HAPPINESS via GRATITUDE

•February 1, 2017 • Comments Off on HAPPINESS via GRATITUDE

choose-happiness-4I believe happiness is tied to gratitude. However, one morning I watched a couple of kids running to their bus. By the looks on their faces it was obvious that they were happy. So did their happiness come from gratefulness? Were they grateful that they were going to school? Were they grateful that the bus was there on time? Were they grateful for a cold March morning? I doubt it. I realized then that a child’s happiness isn’t based on gratitude at all. So not ALL happiness is based on targeted gratitude or a spirit of continual gratefulness. What is the root of happiness then?

Children are naturally happy when their needs are met. When they have a healthy, balanced and satisfied home life and are able to be out enjoying life as children. Adults are different. Adults have expectations and responsibilities that weigh on them. Adults judge. They judge themselves and others based upon beliefs and expectations. Children, absent negative adult influence, do not have the pressures of expectation or the weight of judgement, they just absorb and react.

It is in this reality that gratefulness is critical to adult happiness because it causes adults to reframe their expectations. The gratitude of adults, when expressed and lived out daily, is a tremendous influence on others and teaches children to appreciate and be grateful also. West actively practice and teach gratefulness – for ourselves and the children.

What is fun is often temporary and happiness isn’t joy. Real joy comes from another set of results of gratefulness – appreciation and contentment.

So be grateful for the littlest of things because so many others exist on so much less. Appreciate these things for what they are expecting only according to what truly matters. And seek to be content, sharing life and experiences equally with others. Then teach the children by example. They are growing into adults.

Why Can’t We Build a Wall?

•January 27, 2017 • Comments Off on Why Can’t We Build a Wall?

So many have been fretting about the cost of the US-Mexico boarder wall. Cost figures have been wildly fluctuating from somewhere around $10B to $25B+. The rhetoric from the left has been highly inflammatory and ranges from talk that it’s impossible to build due to the changing terrain, demonizing the idea because some areas would require imminent domain seizure of private property and then there’s the biggest argumentative flap; how would we pay for it? Here’s my opinion on all three of these main categories.

IMPOSSIBLE

The US-Mexico border is 1,989 miles long from the Gulf to the Pacific. From what I’ve read, The Great Wall of China spans about 3,889 miles of actual wall, 223 miles of trenches and 1,387 miles of natural barriers like hills and rivers. The Chinese fortified what they needed to and leveraged natural barriers where they could. The bottom line here is – were not ancient Chinese! We’ve launched space probes into the outer rim of our galaxy and explored the depths of the deepest oceans. Why would a boarder wall be impossible? What has happened to the Can Do American Spirit?

 PRIVATE PROPERTY

This one is simple. First – Immanent domain sounds scary and unfair which is why the left uses the argument. By using these words the average person, without really thinking, would think exactly what the detractors want them to and react in disapproval. So the solution is to leave these areas untouched. If there isn’t a problem then the gaps are OK. If there is a problem then in about 24 hours after completing the federal wall all of these land owners would willingly give up their land or pay for their section of the wall themselves.

FUNDING

This sticky problem is the easiest of all to solve. In a Feb 2016 article from The Motley Fool, writer Sean Williams categorically breaks down the $4.1T (that’s TRILLION) 2016 Federal budget this way:

  • Healthcare: $1,107,446,000,000
  • Social Security: $944,338,000,000
  • National defense: $615,515,000,000
  • Income security: $546,350,000,000
  • Net interest: $283,049,000,000
  • Veteran benefits: $180,324,000,000
  • Education and job training: $106,342,000,000
  • Transportation: $98,742,000,000
  • International affairs: $55,951,000,000
  • Natural resources and environment: $44,311,000,000
  • Other government programs: $35,075,000,000
  • Science, space, and technology programs: $30,968,000,000
  • Response to natural disasters: $15,435,000,000

I’m guessing there’s a bit of waste in each of these categories. If we really want to secure our nation and protect our boarders, like every other civilization in history has done, we’ll find the money. And yes, Mexico could pay for all or some of it. Not by writing a check necessarily. The Office of the United States Trade Representative states, “The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with Mexico was -$49.2 billion in 2015”. So reducing or closing this trade gap should make funds available, don’t you think?

I’m also guessing a savvy negotiator and experienced businessman could find a way to make something happen. And it just so happens that voters last November knew a guy.

The Skeptics Guide to Choosing YOU

•November 9, 2016 • Comments Off on The Skeptics Guide to Choosing YOU

“Marketing exists because we have more choices than we need and less trust than we want” ~Bernadette Jiwa, The Story of Telling blog (http://thestoryoftelling.com/why-you/)

There’s a good chance that you are not the only person that does what you do. Your business isn’t the only one in your market and your product or service isn’t globally unique. Those whom you wish to make your customer have others seeking the same.

Marketing isn’t differentiation and neither is price. Settle into the thought that you are just one of many that any given customer can choose from. You, your service and your product are commodities.

Now how do you plow the fertile soil of TRUST in order to grow something of significance that speaks louder than price and clearer than marketing?

The overwhelming evidence is that what could differentiate you and make you top-of-mind when needs arise will be the many simple things done naturally, sincerely and repeatedly that plant seeds of confidence that bloom into the much the highly desired TRUST that prospects and customers are searching for.

It’s your demonstrated natural actions shared through the experiences witnessed and stories you tell and others tell about you that will make the choice easy and the trust grow. The journey from one-of-many to unique and trusted is built relevantly and relationally.

Jeff

 

 

Better not More

•October 6, 2016 • Comments Off on Better not More

Today I read two blog posts…

ENOUGH ETHICS by Seth Godin and CHANGING PEOPLES MINDS by Bernadette Jiwa

Both of the above blog posts struck the same theme, at least they did for me. For me they were both saying – What if we scrap the pursuit of MORE and focus on making everything BETTER?

If we choose to be better at the important things; better relationships, better judgements, better use of time, better personal decisions, better attitudes and better two-way friendships. Wouldn’t our entire lives get better?

If in business we chose to focus on better co-worker relationships, better processes, and I mean truly better not just additional or more complex, better real and relevant investments in our people’s knowledge and skill building, better leadership, better execution of efforts and better intentional and sincere authenticity. Wouldn’t we then see the benefit of all this betterment and the results manifest themselves in the MORE that we previously sought?

The search and focus on MORE is a struggle. When we seek what is better each day we eventually discover that we’ve all achieved something GREAT.

 

Where is the SUBSTANCE?

•October 1, 2016 • Comments Off on Where is the SUBSTANCE?

Hype No Substance

There’s a common phrase used in stock and futures investing; Buy the rumor, sell the fact. Political campaign strategies use the same tactic to snare the peoples votes. Politicians are Polished-Statisticians. They know their audience and they know how little that audience actually knows.

Campaigns are fueled by the hype and rarely inject substance. Hype gets headlines. Hype gets touted on social media and main stream media outlets. Hype makes news and gets people heated up. Hype never tells the whole story and if hype leads it is most likely a false distraction and often a total non-factual, and misleading lie.

Politicians and campaign surrogates know that they can toss out misleading information, half-truths and full on lies and the voters will take the bait every time. In the book, The Confessions of Congressman X, published by Mill City Press, there is a full chapter titled “Voters Are Incredibly Ignorant”. I’ll add gullible.

Politicians can literally say anything and you have a 50/50 chance at best that the modern main stream media will do the due diligence to report the truth. That is if they’ve even caught something suspect in the first place. What is most likely to happen is that a campaign will make some statement about an opponent that is designed to be a distraction or other divisive tactic. The media will rarely parse the statements to determine if it’s newsworthy or contextually relevant and they seldom seem to actually catch hypocrisy or define the root substance. What they will do is spend a full week of time repeating the nonsense and building up the false narratives without ever getting to an actual point that is valuable.

In today’s Presidential campaigns, we’ve witnessed the lefts tactics that are focused solely on their opponent’s style and negative public personality traits. The public lacks the ability to discern truth and can’t think past the soundbite. Many share the superficial negative opinion of the opponent. The public fully buys into the narrative and any negative story or soundbite reinforces their bias. This is known as confirmation bias or “the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories”; even if that evidence isn’t true. If what someone says agrees with what I already think, then it must be true and factual. This, of course, is shamefully ignorant, dangerously risky in sound decision making and very common. Knowing all of this, the campaign seeks to say just the right things to trigger a non-rational, emotional response reinforcing the negative narratives planted.

What Should Happen

Think first about the motivation of the one telling you what to think. Do they have a track record of honesty and good decision making? This is the first level of dissecting truth. Ask yourself; What’s in it for them? Being skeptical of everything and taking time to think is the first sign of sound reasoning. Here are a few more things to consider when bombarded with rhetoric and media punditry:

Is the information sound (not crazy), based on credible sources and can be validated? Do your own research. If you do not have the time or resources to verify what’s been said you may take it under consideration but not base a decision on this alone. Wait for further evidence of truth.

Is the information relevant? Does it really matter when considered in the proper context of the desired end result? When you think about the act of governing as President of the United States and the complex decision making which includes broad counsel with advisors, experts and intelligence gathering, is what is being presented to you in a campaign truly important?

Is there a counter truth or explanation that is equally factual and credible? If what has been said is true or if it’s not verified, is there at least another explanation that should be fully weighed in making a decision? If the information is sound, verifiable, contextual and relevant then begin to think through all of the circumstances and assemble the correct narrative that will help make sound decisions.

Consider what happens next. What is the possible outcome of this information? Few actually take the time to consider step two and beyond. Especially when free stuff is being promoted – Who pays for it?

  • Free Stuff = Higher Taxes
  • Higher Taxes = Less Consumption and Production of goods and services
  • Less Consumption/Production = Declining Economy and fewer business starts
  • Declining Economy = Lost Jobs, Business Closure and on and on

If the information is true, then what would happen next? If this isn’t true, then why is it being presented as something I should believe? What is the motivation and can that motivation be trusted? Can the person be trusted?

Freedom of the Press

The Constitution of the United States includes a First Amendment that protects freedom of the press. This was designed to be a check and balance on government and individuals in office. The press was supposed to be free to report truth and present facts to the citizens of the union in order for them to understand and make judgement upon how well their elected officials were serving the public good. Honest, truthful and factual information, monitored and reported by the press and media sources is critical for sound decision making at the ballot box and for holding elected public servants accountable.

Today this design is no longer functioning as intended. Our media is politicized and can’t be trusted to serve the roll our founders wished. The entire system is politicized and we’ve recently witnessed the destruction of justice in government with development at the Department of Justice and the FBI. We can easily suspect other branches of government are equally infected by rampant corruption and aligned with political party agendas that are outside of the best interests of the collective citizens.

Responsibility and Duty to Vote

Your vote still matters! Your decision making ability has been compromised. It is now up to you to make the investment to begin looking at political campaigns with both eyes open and your full brain functioning. Elections have consequences and it is these consequences that must be considered each time you hear a politician; a campaign surrogate or media pundit tell you what to think.

VOTE – Vote Smart

Be Careful With What You Know

•September 27, 2016 • Comments Off on Be Careful With What You Know

“Choosing and preparing for the job you’ll do for the next career is a much more important task than getting that job. Serving is more important than the campaign.” ~ Seth Godin

Your life is a culmination of experiences, beliefs and actions. Your results are the output and outcome of everything that has come before.

What do these things collectively say about how well you’ll serve? Does the narrative that others might promote today accurately tell the complete story of who you are now, what your desire most and how well you’ll serve?

Does our future self and everything that we will do have to fit and follow our past?

If I reach back into YOUR PAST and pull out something that isn’t pretty, that isn’t flattering or isn’t your best moment and push it forward to today, is that really the YOU that serves today and will serve tomorrow?

Our past failures are as much a part of our current capacity to serve as our finest moments in history. As we live our lives take many shapes. Each experience chips away to slowly reveal an unfinished character.

The past isn’t the whole story, the whole picture or the finished sculpture. Be careful how you view what little you know. You can’t paint the full color picture in black and white.

I’ve got a million things to do…

•September 26, 2016 • Comments Off on I’ve got a million things to do…

hi_so_busyI’ve run across a recurring theme lately that’s been extremely frustrating. Everybody is busy. I don’t mean productive either.

Families are busy. Workers are busy. Managers are busy. In all of this busyness we’re missing the part about living well, about performing and expending effort without seeing meaningful outcomes and being productive. Dictionary.com lists their #2 definition of busyness as “lively but meaningless activity”.  Do you see a lot of lively activity around you but little meaning or VALUE being produced? I do.

For a long time there has been a push in business to reduce staff in order to reduce cost. People are expensive. Every time there is a mandate to reduce costs, cut budgets, and make the numbers we see people as the first thing to go. My frustration is that there’s NEVER a reduction of work. In fact, I’d argue that work always increases unless the goal of the business is to get smaller, produce less or shrink market share.

Now if you’re reducing people because of efficient and effective automation and your efforts improve EVERYTHING then OK. But I rarely see this as the result of staff reductions. What actually happens is some poor schmuck gets MORE work every time there’s another reduction.

I’ve worked in organizations that have had too much bureaucracy, too much process and too many people to deal with which resulted in nothing getting done. I’ve also worked with those who have cut and cut and cut, sometimes entire departments at a time. The result is everyone has too much work for anyone to be efficient and there is too little knowledge to be effective so…nothing gets done.

So where’s the logic in this? If you are one of those who have cut staff to cut costs Here’s a few areas where you’re wrong:

YOU’RE KILLING YOUR PEOPLE

Did you cut staff because they had nothing or little to do? Did you give their work to someone who had nothing or little to do?

If either of those are true then it is leadership or management who needs to go not the worker. Since nobody is admitting that then you’re just creating new problems for yourself by loading too much work on too few people. Like the scene in the 1927 silent film Metropolis where workers can’t keep up with the work, only two outcomes can occur: Workers fail (aka stress, anxiety or resignation) or the work fails.

You may not realize it but most workers take responsibility without saying no. They will want to perform even if they feel overwhelmed. They will continue to try and prioritize and manage their time until they break. The last thing they will do is look you in the eye and say; which of these tasks do you not want to get done? They should.

YOU’RE UNDERMINING REAL PRODUCTIVITY OPPORTUNITIES

This reminds me of the carpenters joke: I’ve cut it and cut it and cut it and it’s still too short. When leadership and management strikes the staff reduction bell first without considering what happens next or without first addressing creative and innovative productivity options then the clanging resonance will cause severe repercussions.

When leadership and management believes staff reductions are the answer they’ve missed the opportunity to tap into workers knowledge, creativity and their understanding of where waste and operational stupidity could be overcome. Dismissing people removes their cost but also removes their intellectual property and insight. You’ll not replace that with a H1-B worker either. It’s gone.

NOBODY TRUSTS YOU

The most powerful thing any leader has is the trust of those around them. Despite leadership and managements best efforts to appear wise and intellectual, the ever increasing burden you place on workers, due to reductions, who must assume more and more workload will immediately cause them to not trust your judgement. If you once had their trust the best thing you’ve got now is their fear.

Workers who’ve survived repetitious “all hands” meetings where the latest restructuring efforts are communicated followed by staff reductions know they could be next. They know there is no guarantee they’ll be employed tomorrow. They’ve seen too many great coworkers escorted out and their knowledge lost. Each day they come to work with heads down and a CYA attitude. It’s a survival game. This new learned attitude may manifest itself in a quite spirit, aka hiding, or it could release outbursts of aggressiveness, intolerance and anger. Sound familiar?

Your front line people, the ones doing actual work, will quickly see the failure of your judgement through inefficiencies, ineffective outcomes and subdued negative cultures. This will most likely kick in their fight or flight response. If they chose to fight they will try and figure out which tasks are really important and which ones can go undone. In large organizations fighting means hiding or masking productivity to appear busy or divert blame. You’ll commonly hear the busyness, I’ve got a million things to do, excuse. After all, everybody is now too busy to pay much attention and can relate so the lack of productivity is easily accepted. You may not even notice the slowing of the corporate machine.

If they chose to flee then…their gone. You once again lose their knowledge, their experience and insight and their intellectual contributions, and likely to a competitor.

BTW – If I were running a growing business in your market I’d be monitoring when my competitors release staff. I’d immediately hire them either as full time, part time or contractors and put them on a skunk-works team to discover your weakness, your initiatives and then develop innovative ways to bury you.

YOU WILL ACHEIVE EXACTLY WHAT YOU DO NOT WANT

Here’s another surprise. Multitasking is a myth. Nobody can do more than one thing at a time. If you believe that you are a good multitasker others see you as unfocused and lacking discipline. That’s a fact. If I hear people excuse inaction or missed deadlines due to being busy I immediately think they lack the ability to prioritize and focus. This more than likely rolls up the chain meaning they’ve been given more to do and no leadership in setting priorities about what is important.

As stated earlier, leadership and management may never see how the organization is slowing down. Cutting staff forces others to consume more time doing less work because they’ve lost the capacity to collaborate with others. Timelines extend and efforts actually weaken as the organization accepts the “do more with less” mandates.

Those making the decisions must bear the responsibility.

IN SUMMARY

Every business will face times when budgets demand some form of reduction. If leadership is keeping an eye on the far horizons and making preparations ahead of time you can manage through these times and protect workers and their critical knowledge. How can you do this? Well that’s the subject of another Welcome to My Opinion – Here’s Why You’re Wrong post.

If you’ve got a particular item you’d like me to comment about let me know.