Thursday, March 31, 2016

#1399 dissent

As a journalism major in college, I believe one of the most important freedoms that the Constitutional Amendments provide is the freedom of speech. I have held that value in high regard as a supervisor as well.

I think there is a fine line between wanting free speech from your employees and trying to restrict it. If you want to receive honest feedback, seek to encourage constructive conflict and cultivate the trust to grow together creatively, then you must encourage an environment where people are free to speak their truth. Even when you don't like what they say. Especially if you don't like what they say.

If all you hear is the positive or polished version of your employee's opinions, it won't be long before you are missing out on reality. You need your staff to question your decisions, make suggestions as to your process or to disagree with a path you are proposing. In the end, you may do what you wanted to do anyway, but you will be doing it with much more intentionality and wisdom than without the unedited feedback. 

It would make life easier for those at the top to only hear supportive comments and not be questioned. As a manager, if you want "Yes Men" (and women), you can craft an environment or even policies that ensure that is what you get. 

But if you want to cultivate a growth culture in the long term, then the dissenters need to have as valid of hearing as those who think your ideas are brilliant.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

#1398 amendment

The U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1787, and the first ten Amendments to it were ratified in 1791, just four years later. In the subsequent 225 years, there have only been a dozen more Amendments.

Not only is this a story about America, I think it is also a model for how most change happens.

It is difficult getting the initial concepts from idea to paper, and then it is often challenging to get that concrete delineation of change ratified. Once something is spelled out in writing, it gains clarity, and often this means that what is made clear by the writer is not what others thought it would be.

Once the idea is approved, details must be decided that were either not thought of or not articulated in the initial proposal. I believe this is akin to the Bill of Rights; things were clarified shortly after passage of the Constitution that were not considered or codified in the initial document. When a new process or program is introduced is when the most decisions must be made, as there is no precedent or clear interpretation of what was intended.

But after a change is in effect for a period, people adjust and understand the parameters and fewer major modifications are required. The change also becomes ingrained; it would be incredibly difficult to abolish or even rewrite the Constitution today.

The next time you are trying to enact a major change, follow the constitutional model. Get approval as soon as you are able for the broad initial constructs. Clarify or amend shortly thereafter to provide the detail necessary for implementation, and then let time take over to help the "change" become accepted as the "normal."  (This is why "piloting" something works so well; it reduces the barriers to start and inertia takes over to help build momentum towards permanence.)

America is a different place than when the Founders took out their quills and penned the initial document, but the change process remains as consistent as the Constitution itself. Think about that the next time you want to create your own revolution.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

#1397 foundation

I recently was given a copy of the U.S. Constitution. I may have read it before in a high school history class, but it has been a long while since I absorbed the words.  In this politically charged season and with the impending appointment of a new Justice to uphold it, I decided to read it again.

This time, I was struck at how short it really is. The entire nation's democracy is spelled out in just a few pages, and the relevance has endured for over 200 years. When today it takes thousands of words to craft a legislative act, it is amazing that the Founders were able to outline the structure for the whole democracy in a mere seven articles.

It is a beautiful document, beginning with the Preamble:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

What do your founding documents say? Maybe today is a good time to take a moment to really read that mission statement or vision document. We may have seen them before, but often they blend into the background and become invisible. Today is a good day to look at them with new eyes and commit to bringing them to life.

-- beth triplett

Monday, March 28, 2016

#1396 heavens

Last week, I attended one of the National Weather Service's training classes and became a certified Storm Spotter. Growing up in the Midwest, I have always had a healthy respect for the weather and particularly heed warnings about severe winds. I don't plan to become one of the crazies who chase tornadoes and put themselves in harm's way to get a great photo, but if I could combine curiosity with the ability to help then it seemed to be worth an evening of my time.

We saw some AMAZING videos and learned how to distinguish the elements of cloud patterns. We were taught what indicates potential severity and how to prepare now for more accurate reporting later. We discovered how to read key indicators on radar and what to call in to the Weather Service. 

Mostly, we learned how to be "weather aware" and to interpret what we were already seeing around us. The class gave me the extra layer of knowledge to know what is potentially dangerous and what is not, and to make meaning of the formations that I was looking at every day. I was not a weather junkie, but after just one class I can tell the difference between a wall cloud and a shelf cloud and know which one to call in. In short, the Weather Service connected the dots between clouds and predictions as well as formations and hazards. 

It was stimulating to learn something totally new and something outside of my normal range of experiences. Whether through one of the thousands of on-line resources or through an in-person experience such as this, commit to gain new knowledge that helps you make sense of old experiences. The heavens will open and fill you with wonder.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, March 27, 2016

#1395 infusion

On this Easter holiday, many people are flying home from their destination. There is not much to like about air travel these days, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Southwest Airlines are legendary for their humor and customer service, but this flight attendant takes the pre-flight announcement to a new level. She provides all the Federally required warnings and disclaimers, but does so in a way that causes people to actually listen to what she is saying.

How can you turn your routine into something memorable? Perhaps you can change things through adding humor as in this example, or by telling a story or doing something else to make the bland become interesting. The prescribed pre-flight announcement is given on every flight, every day. If she can find a way to infuse her personality into this, you can hop out of your rut too.

Happy Easter!

-- beth triplett

Saturday, March 26, 2016


Ten years ago this month, Twitter was launched as a revolutionary new social media platform. Now there are Tweets every moment of every day, sharing experiences from all corners of the globe. Over 300 billion Tweets have been sent since it began, and it is estimated that one-fifth of the Internet users in the United States have Twitter accounts.

Who has the most followers?  According to People, Katy Perry leads the way with 84.4 million, then Justin Bieber with 77.1 million, Taylor Swift with 72.8 million, President Obama with 71.1 million and Rihanna with 57.2 million. 

What I found to be more interesting is the number of people these top Twitter-followed personalities opted to follow themselves: Katy follows 159, Justin 261K, Taylor 245, the President 637K and Rihanna 1,138. Don't you wonder who the handful of people are that Katy Perry and Taylor Swift follow? 

You don't need to be a pop celebrity to have influence with your 140 characters. Use Twitter as an electronic postcard; just a quick way to share a thought or to indirectly say "wish you were here." Those who are following you will probably actually read your Tweets and likely appreciate the sentiment you share.

-- beth triplett

10 Remarkable Twitter Statistics for 2015
10 Years of Twitter!, People, March 28, 2016, p. 33

Friday, March 25, 2016

#1393 rules

I recently went to an art reception that featured several artists. One artist used the same size paper and only a pencil and straight edge to produce a multitude of line drawings. They all had common elements, but also unique aspects that made for beautiful groupings.

As the artist was explaining his work to us, he said that he makes "rules" for himself. For example, he declared for one piece of work that he would only use one-inch lines and that he would create 300 without intersecting. For another piece, he decided to use 50 two-inch lines that did intersect. 

These are arbitrary restrictions, of course, but it introduces an element of discipline that keeps his mind sharp and work interesting. These self-imposed parameters can help keep you focused, and can also provide motivation regarding where to start. 

What rules can you create for yourself, either for today or for longer term? A blog about the first object I see? Responding to ten emails before lunch? Reading 50 pages every day? Writing someone a letter every day during Lent? 

You may think that focus restricts creativity and motivation, but I believe just the opposite. Make yourself a rule for today and then Begin!

-- beth triplett

Thanks to Matt for the inspiration!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

#1392 guess

One of the more popular activities this time of year is jelly bean guessing. I have never been too good at it, but I am fascinated with what I learned about the process. 

It turns out that if you ask enough people to guess the number of jelly beans (or any non-random fact), you will arrive close to the correct answer through the average of the whole. It's a phenomenon known as the Wisdom of Crowds.

In this instance, BBC's Marcus de Sautoy asked 160 people to guess the number of beans in the jar. Answers ranged from 400 to 50,000! Only four people got "anywhere near" the correct answer. 

But when he averaged all of the answers, he got 4515. The actual: 4510, less than 1% variance from the group guess! It turns out that those who estimate ridiculously low are cancelled out by those whose guess is unrealistically high, and in the end the crowd answer wins.

The science behind this has been applied to more serious endeavors than jelly bean guessing, including locating parameters for lost ships (see Bayesian_search_theory). 

Think of this principle the next time you are tempted to come up with an answer on your own. Although statistics don't apply for "opinion" questions or value choices, the theory is applicable for settings where you need an answer about something factual. Ask enough people, and you could be much more accurate than if you estimated on your own.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

#1391 reference point

There is much written about interviewing and questions that candidates may be asked. What is not as available are resources for people after the interview: those conducting reference checks.

I don't put too much stock in standard reference checks for deciding whether or not to hire a person as almost everyone can find a few people to say good things about them. But I do them anyway, and always do them myself. I want to hear what the person is not saying as much as what they are.

Mostly I do reference checks to learn more about the person I am planning to hire. Reference checks can be of great value in helping shape how you supervise someone and determining what type of training would be most beneficial for your new employee. Other questions may help you know if your environment or culture is a good fit with the person.

I have developed a list of Reference Check Questions to help you think about the things you ask references about your candidate. I always ask #1: "If I were to become her supervisor, what advice would you give me?" Through that one simple question, I have received many helpful tips that started my relationship right with a new employee.

Hiring someone is one of the most important decisions you can make. Use references checks to not only determine if the candidate is a good fit, but how to make them successful if you do make the offer.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

#1390 back off

I was recently talking with someone who does not have children and she was sharing how grateful she was that her parents were not pressuring her into them. "They understand that they may never be grandparents," she said, "and that is such a huge relief."

It got me thinking of all the children that were born because parents felt pressure to have offspring. Whether overtly or through subtle messages, they knew that's what someone else wanted them to do so they complied.

The same is true for people feeling pressure to get married, either to a specific person or just in general. I also think of the people who chose careers or college majors because someone else made them feel like that is what they should do.

It may have all worked out in the end, but the pressure to go in one direction or another could skew the trajectory of a person's life. Think of all the changes we would see if no one did something just because they felt pressure to do it.

While you may not be able to remove all the pressure you cause or feel, you can take steps to consciously refrain from imposing your wishes on another and being content with their choices.

Cartoonist Cathy Guisewite wrote a book My granddaughter has fleas!  Like Cathy, may you celebrate the path that others follow, no matter where that may lead.

-- beth triplett

Monday, March 21, 2016

#1389 jump

I recently saw (and very much enjoyed) the movie Eddie the Eagle. It's one of those feel-good sports movies that make you believe reaching your dreams is possible.

Eddie Edwards wanted to be in the Olympics ever since he was a child. He tried hurdles and field events, but was never good enough to qualify. Then he got the idea to switch to the Winter Olympics and attempted to become a member of the ski team. He failed in that sport as well. Finally, he had the idea to become a ski jumper. Britain did not have a team, meaning he had no one to beat if he could qualify with the Olympic minimum. 

The movie, of course, shows the many trials and tribulations, including life-threatening injuries that Eddie sustained in his quest. It is as much about sacrifice as triumph, but what I loved about it was how Eddie kept finding ways to go around the obstacles that were before him. Almost anyone else, and some would argue any sane person, would have given up at several junctures, but this was Eddie's dream and he was going to pursue it, even if it (literally) killed him.

I think we can all take a lesson from Eddie the Eagle. We may not need to ski off the equivalent of a 30 story building to achieve our dream, but if we want it desperately enough, it is possible to achieve. We need to keep the big picture in mind (i.e.: be in the Olympics) and not let the details stop us (i.e.: Summer Olympics, a specific sport, a sport our nation competes in). If we stay focused on the ultimate goal, like Eddie, we literally can fly.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, March 20, 2016

#1388 roll with it

I wrote yesterday about bowling, and when I think about it, except for the high-tech mechanisms, not much has changed since I first rolled a ball. The bumper sides now come up electronically, the pins return automatically and a software program does the scoring for you, but otherwise the sport has not really evolved. 

So many other institutions have reinvented themselves to serve a new purpose or to fulfill their original function in dramatically new ways. Libraries are now multimedia centers with 3D printers, Blueray rentals and MP3 downloads. Basketball has added 3point lines and shot clocks to fundamentally change the way the game is played and scored. Coffee has evolved from one pot being served at diners to a "third place" that is on nearly every street corner. 

But bowling is basically still bowling as we have always known it. I think that it is because the focus is on camaraderie as much as sport, and the true value is delivering an activity where a group of any age or skill level can interact.

Think about what you are doing to assess your organization. Maybe you need to radically reinvent or perhaps just make more subtle advances. Either way, you need to articulate what you truly deliver.

Bowling is about more than knocking down ten pins with a ball. How can you roll with your message?

Thanks to bg for the observation.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, March 19, 2016

#1387 spare yourself

Robert Putnam wrote a book about the demise of the American community because of disconnection from families, organizations and neighborhoods. The metaphor he used to describe this demographic shift was bowling alone, the title of the book.

Putnam's theory doesn't seem to resonate with my experience with bowling. The new 30-lane alley in our town was bustling with leagues when I last saw it, and it seems to be a thriving activity in other places.

I guess bowling has retained its popularity because it is still an activity that people of all ages and skill levels can do -- anyone can bowl. And although this does not imply that anyone can bowl well, even novices feel like they came so close to getting a strike or hitting that last pin standing. At the start of each frame, most everyone hits something, so it is more about the positive than not.

Take a lesson from bowling and give yourself a second chance. Each frame allows for two balls, not just one. It's a good mantra to follow in other areas of life as well.

-- beth triplett

Friday, March 18, 2016

#1386 charms

I know St. Patrick's Day was yesterday, but except for the token green scarf that I wore, the day did not hold any significance for me.

This was not the case for everyone.

While I was getting my hair cut, a band of leprechauns burst in, chanting "Luck o' the Irish to ya Lassie" and "Happy St. Paddy's Day." They handed everyone a green carnation and a small box of Lucky Charms cereal, did a little jig and then left, presumably to spread their joy at another establishment.

What a fun moment of serendipity. No one in the salon knew who they were, but they made everyone there happy.

Maybe St. Patrick's Day is not "your" holiday. Maybe you're a fan of Easter, or Groundhog Day or the Winter Solstice. Maybe you just like Tuesdays or the 3rd Monday of the month. Whatever you celebrate, consider following in the pattern of these merry makers by sharing your joy with others. Spreading such happiness is like making your own little pot of gold.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, March 17, 2016

#1385 disengaged

I recently went to the pharmacy at Target and asked to ring up another item when I paid for my medicine. The item was supposed to be on sale, but did not ring up that way. 

"You'll have to ask someone else," said the pharmacist. "We're CVS, not Target."

Excuse me? 

I don't care if Target has contracted with CVS for their pharmacy services. But the moment they did that, the pharmacist became Target and not CVS -- at least in my mind.

There are many organizations that outsource services these days and it may make sense from a short-term fiscal standpoint. But unless you take extra care to train/treat/expect the "outsourced employees" act like YOUR employees, there may be costs that you aren't calculating. 

From the customer's standpoint, they are you, whether they feel that way or not. And lousy service from them will be a reflection on YOU, not their parent company. 

You can rely on others to perform the work, but never rely on others to impart your values and deliver them directly to your customers. For that YOU need to take accountability. No outsourcing allowed!

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

#1384 in the wings

I was recently looking for tickets to a musical and the website noted that the understudy for the lead would be performing on selected dates. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have an understudy for yourself?

Think of how nice it would be if the work would continue, as close to how you would have done it as possible, and yet you would have the day off to do as you please. You could have a backup in place to step in and fill your role if you were sick or otherwise "hit by the bus." There would be a person who knew all the intricacies of the work you do, without having to burden someone else with that information.

Most of us don't have the luxury of an understudy. As wonderful as it would be, we must prepare for times when we are unavailable and have contingency plans so the work goes on around us. 

Think of what you would most want your understudy to know and leave resources in that manner. How you do your record-keeping and documentation is like leaving the next person a script. Don't have missing pages for your de facto understudy.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#1383 due

I recently checked out two books from the library. They were due back in three weeks, but I have already read and returned them.  Why? Because there was a deadline attached to them.

There have been times when I have purchased a book and it ends up on a pile. I eventually get to it, but that same sense of urgency isn't there. I still have a book I received for Christmas that is unread, but the library books are always finished early.

How can you create deadlines for yourself to become more productive? You could self-impose due dates for projects or phases of your goals. In meetings, you could publicly declare when you will complete your portion of the work. You could hold yourself accountable to timelines, aided by the fact you attached dates to them. 

If a little rubber stamp with a date in a book can motivate you too, then use a real or even imaginary stamper to expedite your actions. Due dates are powerful tools, and even if you need to renew, I'll bet you are far more conscious of completing it than if the return schedule was open ended.

-- beth triplett

Monday, March 14, 2016

#1382 wear it

I love many things about spring, but the one frustration comes when deciding outerwear. In this season, you are either too hot with a coat or chilly without one. The same principle applies to an umbrella; do you carry one on cloudy days or take your chances?

I think you can tell something about a person by their spring coat (or lack thereof). Those who are more cautious bring the coat and shed it if necessary. They carry the umbrella at the slightest chance of rain, and are glad to have it "in case". Those who take more risks go without a coat or protection, and improvise if the weather turns. 

I also think it is telling to see people who are still wearing their normal winter wear, seemingly oblivious to the fact the temperature has increased by 50+ degrees. I wonder if they are stuck in a routine in other aspects of their lives and just keep doing what they have been doing without evaluation.

Many may not consider fashion choices as a test of temperament, but I think that all mannerisms are interrelated. Those optimistic in one area of their life are more likely positive in others; those who are creative in one venture carry that over to other aspects of life, etc.

Tomorrow as you are reaching into the coat closet, take an extra second to consider your choice. Rote or intentionality does matter in other things, and it begins with which one you wear as you walk out the door.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, March 13, 2016

#1381 saving

We all know that today begins Daylight Saving, but you know anyone who likes it? Of course no one is in favor of losing an hour, but I don't know anyone who is in favor of the concept of switching clocks period. This is a practice that has outlived its usefulness and should go the way of milk in glass bottles and ice delivered to "ice boxes."

The world is now on a 24-hour cycle and the switching of clocks is disruptive to commerce as well as snoozing. In addition, the sleep deprivation caused by "losing an hour" has other negative consequences.

According to, on the Monday after the switch to Daylight Saving Time fatal traffic accidents rose 17% and there was a 68% increase in lost working days due to workplace injuries that day. WebMD reports that DST is associated with 2 days of increased stroke risk. Maybe all the maladies are because ZzzQuil is actually promoting their product for today so you "sleep like you never lost that hour" and people are drugged as well as tired! 

Daylight Saving Time has been around in some version since 1918, all under the pretense of saving energy. But reports a study that estimated in Indiana alone, energy costs rose $9 million due to DST. 

People seem to be having enough of it. The Washington Post reports that there are laws under consideration in 19 states to abolish Daylight Saving Time. Hurrah!

I hope you will use the limited time you have today and share your dislike with the people who can take action to abolish the practice, rather than just grumbling to your friends and family. Join the movement and Tweet #stopDST to your legislators. The only thing we should be saving is our sleep and sanity.

-- beth triplett

Saturday, March 12, 2016

#1380 all in the family

I recently saw the movie Spotlight and learned why the Academy awarded it Best Picture this year. For those that don't know, Spotlight is a the name for a team of reporters at the Boston Globe. The movie is two stories in one: a) the widespread sexual abuse by priests and b) a behind-the-scenes thriller about how investigative journalism works at its best.

When I first heard about it, I thought of it as a modern day All the President's Men from the 1970s that uncovered the Watergate scandal through top notch investigative reporting. It turned out that there was more similarity than I knew.

One of the key players in the Watergate story was Ben Bradlee, then editor of the Washington Post. In Spotlight, I was amazed to see Ben Bradlee, Jr. as an editor at the Boston Globe. How many fathers and sons can say they won a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service and were the subject of a movie nominated for Best Picture?

I wonder whether it was coincidence or legacy that two of the nation's most important journalistic stories were edited by members of the same family. I vote for the latter. As I have said before, people are always learning from those around them. I suspect that Ben Jr. picked up some of the tenacity, resilience and courage from his father that manifested itself in persistence as an editor at The Globe.

Someone is watching you today. Be intentional about what you want them to absorb.

-- beth triplett

Friday, March 11, 2016

#1379 bounce

It has become common place to see tennis balls on the bottom of walkers, ostensibly to allow for smoother movement along the floor. I can understand why someone jury-rigged the first walker to allow for the proper balance between tension and glide, but I cannot fathom why the generations of subsequent walkers have not come with a more permanent solution. Everywhere there are still walkers with yellow balls cut open and stuck to their bottoms. 

Instead of decreasing, the use of tennis balls on equipment is actually expanding. I attended an event at a relatively new grade school, and ALL of the students' chairs had four tennis balls stuck to the bottom. I can imagine some poor janitor sitting there with his X-acto knife slicing open the balls like melons and wedging them onto the chair legs.

Why is it still acceptable to have garish balls stuck to the bottom of furniture and equipment? There has to be an equally functional way to achieve the same end, even if it is a grey tennis ball instead of a florescent one. Can't someone come up with a more tasteful solution? 

It may seem like a non-issue, but little things that are ignored signal that it is acceptable to settle or be satisfied with sub-par performance. Take note of the next thing you see that is equivalent to a tennis ball on a walker and make the effort to bounce it out of existence in your organization.

-- beth triplett

Thursday, March 10, 2016

#1378 pristine

It takes a lot of effort to keep things "nice", and I think it often prevents us from fully enjoying them.

> You have to shoo away the dogs when you are wearing good clothes, but can get down and hug them when you're in jeans.

> You keep the formal living room protected from traffic and rarely use it. When you do, you sit rigidly in chairs instead of curling up on the couch like you do in the den.

> You keep the "good" jewelry locked away in the safe instead of enjoying it throughout the week.

> You have muted conversations in the fancy restaurant instead of raucous laughter with friends at the pizza joint.

There are things that warrant the extra effort, but consciously declare that distinction. Keep the reception area "nice", but allow the work room to have some stacked boxes and disheveled counters. Designate the car as "suitable for passengers" and make the truck the clear workhorse. Put on that well-worn sweatshirt on Saturday and be liberated from the worry of dirt or dog hair.

It sucks time and effort to preserve anything. Don't make pristine a priority for everything.

-- beth triplett

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

#1377 off the list

I wrote yesterday about Danny Russel being one of 140 people who are "professional Lincolns."  This got me wondering how he (and the other 139) came to land on this as a career.  Being a character actor doesn't sound like something that shows up on any of the strengths assessments I've seen, and playing Lincoln isn't a job category in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. But somewhere, there was a match between skills and interests and he has been able to parlay that into a comfortable living. 

It's hard to think of a career in such wide open terms; at least I am more comfortable in searching for specific kinds of jobs instead of exploring for niches that I didn't even know existed. 

I think that is true for most people, and it is not limited to job hunting. We order items that are on the menu or follow a recipe. We work on projects that are similar to ones we have done before or that others put on our to-do list. We read books by authors we have previously enjoyed, see movies in the same genre and buy music from the same artists.  

In short, we lead our life from the list.

The only way you'll be comfortable ordering off the menu for your next phase of life is if you take little steps now to vary from your norm.  Switch the station, visit a different part of the library or try that Thai.

Lincoln himself said: "Whatever you are, be a good one."  First focus on the "whatever" part of that quote to truly embrace the possibilities.

-- beth triplett

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

#1376 portray

I recently met a man who makes his living as an actor/speaker strictly portraying the life of Abraham Lincoln. I thought this was a very narrow niche, but when he was sharing his story at a reception, he said that there are 140 men who are "professional Lincolns", and that 80 of them met at Gettysburg during the sesquicentennial celebration there!

I wonder what Abe himself would think if he knew that seven score of men tour the country impersonating him, 150 years after he died. Would he have done things differently or changed his messages if he knew they would be repeated over a century later?

While the chances are infinitesimal that anyone will overtly replicate your appearance and speeches a century later, the odds are high that things you say will be taken to heart and influence others in a much shorter time frame. Children will imitate your values. Employees will replicate where you set the bar for your work. Colleagues will follow your lead on how you treat others. Friends will take your candid feedback to heart. Family members will model how you manage your anger.

Lincoln said: "Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition." In other words: "Lead your life like you are going to have someone portray you." It's good advice for you in the present, and has served Lincoln well throughout the ages. 

-- beth triplett

Danny Russel as Abraham Lincoln

Monday, March 7, 2016

#1375 laundry lessons

Of all the chores I regularly do, laundry is my favorite. I also think that it provides lessons on how we can do other work:

> It's an effective use of in between time. Doing laundry isn't exactly multi-tasking in the traditional sense, but I can read while the cycle is running and still feel like I am being productive. I get downtime without any twinge of guilt if a load or two is done in between!

> I set limits on laundry. I do it on Sundays, and even though dirty clothes will accumulate as soon as Sunday night, I never think of dealing with them until the next weekend. This is a good practice in setting boundaries and applies to many other things (like how often you check email and social media, or how many hours you work.)

> It is a finite task. When the laundry is finished on Sunday afternoon, it is done. There is a tangible product, and an output. In the words of Seth Godin, "we shipped." Your work should provide a sense of satisfaction on a completed job well done, even if it is putting the last of the clean clothes in the drawer.

Most everything we do has lessons for other things. Take a new look at your routine chores like laundry and see if there are things you can learn that relate to your work or other duties. There may be unseen lessons that come out in the wash.

-- beth triplett

Sunday, March 6, 2016

#1374 spin

My friend, a contractor, was lamenting about a house he was helping to build. The cupboards for the kitchen had been on back order, and when they finally arrived, they were the wrong ones. It meant the kitchen wouldn't be finished in time for the preview showing and would likely cause a delay in selling the place.

I got a good laugh when I read the advertisement for the open house.  After the usual description of the property, it read: "Still time to pick your kitchen cabinets."

This back order became a selling point.  What can you do to turn your negative situation into a positive?

-- beth triplett

Saturday, March 5, 2016

#1373 toss up

When I wrote yesterday that benefits and learning come from whatever option we choose, I was referencing the larger decisions we make. These are the choices that require some thought and research, and often have implications that change the trajectory of our life.

But there are dozens of decisions that we need to make every day, and many of them have little or no consequences. Why do we spend emotional energy debating whether to wear the red tie or blue one? To eat Italian or Mexican food for supper? To watch Movie A or Movie B? To take your car or mine?

To avoid the casual angst over decisions such as these, I now turn to the Coin Flip app. In one handy flick of the finger, the virtual coin (complete with sound effects!) tosses in the air and lands. Heads: it's the red tie. DONE. 

Don't waste any more of your precious time pretending that the decision has consequence and debating the merits of both sides. Commit to Heads or Tails, either in reality or on your phone, and move on. Trust me, it really won't matter how it lands. Your time is worth more than the money you are tossing.

-- beth triplett

Thanks to Toby!