A Trip Back In Time

I felt like I went back in time for a moment this week… and I loved it!

My wife and I were walking on a popular beach in Oregon, when a couple we were passing held out their cell phone and pleasantly asked, “Would you mind taking our picture?”  I use to hear (and even ask) that question all the time on vacations, hikes or at any other outing with a view I’d like to capture with me in it.  Now, with cell phones and selfie sticks, it seems no one ever asks that question any more.  At least not until last week.

My answer to the couple… “ABSOLUTELY!!”

I miss being asked that question.  It’s always been fun to share a moment like that with someone, as you help them preserve a memory.  With all the options available that remove the need to interact, it was nice to be invited to share the moment with them.

I hope they enjoy the photo as much as I enjoyed taking it. 

Going Old-School

I like sending hand written notes to people, because no one does that anymore.  I also enjoy when recipients tell me how much they enjoyed receiving the note and the kind words.  It’s a small way to make a positive impact on someone’s day.

I use to despise writing notes because I never thought I had enough to say to fill up a whole card.  What I’ve discovered is you don’t have to write a lot to have an impact.  Two or three heart-felt sentences is enough to brighten someone’s day.  And if that doesn’t seem like it will fill the card, then write a little bigger than normal!  J

In a time when flashy new high tech is ubiquitous, an old-school hand written note is the perfect way to uniquely let someone know you’re thinking about them, and that you care.

What Does Action Look Like

In a recent team meeting at work, we were discussing an initiative our organization is undertaking to create an even stronger culture of inclusion, diversity, equity, and learning.  During the discussion someone asked the question, “What does action look like?”

I thought this was a good question because without specific actions to take to get where we want to go, as an organization or as individuals, all we really have are ideals or lofty aspirations.  It’s the intentional actions we take that will move us toward our aspirations becoming our reality.  Without action our aspirations remain just that… aspirations.

I was pleased to learn that our organization is currently in the process of defining what those specific actions look like.  With regard to our own personal goals and aspirations, we should all be asking ourselves what action looks like.

The Compounding of Choices

While it’s true that occasionally in life things happen to us (both good and not so good) that we did not choose, I think most of what happens to us is the result of the choices we make. 

Think about all the things we get to choose on a regular basis, such as:

  • How we spend our time
  • How we spend our money
  • The daily level of activity we engage in
  • The content we consume
  • The type of foods we consume
  • The people we associate with
  • Whether or not we think critically
  • The careers, causes, values, and beliefs we hold and support
  • The way we treat those around us

That’s a small portion of a VERY large list!

Now think about this:  the small choices we’ve made over the days/weeks/months/years/decades of our life have compounded to form us into who and what we are today.

It’s hard to consider that thought without also pondering the following:  Are you happy with the compounding result of your choices?  If you are, then great!  Stay on track.

If you don’t like the compounding result your experiencing, I have good news.  It’s not too late to change course.  And it all starts with the choices you make from this point forward.

Let Them Know

I had the best experience at an auto dealership service department that I’ve ever had this week.  The service person that I was in contact with was Phil and he was what made the experience so great! 

For starters, he called me early on the morning of my visit to let me know exactly what they would be doing to my car.  He also gave me a price of what the worst-case scenario, from a cost standpoint, would be.  What appreciated most about Phil was the customer service.  The way he described everything and communicated with me instilled trust. 

After talking with him a couple of times on the phone, and when I picked up my car at the end of the day, I got them impression that his main goal was to ensure that my car was properly taken care of and that I had a good customer experience.  I also got them impression by observing him interact with others, that this is the only kind of customer service he knows how to give.

As I was talking to him before I left, I told him how much I appreciated working with him that day and what a good experience I had. 

I think it’s important to let people know when they do a great job and give them with positive words of sincere appreciate.  I know I enjoy getting positive feedback.  My guess is others do as well.

Ask For Help

“If you need help, ask.”  Whether at school, at home, or on the job, we’ve all been told this as some point.  If we need help, assistance is just a request away.  Yet why is it that we seem to wait so long for before we actually avail ourselves of the assistance others are willing to offer?

I get it, we like to be self-sufficient and figure things out for ourselves, or perhaps we don’t want to be a burden to others.  I recognize myself in both of those statements.  And while I agree that we need to make an effort at whatever we’re attempting, at some point we need to enlist the help of others to move forward.  When we find ourselves spinning our wheels or overwhelmed, that’s a significant clue that we should be asking for help.

Keep the following thought in mind the next time you need to ask someone for help, especially if you feel like your asking is a bother to others.  While you’ve undoubted have been told, “If you need help, ask”, have you ever told that to someone else?  (I’ll bet you have!)  And when you told them, did you mean it?  (I’ll bet you did!)  It therefore seems reasonable to believe that most people would be glad to help, if you simply asked. 

Planning Early

My wife and I are going to have some home improvement work done starting in May.  Nothing major, just carpet, floors and interior painting.  It’s going to be nice to have that all done, but what’s really proven helpful has been to start the planning process early.

We started planning this way back in February.  There have been several things to coordinate such as:

  • Getting on the schedules of the people that will be doing the work
  • Selecting colors, patterns, etc.
  • Ordering fixtures and materials
  • Arranging lodging for ourselves and our pets for the time we can’t be in the house
  • Packing things up that we’ll have to get out of the house
  • Saving up to pay cash for the improvements

Starting this project early allows us to manage it with significantly less stress than if we started later.  If we waited until the last minute to get started, we would have had a greater likelihood that contractors would already have full schedules, materials wouldn’t make it in time, or a number of other setbacks that could have been avoided if we just had more time.

If you have a project or task on your horizon, I’d suggest to start it early versus waiting until the last minute.  For the cost of your time (which you’ll have a lot more of early on) you can eliminate unnecessary stress and actually enjoy the process.

Listening

On Thursday I had in interesting conversation with someone I know pretty well.  As we were talking, they shared with me how they were struggling mentally during a stressful time in their life.  I was grateful they felt comfortable enough to share their experience with me.

I’m always amazed how freely people share what’s going on in their lives when given a safe place to do so.  My encounter on Thursday also reminded me how important it is to actually listen.  We’ve all got so much going on that it can be easy to rush through our interactions without really listening to what others are telling us.  While this may be true, it’s no excuse for half-hearted listening when people are opening up and sharing their story with us.

Let’s make an effort to increase the legitimacy of our listening in the conversations we have with people.  Wouldn’t we appreciate it if others did the same for us? 

Make Time Your Ally

“Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.”  ~James Clear

While I was listening James Clear’s book Atomic Habits last week, I heard him mention the quote above about time magnifying whatever you feed it.  We all know this is true, but this quote really resonated with me with the realization that those habit we continuously do over time, no matter how small, will have an impact. 

Think of things like saving a percentage of every paycheck for retirement, smoking a pack of cigarettes every day, or exercising 30 minutes a day.  While theses habits may seem small and inconsequential in the moment, the compounding effect they have over time can be significant.  And based on what the habit is, those effects can be positive or negative. 

I’ve been thinking about the habits I have lately, and those I’d like to start, and where they can take me.  Some of the habits I have are intentional, and I’m excited about the impact they’ve had on my life.  If I’m being honest, I have other habits that are unintentional, meaning I didn’t set out to put them in place, but rather I’ve just allowed them to develop.  Most of these habits are borne out of mental laziness and don’t really yield the type of results I’d like to get. 

Being aware of our habits (the good as well as the not so good) is a great way to make sure what we do over a large arch of time is actually leading us somewhere we want to go.  Whether we’re aware or not, as James Clear stated, time will multiply whatever we feed it.  Let’s make sure we’re making time our ally.

Just Pick A Day

My sister and I were texting earlier this week about the nice sunny weather we were having.  I suggested we get together for a nice walk one of these upcoming sunny mornings.  She agreed.  Not only that, her following text showed me her level of commitment, “Let’s just pick a day, or it won’t happen!!”

I couldn’t have agreed more.

When there is something we want to do, the best way to ensure that it actually happens is to just pick a day and get it on the calendar.  It’s not difficult.  Once you decided you’re committed to making it happen, open up the calendar and select a date and time that works.  It really is that simple.  A specific date and time equals commitment.  “Someday” does not.

I’m looking forward to our scheduled walk with my sister this Saturday morning!  We just picked a day.