Links Worth Reading – 02/01/2015

Links5 Reasons Why 90 Day Planning Works – I’m applying a 90-day planning emphasis at work this year for two reasons: 1) It allows us to mark something off of our list and label it an accomplishment and 2) It provides greater flexibility to roll with the ever changing landscape.

The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains – Stories are powerful, but this is one of the better reads on why stories have the power to change us. “A story, if broken down into the simplest form, is a connection of cause and effect. And that is exactly how we think. We think in narratives all day long, no matter if it is about buying groceries, whether we think about work or our spouse at home. We make up (short) stories in our heads for every action and conversation. In fact, Jeremy Hsu found [that] ‘personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations.'”

Why You Suck at Productivity (and the 5 Minute Fix), by Chris Kyle – “The reason you’re not as productive as you should be is because you haven’t learnt [sic] the art of prioritizing.” If ever there was a class that was needed in college, it is a basic class to help individuals determine their best system for systematizing and prioritizing their work. Technology has created a ton of productivity porn (tools, systems, and hacks useful for one person but not necessarily you and your universe) that looks good but doesn’t help you across all areas of life.

The 12 Most Important Things I’ve Learned About Leadership – This is more than a list of things I’ve learned about leadership–this is a list of the skills and attitudes I want to continue to develop.

  1. Be decisive
  2. Embrace change
  3. Be inspirational
  4. Be empathetic
  5. Control your emotions
  6. Be persuasive
  7. Seek out advice
  8. Never stop learning
  9. Beware of experts
  10. Be authentic
  11. Walk the walk
  12. It’s not about you

23 Science-backed Ways to Feel Happier – Yes, you are in control of your happiness. Two that I found most interesting: 21) Have Meaningful Conversations & 23) Complain–the right way.  Meaningful conversations go well beyond the chit-chat of weather, sports, and social highlights. Conversations, meaningful conversations, is probably why Jim Rohn says you are the average of your five closest friends.  As for complaining, there is a right way and a wrong way. What’s the right way? Complaining in a way that helps identify a problem and a positive action to address it. Whining doesn’t make you happier (it doesn’t make the people around you happier either).



Badge of Busyness

Badge of BusynessBoy am I busy, too much to do, not enough time in the day, can’t stop now I gotta get stuff done, look at me scurrying about doing important stuff, not even time for sleep.

If that’s you, here’s your Badge of Busyness. Wear it with pride.

“'[P]eople are competing about being busy. It’s about showing status. That if you’re busy, you’re important. You’re leading a full and worthy life.’ There’s a real ‘busier than thou’ attitude, that if you’re not as busy as the Joneses, you’d better get cracking.” ~ Brigid Schulte, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time

We’ve moved from trying to have more than the Joneses to trying to do more than the Joneses. We are still trying to keep up with them, but the rules of the game have changed. The winner used to have the biggest pile of stuff; now, the winner is the most ragged, tired, and busy.

I’m going to go ahead and quit–declare you the winner. You can have the badge, but don’t be surprised if you find that busyness is more empty than materialism (at least you had stuff).

“Our greatest fear should not be fear of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter” (Crazy Love, by Frances Chan).

How much of the busyness in your day is the result of not giving conscious thought to what you will and will not do? We simply cannot say yes to everything. What will you say no to?

For more, check out Brigid Schultz’s book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, or read the bad news quickly about “How Everything We Tell Ourselves About How Busy We Are is a Lie.”


Links Worth Reading – 11/19/2015 Edition

Links_SitesHow to Train Yourself to Excel in Uncomfortable Positions: #3 Prob Your Assumptions. That’s the hardest of the three recommended. We have so many assumptions and we simply don’t even know we’re making them. Very good advice even if it’s extremely difficult to identify your assumptions.

5 Hobbies that Can Make You Smarter (Infographic): #1 and #5 are mine. What are yours?

You Should  Never Finish Everything on Your To-Do List (So Don’t Stress About It): How do you deal with your never-ending to-do list?

8 Entrepreneurial Skills You Should Teach Your Kids (Infographic): I am doing my best to help instill entrepreneurial skills in my kids. You could probably just go ahead and call Entrepreneurial Skills the new Survival Skills.

4 Must-Have Skills for Leaders to Manage Change:
1) Listen to your front-line people
2) Play the politics of change
3) Know the organizational priorities
4) Ability to persevere.

7 Popular Productivity Beliefs You Should Ignore: At least read this quote: “There’s a Nietzsche quote I love: ‘The most basic form of human stupidity is forgetting what we are trying to accomplish,’” Giel says. “When we get too focused on productivity as a concept, we often forget what we were trying to accomplish in the first place.”

The End of the Road for Change Management: Identifies the two key failure drivers of corporations efforts to successfully implement change.
1) “Underestimating the change impacts–they do not sufficiently understand the day-to-day implications of the targeted high-level changes on their organization.” (imagine how far removed they are from the low-level changes?!?)
2) “Treating the change effort separately–they allow the people-focused change management activities to become decoupled from the desired business change.”

Keep Reading Friends!

Links Worth Reading – November 7, 2015 Edition

Links Worth ReadingHBR’s Stop Calling Every Conversation a “Meeting.” 
Don’t underestimate the power of the calendar title saying “Brainstorming Session” instead of “Meeting.” Better titles: Group working session, social meetings, and decision-supporting meetings. Ban all formality meetings!

HBR’s What you Miss When You Take Notes on Your Laptop. The power of pen and paper for focusing and recalling are stronger than your multitasking skills.

Entrepreneur’s The 7 Rules of Personal Productivity. “You don’t have too much to do. Productivity and time management are not your problem. You just have to be disciplined about setting priorities, focusing on what’s important, and letting go of what isn’t. When there’s something you really want to achieve, you’ll find a way,” writes Steve Tobak.

How Change Makes Monkeys of Us All. A classic study of how quickly existing culture consumes new ideas.

7 Traits of People Who Make a Difference: Don’t underestimate #3.

1) Hard (& Smart) Worker
2) Consistency & Perseverance
3) People-Person
4) Truth-Teller
5) Problem-Solver
6) Lifelong Learner
7) Deliver the Goods

I Hate The Writing

When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences, it forces a deeper clarity of thinking. ~ Jeff Bezos

Typed_WriterSeriously, I hate it. What if people don’t read it? What if the people that read it don’t like it? What if I make grammatical errors and my English-teaching-grammar-loving wife finds it and realizes I’m not perfect?

I hate writing because writing makes you vulnerable. 

Honestly, it’s not just the possibility of grammar faux pas that scares me. The vulnerability that it brings is the scary monster under the bed that prevents you from taking the first step–afraid to write the first word and click “publish.” It is the exposure of an idea that others may vehemently disagree with or adamantly support–either way, they’re probably not going to read it the way I meant it.

I hate writing because writing forces creativity. 

I did not consider myself to be a creative person. I hate craft stores, my rhythm is as steady as the stock market, and I’m as good with paint as I am with calculus (not sure what calculus is but it’s apparently some sort of hard math). But one day that changed.

One day someone suggested that they thought I was highly creative. They said that I was one of the best they knew at connecting different things. I struggled to see that as actually creative because both things already existed and I just put them together. “Anybody can do that,” I reasoned. A few days passed and I started realizing that maybe people couldn’t connect dots; it was so natural for me that I assumed it was just as easy for everyone else. So, I embraced it and determined that was “creativity” and it was mine. It may not hang on the wall; you won’t play it on your iPhone, but it will be mine.

I hate writing because writing requires discipline. 

Q: Is there anything worse than watching and listening to yourself on video?

A: Yes, proofreading.

I was never the type to go back and re-read the questions before turning in the test. No, sir or mam. I went through it at jet speed and let the chips fall where they may. I followed a very similar philosophy to writing: Type and Go. No reason to read it, you just wrote it, and you already know what it says–Type and Go.

Ernest Hemingway wrote, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” How many drafts did that take Ernie? HA! Seriously, proofreading is awful. I read it out loud and realize I’m missing words, even entire thoughts, that I recall typing. Proofreading is much more than getting all the words on the page. It’s more about getting the words off of the page–Finding fewer words to communicate your message more clearly. It’s about making it active even if the passive voice is the easier to find. It’s about letting others tell you your baby is ugly but may grow into a great personality.

So, why am I once again trying to write? 

  1. Vulnerability is not an excuse. Somebody will be offended by the Hemingway quote. Another will be offended by the “*” in the place of the “i,” but both will miss the point.
  2. Creativity can be improved but takes practice. Practice not in the typing, but in the thinking, the observing, the imagining, and the connecting.
  3. I want to practice writing. Practice in the sense of you try, mess up, try again, keep repeating over and over until eventually you do it right once. Then you try again.
Type and Go.

20 Course Changing Realizations

20 Course Changing Realizations

  1. That I would spend more time at work than with my family. Do work you enjoy. 
  2. That Mom was right when she said time goes by faster as you get older. I’m aiming for light speed!
  3. That refrigerator art really is amazing if you love the child; otherwise, it’s just scribbles, people.
  4. Kids ask their best questions at night. Tuck them in as long as you can for the conversations. 
  5. You can not ask too many questions before asking someone to marry you. Interviewing a lifetime partner in crime requires a few extra hard questions if you want the journey to be fun.
  6. Some friends are just a convenience. Quit work, they disappear. It’s ok. You can’t be best friends with everybody. 
  7. You need a board of friends (brothers in my case). Give them permission to tell you the truth and expose your blind spots. This is a rare level of trust. Be thankful. 
  8. Learn to enjoy learning. Life will be more fun and work requires it. 
  9. You’ll actually stay in touch with your college friends. They are worth the investment. 
  10. The earlier you invest in your retirement the better. Compound interest is perhaps your only financial friend. 
  11. You may discover that you are actually (unintentionally) mentoring someone. If so, call them a friend and keep pouring into that life giving relationship.
  12. Death of loved ones will surprise you–even if you know it is coming. Live your life to honor their legacy, tell, and re-tell their stories.
  13. Train your funny bone. Humor is needed more than any athletic skill you can acquire. 
  14. You will hurt those closest to you. You are human. Forgive and accept forgiveness. 
  15. You’ll sing your best in the car. Someone will catch you. Throw your best “Rock On” sign and keep singing.
  16. Your greatest testimony is what Jesus has done for you. Be ready to tell that story in first person. It really is better than a 2,000 year old third person account anyway. 
  17. Don’t say you are going to pray for somebody if you are not going to. There is a word for that, lying. 
  18. Speaking of which, you will never see a liar, liar pants on fire. This fact, along with others, will debunk lots of those warm fuzzies you learned as a kid. Sticks and stones… Is another one. Distrust short sayings even if there is a list of twenty combined. 
  19. There is a middle schooler in basically every man you see walking around. Takes very little for that to come to the surface. 
  20. Sometimes you’ll see yourself in the mirror and think, “who is that old guy?” Other times, you’ll look at an old picture and ask, “who is that kid?” I’m not sure if my inside age and actual age ever match.