Weekend Flow

A little something bubbles up sometimes and you have to just let it out.  A stream of words that sum up where you find yourself. This weekend it goes a little like this…

Relief, gratitude, humbled, respect, curious, quiet joy, old music (Queen), hot tea, thoughtful reflection, kids’ play tents, toast, a red ball, Spider-Man, laundry, Jose, crockpots, reconnects with good peeps, diaper changes, new chapters, fearless belief.

Also dirty dishes, envy, Remote bike race action via Twitter (#OMH yesterday, #KBK today), more room, left-overs, planning, fairy wings, luvies, morning sunshine, power windows, small victories, afternoon naps, couches & warm blankets, light rain,  Daniel Tiger,  raspberries, Anchor Steam, bird feeders, electric blue socks, Seth Godin, bocce ball, volunteerism, Castile soap, fleece pants, great neighbors.

Wrap it all up in wonder, call it GOOD.



More on Attitude & Making it Good

Attitude is something I think about ALL of the time, as a good one is fundamental to a happy life.  When days are difficult at work, at home, and anywhere in between, I frequently pause to reset the meter to positive if my attitude has strayed.

Last year I wrote a piece about the importance of teaching your kids (if you have them) how to have a good attitude. Lately I’ve been thinking it’s really incumbent on those of us that tend to see things as Half Full, to share that perspective with others, not just little people.

Not only should we share that perspective freely, but we should really encourage others to consider the positive, the other side of the coin, whenever we hear someone waxing negative.

Of course, you have to pick and choose your moments, since such input (or any, for that matter) is not always appropriate or welcome.  That said, I’ve found that this technique is met with favor and maybe even a little, tired smile more often than not.

In fact, injecting a little positive attitude periodically over time actually begets similar, better attitude on the part of those with whom you interact with. They might not say it at the time, nor even very often, but people appreciate having positive people around them.  Folks that can see the brighter side, share another perspective.

After all, no one likes to get dragged down.  And it’s pretty easy to lift people up, in fact, if only we make consistent, sustained efforts to do so.

Seeking Detente

Detente was a term that I learned studying international politics in school.  At the time, the Cold War was still alive and well between the United States and the Soviet Union [some of my Poli Sci cronies would say it’s creeping back that way now with Russia].

The term referred to the two nations’ governments making adjustment to their policies toward one another, reciprocated overtures intended to reduce direct tensions in the simmering conflict that had existed since 1945.  At the time the two countries were armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons and were in the midst of a second proxy war vying for influence and control against the other.

The predominate strategy that was employed by both sides to deter the other from military aggression was “Mutually Assured Destruction.”   At some point someone got the bright idea that this wasn’t an endlessly sustainable end-game, and thought it was a good idea to try to improve relations, rather than simply deter the other.

There’s a good underlying lesson tucked into that term:  If you’re in conflict with someone, it’s a good idea to ease off a little, when you’re ready to improve relations.

Whether it be between spouses, parents and children, partners, relatives, co-workers, classmates, friends, or countries: Taking a step back to pause, refresh, and restart is a good relationship strategy.

Conflict is part of life.  This is especially true with our human species, being so reliant on one another and being increasingly connected and living closer together. Conflict can be relationship-ending for sure, but more often than not, I would suggest it’s just part of working and living with other people.

Few of us are in a position in our profession or life that we don’t have to interact with others.  Thus, there is an inevitable opportunity for conflict to manifest.  This is a reality we all face.  It’s how we deal with the situation, how we respond, that makes all the difference in the outcome.

I can think of three recent conflicts I’ve had of late with different people in my own world.   Only when I took a step back to pause, let some time pass, and reset my approach did things get better.  The improved result manifested through a combination of emotion and perspective fermenting some, maturing to a place with more depth, meaning, and thus understanding.

Give it a try.  You might be surprised at how things turn out.

“Lean In” : A Life Skill Worth Learning


I make a living as a business guy. What does that mean? Basically I work day in and day out to get deals done.

I didn’t think I’d ever define myself that way, but after twenty plus years I’ve gotten used to it. In fact, I’ve carved out a pretty good role for myself handling the commercial side of things for the companies I’ve worked for.  I also am a problem solver.  That skill-set is part and parcel of any commercial person worth their salt, in my humble opinion.

One of the constants in business (as in life), is that there are inevitably, problems that arise, difficulties, and specific to sales, plenty of rejection.  Problem solvers are essential to any successful business.  Problem-solving skills transfer to the rest of your life, too.

I offer these tidbits to help you survive, and in fact THRIVE in your work, make things better for yourself and your colleagues, and even do some GOOD.  If you have kids (or even just have some kids in your life otherwise), teach your kids to the same.

Fundamentally, it’s a good idea to “lean-in” rather than procrastinate when faced with challenges, obstacles, disappointments. Avoiding only puts off the inevitable and can even cause additional stress and anxiety as you wring your hands over facing the difficulty.

The important realization is this: you can learn much from those things that don’t turn out the way we’d like, the way we hoped, the way we expected. Rather than avoid, ignore, or deny reality, face it with open eyes and an open mind.

Similarly, don’t shy away from things that are new, uncomfortable, have you uncertain, that seem scary. These sorts of situations are the very situations that will help you battle complacency, step beyond your safety zone, and have you continuing to learn and live deeply. Indeed, you’re most alive when you are coping, a bit anxious, stretching to go further.

The trick is in the attitude with which you confront, face the adversity. Personal growth, knowledge, insight comes from being in these very spaces — in the thick, suffering, lose, struggle, hardship — that’s where you show what you’re made of, that’s where you shine.

At it’s core, the proper attitude to have includes an acceptance that struggle is universal, suffering is universal. It’s simply part of the human condition. And as more than one wise person has said, by accepting, you transcend and are not longer chained down by the difficulty.

Profound experiences result from that effort, that attitude of acceptance, openness, and commitment to adjust and deal and grow.

Here are some specific takeaways:

1) Use the usual life benchmarks as guides, not measurements for success in life, work or personal. In this way you’ll be satisfied with where you are in the moment so you can get things done and make things better.

2) Strive for a resilient attitude in the face of adversity — this approach will help create positive perspective, impressions, outcomes.

3) Be ready to respond to new opportunities and difficulties alike. And have the courage to do so.

4) Evaluate your situation and make a plan. Write down the details: What’s the issue? Who are the players involved? What are the possible solutions? What are the action items needed to proceed?

5) Keep learning.

Bonus: Be Upbeat and Positive (it’s a choice!) – and that attitude spreads to those around you.

So next time you’re faced with adversity, pause for a moment, take a few deep breaths, allow any negative emotion to pass through you, and lean in — you, and everyone around you, will be better off.

Little Spark, Big Motivator

I realized yesterday after it was done that the post I’d written wasn’t as short as I thought it’d be.

Had to leave that first sentence in though, since it was Fred Wilson’s post that morning that spurred me in the first place. And giving AVC props just seemed like the right thing to do.

Today’s post should in fact be short and sweet.

It’s really just a shout-out of gratitude for two recent comments left by readers.

Relationship Malarkey (blog “anotherblogattheready.wordpress.com” ) left a nice note, as did my Better Half (writeoutofchaos.blogspot.com). The comments provided a little spark to spur me along, a little indication that things are resonating, a big motivator to stay on track.

Haven’t received much on the way of posted feedback on my blog, and it’s amazing how a little goes a long way in providing encouragement.

Pretty stoked that Viewers/Readership has increased, so big thanks for that too.

If you get the chance to make a nice comment today you should do it. You might be surprised at the effect it has.

Good Conversation is GOOD for You

Taking a page from one of my favorite bloggers, I’m going to keep this short and sweet today, going with the inspiration that’s shaped the day thus far.

Recently one of my oldest and dearest friends and I started connecting for quick, early morning chat sessions about once a week.  Typically I’m on the road to the office around 630am (California Time), and that works well for him (an hour later in Colorado).

It’s been a real treat to talk with him more frequently, and a blessing too, as it’s spurred some good conversation on varied and interesting topics.  Sometimes we touch on something more neutral that we both might have an opinion on, sometimes something in particular that one of us has going on (work-related, family stuff, etc.)

Today we had a bit of both.   It started with hamburger joints, nutrition, and the obesity epidemic in the US.  Near the end we talked a bit about the cross-over of education and the business world in the realm of leadership.  My buddy’s recently been engaged with the PEBC and is finding new avenues for his skills and experience, from 20 plus years in education (classroom and otherwise).

By five minutes after 7:00am, I was into the next activity of this fine Friday the 13th with a spark and energy I didn’t have prior.  All because I’d had a short chat with an old friend with whom I can always count on to stir up interesting, thought-provoking, sometimes humor-laden conversation that does me good.

I suggest you reach out to a friend, old or new, today.  Be  present in the conversation and let the chat go where it may.  Enjoy the very experience of the exchange.  It’ll do you good too.

Follow the Muse to Good Things

It happened quite innocently really.

A co-worker said to me this morning, “Have you heard of Pablo Casals?”  I hadn’t.

Apparently he is one of the greatest cellists of all time, who died some forty years ago.  My friend had heard a short piece on NPR interviewing another cellist, a much younger virtuoso named Amit Peled who now plays Casals’ cello, the very instrument the great master played, made around 1700.

So I looked up Pablo Casals and read about him.  I wanted to learn about Peled too, so I looked him up. Then I found this great introduction, not only to what  Peled’s about, but also about the cello, the great master Johann Sebastian Bach, and his Six Suites for Cello.

When I found the Six Suites on Youtube, the cellist playing was none other than Yo Yo Ma (another great cellist of our age).  And then that got me thinking about Ma’s diverse portfolio of work, all the genres he’s played in, including the Goat Rodeo Sessions. From J.S. Bach to the hybrid, funky sounds of the Goat Rodeo.

What a fun ride! And FASCINATING.

All this easy, joyous learning happened by way of a blistering journey throughout the morning, quick little breaks in between tasks to learn more.  In the midst of it all I realized this experience can happen any time.  What’s more, just the act of briefly pursuing something that’s sparked interest, something new and different, provides fresh energy to the day.

It also gives us something to be excited about for future, later that day, that evening, whatever.  If you choose (which I would suggest you do!), share the little muse with someone else, share a little of the excitement. It will lead to good things.

K.I.S.S. (Redux)


I learned this acronym not long after I started working in the manufacturing industry about ten years ago.  The context in which I heard it applied was during a meeting with a scientist, a couple of engineers and manufacturing manager talking about a design for a custom system we were building a proposal for.

K.I.S.S.:  “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

I would have thought this phrase might apply to the likes of someone like Sir Jonathan Ive, the re-known design chief at Apple, Inc.  Then again, though I’ve not heard him speak, Ive is likely a bit too witty to use this sort of catchy (if dated) quip.  “He’s known for explaining his design philosophy in trippy, zenlike soundbites”, according to Macworld, not for being trite.

The K.I.S.S. acronym actually (miraculously, some might say), stemmed from the United States Navy in 1960.  Or more specifically, Mr. Johnson, a Lockheed engineer designing a plane for the government.

According to Wikipedia, the reference originated thus:  “The [K.I.S.S.] principle is best exemplified by the story of Johnson handing a team of design engineers a handful of tools, with the challenge that the jet aircraft they were designing must be repairable by an average mechanic in the field under combat conditions with only these tools. Hence, the “stupid” refers to the relationship between the way things break and the sophistication available to repair them.”

I would offer that this approach is not just applicable in building equipment, but also a good way of looking at any challenge in life. It’s about taking the shortest, realistic path to coping and accepting the situation.

At its core, the idea of not over-thinking things is a good way of looking at life and the situations and circumstances that inevitably come up that we’re challenged by, etc.  I would suggest that in fact, your level of satisfaction with things and related happiness are directly linked to this concept.

At any given moment, when you’re considering the task at hand, or debriefing on an event (especially if you had any level of emotion invested in it) or thinking about something important you need to say to your co-worker, your kid, your partner, keep it simple.

Direct, thoughtful assessment and communication is essential. You should of course include as much detail as necessary, but no MORE than required. The main thing is, keep it simple.  Here’s a real-life, recent example.

I had a situation last week that I was directly involved in, a meeting, that I had high hopes for. I had a lot of emotion wrapped up in the outcome, nebular as that outcome was in my mind. There were a lot of players involved, and I could only partially effect how things ended up. When the meeting was over, I got the vague sense that people didn’t leave the gathering feeling the way I’d hoped.

But I’d done my best in preparation for the meeting and orchestrated the event as best I could, given my limited power to do so. A while after things finished up, I was thinking about how it’d gone with only modest satisfaction. It should have gone better, I thought.

Then I realized (and accepted) that I did the best I could and after all, I only had a partial role in a positive outcome.  “It is so; it cannot be otherwise” I recalled from a famous quotation I am fond of. And that was it. I was able to move on.

I kept it simple.  You might also say I let myself off the hook.  That’s fine. But I was able to move on and close the matter in my head.

When you consider any event your involved in or responsible for any conversation, the details of any particular effort you’ve made, be honest, be complete, but also be balanced in your critique.

Keep it simple.  Keep your assessment concise and to the point. Look at the bright side.  And be sure you consider the positives. Those positives, even if minor, should be allowed to carry the day.  It’s really quite simple.