One day I noticed a piece of black electrical tape over one of the warning lights on the dashboard of Dad’s old Bronco. He explained that the problem could not be diagnosed by himself, nor the dealer, and he was sick of looking at it. Confident that the light did not indicate an actual problem, he blacked it out with a piece of tape. Dashboard lights are like people’s opinions. Don’t let them distract you. If the experts, gurus, doctors, pundits, or anyone else is telling you how you should live your life, listen to them with full awareness of their agenda. Better yet, notice how you feel when you listen to them. This is a warning.
Follow your knowing, even if it’s wrong.
After we’ve been in a career awhile, we have created an identity. That identity might include credentials (a college degree), experience and accomplishments (resume highlights). The more time we’ve spent creating an identity or brand, the more attached we become. And the more attached we are to those labels, the harder it is to reinvent ourselves.
If you’re ready for a change, perhaps it’s time to unmoor from the past. The sunk cost of your identity does not have to sink your future. Is it time to try something new? ~Stand8.com
Your beliefs are made from your repeated thoughts. You stack them up, thought by thought, brick by brick, to keep you safe from your fears. But this wall also keeps out a lot of good stuff, new perspectives, fresh ideas, and undiscovered talents. Over time, you plaster over the brick with your accomplishments (and your failures) until you find yourself a prisoner of societal labels and self-selected pigeon holes. When you chip away at the facade and expose the bricks in the wall, you free yourself to create a new life. Every day. Sometimes it’s hard to see it on your own. Stand8.com.
When you’re stuck, challenge your assumptions. Maybe you’re looking at it backwards. Explore the opposite point of view. WHAT IF...they were making raisins instead of grapes? WHAT IF...it’s not too late, there are no obstacles, it’s not your job? The limits were placed there by you. You chose to believe them.
Things move quickly in high tech. The competitors never sleep, the clients need it yesterday, and the platform you’re working on is often shifting. We hired a new salesman who used to be a firefighter. He watched us running around, super stressed out and offered a piece of wisdom from his former job. “When we arrived at the site of a call, the first thing we asked was, ‘Will there be a loss of life here?’”
It gave us perspective. What we were doing was important to us and our clients, but likely no one would die if we didn’t deliver ASAP. Besides, if you ratchet back the tension, people work better and creativity flows more easily. We hung our salesman’s old fire helmet in the hall to remind us that when things get hot, it’s good to keep a cool head.
When disk space was not as plentiful as it is now, we had to periodically defragment our disk drives in order to get larger chunks of usable space, like pushing all the books to one end on a bookshelf to create contiguous space. Our minds are blasted with messages every waking hour and we find ourselves distracted by alerts, alarms, and notifications because we can’t trust ourselves to remember. Here are three ways to defrag your mind, in order to make room for the important stuff and increase your ability to focus.
- RECENTER. If you don’t have a meditation practice, just closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths is helpful, especially before an important meeting or working on something creative. This signals the body that it is time to pay attention to something new now.
- REAFFIRM MEANING. Why are you doing this? Does it move you toward some larger goal? What is your intention?
- REVIEW. After the task, or meeting, or creative session, are you complete (for now)? What is your next step?
The benefits of taking these few minutes are manifold.
- You’ve let go (at least temporarily) of things that inhibit your efficiency.
- Your work becomes more meaningful, and therefore so does your contribution.
- By thinking about your next step (no matter how small) you haven’t lost momentum. You can pick up where you left off.
We’re like beachglass, the more tumbled, the more beautiful. Go to Stand8.com to make sense of it all.
I saw Alan Mulalley give a speech to some engineering students while he still worked at Boeing, the biggest employer in the Seattle area at the time. He told them that 10% of the people design the aircraft and 10% of the people build them. So what do the other 80% of the employees do? They communicate between Engineering and Manufacturing. When you watch an exciting movie or TV series, do you hang around to watch the credits? How many people made it possible for you to live every aspect of your current life (with its running water, smart phones, and parking spaces)? What are you doing to make life better for others?
In order to get fresh thinking, sometimes you have to be irrational. Chuck the old logic and imagine life beyond the present circumstances. Henry Ford said that if you asked people what they wanted, they’d tell you, “a faster horse.” What if there was no horse at all? What idea are you hanging onto that is limiting your creativity?
We had just started up a scree field, a chute of loose gravel where, for every step you took, you’d slide back a half step. Sometimes life feels like a slog, where the progress is slower than you’d like, but remember, the odds are in your favor. Stick with it, and like an airplane flying into a headwind, you’ll still get to your destination. Don’t quit too soon.
Stay open. Pay attention.
A pilot friend of mine once told me, “Runway behind you does you no good.” It’s useful to look back to see how you got here, but that is not necessarily a predictor of what’s ahead. Keep your eyes on the horizon. Everything is in front of you.
Who is trying to influence you? Answer: Everyone.
There are 3 ways to navigate through life. In boating terms, you can drift (and hope you end up where you want to go), or motor (power through), or sail, noticing the tides and winds and working with them to get to where you want to go. Sailing may seem less direct, but the journey is as important as the destination. Which way is the wind blowing today? How can you work with it?
Henry Ford did not invent the assembly line (any more than Steve Jobs’ MacIntosh was the first GUI). These men saw something in a different context and borrowed the ideas for their own applications. Ransom E. Olds held the patent for the assembly line. But Henry Ford, inspired by the “disassembly” line of the Swift Meatpacking business, where pig and cow carcasses moved past workers to be butchered, inspired him to create the first moving automotive assembly line which would help him step up production on his wildly popular Model T. What idea has caught your eye recently? How could you apply it to what you’re working on?
A friend relayed a story about telling his doctor that he felt horrible every time he ate pasta. His doctor said, “Quit eating pasta!”
It reminded me of getting a medical work-up because I thought I had an ulcer. My gut hurt but all the tests were negative. I had been in a protracted argument with someone and I was giving away my power by not taking action. I was awaiting his permission and even though I was free to act on my own, I wanted his agreement.
I said to the doctor, “I’d hate to think that every time I get upset, my gut is going to hurt.” He asked me, “What are you going to do about it?”
I took action (without anyone’s consent) and my gut was instantly cured. I’ve since learned that when I’m not true to myself and can’t hear my intuition, the truth is in the body.
My father passed on his love of all things mechanical and believed that his daughter needed her own set of tools as she headed off to college. He grew up in an era where nothing was wasted and little was disposable, so he attached an old hatchet handle to a hammer head with a couple of nails. Today there is a special tool for every possible endeavor, but this hammer is still in use. It reminds me that often, problems can be solved with what is at hand. And if not, perhaps you need a new perspective and a little ingenuity.
What are you waiting for?