Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Abuse or Being Upset?

There is definitely a fine line in a relationship between feeling abused by another and feeling upset with yourself. Most people don't know the difference so they maintain a base internal order that whatever the situation, they are never the problem.

Abuse is when a person is consistently aggressive [in talk, not physically] towards someone and does not give the proper support or accolades even when the discussed expectations have been met or exceeded. In other words, they are treated poorly or nastily even when they do what was asked of them.

Being upset, in this scenario, is when that same person is called on their poor results due to having not met expectations, but still want the accolades and appreciation as if they did complete that certain task. They want a blue ribbon for participating.

This happens all the time. The comments rain from our mouths;

"But you didn't see the work I did behind the scenes."
"He just doesn't appreciate me."
"She doesn't know what it takes to complete this."
"What they wanted was just impossible."

The truth is that you either meet or don't meet a laid out expectation. When it is properly explained, you have said you will do something then you have only two things that you can do:
  1. Communicate throughout the process that you know what is expected and/or don't know so that everyone is talking and understanding where events are leading
  2. Just get the job done and pat yourself on the back
Both scenarios lead you to accept that you are the driver and that you will be proud of accomplishing or communicating the work you did regardless of how others treat you.

However, a third result is often the dramatic one that people take. They take the power out of their own hands and tell themselves that someone else is to blame for not doing either of the two scenarios above. Feelings of under appreciation, being incomplete, and contempt for others who were attempting to hold you accountable are all feelings that are misdirected.

Like with so many things in life, the finger should point at only one person. You. Rather than beat yourself up and feel powerless learn from the lessons of this relationship and understand that you are always responsible for what you say and what you do. It is a basic level of integrity. Hard to manage but basic.

Don't blame or whine, that just wastes valuable time; thank someone for helping you realize that you are accountable to what you say you will do and then go and practice always doing what you say you will.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Discovery.... The "secret"

[written in July 19th 2005 - ammended July 27th 2007]

Each year, for the past six, I have been turned on and tuned into the Tour De France. So much so I even started in on a sport I once dreaded and have become mildly proficient while befriending people I once avoided. By next year I should be proficient at pimping my ride for my renovated house with a special Texas Hold Em room. The one proud difference I can claim is that after year three [of seven], I had it figured out. Figured out the sixty four million dollar question “can the Discovery Team win it again?” Yes.

Now, this is not to state that I am the almighty, dismiss the talents and abilities of each cyclist or diminish the super human prowess of one of the greatest cyclist in history but even Lance has cited the key to his success lies in his team. Few can deny the emergence of the American cycling team in an otherwise European dominated sport is largely hinged on Johan Bruneil's understanding of team. Fewer still can deny the fact that when medical team, met survivor team, met marketing team, met cycling team, met marketing team, met coaching team, met marketing team, the entire unit kicked off the North American cycling obsession by ensuring all micro-teams where ‘the best’.

I figured by year three when you would see rogue riders from other groups drafting behind a team of nine team Postal members, they would clue in and speak to their coaches. Something to the effect of “hey, we have so many great European riders, why not choose one guy, surround him with eight great guys, not try to cheat our way to the podium and make it happen?” Every year, we can see very early whether that happened or not. Yes, the 2007 Discovery Team has a team of all stars that were developed on the heels of time, vision and reaching the critical tipping point. The point at which team mates agreed to follow the vision of the leader and the direction of the coach to experience the results of the chemistry. This speaks to the fact great teams are not built overnight.

What is the formula for a great team?
· Usually one very special personality [a franchise player if you will]. Someone with a special vision and charisma that fuels their success. [Lance / George / Yaroslav / Alberto or Levi]
· A knowledgeable and dedicated coach. Someone with a detailed systemized data savvy who can work with, particularly manage, the special personality. [Johan & Chris]
· A great support cast of passionate, team players with perspective and knowledge. Someone with a diversified responsibility who understands their contribution to the ultimate goal. [The remainder of the Discovery Team]

Why are great teams so inconsistent?
· A loss of harmony between the personality and the coach. When these pillars get on separate tracks, the entire dichotomy is ruined. [L.A. Lakers]
· Too many players vying for the franchise player position. The reality is if you a assemble a team of individuals, you still have individuals. [T-Mobile]
· The interference of the marketing initiatives that skew the balance. Almost every single sporting agency has stretched their seasons to capture the remnants of every possible dollar. Teams need as much practice and rest time as they do playing time. [NBA Playoff’s & ratings]

How can you ensure you are supporting your team dynamic?
· Understand the team vision by understanding exactly what the franchise player and the coach expect.
· Know exactly what your role is on the team you play for. Personal or professional.
· Execute unwavering support to your teams objectives until such time where you feel you are not gaining or contributing to the betterment of the movement.
· Move on from your team when you are mentally and emotionally incapable of keeping the pace.

By the time this reaches print, the Tour will have already been won, for the seventh time by a special group of people who’s only challenge is to avoid a large group of individuals recklessly trying to make a name for themselves. Sure they will win individual jerseys, yet team Discovery will win the Tour. .

Thanks team Discovery, for reminding us the simple combination of vision, systems and support team rolled in with meticulous effort leads to the success. Perhaps after your protégé’s step in next year and duplicate the process for Team win #9, the rest of the world will catch up.

Friday, July 27, 2007

More Lessons From the Animal Kingdom

I was watching the Tour de France yesterday and saw as the riders drafted in straight lines in order to help out the other riders on their team. As a cyclist I understand the philosophy of drafting; let someone do the hard work while you reap the benefit until it is your turn to lead. While watching this I wondered why cyclists don’t ride in the V pattern we see migrating birds fly in. What I have always been told is that birds fly in this particular pattern so that, much like cyclists, one bird takes on the hard work until they tire and then fall back in the pattern so that they can benefit off of another leader. What I found out was shocking to me because it dispels everything I thought I knew about birds in formation, yet enlightened me in the rules of the migration.

In fact, the lead bird is not leading until they tire and then falling back into formation, instead by flying in formation every bird is subjected to the same amount of air friction as their neighbor. The advantage that is created to the birds by flying in this formation is called a “wingtip vortex”. What is a “wingtip vortex” you ask. Well, on the downstroke a bird displaces the air downward and on the upstroke the air is displaced upwards (upwash). By working together the volume of air around the bird remains the same, and by flying in the upwash each bird stays in flight using less lifting power. Because of this, flying in a V formation balances everything out so that each bird is using the same amount of energy while in formation, which amounts to much less energy then if they were to fly solo. Unlike cyclists, birds actually have a code where everyone must put out equal effort no matter their status; it’s only fair.

In the middle of the V is where the least amount of resistance is, but in migration that space is left only for those birds that are either sick or weaker than the rest of the group, it is not for a bird looking for a free ride. This particular spot got me to thinking about how we interact with other humans in the workplace. We typically have a formation that we operate in, it is called roles. The problem with our roles is that they are structured in a hierarchy that usually makes someone work harder than the rest of the group. By doing this we are creating a greater strain on those within the hierarchy. As we make it near the top we feel the strain of working harder because we have more responsibility, ultimately leading to new pressures and stresses. In essence we allow others to draft until they are ready to lead instead of demanding that each and every person on the team puts in maximum effort.

By putting in the same amount of effort we diminish the need for someone to take the glory for a successful venture. Lance Armstrong won 7 Tour de France titles, yet to the average person, none of them can name the other members of his team. Therefore Lance gets all of the glory for a group of people that in theory worked harder than he did during the event. In business, like sports, we give the glory to the top performer instead of creating a group of top performers and sharing the glory. If our goal is to make our life better, then we need to rely on everyone we are associated with to work just as hard as we do. We need to make sure that nobody is looking to draft or fly in the center of the formation, but is willing to share the load with the rest of us. Once we can create this dynamic, much like birds in migration, there will be no room for individual achievement because success will truly be a group effort, where each involved party put in the full and equal amount of themselves.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

pull up your fucking pants, get back to work & put back the seeds.

its been a long time since i was really annoyed with something but today, it came in 3's. sorry to double dip stan.

1st - i am unsure what fashion moron decided that it was uber cool to have one's pants linger mid-ass, but let me assure you i speak for thousands who want to kick each one of those people... right in the ass. even if you are super sexy and have that 6 pack into navel curve, tuck in your underwear or don't wear any. i swear if my grandmother could run she would hem your low riders to your bra in 5 minutes.

to see young men walking around with their pants falling down lays testament to the bullshit lackadaisical attitude that is killing us right now. 'whaaazzup bro' - it's pardon actually and i'm not your bro. if i were i'd kick the snot out of you for representing the family like a street bum.

to see young woman stuff themselves into these things so tightly they have to swing their legs sideways to make forward progress is also unappealing. read again. you look like a fat stuffed sausage not a sexy starlet. sorry to be the voice of reality.

2nd - vancouver city workers who pick mid summer to strike. man - oh - man its tough to be pc with you. one one hand i understand how your $25 / hr, over extended myself problems have become everyone elses. your fucking greedy and you don't understand the economics of a business in that things can't just keep going up.

if i overextend myself and try to live beyond my means - i'm fucked. i could strike but no one would care. (kind of like you right now). similarly, you wait until it affects people the most - mid summer. 'they won't talk so we will strike', it's their fault. reminds me of listening to my kids blame each other for who's fault it is in my house. at some point daddy has to step in and restore order. same will happen with you. like the last time you went on strike for 6 weeks, and got the 1% raise over 3 years. brilliant cupe leadership there. fucking morons.

does the word terrorism come into your minds? that's where people hold other people hostage to get what they want. PRAY this high panter never gets into political power because like Ronald Reagan, I would tell you all to fuck off and bring in people who do think $25 / hr + + + is a decent wage. shit, i'd build them affordable housing while i'm at it.

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3rd - and just as i'm thinking about all of this bullshit, over dinner while we're educating our kids on how to and not to behave, i sink my teeth into a new aged 50 pound, lasts 3 weeks steroid, seedless, tinted window watermelon.

are you kidding me? its like eating a foam pillow. give me back the 1 month to grow, lasts 3 days before it rots, has a few black seeds that i can swallow or spit out, but tastes like watermelon experience and stop trying to make things better for us all. your not. stop fucking with nature, because you are only making it worse.

thanks for letting me vent and i hope you listened like you care.

Listen Like You Care

If you work anywhere around people, chances are that today you are going to have over 100 conversations. That may seem like a lot, but in fact, dozens will occur in elevators, in cars, on the sidewalk, or on the way somewhere and we pay many, if not most of our conversations very little mind. Yesterday was no exception. On my way walking to complete another task, I ran into a customer who was going through their last month's charges with our adminstration controller, and 2 of our receptionists.

Our admin controller patiently went through the details of said bill, when out it came. She was trying to have the charges reversed on her husband's credit card and then pay cash because her psycologically abusive husband hates himself and takes it out on everyone around him; which means her a great deal of the time.

A simple dispute over charges (normally a 5 minute discussion at most) turned into half an hour of..

"I don't know what to do... how will I provide for our 2 children if I leave him?"

"why does he have to be so negative?"

"if only he could see what his life could be like if he weren't such an asshole all the time"

"he hates me because I'm a good mom to our kids and his parents weren't to him"

All of those little conversations we have that we don't think about, we have while on autopilot. That is the steering option of choice for the rat race. I guarantee the 4 employees who were present for these events instantly shifted back into manual drive, and were impacted by this encounter.

While she got an ear first of all, and then questions, opinions and options second... that is not the point. The point is, of the 100 or so people we come into contact with every day, we have an opportunity to impact their lives for the better. If we are stuck on autoplilot, they go about their problems on their own (which we all do too much of).

The point of this entry today is that we all complain of the state of the world today, and how society has gotten so selfish. The fact is, stories like this one can and do (and should) happen every day. If they were to happen more often, we would strengthen our sense of community, belonging, and love for one another.

This conversation took only 2 things; timing, and a sense of purpose on the part of the listener. You will be the listener most of the time if we all choose to be less selfish, because the thing people like to talk about the most... is themselves. Having said that, if you enter as many converations as you can with a sense of purpose as a listener, you will create more opportunities to impact others.

...and you will be repaid for these selfless little acts in more ways than you know; because everyone wants to repay those in their debt, and by helping more people, you create more allies both known and unknown who will be there to help when you are the one with the problem, or in need of opportunity.

it really is that simple, so get talking, and more importantly, listening.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Don't Wait Until the Door is Already Open

Anybody can achieve anything.

If you are looking to excel and succeed…find a way. Those who succeed are those who walk through the door of opportunity when it swings open. That is a definite. So then what is the secret to getting through the door of opportunity?

Answer: Being outside the door when it swings open.

The thing is…you never know when the door of opportunity is going to open wide. For some, the big break comes early in life and for others later on. But for all of those who become successful, there is one key similarity: They were ready. And for every one of those who were ready, there were thousands more who weren’t.

Therefore, the true answer is: Be ready!

So…when you are sitting and waiting for things to happen – make them happen. The job to do while waiting for the door to open is to develop your skills and your character, so as to position yourself to get through that door before it closes. Do everything you can to be ready. Don’t just sit and wish and dream. Be proactive and make sure that you are the most qualified when the door opens. Make sure that you are the hardest worker. Make sure you are the closest to the door.Trust me that your door will open someday. It opens for everyone. It may only open once or it may open many times. It is different for everyone and life just isn’t fair that way. But everybody gets a shot. And when you are sitting there and the door is open nice and wide…sprint through.

Take that ball and RUN with it…don’t crawl. Don’t walk. Don’t jog. RUN.
Be Ready - not when it opens BUT before it opens!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Creative Blame is Still Blame

It sounds different to start with.

"I think I need a change."
"I'm bored of the industry." Or,

"It's not you but I'm leaving because I need a new challenge."
"Really, where are you going for this challenge?"
"Your competitor."

Interesting challenge.

We are all similar in that we all have issues to deal with. The main difference between those that continue to climb and grow is that they recognize their own problems and deal with them straight on. They take responsibility for who and what they are.

Clearly there would be a paradigm change for business on the whole if everyone decided that their jobs weren't the reason they "needed a change."

Divorces, addictions, money problems or whatever you feel is your specific area of concern; these are your problems and changing your scenery may stall the feelings of depression or helplessness but,

they DO NOT solve the actual problems.

It is far more likely that the organizations you are currently with, where you have developed relationships, will help you out if you communicate your needs. It is far more likely that you will find support where you have spent time and are a valued member. It is far more likely that your current friends will help you where you need it most.

Solve your problems, the real ones, and save yourself the fleeting belief that changing your apartment or significant other will actually change you.

You are responsible and running away doesn't change anything in the long term. Stop getting creative in your own mind and trying to find someone or something else that could be responsible. Stop blaming your business, your boss or your co-workers. They didn't do anything to cause your difficulties.

It is harder to swim up stream but well worth it in the long run. Hit your problems head on. Now.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Leave on top… with a legacy.

This statement has to be qualified in writing due to a 3 letter world (ego) that prevents the majority of humanity learning it from real world example(s).

Whether you find yourself in a relationship (team), partnership (job) or internship (trial), the best thing you can do to and for yourself (after giving it your all), is leaving that ship better than you found it. We’ve chronicled this at nausea, and will continue to as we pick up new swimupstream readers.

Part of the challenge is that people may not understand how to leave on top and then how to leave a legacy. Allow us to provide some insight.

How to leave on top.

1. take time (10 min) to write every positive encounter, lesson, experience you have had as a result of this choice in your life.
2. re-read that list each time your mind goes onto “the next thing” or into a negative state.
3. share that introspection with your ship mates (old and new) in order they can learn from your experiences.
4. whether you are 1 day, 1 month or 10 years into a ship and decide to leave, try harder than you previously have in terms of effort to make an impact.
5. say thank you to the captains and mates of your ship. Thank you’s come in verbal and non verbal gestures.

How to leave a legacy
1. find the ship that best suits your skillset. If you find yourself sailing on a ship to pass the time, you will quickly become seasick, hence making your problems – others problems. Its difficult to leave a legacy if you board a ship you are not passionate about.
2. if you find yourself on a ship sailing in a diverging direction, speak to the captain and appropriate mates right away. Perhaps you get dropped off at port for a day, or change roles within that ship or make arrangements to board a new ship (using how to leave on top as your transfer).
3. *don’t mistake your needs / wants / indecisions as the fault of the captain or mates. Too often, instead of implementing 1& 2 above or 1-5 of the aforementioned, we turn inwards and bore through to the bottom of our ship, sinking ourselves, the ship and everyone on board.
4. want to leave your ship in better condition than you boarded it. This includes helping your captain to become a better captain and your mates to become better mates. Systems, suggestions, something you brought… and left that will be remembered for the remainder of time.
5. speak well about the ship and your mates. Chances are if you have spend more than 1 year on it & with them, there was something valuable, interesting and rewarding about the experience. Who could benefit from a similar experience?
Yes, the bulk of leaving on top and leaving a legacy has a lot to do with thinking about others and not ourselves.

…..which is exactly why there are fewer real world examples for us to draw from.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Art of Flow

I was reading an article in The New York Times Magazine (July 8th) titled Just Beneath The Surface (Akiko Busch), which was amazingly written and a real gem if you have the time. In the article, the writer mentions Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who is the creator of flow theory and the founding father of the human relationship with flow. Defined by Mihaly, flow is the feeling of complete and energized focus in an activity, with a high level of enjoyment and fulfillment. Anyone who has ever tried to experience being in “the zone” is searching for flow and flow relates to any aspect of life where we are searching for a high level of enjoyment and fulfillment.

According to Mihaly, components of an experience of flow can be specifically numbered, although not are all needed to experience flow. He lists them as follows;

  1. Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one's skill set and abilities).

  2. Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).

  3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.

  4. Distorted sense of time - one's subjective experience of time is altered.

  5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).

  6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).

  7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.

  8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.

When in the flow state, people become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975. p.72).

There really is nothing I need to explain since this is laid out so thoroughly. The one thing I think is necessary for us to understand however is what we have control over in flow. Obviously we have control over creating clear and concise goals, yet we continually act on ideas with no real plan on how to execute them (ego maniac). We also have control over what we choose to concentrate on in our limited field of attention, but struggle to keep our field of attention limited (multi tasker). Yes, we can control the direct and immediate feedback we receive, although we often look for that feedback from everyone but ourselves (needy). Our final state of control in flow comes from selecting an activity that is intrinsically rewarding, yet we continually expect to be rewarded for our efforts (me generation).

What we have no control over is the ability to lose the feeling of self-consciousness. This happens as a consequence of our ability to manage what we have control over first. Knowing this, why is the majority of our advice to others “just let it go”? When we have no awareness then we can never have it merge with action. We also have no control over distorting time, but everyone has had a coach or boss tell them that they need to see everything slower. In flow distorted time is subjective and individualized, not created by an external source.

So, as we all struggle to find flow in our everyday life, we need to know why flow exists and then create situations where flow is the greatest probability internally, as well as in those we surround ourselves with. Action advice with no direction attached to it is not leadership, it is wasted air. Personal action with no strategy is not doing busy work, it is wasted effort. Until we realize that we spend more time wasting than doing, we will continually search for how to experience flow instead of controlling our flow states individually.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hindsight is not always 20/20

We've all heard the phrase, "hindsight is 20/20". We usually use this phrase as a means of eliminating regret after the fact when we know we could have done something different... as in, "there's no point in looking back now because you couldn't have known how things would've turned out".

Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. The fact is, even after the fact, we often lack all the facts or outcomes associated with certain decisions. This is because of all the variables in any given situation, one constant remains: US. That is, there often may be a lesson involved after we make a mistake (there almost always is), however we still have our own bias', agendas, and perspectives to contend with... that, and our pride and emotional state.

Sometimes we make the same mistakes over and over (pretty much the definition of stupidity) because we are unwilling to consider other realities than we know. We won't consider other opinions, or other possibilities. If this is the case, even if foresight was 20/20, we'd still make a lot of mistakes.

That being said, it is important to reiterate that hindsight is definately not 20/20; especially not all the time. This can be a positive though. If we embrace just how few certainties there are in life, than we become less sure of our selves. This allows us to trust others, take advice, and learn humility. If we can do that, even when we make mistakes, we will see an opportunity for lessons and growth.

When this happens, instead of looking in the rear view mirror of our lives to debate what should have been done, we look back to the lessons, and then we have a clearer vision when we turn our gaze to the road ahead. And this is the real kicker, because life would be pretty damn boring if we knew what the road ahead looked like.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Do you have what it takes?

Yesterday, I had the enjoyment to celebrate one year of being a business owner. With fellow team mates and customers we gathered together, raised our glasses, and reflected on the past year’s worth of great accomplishments and achievements. From an outsider looking in, the one-year of business seemed extremely successful, attractive to pursue, and relatively smooth sailing with very little headaches. Although, I am extremely proud to say that it was a great year, I can also tell you that the reality of being a business owner is that the position is NOT a walk in the park.

Now day and age, everyone wants to run their own business, yet fail to realize the sacrifice, hard work, and persistence that are required to be successful. Business is hard work. There is a big difference between being good at what you do and being proficient at operating a business. Remember,

8 of every 10 businesses fail.

Ownership can be 24 / 7 including evenings, weekends and holidays and you cannot hide from it. Being the owner means you have the responsibility of sole accountability to every mistake. And then being an effective business leader requires a special determination to continue swimming upstream while literally millions around you are floating downstream with their hands behind their heads wondering why you are working so hard. And once again…managing people is everyday.

So, the next time you tell yourself that you want to be a business owner and reap the rewards (because there are definitely some) that come with the position…evaluate what you want and what it takes to be great. Ask yourself:
  • Am I persistent and will not take no for an answer?
  • When I’m interested in a project, do have any problem giving up sleep?
  • When there’s something I want, do I keep that goal clearly in mind?
  • Do I examine mistakes and then learn from them?
  • Do I have a strong personal need to succeed and be great at what I do?
  • Am I adaptable to different people/situations/expectations?
  • Do I realize that it is not always about me…but actually those around me?
  • Am I intuitive and able to think proactively instead of reactively?
  • If something can’t be done, do I find a way?
  • Do I see problems as challenges and have the ability to find solutions?
  • Do I have the confidence in taking educating risks?
  • Do I understand that there will be emotional setbacks and I will have to recover from those?
  • Am I confident in my abilities and the direction I am heading?
  • Am I willing to undergo sacrifices for potential long-term rewards?
  • Am I willing to learn about myself, evaluate my weaknesses, except that I am not perfect and work to improve in all areas through education, self-reflection and listening to those around me?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Your Future Is Decided Every Day

Each decision you make creates your future.

With that said it is important to note that you are then responsible for how your future will be, what it will hold and how you will feel about your life.

Nobody else is going to change the course of your life. Just you.

If you smoke there will be a consequence.
If you drink.
If you drive recklessly.
If you are true to your word.

Everything you do or don't do has an outcome and your decisions make those results come alive.

Are you able to make the right decisions?
Are you willing to take a chance with life?

Look at what you feel the outcome will be. Look into your future.

Do you like what you see?
It is time to make your choices count.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Nurturing out Nature.

I really enjoyed Scott's Friday blog about nature (specifically)the lions ability to rule the jungle. It's been something that i personally, have always bought into (team vs. individual). We have passed numerous opportunities to be "the guys" (in terms of what society thinks is 'cool') and there's not a day that goes by we (pretty much everyone I surround myself with) don't feel better off for it.

What's ironic is the myriad of examples that support Scott's team logic compared to the futility with which we (as a society) carry it out. One would think if success was that as easy to attain, there would be a plethora of great examples.

The simple reason why there isn't more examples, is because being a part of a team is difficult (for humans)for the following reasons.

1-5. no other species does a worse job of preparing their young for the realities of life than humans. way too much thought, over nurtured & right out of the gates, soft - hard wiring. we don't learn to fly as soon as we have wings, we learn to sit in front of baby Mozart.

5-10. fake play. we don't teach our kids how to hunt and gather, we do the hunting and gathering for them in mimicked conditions while we try to jam 100 mediocre experiences we want them to partake in, instead of 1 meaningful experience that suits their needs of developing a skill set.

10-15. young offenders act. we are afraid to discipline our children partly because someone captured a spanking on camera and the parents were sued, but also partly because we actually feel our offspring belong to us instead of belonging to serving the best interests of the world and humanity.

15+. the 'me market'. companies appeal to the sense of 'me' vs 'being like everyone else' because its what makes them sell their goods. It's a hard reality to ignore and even harder evil to shake because it appeals to our sense of want, as well as falsely boosting their non existant(because of 0-15, esteem).

By the time we realize taking on the world marco - solo sucks, its time for us to perish with all of the illness we accrued trying to fight the good fight. shit loads of money, transparent experiences and sadness instead of happiness. Then, in a cruel twist of fate we exclaim; i was thrown into the lions. No you weren't. As Scott eluded to, if you were really thrown into the lions you would have been taught how to survive, but you do remind me of another animal (except your head wasn't buried in sand).

Friday, July 13, 2007

Running in Packs

We all learn from a young age that the lion is the king of the jungle, we don’t know why; we just know that they are. Lions are not the strongest, biggest, fastest, or largest pack of animal, but still they rule their land. So, how do lions rule the land?

There are three things that lions do better than any other animal which allows them to rule; 1) teamwork, 2) preparation and 3) goal orientation.

Lions work together tremendously well. While they are well equipped to kill prey on their own, they know that in order to kill prey that will feed the whole pack they must kill something much larger than themselves. In order for this to happen they must assemble a team of lions, each knowing the various roles in the hunt so that they can take down their prey.

Lions start the hunt by preparing themselves to first find the prey they wish to kill. This preparation includes a strategy that allows them to surround their prey and react to what unfolds. This means that each lion is prepared to take over any role at any time. Some lions might kill the prey one time and flush out the prey another time, but the key to their success is that they can play any role when the time is needed. In the lion kingdom there are no specialists.

By acting in the way that they act, the lion is striving for one common goal; survival.

So what does this have to do with anything? Well, let’s start out by comparing our environments to theirs. Broken down to its purist form our ultimate goal is survival. Weather we are providing for our family, team, or business, ultimately we are surviving so that we can thrive. The problem we run into as humans is that in doing so we often look out for ourselves only, therefore hurting the rest of the pack.

In a family, when we are the sole provider and do everything for the family we don’t equip the rest of the family with the tools to succeed when we are no longer around. We can lead by example, but when we don’t allow the other family member to experience a variety of roles we fail them because they don’t have the tools to succeed when they are on their own. A team is no different, because when we give specific roles to each person therefore making them a specialist, the team will fail when no one knows how to fill in for someone else when they are gone. Business will follow the same rules, because when we have a group of people who don’t know what the people around them are doing or how they do it, when that piece is missing all other pieces will struggle as well.

Teamwork is a must in any successful venture as well as preparation and role recognition, but what is essential is that each person involved in the survival of the group must be able to play any role at any time. This means that we need to create well rounded family members, teammates, and coworkers in order for the greater group to not only survive, but to thrive as well.

It is our responsibility as leaders to make sure that everyone in the packs we associate with have the competency to lead on their own as well as function as a group. When we fail to do so our herd will dwindle down to a non productive entity at the mercy of those who get it. We are not trainings those around us to kill, but much like the lions we are training each other to survive.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Third Side of the Coin

Conflict in your life is not only an eventual reality... it is a neccessity. You are going to disagree with someone somewhere probably even today... and this can be a very good thing.

The thing about conflict, is that there are 3 levels of looking at it: i) your way, ii) the other person's way, and iii) (if you can enable yourself to do so) how an impartial observer would monitor the situation. Advice my dad gave me years ago, "there are always 3 sides to a story, my view, your view, and the truth".

In our hedonistic society, we often only consider our own opinion, or the concept of the world we have created based solely on our own experiences and biases. It takes a mature and wise person to consider anothers' point of view, and it takes an even more mature, even wiser person to consider that you may both be right... or wrong.

A perfect example may be Willies' blog from tuesday... 2 navigators around the time of aristotle may be argueing over which country is closer to the 'end of the earth'; while Aristotle proposed that there is no end at all and that the world is flat.

One model of argumentative theory puts that a thesis compared to an antithesis with compromise leads to sythesis. This new thesis gets matched against a new antithesis and thus our view of the world evolves. Instead of Point A + Point B leads to new, improved Point A... considering the third side of the coin leads to new innovative approaches that may speed up A + B theory, or introduce direction of thinking C.

In any case before this becomes a purely hypothetical postulation with no practical application, just remember how you can use this approach today...

There is much more to right and wrong or me vs you in any conflict situation. Conflict leads to an opportunity for one or more people to abandon their biases and adapt a new point of view; or create one that has not even been considered. As one philosopher put it regarding letting go of our prejudices, "in order to learn anything, we must un-learn everything".

While that may be a bit extreme and impractical, just remember when you come into conflict, leave your baggage at the door and listen and consider A, B, and C before you respond

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


In life, you are not always going to know what you want. Situations change, opportunities arise and your personal opinion/outlook can alter...so when you are looking to commit to someone or something you must consider the costs and benefits to every situation.

You have the ability to evaluate the situation before you dedicate yourself to a decision. The time allocated to do this can minimize disruption, reduce dissappointment, and decrease the amount of time wasted when making a poor decision for your particular situation.

A decision is a commitment to act. And unfortunately when you make that decision, you are stuck with it and have to deal with any positive or negative experiences that comes with it. That said, you must be prepared to embrace the outcome and realize everyone that is involved or it affects.

For example.

If you make the commitment for a job and then on the first day, after 40+ hours of being trained for the role, you decide it isn't for you because you think you should go back to school...EVALUATE this before you start! The reality is, the person that just trained you 40+hours probably doesn't have 40+hours to waste...and if they do, they don't want to waste it on you.


If you decide to have children and then choose that parenting isn't for you...guess what, you signed up for it and leaving them without someone to guide, teach, and mentor them isn't fair to them. If you don't want to be a parent, evaluate this before hand and choose not to have kids.

Plain and Simple.

When you make a decision, face what comes with it (whether you like it or not). And if that means to take more time to evaluate before you dedicate yourself...do just that!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A New Paradigm

Ptolemy, amongst other historical figures such as Aristotle, has been accredited with first declaring that the world was round. With solid statistics to confirm these theories our pioneers continued to try, in vain, to convince the world that in fact their planet was round. This was the beginning of a paradigm shift.

I believe management of people is in the midst of a paradigm shift. A shift away from a "do as I say" industrial age mentality to a personal growth shift: a shift to a place where everyone can make a difference.

The shift is on and the leaders, what ones that can be found, are today’s Aristotle, Ptolemy and Columbus. They are largely misunderstood and will likely never see the day that their ideas are born out as mainstream. They are the leaders of the next generations.

The problem they face is a thought process that has been ingrained. Management of people, both in a business and family context, exists on a crumbling foundation of industrial ideas yet we continue to monitor those ideas, study those ideas and practice those ideas thinking that it will get better. It is tantamount to running as fast as you can go but going in the wrong direction. Fast you are but get there you won’t. Applying Six Sigma thinking to a plainly wrong concept will never bear the fruit of a desired outcome. It is impossible but like our businesses and governments it will provide a lot of futile jobs and frustrated employees. It will cost a lot of money.

A paradigm shift is the necessity.

There will be huge gains made by the people that embrace a personal responsibility to lead. This doesn't mean the person in charge but the person that decides to lead. Industrial age thinking says that we relieve ourselves of the power to make a decision because the boss, the man of the house, mum or our superior is supposed to make that decision. That type of thinking is "flat world" thinking and is gone. Wikipedia, Youtube, Myspace and organizations embracing the thought that ideas can and will come from anywhere are going to be the success stories. They know that leaders are out there and by realizing that are encouraging people to find the leader within them.

Now, there are pages and pages that can be written about how to cultivate that culture, how to manage for the new paradigm and how to think in this manner. This blog is to impress one point on us all. A new paradigm is here. This shift will affect you.

This shift is about YOU.

You are the leader. You will make the decisions that affect the growth and movement of the world. You have the power.

Take this responsibility to leave a legacy and lead others very seriously but at minimum take this responsibility.

The "Legacy" Age has arrived.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Help Wanted : Leaders.

Must be able to;
· want to
· communicate
· accept feedback
· believe in yourself
· take things personally
· think before you speak
· get back up after you fall
· choose action over inaction
· stand alone in a crowded room
· leave your baggage at the door
· understand its not a ‘sometime’ thing
· speak up instead of remaining silent
· differentiate between right and wrong
· go the distance until the task is complete
· make the right choice over the popular choice
· minimize the time between a problem and it’s solution
· motivate others to achieve their appropriate level of success
· derive motivation from within instead of waiting for outside stimulation
· leave their task, cause, job, chore, responsibility in better shape then they
found it

Job Opportunities;
· infinite

· very little

Apply within
· yourself!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
-The Declaration of Independence (July 4th 1776)

This document was written 231 years ago and has withstood the test of time, despite many different views and interpretations. I cite the Declaration today for two reasons; 1) because this document just had an anniversary, and 2) because I don’t think that people understand just how meaningful this particular passage is towards living.

Specifically I am talking about our unalienable rights. Life is granted to us by whatever creator we believe gave us that life, you get to decide who that creator is, which is not the point. The point is that we all start out with life. Some of us have a silver spoon fed to us and others have to eat off the floor, it is not fair but it is reality. The beautiful thing about life is that is doesn’t matter how you start off, it’s about what you do before you end. Now, I am not naïve and know that some have a better chance to succeed than others just by how they start, but when we shed our beginnings, which at some point we all will have to do, we can then get on with our life. By doing this we are declaring our own independence from whatever has prevented us from becoming our “self-evident truth”.

We are allowed to do this through the liberties we have. These liberties are not boundless, but they are vast. The point is that we have been granted the liberty to seek whatever it is we decide to our lives to be. We have the liberty to shape and mold our lives into what we would like them to become, to follow our passions and dreams, and to change when we want to make changes.

Life and liberty are given to us and we have to do nothing to earn them. This I believe everyone understands. What I question is that everyone also thinks that we are given happiness, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Our unalienable right is to pursue happiness, not happiness itself. There are many times when life is not happy and when we are not happy. Some of us cave into these situations and are not happy people, therefore blaming others for our anger and misery, when the reality is that we expected something that we gave up pursuing. The minute we give up our pursuit is the exact moment we give up our independence because we are now a puppet being pulled by the strings in whatever direction outside forces decide to pull us in. We all know when we are not happy, but many times we expect others to provide us our happiness much like we were provided life and liberty. To truly achieve self-actualization we first must understand that happiness is something that we need to first seek out on our own in order for it to happen. This is in it’s purist form the pursuit. Recognize your passion, pursue that passion, and then reap the happiness that is sure to follow.

In order to fully take advantage of the unalienable rights we were granted from birth, we must take control of our life by using the liberties we have, in pursuit of the happiness we all deserve.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Live both IN and FOR the moment

There are no accidents. This is something I, my fellow swim upstreamers, and hopefully YOU know. On the way home this past (Canada Day) holiday monday, I had this reinforced in a big way.

I was coming home from 'the weekend'... a colaboration of a) great people b) great times c) great activities and d) great location when I heard e) the great message to be reiterated for today's blog....

Live both IN and FOR the moment. Making my way home from Mable Lake to Calgary my radio options were limited (or were they?) between Sicamous and Revelstoke, BC... CBC Radio One it was, and the topic was living IN vs living FOR the moment. Rather than recap the entire discussion, rehashing the main points and definitions provided will serve to make today's point...

To live FOR the moment is to maximize your personal enjoyment of each experience you encounter, and to basically ensure you are happy as often as possible in the now.

To live IN the moment means to enjoy your current surroundings; whatever they may be. This denotes a less selfish definition as we celebrate the people, situations, and places we find ourselves in, and encourages us to take whatever lessons or examples for personal growth or leadership opportunities we can out of each situation.

If we then are to live both FOR and IN the moment, we have only one choice...

consistently if not constantly choose to surround ourselves with great people, great situations, and great opportunities, and when this may or may not be the case, make the most out of each situation, and learn as much as you can from each person, and each encounter.

Today is thursday. Put another way, today is full of opportunities to apply what you have just read, and maximize each opportunity, each encounter, and each person for personal and for mutual benefit as we continue our personal development and the journey that we call life.

At the end of the day, we can all either live IN and FOR each moment, or we can bitch about what we are not getting, and how hard life is...

The more times you can make the former choice each and every day is directly proprtional to how infrequently you catch yourself in the latter victim mentality mode.

Get busy living - each and every moment you can.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

7 steps to S.U.C.C.E.E.D.

What is a good measure of success?

Is it the unlimited wealth that you have, the expensive vehicle that you drive, or the second resort that you own on a lake...the answer is NO.

Success is a state of mind AND it starts with you.

1. Start believing in yourself and what you can do! Starting = beginning. This belief comes from within and turns your dreams and vision into reality!

2. Understand another's point of view. You don't know it all, so don't appear to. Put yourself in their shoes and listen. Have empathy.What is the person trying to tell you and why would they be sharing this information? Block out your own feelings and the voice that has a response to their statements and truly BE with whom you are talking. And then don't interrupt! When you put yourself aside to put the other person first, that is true sacrifice and success.

3. Confidence isn't a feeling, it is an action. You need to have it, even when you just don't feel like you can! This is what allows you to make the decisions that are good for YOU and not give in to situations that are going inhibit your own growth.

4. Collaborate , share your successes, be vulnerable and share your mistakes. Be real! Surround yourself with people you admire. Look for like minded people, people who have what you want, who believe as you believe. Find out how they got to where they are and then do the same. Be people smart.

5. Exercise your brain and body. Read, read, read! Readers are leaders. It is true. The more you know, the more confident you feel and the more comfortable you feel collaborating with those who have what you want. At the same time, keep your body in shape. Your attitude in anything is your attitude in everything...so your approach to success should be in all aspects of life and not just one.

6. Encourage others! Your friends, family, business associates & teammates all deserve to hear praise. Dig deep to find something they are good at or have done well, then say it, write it, sing a song to it, whatever, just acknowledge it to that other person.

7. Determine to be better than who you are and you'll be surprised at who you'll become! Determine not to quit, creatively begin again and again, and again! Ask yourself on how hard are you going to work and how bad do you really want it? Because really, it isn't that hard, just...

follow those 7 steps and then SUCCEED!

Responsibility to Give

The United States of America, and to a lesser extent Canada, is consistently abused for their efforts to democratize the world or to place their value systems where potentially they are not wanted. The Americans in particular are a true example of "it's tough being on top."

However, when we look at North Americans there may be one thing that will continue to keep them at the top. It isn't their military strength, their economic strength and nor is it intellectual or human resources.

Americans and Canadians, to date, are the giving-est nations.

Per capita, Canadians, with Americans just behind us, give the most to charity without asking anything in return. Most often, even on a global scale, Americans are the first to answer the call for help and rarely do they ask for anything in return. They do it because it is just the right thing to do and because being on top as leaders they feel it is their responsibility.

Now some may say that we are giving up our time and money because as first world nations we have it. The truth is that because we continue to give our time and money, no matter our wealth levels, we receive more…and then can give even more. We have always given of ourselves. It is in the culture.

The Law of Attraction is a media buzz currently and for good reason. Give and you shall receive. Think and you will attract it. On a massive level the collective psyche of North Americans is to help and that is what will define our next 25 years. Call it philanthropy, Law of Attraction or just the right thing to do but the simple truth is that Americans have stayed on top, no matter how poorly they are being lead, because the leaders within their country historically have fostered a culture of giving; and therefore they receive.

I encourage you to tithe monthly both in time and money. Start small if you need to but start. By giving you will see a huge change in how the world operates and how you fit into it. By giving you will receive back ten times.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The responsibility to say something.

There are times in our lives when we are faced with the difficult decision to communicate an unpleasantly to someone we respect / admire / appreciate. This may come in the form of feedback, a suggestion or even as we discussed last week, that honest answer to the question that may not make us popular. Truly, if we care about the people we are addressing, we owe them the truth. What they do with that truth after it has been communicated, is largely out of our hands.

If we do not make the time to present our thoughts and feelings people who need to hear them we enable & facilitate that behavior to repeat itself. Translation, it makes it difficult to complain – after the fact.

This is probably one of the most uncomfortable circumstances we can & will find ourselves through our interactions. There are thousands of people who would accept these circumstances and remain unheard, yet there are a few who swim up stream unafraid of the currents and eddies that lay ahead.
To those we say….

Speak on!