New Year's Day - It's Not Just For January Anymore

Today is June 1, but it could just as well be any other day. A day of resolution. You don't really need New Year's Day to resolve to do or not do something, but seems like people like starting at the beginning.

I like the first of most anything and perhaps that's my problem.

I'm great at starting over. I've had to do it so many times now it seems like I'm always doing it. And not only have I had to start over countless times, I've chosen to just as many times as I've been forced to.

When we were kids living in Brookview Gardens Apartments on South Cobb Drive in Smyrna, GA, we used to play all sorts of sports on a small patch of open grass right next to the main road. We had a perfectly good baseball field which was much bigger, but it just seemed that when we'd play football, it was on that small patch.

Maybe it was because it had the telephone line that crossed it near the end, suspended by two poles. We'd use it to kick field goals. Problem was, every once in a while a play would be interrupted by that telephone line.  Someone would throw a pass that would hit the line. Whenever this would happen we'd all yell in unison, "Do-over!"

Seems like my life is one big "Do-over".  Always deciding, "This is the time, this is the year, this is it." And yet, no more than a few weeks later I'm yelling "Do-over!" again.

And maybe it is as it should be. Because here's the thing about "Do-overs". Whenever we had a "Do-over" on that field, we never had back to back "Do-overs". That's because we almost never ran exactly the same play, and if we did, we had the knowledge that we had gained the first time around.

So, yes, it's time for another "Do over" and I'm excited about it. Because I now possess all the knowledge I've gained through the previous plays I've run, tries I've had, and successes and failures I've experienced. With all the knowledge I've gained, certainly, this will be the time I'll not have to "Do over" again.

Until the next "Do over" that is.


How To Say "Thanks" This Memorial Day

2008 Memorial Day Poster #1. Created by Virginia Reyes of the Air Force News Agency. US Air Force Photo by Vance Janes. Air Force Link does not provide printed posters but a PDF file of this poster is available for local printing. Requests can be made to art@afnews.af.mil. Please specify the title and number

I sat at my desk dumbfounded. Mr. Coker, my math teacher admonished me again. “Think, Mr. Gould. Think.” Problem was, no one had ever taught me how to think and I had never sought to learn.

That moment of embarrassment would prove invaluable for it set me on a course to learn how to think. Perhaps not like Edison or Einstein or Hawking, but as myself and the experiences I would have would instruct me.

During my time of exploration of thought (which has never ended), I found I knew little about freedom as well. Here’s what I’ve learned about freedom.

Most people in a free country think very little about freedom. They focus on that which they believe or allow to rob them of freedom, never realizing they have freely given rule over their lives to the very things they feel enslave them. It is their freedom to choose that has, with few exceptions, provided the shackles they so desperately wish they could remove.

And if you find yourself quickly dismissing this notion with the justification of those with real limitations, those who have handicaps or other physical or mental limitations that restrict their freedom, I urge you caution. The weakest form of argument is from the extreme.

“You have no idea what I’m facing” you may say. And you’d be right. Each of us has limitations to overcome, problems to solve, and challenges to face. And to each of us, they are as massive as the next. But we have the freedom to face them as we choose.

Men and women give their freedom and lives to protect what they believe to be worth more than anything. They protect freedom for themselves, their families, their country, and you and me.  How do we repay the debt?

This Memorial Day many will say they have nothing to give worthy of the sacrifice of those who died in battle beyond, “Thank you.” Respectfully, they’re wrong.

Each of us has the duty, obligation, and responsibility to utilize our freedom to the greatest extent we desire. We must use the gift to honor the sacrifice.

Some will say they are happy just as they are. They’re free to be so long as they aren’t limiting the freedom of others by exercising their own. Some will say happiness is in the journey. They’re free to get moving. Some will say they are limited by circumstances. They're free to change them.

And some will say life’s not fair. Was it fair that someone fought and died so you could have the freedom to think life isn’t fair? Life’s not fair, get over it and exercise the freedom you have to choose a better life. Even a little freedom is better than none and in our country, you get as much freedom as you make your mind up to.


The World Is A Lot Better Because Alan Colmes Was Here

AlanColmesJul2009Alan Colmes died today. That may not mean much to many but it means a whole lot to those who knew him and thought they knew him.

Mr. Colmes was a gentleman. There, I said it. Gentleman. In a time when we no longer value the value of gentleness or manliness, Alan Colmes appeared to me to be both.

I never met Alan Colmes but I knew him. I watched him on Hannity and Colmes and I listened to him on radio and television interviews. While it wasn’t that long ago, it was an eternity in the cultural life of America.

Alan Colmes never seemed to waver in his beliefs. He was in this regard a true “man”. And he never seemed to waver in his tolerance and compassion when it came to debating. In this regard, he was “gentle”.

His attitude was from a time when men (and women) debated and then shared a meal or beverage. While differences were extreme, the value of commonness was understood. We’re all here for a short time and it is best if we get along. Debate the issues, stand firm in your conviction, but never, ever demean those you disagree with.

This was Alan Colmes to me. And for this, I feel extreme loss today. Rest in peace my friend I never knew, and yet knew all too well. You left an impression on me and many, many more.

The world is a better place because Alan Colmes visited here.


Be Excellent At This For Small Business Success

Business People. Successful Business Partner Shaking Hands in the office. Business Team
Business People. Successful Business Partner Shaking Hands in the office. Business Team

I like to think of myself as capable of most any task I take on. No doubt you do as well. Given enough time and resources, we can obtain the necessary knowledge and skill to do most anything.

Which is exactly why we shouldn’t do some things. 

Some time ago I took on the job of remodeling our bathroom. We had purchased an older home and the décor was dated.  My wife wanted (among other things) to have the 60’s vanity removed and to install a porcelain pedestal sink.

Removal was a breeze. Breaking things is in my skill set. Once removed I placed the pedestal sink in place and began the installation process. A few hours and a lot of water later I sat on the floor, surrounded by hoses, gaskets, and various tools. I was dumbfounded as to why I could not successfully install this sink.

Just then my wife came in and asked, “Is there anything I can get you?”

“The only thing I need right now is a plumber” was my reply.

What seemed to be a straight-forward, simple yet not easy task had turned into an epic challenge that I could not solve. And this is often what happens in our work lives as well.

No one wants to be incompetent. But admitting one’s incompetence is often the first step in moving forward with a project. How much revenue has been sacrificed, how many clients have not been served, how many opportunities have been lost because we feel the need to do a task ourselves rather than delegate it to someone who already possesses skill and knowledge we do not?

This is most common in small business. To compete we need to be experts in accounts payable, receivable, human resources, payroll, tax compliance and strategy, marketing, advertising, sales, retention, and now social media too. It can overwhelm the most competent person just as I was overwhelmed by the seemingly simple task of installing a sink.

Each task can be mastered individually. But when it comes to the pace of running a small business, trying to master any one task on the fly is insurmountable. You’re better off admitting you are incompetent and hiring someone who is. That way you can focus on what parts of the business you do well and get better results.

If you are good at selling but poor at bookkeeping, hire someone to do the bookkeeping and do more selling.  You’ll make more money because you’ll be doing what you do well and outsourcing what you don’t do well.

All the time you spend learning a new task and doing it poorly is lost opportunity time (not to mention poor execution which leads to higher costs as well).

And here’s the real risk in not taking this approach; eventually you will grow tired of doing the tasks you don’t do well and you’ll start to avoid doing it at all. And when things don’t get done they create bigger problems that must be done. This will undoubtedly call for hiring an expert.

To be successful in business today you must comply with regulation, compete with the competition, and communicate to your target clients why they should do business with you.  Then you must close the sale and do everything necessary to retain the client.  No one person can do this well for very long.  Soon you’ll have more to do than you personally can.

If you intend to grow you will be best-served to learn this now: The best business people are very good at one or two things and excellent at delegating or outsourcing the rest.


Social Media Strategy: Become That Which You Desire To See

book_jacket-second-editionIn 2006 I wrote my first book. I’d love to say the title (You’ll Never Be Who You Want To Be As Long As You Are Who You Are) is the reason it isn’t a best seller, but the reasons are many and not the topic of this writing. The point of the book however is.

As I trolled social media this morning I couldn’t help but notice how many postings are of a negative nature. Take away the ads (which many of them fill you with fear to buy) and the personal postings of pets and children, and virtually every message we see is negative.

Yet ask anyone if they’d prefer to be a generally negative or positive person and the answer will be overwhelmingly, “positive”.

So why do we do it? Why do we not only post such negativity but then, delight in viewing it in such massive quantities?

According to an article in The Telegraph by Lauren Davidson (17 May 2015), “The average person has five social media accounts and spends around 1 hour and 40 minutes browsing these networks every day”.

And with so much time spent and so much negativity distributed, it’s easy to see how we can become disenchanted and negative too.

Which brings me back to the reason I mentioned my book in the first paragraph. As long as we are engaging in negative experiences, we’ll continue to have negative experiences.

We all know people (maybe even ourselves) who get into extended debates on social media about topics that are important but not necessarily topics over which we have control. We debate to reinforce our position and to try to sway others to agree. But rarely does anyone change his or her mind.  In the end, we simply get frustrated and become distant.

What good does this accomplish? Aside from stroking our own egos and from having others who agree with us come to our defense it does no good.
And if we endeavor to have a better life (I’m assuming everyone does), wouldn’t it just make sense to focus on good things instead of bad?

To suggest we take a social media diet or hiatus is advisable, but not very likely given our proclivity to use it.  So how do we fix this trend of negativity?

We must become that which we desire to see. We must understand that we cannot be who we want to be as long as we are who we are.

I’ve been experimenting for the past month or so with my own social media posting and consumption. Here’s what I’m doing, perhaps it can help you.

  1. I do not click on any posting that is political in nature. I know exactly where I stand on the issues. Should I need further knowledge of a topic to form an opinion, I will rely on trusted sources, not on social media postings.
  1. I will not respond to anything in any way that is not constructive, supportive, and positive. If I cannot post in a way that will be helpful there’s no need for my comment at all. Humor is allowed only to the extent that it does not attempt to influence others to my way of thinking.
  1. I will purposefully find postings which I may comment on in a supportive or encouraging way every time I am on any social platform. Further, I will not leave any platform without making at least one encouraging or supportive post.
  1. I will make my personal and business postings be inspirational and beneficial to those who view it. There are two purposes of posting on social media; To benefit others or to benefit myself. I will create my posts with the benefit of others foremost in my mind.
  1. Finally, I will realize there are plenty of people hurting in the world today that use social media as an outlet for their pain and I’ll have empathy for them. I will encourage where I can and will not criticize when I am tempted.

Of course, I haven’t been able to avoid negative behavior completely. I fall back into old habits just like everyone else.  But what I have experienced has been life-changing.

Since beginning I’ve seen people have responded to my posting more than ever before. Who knows, maybe everyone has it wrong and people prefer good news.

But most importantly I’ve seen a change in me. I find my day starts with a lightness of heart that continues throughout the day. I’m more patient and joyous. I’m grateful.

And hopefully, that means a change in those around me as well. For while I know that perception is reality I further know that a smile brings a smile, and good is returned by good.

Give it a try and see for yourself. Only you can become that which you desire.