Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

New Fuses

August 17, 2011

No sooner had I finished Long Fuse, BIG BANG than I came to realize which fuses I should be lighting. The business I want to launch in a year will need significant understanding and experience with a number of technologies that I am familiar with but not competent in, yet. When I stepped back and thought about a conversation with a young colleague from a business I have done work for in the past, I came to realize there was a lot I could do if I built solutions for the client who knows me best. And if I worked with this young colleague, we could do the job better.

This morning, or rather late last night, I came to realize that the concept I was thinking about could be approached in a much different way. Instead of building a solution for the one client, I could build a platform that would allow that client to collaborate with all his suppliers, and also with the people who work for him. When he is doing estimates, he could use their experience on the jobs they have done in the past to validate the estimates he is proposing to his clients. The crews know how much effort things are likely to take, and whether enough materials have been included. They don’t need to know about pricing, just effort estimates and material requirements.

So this morning, when I really woke up, I had another insight into the solution I am going to propose for this client. Instead of building a comprehensive business management tool, I’m just going to build the estimating system he has been asking for the last year or so. It will be a database running on a server so he can connect to it from wherever he is. People in the office will be able to look things up for him as needed. When he has estimates developed sufficiently, he’ll be able to share access to the database with his suppliers, so that they can put prices on the materials he has included in his quotes.

All of this provides a way for me to stretch and learn how to integrate all the pieces. I’ve done some of them in the past, but never on my own server, and never as a web-based application. And as it turns out, my wife and I are doing a number of big home improvement projects ourselves, so I can figure out how to build a good estimating tool by doing estimates for the jobs here at home. If the solution works for me, it might be ready to show other people. And if it works locally, it might be something other businesses would want to subscribe to. That would generate some cash flow and build my reputation with possible investors for the next company I want to start.

But I need to do this the right way, and actually launch it as a business, rather than the hobby-style of enterprise I’ve played around with since retirement. I need to build this business with the intent of selling it in a year or two, so I can move on to the next business with some specific experience behind me.

I love getting ideas just as I am falling asleep. They get better after I write them down, and often improve when I sleep on them, and write again in the morning.

When was the last time you got up to write something down because you couldn’t sleep? Did the ideas improve when you slept on them? What changed when you wrote about them in the morning?

Long Fuses

August 12, 2011

I’m most of the way through another great book about our resistance to change. Eric Haseltine has had a widely varied career, so his insights in Long Fuse, BIG BANG: Achieving Long-Term Success Through Daily Victories are very timely. In the back of my head, I think I knew I needed to be lighting what he describes as long fuses to create the big bangs I can envision. I just seem to get distracted by all the fuses I keep lighting, so many of them go out when I don’t pay regular attention to them.

Lately, this blog has been one of the fuses that has been lit, burned out, been lit again, and burned out again. I had a pretty good run, that included a vacation to three different states and required I write some of my posts on my iPhone. Since I’ve been back and have my entire technology arsenal available to me, the motivation has ebbed. What’s wrong with me? I’ve lost all the momentum I had built up.

Part of the reason I’ve neglected all the habits I worked so hard to establish is that my wife is in what passes for a quiet time in her year. The choir she directs is off for the summer, so she can stay at home an extra day. There have been projects we have been ignoring for months or years even, that we actually got started last week and finished this week. And we lit a couple of fuses on other projects that should be finished early this fall.

So it isn’t as if I was goofing off. I was just doing some things for others rather than doing things for myself. I have to admit I like the idea of finishing our kitchen, and getting solar panels up on our garage roof, but those aren’t as personal as the work I had been doing for myself. I was more focused on what I needed to do when she was still doing the choir. Now she is home more and I get more time to do things with her.

And that is what frustrates me a little. When she was only here half of the week and only had time to spend with me on her weekend, I could pretty much do whatever I wanted the rest of the time. I was able to watch a movie in the afternoon if I liked, or sit on the porch for hours reading a really good book. But lately, she wants me to do things we agreed we should do for the house or with each other. Is that fair?

Well, it just woke me up to what things will be like when I get my business going. The volunteer work I have been doing for the local fiddler’s fair is not very difficult but it does require I get out and talk to potential sponsors. I’ve never done anything like that before. It turns out I may actually be pretty good at it. But what I am not good at is doing my habit building regardless of whatever else is on my daily agenda. It turns out I’m lazier than I realized. I’m not as good an example for people as I thought.

Or maybe I am. I want things in my future to turn out differently. I think I could possibly coast along for the next thirty years and not do very much at all, other than the things I’ve been doing the past four years – since I retired. I’ve read a lot of books, written down a lot of ideas, talked about starting a business, written up a dozen or more business plans, done some consulting work for others, but not really finished very many things.

I’ve lit several hundred fuses and only tended to a half dozen of them. What was I thinking?

I guess I wasn’t thinking at all. I didn’t think of all those little projects I was starting as fuses that would contribute to a larger big bang sometime in the future. I knew they were all things that needed to get moving, but I didn’t see them as part of a bigger picture. Or rather, I didn’t see them that way until now.

Will this change the way I do things this weekend, or next week? Will any of my plans for big things make much progress if it is still summer? Will any of this matter in the end?

I think it will. That’s what one part of my tool does for me. Anything I define as a “habit in progress” has a list of all the days I planned to do something about it, with a number for how much time I actually spent doing it. A lot of things take less than a minute, but I keep track of them. Other things are more complicated, like writing these blog posts. And viewed as a group, they can be pretty daunting, because there will be over a hundred of them when I get back up to speed.

And that is the point. All those habits I’m trying to develop are just fuses for something bigger I want to do. The routines are the same idea, just not on a daily basis. I was in a zone of sorts before the vacations started and I left my laptop at home, but many of the habits stuck even when the tracking wasn’t there. There is hope for me.

Will there be any hope for others? Will my example of discipline and faltering give anyone else a reason to join me on this quest? Am I discovering my fundamental problem is that I am human, and that I have faults, and that I will fail more than I succeed?

You bet I will, and I bet you will, once I figure out how to explain all this to you and your friends. This is going to be so much fun. I can’t tell you how much fun it will be because it would scare you away. That’s why I need to go back and tend to some fuses that have gone out. If you are patient, I will have some of them lit in places where you can see them and maybe even light a few of your own. It will probably change while we are figuring it out, but isn’t that the point?

Ah, that makes me feel so much better. Now back to the morning routine.

See you all tomorrow. Let’s see if I can break my earlier streak of 60+ days in a row.

Doubts Vs Aliens

August 9, 2011

Over the weekend, I saw Cowboys vs Aliens and wondered if my glasses were fogging up. It was as if the lamp in the projector was going bad. Even the daylight scenes were somewhat dim. In the end, I enjoyed the movie, but wonder if it would have been better if the image had been clearer.

Are doubts the same kind of hinderance to our progress? Do we start second guessing ourselves when the usual suspects challenge our attempts to change? Is that why new ideas keep us addicted to the status quo? Is there any hope for our future as individuals when the news media is so happy to drasticize every negative thing that happens because we all love watching a train wreck, even when we are on the train?

Years ago, my wife and I went to a financial planner and she helped us get started on serious savings through my 401k at work. Then she retired and we got a new planner who wasn’t quite so focused. Then the second person retired as well, and we got a third person who actually wanted to talk with us more than once a year. When the market went down a while back, we had some losses but not as bad as the overall market. When the market started coming back, we were ahead of the game, thanks to dollar-cost-averaging.

Why can’t we connect continuous improvement in our personal lives to the big things we want to do with those lives? I have a “habit in progress” in my planning tool that says Work on business plan. Before I went on vacation back in June, I did something on my plan every day, even if it was just a few minutes. Since I got back, I haven’t done anything. Maybe I need a technique like dollar-cost-averaging in my method, but wait – that would be the discipline I am trying to develop.

So many things get in the way. Right now, it’s a volunteer project I signed up to do before I realized how much time and distance would be involved. The project is good practice for me, but it’s taking time away from what I should be doing, which is getting my business plan ready to take to the bank.

But sitting here writing another random blog post isn’t going to move any of my projects forward. Time to get out of this chair, go for a walk, and then go out and meet the world.

(Pause)

So why didn’t that inspire me? I wrote that last paragraph and nothing happened. Is it doubts about actually being successful with my volunteer project, or the aliens I haven’t seen yet. I made six calls yesterday, and more than half of the people I talked to were positive about buying an ad in our program. One even said she wished other groups would put together such a nice package when they asked her for money.

I should take that as a sign I’m headed in the right direction. I should accept the minor achievement of getting 500 words down in less than 20 minutes and move on with the other things I need to do today.

Wouldn’t you do that if the bulb in your projector needed replacing?

What Are You Hiding?

August 8, 2011

On the wall above my external monitor, taped to a picture I took of a bicyclist during a 24-hour record attempt, there is a small piece of paper that I printed after some research on the Internet. I found it because I had heard something in a movie, Akeelah and the Bee, that is frequently attributed (wrongly) to Nelson Mandela. The attribution doesn’t matter, because Malcolm Gladwell echoed the same thought this morning, as I was reading an archive article from 2002.

The original author, Marianne Williamson, wrote Dream of This, in which she said:

  • Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
    Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
    It is our Light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

    We ask ourselves – Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

    Actually, who are we not to be?

    You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people do not feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the Glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone.

    And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others.

What Malcolm quoted from a study by Carol Dweck was this:

  • Students who hold a fixed view of their intelligence care so much about looking smart that they act dumb, for what could be dumber than giving up a chance to learn something that is essential for your own success?

This quote was in What The Dog Saw on page 368, in an essay titled The Talent Myth. Much of it is about what a focus on talent did to derail Enron, but I saw a different point. The connection to Marianne Williamson was part of what he was getting at, how we frequently make ourselves look silly to lower the expectations people have of us. I’ve done this all my life, so maybe the title of this post should be “What Am I Hiding?”.

The thing is, having an opposable mind, and being uneasy about showing how smart I am end up being a horrible combination for someone who wants to create a new business. The part of me that might attract investors gets sabotaged by the part that is uncomfortable having to live up to his potential. I think that is why I frequently say things to strangers that come across badly: I have no filter for keeping my cute comments to myself.

But that isn’t the point of my post today – my point is to ask those of you who have been reading my posts if you are hiding behind something people think about you that is wrong. But even that isn’t quite it. I want to unleash the power of humankind by helping lots of people do their best, by giving them a way to liberate the self they hide from the rest of us.

Am I crazy to want to do this? Maybe, but so what? Maybe I need to act a little crazy to get visibility for my cause, not for myself but for the people who won’t listen unless I appear a little crazy. Should that be a question or a statement? Is writing this down as I think of it a good idea?

I see kids in the local middle school once a week, at an after school program for Lego Robotics. These are smart and sometimes fearless kids who could do just about anything, only some of them are already listening to what other people think. They have talents no one appreciates, but do what is asked because no one has asked them to do things that are impossible. By the time they get to high school, they will have accepted the view others have defined for them. They will have forgotten how to listen to themselves, because everyone told them to fit in.

Maybe I should ask my sister if she thought I fit in while I was in high school. I don’t think I did. I was consciously one fad behind everyone else. When penny loafers went out of style, that was when I wanted them. When everyone went to the next new thing, I picked up what they left behind. I did this by choice, because I knew I was different from them. But rather than set trends by leading, I thought I could blend in by appearing to be out of sync with everyone else.

The problem was that I was probably light years ahead of everyone even back then. I was probably seeing into the future but not knowing what to do about it. So I did poorly in high school, barely graduated, and went to a two-year technical school rather than a community college. It was the right place for me to go, and set up a nice career, but I doubt anyone would have expected a graduate from an unaccredited trade school to have the kind of success I have had. I did very well, but it took me over 40 years to realize what I was really capable of doing.

I don’t think other people need to take all the detours to find their passion. I think there are easier ways to reach our potential, but they all start with acknowledging that we have potential, accepting that we are “powerful beyond measure.”

The counter shows that I am already over 900 words, without too much conscious effort. How is that possible? I get inspiration from an article by a great author and spit out a thousand words in 40 minutes. This is too easy. There must be more to life than being able to write without thinking too much about it.

And of course there is. That is what the rest of the day will be about. That is why I am going to change the schedule and move “Write blog post” earlier in the day, because this is easy. The hard stuff will be a little easier if I’ve already done an hour of writing to clear out my head.

I know this won’t make sense to anyone, but I think we all have an allotment of mistakes that we are given when we are born. If we just go ahead and start making them, we can get through them and start doing the fun stuff that is also good. If we shy away from even trying something we are likely to fail at doing, we will be trapped behind a barrier others have erected to keep us from threatening them. Whenever someone says, “that’s impossible,” ask them if they think it is impossible for them or impossible for you. Maybe they just don’t want you to make them look bad. If you let them, don’t complain, because it was your decision to accept their opinion. But if you feel like challenging their opinion, and your own, I might have some ideas that could help you.

Start with The Talent Myth from July 22, 2002, on Malcom’s web site archive. You don’t work for Enron, or McKinsey. Go be yourself. I’m just starting to realize I can do the same.

Starting Up Again

August 7, 2011

No one has commented on the fact that I have taken more than a week off from my daily blogging. I can’t blame you. I was exhausted from vacation recovery and my wife and I did a bunch of projects around the house. And I got paid for a big job I did earlier this year, so I got distracted about what version of MacMini Server to buy. I’m not sure I am quite ready to get back onto the “habit building train”, but I have a few things to report about the books I’ve been reading. There were two of them.

The Opposable Mind by Roger Martin turned out to be one of the best books I’ve ever read. If I had been able to read it forty years ago, when I was just going into the USAF, my life might have turned out quite differently. But it was published in 2009, so I didn’t have the insights it has given me in the past few weeks. If you find yourself in a rut or headed for a detour in your life, I would suggest you buy a copy on Amazon and start reading it. Many of the other books I would suggest you read will make a lot more sense if you have started cultivating the opposable side of your brain. Six Thinking Hats and 7 Levels of Change make a lot more sense if you see them as variations on an “opposable mind”.

What The Dog Saw is a collection of essays by Malcolm Gladwell that originally appeared in the New Yorker. I started downloading archives of his stuff from his web site (www.gladwell.com) and have just refreshed my collection of PDFs. The book is a different experience than the downloads. Everything is together in something you can carry around with you, and you can write on the pages if you like, or put those cute little “stick-it note” flags that help you find passages you liked.

One flag I left for myself was on page 97, in an article called “True Colors” that was published on March 22, 1999. The phrase I highlighted was about what Vidal Sassoon did to revolutionlize hair styling back in the 1960’s. The last sentence is what made me realize how tough my job is going to be.

  •  If a revolution is not accessible, tangible, and replicable, how on earth can it be a revolution?
    Malcolm Gladwell, What The Dog Saw, 2009
    Originally published in The New Yorker, March 22, 1999

Is writing this blog making my intended revolution accessible, tangible and replicable? I think it is, but maybe it doesn’t look that way yet.

  • My blog is open for everyone who has a computer or mobile device with access to the Internet. Is that accessible enough, or do I have to be in print as well?
  • All I have done is post five dozen thoughts about what I intend to start doing in a small, rural school district. How tangible is that?
  • Has anyone started following my thread about “Composing Change”? Would the steps I’m defining there make it replicable?

I suppose we will find out tomorrow, when I hope to get a new streak going. One post after a break of 9 days is not enough. There needs to be more.

So, let’s agree this is enough for now. There are other articles by Malcolm and others that I think could inspire you. If anyone is interested, I need some encouragement to keep me going. Anyone want to let me know if I still have occasional readers?

The Opposable Mind

July 28, 2011

Last evening, I started a new book, The Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking, by Roger Martin. Though I haven’t gotten past the first chapter, the premise definitely makes sense to me. He quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald on page 1:

  • The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to fuction. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise.
    The Crack Up, 1945

When I saw this book and read the back cover, I thought the concept of opposable mind was obvious. I’ve been doing it for years. An the business I am going to build will help people develop their “integrative thinking” skills in a number of ways, which I hope will be an addition to what he will be discussing in his book. I think I’ve had an opposable mind for my whole life, but never thought of myself that way. I imagine that if I had known I was thinking that way, I might have told people why I was taking a contrary stance to theirs. They might not have seen me as a rebel, but as someone who was contributing something different to a conversation.

If you are wondering how I plan to do this, let me offer just a few hints:

  1. The 7 Levels of Change gives us a way to look at situations from at least 7 different points of view. I think there is an 8th Level – make a commitment to change, and possibly additional levels of stasis, which might be though of as negative levels of change. For example, if Level 1 is doing the right things, then Level -1 could be doing the wrong things. A lot of human behavior is easier to understand if one thinks of them as a spectrum of stasis and change.
  2. Six Thinking Hats gives us six different ways of looking at situations that are different from 7LoC. What are the facts? What emotions are involved? What do we need to worry about? What makes us happy about the opportunity or threat? How can we come up with new ideas? What do we need to do to organize things? When we have the ability to put on each hat in sequence, we have options that we never saw before. How many of us go through life wearing a Black Hat (Devil’s Advocate) and never acknowledging that the Red Hat (Emotions) may be holding us back in different ways? Would we be more flexible if we had a hat with seven colors, the last being “status quo/apathy” or our resistance to wearing any hat at all.
  3. The Pareto Principle also known as the 80/20 Principle, tells us that 20% of the effort in most efforts will deliver 80% of the value. And if we focus on the 20%, 4% of that effort will deliver 64% of the value (.8 x .8 = .64). But how often do we think about the value we are going to get from activities, much less think about the value before we even put them on our agenda? If we organized the agenda items we might put in our daily calendar, and put the important things first, would we deliver better value at the end of the day?

These are a few of the ideas that are already part of my tool. It is already working for me, but I don’t know if anyone else would be willing to try using it. That is where the thread about Composing Change comes into the picture. I went through many months of handwritten tracking of things I was doing, things I wanted to do, and things I thought mattered before I recognized that I could build a tool to help me manage everything. Those lists I was keeping in separate composition notebooks blended together in the tool I have built. The habits I realized I wanted to develop became one leg of the stool; the goals were the second. Where goals and habits meet is on a day you can start all over again and try to do something different, and then see where you succeeded and failed. I’ve never seen a daily planning tool that helped me manage short-term projects as well as behavior changes. In a few weeks, if there is a new release of FileMaker Pro, I will be able to offer the rest of you a chance to try out what I am doing. But invitations to that party will be based on what you have been doing in your Composing Change notebooks. If you aren’t willing to do the pre-work to get into a program, why would I believe you were ready to change?

But I’m off track again. We started talking about a book that offers examples of how people can hold opposing points of view and still get things done. Then I suggested there might be dozens of ways we might guide those opposing thoughts. And I finished by saying I would let you try out my idea if you do a handwritten version first.

For people who start reading this blog after this date, I’m sure this will be very confusing. They might have to go back to the beginning to make sense of it all. But so what, I say, the stream of ideas will keep moving. It doesn’t matter where you get into the water. It will always be refreshing.

Listening Versus Hearing

July 27, 2011

Last evening we had dinner with friends, and they had invited some other people as well. The conversations were quite interesting, and I tried to listen based on some ideas I got from Click, the book I am reading about “the forces behind how we fully engage with people, work, and everything we do.” The authors are the same ones who wrote Sway, and the two books together are quite powerful. If you read The Starfish and the Spider first, which is not what I did, I think the results would be even more significant. But I digress.

This morning as I was doing my startup activities, I realized that I didn’t have a mission statement. And then I realized that I need to make “listening” a big part of my mission statement when I write it. That led to realizing that I need to make “hearing” even more important than listening, because I realize the two are different. Listening could be nothing more than paying attention to what the other person is saying while you are figuring out when you can jump in and take the conversation in a direction that is more interesting to you. Hearing would then be listening to what the person is saying but also what they are leaving out.

That made me realize I wasn’t listening to those of you who have been following my blog for the past few days or weeks and have no idea what the big picture is about. So based on the lack of feedback I am getting, I am going to create a new category where I will post specific things you can do to learn more about the big picture I am talking about. This post will not be in that category, because it isn’t anything that will advance your personal progress toward a significant change in your life.

So, if you are interested in the bigger picture, check out the new category for Composing Change. The instructions will start there, and they will be numbered for ease of use.

Thanks for the comments you have offered thus far. Consider the new category a prototype of a book about getting started. I’m offering the job of editor to all of you who want to make the real book a winner for others.

WIIFE (What’s In It For Everyone)

July 26, 2011

This morning after I woke up, I had this nagging thought about why I am doing all this work for myself. Will it benefit me now or down the road? Will anyone else benefit? Is the underlying method that evolving something that could be called “open” if I’m also selling something to support it? I needed to take a step back and see what was motivating me. What was the point of it all?

  • WIIFMe – An individual wants a better life, though some may struggle with the idea of leapfrogging those who already have it better
  • WIIFMyKids – A parent wants a better life for their children, but may not feel like they can be part of the solution because their own school experience was miserable and ineffective
  • WIIFMyParents – A smart kid wants a better life for their parents, not after they leave home, but now, when the kid is still around to help and benefit themselves
  • WIIFMSpouse – A wife who stayed at home while the kids were yound may not feel ready to re-enter the workforce when jobs are scarce, because she could be reducing the opportunities for her husband
  • WIIFOurSchool – A taxpayer may feel like they have done enough over the years, paying for their own kids to attend school, but want to help the next generation get good jobs in the community
  • WIIFOurCommunity – A resident may look at the surrounding neighborhood and want to do something, but where would they start
  • WIIFOurChurch – A church goer may want to do more than one service a week, with occasional dinners and social events, but how do they channel their effort into activities that reflect their faith
  • WIIFMyEmployer – An employee may want more than coasting along toward retirement and a pension, but how do they tell their supervisor or manager that they have ideas that would improve products or attract new customers
  • WIIFMyEmployees – A business owner may worry about meeting the next payroll, but not be willing to share their concerns with the people who work for them
  • WWIFOurCustomers – Businesses (owners and employees together) may feel they have value to provide to customers, but may not understand how to develop products and services

Everyone wants something for themselves, and can only thing about something for those near and dear to them when their own issues are addressed. That is where I think my method will shine, because it works the same way at every level, no matter who is using it. A phrase I came up with a while back was debabelization, which means nothing more than removing the confusion about how we do things so we can focus our attention on what we are doing.

If someone has spent time on their own dreams for the future and conquered one or two small but seemingly impossible goals, wouldn’t they be more supportive of the efforts of those around them. Wouldn’t a business be able to tackle something really difficult if  20% of the employees had the same vocabulary for identifying and implementing change? Couldn’t a parent help a child if they had started working on some dream of their own.

Why do things by ourselves? Why not leverage proven methods from manufacturing and engineering that can be applied in a simple but elegant framework, to turn impossible into nothing more than hard work?

That’s what I’m going to do. Anyone who wants to help needs to identify themselves so we can start meeting in person and talk about how I think this would work. I will contribute the environment and some of the content, but I want to make the rest of it open to those who live nearby. When we figure out how to get this idea to work, I think we will have something that other communities will want to know about. That would mean job opportunities for those who helped get things started. I’ll be busy working on the next thing we do together.

So there it is. Tell me what you think. I tried to make it as vague as possible but that will change, for those who come forward to help.

Anyone want to help me change the world, one small rural school district at a time?

That Didn’t Work Out

July 25, 2011

Well, here I am, four weeks into my vacation from using my “habituation” tool. This past weekend was enjoyable but I fell off the wagon in terms of my diet. Three days of junk food sent my weight up two pounds since my return, but today is a new day, and a new week, and almost a new month. So I can reset all the metrics in my tool and get back to work on several fronts: my personal life, my life with my wife, and my business plans.

I finished The Starfish and the Spider last evening. It gave me some new ideas for how I want to design my business. My role will change a little, combining what they describe as catalyst and champion, but I really need someone else to do the latter. Anyway, it’s almost August. Don’t other people take vacations in August, as one last fling before their kids go back to school?

I miss my routines. I felt like I was making progress. The daily reminders to do the right things the right way were refreshing. The discipline felt good, but it didn’t survive disconnection from the habit support system. Some of the real habits lasted, like taking my medicine, but nearly everything else reverted to “habits in development.” All the momentum is gone, or was it inertia. I just don’t remember. But checking my dictionary app, I have a new insight into both.

  • Inertia is the property of matter by which it retains its state of rest of its velocity along a straight line, so long as it is not acted upon by an external force
  • Momentum is force or speed of movement

My habits are a result of inertia, and taking a vacation didn’t sustain them. I need to get them back up to speed, and establish a different vector, because the straight line I was headed on won’t get to the future I want for myself. If I want to be a reasonable example of what my ideas can do for others, I need to demonstrate what they can do for me. I am now my own test subject, on many levels. And there are so many new things to add into the mix.

But writing a disconnected blog post just to keep the string going isn’t going to get the day planned, or the plan executed. Enough blathering. Let’s get to work. There are lots of people to visit, and at least one appointment to keep, and I am back home. I can use my tool on my laptop all day long, without having to figure out how to take it with me when I leave the house. I can get back into that rhythm I had before this break, that rhythm I didn’t recognize because I snuck up on it over a period of months. I can’t wait.

Hope you all manage to survive any vacations you might have planned. Mine turned out to be a great wake up and source of ideas. But now I have to put them to work. Expect regular reports on my progress, but maybe not as much introspection. There is work to do, and reflecting on the past doesn’t advance the future, or change the vector I am on. I want to be more positive, but it’s difficult when I have so many negative things to bemoan.

Let’s get on with it. You do the same. Let’s reset all the counters and try this again.

Am I Listening?

July 24, 2011

I was just out on the porch looking at the fog that has settled into the valley. As time passed, I could see more of what is across the road. The field emerged, then the trees on the other side of the field, then the foothill just beyond the trees. By the time I came upstairs, I could almost see across the valley.

While this was happening, I was reading the end of chapter 5 in The Starfish and the Spider. What made me notice the fog clearing was their description of people who are catalysts. Good catalysts listen to people. Great catalysts hear what people are saying and draw them out. I want to be a great catalyst but wonder if I have the disposition for it. Let me try a test with those of you who are my readers. Send me your results if you like. I will post your comments if you want, and if they make sense.

Here we go:

7. Think of a significant goal in your life. Write it down on the left side of a blank piece of paper.

6. Under that, write down one thing that hasn’t been done that would be a step in the direction of achieving the goal.

5. Under that, write down one thing that other people are doing that would build a foundation for doing the one thing  that hasn’t been done.

4. Under that, write down one thing you would have to do away with to be able to do the one thing other people are doing.

3. Under that, write down one thing you would have to improve to recognize the one thing you had to do away with.

2. Under that, write down one thing you would have to do the right way before you could understand how to do it better.

1. Under that, write down one thing that was the right thing to do, that would get all the previous steps going.

0. Under that, write down one thing that would allow you to make a commitment to doing the right thing that would get things started.

What happened? Did your view of that significant goal change when you saw there was at least one path to one small piece of it? What would your future be like if you had a way to look at every problem as an opportunity you could tackle with gusto? How would people react when you were the one who took on jobs that had been ignored for weeks or months? What would they think of you when you went out and did things they thought were impossible? How much of their reaction would have been a reflection of their own perspective, and not a true reflection of what you were capable of doing? Did they say it was impossible for you because they didn’t want to try it themselves? Did they put you down because they needed to be looking down on you as someone who was inferior, because they had appointed you as scapegoat?

Guess what! They won’t be watching if you decide to do things differently. They have a perspective on you that won’t recognize the change in your attitude or behavior. Their radar is set to a frequency that will ignore your little quirks. Their opinion of their opinion of you is so high they won’t notice you aren’t playing a role in their game anymore. By the time they notice you aren’t believing what they say about you, you will be somewhere else. And oddly enough, that somewhere else might not be where you thought you wanted to go.

Try the exercise above again, only this time, use the right side of the page, and start from the bottom:

0. Write a few words that capture the commitment you are making to your goal.

1. Write one thing that would be the right thing to do to honor your commitment.

2. Write one thing about the right thing that would be the right way to do it.

3. Write one thing about doing the right thing the right way that would make it better.

4. Write one thing about the thing that you could do away with once it is improved.

5. Write one thing about the thing that other people are already doing.

6. Write one thing about the thing that hasn’t been done.

7. Look at the goal you started with. Is it enough of a stretch, or could you do something even more impossible.

I think this approach is how I need to interact with people in the future. Instead of telling them about my method or my the tools I am building, I need to ask them leading questions and then listen to their answers. I need to talk them through the first 8 questions to wake them up to the possibility that their current outlook on life could change. I need to listen to them and get them to listen to themselves, so they want to do the second set of 8 questions on their own. If they want my help, that would be fine, but it wouldn’t be necessary. I think I can write a book that would help people get through some of the preparation for what we could do together. In fact, the whole point of what I want to do is developing other people who wanted to work on really tough problems. Getting people to make a significant change in themselves would be their audition.

I think we all need to listen to each other. Is anyone listening to me?