat unusual for a manager. Picture being at a leadership conference with folks divided by DiSC tendencies and finding yourself standing alone in the high I (influence) corner while across the room the Ds were packed full. 
Yep, that was me. 
“I have got to get more D!” is what I would find myself thinking. 
Back at work, I created an action plan to be more assertive and directive. This behavior was uncomfortable, unnatural and more importantly just plain did not work for me. Fortunately, at the time, I had a good manager that during a 1:1 pointed out that I was not very good at being the typical D leader and instead should focus on the skills that had already served me well. 
What I failed to consider when striving to improve is that my uniqueness serves a great strength and part of my success. Working to grow where I perceived myself as weak resulted in opportunity time lost when I should have instead been working to identify what made me strong.
Yes, it is important to be aware of your gaps and to grow in those areas but your greatest potential to excel comes from your strengths. This is referred to as the 70-25-5 principle. 
Focus on what you do best by spending 70 percent of your time on your strength areas, 25 percent of the time in areas to improve and the remaining 5 percent on your inherent weaknesses. 
Key is to use tools like StrengthsFinderDiSCMBTI, 360-degree surveys and other methods to identify these areas and then next determine a plan. If you obese over all that is “wrong” with you then you will miss out on the 70 percent that is right. That is your sweet spot. It is the area that will give you the best possible return of effort to take you to the next level of success. 
After identifying your plan put it into action with checkpoints along the way to ensure you are on track in all three of the 70-25-5 elements through continuous improvement reflections. These should involve not only surveys but also a neutral party such as your direct manager, a work peer or a coach that has an opportunity to observe you.
Focus on where you are best and soon you will find that you are not only excelling but can then use these same skills to bring out the best in those around you.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Voice

The voice--We have all heard it. It comes at us in those moments when we take a new step toward achievement or when we are thinking about taking a risk. For some people the voice is good and motivational. It tells you that you are worthy of success and that you can meet your goals.


For many others the voice is different and debilitating.


“Don’t bother with the diet. You have failed losing weight in the past and this time will be no different”


“Don’t go on that blind date. You suck at relationships and are destined to live alone”


“Don’t sign up for the run. You have never really exercised before and it is just not possible.”


“Don’t go back to school. Your previous educational experience was a struggle and you are not smart enough to succeed.”

"There is no point to getting out of debt. You will never be financially free"


Your inner voice can get so full of don’ts that eventually it shoves out all the dos leaving you in a pattern of regret.


Here’s the deal. The real truth is that you can succeed and you can finally move forward to follow the right voice. The mere fact that you hear it pulling you to joy should tell you there is a destiny inside just waiting to be released. If there were no hope there would be no voice.


We live in an age of ready at the moment inspiration. There is no need to unlock the secrets to success. Why? Because at every turn there are examples of people just like you that wanted to change and somehow found the trigger moment that propelled them to win.


You are no different


You have it all within you


There is no better time than right now at this moment to make the choice to make the change you want. Why wait? Why wonder? Set a small goal that you can accomplish not this year but this day. S

Something that would be a small and perhaps private accomplishment that just hours from now you can look back and say, “yes I did it”. If you can do that....you can do more.

Momentum is a wonderful thing and it will never start without your first step of courage.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Kick off the New Year with my favorite Podcasts

The New Year for many people brings a desire to set goals. The most popular of course is usually related to fitness. Other popular goals include reading more, learning more, being a better parent, getting out of debt and on and on.
Getting the right information to make all of these things happen can be difficult. For me, one of my best growth tools over the years has been listening to podcasts. A podcast is great for the convenience of listening while on the go and the vast variety of topics make it an ideal source for learning things that might normally be out of your wheelhouse.
I have many favorites and thought I would share mine in case you might be looking for some new outlets of curiosity in 2017.
The Art of Manliness: An eclectic podcast covering a variety of topics specifically targeted for men. Based on Tulsa, the host Brett McKay graduated from the University of Oklahoma so you know he is going to be great.
Ted Radio Hour: Just about everyone has heard of TedTalks. The Ted Radio Hour is a bit of a greatest hits type program that features a variety of talks and interviews of the speaker. A much deeper experience than just listening to a talk.
Snap Judgement: A favorite while on a walk, master story teller Glynn Washington and his amazingly talented team share stories that are engaging and in many ways eye opening.
Coaching for Leaders: I try to listen to this one often as the topics, guests and conversations have provided me many great best practices to improve my skills as a leader.
Stuff You Should Know: Ever wonder about the history of porta-potties? Why Easter Island’s Civilization Collapsed? What about how a Lighthouse works? Hosts Chuck Bryan and Josh Clark discuss random topics that are surprisingly interesting. The added benefit is that you will know a lot of useless trivia to annoy all your friends at your next party.
Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast: Craig Groeschel is the pastor of Life.Church which has lead the church world with innovation including being one of the first multi-site churches, offering the most downloaded free app in history, church online and more. In his podcast he shares the secrete sauce of leadership he has learned and is still learning along the way.
The Tim Ferris Show: I discovered this podcast very recently and have instantly become a huge fan. Tim Ferris is excellence obsessed and he uses his interviews to glean the best practices of high achievers from a wide variety of disciplines. I like this podcast so much that I got his new book as gift for my college age son for Christmas and I am working my way through all of his past shows.
ITunes makes podcast listening easy and if you are an Android user like me I suggest the Stitcher App as a good choice. 
Got a favorite podcast that you would add to my list? Leave a comment and share.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Hello 2017

The calendar has turned to a New Year and as usual for a lot of people I am spending time today being reflective of the year that was and the year that is to be. I started 2016 once again in the middle of the work storm of layoffs. In my 20+ year career with my employer I have survive an estimated 11 of these and they never get easier. Good came from this experience as it was the final factor to motivate me to fulfill a long time goal of getting the SRHM-SCP certification.

Basically this is a competency test for HR professionals and I jumped in to take the highest level of the exam. Fear of failing the test and excuses around the time needed to study had kept me from this goal for many years.

I will never forget those moments in the car right before going into the testing center as I sat in nervous anticipation. A couple of hours later my hands shook as I waited at the computer for my results.  

Yes I passed and as I stared at the screen it was hard not to shout out in joy even as I wiped a tear from my cheek.

So what was the big deal? Would I get a promotion as a result of this? No. Would I get a pay raise? No. Would there be a big celebration and recognition from peers or my company? No again. The big deal for me was simply meeting a challenge that required hours and hours of work in advance that may or may not have resulted in success. I was energized by the process.

Now I have a certificate to hang on the wall. No one seeing it will ever grasp the years of experience and the hours of study it represents.  

I have met many goals in the past that at the start seemed questionable. Marathons, triathlons, duathlons, Master’s degree, debt freedom, surviving stage 4 cancer and the list goes on. The end result has more often not been a celebration but instead a big question of “what next?”

I will have to be honest. There is a big part of me that wishes I could just be satisfied with the now result. Instead within moments a sense of let down and dissatisfaction steps in boarding on depression really. Many prayers have be dedicated to this aspect of my personality.  

Today thinking of the year that is yet to be I am left wondering about the next big next for me. My list is long and detailed with at least one or two goals that once again seem questionable in my ability to make them happen. The good news is that thanks to my obsessive goal setting I know my track record indicates that with hard work and focus I will succeed. The bad news is that I know my track record also indicates that the result will only bring temporary satisfaction.
A goal for 2017 is to ride a total of 3,500 miles or more

Nonetheless I will press on. God wired me this way and my curse is also my blessing to be embraced.
What about you? Do you know your next big next? Very few people seem to have goals and even fewer seem to have a plan to make them happen. Me, I can’t a imagine life without a forward reach. When I am goalless I am lost.


Do not let fear of not making it or worse fear of what happens next keep you from taking that first step. 

Your goal does not have to be climbing a mountain or winning that promotion. Instead it can be small like that phone call to a long lost friend you have been putting off or that choice for a salad lunch today. Don’t start off going to win the war. Start with a small victory or a spectacular failure. Just the fact that you tried will mean that you have pressed on. You unlike most people decided to try. 

I hope that 2017 will be your best year yet. Find your next big next and go for it. 


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My twenty year work anniversary

Twenty years....

Launch day of the Sprint network
It is hard to wrap my head around that number thinking how long I have been with my employer as of today. I joined just five years of working after graduating college to be part of something that at that time was totally new.

Prior to 1996 by law there were only two wireless carriers in each town. That helped things remain stable as this newfangled technology was growing and at the same time limited competition. The government decided more players in the marketplace would reduce prices and increase innovation. Of course the billions of dollars that were to be made in the spectrum auctions were not a bad thing either for Uncle Sam.

I was working for one of the two at the time and thought it would be exciting to be part of a ground up new start opportunity.  

During these last many years I have been part of a lot of changes. I stepped into this company as a newlywed and soon had a house, a son and a growing set of responsibilities and challenges that come with maturing.  

In my work life, I saw a growth of technology and an evolution of my skills thanks to being part of a dynamic industry. I encountered opportunities to explore my abilities and found a path that led me in career areas I would not have imagined early on.

I also experienced the full corporate lifecycle with explosive growth, maturity, decline and now (hopefully) growth again. My job titles and roles have changed many times as the organization changed. Co-workers have come and gone. CEOs have come and gone. In the last fifteen years there has been turmoil and changes with layoffs occurring on average once a year or more.

As a manager I have hired people, fired people, laid people off, celebrated promotions, celebrated life events and consoled life tragedies of peers, managers and subordinates.
In a work world where now the average worker changes employers every 4.6 years according to the U.S. Department of Labor I am an anomaly as are the many others I know that are long time employees here. 

Through it all I have remained singular in my corporate life for reasons I am not sure I even understand.

So how does one stay at one employer for so long, through so much change and still stay engaged, challenged and growing?

Know your purpose
My purpose, mission statement or whatever you may want to call it has evolved over the years as my interests and roles have changed. What has remained the same however is that I have consistently taken time to define why I work and then have used my why as a magnet to pull me forward in my actions and in my growth.

The tumultuous life that is the ever changing world of the wireless industry has resulted over time in a need to constantly adjust my brand as organization shifts. Having a true north by knowing my why has provided focus even when all else around me is seemly in chaos.

Grow your skills through opportunity
My undergraduate degree is in Government from a small regional state college. Not exactly the credentials that will land you that high level corporate position right out of the gate. Fortunately work has provided many growth opportunities through in the trenches experience and formal learning programs. Even better, once I locked into my career path I was able to take advantage of the tuition reimbursement program to go on to a master’s degree in my field of work and later a senior level certification. All debt free and reimbursed by my employer.

Forget luck
“I don’t believe in luck, I believe in preparation” –Bobby Knight
Having faced many staff reductions over the years I would like to say that each time I was chosen to continue it was due to my skills and my performance outcomes. While I have confidence in those I have at the same time stayed prepared by ensuring I am always striving forward, learning and keeping an eye on the external market for new ideas as well as the skills that others see as valuable.

Just as importantly, I have worked to stay forward thinking and positive through good relationships with those in the organization that are influencers and performers. I believe you learn best from those that are excelling in what they do.

Most importantly I have continued to believe in the future. I have steadfastly held that no matter what change may come my way I will be able to handle it and the outcome will result ultimately in a positive impact.

We get back from the world and our careers what we put into it.

No longer after twenty years is there a reward of gold watches, celebrations, pension and retirement. Instead the work continues so therefore I will quietly go about my day and press on while giving my best to the future that has yet to be revealed.   


Really, I would have it no other way.