My Journey Back From the Wilderness

On Sunday evening, November 19, 2017, I received a last second meeting request from my boss.  He apologized for the late notice asking that I clear my calendar for the next day and to meet him at the DFW Grand Hyatt Hotel at 10AM.  In an instant, I understand that I had just been fired.

My first two years with Workrite had been good and my business had generally ramped up.  I had a strong relationship with my boss and he had always been a great supporter of me.  My third year however had been slow and I knew my position was in jeopardy after a less than positive annual review just a few weeks prior to my dismissal.

The meeting was short and sweet and I was close to tears as my boss had become like a father figure to me.  After turning over my credit card, cell phone, and laptop, we parted ways.  He promised to be a reference as needed and we said our goodbyes.

As I drove home, my thoughts raced as to what would be my next move.  With Thanksgiving only days away, I made the decision to take the week to go and spend time with my family.  After the holiday break, I would then tackle the decision as to what would be the next chapter of my life.

Having spent 39 months working as a manufacturer rep for Workrite Ergonomics, my first choice was to pursue a reps position with another manufacturer.  Unfortunately while the DFW market is huge, rep jobs are hard to come by.  For the positive, I had my first connection and interview the week following Thanksgiving with one of the top manufacturers in the industry.  Ultimately, the position did not pan out.  That was one down.

Throughout my journey, I committed to maintaining my normal daily schedule of getting up at the same time, heading to the gym after my bible study, and being locked and loaded in front of my lap top by 8AM.  I figured if I wasn’t working for someone else, I could spend the same amount of time looking for a new job.

Between Thanksgiving and April, I interviewed with numerous companies both in and outside of the furniture industry.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought it would be possible to go without work for five months…almost to the day.  It wasn’t for a lack of effort.  One great example is a company where the time between the first and second interview was a whole month.  I was disqualified shortly after the second interview and lost 4 weeks from that one opportunity.

This same scenario repeated several times leaving me less and less hopeful.  Fortunately, I had been frugal with my savings and had a nice cushion to weather the transition.  While I was fine financially, it still left me feeling rather dejected every time I had to shift funds from savings to my check book.

My new office…

The happy ending to the story is that I accepted a new position with Life Time Fitness as a Fitness Professional on April 17th.  The rest of this post will share the thoughts and considerations that took me from pursuing another position in sales to following my true passion which is to serve people through fitness.

Most people have heard some version of the old saying that if you do what you love the money will follow.  That general idea has “haunted” me for years because I’ve spent the bulk of my working life questioning whether I was doing the right thing given my skills and passions.

Outside of my commitment to my faith and family, my dedication to fitness has been the most dominant passion in my life.  I had worked as a fitness professional for two brief periods where both times I ultimately left each job for all the wrong reasons.  An injury took me out the first time and a failed marriage engagement the second.  Under those circumstances, I was never been able to get it out of my mind that fitness was where I was truly supposed to be.

Author, speaker, and uber success guru Brian Tracy poses the question in his book “21 Success Secrets of $elf-Made Millionaire$“, “If you won $1,000,000 tax-free today, would you continue in your current career?”  The point is obviously about passion and I’ve asked myself that question countless times over the past twenty years.  With only two exceptions, my answer would always be no.  Those exceptions would have been during my two short stints working as a fitness professional.

To stay on the passion theme, leadership expert, John Maxwell says to find something you love enough to do for free, and then get good enough that people pay you “well” for doing it.  It’s the same idea as the Confucius quote above.  John also shared in his book, “Leadership Gold”, about a study of 1,500 business school graduates whose careers were tracked from 1960 to 1980.

The first group (83%) made the decision to make their money first and then spend the rest of their life enjoying themselves.  The second group (17%) pursued their passions trusting that their finances would ultimately work out.  After twenty years, it was determined that from the original 1,500, 101 became millionaires.  Oddly enough, 100 of those came from the passion first group and only 1 from the money first group.  There’s definitely a lesson there to be learned.

Author and speaker Jim Collins teaches on pursuing your passions with The Hedgehog Concept using three circles all overlapping in the middle.  The circles represent your passions, skills, and ability to make $.  The middle or sweet spot is where you really want to be and unfortunately most people do not live their work lives with this type of alignment.  My last job touched on elements of my passion for serving through fitness, but it was far from providing me with the vehicle that the fitness industry does for truly changing lives.

Now for the first time ever, I have the skills, passion, and one of the best companies in the fitness industry to harness and move into this next season of my life.  This actually gives me much-needed piece of mind because of the last two influences.

While most people are familiar with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, they may not know the story behind the story.  According to Wikipedia, Jeff graduated from Princeton University in 1986 with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science.  He worked on Wall Street in a variety of related fields from 1986 to early 1994.  In late 1994, Jeff founded Amazon and the rest they say is history.

The take home point for me is the thought process Jeff used in determining to leave his cushy Wall Street career to found an online bookstore.  After sharing with his boss his plans for Amazon, his boss replied back that he thought it was actually a good idea.  He thought however that it would be a better idea for a guy who didn’t already have a great career.

After careful consideration including 100% support from his wife, Jeff broke the news to his boss that he would be leaving to start his “little” online book store.  He said the biggest driver was the fear of regret.  He said he didn’t want to stay in finance and look back many years later with thoughts of regret for never having given his Amazon concept a shot.  He could always get another job in finance, but didn’t want to live with any regrets for actions not taken.

My last motivation comes from my all time favorite book, The Bible.  In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus teaches on the Parable of the Talents.  For those not familiar, a wealthy master leaves his home to go on a journey.  He gives three of his servants, 5, 2, and 1 talent respectively.  The first two servants took what they were entrusted with and doubled their master’s original investment.  The third servant took his talent and buried it in the ground for fear of loss should he try to go out and increase the investment.

When the master returned, he praised his two servants who were faithful in doubling their talents.  The third servant however was punished because he didn’t even have the initiative to invest the talent in the bank to at least create a minimal return.  Verse 29 below is the one that’s always stuck in my mind…

“For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

God has given me gifts and abilities to serve people through fitness and I have felt for quite some time like the third servant.  It’s not that I haven’t helped people as an extension of my daily life both in and out of the gym, but to serve on a full-time basis is a different story.  So many times I’ve gone to the Lord in prayer asking where and how to best use the gifts He’s given me.  I believe God answers all prayers, however, in some cases, we have to be willing to step out on faith and trust in Him before he answers our prayers and blesses our efforts.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

I first contemplated a career in fitness back in 2004.  Now after 14 years of mental gymnastics, I’m finally where I should have been all along.  If there’s any advice I might offer, it’s this.  Life is not a dress rehearsal.  This is our one shot so make the best of it.  You don’t want to look back at the end of your life and have regrets for risks not taken.  It really is never too late to make a change.

Leadership expert John Maxwell wrote his first book in his 40’s.  Now at 71, he written in excess of 100 books selling many millions of copies.  I can only guess as John struggled to scratch out his first book called “Think on These Things“, that he would never have imagined selling millions of books in the years to come.  The key point is that he had to take the first step.  It is truly amazing how small steps, taken consistently, will compound over time to produce amazing results.

Never negotiate time as a price to achieve your dreams.  The time is going to pass regardless.  Only you can determine whether you make your dreams a reality or allow them to remain a fantasy.

Best of luck in your journey.

Special Tribute:

Throughout my time in the “wilderness” one friend above all others stood by my side and  encouraged me through my trial on a daily basis.  Joe was my voice of reason as I interviewed with each company.  Throughout the process, he knew fitness was where I should be and thankfully never let me forget about it.  He played a huge role in giving me the courage to pursue my true passion.

Joe & Dawn Pici

I can never begin to repay my friend and now mentor, Joe Pici.  Joe & Dawn are master sales trainers based in the Orlando, FL area and work with companies around the country helping them take their business to the next level.

Thank you Joe!

 

 

Posted in attitude, career change, Christian, Dawn Pici, Faith, Follower of Christ, Health & Fitness, Joe Pici, John Maxwell, learning from mistakes, life path, living your dream, personal development, spiritual gifts, success, the power of associations, Uncategorized, weight training | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

No Multi-Tasking Required

I’ve always believed that thin threads bring people into our lives and in the Summer of 2012, a friend gave me a CD that introduced me to Darren Hardy, who at the time was the Publisher of Success Magazine.  Darren is one of the sharpest guys on the planet and I’ve been studying and following his teachings to the present day.

In the Summer of 2016, I had the good fortune to see him speak in Dallas, TX at a Brian Tracy Success seminar.  As much as I appreciate Brian Tracy, I went to see Darren and he didn’t disappoint.  His talk on the “Productivity Secrets of Super-Achievers” was awesome and I walked away enrolled in his 12 week course called Insane Productivity.

Darren Hardy – Success Mentor to CEO’s & High-Performing Achievers

The course literally changed my life in how I structure my days and weeks and my thinking in general regarding success and high productivity.  Unfortunately, the course is only opened to the public periodically so if you ever have the opportunity, jump in and you’ll be glad you did.

Your best bet for staying up to date with Darren’s current promotions is to register for “Darren Daily”.  This is a free video program offered every week Monday through Friday  in the early morning.  The content is awesome and he regularly includes special offerings including a heads up on enrolling in Insane Productivity.

The following is just a small sample of some of the ideas I was exposed to during my involvement in the course.  I hope you enjoy…

Technology is changing our lives today faster than ever before in the history of the world.  We are living in exciting times and yet it can be pretty overwhelming with the new information we’re being bombarded with daily.  The world’s collective knowledge used to accumulate in a linear fashion, however in the late 80’s to early 90’s the progression became linear.

The result is that in the 21st century, we will experience 20,000 years of growth according to the renowned and brilliant scientist, Ray Kurzweil.  This means that for every year, we will experience 200 years of growth.  And it’s no wonder that we sometimes feel like someone pushed the fast-forward button on life.

Does this look familiar?

In defense of the hectic pace of daily life, many people have adopted the practice of multi-tasking as a skill and wear it like a badge of honor.  The truth is there is no such thing as multi-tasking.  You can strategically layer separate tasks and ultimately get two things done at once.  For example, you can work out on a piece of cardio equipment at your gym and listen to music or read at the same time.  However in its purest form, multi-tasking is simply impossible.

Don’t believe me?  Try this little exercise.  Count from 1 to 10 as fast as you can out loud.  Now say the letters of the alphabet from A to J again as fast as you can out loud.  Now  alternate numbers and letters 1A, 2B, 3C and ect all the way to 10J.  Did you notice the obvious slow down and drop in your pace?  It’s because you can’t run two cognitive processes in the same part of your brain simultaneously.

What you’re actually doing is “switching”.  And switching makes you dumber than if you’re stoned.  According to CNN, statistically your IQ drops 5 points when your stoned.  Switching drops your IQ by 10.  This is why it’s so dangerous to text and drive.  When you’re texting and driving, you’re not doing two separate activities.  You’re creating a whole new activity which makes you six times more cognitively impaired than when you’re legally drunk.  You are quite literally a lethal weapon.

So many people spend a good part of their day baked out of their minds.  Between driving or simply walking in public, it’s almost the exception to the rule now to see someone with their head up and alert to what’s going on around them versus having their eyes glued to their phone.  The following is a short and humorous video on this growing phenomenon:

(Click to Watch)

Speaking of, you do realize there is a serious and rising problem with people being addicted to their phones.  Consider the following questions to determine whether you may have an issue:

  1. When you first wake up in the morning, what do you grab first…your phone or your spouse?  Statistically in today’s world, the phone wins.
  2. Do you find yourself checking email or Facebook before going to bed?  How about in the middle of the night?  How about when you go to the bathroom.  Some people refuse to go to the bathroom without their phones.  Wow!
  3. Do you check your phone for new emails or texts even when you don’t hear an alert?Most people do and this is about as crazy as picking up a land line (that didn’t ring) and asking “Is there anyone there?”
  4. If you’re backing out of your driveway and realize you forgot your phone, do you go back to get it?  If you answer yes to this, you may have Nomophobia which is the irrational fear of being without your mobile phone or being unable to use your phone for some reason.
  5. Do you check your email on the weekends, while on vacation, at your kids sporting events, or any other social event?  Technology was supposed to make our lives easier and yet most people have become a slave to their technology and in particular their phones.

Pardon my little phone rant.  It’s just sad to see the progression and how disconnected we’re becoming as a population given the attraction to our electronic screens.  Our children are literally growing up handicapped in terms of developing healthy and natural social skills because of their over-reliance and dare I say addiction to their phones and social media in general.  Now back to multi-tasking.

So, if multi-tasking is impossible, what is the best way to get things done?  The answer is one thing at a time.  The highest achievers in the world are not attempting to multi-task.  Rather they focus on their highest priorities and work on them one at a time.  Now you may be thinking there’s no way I can do only one thing at a time because I have so many different task to accomplish each day.

That may be true however, you will still be far more productive if you batch common tasks and then schedule them…tackling one at a time versus switching back and forth.  Switching basically constitutes an interruption and it takes our minds 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain a state of deep concentration after being disrupted.  Avoiding distractions will probably be your biggest challenge in seeking to be more productive each day.

Depending on what you do, you really have to protect yourself from distractions.  Between technology and people, this can be difficult.  Your mind can only focus on one task to a high degree for about 90 minutes and then you need a break.  So if possible, schedule periods of high productivity each day with your head down and your blinders up.

Afterwards, come up for air and deal with the activities that don’t require the same level of focus.  This game plan of alternating periods of highly focused work with the inevitable social interactions required to function in most work environments can be very successful.

One related strategy to avoid multi-tasking and achieving high productivity is the art of delegation.  Depending on your position, you may have more or less ability to delegate, however, it is a vital tool for allowing you to focus on your highest producing activities.  One of the keys to delegation is to know your worth.  I don’t mean as a human being but what you literally bring to the bottom line per hour of work.

For example, if your salary is $100,000 a year and you work an average of 50 hours a week for 50 weeks with 2 weeks off for vacation, your hourly rate is $40.  Now the key to earning your keep and beyond is to consistently perform work worthy of $40 per hour.  Checking email or worse, getting sucked in the social medial black hole is far from being worth your going rate.  This is where you have to be extra vigilant in this day and age of constant social distractions coming at us from every direction.

One other element in the art of delegation is knowing your strengths.  You have to know your strengths and then fight like everything to work in areas that allow you to maximize them.  As much as possible, delegate task that are not related to your strengths and strive to stay in your strength zone.

In his classic “Good to Great”, Jim Collins teaches the importance of having the right people on the bus and then having them in the right seat.  This concept perfectly validates the idea of operating in your strength zone.  Whether you’re an employee or own your company, this strategy will ultimately bring about the highest good.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

If you’re open to what I’ve shared on multi-tasking and want to up your productivity, consider implementing the following simple steps:

  • Single Task – Batch your common activities and work in a more focused fashion rather than switching back and forth.  Strive to work proactively rather than always living in a reactive mode.
  • Given your individuals strengths, delegate (as much as your position allows) tasks that are not in alignment with your highest producing activities.
  • Schedule multiple periods each working day for heads down concentrated work where you shut out the world’s distractions.  Be sure to come up for air after 90 minutes because that truly is the human limit for sustained high level mental focus.
  • During your scheduled high productivity blocks, turn off the outside world including alerts on your phone and computer.  You will be far more successful at avoiding checking emails or texts when you don’t hear the alerts going off every few minutes.
  • Remember that your to-do list will never be empty so don’t try to get everything done.  Prioritize your activities and then work diligently on tackling the most important things first.

The following quotes from the late great Stephen Covey provide the perfect closure:

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”


Resources:

Darren’s site below includes the option to sign up for his free “Darren Daily” as well as accessing any of the other products and services his team offers.

darrenhardy.com

 

 

 

Posted in Darren Hardy, personal development, social media, success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now I Know What it Means for ‘The Room to Spin’

My blog posts are always geared towards adding value to my readers however the following is a little unique given the topic.

In early November of 2017 I felt like my right ear was stopped up.  It was a combination similar to what you experience from flying or from having water in your ear from swimming.  With a history as a swimmer and given that I fly several times a year, these symptoms were not unusual.  However they are typically very short-term and so after several days of them not subsiding, I decided it was time to see my doctor.

On November 10, 2017 I went to my family practice doctor and actually ended up seeing his PA.  She is great and has helped me numerous times in the past with other issues and so I felt just as comfortable talking with her as I would with my doctor.  After describing my symptoms, and a brief examination on her part, she said you have an ear infection.

As a former competitive swimmer, I used to get ear infections all the time and they were always very painful.  She said this was a different kind of infection in a different part of the ear that didn’t really cause pain.  She said the solution was simple and prescribed ear drops that I would take for the next ten days.  This she said would knock out the infection and I should be good to go.

For my part the whole experience was pretty nonchalant.  The PA never mentioned any potential danger or risk from the infection and shame on me for not asking.  After completing the drops the symptoms had decreased but had not completely gone away.  In my mind the improvement meant I was healing and I didn’t think much more about it.

For Thanksgiving, I traveled to East Texas to my hometown of Nacogdoches to be with family. It was at my Mom’s home on Thanksgiving night where I had my first attack of Vertigo.  I had gotten up around midnight to use the bathroom which is only about twenty feet from the guest bedroom.  From the moment I got out of the bed and then as I walked the short distance to the bathroom, I felt like everything around me was spinning.

A scary feeling…

My Mom has a night-light in the bathroom that was zigzagging back and forth along with the rest of the room which was going in circles.  I fault an instant rush of nausea and started breaking out in a cold sweat.  Once I was back in bed, my mind was racing as to what was going on.  With the overhead fan on full blast, I pushed away the bedspread and used only the sheet for cover due to the bizarre way that I felt.

The haunted night-light…

After what seemed like forever, I dozed back off and woke up the next morning with no lingering effects.  How strange!  At first I thought it might have been a dream, but no, I was clear that it did happen.  I just didn’t know why and made no connection to my ear at that point.

After the first couple of weeks in December, the feeling of my ear being stopped up started to slowly return.  Then on December 28, 2017 I had my second attack of Vertigo in the early morning right after getting home from the gym.  I had already showered and dressed and was just firing up my computer in my home office when the nausea and dizziness hit me out of no where.

It was so bad that after picking at my breakfast, I went back to sleep in my lounge chair for most of the morning.  When I woke up around lunch time, the symptoms had subsided enough to be able to eat.  I then decided it would be best to go see my doctor.  For the negative, my doctor’s office is about 12 miles away with most of that being on the North Dallas tollway.  A flare up of the Vertigo while driving 70+ mph could have been interesting.

Ultimately the drive down was okay until about the time I hit their parking lot.  Then out of the blue, the Vertigo came back.  It was a cold day and I was wearing my overcoat and yet I had the AC on full tilt because of the nausea and cold sweats.  Walking in from the parking lot was a challenge as I was definitely impaired.  Anyone watching would have thought I was intoxicated because I was walking as if under the influence.

Normally there is very little wait, however that afternoon the waiting room was full of flu patients and the wait was two hours.  As bad as I felt, there’s no way I was going to wait that long and further expose myself to catching the flu.  I made an appointment for the next day at 4PM and then carefully made my way back home where I slept for most of the rest of the day.

My doctor was able to see me right away the next afternoon and quickly diagnosed that my ear infection had not gone away.  He gave me a steroid shot and prescribed a three-day run of antibiotics to treat the infection.  He also prescribed motion sickness meds to deal with the Vertigo.  The new treatment plan left me feeling hopeful as I headed to Costco to pick up my new drugs.  For what it’s worth, my doctor’s attitude was no different from that of the PA’s in that he didn’t mention any particular danger I was in due to the lingering infection.

The new meds did help and the motion sickness and the blocked feeling in my ear largely subsided…in the short run.  But, by mid-January the symptoms started coming back and so I called to make another appointment.  They were still slammed with flu cases and the earliest opening was on January 23, 2018.  Oddly enough, the night before my appointment, I had the next attack of Vertigo.

I had just showered and was about to cook dinner.  It was so bad that I literally had to force myself to cook and then only ate about half because of the extreme nausea.  Shortly after I went to bed hoping the sleep would help.

The next day my doctor prescribed one more shot and a double dose of antibiotics along with an additional prescription of Prednisone.  We agreed that if the new treatment didn’t help, I would need to see a specialist.  After the previous experience with the same meds, I was not feeling overly confident.  Further, I was not excited about taking Prednisone as it can have some nasty side effects.

Oddly enough, I felt fine the rest of the week until Saturday night, January 27, 2018.  At midnight I woke up with a another attack of Vertigo.  It was the worst by far and the feeling of nausea and the room spinning was almost more than I could stand.  Normally I charge my phone at my desk in my office right around the corner from my bedroom.  With my apartment spinning at full torque, I made my way to my desk to get my phone and then back to my bed using the walls and what ever else to keep my balance.

The Vertigo was so bad that I considered calling 911.  I’ve had knee and shoulder surgery and this was way worse than any pain I had dealt with before.  My mind raced with the ramifications of calling 911 at midnight and the potential ambulance ride to the emergency room.  Fortunately I chickened out and finally went back to sleep.  The next morning I felt better however pretty exhausted after the previous night.

Normally I work as a “sub” at my church during the Offertory as needed which is typically most of the time.  Even though I am only a sub, I still take the role seriously never mind the fact that I hate missing church to begin with.  Since I did feel better and my church is only a few minutes from my home, I decided to go.  I was needed and made it through the offering okay however I had my doubts considering the possibility of another attack of Vertigo.

The next morning, on January 29, 2018, I was at my doctor’s office early to get a referral to an ear, nose, and throat specialist.  Fortunately they had an opening that same day right after lunch.  After sharing my story, the doctor did a hearing test.  The results showed that I had experienced roughly a 2/3’s loss of hearing in my right ear.  He said if I would have come to see him in the first few weeks after the symptoms started, he could have prevented the damage that had been done…which is largely irreversible.

Medical City Dallas

Further, he said there were two potential causes for my condition.  He said either a viral infection had attacked the nerve in my ear or I could potentially have a brain tumor.  The only way to rule out the tumor was to have an MRI…the sooner the better.  Mentally absorbing the combination of the hearing loss and the possibility of having a brain tumor was quite a bit to take all in the span of about 30 minutes.

Why didn’t my family practice doctor not send me to a specialist sooner?  I choose to take responsibility for everything in my life and yet the carefree attitude of the PA and doctor gave me no reason to be alarmed.  Shame on me for not asking more questions about the potential risk.  Unfortunately, none of that matters now.

The imaging center is located in the same building at Medical City Dallas as the specialist and they had an opening within 20 minutes of me walking in the door.  It was a double MRI because the second scan involved a contrasting dye which meant…oh joy…another shot.  Normal shots, I can handle.  IV’s and the like where the needle is left in your hand or arm SUCK!

Definitely NOT one of my favorite things…

One hour later, I was done and on my way home.  The MRI tech said the results would be sent to my doctor that same day and that I should hear from them soon.  It was a surreal drive home talking to my Dad.  I was disappointed with my hearing but pretty much in a state of shock about the potential for a brain tumor.  Brain surgery is not something on my “bucket list”.

The next morning the nurse called me from the specialist’s office and said right away “Great news!  You don’t have a brain tumor.”  Talk about a weight taken off my shoulders.  She did say the doctor wanted to see me in a month for a follow-up but otherwise, I was out of danger.  I asked about the Vertigo and she said the meds prescribed by my family practice doctor were the best under the circumstances.  At that point, with the previous Saturday night being only a few days past, I had my doubts with this plan however I agreed.

Since nothing had changed in my body from my perspective, I figured it was only a matter of time.  Fortunately, the Vertigo never came back.  To date, even as I write this post, there have been no further attacks.  When I did go see the specialist for the follow-up visit, he did a whole new round of hearing tests.  Surprisingly, my right ear had marginally improved from the previous tests.  The doctor attributed this and the lack of Vertigo to the viral infection finally running its course.

The downside is that I still have about a 50% loss of hearing in my right ear that will never come back.  Further, I have a constant ringing (tinnitus) which according to my doctor will also never go away.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

So now I am left with a permanent loss of hearing and a constant ringing in my ear.  If I would have known the potential risk of the original ear infection, I would have opted for the specialist from the very beginning.  I had no idea because the doctor and his PA treated my condition so casually.

While you obviously can’t control everything that happens to you in life, you always have a choice in how you respond to the positive and the negative.  I choose to accept responsibility for everything that happens to me for better or worse.  As soon as you blame outside forces for your circumstances, you give up your right to make change.

There is always silver lining in every adversity if you’re willing to look.  As a Christian, one of my life verses is 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4…

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

For me, if the only silver lining in one of life’s trials is that I can learn a lesson to better help someone else in the future going through a similar struggle, then for me, it’s enough.  At least this gives me something positive to focus on rather than simply dwelling on the overall negativity of a situation.

So in the spirit of the verse above, my silver lining given the journey with my ear is to encourage you to take care of yourself.  Take care of your health proactively and then be extra vigilant when an issue comes up.  Ask your doctor lots of questions.  Do your homework.  Get a second or even third opinion.  With the power of Mother Google available to most everyone, there’s no reason to not be educated to some degree on your illness and the track record of the physician you’re seeking help from.

Ultimately you have a huge amount of control over the state of your health.  Please don’t take this for granted.  It is truly a gift that can be taken away without notice.

Best of luck in your journey…

 

Resources:

Positive Health Wellness

 

Posted in ear infection, learning from mistakes, personal development, seeking wisdom, success, trials & tribulations, Uncategorized, Vertigo, wise choices | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Your Animal Personality Style?

In “Are You Facing Your True North”, I shared about personality styles in general including a variety of assessments available to determine yours.  My original intention was to write about the following however “True North” sort on took on a life of its own and so now I want to share about my favorite way of defining personalities based on the following animals:

  • Puppy Dog 
  • Cat 
  • Canary 
  • Gold Fish 

Like the popular DISC assessment, no one is 100% one specific style.  We’re all a blend of the four types which makes up seemingly endless combinations with each individual having his own singular and unique style.  When communicating, it’s critical that you not only understand your style but also recognize other people’s styles as well.  If you don’t, you might as well be speaking a foreign language to each other because your efforts in communicating can really fall short.

Puppy Dog 

Puppy Dogs crave words of affirmation or praise.  If you pat them on the head and tell them what a good boy or girl they are, they’re good to go.  They will love you, be loyal to you, and practically run through brick walls for you.

Note to employers:  Puppy Dogs require positive and constant feedback.  It’s not that you’re telling them something they’re not, but when they’ve done a good job, they need to hear about it.  If you want them to “burn the midnight oil for you”, be consistent in affirming their performance.  As with the other three styles, it’s not a matter of manipulation, you’re just giving them what they need based on how they’re wired.

A lack of affirmation or recognition can leave them feeling despondent and wondering what they’ve done wrong.  They will begin to doubt themselves and their ability and their  performance will suffer.  Be especially cautious in how you discipline a Puppy Dog.  By all means, call them out for their failure, but be careful to lift up the person.  Zig Ziglar was wise in his saying “Failure is an event, not a person“.  Puppy Dog’s need to be reminded of this in the scenario of a performance correction.

Note to wives:  For Puppy Dogs, a wife may have more power than any other person in their life.  Say the right words and they will do pretty much whatever you ask.  On the flip side, a harsh word from a wife can send a Puppy Dog scurrying away with his tail between his legs straight under the bed where it can take days to recover.

Again like in the scenario of a boss calling out a Puppy Dog for poor performance, it’s not a matter of not addressing an issue, it’s just critical that a wife go about it in the right way.  The Proverb “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” carries considerable weight in the case of a wife scolding a husband.  By all means call out the poor performance, just be sure to remind the man of how much you love him.

Cat

Cats crave physical touch.  There is power in physical touch in general and you can find examples of this in all areas of life.  The reassuring hand of a coach on a young ball player’s shoulder when he’s next up to bat can make all the difference in his performance.  In days gone by, business agreements were solidified with a simple handshake.  Well, for a Cat, touch is oxygen for their soul.

Note to couples:  Cats want, need, crave, and desire physical touch.  In contrast to a Puppy Dog, all the praise in the world from one spouse to the other will fall on deaf ears if the recipient is a Cat.  And this doesn’t necessarily always mean sex.  Holding hands or a hand on a knee or an arm around a shoulder or just sitting close can be all that’s needed.  Without it, the Cat will feel isolated and ultimately not loved.

Canary 

A Canary needs quality time.  In contrast to a Gold Fish, all the acts of service in the world will mean nothing if quality time is lacking.  A Canary simply needs you to be with them.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Something as simple as a walk in the park holding hands (if there’s some Cat in their style) can more than satisfy a Canary.

Note to couples…and to Men in particular:  When you get home at the end of the day and your wife is a Canary, your best bet whether she’s had a great day or the worst day ever is to “let her sing”.  If she’s had a hard day, she’s more likely looking for a shoulder to rest her head on and share her story than for you to come in and play superman and seek to save the day.

On the flip side, if she’s had a great day and you have as well, don’t make the mistake of topping her story with yours.  It’s not that you don’t share, but definitely let her go first and you might even consider waiting until later to share of your exploits.  Let her have her moment because this is what a Canary needs.

Men, if your wife is a Canary, you could wash the car, take out the trash, mop the floors, pick up the groceries, and any other random household chore but if you fail to give her quality time, you will completely miss the mark.  It’s not that she won’t appreciate your acts of service or words of praise or touch, it’s just not her primary communication style and she will be left feeling unfulfilled in your relationship.

Women, if your husband is a Canary, he needs you to be involved with him in activities outside of your core relationship.  You may not care much for a particular sport, however if you husband is a fan, then attending a game with him or simply watching one on TV will thrill him.  He will always have his buddies to pal around with but none of them can come  close to touching his heart in the way you can by spending time with him in an activity he loves.

Gold Fish

Gold Fish crave acts of service.  In a literal sense, they’re really not into touch and they won’t listen to your words of praise anyway.  Just keep their tanks clean and feed them and they’re great.

My Mom is a Gold Fish and she has one of the greatest servant’s heart of anyone I’ve ever known.  She loves people the way she craves to be loved.  She appreciates quality time and words of affirmation will certainly make her smile, however a simple thing like a greeting card for no apparent reason will mean more to her than most anything.

Note to men:  If your wife is a Gold Fish, then her “Honey Do” list is your ticket to happiness.  She still needs to hear “I love you” and quality time together is essential, but if you want to hit a “home run”, be a champion in helping her around the house.  If you really want to score big, do things proactively without her always having to ask.  And…be sure to give of yourself because you love her and because it’s the right thing to do…not because you’re looking for anything in return.

Note to women:  While I’m a huge believer in men and women sharing responsibilities around the home, if your husband is a Gold Fish, this is truly an opportunity to turn house hold chores like washing and folding clothes into a labor of love.  It may not seem like that big a deal, but to him, it really is.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

For effective communication to take place and for meaningful relationships to exist, you must not only know your style but also understand the styles of the other people in your life.  People’s default way of “showing love” to others is to express their love in the way they are wired to receive love.  Hopefully you can see now how this doesn’t work very well.

If you’re a Puppy Dog and your wife is a Canary, all your words of affirmation to her will completely fall on deaf ears.  She needs your time.  To truly be an effective communicator, you have to seek to “love” others in the way they are wired to receive love.  Only then can you foster and develop the strongest and most enduring relationships.

 

 

Posted in affirmations, communication, love, personal development, personality styles, success, Uncategorized, Zig Ziglar | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Are You Facing Your True North?

Personality styles are varied and there are tons of assessments available to help you discover your personal style.  I was first introduced to the idea of different personality styles over 20 years ago in the old Amway business.  While I never made much money with the opportunity, that experience introduced me to the world of personal development which forever changed my life for the positive.

My earliest exposure to a system of labeling personalities was through the book “Personality Plus” by Florence Littauer.  My biggest take away was that we’re all wired differently and to attempt to communicate to someone not understanding your style or their’s can result in an epic fail.

This is a critical piece that touches every relationship in your life including family, friends, and coworkers.  If you don’t understand you or them, you really might as well be speaking a foreign language to each other as that’s how ineffective your communication may be.

Soon after Personality Plus, I was introduced to Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages”.  For couples especially, this book is a game changer.  Today Chapman offers a whole series of books targeting different groups but at the core, they all come down to understanding your style and others to foster effective and meaningful communication.

My next exposure was to the DISC personality assessment.  The first company I ever went to work for in sales used the DISC assessment as a pre-hire tool.  Having no coaching whatsoever, I took the test from my heart answering each question as honestly as possible.  Unfortunately my results came back negative in terms of what the company typically looks for in a sales rep.

My soon to be sales manager had me retake the assessment this time with a little coaching which produced the desired results.  Once he gave me an idea on how to answer the questions to foster their prototypical sales rep, it was not difficult to “cheat” the system for sake of getting hired.  However, the second round of results were not a true indication of the real me.

I recently finished the book “Go Put Your Strengths to Work” by Marcus Buckingham.  It was a great read and timely for me in this current season of life.  One statement he made which proved particularly interesting is that people’s personality styles do not change.  They are hard-wired in at a very early age and really never change throughout our lives.  He said many people have the mistaken belief that personalities can and do change, however learning new skills as we age does not constitute a change in personality.

At first I didn’t know what to think of his statement and then I remembered my original scores with the DISC assessment.  Last year, I attended a sales boot camp in Orlando, Fl where communication styles were part of the curriculum.  The trainers were certified DISC specialists and it was very eye-opening to see how powerful the information can be used in a business setting and life in general.  As part of the teaching we were all required to take the assessment.

Test Scores from May 2017

Now being very knowledgeable of the four personality styles taught by DISC, I can easily take the assessment and create any desired profile because I understand which questions drive which results.  When I took the assessment last year, I wanted to see my true results and so I took it straight up and honest.  It had been 22 years since my original assessment and my score was almost identical.  For grins, I took a break from writing this post to take the assessment again, from my heart, and my overall style remains constant.

Test Scores from March 2018

You will notice that my results for the D and I traits from last year to this year are basically the same.  The S and C traits actually flipped however the spread is very close.  We all have our natural bent however circumstances in our lives can cause us to act in the moment expressing any of the four traits more strongly than at other times.  I’m personally in a very different season of life this year versus last so it only makes sense for the subtle change.  Overall, I’m pretty much the same person.

So what’s the point of that?  Whatever your personality style, it is your True North and you need to live your life being true to yourself.  With your personality style comes your strengths and passions.  So many people live their lives pretending to be something they’re not.  You must avoid against this.  Life is too short to live for someone’s else’s agenda.


In our society people tend to focus more on shoring up weaknesses than maximizing strengths.  For example, let’s say you brought home a report card as a child with two A’s, two B’s, and a D.  Which one would your parents tend to focus on the most?  The D of course.  Now you may have been able to do better than a D but maybe not if the course was in your area of weakness.

Leadership expert John Maxwell teaches that on a scale of 1 to 10, the most you can increase a strength or weakness is 2-3 points.  So if you’re a 2 in public speaking, then no amount of training and effort will ever get you beyond a 5 or “average”.  Hint…people don’t pay much for average.  But if you’re a 6 in leadership and you raise that to an 8 or 9, companies will line up to hire you.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to ignore your weaknesses.  Just don’t beat yourself up over trying to make them substantially better.  You will gain a far greater return on your investment of time and energy spent in working to maximize your strengths.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Stephen Covey said it best with “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
You have to be clear on your communication style and then be skilled in recognizing others before you can ever communicate effectively and therefore “be understood”.

I love the simple saying “you don’t know what you don’t know”.  The older I become the more profound this little truth is to me.  So if this is your first exposure to personality types in general, I highly encourage you to learn more about your style.  It will enrich your communication and ability to deal with people in every area of your life.

Further, if you’ve never taken a strengths assessment, I also encourage you to do so.  If you have children, this could be one of the most beneficial things you could ever do for them in helping them find their True North.

My nephew Sean just graduated last May from high school and was planning to join the military.  He had been leaning towards the Air Force for years and yet he changed his mind completely and joined the Army.

Why?  Because his passion for flying caused him initially to be attracted to the Air Force.  It was only after he took a strengths assessment and fully explored all his options with a recruiter that he realized the Army was a much better choice.  And now I am proud to say he’s kicking butt in basic training and loving it!

Sean Gates – 1st Battalion 61st Infantry Regiment “Roadrunners” Fort Jackson SC.

When the late great Billy Graham was asked what was the greatest surprise to him about life, his answer was “The brevity of it”.  Life is short and this is not a dress rehearsal.  Make the most of your days because they truly go by fast.

Resources:

Personality Plus by Florence Littauer

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

DISC Personality Assessment

DISC Certification with Pici & Pici

Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham

Standout by Marcus Buckingham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in communication, John Maxwell, love, personal development, personality styles, success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Momentary Lapse of Reason – Part 3

Remember the classic line from Bugs Bunny “I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque!”?  Well the following little adventure resulted from another missed left turn that took me on the scenic route of all scenic routes.  I was so far out in the boondocks that my iPhone’s GPS wouldn’t work.  It showed the little blue dot (me), going South and progressively East when I was trying to go South and West and it wouldn’t give me any directions to correct my mistake.

Talk about being off the grid…

It was a Friday afternoon and I was headed home from Tulsa after being in Oklahoma for the week for work.  My normal route is to take the Indian Nation Turnpike down to just past McAlester and then pick up 69 to Dallas.  On this particular trip I was talking to one of my best friends while racing down the turnpike at just under 80 mph.  I don’t remember what we were talking about but apparently is was all-consuming because I missed my exit for 69…and that’s when the trouble started.

“I missed the blue loop”

I’ve had a fascination with water since I was a kid.  Oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds…you name it, I just like the water.  My friend and I were still talking when I passed through a small town that did not seem familiar.  Now I’ve made the trip from Tulsa to Dallas countless times and my memory is pretty good, so to pass through a town that failed to register sent up immediate red flags.  Then I crossed a bridge with a dam and spillway to the left with the water flowing under the road.  That’s when I knew I was in trouble.

There’s no way I wouldn’t have remembered that spillway and bridge combo.  The problem was that my GPS wouldn’t work.  It wouldn’t even connect to show my location on the  map because apparently Verizon doesn’t have coverage in the middle of nowhere.
Without a better course of action, I continued to head Southeast hoping and praying for a road sign that I would recognize.

Paris was my beacon of light as my cell signal returned and the GPS started working again.

When I first saw signage for Paris, I was both grateful and shocked thinking good grief, I’ve gone WAY out of my way.  While I always enjoy crossing the TX state line on my way home from being out-of-state, it felt particularly good that afternoon.  My cell signal actually came back about the time I crossed the Red River and passed one of my all time favorite signs, “Welcome to Texas”!

After a quick pit stop in Paris to regroup and determine the best way to make it home, I was back on the road full steam ahead in route to Sulphur Springs where I would pick up 30 to Dallas.

Had I not missed my turn, the trip should have taken right at 4 hours at approximately 246 miles.  With my missed turn, I added an extra 64 miles or so and 1 hour to my trip.
It could have been worse and yet I still felt pretty stupid once I determined exactly where my mistake occurred.

The trip from Sulphur Springs to home was uneventful until I hit Rockwall.  Coming down the mega hill leading to the bridge that crosses the lake, I could see a threatening line of thunder storms forming across the entire DFW horizon.  Fortunately the monsoon didn’t hit until I was relatively close to home so the weather really didn’t delay my trip any further.  To avoid the crush of traffic where Bush and the Tollway intersect, I bailed at Preston and took the side streets to my home.  Needless to say, it felt extra good to be home…safe and sound.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

As a continuing theme from Parts 1 & Part 2, it pays to pay attention to your surroundings.  Once I hit Paris and had a clear path for home, it would have been easy to beat myself up for the extra distance and lost time all due to a simple missed turn.  Instead I chose to focus on the positive.  I knew where I was, I had plenty of money to get home,  and it could have been far worse.  I could have been in an accident or robbed or who knows what.  All things considered, an extra hour on road was not that big a deal.

My only thoughts for you are to accept responsibility for whatever situation you’re in.  We can’t control what happens to us in life but we can always control how we respond to any situation.  I’ve learned to stay positive and be solution oriented.  This will get you through the rough times far better that whining and griping about how bad a situation is.  It really comes down to having the proper perspective and again…it’s always a choice.

Posted in attitude, learning from mistakes, self talk, success, trials & tribulations, Uncategorized, wise choices | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Momentary Lapse of Reason – Part 2

In Part 1, I shared about a short story from last Summer that while embarrassing and idiotic on my part, did not leave me essentially stranded with few immediate options for a resolution.  The following little adventure happened only a few weeks ago and still causes me to feel a little shaky at the potential damage it could have caused.

On Sunday afternoon, February 11, 2018, it was cold and misting rain outside.  I like to take walks around my apartment complex in the late afternoons but once the temperature drops below a certain point or if its raining, I will head up to my complex’s little fitness center which is a part of the main office building.  During normal hours, you can access the fitness center through the business office.  On Sundays or any other time when the office is closed, you can only access the fitness center through the back door…if you have a key…which I do.

After my thirty minute walk, I put on my overcoat, grabbed my book, and walked out the door.  While the door is always locked, it doesn’t shut automatically.  You have to physically pull it shut…which I did.  In that split second, my heart practically stopped.  I grabbed my coat feeling both pockets and there was nothing…except for my extra car key.  My real keys were inside the gym sitting on the treadmill where yours truly left them.  What an idiot!

Creekside Apartments Fitness Center

The extra key was in my pocket because I had gone out to unload my stash from Costco earlier in the day.  Since it was a big box, I put my key back in my pocket after opening the back hatch of my Ford Edge and basically forgot about it as I carried my goodies back inside my apartment.

Albertsons – Frankford & North Dallas Tollway

At this point my mind was racing as to what to do.  To make matters worse, it was still cold, drizzling rain, and I really needed to pee!  So…I hurriedly walked back home to my car and jumped in to warm up.  My mind was still racing however the most immediate need was to find a bathroom.  Short of picking a random neighbor and knocking on their door for help, I opted to cruise down the street a few blocks to Albertsons.  I knew I could use their restroom and hoped someone would let me use a phone.

Albertsons – Customer Service Desk

Now feeling a little more clear-headed having used Albertson’s restroom, I made my way to the customer service counter where I met Margaret.  She was a sweet little lady who reminded me a lot of my Mom in stature.  After explaining my challenge, she sort of laughed (in a friendly way) and asked how she could help.  I asked to use her phone to call 911.  She asked “shouldn’t you call your apartment complex?”  I explained that they were closed on Sundays and I couldn’t afford to wait around for the emergency maintenance staff to respond to my challenge.

So she let me call 911 and fortunately the officer I spoke with was nice but quickly explained that locking myself out of my apartment did not constitute an emergency.  She suggested like Margaret to call my apartment’s emergency maintenance line for help.
That’s not the answer I was looking for however what choice did I have since she wasn’t going to help.  Then Margaret was kind enough to look up my apartment’s number on her cell phone and allowed me to call them.  Remember, I didn’t have my phone with me.

To my surprise and relief, an actual human answered the phone.  In my past experience before the days of submitting maintenance request online, I was used to having to leave a voice message.  I had never experienced an emergency and didn’t realize that there is always someone there to take your call.  After explaining my silly yet serious situation, she put me on hold to track down the maintenance man on call who was working at a different property.

After a few minutes she came back on the line saying that help was on the way and for me to wait at the back door of the fitness center.  I thanked her and hung up and then profusely thanked Margaret who had been nice enough to let me use her phone.  I told her how much I appreciated her help and said that if the counter wasn’t in the way, I would give her a big hug.  She smiled and promptly walked around from behind the counter and accepted her hug with a “God bless you” whispered in my ear.

I raced out of the store and headed back to my apartment which was literally only a few minutes away.  Margaret had first suggested that I just wait at the fitness center for someone else to come along where I could get in with their help.  I explained that it was not like a commercial gym where there’s practically always someone there.  Our little center has 2 treadmills, 1 elliptical, and 1 universal type piece of equipment where you can do a variety of exercises.  Literally days could go by without someone showing up so this was not a good strategy under the circumstances.

It did occur to me however on the way back that it would be good fortune indeed for someone else to be in the gym.  Once I parked and started walking towards the fitness center, I passed through two of our buildings and finally was able to see from a distance both the center and the TWO people working out inside.  My heart skipped and I raced up the hill to the back door.  The lady on the treadmill that I had been using was one of my neighbors and once she caught sight of me walking up the sidewalk, she help up my keys.

Creekside Apartments Fitness Center – Located on far right corner.

Now she didn’t have any way of knowing for sure that the keys were mine, but it just made sense.  She met me at the back door and I expressed my extreme gratitude for her being there to help.  I rushed home and called my apartment’s emergency line to have them not send the maintenance guy to help since my dilemma was solved.  After my call to the emergency line, I took a nice hot shower to warm up and wash away the events of the past 60 minutes.  What an emotional roller coaster ride.

Closing thoughts for my readers: 

Much like the closing remarks from Part 1, my biggest personal takeaway is the need to not only be aware of what’s going on around you but to think before acting.  Moving forward I will never go anywhere without my phone…just in case.  Further, I will run a little more cautious to be on guard against making a stupid mistake that could really come back to bite me in the butt.

As for Margaret, I bought two dozen cookies on my way home from the gym the following morning.  Nestle’ Ultimates are the best and their Chocolate Chip Lovers and Turtle Supreme are especially amazing.  I baked both batches and delivered them to Margaret along with a thank you card later that morning.  It was the least I could do after the kindness she showed me.

On a more serious note, this little experience has caused me to look differently at the “Panhandlers” we so often see on the streets in the DFW area and beyond.  I’ve often wondered how they could end up with essentially nothing but what you see in a backpack or duffel bag sitting next to them on the side of the road.  The answer is one poor decision at a time compounded over time.

Please don’t get me wrong.  My heart aches for those people and I routine give them cash when my heart and gut says so.  Just this past week, I gave away my umbrella to a guy standing out in the rain with his little sign.  But in the spirit of accepting responsibility, they are where they are because of poor choices they have made…which should be a wake up call to everyone as to how quickly things can go from good to bad.

My momentary lapse of leaving my keys in the fitness center was actually easily solved and yet it was due to poor thinking and a bad decision to leave without taking my keys.  If there’s a lesson to be learned its to guard your thinking and decision-making process vigilantly because it’s our thinking and the decisions that result that drive the life you live…for better or worse.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise”

Ephesians 5:15

Best of luck in your journey…

Posted in guarding your heart, increased focus, learning from mistakes, personal development, seeking wisdom, the power of associations, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment