Why do a thing? Or Not?

Why? Not? Why do it?

Seriously. Why do it? Why invest the time? Or why do you not invest the time?  Why “waste the time?” Why do you return to a habit that you regret or detest? And what keeps you doing it?

All interesting. Very interesting indeed.

After all why am I reading this? Why am I writing this?  What motivates me to do something different or follow the same path? And which is better?

And now that I have all these thoughts of motivation written out, what now do I do? And again, why? Or why not?

Motivation. What motivates me to do that which I do?  And what motivates me to do what I think is good versus bad? What is good for me?  What’s the “point?”

Me? I find that I am motivated much by the impact or rather potential impact on the world I live in. The ecosystem I’m in. My family. My children. My wife. My own time. My own health. My friends. My community I live in. The things that I care most about and why do I care about them?

Discerning what I should do and when? And why should I at all and how it will potentially impact these things.

I say potential impact because much of what motivates me is avoiding negatives. Take my health for example.  I diet to  avoid the possibility of putting back on those 50lb’s that I lost.  I diet because I didn’t like the way I looked or felt with those extra 50lbs.  The potential impact of that weight gain is what keeps me from indulging in a diet of chocolate bars and cheesecake everyday of the week.  Disciplining myself on my diet has helped me potentially impact my health in what I hope is potentially a positive impact. I stay disciplined because I don’t want the negative impact. I don’t know for certain if I’d be healthier at one weight or the other, but I believe in the potential that the lower weight is better.

So probably a bit like you, I have to make choices every day on how I spend my time. And what I find personally most fascinating is the impact that previous decisions I have made have on how I spend my time today. And what will be the impact tomorrow based on what I spend my time on today? Is it a pattern? Since I started something, do I continue on?

Is it debt? Is it obligation?  Is it that a path was started and now it must be finished? But why? Why finish at all?

Is it financial gain? Is it a desire for recognition?  Do I feel better about myself? Do I make someone I care about feel better?  

The more I think about this, the more I realize there isn’t necessarily a quick answer, at least for me. And in more things than I care to admit there may not be a clear answer.

More importantly, if I start doing something, should I stop? For my best interest or for the best interest of the person I would rather I turned out to be?  Maybe it’s not the “me” of today? Maybe it’s the “me” of the future?

Well, this much is certain. Time spent by “me” cannot be gained back. Once spent it is gone. That minute is past, and this minute is over. Yet another minute and another investment spent on something.

It’s early in the morning as I write this. And why I am writing this is because I have been thinking a lot about why do I do what I do?  And whether or not I want to keep doing certain things? And why ask the question at all?  I have a big deadline at work. It makes me ask the question, “why?”

Again?

So much of what motivates me to do things I need to do is my wife and kids. There are fiscal motives. Things I do because of the need to pay for things with money. And then there is the personal desires. The things that are in my heart and soul and I cannot escape.

How connected am I? Between the time I spend and where my desires and motivations are? How lined up am I? Am I on track in this path?

And concerning those that I love, am I the best example and teacher for them? Am I the best friend for them? Am I the best son? Brother? Do I care if I am or not? And how do I pick and choose? I can’t do every thing or execute on every idea, so now what?

I have to think about this some more.

Do you find yourself saying, “I shouldn’t do this?”  Or “I should do that?”

Why? And how will you decide whether you will follow through?

If I suddenly become self aware of something I am doing or about to do, and if I cannot clearly determine why I am doing it, maybe I shouldn’t do it anymore?  Maybe it’s time to pick something else to do that helps me become the person I’d rather be?  And if I don’t know who that is?  Maybe I should invest the time in thinking about that so I can make some better decisions?

Then again, maybe there is nothing wrong with not having such a plan or a desire. Having no plan could be the plan that is right for you?  Or me?  Maybe I have no more plans?  

Perhaps the question “why do something” boils down to another question of “what do I care about and why”; then “what am I prepared to do about what I care about”? Or “am I okay with doing nothing”?

As for me?  Years ago I put on the headline of my blog “I do what I do because I believe I should do it…”  So what “should” I do?  

More on that later…

or not.

My No-News News Report

Since I have been on a recent news media diet; I duct-tapped my business hat to my forehead and started grinding my nose as hard as I could in an effort to turn my own economies around. I’ll update you later on what I have been up to more specifically.

Meanwhile, today I thought to myself, “I wonder what I am missing out there.”  Let me see if I can guess at it.

On Politics:

  • Congress is proposing more fees and programs to collect fees to help cover increasing costs of government programs.
  • Congress is looking to expand government programs and increase the number of people that are on government entitlements.
  • 35% of the country thinks this is a good idea, 30% are undecided and 35% are opposed.
  • Congress’s approval ratings continue to plummet.
  • The President’s approval ratings are declining but people are hopeful that things will turn around.
  • Someone shot someone today and violent crimes are on the rise.
  • Experts are surprised that the economy is still stalling and conditions are worse than they expected.
  • Congressional hearings are being held about big businesses role in something and the problems they are causing.
  • Little grandma’s and kids and victims are being paraded to capitol hill for their PowerPoint presentations – so politicians can get sympathy plays for their lobbyist pet legislation and hide their true motives.
  • The world will end in 10-25 years if we don’t act quickly.
  • The country will go bankrupt – if it hasn’t already, although they can just print more money and cause hyper deflation so technically it’s not possible.
  • Everything is someone else’s fault and no one will accept responsibility for their stupid decisions.

On to the World of Software:

  • Google announced something, it’s going to revolutionize the world of software. Microsoft is skeptical and Gartner says it’s not sure how effective it will be in the market.
  • Apple announced something, it’s users are really excited about it and can’t wait to get it but it will take 6-9 months before it’s available in the Apple stores or for purchase on iTunes.
  • MSFT is announcing that something will be happening soon, by 2010 at the latest and it’s committed to doing the same sort of stuff that other companies (like Google) are doing but theirs will work better – when they release it.
  • Experts say that the internet and web based applications and solutions (now called cloud based – because we need new terms to keep analysts interested) are on the rise.
  • Revenues at enterprise software companies are down. It’s the economies fault, not that there is a shift in how solutions are being used on the web and the economics of software are transforming how software is developed, distributed and consumed.
  • Twitter users continue to grow.
  • Users are speculating that Facebook is buying somebody – if they haven’t already bought somebody.
  • Yahoo is still in trouble and still talking with MSFT.

How am I doing so far? Did I get anything wrong? Not sure I really want to know.

General Interest Stories:

  • Caffeine is either good or bad.
  • Local politicians want to pass a bag tax, as if that’s going to help anything other than increase revenues.
  • Exercise is healthy but not too much exercise.
  • Wine is good but not too much wine.
  • Believing in God leads to longer life.
  • Smoking kills but may have certain health benefits; ask Mable who is 104 and smokes cigars and drinks whiskey.
  • People are getting by with less but maybe happier.
  • Schools are suffering with the down economy, but who isn’t.
  • Someone did something great with no self serving interest and we close the news with this story because it demonstrates that there are good people out there and they still do good things.

That’s the no-news for this morning.

How did I do? Did I get it right? Am I close on anything?  Am I close enough?

Why am I on a media diet right now? Seems like the best thing I can do to turn things around is to take action on my own. So that’s what I am up to.  Perhaps you should do the same?

Go out and do something to make a difference. Pursue something you are passionate about and start living the life you were given to live.

Later.

-d

What declaration shall you make?

Just think that 233 years ago; the continental congress was in the final hours of deliberating what to do. They decided to risk everything so we could have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They stood up to the oppression of a King’s rule across the ocean, under penalty of certain death so that one day our citizens would have the right to call 911 over missing McNuggets and French Fries. How pathetic have we become? Suck it up Americans and do something great once more.

Liberty came at a heavy price; don’t squander the investment by trading liberty for entitlements. Be something exceptional. Uplift each other. Support one another. Not out of governmental quotas but out of brotherly love. Do the right thing, not out of regulation but integrity of character.

Clean up your messes, care for the sick, help the poor by teaching them how to fish and how to farm. Build industry, don’t tear it down. Clean up your streets. Capture those that would commit crimes. Rise above and stand up for liberty for others.

Take care of your resources. Use them don’t hoard them. Do what you must do. Be entrepreneurs and alchemists alike. Take the land you have and make it produce. Take the community you live in and serve it with a product or service. Do the best thing you can do to help and eliminate your need for dependence. Celebrate independence by becoming independent.

I am a first generation American. My parents were refugees, they were sick, they were beaten and oppressed. You liberated their countries and they sought you out to become one of you.  In 1976 my father was sworn in as an American citizen. I was just 5 years old and I remember the day. I know of Americas greatness first hand.

Today our elected officials barter with each other, trading the wealth of their constituents like poker chips in a growing pot for pet legislation and earmarks. Selling out restrictions on liberty in exchange for pork and more pork. Citizens vote for entitlements not liberty and cast off the heritage that freed the world in exchange for a caretaker.

And so it begins to end? Or perhaps not?

What will I do? I will pursue happiness.  I will pursue independence. I will never give up. I will suffer defeat and set back, but I will carry on.

And you who would do this; trade your liberty for cheeseburgers and teeth cleaning? You believe in rights of entitlements and government guarantees? You have already decided that forever you will not be free anymore. You are wards of the state. You are dependents not independents. A conflict of interest on every vote. Inseparable from the motive of your vote. You are in it for you. And you are part of the masses. You vote to punish, to take away, to levy charges and enforce punishment. You take away life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in exchange for what? What do you think you deserve? You do not realize that you are voting for slavemenship to the state. That you are selling your liberty and taking away others in a trade for entitlements. How is it any different? How is it right? Where is the justice in this?

It’s been said that history repeats itself. How tragic is that? That we don’t learn from the fall of other democracy and preserve our republic. That we go from protecting individual liberty to the oppression of the majority? How tragic to vote to take away from the minority? And so it is today.

Your congress has for too long acted with no more accountability to their constituents; other than bribes and earmarks. To take the money from others to give to their own. To serve as Lords over the people, taking away and giving back. How tragic. How tragic that our Lords lie to us, and we know that they do. While promising not to levy new taxes they levy new fees on industry. Who will pay these fees? The customers of utility companies, the owners of homes, the sellers of homes, the buyers of products. How is it that a fee on tea is not considered a tax? How gross is this? Where will it end? What is too much? What’s my fee? Tell me? Is there a fee I can pay to be left alone? No. There is no more liberty. I am trapped. They will come for me.

All I know to do is to work to escape the oppression of my masters. To earn and try to buy my freedom. To pay the taxes and leans against me. As they rise, pay them again. As they decide to take more, pay more.

I go to war? No. I go to business. I go out and risk it all. I fight for others, for my employees, for our shareholders. It’s what I do. I will do what I can to take the tiny bit of freedom that I still have and leverage it into something better for my family and community.

I pray that today you would consider the same. And the next time you have the chance to take a freedom away from someone else, you say no. If the Feds offer you a handout, you say no. You say NO! What’s in it for you? Nothing. Suck it up. Stand on your own and do what’s right. You are either proud of your independence or not. Choose wisely.

On this day, remember that it was others that chose to risk everything so that you may be free. They voted to cut themselves off. They voted to preserve justice. They voted against taxes. They risked it all and many of them gave it all. And what have we done with the liberty they gave? We’ve voted to gradually take it away.

No other country in all of history has done so much to ensure the liberty of so many. It’s called freedom but it was not free. It came at a tremendous price and a tremendous risk. It started as a declaration. What declaration shall you make? What now will you do?

-d

Procrastinate Your Way to Success – Seriously

Don’t do it!
Okay, it’s time to procrastinate your way to success.

Sounds odd doesn’t it?  After all why do today what you can put off till tomorrow?

If you are like me you have had it beaten into you that procrastination is bad.  You’ve been told all your life to, “Take action. Do it now. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” Blah blah blah yada yada yada.  Over and over again. Enough already.

For me procrastination has been the toughest battle I ever fought.  I started to study myself and specifically why I procrastinate about things that I “should” do.  I started to work on tactics to overcome procrastination.  Some of the gimmicks work for a bit, but I’d just end up procrastinating until the point that I beat myself up and say things to myself that I wouldn’t say to my enemies. That’s all bad.

How about a different perspective?  

What if it’s a good thing? It’s only recently that I learned how to use procrastination for my benefit. You have to admit that most people wouldn’t tally up procrastinator in the strengths column. But after all if I am so good at procrastinating. Is there a way to use it to my benefit instead of the alternative and amassing huge piles of guilt?

For those of you who don’t know how to procrastinate, I’ve decided that you should figure out how to do it.  Seriously.  Why? Everyone out there seems to say that procrastination is a bad thing, so they have to be wrong.  Here goes why:

First, as a leader of an organization – doing everything is a bad thing.

Entrepreneurs are notorious for ‘doing everything’ and working themselves to death.  As a leader in their organization the temptation is to ‘do everything’.  The stereotype has the owner of the business jumping in to rescue the employee at every bad turn.  The employer is upset that the employees can’t handle it and the place would just fall apart if they weren’t around.  And so on.

The same is true in parenting. I think getting the kids to clean their rooms is more important than doing it for them. Getting them to take out the garbage, vacuum, clean bathrooms, etc. All the things I would rather procrastinate on and have the kids do anyway. You have to admit this is starting to sound pretty good.

There is a fallacy that I see in the world of success thinking; that you have to do stuff to get stuff done.  I disagree. Obviously you can’t do everything. And doers are important; but so are thinkers and communicators.

I have learned that one of the most valuable things I can do to help someone succeed, is let them fail.  If I wasn’t a procrastinator, I would respond more quickly and bail them out.  When employees ask me how come I didn’t bail them out, I just tell them that I trust them and it’s okay if they make mistakes. I ask them what they learned and what we should do next.  This works really well in team building.

Because I am a procrastinator I let other people lead. I build leaders. I remove myself as the bottleneck.

Second, procrastination can be a fuel for my strategic and personal creativity.  

I use procrastination over issues to think through the strategic scenarios.  This helps me act more wisely when the time comes.  If I don’t need to take action – I don’t.

Procrastinating on things allows me to rethink tough issues, over and over again.  Avoiding hasty decisions in my role has proven to be very useful. Rushing to judgment without thinking through enough scenarios is dangerous.

So being a natural at procrastinating gives me time to prepare. I prepare for presentations and discussions.  I have better outcomes in those meetings.

Third, cash management for tough times.

Paying bills at the latest possible moment helps with cash management. You could say that this is a procrastination technique already employed by many successful businesses in these hard economic times.

Fourth, you’ll get more done if you are a strategic procrastinator.

You probably are still laughing a bit at this topic, but I am serious. Okay maybe it should be called tactful delegation or something else. Because I am a procrastinator I do less actual work and get more work done. Strange, but true. Other people I work with pick up the slack for their roles because I don’t watch over their shoulder ever 20 minutes to see how they are doing. Well, sometimes I can’t help it but it’s the rarity so when I do it they know that there is something really urgent and I need them. Procrastination helps me get more done if I leverage it the right way.  (Boy that sounds really weird to the PMA people reading this right now.)

I created my CEO todo list because of this very issue. I had to learn that my role was very different and working with and through others was more important than me doing everything. My list?  Think, talk, listen, buy food and wait to sign things. Serious. (See my previous post on this.)  

Are you procrastinating now? Awesome. Here are some questions to help you analyze your procrastination potential.

You can turn procrastination into a success principle for yourself too. The next time you are stuck in a procrastinatory state, here are some questions to ask yourself and some of the ways I handle it:

 1) What should I be thinking about while I am procrastinating?  

 2) Should I be making notes on something?

 3) Should I just ask someone to take care of this for me?

 4) Am I stuck and I am procrastinating because I don’t know what to do?

 5) Am I just afraid to do it?

 6) Am I lazy?

 7) Am I the only one that can get this done?

 8) Can I ask someone to work through this with me?

 9) Is this something I can just say “no” to?

If you are procrastinating because you are stuck, schedule time with someone to talk through the issues and work it through together. It’s a simple accountability partner thing. Even better, do it with someone that can take the workload off of your plate.  It turns from a procrastination, I’m stuck can’t figure it out into a planning session – delegated and done session.  Pretty cool eh?

If you don’t know how to do something or you are insecure doing something – procrastination is good there too.  Find someone else to figure it out with you. This becomes a team effort.

If you are lazy, ask someone else to help. Wait, this is a recurring theme? Yup. For all of these issues find a “procrastination buddy”.  But let’s apply it to beer.  You are sitting on the couch watching TV and your friend gets up to go to the restroom. You’re lazy so you say; “hey since you are up can you grab me another beer?”  You didn’t realize that you have deployed the main principle in successful delegation. You are getting someone else to do something for you, while they are doing something else, and most likely they are glad to do it. Nice.

Do you need to say ‘no?’  I’ve learned that this is my biggest problem. I need to say ‘no’ more often. (See previous post on this one.) Too many times I let my good intentions mess up a relationship because I want to help, but my gut knows better. Now, I can’t say no to everything, that’s ridiculous. But I’ve learned that I need to be willing to say ‘no’ more often.

If you are the only one that can do it, do you have to do it alone?  Can you have someone help you work through the issues and organize what you need to do. Perhaps even do the work when it’s all said and done.  I am amazed how many times I thought I was the only one that could do it; and in reality someone else got it done and even did a better job than I could have myself.

I find that most people I talk with are too busy to actually strategically invest in their business or their lives. They just run from one thing to the next and it’s total craziness all the time.  For once in your life, probably the best thing you can do is ‘nothing.’  Try giving yourself some more free time to think through a decision. Find someone to help talk it through with you.

I’m not saying that procrastination is the answer to everything. Obviously someone has to do something otherwise it’s just plain silly. But the next time you are procrastinating, notice it and ask yourself why and see if there is a way to turn it into an asset instead of an expense.

Remember, procrastination is your friend.

What Makes Someone Great?

What makes someone great? What creates greatness? Do leaders ask to be great? Do they desire to be great? Or do they come from ordinary stalk and somehow make the decision that something has to be done. Do they wake up and realize that if they don’t act, things will get worse?

I venture to guess that most great leaders in history rose up out of dire circumstances. It was out of the trials and fires and ugliness of their circumstances they grew strong. They did not choose to be great, but in tough times they chose to do something great.

Granted that a case can be made for those that plot a course to be great, but it’s those that did not start out that way that we truly hold up as great. Whether by accidental invention or by incidental responses, the stories we read of great leaders are interesting to us because of what they have gone through. And yet, many of us; no most of us would not choose their path for ourselves. Who would chose economic suffering for themselves? Or disease or oppression? But here is where the furnace refines those who become great.

Look at the great depression, out of that came the greatest generation. Following worst economic times come the best economic times. Following oppression comes liberty? Why?

Greatness is in you. You have the capacity to be great. You may not know it and you may not feel it. And you probably don’t recognize it. For those that do great things, rarely do they recognize it as great. Their tasks are as minor as yours to start. Dr. King’s first speech was not the crowds on the steps in DC, and Washington didn’t start out as a General, and the list would continue on as we look upon the stories of those we now call great.

It starts with little things. And it’s these little things that compound and are refined. And not doing things is as important to greatness, by not choosing the easy path, not resting when there is work to do. There is plenty to not do from giving up to selling out.

I’m not one who can speak of greatness personally. I am just an ordinary person who has fought some challenging battles. I wonder an I think about what I do and am supposed to do. I’m probably a lot like you. And I know a lot of you who will read this are doing so when you are discouraged.

So today, remember this one thing; if you aspire to greatness or if you just aspire to be a little more – there is no difference. That is greatness. That inspiration is a gift; and you must act on it. Whether in business, in family, in love, in music, in art, in politics and in faith; do the thing and do it well. Don’t be satisfied with less than you are called to do. For some, you are called to act out in greatness; it’s your turn to do something about it. And the rest of you, stay on the couch and change the channel. Maybe it’s best if you just stay where you are at.

-d