You Ended Up In Hell City

So a friend told me something funny.


It was about being given what appears to be a wonderful opportunity, but in reality it’s not all roses. 


In short, it went something like this:

There was an exciting competition and a prize at the end. 
Everyone prepared and worked hard to win it. 
But when the competition was over, what was the prize?
The 2nd place was two weeks in Philadelphia. 
The 1st place was one week in Philadelphia. 


I had to think about that for a second, but that is really pretty funny and true. 


No not about Philadelphia, but about life–that what we often mistakenly want so badly and strive for with all our energies, and then only to find out that it really wasn’t as good or amazing for us and our families as we imagined. 


Yes, very often you set your sights on certain goals to win the competition, but then you find out that the BIG prize (“first place”) is really not something to get excited about, because it’s in Philadelphia!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From Chaos To Order

The world challenges us all the time. 


Yes, the world functions based on the “laws of nature,” scientific facts, and mathematical formulas, and so you’d think everything in our lives would be orderly and work like clockwork.


But, as human beings, our lives are too a great extend a function of what gets thrown at us and how we react to them, and not the constancy of the world context that these things are happening in. 


It’s easy to be surprised, become overwhelmed, or even be stumped by the daily barrage of things that we are new to us or we simply don’t know how to handle.


A world governed by Mother Nature thus, often seems more like a world ruled by Murphy’s Law. 


In a world that we can often experience as chaotic and disorderly, the answer is not to break down and cry or run and hide, but rather to create our own sense of order. 


Thus, the antagonist of chaos and disorder is consequence and order. 


The way to get to order in your life is through planning and preparation. 


The more you plan and prepare, the better you are able to deal with the challenges you are dealt. 


I believe this is the cornerstone of what a good education and training is–preparing you for real life!


Generally, if you plan and prepare for a broad spectrum of scenarios (especially the worst cast scenarios), you won’t be left sitting out there scratching your head when the proverbial “sh*t hits the fan.”


Thinking out of the box and ahead of the curve, and using scenario-based planning and preparation can give you the tools and confidence to leave the anxiety behind and move more swiftly to confront challenges head-on. 


Of course, we’ll never be able to imagine or be prepared for everything that can happen–but the more you can free your mind to think about the “what if’s” and how to mitigate the risks, the better shape you are in to act with determination and decisively when you really need to.  😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Elisa Riva)

Life Is Like A Sailboat

Planning is a critical aspect of making progress toward your goals.


As they say;

If you fail to plan, plan to fail. 


However, planning is subject to life–and life happens!


One colleague of mine compared it to a sailboat, and our dialogue went something like this:

You set out on a course. But the wind and ocean current takes you here and there. Even as you try to steer the boat with the sails and rudder, sometimes you land on Gilligan’s Island!


Hence, life is like a sailboat.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Winding Path Of Life

Thought this was an interesting commentary on life. 


Perhaps, we seek a straight line–with no bumps or bruises–to go from where we are to where we want to be. 


But life has others plans for us. 


The road ahead is often winding and where we truly end up is often unknown. 


Certainly, staying frozen in place and doing nothing with our lives is not an option. 


So we move forward, one step at a time, and occasionally taking a leap forward. 


Also, sometimes, we have to take a few steps backward before we can advance again. 


Other times, we may even stumble and fall. 


Whatever happens, we continue to work our way towards the landing at the top to see what we shall see. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Stretch Goals That Break The Band

So I learned some important lessons about stretch goals. 


You want to have stretch goals because they make your strive to do and be your best. 


When you have to stretch yourself above your normal then you can take yourself to whole new levels of performance and achievement. 


However, if the stretch goals are ridiculously unachievable than you simply set yourself up for frustration and failure. 


Goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. 


But too often they are DUMB goals: Directed by others, Unachievable, Made to fail, and Based on false assumptions. 


For example, if someone tells you to jump off that bridge into the whitewater beneath because they assume that somehow you can spread you bare arms and fly–guess what is going to happen to you?


Goals can help you get to new heights of accomplishment in life or they can pull you down in false condemnation and despair.

 

Like in fighting the good fight…be careful when you are sent to the front lines in trench warfare with heavily dug fortifications, machine guns, artillery placements aimed your way and yelled at with no rational strategy to “Advance!”

 

The only place that is going to take you is to an early grave.

 

Instead, fight smart and take the hill when the hill is takable–you save a lot of lives that way and you actually take the hill successfully. 😉

 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

DMAIC Reengineering

A colleague gave a wonderful talk the other day on process engineering.


The key steps to reduce waste (Lean) or variation/defects (Six Sigma) are as follows:


Define – Scope the project.


Measure – Benchmark current processes.


Analyze – Develop to-be processes (with a prioritized list of improvements) and plan for implementation.


Improve – Executive process improvements.


Control – Monitor/refine new processes.


It was amazing to me how similar to enterprise architecture this is in terms of: defining your “current” and “future” states and creating a transition plan and executing it.


Also, really liked the Project Scoping questions:


– What problem do you want to solve/what process do you want to improve?

– Why do you need this?

– What is the benefit?  And to whom?

– What are your objectives for this effort?

– Who are the key stakeholders?

– When is this needed and why?


I think process improvement/engineering methodologies like this can be a huge benefit to our organizations, especially where the tagline is “Why should we change–we’ve always done it this way!” 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Worry?

So I had an interesting conversation with a colleague, and they tell me their philosophy about worry, as follows:

Worrying is suffering twice!


I thought this was pretty smart. 


With worry, we suffer when we worry and then we suffer again if the thing we are worrying about actually comes to fruition. 


So in essence, we are doubling up on the suffering.


Yet, worry can be constructive if we use it to spur us to positive action such as in confronting and dealing with challenging situations. 


But when we worry just for the sake of worry because we can’t control our anxiety and moreover, it actually may paralyze us with fear, then this is obviously a bad thing. 


Do I worry?


Sure do, but like my dad, I use worry to try and think out-of-the-box, to plan, to problem-solve, to figure out coping mechanisms etc. 


Worry is suffering for sure. 


However, if we can channel the worry to positive impact, then the worry can be worth the pain it inflicts on us. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)