Thursday, May 12, 2016

The easy way isn’t always the best way!

Why is it the case that so many today are petrified of hard work? I was raised by a hard working mom and a very resourceful dad that never gave me the opportunity to be lazy and assume that the path of least resistance always has a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  I had a fascinating conversation with a young lady who works at the rec center where I take my guys often to shoot hoops. I was impressed with her wisdom when it came to the ills of today’s society especially with young people looking for jobs.

I admit that I’m old and have had a variety of jobs throughout my life. What I’m learning is that my parent’s influence in my young life helped me to not shy away from doing something totally outside my box. As I listened to this young gal talk about her dad’s impact in her life it struck me at how easy it is to make excuses about life and always do the blame ‘thing’ to avoid owning your life circumstances. She was quick to admit that her dad had spent some time in prison for doing some crazy stuff in life. Yet, she explained how her dad wasn’t afraid to get any type of job and throughout life was able to provide and ultimately became someone who owned a house. Her simple, yet profound point was that too many in today’s youth culture assume that jobs just come to you by doing nothing.

What got my attention with my young friend was how her present job she got when she was 16 and has been at the rec center for almost 10 years.  She continued the conversation with explaining how most of her friends didn’t have any direction or purpose in life. She was quick to explain how her dad helped her focus with her pursuit of education and her present job. Her youthful wisdom said that there wasn’t a perfect job and that learning to be content in life was key to being successful. I was taken back by her seasoned wisdom for someone so young!

As we watched a group of young guys shoot hoops she was quick to mention how easy it is to get distracted in life with dreaming that you will become the next draft pick for the NBA or NFL. Her point was that having a couple of brothers she understood how difficult it is for today’s young men to think ahead and pick a path to pursue to land not a job but a career with a future.

I know that having a dad who grew up in both poverty and real racially tense environment didn’t stop him from pursuing his dream of going to college and becoming an Air Force Aviator.  It would have been so easy for my dad to blame his stepdad for his circumstances and choose to drift in life and become a quitter. Yet, my dad’s glowing example was that he was someone that was never afraid to do something different and would always say that the difficult we can do in a day and that the impossible will take a little longer.

So why miss out on the adventure of life by allowing fear to paralyze you from taking a risk!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

3 steps to avoid communication breakdown!

It takes a little bit of ‘guts’ or courage to actually admit to yourself and then to your peers that you are the primary cause of communication breakdown in your own circles.  Instead of always pointing the finger at someone that has beat you to the punch step back and realize the following rather simple principles that will transform the way you communicate! As I sit at Starbucks writing this post I’m listening to one of my favorite rock bands from the 70’s, Led Zeppelin, playing Communication Breakdown.  Yes these rockers from the 70’s understood better than most the issue with communication breakdown isn’t the other person but ME!

The first admission I have to make to myself is that I’m not necessarily the smartest person on the face of this planet! Everything that I think that the world needs to hear through my self-expression has to be put on hold for my own personal learning curve. The main purpose of communication is to gain knowledge, learn how to become a better listener and then most of all to gain understanding about what makes life work better. The challenge is that I’ve been taught from the cradle to scream out to get attention and even as a youth, 20 something to a 60 something I’m under the false illusion that the world will stop what it’s doing to LISTEN to ME. The reality will eventually sink in that the world doesn’t revolve around me and my dribble!

The second realization is that I have to change my communication style to go from being a talker to someone that is willing to forbear and actually listen without thinking automatically how I should respond. Yes, this is the more difficult paradigm shift for myself I will admit. I really don’t like listening and enjoy hearing myself expostulate. Yet, if I’m going to grow in my life journey I must transition from being strictly a one sided communicator. I must learn how to listen first, not open my mouth and then digest what’s being expressed.

I know everyone has a friend who too often monopolizes the conversation or maybe that happens to be you or me that everyone can’t stand to be around. So here’s the opportunity to shock your spouse, family or workplace associates by choosing intentionally not to be tbe first to speak out nor the last to get their proverbial two cents in at the last moment. Think for a minute about how your life would be transformed if it wasn’t always about being in the center of attention! The pressure to perform would lessen and you could discover the power of observing, listening and learning!

So admit to yourself that the biggest communication problem is that you don’t listen to understand but listen to reply and take control of the conversation.  The opportunity is whether you are going to LISTEN and learn or continue to be the one that controls the conversations and annoy your spouse, friends and fellow workers.

Monday, May 2, 2016

What's the real reason for learning?

Do you have memories of all nighters and cramming for finals in college or grad school? I know that for most of us the real goal in school wasn’t necessarily for knowledge or practical life experience but for getting a grade that would take us to the next level. The challenge was that at some point in life I was supposed to have learned all of this ‘stuff’ because it does actually matter or does it?

I believe one of the most amazing gifts we can give to the up and coming generation, my little grandson Hudson, is to be living role models for being life long learners. Yes, I would actually want to continue learning in life even after the grades are no longer important! The difficulty today is that there are too many short cuts because of high tech where learning is considered a thing of the past. Why actually read a book or an article when I can ask Siri or Andy a question and get a quick response? It always shocks me when I’m around someone who isn’t capable of adding, subtracting or multiplying in their heads but need their fingers or a calculator.

I will be the first to admit that the academic type of learning isn’t necessarily for everyone but at some point in life you and I must take ownership of our learning process in life and do something! There isn’t any short cut for learning or a pill you can ingest that will help you better understand or master something that’s new. I was recently at my father in-law’s 90th birthday celebration. What’s amazing about Paul is that even in his old age he has pursued his dreams in life regardless of the naysayers or his wife screaming at him, ‘You can’t do that!’ as he jumped out of an airplane that was 10,000 feet above the coastline as he parachuted to the ground.

Yes, I want to be able to have goals and accomplishments that keep going until the day I breath my last breath on this earth. Yet, it would be so easy and comfortable to coast through life on my learning and accomplishments from yesterday or from a friend who is the genius type. What has to happen for me to not be content with living in the past and to help me want to keep growing and learning? I know for me it has been the incredible life examples of my wife, who is always pushing me to see life in the moment or my niece who will graduate from high school soon at the top of her class on her way to UCLA or my crazy brothers who never quit and saw their dreams become a life reality.

Looking back I did care about doing well on tests and figuring out ways to study and learn pre-fossil era before the Mac had come into existence. Yet, the ultimate goal of learning must be to live a better life, have my eyes opened to the beauty of life and to influence the world around me so others also may open their eyes to understand what’s really important in life.  I know that it’s so easy to live vicariously through your kids, spouse or friends and miss out on life. Don’t become a spectator who watches others live out their lives to the max as you sit on the sidelines.

Today dive into life and learn something new and different! I know for me the last couple of weeks of focused on understanding how phosphate and nitrate levels in a saltwater bio tank influence the growth of longhaired green algae. It actually takes some learning on my part and taking some specific action to see my bio tank become crystal clear again. I made some big mistakes that cost me a couple of fish but in the learn run I see the direct correlation between my inaction and impact it has on my life and the lives of those around me, even my little nemos!

Don’t lose sight on the real reason for learning!