The Dark Side of Christmas…

December 28, 2011

Well, Christmas has happened and New Year’s is coming.  And, it’s quite possible that you’ve experienced the dark side of the holidays by now.  It’s something that is talked about a lot and certainly needs to be talked about more.

So, what is the dark side of Christmas?  Well, let’s first consider what Christmas is supposed to be.  It’s supposed to be a time of good cheer.  A time of joy, hope and love.  And, parts of it are to some people some of the time.  But, for many people Christmas and the holidays are not what they are marketed as.  For example, many families have already experienced the “holiday fight” where emotions got a little tense and words got said that you may regret.  Isn’t it strange how a time to celebrate our friends and family can actually put the greatest strain on those relationships.

But, here is the real dark side of Christmas.  Many people don’t even have family to feud with.  Or, if they do, they don’t see them.  For others, a death in the family or other tragedy removes the joy and hope of the season.  For many who are lonely throughout the rest of the year, the holiday season is just an exclamation point on how they feel about themselves or their lives.

My challenge to all of us is to be more aware of those around us who might not be having a lot of fun during this “festive” season.  Who around you really doesn’t enjoy the holidays?  Who might be lonely?  Who feels left out?  And, why can’t we talk more about this?  If we talk more about it, we can truly make it a season of joy, hope and love for so many more people.


Taking Inventory… Sailing Adventure… Jan 7th, Here We Come…

December 20, 2011

Time is ticking and it is getting close to the start of our big adventure.  If you’re not aware of the big sailing adventure, I’ll fill you in.  My wife and I are taking our 3 boys out of school for 8 months so that we can sail around the Eastern Caribbean.  Very exciting!  This has been in the works for quite a while and we’re so excited.

A large portion of the fun of this adventure has been the planning, as it is with so many things.  And, the nice part of this was that it fit so nicely with one of my mantras… you’ve got to take inventory.  If you don’t have a good sense of where you are and what you’ve got, it’s going to be a lot harder to get where you want and need to go.  Every step of the way along our journey to getting to this point has involved some element of taking inventory.  Whether it’s figuring out what we physically need to buy or acquire, or perhaps some additional knowledge or training that we need, we knew what it was that we needed by having done inventory.  All this helped us to be ready to make it happen.

Now that our adventure is about to start, we will continue to do inventory.  We need to know what equipment needs to be replaced, or what supplies might need to be replenished.  The same is true with our businesses, our personal and professional lives.

So, keep taking inventory and keep pushing to make your plans come true… whether it’s sailing, building a business, nurturing a family, or just living the dream.  And, then, make it happen.  For us the adventure down south starts January 7th.  More news to follow.

What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You…. Huh?

December 7, 2011

Have you experienced the situation where someone has bad news to give you and yet they don’t say anything. They feel that because it’s bad news, there’s some good reason to procrastinate or not tell you about the bad news. They believe that what they are doing is actually being nice. Or, perhaps they feel that somehow by waiting they’ll be able to have more time to make the news go away or maybe they’ll even be able to fix the problem.

Quite likely, you’ve experienced this situation and you’ve likely been frustrated when you found how long they took to tell you. There are good reasons for this. You likely feel upset that your colleague didn’t believe that you could handle the news. And, you may now feel time crunched to deal with the situation. Most significantly, you likely knew something was up and didn’t feel in control which is a significant issue.

People are often in situations which are unpleasant, but, if they feel that they are in control of their own destiny, even if it doesn’t look good, then they are in a much better situation. This reinforces the importance of the concept of “control” to our success and our lives and work.

So two final questions…. Are you not telling someone something that they should hear right now! And, where do you feel in your work or personal life that control is missing. This is likely an important area to review.

Being Normal

November 29, 2011

Before we get to being normal, let’s look at being average.  I think that many of us can buy into the concept that we don’t want to be average.  In fact, studies show that that a much higher number than 50% of us believe that we’re above average in any specific measurement of us.  This of course, leads us to the fact that some of us are over estimating our abilities.  In fact, being able to clearly understand where our true strengths exist and where our weaknesses are, is a real sign that the person is destined for great things.

So, let’s now look at being normal.  If being normal, by definition, means that you’re just like everyone else, then one can argue that being normal is to be without distinction or even to be bland.

What’s interesting is our societal conditioning.  Generally, I believe that we are conditioned to believe that we should strive to be above average and, yet to be normal.  This seems a little bit strange for a couple of reasons.  First, as we can see from the studies referred to above, most of us are more average than we think in more ways than we think.  Also, being above average and being normal also seem to be opposing goals in many cases.

It stands to reason that what we should truly be striving for is to be above average in our areas of strength while also striving to be different from normal as is appropriate.

So, how are you not normal?  Let me know.

Alone in a Crowd…

November 21, 2011

Recently, I heard a radio phone-in on a subject that I completely believe in. The topic was on people being lonely anywhere, including when being surrounded by a crowd of people. So true.

Most people have felt lonely at some point while being in the middle of a big crowd, in a downtown of a city, at a concert, a shopping mall, etc. This condition is a concern and I certainly hope that everyone experiences this as infrequently as possible.

The above example is largely one of an involuntary condition. But, it does remind me of a situation that I’ve seen before that is voluntary. Let me describe a scene I saw when down sailing on our boat in the Caribbean. We were having dinner at a restaurant in a marina. While we were eating I noticed a group of people on a motorboat docked in one of the slips. Remember that we were in a truly beautiful place on a comfortably warm evening with a gorgeous sunset. What I saw initially was that a couple of people were talking to each other while most where just sitting there. Within a short period of time, every single person stopped talking to each other. And, very soon after that, each one of them had pulled out a cell phone and started talking to someone else somewhere else.

I’m always amazed when I see something like this happen, but it baffles me when it happens in such a place – a beautiful place, where all was good, where they had their travelling companions right there, where it was one of the few evenings that they have while on holiday. I just don’t get it. They choose to spend money on their cell phones (assuming that they were all visitors) to talk to somebody who wasn’t there.

I know that there may be some reason why the scene turned out the way it did, but it still illustrates what I believe is a problem in our society. Our inability to talk to and carry on conversations with other people that we know and love. Sometime it takes a little bit of effort and practice to continue or extend a conversation, but isn’t it worth it? Often we can learn a great deal from other people if we just try a little harder. And, often in the process, we learn a little bit more about ourselves.

So, let’s put away the cellphones and honour those people around us with some attention.

The Staggered Project…. Starting, Stopping and Starting Again

November 8, 2011

For me, there is no such thing as a project that starts, happens and ends.  Whether this is a small job of a couple of hours to a multi-week project.  Inevitably, the project gets put on hold either because I’m have no choice, or in many cases, exactly because I have a choice.  Now, to be truthful, there are those jobs and projects that you’re just not enthusiastic about and you are happy to put them down, but I’m not talking about those.  I’m talking about working on a project that is going well and deciding to take a break.

What I find is that when I pick up a different project for a while, when I come back to the first project, my energy for the project is higher.  And, more importantly, I also find that I may have a better concept of the project and make better decisions.  You could draw the analogy to the “let’s sleep on the problem” approach.  Giving yourself a little bit of time away from something can make a world of difference as your subconscious works away at the problem.

I also find that the variety also allows me to be able to get more done while being drained less.  Even the act of writing this blog is happening while I”m giving another project a little break.

So, when you’re dealing with projects (and almost everything in life and business is a project), consider starting and stoping.  Just be sure to be disciplined enough to get started again.  You will be happy with the results, and perhaps feel a little bit more refreshed.

And, feel free to tell me your strategies to project success.

New Car Speedometer

October 12, 2011

This is a bit of a silly story but still one with a good learning point.

It started when I went looking for a new car. I researched the features that I wanted and I filtered my needs down to one car. Next step, to go for a test drive. The result… I was quite happy. But, there was one thing bothering me. The speedometer and other dials were laid out in a really different style. Completely unnerving. But, I really liked the car.

I immediately knew that this was going to be a great experience. I knew that it was going to take some getting used to. And, it did, for a while. But, with so many things, once I got used to it, I loved it.

Isn’t that so true? The same thing happened when I had to go to a ‘chiclet’ keyboard for the first time with my present laptop. It took a bit of getting used to as well. But, I’m so happy that I chose to take the plunge. It was a great decision.

When was the last time that you had to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone. It might be time to stretch some more. Let me know your story.