Monday, March 12, 2018

Oh, No - The Time Has Come

As I was putting the touches on last week’s blog, I realized the posting date: March 5th.  It seems ironic that as I am writing about marking time, the date posting is significant in Debbie and my life.  As of this date, March 5th, my children are no longer children!  Both of my children have officially crossed the threshold into young adulthood.  Our baby is a baby no more!  A year ago, Bec did not embrace the age of 20, where, in her words, she became a somebody.  But turning 21, she could not be more excited!  Legally, there are different ages that come with different steps towards this status (i.e., driving age, voting age, etc.).  21 is just a special age for young adults.

The funny thing, my mom always said to my brothers and I that no matter how old we got, we would still be her babies.  We used to laugh – we were no longer babies.  Now as an adult, with two kids of my own, I can finally understand and appreciate her words.  My little girls (and yes, they still know how to act like little girls when they want something) are young adults venturing forth in the world, so they are no longer children.  They have ideas and thoughts for themselves and their potential futures, so they are no longer children.  They are no longer living full time in our house, so they are no longer children.  Do I sometimes wish that they were younger and we could have the same great fun together?  Of course!  However, I do love spending this time with them as they are today, because, in reality, the only time I can spend with them is now. 

I guess that my parents’ words to me were true; that you do not see yourself growing older, but you see how old you have become by watching your children grow up.  While celebrating my brother’s birthday, we looked, acted and behaved as we always have.  We are aging at the same rate, facing similar age related things.  When we are with our girls, we can clearly see the different phases in their lives.  With each phase means that we also have also moved onto a new phase.  As they grow and mature, we realize we also have grown (I cannot, as always, comment on my own maturity levels).

So, we can raise the virtual glass and toast Bec and the age of 21!  Here’s to a great year, a year of firsts and a year of new adventures and experiences.  As always, I look forward to the wonderful things that comes next…

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Marking of Time

“Your baby brother turned 50,” my cousin recently remarked and “how old I must feel”.  Nope, I do not feel old, nor do either of us act older.  In fact, both of my brothers and I, and a brother from another mother, had the opportunity to celebrate the ringing in of the second half of the century.  I do not remember what we did when my dad turned 50 (I would have been 22).  I do not think it included being away together, enjoying some music and “eating and drinking like kings” in 80-degree weather.  As far as I am concerned, my journey…our journey through life is hardly nearing the end cycle, as there is still more to see, do and experience.

One would think that the easy way, at this juncture in life, is to start to plan for winding down, do the things that are safe and comfortable, and “reaping the seeds that we have sown.”  F that sh*t, man!  While I am still able, capable and have the energy, I am still taking the steps that Lao Tzu stated in the famous quote, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  I still believe in trying new things, working towards getting out of the circles that define us, and erasing the “ruts” in our lives.  We recently finished watching the two seasons of “Better Late Than Never” with Henry Winkler (b. 1945), George Foreman (b. 1949), Terry Bradshaw (b. 1948) and William Shatner (b. 1931).  The cool thing is that these guys, at their age (along with the comparatively young Jeff Dye), are willing to have new adventures, to travel to places they have never been and to experience new (and sometimes unusual) things.  A “reality show” that truly is inspiring.

At this point in my life, I travel to and from the airport by car – it is what I have always done and is comfortable.  For my brother’s birthday celebration, it would mean going from work to Florida, then being back in the office Monday morning; a quick adventure.  I decided to do something different for me – for the first time, I traveled from work to the airport by train.  By getting out of my routine and making this happen, the payoff was going to see the greatest living banjo player (according to, behind the legendary Earl Scruggs), Bela Fleck, with his talented band the Flecktones.  This was followed by an evening of birthday celebrations.  The next day, we got to surprise my Dad (not an easy thing to do) to a wonderful dinner.  Another great night before the next day when we had a great lunch eating like Neanderthals at Joe’s Crab Shack before each of us starting to head home.

We are busy all the time, I get it.  But we need to sometimes step back and enjoy the adventures before us.  It is all about the journey, and in having multifaceted lives, the journeys can come from different directions.  We are never too old to step outside the circles that we draw around us.  So, for my brother, traveling along his journey of a thousand miles, his birthday was merely a mile marker along the path, a place to pause, a stop along the way.  One can look back and marvel at where they have come, or more importantly, look forward to the horizon and continue the epic journey that lays ahead, towards new experiences and adventures.

Monday, February 26, 2018

I’ll Get You my Pretties!

They are out there to get you!  Looking to derail your goals, your hopes and ambitions.  Like some gremlin hiding in the corner, they seem to work tirelessly at their task.  We have all come across people in our lives that say you cannot do something – whether it was a teacher, a friend or a family member.  And sometimes, it is ourselves that work to talk us out of doing something.  We get into our own heads, and we also let others get into our heads, like the wicked witch yelling, “I’ll get you my pretties!”

In the song “Good Old Days,” Macklemore sings (as an example of getting into one’s own head),
“Wish I made it to homecoming
Got up the courage to ask her
Wish I would've gotten out of my shell”

Our own voice in our head, at times seems to be constantly riffing about something or other.  We have the ability to talk ourselves out of most things.  Or, we sit there and analyze all potential aspects, begin to procrastinate, then get nothing accomplished (this happens sometimes when I am writing).  We experience “paralysis through analysis.”  It takes practice to step back from ourselves and clear our minds so that we can focus on what we need to.  When I was in network marketing, the way to pique people’s interest was through a phone call.  There were many times that instead of taking direct action, I sat there in front of the phone, hand on the receiver, and had a massive dialog going on in my head, then made no calls.  I was my own worst enemy!

Then we let other people get into our heads.  There can be an emotional component in this case, depending on who is chirping in our ears (or other communication method).  I know someone who seems to have lost their way, became bitter and began to weave a world of half-truths, fabrications and causes to point their finger at others instead of taking the time to evaluate what hand they played to have the situation unfold and the position they put themselves in.  When this person sends out an attack, it has the potential to get in my head, the emotions kick in and I want to respond in like kind.  Once I take a deep breath, or Debbie reminds me, I take that proverbial step back, realize the source and then move on.  My daughter Gab pointed out to me that during the daily morning news broadcast on Z100, they advise to take a deep breath every hour in order to regroup yourself.

When under an attack, it is all too easy to drop our guard and drop down to their level and do something that might be out of character.  This can undermine our integrity and cause us to lose focus.  This is why Darren Hardy, Jim Rohn, and the many other mentors, talk about removing the negative people and things from our lives.  It is hard enough to maintain focus and remember to stay on track without unnecessary distractions.

While the story of the “Wizard of Oz” has led to various analysis regarding the main characters, the basic story is simple.  Dorothy is removed from her home and all she wants to do is get back home.  She starts off knowing her WHY (to go home).  After talking (and listening), she learns the path, or the HOW, that she has to take (“Follow the Yellow Brick Road”) and the tasks needed, the WHAT.  The Wicked Witch is a constant negative distraction, but in the end, Dorothy remains true to herself, over comes / removes the negative factors, and achieves her goal.  A great example to follow.  Who or what are the wicked witches in your life?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Building Bridges

High Bridge, 1929 - Louis Lozowick

Over the last couple of years, as we have been driving back and forth to visit the girls at school, we had the unique pleasure of watching them build the replacement to the Tappan Zee bridge, a large familiar structure that spans the Hudson River.  You know that there had to be a lot of people involved, a lot of planning and a lot of communication.  Any project, whether large or small, needs to have the leaders develop the means by which relationships are developed and maintained.  In any group that pulls together to become a team, needs to build the necessary bridges to best lead towards success.  In fact, even a pair of people must develop a proper relationship to meet shared goals.  It is important to note how we treat peers, fellow workers, family, friends and casual acquaintances.

I was picked up, after recently visiting my brother in Florida, by an Uber driver.  As we were pulling away to head towards the airport, he noticed that the previous passenger had left her cell phone.  He commented that she was traveling with two other friends and she would probably call.  Sure enough, the cell rang.  While I could not hear exactly, the previous passenger blamed the situation on the driver, demanded her phone be returned immediately and said she could not live without her phone.  The driver did the right thing and said he had a customer and would return it afterwards.  She was not happy and treated the innocent man poorly.  I do not know what happened after I got out of the car, but it would be understandable if the driver took his time returning the phone.  There are some lessons that can be learned from this experience: Double check for your belongings when you leave a space (plane, car, hotel), to take responsibility for your actions, and most importantly, to learn to build relationships to ensure better communication and service. 

I know people who can build a relationship well using their phones as a primary means of communicating.  These are general people in sales or customer service.  I know people who can build relationships well by being face-to-face.  I work in the Project Management world, so for me a phone call is a great way to follow up, but the best means, for me, is being with the people I work with.  There is no better way to build understanding, communicate intentions and make a connection then being there with them.  When you are face-to-face, you can watch their body language and their facial expressions, which in some cases tell a different story than from a phone call, text message or email. 

As a Project Manager, it is important to remember that we always work in teams.  We may lead the team; we may be part of the team or even take on a role within the team.  This is a team; or group effort.  Along similar lines, while Debbie and I were recently out to dinner, a young man, with his girlfriend next to him, asked us if you compromise in marriage.  Debbie answered, “All the time,” and I responded “It is a team effort.”  While we both have our own opinions and ideas, a team of two is similar to a team of many.  Thoughts should be shared, different thinking should be vetted against one another, and diverse experiences should be brought forth.  If I were to surround myself with a pack of Waynes, I potentially could wander down a path which would lead me from my better potential.  Relationships are important in working together, challenging our thoughts and providing better outcomes.  Building bridges are an important part of striving towards our goals and achieving success.

“No man is an island,
Entire of itself;
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
As well as if a promontory were:
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were.

Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.” ~ John Donne