Tuesday, November 17, 2015

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/14557939/?claim=psfbdptv256">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Teacher Must Always Remain a Student: When a person you mentor goes off the rails

I would not be where I am today had it not been for several very important mentors at different points in my life. Having benefited from the tutelage of these key figures, I have earned the privilege to teach and mentor scores of people over the years. Regardless of the industry or position, I am always on the hunt for the next “me”.  My heart accelerates when I find a fresh new prospect or trainee with fire in their chest and a passion for success. My heart sank when I recently learned that one of my most promising young mentees was in hot water resulting from some serious lapses in judgment.
The course of my life was irreversibly changed by my first mentor, JW, a man of enormous physical stature with the business savvy to match. He drilled into me the key fundamentals of punctuality, consistency, relentless determination and maintaining an impeccable storefront. Lisa C. brought out the swagger in me, encouraging me to always be true to my personal brand and never (and I mean NEVER) discount my fee. A common thread with these and other important figures in my life has been the personal investment they each made in me. Their coaching encompassed a broad range of subjects that extended well beyond the specifics of the job or the company for which we worked.
I recognized the value of the special attention I garnered from these mentors; they were all at the top of their game and at the height of their field. I was honored that they recognized something in me worth developing and I was keen to seize upon this. One of my mentors was fond of saying "Well Mike, not everyone is a Mike". They saw in me the potential to duplicate their success where no one else had. It was my goal to take what they would teach me and take it a step further.
On those rare occasions when I've met a person who is already motivated and feels a genuine drive to excel,  I feel a swell of energy rise within me. I experience, again, that same wonder and excitement that I felt as a young man when I was hungry to learn from an expert who I could convince to peel back the curtain and reveal their secrets. For my woo-woo friends, mentoring someone provides a sense that you are repaying the universe for the kind generosity shared by your mentors with you. For others, it is a chance to live vicariously through your pupil that experience of discovery in order to expand your understanding with the hope that both of you will build upon what you've learned and collectively take that experience to a whole new level.
It is not at all common to find someone in whom you can light a spark. And, still less common, is someone with whom you can trust the full width and breadth of your experience. Before I will fully invest my time and energy (much less the entirety of my understanding of a subject), I must be confident that my recipient has a well-calibrated moral compass and will use this knowledge for good works. A bond built upon trust will take time to develop and nurture. As you build this relationship, you become closer with this person and develop a personal stake in their success.
One of my mentees was recently discovered to have violated some pretty serious rules of conduct. The findings of an exhaustive investigation called into question his honesty and integrity. I was reminded in that moment that our relationship is not unlike that which I have with my son. After the initial disappointment subsided, I realized this was a golden opportunity. Part of the mentoring process is to be a guide throughout the entire journey. It is not enough to point somebody in a direction, kick them in the ass and then hope that they get to their destination. A true mentor will be there to assist their trainee as they navigate for themselves the new terrain. 
This experience has been a true awakening for me and brings me full-circle back to something JW once said to me long, long ago: "The teacher must always remain a student". 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Meeting old friends for the first time: Making "real" friends on Facebook

I have always been skeptical of the ubiquity of Social Media (especially Facebook) and its tendency to supplant the need for real, human interaction. This weekend radically and irreversibly shifted my view of how Social Media can impact our real, physical lives.

Over the last several months, Birdy has encouraged me to reach out to friends from the past with whom I had lost contact. I have found great comfort in reconnecting with friends I have not seen or heard from in as many as twenty years. In finding and rekindling these old friendships, I have filled in many gaps in my memory and rediscovered lost parts of who I was, who I am. Since beginning this process, I have had the distinct pleasure of introducing Birdy to four of the people from my teenage years that played a major role in forming the man I have become.    

This weekend, Birdy and I flew down to California and, among other activities, had occasion to meet my new/old friend Pete. He had popped up on Facebook a few months ago because we had fifteen or so friends in common. His name and his face were somewhat familiar, but I couldn’t place him. What the heck, I sent him a friend request. Within a few minutes he accepted and sent me a message:

This went back and forth for about half an hour and we still could not piece it together. We did, however, begin to make a connection. As we shared the details of where life had taken us in the two decades since the time we didn’t remember going to high school (Leigh High School in San Jose, CA) together, the seeds of a new friendship began taking root. We cheered for each other's successes and shared the lament from our tales of woe.

Herein lies what had been my chief complaint with Social Media: I am not actually “friends” with the vast majority of people who are my friends on Facebook. Many were friends in high school and we got along just fine, but we are all grown up and our lives have gone in a million different directions. We've lost touch and we now share a pseudo-friendship through each others' social media highlight reel. 

This was the first time in which I had added a friend on Facebook from high school with whom I exchanged direct messages and had a “real” conversation...and he was not even my friend to begin with. And yet, since beginning this correspondence, I have found someone with whom I share a great many interests AND get along with AND find interesting. 

As it happened, Birdy and I were travelling to California this weekend and had the privilege to meet again, for the first time, my friend Pete. Seeing him in person did nothing to refresh my memory to recall any event, circumstance, class, dance, assembly or party that we attended together. He and I went to the same middle school and high school during the same years and were friends with dozens of people in common and neither of us could remember the other. But from the minute we sat down for a drink, it felt like we had been friends the whole time.  

From Left to Right: Pete, Birdy and Myko at Lefty O'doul's in SF

So, the fact that Facebook was responsible for bringing together, again, two people who were otherwise perfect strangers has made me re-estimate the power and the value of Social Media. I should mention that Birdy and I met on Tinder...lol 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Are you one of the five people you would want to spend the most time with?

Don't be surprised when you become the people you get your advice from. You have to seek out the people whom you admire and whose success you would like to emulate. In this same vein, are you someone that people would want to emulate?
As I pick myself back up and begin the journey back to a purposeful life, I am rediscovering the value of mentors and surrounding myself with successful people with whom I can relate. The Jim Rohn Quote really resonates "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with". 

I imagine a party of six hikers climbing a mountain. Each of us comes from a different place and carries something unique in our pack. Each of us will be called upon at some point to give the rest of the group a hand up. Each of us will share something of what we brought. Our common goal is to use our unique talents and resources to help the whole group get to the top of the mountain. 

Who are the five people you spend the most time with?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Work Wise - Adventures in Ambidexterity

Last week, I told you about my experiment with a Stand-up workstation. I've found that standing up while working has really changed my perspective. If nothing else, at least I'm not falling asleep at my desk...

Along these same lines, I'm always looking for ways to break up the monotony of the work day in corporate America. One of the ways I do this is by regularly switching the hands that control my mouse and dial the phone. I use my mouse for several hours each day and I dial between 125 and 200 calls daily.

I am naturally right hand dominant and it feels most comfortable using my right hand to dial a phone and guide the mouse at my computer. However, I have found that I can be much more efficient by using one hand to control the mouse and the other to dial the telephone. An interesting way for me to continually liven things up (and keep myself on my toes) is to periodically swap my phone and my mouse to opposite sides of my desk. On January 2nd of this year, I moved my phone to the left side and the mouse to the right. Friday of last week, I reversed them. I love doing this as it forces me to be present in the moment and concentrate on what I am doing.

I began doing this a few years ago after reading an article suggesting that you may potentially improve brain function by using your non-dominant hand to perform common, every day tasks. Several studies claim that new neural pathways are created when a "righty" goes "southpaw" a few studies argued that this change to your routine unlocks the creative potential of the right side of your brain.

I've always looked for ways to be artistic in everything I do (especially the banal, robotic routines of daily life). The notion that you could stimulate creativity or tap into your artistic right-brain more easily by simply using your left hand to move your mouse or dial the phone was incredibly appealing to me. 

My takeaway from this experiment is that it resembles the placebo effect: I find myself being more creative and artistic in my approach because I have the expectation that I am activating another part of my brain this way. If I am more creative or more artistic as the result of dialing the phone with my left hand, then it is irrelevant if science can prove that there is a correlation. 

Click here for a great article that goes into greater depth and explores some of the science and research that's been done on the topic.

What has been your experience? I'd love to hear from somebody who has tried this experiment. Or, maybe you're inspired to try it… Let us know how it goes.

Monday, August 3, 2015

August 30-Day-Challenge

Even though I'm still a little disappointed in myself for not completing the entire July challenge - no wait, scratch that - even though I'm disappointed in not completing EITHER of the July challenges, I'm happy that we've identified a challenge for August AND already done some really tedious and hard work to get it underway. Since our original plan for June was to begin cleaning out the future pub shed, but we were diverted into repairing the damage from the flood, we are back to our original June plan here in August.

Lucky for us the first day of the month was on a Saturday. And not just any Saturday, a Saturday that we were going to be home! (OK, not for the whole day - I had to work in the morning on the San Juan's and then we attended one of Big Lil's soccer games.) So as not to alter any positive cosmic mojo of this favorable coincidence, even though it was sweltering - at least by my standards - we got right to it when we got home.

First things first we needed to get all the stuff out of the future pub shed. The problem? Where to put it all. We moved all of my bins of party supplies, and holiday decorations, and canning jars, and random junk I can't seem to get rid of to the back porch where I could start going through it all. No sense in continuing to store things I don't want anymore, even if it would be easier for now. I sent my old business partner Brie'n a text to see if she wanted all of our old wedding planning paraphernalia. She agreed to go through it and keep what she wanted so I set that stuff aside for a trip on another day. The bins also needed a good washing. Years of being in a garage that is not airtight had done a number on a few of them. Needless to say there were many spiders, beetles and other varmits that are now homeless. We got a few more pieces of OSB for the attic to make room for better organization and easier access, as well as a more equalized weight distribution across the trusses.

We devised a plan to clear a lot of the stuff out of the well house. I chatted with the Wasbund about bringing over a few loads of stuff that has been sitting out there collecting dust (and mouse skeletons). Since he was cool with that we packed up the M4 and the Pilot with as much as they would carry. After one trip with both vehicles, another fill on the truck and additional trip over to drop it off, we decided we were done with that particular task for the moment. We had successfully moved enough stuff to make room for some of Myko's tools, some metal storage cabinets that had been in the future pub shed and the paint for the house.

While Myko cleaned out the cobwebs, sawdust and other gross stuff out of the wellhouse and started moving stuff over, I started going through my bins. I found stuff for little boys' & girls' birthday parties (think I'm going to give that away), a bunch of Easter baskets (really I should've taken a picture of all of them) and many, many other things I haven't seen in a long time. Some of it I decided to part with. The rest I want to keep. The house is big, and there's a good amount of storage. While I don't want to be labeled a hoarder by any means, I don't see the point in tossing something that I'm wavering on the decision to ditch or not. Might as well keep it and see how I feel the next time I see it. I found a few things that we decided would fit well on the new bookcases.

That more or less filled our weekend with the exception of a haircut for Myko, a couple of Big Lil's soccer games and some lunch. There is still a TON to do but we have made a tremendous amount of progress in only two days. We are feeling much more accomplished already. It's a great feeling.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Committing too much

There comes a time when you have to admit that you've overdone it; that you've committed to too much. For anyone who is ambitious you will know the feeling. How many of us work, and then commit to our kids to take them somewhere, and commit to the school that we will volunteer, and commit to a community organization that we will help with the food drive/bake sale/bazaar/fair/etc? Learning when to say when is a skill that must be developed. And neither Myko, nor myself, have mastered it yet.

We've had this goal to complete tasks within 30 days. To challenge ourselves to get projects done by establishing a deadline. And, while the experiment hasn't been going on too long, we've been pleased with pushing ourselves and meeting (almost) those goals. Of course, like any goal in life, you have to be willing to concede to life; to modify your own expectations and goals to accommodate the things life puts in front of you. Life (i.e. kids, colds, traffic, work issues, broken appliances, lack of sleep, etc.) can get in the way of your goals. And this month, it did.

Our July 30-Day-Challenge was cut short already by the overrun of the June 30-Day-challenge. In spite of that, we were determined to make a small goal for ourselves for July and get something done in two weeks. In fact, we decided to do TWO things: 1) Complete the pantry repair (which was damaged as a result of the hot water heater busting), and 2) Work out 3 times a week and make a meal plan.

I'm still confident that we can achieve one of them, but I am resigning myself that both are not going to happen. First, for the pantry, I still haven't ordered a second box of flooring for the pantry (we think we have enough but aren't sure). Second, there are simply not enough days left in this month to prep, execute and complete the pantry repair. Both of us have been ultra busy and stressed out at work leaving us little energy to do much in the evening other than the standard necessities (which are no small feat in their own right) - laundry, ironing, cooking, cleaning up the kitchen, getting ready for the upcoming work day.

Our health challenge, on the other hand, is still attainable. Last week we walked or worked out at least 3 times (Myko far surpassed that). Before the 31st we will be able to fit in three more bouts of exercise and I am committing myself to making a meal plan; to scouring Pinterest and any other recommended sites to find healthy, delicious recipes. I've already done some on the fly but I would like to have a written plan so that it is easier to stick to. Removing the age old question, "what are we going to have for dinner?" will help my stress level, will allow me more time to be at home and less stops at the grocery store after work and will keep us from defaulting to something easy that may not be as healthy.

It's extremely difficult to set a goal and not meet it, at least for people like us. But I've got to adjust the focus on what we have been able to achieve - some relaxation, time with our kids, travel, keeping up the regular chores - instead of the one thing we haven't.

I'm excited at the potential for next month. A WHOLE month to work on yet another goal. Now we just have to determine what it will be.