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Archive for October, 2017

Makin’ stuff…

We live in an age of wonderment and among awesome people, true?  I mean just look at the inventions; the technology; the science; the creativity; the Shark Tank presentations.

Though not everyone reaches fortune and fame from awesome, we can still lead average, ordinary, common – fulfilling – lives.  I especially enjoy people that find fulfillment makin’ stuff.  Nice stuff; pretty stuff; practical stuff; if not some break-through-leading-to-fortune-and-fame stuff.  Stuff not presented on Shark Tank.

If awesome is reserved for the few; average; ordinary; common; are the adjectives applied to the many.  We benefit from the work of the awesome, to be sure.  But most of us lead a very average, ordinary, common, life.  Which is better?

It’s OK to day dream of fortune and fame.  We might day dream of riches associated with winning the lottery; picking the trifecta; making the big discovery; creating the next great invention; getting a “Shark” to invest.  But let’s not quit our day job in anticipation.

In fact, in their book Startup Opportunities Know When to Quit Your Day Job © the authors, Sean Wise and Brad Feld offer this opening chapter guidance:

Trust me; your idea is worthless.

They go on to articulate why mere ideas are worthless.  As successful venture fund founders, they don’t invest in ideas.  What attracts their money (and the money on Shark Tank) is people who can execute on ideas; people who are makin’ stuff.

We participated in the 2017 Tulsa Oklahoma State Fair – “11 days of awesomeness!”  as it was promoted.  And it was awesome!  Not just the midway; the events; the entertainment; and the critters.  It was the people – average, ordinary, common people – that made an awesome impression.

Some of these awesome people were vendors vending at the fair.  There was one vendor in particular that stood out above all others.  We passed them every morning on our way in at 9:00 am and they were working; makin’ stuff.  We passed them every evening on our way out at 10:00 pm and they were still working; makin’ stuff.  Two chainsaw carvers from Missouri turning logs into art and furniture.  Awesome!

I stopped by the morning of the last day to compliment them on being the hardest working artisans I have ever seen.  (We made a modest purchase too.)  The response from these average, ordinary, common men?   Just a shrug of modesty and the prideful perspective that often goes with makin’ stuff:

I can’t sell it if I didn’t saw it.

Chris Gagnon

My wife’s company takes equal pride in makin’ stuff; in her case, designer pet-wear for dogs, cats, and horses.  She even mixes in embroidered people-wear on occasion.  She too takes great pride in her work.  She too feels great fulfillment in makin’ stuff.

Beyond the financial remuneration, the worth from her business comes from interacting with all of the people that bring pictures and stories of their pets – more than simply pets – they’re their furry family members offering loving companionship.  And the joy her clients get buying that little special something for their critter matches the joy my wife gets in listening to the love of their pets they relate to her with each purchase.  Awesome!

I receive great fulfillment being around her, her clients, and their pets.  Reminders for we average, ordinary, common types:

Lord, help me be the man my dog thinks I am. 

Unknown Sage

Makin’ stuff – I don’t; and we won’t appear on Shark Tank.  But fulfillment surrounds those that do.  Awesome!

GAP

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Giving our best…

Football is my favorite sport.  A bit ironic I suppose, because football is the epitome of a time in my life that I did not give my best.  Actually, it was worse than that.  It was the one time in my competitive pursuits (in athletics or in business) that I quit.  I’ve lost many times; won my share too; quit once.

I quit my high school football team two weeks into the start of my junior year season.  It was the only time in my life that my Mom told me I disappointed her.  I can remember going into the head coach’s office to quit as if it was yesterday.  A bit ironic I suppose, because after being a starter and co-captain my freshman and sophomore years, I was not even planning to play my junior year.  I planned to focus on basketball.

The coach called and asked me to reconsider.  I agreed, but when I showed up I wasn’t prepared to give my best.  He and his coaches weren’t prepared to coach me up either.  At the age of sixteen, I decided that quitting was the only escape.  I’ve regretted it to this day.  A bit ironic I suppose – it’s not the not-playing that I regret; it’s the not giving my best.

I bet there have been special coaches and mentors who have had a positive impact on your life.  Coaches come in all shapes and sizes and use a wide variety of styles and techniques.  I bit ironic I suppose – some coaches resonate with us; some don’t.

Here’s a 6 minute movie clip about a high school, an underdog team, and their coach’s expectation about giving our best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sUKoKQlEC4

Probably not a technique that transfers into the business world today – but his message does, true?  Yes, the sporting world is different than the business world.  Nonetheless, we don’t have to go it alone.  Even the best-of-the-best have coaches.

In business, our favorite, Unknown Sage offers this:

Common misconceptions about coaching in the marketplace:

“Coaching is primarily for correcting behavior”

If we only coach people when they do something wrong, we have missed the point.  It’s about building not fixing.

Coaching requires giving up power and control”

The manager relies more on influence. The person is still accountable.

“Coaching takes too much time”

Coaching takes too much time if you don’t do enough of it and you don’t do it correctly.

“Coaching is soft stuff”

The manager who avoids soft stuff usually does so because it is so hard.  The work is easy; people are difficult.

“Coaching is laissez-faire management”

Freedom in the workplace, actually just about anywhere, is rooted in strict discipline.

“Coaching is simply being a good cheerleader”

A good manager has the courage and inner strength when needed to tell people the truth.

“Coaching is like therapy”

To be a good manager and coach one does need a basic understanding of human behavior and motivation, but therapy has no place in your relationship with the people you are leading.

Coaches enjoy occasional accolades, too.  The best I ever heard was a tribute to Bum Phillips, head coach of the then, Houston Oilers.  It was once said of Bum:

He could take his and beat yours – and then he could take yours and beat his.

A bit ironic I suppose, but his players had no quit.  They gave him their best.  Imagine – what could we accomplish today if we just committed to giving our best?

GAP

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High School Sweethearts…

Posted Oct 4 2017 by in True North with 4 Comments

Fall; October; football; high school; Homecoming – do you remember your first high school sweetheart?  High school is a very special and memorable time for teenagers; it certainly was for me.  And I always enjoyed the autumn season when I was in high school – Homecoming; Halloween; dating; parties (most chaperoned, some not).

Forty-seven years ago, this very time of the year, I asked the prettiest girl in my high school out on a first date.  I guess it went well enough because here we are forty-seven years later and I’m still awe-struck by the glow of her beauty.

I hope you enjoy this opening to Chapter XII True North, of my book, The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective © as much I enjoyed writing it:

Dedicated to… a crisp night in October; with a slight breeze blowing through bare trees – waiting for the coming winter.   Close your eyes.  Can you smell remnants of autumn leaves burning?

To winning the homecoming football game.  To being carefree. To a Saturday night party at the teenager’s house whose parents are away.  Can you hear the kids having fun in the kitchen; the basement; and the backyard, all to the beat of the Rolling Stones?

To couches, blue jeans and sweaters.  To the floor lamp reflecting on her blond hair making it shimmer with silvery streaks of light.  To the nervous small talk of a teenage boy in the presence of a varsity cheerleader.  To the patience of the teenage girl sitting on the couch with the captain of the varsity basketball team.  Can you remember when you could actually hear your heart throbbing?

To throw pillows, which come in handy when the small talk runs out – what else can a young boy do?  And to playful pillow fights; which lead to gentle wrestling and ultimately to that first kiss. Remember how delicate she felt in your arms – the hint of her perfume – the taste of her lips?

To first dates – dinner and a movie.  To the movie Catch 22 and the Oriental Theatre in downtown Chicago.  To dating the prettiest girl in your high school; to falling in love; to asking her father’s permission for her hand in marriage.  Were you ever so nervous?

To the tears welling up in my eyes even as I write this short memoire.  To all those emotions; all the happiness; all those hopes and all those dreams; some fulfilled, some yet to be; and all that I can remember today as if it just happened yesterday – that I will remember everyday, as long as I live.  How can someone be so lucky?

To 1970 – and that Saturday night in October in Elmhurst where I kissed Debbie for the very first time.  And to the friend’s house whose parents were out – to their couch, their floor lamp, to their throw pillows; and to the Rolling Stones music.  Can you imagine being so young, so infatuated, and so in love?  I still am.

Gary A. Pokorn

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