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Archive for October, 2009

My pal Ben Franklin once said, “A little neglect may breed mischief: for want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost.”  I love this quote because I’m somewhat little myself and I have been known to breed some mischief every now and again!  But seriously, it reminds me how the little things are so very important to the sum of the whole; how one tiny nail could change the face (and voice) of America.

Using the example above, apply it to the story of Paul Revere; had the blacksmith thought his job of making nails had no significance, we may very well be speaking British today, well you know what I mean!

Ben Franklin was brilliant bearing the insight of 1,000 men.  His cause and effect quip above was his poetic way of saying, “YOU MATTER!”  So many times in an organization you’ll hear a support staffer say, “I’m only a receptionist,” or “I just do filing.”  Everyone in your organization matters, but why do people forget that fact?  What are we forgetting as a society that causes people to think less of themselves or their role in the bigger picture?

Yep, it’s the little things!  Little things like appreciation and acknowldgment (which in fact are HUGE things, but little on the scale of difficulty).  So much of American business has become a dog-eat-dog, corporate-ladder mentality that a lot of bosses forget to appreciate and acknowledge their staff for doing their job.  It’s the “please and thank you” rule.  You might say, “…but they get paid to do those things.”  True, but few of us could make it through one day without our phones being answered or files in place.

Think about it from Ben’s perspective: “A little neglect may breed mischief: for want of a receptionist the call was lost; for want of a call the deal was lost; and for want of a deal the paycheck was lost.” Not merely a recipe for mischief; it’s a recipe for collapse!

In a New York Times interview, The Lesson of 38 Candy Bars, the subject shares this great lesson about the little things, “I’ll never forget one of the interactions we had with my commanding general of the division in which I was a platoon leader. We were at Fort Bragg, N.C. We had miserable weather. It was February and not as warm as you would think it would be in North Carolina. It had been raining for about a week, and the commanding general came around to review some of the platoons in the field. He went to one of my vehicle drivers and he asked him what he thought of the exercise we were on. To which the young private said, “Sir, it stinks.” I saw my short career flash before my eyes at that point.

He asked why, and the private said: “There are people who think this is great weather for doing infantry operations. I personally think 75 and partly cloudy is better.”

And so the commanding general said, “What can I do to make it better for you?” And the private said, “Sir, I sure could use a Snickers bar.” So a couple days later we were still moving through some really lousy weather, and a box showed up for the private. And that box was filled with 38 Snickers bars, which is the number of people in my platoon. And there was a handwritten note from the commanding general of our division that said, “I can’t do anything about the weather, but I hope this makes your day a bit brighter, please share these with your buddies.”

And on that day, at that time, we would’ve followed that general anywhere. It was a very small thing, and he didn’t need to do it, but it impressed upon me that small gestures are hugely important.”

Might be a good day to thank the people that keep you on your horse every day!

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No, this is not another fitness angle promising tight abs in 10 days.  Good thing because I just ate what giants might refer to as a really big helping (or what the rest of us might call three average portions) of my favorite dessert and I’m in no mood to discuss my waistline.  The part of the gut I want to discuss today is the part that just knows when something is wrong or when it’s right.

I’ve been reading up on nurturing the gut instinct.  It’s definitely a learned art and in my opinion, one can get better with practice.  So, while there’s no physical exercise involved, there is repetition and the opportunity to learn the art of sensing or trusting to benefit you in the professional realm.  It may sound a bit far off, but the fact is, the “gut instinct” is one of the leading causes in life-saving decisions made by people who suddenly changed their plans for no apparent reason…other than that simple “feeling.”

We’ve all heard stories of people canceling their flight plans causing them to be spared from a fiery crash or more recently, it was women’s intuition that caused the investigators on the Jaycee Dugard case to pursue her captors.

The fact is, we all receive intuitive information. Like any skill, the more you practice intuition, the more yours will improve. As you continue to develop this gift, you’ll come to rely on it more and more. Practice opens up the information flow of intuitive insights.  They say that intuition presents itself when a question is asked, “…should I take this route,” “where should I be house-hunting,” “which candidate should I hire,” “what’s wrong with my teenager…”  The answers may come in many different forms, but if we aren’t paying attention to the answers, why bother asking the questions?

Well, that’s my point exactly.  The answers can come in the form of feeling, hearing or seeing.  “Feeling:” the “just knowing” or gut instinct, the “Hearing:” such as a two unrelated people giving a common answer to the same question, and the “Seeing:” where you get a “sign.”  My friends and I laugh about the phrase, “maybe it’s a sign,” but it may very well be a sign that says, “Danger, No Trespassing,” or “Proceed with Caution.”  From now on when you pass a sign like that, take note of where your mind is and what question you’re contemplating.  It may be just the advice or guidance you needed on that particular subject.

So all the technical stuff aside, the point to all of this is that maybe we’re getting the answers more than we know but we’re not listening.  Not listening causes us to go against the flow.  Going against the flow can make us live below our potential.  Maybe if we weren’t so hell-bent on an idea, new and better ways might be revealed.  Maybe if we got into the “trust and allow” place in our head, the right thing will knock us up-side it!

Time after time I have MADE things happen and FORCED deals to work and PUSHED for change at no one’s expense but my own.  I sit back now and wonder had I trusted and allowed more of what my gut felt instead of what my head thought that I might be further along in my journey.  Who knows really?  But I’d like to think that the new “enlightened” me floats on her back down stream more often than she swims hurriedly up river with all the struggle and exhaustion that goes along with it.  And while I will continue to gather data and analyze with logic, I will relax and observe in hopes to feel, hear or see a sign that guides me down that skinny little path towards happiness.  What kind of shape is your gut in?

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My father-in-law used to share philosophical quips with me and thankfully some of them have stayed with me.  One of my favorites simply states that, “Good enough, seldom is!”

Seriously, that’s a doosie!  Doing as good as you CAN is a totally different statement than doing as good as POSSIBLE.  Seems like semantics, but I know the difference; I have experienced the difference.

Just last week someone told me, “I’m being as honest as I can…” which led me to believe that more honesty was accessible, just not to this person at this particular time.”  Lame!

I like giving all that I have all of the time, which sometimes comes at a price, but it beats giving just enough to get by and having to live with that shame.  For instance, I can tell you that I gave my all in making the 2009 Tennessee State Fair a completely new experience.  I can prove to you that perceptions were changed and the vibe was positive and that people who hadn’t been there in a decade enjoyed the fair.  I can show you financial reports on increased sponsorship dollars and decreased advertising spending with nearly double the exposure.  I can put on paper all the reasons why this was such a success.  And I can also tell you that my best just wasn’t good enough to save the fair.

It’s over; cancelled after 104 years to make way for “progress.”  So what can you tell yourself after an end result like that? You say, “atta girl,” because you know (as I do) that you gave it your all, your best, your “hundred percent.”

There are times that you just have to sit back and know, that no matter what you did or didn’t do, the decision was already made or the wheels were already in motion, but that should not stop you from celebrating the accomplishments–even the little ones.  Remind yourself that some things are outside of your control. And sometimes you just have to give yourself credit where it’s due and move on.

So move on I do!  Where?  I don’t know yet.  When?  Starting today, I guess. How? One day at a time.  Why? Because curling up in a ball isn’t an option.

THIS is the time the champion sprints out to take the lead; this is when thoroughbred shows her Divine blood line; this is where we separate the men from the boys, boys!  It’s show time!

I know, I sound like a crazy woman, but honestly this is one of those amazing times I’m forced to reinvent myself for the next big thing.  I would have stayed and fought and kicked and scratched until the fair died an honorable death…this way, I’m free to roam about the universe.  How cool is that?

The old saying about pulling oneself up by their bootstraps makes me want to hit something…this is more about knowing that I did the best job possible and I’m closing down this year with a sense of dignity because I gave it my all.

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