Blog Post # 18 – A Little Help

When you won the big case, she cheered.

When you got the award, he clapped the loudest.

When your name was in the newspaper, she bought 4 copies and clipped out the article.

The people we live with love us for who we are, not for what we achieve.

But the successes are heralded and make those we love proud.

So the awards are great, the accolades sublime.

We cannot forget, however, that sometimes all our partner or the people that we live with need us to do is …. empty the dishwasher, take out the trash or clean up after the kids.

Being consistent with the little help that we give to those that we love goes a long way towards strengthening relationships and minimizing resentments.

Daily support > award ceremonies every day of the week.

I think I’ll go make the kids some pancakes.

Blog Post # 17 – Man on the Tracks

Several years ago, on a Friday afternoon around 4:55 p.m., a man parked his car in the parking lot next to my law office.

He got out of his car and took about twenty steps to the intersection of Gore Avenue and the train tracks.

The man headed east on the train tracks.

About 300 feet or so down the tracks, just past the school my children attended in the old train station, an Amtrak train sped around the bend.

You can imagine the rest.

The man wasn’t lost.  Or, maybe he was.

Turns out it was a suicide.

If I recall correctly, the man had a wife.  And children.

I think about the man on Friday afternoons when I hear the Amtrak train come barrelling down the tracks.

What was he thinking?

Why couldn’t he have asked for help?

Were things really that bad?

Depression is a very, very real thing.  Not something to ignore.  

I can’t really imagine what was going through the mind of the man on the tracks.  Money problems, marital issues or health concerns?

Clearly, very despondent and without hope.  Not believing in the possibility of change.

I get it.  I understand and I in no way judge the man on the tracks.

But I have to have hope.  I have to believe that no matter how dark things get there is always a part of us that stays good, that wants to live and soar and thrive.  It might be a very small part of us, but it is there all the same.

I am sorry and sad for you, man on the tracks.  I hope you found peace.

Blog Post # 16 – What We Say We Want

We say we want to be more physically fit.  

But we hit the snooze bar and skip the gym.

We say we want to eat more healthily.

But when the waitress comes, we order the french fries.

We say we worked hard and put in an 11 hour day.

But we really spent a good chunk of the day posting on Facebook and surfing the web.

We say we want to spend more time with our kids.

But when we are with them, we play around with our little electronic device.

We say we want to save more money and build an emergency fund.

But when we “have” to have something, out comes the plastic.

We say we want to read more and to keep expanding our mind.

But when House of Cards drops, we are all in.

This is us.

Too often living in the space between what we say we want and what we actually do.

 

Blog Post # 15 – Small Victories

Grand declarations of future changes rarely do me much good.

I often get excited about a new project, only to have the excitement wane and my interest in said project diminish significantly.

Interestingly, the declaration and excitement frequently stem from an overall frustration about the topic at hand.

Example – if I have been lazy and lounging around for an extended period of time, I will make some crazy declaration that I am going to run every day for a month.  I will run a few days, get a bit sore and tired and then forget about my prior declarations.

For me, the greatest changes come about when I make a minor tweak as opposed to wholesale (yet short lived) change.

Getting up a bit earlier to give myself time to focus.

Walking around the block at work in order to clear my head.

Tracking the spending I do each day instead of swearing off trying to craft the most elaborate budget ever.

Small victories tend to stack up and that is where I find my greatest successes.  

If I am not willing to make a small change today, I most likely won’t stick to the enormous change that I have professed to make.

Today, let me search for the small tweak, the little change, the minor improvement.

If I improve a little bit today and a little bit more tomorrow, change will materialize.

 

It may not come as quickly as I like, but it will be a lot more sustainable.  This I know to be true.

Blog Post # 14 – Paying Attention

Multi-tasking.

Is it real?  Is it attainable?  Is it the best way to get things done?

I’m beginning to think that the answer to these questions is no.

We live in a world now where many, many things vie for our attention.

Look here.  No, look over there.  Hey, what’s that thing that I was supposed to do last night?

We try to keep it up.  We try to get it all done – on time and under budget.

We open our 12th web browser so we don’t miss what’s happening on Facebook.

We check our email while talking on the phone with a client.

Dr. Ned Hallowell, a leading expert on paying attention, explains that the most precious resource that any of us has is attention.  Every day, we have to decide what to focus on.

Lately, I’ve been trying to pay attention to how I pay attention.  And I have come to believe that the truth is that I can only get one thing done at a time.

That I get more done when I do things one at a time.

Steady, slow (and focused) wins the race.

In a world clamoring for our eyeballs, our ears, our minds, this can be tough.

But I think this approach is what works best for me.  How about you?

Blog Post # 13 – If You Aren’t Nice

“None of this matters if you aren’t nice.”

A gentle reminder that we use from time to time at our house.

Working extra hours and making more money doesn’t matter if you aren’t nice.

Volunteering to coach the kids’ baseball team after a long day at work doesn’t really matter if you aren’t nice when you come home.

If you aren’t nice, it doesn’t really matter how big the house is, how special you try to make the birthday celebration or how many errands you run.

Grammatically, this reminder may be less than stellar.

But it gets the job done.

When we lose our temper, say an unkind word or sarcastically roll our eyes, it can instantly wipe out whatever good will we have built with the people that we love.

Sadly, that’s all that it takes sometimes to devalue – in an instant – the goodwill or love that we have built up in our partner, our kids or our co-workers.

Everybody loses their temper sometimes.  It is impossible to be nice 100% of the time.

But we can pause for a split second before saying or doing something that is not particularly nice.

That split second could make the difference between how the person that we are interacting with feels about us and about themselves.  

And if we are nice, we probably don’t have to work as hard, make as much money or have that big house.  The people that are important to us won’t care about that.  

They will just be happy that we were nice.  

And that’s what they will remember.

 

Blog Post # 12 – Act One

We only get one shot at this.

There is no second act.

One morning we will wake up for the last time.  We won’t know it, but it will be our last sunrise.  Our last breakfast.  The last time we see our lover’s face.

We won’t know, of course, that these things are happening for the last time.

What if the universe allowed us to know which day would be our last?  Would we want to know?

Would things be different?  Would we be more present?  Would we make different choices?  

Our wish is to have many, many more mornings.  More chances to live our life to the fullest.  And I certainly hope we each live very long lives.

But – in so many ways – all we have is today.

One sliver of action in a one act play that we call our life.  

If we were watching our life unfold on stage, would we be happy with what we see?

If the answer is no or probably not, here’s the thing – we can rewrite the script, edit the dialogue, bring different actors and actresses into our world and have the day that we want to have.

And by changing this day, we change the way our own little play ends.

Here’s to the happiest of endings to your one act play.

Blog Post # 11 – Maybe, Just Maybe

Maybe, just maybe

Maybe, it is the bad economy.

Maybe, they really are out to get you.

Maybe, your parents did a crappy job raising you.

Maybe, you’ve had some real heartaches, a true loss (or two).

Maybe, they knocked you down.

Maybe, you just muttered to yourself, “fuck this.”

We get it.

But maybe …

Just maybe, you were meant to win.

You stood back up, like a bloodied prizefighter.

Maybe, just maybe, you summoned a little more courage.

You sounded your barbaric yawp.

You worked harder, trained longer and out-hustled them all.

Maybe, just maybe, you looked back and realized that, in fact, you won.

Blog Post # 10 – Too Many Choices

In 2016, thanks largely to the power of the internet, we have unlimited sources of information and entertainment.

Want to learn how to build a fence?  Watch a YouTube video.

Looking for information on new car options?  There’s an app for that.

Trying to remember the words to a song that you haven’t heard since high school, just Google it.

Heck, Google has become its own verb.

As a society, we benefit greatly from all of the amazing things that we can learn with nothing more than a web browser and an internet connection.

The problem is this – so very little of the World Wide Web is curated.  In many ways, the electronic frontier is still the Wild Wild West.

When you have thousands of choices for where to rest your eyeballs, it can be so very overwhelming.

And things are always changing.

Steve Jobs was hailed as a genius for allowing us to buy one song at a time in the iTunes store.  And rightly so.

Now, Spotify gives us access to (almost) every song ever recorded – all we have to do is search for it.  When was the last time you actually “went to the trouble” of downloading a song in iTunes.

Don’t get me wrong – this is not some screed against modernity.

Rather, it is a gentle reminder that if we wanted to, we could spend hours and hours in mind-numbing submission to our electronic white screens.  Sort of like those folks living in the spaceship during the second half of Wall-E.  

Whereas folks living in the early 1900s had very little choices regarding how they spend their leisure time, we now have unlimited options for immediately streaming content – movies, music, books and television shows.  And for that I am actually very grateful.

What I struggle with is how to sort it all, how to not be overwhelmed by it and how to be a vanguard against wasting one of our most precious commodities – our time.

The people who figure out how to sort our options, organize them and give them to us in digestible pieces will be the ones to ride the next big wave to financial and professional success.

In the meantime, thank you for devoting a little sliver of your internet time by reading this blog.

Blog Post # 9 – Crowdsourcing Accountability

In 2013, I joined the wonderful START training program at Big River Running.  The program included a training schedule, group runs twice a week and a little education about running each week.  

50 new runners (48 women, a guy named Art and me) joined together with a stated goal of running our first 5K on January 1, 2014.  

When we started, I really did not know whether I would be able to actually run the 3.1 miles on New Years Day.  Heck, I doubted that I could run even one mile.

But because of the team and the camaraderie that we developed, I was able to run the entire race.  I have run many additional 5Ks since, but nothing will replace the feeling of accomplishment that the START Team gave me.

For me, the real value came from not wanting to let our leaders and the rest of the group down.

Similarly, there is a trend in the podcasting and online marketing businesses for the creators to post their monthly revenue reports.  Each month, people like Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas post their top-line revenue and their net profit – the good months and the bad ones.  These online venturers are accountable and transparent to the people that follow them.

There is tremendous value in transparency and openness when  working towards a goal.  Sharing the struggles and the victories helps to make the ride more enjoyable.  Increased accountability arises because people can call BS on you when they sense that you are straying off course.

This is the reason why I posted my stated goal of blogging once a day, every day for a year.  I wanted to put myself out there in order to really push myself.

So far, it’s working.  Thanks for holding me accountable.

I am kicking around a new transparent, athletic goal.  More to come.