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…gentle reminder

March 23, 2015 Leave a comment

I spent a few hours with an individual this past weekend that inspired me to remind myself (and of course anyone reading this) of a few things;

1) As cheesy as this is, this quote from a sad attempt at sustaining a franchise says it all. “We seem to have reached the age where life stops giving us things and starts taking them away.” Now that’s powerful stuff! Now, I’ve always told folks to remember that work/life balance is not a balance – it is a choice. I am sure I stole that from someone, but if I cannot remember who from – then I think it is okay. Enjoy the good, the bad and in-between as there is a point in everyone’s life that whatever plasticity exists – decays.

2) All of your problems will still exist the next day – trick is to figure out what you need to do to work smarter and solve them rather than carrying them around like rocks in your pockets. I do not like rocks in my pockets as they make funny sound when I walk. The next point speaks to this, but made a conscious decision not to carry rocks, by creating measurable chunks of achievable deadlines. Try it until it becomes a habit, like it you will. Repeat it, you shall. Yes, I was channeling my inner Yoda.

3) I was deftly reminded of Parkinson’s Law. It states that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Holy crap, that is an oldie (’55) but goodie! There are some insightful corollaries, applying to task management as well as technology use – very durable thought construct. Draw lines, meet them (make sure you define done) and find closure…move on to the next line.

Just a few random thoughts.

…make wise choices,

-sk

 

…be water

March 16, 2015 Leave a comment

A few weeks ago, I was reminded of a few lines that the venerable Bruce Lee was quoted as saying.

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

As a habit, I tend to compare and contrast what I learn between personal and professional life. Often times, viewing something through the personal lens offers a stark contrast than a professional one. Rarely, do I come across something that can truly be ubiquitous.

This one was different. I realize that this is not exactly an epiphany – but this just hits it in all the right places. These few lines really resonated with me in that it speaks to the need to continuously adapt, engage and excel. Many people may read the words above but do not get the meaning due to them having preconceptions about their own behaviors and actions. The self-awareness becomes a limiting factor in the ability to adapt to changing conditions or things that change the mental model that folks have created for themselves as well as their situation.

Now, let’s pivot for a moment.

In a recently read book (that kicks some serious ass); the author discusses the hidden as a pretext of awareness, adaptability and the impact self-awareness has on executing and teamwork. Simply put, if you are not aware of what is around you and your team – how can you effectively deal with challenges?

“If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.”

Tying together individual/team-oriented fluidity; coupled with self awareness and high performance is hard. It is damn hard. Few teams get there…few teams get to flow together.

For those that have read my earlier blogs, yes I went on a rant on quotables regarding using quotes. But hey – things change and I am adapting right?

…make wise choices,

-sk

…embrace dread

March 15, 2015 Leave a comment

I recently read an article that referenced a psychological study on the disvalue of future pain. Essentially, the study found evidence to support the hypothesis that people prefer expedited pain versus the thought of waiting. More importantly, in some cases, test subjects preferred to receive a stronger pain stimulus sooner vs wait for a weaker one later. However, there is a point in time where the effects are attenuated due to the passage of time. The example used is a painful Dentist appointment 8 months out may not be as dreadful as one a month out…etc.

This begs the question in general, how do we apply this notion to our daily decisions? Granted, as with any study, one can dismiss results, question methods and/or present an arguing case. That being said, the notion is valid, at least based on some of my experiences.

The takeaway that intrigued me was a reminder that ultimately anticipation carries a cost…but the cost decays. There is an apparent arc of dread. 

How do we use this to our advantage?

I can tell you that I certainly prefer to complete activities under artificially induced pressure. Sometimes, it is due to deliberate procrastination…to a certain point, of course. Other times it is with over-analysis and polishing the bb, as an old friend used to say.

Needless to say, that I need to time the events and deliverable so that I can ensure the right balance of engagement with purpose and motivation in order to produce quality. Personally, this approach is empowering and allows complete clarity to task and purpose.

Ultimately, my dread is sliding down the arc!

What do you dread?

…make wise choices

-sk

…the claw

July 28, 2014 Leave a comment

This past weekend, I spent some time with the family at a beach town in NJ. It was a great time to reconnect with the little ones and spend time relaxing a little. During the course of our wandering on the boardwalk we came upon the usual kids games (skeeball, air hockey..etc). Usually, the kids gravitate to the magical claw games in the hopes of scoring some overpriced shoddy toy. I end up paying a small fortune for this accomplishment.

This time, things were different when we walked up to the machine. First, they were much more expensive than the usual $0.25 – $1.00 range. Second, the cause for the price increase was a guaranteed winner every time. First blush, I was happy as I would avoid the temper tantrums and overspending. Thirty minutes later, all three kids had their toys as the game allowed them to grab until they secured a toy.

As we walked away, I was satisfied that time/money was well spent and kids were happy. That was, until we walked up to another bank of machines after lunch. These were only $0.50 a try and were the traditional claw games. Traditional, in that the claws had weak springs and the toys were heavier than what the claw can lift. Thereby, greatly reducing the chance for a successful toy recovery.

So I watched the kids as they walked up to the machine and popped the money into the slot. No surprise that the claw did not grab a toy…but what happened next was a surprise. Kids were upset because “the machine was not as easy as the last one…and they should all be this easy”.  They actually commented on the toys in this machine were better than the easy machine. In fact, they were the same crappy quality and same thematic design.

I was definitely not looking for a life lesson for the kids here, but certainly found more than a few that day!

Yes, I spent more than the $3 I did on the previous machine with the new machine (a lot more). Yes, the toys attained were basically characters from the same story line as the previous machine (same toys). Yes, the kids were frustrated, angry and wanted to give up. But they did not…they kept on trying, learning from their mistakes and making decisions that ultimately lead to a favorable outcome.

…make wise choices,photo

-sk

…who’s happy?

May 26, 2014 Leave a comment

Memorial Day, in the US is always a bittersweet time of year. A time for reflection and remembrance for those that died during conflict. Also, it marks the beginning of Summer vacation season The few days leading up to the day, are usually marked with mixing of the adulation and reverence. The pinnacle of this mixing, often culminates with the utterance of “Happy Memorial Day!”

Really…do you want to wish someone who has lost a loved one a happy day?

Many people have forgotten the meaning of this observance and in 2000, The National Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed. It asks that at 3pm local time, that all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way, a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence, or listening to Taps. I have done this for years and do not think it is too much to ask, considering the cost.

Most people also do not realize, that traditional observance requires that the US flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff, then slowly lowered to the half-staff position – remaining there until noon. Only then, is it raised back to full staff for the rest of the day. Flying the flag at half-staff is a remembrance to the more than one million service members who lost their lives for their country. The notion being that, at noon, their memory is raised by the living – to continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

So take some time, if you will, and remember the fallen. Wear a silk poppy…then carry on into the summer season.

Don’t, however, wish anyone a happy Memorial Day…that’s just silly.photo

http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/
http://www.taps.org/
http://www.fisherhouse.org/

…make wise choices

-sk

 

 

 

 

…everything ends

May 20, 2014 1 comment

As I have written here before, being a parent affords me the opportunity to see behaviors and reactions of my children at various stages of development. One of the most interesting, and yet saddest behaviors I see is the dichotomy of a new experience and its, sometimes too rapid demise.

Recently, we took a trip to a fair – kids love fairs…love them. For me it is always a great mix of people watching, eating and watching poorly constructed rides shake and rattle with every new group of brave riders. In case you were wondering, hell no – would never ride one of those rides.

So the entire day before we go, the extensive car ride over and while standing in line for the tickets – I hear the same thing over and over. This merry go round has apparently been beckoning my kids since they visited it last year. I cannot understand what, specifically attracts them but they named the horses and remembered them! For the record, I do not count merry go rounds in the above references to potential death-trap rides. Worse case, we can jump, tuck and roll…all good.

We get on the ride and I watch as they take take care to find their horses and jump on and get ready. Camera in hand, I started snapping away at the joy on their faces as we began the even tempered revolutions. Three turns is all it took…all it took for them to look for me, at me and through me to the exit rotate past them. I had witnessed the actual moment that great joy turned into melancholy…it was swift. The moment was over.

I am not preaching nihilism (at least not in this case) – but reflecting on the fact that the awesomeness of the events leading up to the ride was the ride. The punchline for this story? Simply put, enjoy the journey. Whether we are visiting far off lands, building teams, delivering products/services to customers, spending time with family and loved ones…savor the journey.

Once you finish, you are done…until you start again!IMG_5356

…make wise choices

-sk

 

…going dark

May 19, 2014 1 comment

Last week, I attended an IT leadership summit here in NJ. I attend a few of these a year, as time permits, as I like to stay connected to peer groups and thought leaders. The typical schedule tends to balance content, sponsor presentations and peer networking. Usually, I tend to focus on the areas that interest me and catch up on email during the ones that may not. In previous events (in some cases), out of an eight hour day – I might focus on only  few hours worth of content.

This time, something different happened…something very different. My phone died a few hours into the conference as I neglected to charge it on the drive down to the event. While I did bring my trusty battery pack, I was determined to travel into the event light and left it in the car earlier.

Of course, two choices were before me….walk 10 mins and get the kit – or engage in the event. I was too lazy to walk and had a great seat right next to one of my favorite speakers . I was not about to risk losing the spot.

Needless to say, the content (most of it) was very relevant in ways I had not originally anticipated and I walked away with some great ideas. At each break, I met someone new and after the event chatted with some of the organizers to provide some feedback and ask follow up questions.

Now, I have been to more than a few of these in the space of just the last three years. I can honestly say that I have never done this before. It took something relatively silly in order to broaden my perspective. I am not going to pretend like I am some genius here…but in this case, I was habitually myopic.

It took a short departure from technology to realize it.

…make wise choices

-sk

…woohoo

December 30, 2013 Leave a comment

As 2013 comes to a close, I have come to think back to the many things that I have learned in the past 12 months. Learning is growing – and the moment one has nothing left to learn, they have failed. Yes, it is my opinion and sure I could be wrong. If I was going to sum things up and extrapolate one massive lesson what would it be, that would have created such a strong impact?

I thought about this for a few minutes and it popped into my brain…well, after the dancing Steamboat Willie. So much of this blog, and my personal ethos is about delivering on commitments, service and pushing oneself past the proverbial comfort zone. The capstone of this would have to be the notion of taking a step back, reflecting on accomplishments and recognizing when something has been completed. From that, taking away what was learned as a result.

For me, that clarity is accomplished by celebrating what you have done and not who you are  – yes that’s deep (well for me it is). It is so easy to look at factors that you cannot easily control  and either over/under emphasize those elements that you feel have either contributed your success or failure. Almost everything is malleable, however, some things are vastly simpler to manipulate. One thing, in particular, that most have direct control over is the setting and completing of personal and/or professional goals.

Whether large or small – those goals are yours to own and yours to execute! Embrace the action of achievement and cast aside those that would dilute your accomplishments by placing you in a category.

…make wise choices,
(Happy New Year)

-sk

BTC

 

 

…wear a hat

November 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Today is a day of thanks to our Nation’s Veterans, past and present. It so happens that I’m travelling today and passing through Charlotte, North Carolina. This airport is usually a hotbed of activity for military personnel as they transition to and from duty stations and/or rotate overseas. I’m sure to the workers here, it is normal for so many Army and Marine personnel in uniform to be walking about.  After I bought a young Marine and beer at the airport bar I walked to my gate to crank out…this blog. On my way, I saw a more than a few uniformed military personnel walking by and you know how many people I saw shake a hand, say thanks or nod?

Not a single person.

All were too busy with their phones, conversations and general disengagement – walking from point A to point B. I sat by a few older guys wearing Vietnam Veteran and Korean Veteran hats. They intimated to me they felt compelled to wear a hat on certain occasions. To no surprise, they wanted to celebrate their service – proudly and outwardly. Some wear their badges and patches on the inside and choose only to share with those most intimate to them – for various reasons.

I thanked them and walked away…

…make wise choices,
-sk

…multidimensional excrement

November 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Often within the workplace and/or in our personal lives, we talk about the notion shit rolling downhill.” The vernacular, in spirit, is meant to convey downstream decision-making having an often catastrophic cascading effect on individuals further down the perceived power ladder.

Also, being in a position that allows the foresight of impending doom and stepping aside is almost worse than making a bad decision/letting others suffer. When this is a systematic issue along multiple levels of the power ladder – you have a perfect storm that creates a poisonous culture.

Now, enter the impact of technology on the above. Shit rolling downhill only works if there is a limited form of unidirectional communication (i.e downhill)  that is shaped and controlled. There is the notion of the Crest of Ignorance which basically pools all the bad news until it overflows down the power ladder. This is beautifully illustrated, using real-world-scenarios here.

That is no longer the reality and communication activities flow in a non-linear fashion. There is a communications bubble that is dynamically shifting based on amount and urgency of information being shared.

So, in fact, shit can no longer roll downhill. There is no downhill. The proverbial shit ends up seeping everywhere. Good for visibility, bad for channeling accountability.

…make wise choices
-sk