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Posts Tagged ‘Choices’

…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

…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

 

 

…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

…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

…turning left

January 14, 2013 Leave a comment

So, I was arguing with myself the other day in the park…it is a lovely sight if you ever happen to come upon this spectacle. It all started so innocently with some introspection on people and how they perceive themselves over having to do the right thing.

Taking a look back at history, we have ample examples of tremendous evil being accomplished under the illusion that it was the right thing..that fit someone’s idealogy. This could be true in business and in the personal life of a person. In my mind this always boils down to a person’s character.

I’m a firm believer (and I have written about this previously), that most people are inherently selfish. Furthermore, given the opportunity many will do what is best for them, despite being detrimental to others. We can argue that this is not universally applicable as we have examples of individuals doing selfless things, often resulting in harm to themselves. As with every type of Gaussian function, I am referring to the majority of individuals.

So what’s the hook here? Figure out a balance (vs. integration) – what is right and beneficial. Every situation is, of course different and sometimes it is better to turn the other direction – even for a short time.

…make wise choices,

-sk

…no one likes a quitter

November 30, 2012 Leave a comment

I had some interesting conversations with people recently regarding some personal and professional issues. Most of those centered around conflict resolution as well their ramifications – one of my favorite topics. We eventually gravitated to the concepts of giving up versus surrendering. Initially discussions were centered around both terms having the same meaning and the debate was lively to say the least.

In my opinion the two terms could not be more different – and yet they are very tightly coupled to one another. The simplest way I can differentiate the two is that a person can surrender without giving up…but not vice versa. Giving up involves compromising principles, admitting defeat and one of the most serious transgressions (in my opinion) – quitting. Surrendering means compromising (temporarily) and/or putting yourself in control of someone (or something) else’s will.

Never Quit

…make wise choices,

-sk

…importance of autonomy part deux

November 9, 2012 Leave a comment

So here we sit in the remnants of one of the most ferocious storms in recent times…Sandy. Many things transpired since last I spoke on this topic. Last year water was our nemesis (at least where I live), this year it was the mighty wind! I prepared the basement over the past year with foundational repairs, primary, backup sump pump installations and we refinished the basement to its former glory!

So what happend this time and what did i learn?

For starters, I lost many trees and thankfully no damage to the house came to pass. The big issue to tackle this year was no city power since 10/29…and counting! In preparation, I had stocked up on gas, sustenance essentials, purchased a generator and had a transfer switch installed inside so that all I needed was to fire her up, plug into the house and i had the critical (vs. whole house) stuff running. Good plan? Well almost…one minor issue that turned out to be the sticking point of the lesson from this storm.

Turns out my grinder pump (all the wastewater from the house gets macerated and pushed into the public sewer system due to the house being below the sewer line) has too high of a wattage surge. This meant that we could not use the water in the house! Lesson of the day is don’t rely on electricians to do your calculations for ya! Good news was that a porto-potty and pilgrim methods of water use saved the day until another generator was delivered by family from Ohio!

Some items outside my control that all folks were dealing with…and how adapted;

  1. Crap communications from utility companies and local government (used neighboring Mayor’s updates and extrapolated my situation)
  2. Cell towers were down for 4 days so zero comms due to cable/phone outage (going back to a copper land line and purchased a multi-network burn phone)
  3. Gas rationing and massive lines (20 minutes from PA, no lines and nighttime runs to refill 5 (5 gal) containers at a time.
  4. Physical security of the home (let’s just say that this former Marine has that covered..close quarters and distance)
  5. Closed schools (good ol Xbox and Wii…not to mention lots of screaming)

So…all in all, not terrible compared to many. I actually (well mostly) learned from my mistakes the last time! Always stuff to learn, I suppose so we’ll see what happens next disaster!

…make wise choices,

-sk