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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

…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

 

 

 

 

…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

…myopic goodness

July 8, 2013 Leave a comment

Few things bother me more than people that lack focus. It is great to be aware of the situation and understand that your actions have reactions. It is great to want to help those around you and, thereby learn from others’ endeavors. Building trust, esprit de corps and collaborative relationships are awesome and are invaluable in personal and professional maturation and growth.

None of this means anything – unless you can hit your targets, commitments and achieve results. One of the focal points of these writings has been focused around delivering and achieving results. It stands to reason that supporting elements are important – but they are only just that – supporting elements. They are secondary to the goal….the only goal – hitting the target.

Look through the proverbial scope – see the opportunity and take the shot.

…make wise choices,

-sk

…target of opportunity

May 27, 2013 2 comments

military target “visible to a surface or air sensor or observer, which is within range of available weapons and against which fire has not been scheduled or requested.”

I was in Central London last week the same day that the Country was a-buzz with news of the attacks on a British Soldier in Woolwich by cowards filled with misguided ideology. The timing of this to Memorial Day, here in the States had such a connection that I felt compelled to include this in my post. Although news stories are often sensationalized, the basic facts are a soldier dressed in civilian clothing, wearing a well respected UK Veteran support organization was basically hit by a car and hacked to death with bladed weapons. He was out-of-the-fight so to speak, but still a military asset and a target.

There are plenty of dangerous jobs/careers that people knowingly (and sometimes unknowingly) assume. Serving in the Military is one of the very few vocations that follows you home in some cases.

It follows you home in the potential forms of discrimination, physical disabilities, emotional disabilities and more recently so – being a target. I am not going to pretend that random violence does not take place. I will not ignore the fact that certain demographics of people are targeted for crime. That being said, we have had domestic instances of such attacks  on military bases, and attacks  away from bases as well. Certainly, this trend won’t soon diminish as we have generations of post-war zealots that continue to use religion as an excuse to do harm to others. That, coupled with an increasing amount of veterans rotating out of the various battle theaters worldwide – will present more targets.

Yes, I realize that this as been going on since the dawn of time…how wonderful would this world be without religion (a post for another time)?

And so another Memorial Day is upon us, at a time of year where flowers would be in bloom all over the Country. And we can remember and live for and on behalf of those that no longer can….AF

While it is difficult to directly support Active Duty members of the military, it is fairly easy to provide support to trusted organizations. As in previous years, with one addition to the top, given recent events – are organizations that I personally believe in and support:

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

Most, if not all do not expect support or recognition for their service…that’s why we call it service.

…make wise choices,

-sk

…the worm

May 15, 2013 2 comments

I was sitting in my backyard sipping some rum and enjoying a nice cigar the other day. Enjoying the signs of spring, I spied a bird swoop in and peck at a worm on the ground. It had rained the night before so food was plenty and the birds were having a great time feasting. As I watched the bird take the worm and start to eat…another bird swooped in on top of the first one.

It basically thumped the bird and took its worm.

The message of the day? The early bird may get the worm, but it takes a whole lot more to keep it.

Don’t get hung up on acquisition only…retention is equally as important.

…make wise choices,

-sk