This Year?

Happy New Year! Welcome to another milestone in your life. The beginning of another year. What are you going to invite into your life this year? Here are four simple questions to consider:

What am I going to start?

What am I going to stop or finish?

What am I going to increase?

What am I going to decrease?

Answer these questions from the heart and be real with them. If you act on just these four simple items I am sure it will make a difference in your 2017. (Let me know what you accomplish).


Which Spoon?

Jump Start the year to get what you want?

I like to drink a little coffee. Not too much, usually about two cups in the morning. I add a little soymilk and a little sugar. I have learned to cut back on the sugar and have been working on that. For some reason it is not the best for the health I want to have. So, I came up with a plan – use a smaller spoon to avoid taking more sugar. I went from a regular spoon to that little bitty pink one. It takes about 5 or six little spoons to fill up the regular spoon (and a heaping little spoon is somewhat laughable).

Sugar Spoons 1

So, what’s the point Rick? Well, if you look at the center of the sugar bag you can see that there is a date written on there, 10/19/15. That is the date when the bag was opened. I have been using that pink spoon for the last two months and am now a bit over half-way through the bag of sugar. No matter how small my spoon gets I will have eventually consumed 4lb of sugar just from putting it in my coffee. YIKES! This is not what I want, I want to consume less sugar yes, but no matter how much I cut down there is still the fact that I am choosing to add 4lbs of it into my coffee over time. (Good thing I am not using the really big spoon on the right.)

Let’s reverse this idea. What if the sugar represented a goal that I DID want? The sweet spot of life or the Juicy Juice. Which spoon would I be using? I would like to say the big spoon, c’mon. Yet how often in your life do you figure out that you are not using the “big spoon” to get what you want? How often are we chipping away at a goal by dragging our feet or using the “little spoon”? Worse yet, sometimes, we sit around complaining about our circumstances and using NO SPOON at all. Which one of these scenarios fits you?

As you get ready to begin a New Year, I encourage you to create some goals and dip into them with the spoon of your choice (any spoon will get you there eventually). Make them happen for yourself in 2016. Better yet, join in Jump Start 2016 to get into the game and do it with support and accountability. Choose a spoon and get ready to go or …get started now.


I Won Last

Winning feels wonderful! Can you recall the last time you won something or won “at” something? What did you feel? A swell of joy? Exuberant confidence?A sense of satisfaction with the accomplishment? I LOVE winning. Losing kinda’ sucks and sometimes more than others (more on this later because you have to risk losing in order to accomplish winning).

My wife was leaving for a weekend out with her women friends and I got to hear a great story before they left about winning.

Kids Playing Soccer w Beach Ball

Andrea was sharing some stories about her three kids. They are currently in a stage where winning is important or carries some meaning. They are often competing at some of the simplest things. (Just like you may have done when you were a child). Racing to finish a bowl of cereal. Challenging each other in getting their shoes on first. Racing to greet daddy when he comes home. If they can make a competition of it…game on. Did I mention that they are only two, four, and seven.

The kids had just come in the door after playing outside and were relaying their stories to mommy. The oldest declared “I won first” and the middle child quickly added “and I won second.” It was at this point that with great glee and excitement the youngest chimed in with “and I won last.”

What a great attitude to have when coming in last. Just by re-framing the results statement it sounds exciting to come in last. Just because I might come in last once in a while I don’t have to have a grumpy attitude about it. I can now proclaim “I won last!” After all I get to choose how I feel.

How are you choosing to feel about the results you are creating in your life? Are you risking losing so that you can win what you want? Choose one thing you are feeling a bit pissy about and re-frame it right now. Choose a new perspective on it.


Got Chuck Taylors?

Do you remember your first pair of really cool shoes? I have owned a number of pairs of really “cool” shoes.

I can remember getting a pair of “Earth shoes”. A bit funky but they were the “in” shoe. There was also the time I finally got a pair of cowboy boots. For a city kid these were unusual yet when I visited the farm (which was not often) I felt like I was totally from the country.

Have you ever had, or do you now have, a pair of Chuck Taylors? Yup, those awesome high-tops with the big star on the ankle. Back in the day they were THE SHOE. In the 60’s they were worn by about 90% of all college and pro basketball players. When I got mine in the ’70s they were the BEST!

I was in 6th grade and, according to mom, only supposed to wear them for gym class and basketball. This lasted for about two days. After that, I would take them to school in my gym bag and then change shoes on the way to school. I was stylin’. At least I thought so.

Flash forward to the late ’80s. I was a bit older and had decided to go back to college (having only completed one year previously). I had signed up for basketball intramurals and had another pair of Chuck Taylors. Technology had advanced a bit in shoe wear since the ’70s and my style had not kept up. I came to the court sporting my Chuck Taylors ready to shoot some hoops. I was the older guy in the old shoes. Not exactly translating the intimidation of the mad basketball skills within.

Flash forward to 2015. Chuck Taylors have made a resurgence over the last few years. They are a cool and trendy shoe again coming in many different colors and styles. Why do I not own a pair?

Here is the real question – What changed?

It wasn’t the shoe. The shoe has remained the same over all these years. The difference is in the meaning that people/culture have brought to the shoe. WE, as in you and me, bring the meaning to everything in our lives. This could be the shoes or clothes that we wear, or it could be the meaning we give to a “look” that someone gives us. It could be how we interpret what we see or experience, as in the actions and reactions of others.

Are you willing to admit that sometimes the meaning you gave to an event was not the meaning that was meant to be conveyed? How has this influenced your communication or relationships with those around you? How can we make sure that the meaning we bring to the events in our personal and professional lives is the meaning that was meant to be conveyed? Simple…just ask.

My friend, Dave Knight, asks the question this way: “Help me understand…” Try this on with those in your circles and see if it supports you in understanding each other in a clearer way. Ask for clarity on a recent event that has left you a bit unsettled or angsty.

Ever Feel Squeezed?

Do you sometimes feel that you are a bit squeezed in your life and just not getting anywhere? Maybe this picture describes you or your team right now?

This event happens every year when “my” basketball season begins (when the weather is warmer). This is usually preceded by a search of the garage for where I put the ball last. Then begins the hunt for the pin to use to add some more air to the ball so it will actually bounce. Once that is accomplished my vigor to shoot baskets surges and I head out to the driveway and toss up the first shot (for some reason it usually does not go in).

The first shot that does pass through the rim doesn’t make it through the net. It’s somewhat of a let down to not get the ball back. I also  do not have the “hops” that I used to have so I begin to search for something to knock the ball loose with. Once I get the ball back I toss the ball up through the net so it comes out the top. This loosens the net so the ball can actually pass through like it is supposed to.

Then the games begin.

What in this scenario can you relate to in your life, work, home, etc? Where do you find that “things” are not so flexible, not moving, or just plain stuck? The good news is that getting back in the game is possible. It will just take a bit more effort and maybe some creativity. Now…get back in the game.

Mac, Mentors, and Floppy Discs

I met Mac today while looking at PC’s. Now all you Apple fans can just calm down a bit. Mac is a person and not a computer (and I am still going to purchase a PC).

Mac works at Costco and we started chatting about art and ancient technology, typewriters and word-processors (the precursors to actual computers). We were sharing the fact that laptops are mostly being made without disc-drives now. I happen to want to pop in a disc or watch  a movie with my computer now and then.

Mac is an older gentleman with a story to tell. Actually he has already told his story. The problem is that the story happens to be the book he wrote and is imprisoned on floppy discs (the precursors to compact discs and flash drives). The book is finished and ready for editing once he gets it released from the floppy disc. Did the weight of this land with you? He has written a book. It is on floppy discs and has been for years. It has been so long now that he doesn’t have a machine to put the discs in to bring up the data. I am a bit envious because I wish my book was written and just waiting to be published.

Colored floppy discs.

I asked Mac how it would feel for him to get the data back and publish his book. I wish you could have seen the sheepish smile on his face at the thought of how good it would feel to get it done. The book is based on his life and growing up as a foster child. He finished the book after recently meeting his family that he had not known for 50 years. Wow! I am ready to read the story now. He did say that he finally met his birth mother.

Mac works at Costco to defy the odds. He told me that he used to work in insurance and that the actuarial tables used to show that people would often die about three years after retiring. Mac’s Theory stipulates that if he never retires then he will never die.

Mac is a mentor to others and is involved with an organization that serves others in their search for meaningful employment. He firmly believes that we are not just here on earth to serve ourselves. There are about 60 mentors that serve up to 200 people. They meet on Mondays and he invited me to check it out and maybe contribute. I may lend my speaking skills to them at some point.

Being an artist Mac sculpts, paints, and writes. I believe that soon he will be a published author. I will let you know how that works out. It just so happens that on my walk home I saw a small computer tech place in the corner of a building and the sign said “Open”. I went in asked about the possibility of accessing info from a floppy disc. With a bit of smirk the young man said confidently “sure we can”. I am looking forward to my next trip to Costco to find Mac. I believe we crossed paths for a reason.

Mac, if you are reading this call me. I have someone willing to help you release your book and your life to share with the world. You just can’t keep art locked up. It has to be let go.

What art have you created that you are not sharing with the world? I am guessing there is something of beauty waiting to be released. Don’t wait, go for it.