At dinner with a friend last night, he told me about his dad saying this:

Experience is the worst teacher.  Unfortunately, you get the grade before you learn the lesson.

How true.

The older I get, the more I cherish the wisdom of elders.

The older I get, the more I wish young people and new folks to any organization would lean on their elders or seek the counsel of those in the organization for a while.

But we don’t do that.

We believe we have the answers.

We believe we know how best to do things.

We believe we understand the culture and the way to get things done the minute we join an organization.

So, experience is our worst teacher.

And we get graded before we learn the lessons.

And we fail.

I yearn for the days when we sat and listened to our elders and learned the lessons before getting the grades.

Those were the days.

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We’re receiving more messages than ever right now, from more sources than ever right now.

We’re also sending more messages than ever right now, in more ways than ever right now.

Our problem isn’t the communications; it’s the content.

How much of the stuff flowing through any of the communications paths we have is important?

Very little.

To get something done, we have to focus on that very small part of the flow that really is important.



Be honest with yourself and be honest with others, and tune out all that stuff that doesn’t get you to a purposeful objective.

Good luck!

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Do you customize everything that’s yours?

Your car?

Your office?

Your float plane dock (I don’t have one but saw this one today at Lake Hood in Anchorage)?

Many people go to extraordinary efforts to make anything that’s their’s something very special.

It then becomes a place to be proud of, a place to be comfortable in, and a place to find peace at.

Those customized places can become very important (and probably essential) in the times of greatest stress.

I’ve been known to poke fun at those who go to extremes (just look at the float plane dock).

But the older I get, the more I understand why those customized places are so important.

They provide uniqueness and a reflection of your character.

They provide anchors to remember special moments.

They provide comfortable environments for needed release.

All are essential to manage the deep stress that seems to accompany today.

So for all of you who customize many things that are yours, customize away.

And come back (or come out) smiling when you get to spend time in those funky looking places that truly reflect you.

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I have very vivid memories of specific times in my life where I either intentionally or was forced to reset, rethink what I was doing, reestablish my confidence, and accelerate on a new path with a new plan.  Each of those memories brings a smile, because each reset led to something new, to something fun, to revival of sorts.

How often have you reset?

How often should we reset?

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People, Places and Things

I spent about 70 hours working this week, and now I’m going back and figuring out the breakdown of that time into people, places and things.

Here’s the definitions I’m using:

  • People – time spent working issues related to motivating, nurturing, supporting, disciplining, so basically leading people
  • Places – Time spent going somewhere to learn something new
  • Things – Time spent doing the business of the business; in other words, the things that have to be done to move stuff forward

With those definitions, here’s my breakdown:

  • People – 40%
  • Places – 10%
  • Things – 50%

These ratios change every week, sometimes with the “things” being dramatically higher as I hunker down and work on something for the organization.  At other times, “people” requires significantly more time, especially at times of great change or distress in the organization.

Great leaders know where they need to focus, and they always seem to have the required time needed to support the people issues.

You can always hire or deploy others to do places and things.

You can’t delegate the people responsibilities, even though many try.

Where do you spend your time?

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I brought donuts into the office this week, because for some reason, donuts create smiles.  But the smiles started long before they ever made it to the office, because it was an artistic and logistical masterpiece to pick out 54 donuts, with tender loving care to get some of every kind and package them in a way that they wouldn’t get smashed in transit to the office.

As I pondered and selected, a constant stream of others came into the store to pick out their one donut.  None of them paused and looked.  Every one of them walked up with passion and purpose to get what I can only surmise is the thing they get every single time they came into the store.  When each walked up, I quietly stepped away to let them have total access, which gave me time to compare what was packaged with what was left to make sure I maximized the diversity and thus guaranteed that everyone in the office would get at least something in the batch that would match their tastes and generate a smile.

When I got to the office, the access to the donuts came with one specific caveat – in order to get a donut, you had to introduce yourselves to someone who you didn’t know in the office.  When that note went out, many people rushed up to the kitchen to grab and go, hoping that they would go straight to step 2 without having to do that introductory step. 

What they didn’t know and quickly found out was I sent the note and sprinted to the door of the kitchen knowing the introverts would try to get their first.  The rules had to be followed, and the smile from getting to know someone new preceded the smile that came from salivary satisfaction.

As they always do, the attraction of the donuts and the desperate desire for the smile that comes from eating them forced all those ordinarily desk bound, monitor focused people to relate to others.

And they did.

And all was well.

For about 20 minutes or so.

And then everyone returned to their non-engaged, work consumed, desk bound routines.

It may be time for a beer cart type of mobile donut station that meanders around the office offering taste filled smiles with the only payment required of saying hello to someone else.

Then we could yell, “FORE” and toss the donuts around the office!

That would be cool!

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What would you do differently if you were told that today is a day of discovery and you should seek out those fascinating things about life that you don’t yet know?

So here it is!

Today is a day of discovery!

Seek out.

Be intrigued.

Find answers.

Hover over things.


Enlighten yourself and others.


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I turned 50 this past birthday.

And all kinds of things started changing in this old body.

One of the most important things is shortly after liquid goes in that liquid must go out.

So today I decided to focus on drinking a lot more water…for the good of this aging body.

And I drank.

Bottle after bottle.

And after 6 hours of 1 bottle an hour, I’ve come to this mathematical conclusion about my bodily functions:

B + 1 = P

where B = number of bottles

and P = number of trips to the men’s room

I had 2 trips by the time the first bottle was finished, and then stayed steady at 1 per bottle after that.

Now if that isn’t already too much information for you, I’d like to add this for your enlightenment too.

I try and do a 4 mile walk every day while I’m on the road (and I am right now). 

I figured this out while I was walking this evening:

D – 4 = PP

Bet that one has you stumped.

D = number of decades I’ve been alive

PP = number of port-a-potties on the walking route

So I’ve been alive 5 decades now, which means I need 1 port-a-potty near the midway point to accommodate the what-goes-in-must-come-out flow of my rapidly aging body right now.  I didn’t need one till now and for some reason I now need one just about every walk.

When I turn 60, so 6 decades, I figure I’ll need a second port-a-potty on the route, and then another when I turn 70.

When I turn 80, I figure I’ll hire some folks to just pull the port-a-potty along beside me while I walk because I’ll spend as much time getting rid of the fluid as I spend putting it in!

Thankfully, during today’s walk I smiled when I came upon this about halfway through:

If I keep walking like I’m doing now, I’ll have to start mapping the facilities along each of my walking trails. 

Can’t be caught with no facilities and people walking by all the time!

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When is it time to do something different?

When is it time to do something different?

It’s actually very simple – when your focus follows your passion, and that passion is not on the work at hand

Going back to a previous post, if the nirvanic job is one where your incredible passion matches the emerging needs of the organization, then the counter to that is that if your passion can’t be geared to something meaningful at your current place of employment, it’s time to go elsewhere.

The serenity prayer says:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

The nirvana prayer says:

God match my passion to the needs of the organization, and if not, show me a clear path in following that passion to a hunger that can be fed.

There are perfect passions that don’t fit the needs of the organization.

There are also perfect needs without the passions needed to fill them.

Nirvana is certainly where the passion fits the needs.

And unfortunately that is rare.

Follow your passion.

My guess is your passion will guide you to that need!

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Recurring Theme

Unfortunately, we’re seeing time and time again the very same scenario playing out:

  • do something wrong
  • deny you did something wrong
  • adamantly deny you did something wrong
  • blame that something done wrong on someone or something else
  • admit it could have been you
  • come completely clean and say “I made a mistake” now let’s get back to work

Several things come to mind in all the recent examples of this:

  1. it’s not a mistake if it’s planned, perfected, and repeated
  2. no one will believe that you executed the denial or cover up strictly to protect anyone but yourself
  3. although smart people do indeed do dumb things and make mistakes, smart people in trusted positions that plan, perfect, and repeat the dumb things they do may be more dumb than smart and thus don’t deserve any trust
  4. saying, “sorry, I made a mistake” doesn’t cut it; saying, “sorry, I was stupid, could you ever forgive me” and then understand that it takes months to years to earn back any trust is more like it

We’re all flawed, and we all sin and fall short of the glory of God.

But we all know right from wrong.

When we’re young, we say “I’m sorry I lied”.  We get punished.  We earn back trust.

When we’re older, we say, “I made a mistake”.  We expect to skate.  We want immediate trust again.

Are we really wiser with age?

Or just more deceitful with lots more experience at making excuses?

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