Tuesday, October 25, 2011



Wow. That felt good. I know you’re not used to saying “no,” so say it with me.: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Felt good didn’t it? Like a long lost friend. Makes me wonder how we forgot this word in the first place.

I was reminded of the word “no” when I was watching the coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. What a crowd. Most way too young to even understand what they are chanting. Reminded me of the anti-war movement of the 60s, except these folks are protesting not having jobs instead of having to go to war.

When asked what they are protesting, the Occupy Wall Street protesters simply state that big business is no good. Big business cheats, steals, lies, colludes (great word), conspires, and generally screws the little people (but not in a good way). The protesters want good jobs, good pay, great benefits, and no or few taxes.

And they want it given to them NOW.

I just have one word for that: No.

It just doesn’t work that way. It never has. NEVER. Things that are given are never valued. That’s why buffets are never fully appreciated. There are too many options, and the options get taken advantage of and underappreciated, so we all end up weighing 400 pounds.

It occurs to me that always being “yes men” is how we found our way into this mess. We have forgotten to say “no,” and we expect a buffet of options to be presented to us at all times. In fact, it has become a favorite pastime of this great nation to sue if we ever hear the word “no”. (I’ve used it 12 times now and am expecting at least 300 lawsuits.)

I confess that I don’t say “no” enough. I don’t always say it to my kids. I don’t always say it to the television. I don’t always say it to donuts.

The truth is that Wall Street hasn’t said “no” enough. A few more “no’s” would have averted the Wall Street collapse. “No’s” would have prevented people from making ill-suited home purchases, which would have lessened the real estate collapse.

“No” keeps us safe, sane, and realistic.

Only in our most recent generations did anyone “expect” a great job with great pay and great benefits. I recall listening to some grad students telling each other that they expected to earn $70,000 just out of school. I heard this and my jaw dropped open. What happened to walking both ways, up hill, barefoot in snow? These grads had no experience and they were worth that money?

Not a chance, but they got it anyway because we live in a “yes” world.

Here’s the deal, if you never hear the word “no,” it’s impossible to demonstrate a commitment to anything. Nothing important happens without some degree of striving. For big thinkers and doers “no” is a test word. Can you get to where you want to go in spite of the “no’s” you hear in everyday life? If the word “no” stops you in your tracks, you just might not want it bad enough. If the answer is always “yes,” why even ask the question?

(Take a second. I know I just dropped a bomb of knowledge on you that will take you awhile to recover from.)

“Yes” stifles innovation and risk. “Yes” promotes the status quo. “No” begets creativity.

Maybe I’m wrong about all of this. Disagree with me please! JUST SAY NO!

Today’s Challenge: Make a list of things in your past that you should have said “no” to instead of “yes”—“no’s” that would have made your life better. Be honest now!

Related Posts:
The Price is Right
What is YOUR Pixie Dust?
Deep Thoughts on Thoughtful Disagreement

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Procrastination: It’s Like Wearing White on Labor Day, but Worse

6:30 pm. Omg. When was the last time I trimmed my ear hairs?

6:48 pm: I think I need a little break. There’s definitely a wall that needs staring at.

7:11 pm: Staring at walls is not nearly as fulfilling as you might think.

Okay, I’m clearly procrastinating … I must right this blog. I must.

Procrastinating is evil. It’s also insidious, which makes it double evil. It’s a lot more dangerous than other evils (like wearing white after Labor Day) because it isn’t always obvious.

On face value, procrastination seems like one of the sillier things that we do to ourselves.  We could do the task at hand and get it out of the way and then be able to go about our business of plucking ear hairs and staring at walls. But it never seems to work out that way … 

Excuse me, I have to go lie down for a second.

7:53 pm: Damn you, procrastination. But it’s totally true … most of us put off these simple tasks (like writing a blog) so that they blow up and bigger and bigger and become a huge stress in our lives—so stressful, in fact, that we spend so much energy worrying about what we have put off that we don’t do anything productive with the time we have “freed up” by procrastinating.

(Really worried I’m not going to finish this blog. It’s making me exhausted … Think I’m going to watch America’s Got Talent. Be right back)

9:07: I can’t believe they voted them off!

Oh, right …  Procrastination continues to create pain for much longer time than the pain of getting it done in the first place. Dan Sullivan, the great mentor of The Strategic Coach, says that when you have something difficult you need to do, and you know that it’s going to be painful, you have two choices.

1)      You can either have a long, slow pain that will constantly be there, or
2)      You can have a fast, possibly worse pain—a pain that will then go away.

Procrastination ties into perseverance. We have to persevere and ignore the devil on our shoulder telling us to procrastinate. Things never take care of themselves, and they usually snowball into a bigger mess that takes longer to clean up than it would have by just doing it in the first place.

Man, I really want to finish this but I just realized I haven’t gotten the mail yet. One sec.

9:30 pm: You would never guess what came in the mail? My subscription to Field & Stream.  Love that new equipment section.  I can’t believe the innovation in duck calls.

Wait … where was I?

Today’s challenge: Persevere through the work you have in front of you. By getting it done today, you give yourself permission to have a great day tomorrow. Start with the first thing, get that done and go to the next. 

You have the satisfaction of taking something from point a to point b. You won’t have the constant feeling you get when you procrastinate. Get into the habit of doing this for yourself and for your clients. It might be painful at first, but it’s better than having constant pain. Feel the joy of progress!

Related Posts:
The Secret to Life...
The New & Improved You
Occupy Wall Street Protestors= The Yes Men

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Secret to Life...

Sandy Koufax
Before I start, let me issue a warning: If you aren’t a sports person, you might decide to skip this blog. But don’t. You are about to learn the secret to life.

Okay, now let me get started …

When I was a kid I dreamed of being a baseball player. As you may infer, that never happened. At least I get to write about it. (Small miracles, right?)

Well, I recently got to watch the moderated discussion between Joe Torre and Sandy Koufax on Fox Sports. Joe Torre is mainly known for coaching a second-rate team called the New York Yankees. Yeah, I said it. What you going to do about it?

Sandy Koufax, on the other hand, is known for many things. He pitched four no-hitters, including the eighth perfect game in baseball history. He had 2,396 strikeouts, won the Cy Young award four times, and, oh yeah, he was retired by 30.

Take that, Torre.

Sandy Koufax became something of an enigma. People thought he knew the secret to life, a personal philosophy that worked in his favor.

An interviewer asked him once who his biggest influence was. He said that it was his grandfather. He went on to say that his grandfather had a saying that he lived by.

And this is the secret to life, according to Sandy Koufax’s grandfather.

What was that saying?

Say no to drugs?

Live long and prosper?

I’ll be back?

No, no, and nope. (Great sayings, though).

The saying—his secret to life—was: “Be loose with your money and tight with your time.”

Imagine how cool it was to be Sandy Koufax. My grandfather never spit out wisdom like this. He mainly said things like “pass the peas” and “listen to your dad.”

“Be loose with your money and tight with your time.” Pretty cool.

So let’s talk about this “secret of life.”

We can all agree that time is finite, right? In our day-to-day lives and duties, time is finite for sure. We aren’t machines who can simply move faster to make more widgets.

We have no ability to stretch time. To make things last.

Therefore, we have to use our time well. If you work upwards of 12 hours a day, that’s a long time. Are you choosing the things you do with your time wisely? Are you working so that you can get out of the office faster, make more money, and provide value to your clients? Or are you constantly taking breaks to catch up on the Real Housewives of New Jersey, twitter, and Facebook?

(Love the real housewives, by the way … especially Theresa. She seems like a great cook.)

Now I’m not saying that everyone should be working every minute. Remember, I’m a huge fan of Ultradian breaks. In fact, I took a break between paragraph three and paragraph four.

Instead, I’m asking you to think about the moments you spend at your job and in your personal life. Are you making the very best use of your time? Or are you wasting an opportunity to be doing something better?

Are you getting the sleep you need? Are you spending quality time with the people you care about? Are you giving the people you work with 100 percent of your attention when needed? Or are you waiting for the next thing to happen, and not living in the moment?

Think about it. When you get really old like me (I’ve been 28 for the last number of years) and look back at the years, the stuff that you will regret the most is the time lost. You won’t regret the money you lost.

Time is our most valuable commodity. (Thank God it’s not being traded on the open market yet. I wouldn’t want time to be a part of our recession. How horrible would that be?)

I’ve been very fortunate in my life and would say that I’ve become pretty good with managing my time. I treat time with respect and try not to waste it. I joke about how much TV I watch and how lazy I am, but the truth is that I get a great deal of joy out of everything I do. Everything has a purpose for me, and this gives me a great deal of nourishment.

Can you say the same thing? And for those of you in your 20s, trust me when I say that you have no idea how little time it takes to get form 25 to 60 years old.

It goes by in a blink.

Today’s challenge: Consider adopting Sandy Koufax’s grandfather’s secret of life, if just for a day. Well, adopt at least part of it. Take the “loose with your money” part with a grain of salt. But “tight with time” … put that in the bank.