How About a Little Cheese with your Whine

A force exists between all living creatures. Call it whatever makes you comfortable, but don’t deny that it exists. Every day, each one of us contributes to the strength of that force or we degrade it. You decide in each moment which one you’re going to do. We’d all behave differently if, at the end of each day, we got to see a tally of our efforts for the day. If a big Leader Board showed whether you added or subtracted from the overall happiness in the world, and you had to walk past it on the way to the clubhouse, you would behave differently in the world each day.

In my line of work, I deal with people who are usually upset. They are upset because something didn’t go the way they expected it to go. They did everything they were supposed to do, but things didn’t go right. Now they have to place the blame somewhere. Why not the computer guy! All of us at Port-to-Port Consulting realize that this is a part of our job. We know that people aren’t really mad at us. They’re mad at the situation. When technology breaks down, most of us are left as helpless as children. What do little kids do when things don’t go their way? They whine about it. It’s the natural order of things.

Why not enjoy the amazing power of technology instead? Whining about broken stuff will not get it fixed. Expecting the stuff to work perfectly every time is a recipe for a coronary. Sometimes things don’t go well. Rarely is that the end of the world as you know it. Surely there’s something else you can do, even if it’s just a few minutes of good, old fashioned nothing. Think about your contribution to the overall well being of the world. That’s more important than whether your last email zipped across cyberspace in a few hundred milliseconds. Consider this:

Love the One You’re With

Stephen Stills wrote and recorded the song “Love the One You’re With” in 1970 and it made it into the top 20. The next year, it was recorded by The Isley Brothers and Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. Both versions made it into the top 20 also. Perhaps it’s time for a remake. Never has the sentiment been more important than in the age of text messaging. The lyrics will need a little updating though, because today it’s impossible for you not to be with the one you love. You can text them while you ignore the one you’re with.

I always thought it was rude when people pulled out their smartphones in the middle of a meeting to read their email. That’s nothing compared to carrying on a separate conversation via text or Twitter. So far, the record for rude behavior belongs to a little girl in Muncie Indiana whose dad proudly calculated that she sent or received a text message every 113 seconds on average for an entire month. There’s something to be proud of.

So the next time you’re sitting with someone and you feel that vibration in your pocket, remember:

If you’re down and confused
And you don’t remember who you’re talkin’ to
Concentration slip away
Cause your baby is so far away.
Well, there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Love the one you’re with
Love the one you’re with

Taking Things in Stride

I’m riding in a car with the five other smal lbusiness owners that make up my C3 Forum group. We’re headed to central Michigan for our annual retreat. I’ve been in this group for well over a decade. We’ve watched each other’s businesses grow (and shrink) over the years. Times are hard on many of us right now, which explains why we’re driving to Michigan instead of flying somewhere warm.

As we catch up on the happenings in our lives since we were last together, it hits me that we are a group that has learned to take things in stride. We all have happy home lives. We’re productive, contributing members of society. And we could start over in our business lives if we had to.

Times are tough, but you don’t have to let it get you down. In the end, each of us gets to choose how we feel about things.

Catching Up

I had breakfast with my friend Tom McKenna last Friday. I had not seen him in a fee years. It was fantastic catching up with him. He told me of his escapades in Ohio and about his grandchildren. I told him about my family and gave an update on my business. We had a great human experience.

The next day, I attended the first meeting since May of the Indiana Post Adoption Network. We spent a couple of hours telling one another about our successes over the past seven months. We also talked about the issues we are facing right now. Again, a great, albeit different, human experience.

Then on Sunday I watched the Super Bowl with several of my fraternity brothers and their wives. We spent time catching up on things and made commitments to keep in touch better now that most of us are nearing the empty nest stage of life. What a human experience that was!

Three different experiences over three days. I didn’t connect them until I was told this morning by a customer I’ve been working with for months that he doesn’t intend to go forward with us. The news came as a surprise. Without the energy of having spent so much time with people that I love, this would have made me forlorn. Now I just file it away. This is NOT a human experience.

Listening and Talking are Harder Than They Seem

Port-to-Port Consulting has an all day retreat every year on Martin Luther King Jr Day. Each year, I try to focus the day on a theme that seems to be important to our ability to move forward. This year’s theme was one of values. We worked from the “me” perspective to the ‘us” perspective to the “them” perspective. One cannot communicate successfully if one doesn’t know from where he starts and from where the person to whom he communicates starts as well. Most of us don’t think much about our lens on the world or how it determines what we notice and how we respond to it. Prejudice carries so much baggage as a term that we can’t accept that we all have them. Without knowing that, they get in the way more often.Listener

Our group starting out with a look at the Kiersey Type Sorter, which gave an idea of how we personally approach the world. Then we talked about the difference and similarities among us as a group, and how that impacts the way we talk to one another. We followed that with a review of the Gallup Strengths Finder on each of us. Using the top five strengths to have a similar discussion. Next we extrapolated our new learning to our customers to see how might assess their starting places when we talk with them.

I wrapped those two things into the elements that make up our core values then we discussed the company’s core values and found that some didn’t feel as if we were living up to them. I acknowledged that we need to strive for better expression of our values and that I have first responsibility to be sure that happens.

I left at the end of the day with great concern that several of the talented people on my staff were going to start searching for new jobs. When I arrived at work the next morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see that everyone was thinking about the ways in which we can communicate better. We discovered that listening and talking are much harder than they seem at first.

Slowing Down

This is the time of year when many of us are thinking about the future. Lots of us have recently made resolutions to be different. Some of us have already abandoned those resolutions. I am no fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’m not generally a fan of resolutions at all. They are just “I intend to” statements. Rather than make the statement, just do it.

I spend my days going full speed. Sometimes I’m not happy if I don’t have conflicting appointments from which to choose. But my psyche has a way of letting me know when I need to slow down. It happens when I suddenly realize that I’ve spent the last hour on a single mindless task. I used to panic when that realization sank in. Now I just smile.

Slowing down is good for us sometimes. You ought to try it for a while today. Take a break from everything and do…NOTHING. Start out easy. Do nothing for a minute or two. When you finish doing nothing, smile. Make that the first thing you do before you get started again. Take a couple of minutes tomorrow too. Work your way up to a good 10 or 15 minutes of doing nothing each day. With a span of time that big, you can do something with your nothing if you must, but make it a mindless something.

These little slow downs will carry you thru the rest of your crazy day. And the rest of your crazy day is important. The pauses give your brain time to catch up with you. I find myself to be a lot more efffective since inserting a few nothings into each day.