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Effort…

I attended a webinar recently sponsored by The CFO Alliance ®: The CFO’s Talent Mandate – Linking Talent to Value in 2019.  According to the speakers, CFO’s need to take a more active role in what has traditionally been the Human Resource Department’s space.  I’m not sure why the focus from Finance, but competing for your employees’ hearts and minds takes a village.

One with passion is better than forty who are merely interested. 

Tom Connellan

The research cited was sobering…  “Employers expect 45% of their newly hired college grads to remain under two years”; “CPA firms regularly see 3 and out”; many companies have a “Culture of Leaving”; “Less than a third of U.S. workers are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their current work and workplace.”

They discussed the concept of “effort”.  When I Google “effort” (which was effortless), the machines say this:

a vigorous or determined attempt

Not very personalized, true?  The CFO’s suggested we think about our employees’ effort in a much more personalized way if we expect to compete for the level of engagement needed to succeed in today’s global economy.  They started with these two dimensions of “effort”:

Required effort

Such as operating a device or using technology; the most basic requirement of doing one’s job.

vs.

Discretionary effort

The effort over and above “required effort”; motivationally and emotionally driven.

Ok then, if more than two thirds of today’s employees are not enthusiastic; not committed to their work; nor their company (with many expecting to leave soon anyway), what do we do about it?

Well, I felt The CFO Alliance ® fell short with their recommendations… “66% will bring better dashboards to HR to support KPIs enterprise wide”; “43% indicated that their involvement to develop, manage and differentiate their customer relationships will continue to increase”; “33% will allocate more of their time, energy and effort to meeting and understanding the ever-changing customer needs…”

Two out of three say dashboards are the answer?  Less than half are committed to making a customer-focused effort?  That sounds like “required effort” to me; you?

Could it be that employees will respond if we offer those little, human, personalized mementos of appreciation?  Could it be that machine-generated, KPIs aren’t the answer?

Forty years ago I was a junior sales rep at ADP in a draw vs. commission-only job.  No base salary – if I sold, we made the mortgage.  Talk about discretionary effort!

Every month, Ray Marlinga the VP and General Manager of the Chicago Region personally signed my commission statement; adding a note (“sugar” when I succeeded; “the spur” when I didn’t).  I can’t tell you how much money I made each month in commissions – but I will never forget Ray’s effort to compete for my heart and mind!

Today, I enjoy a cocktail after work that I sip from a Waterford ® Crystal rocks glass I received from Bryan Colteaux when I was the Major Accounts Sales Manager of the Year.  I can’t tell you which Presidents Club I attended that year for my team’s success – but to this day I remember the personalized recognition from those rocks glasses several times each week.

I know how we all show up on dashboards with KPIs today.  But tell me, when was the last time the head of your organization wrote you a personalized note?    Too much effort some say?  Well, at least their employees’ resignation process and related paperwork is automated.  That covers the minimal, required effort – CFO’s and HR – make.

GAP

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What is a Manager?

My company is budgeting additional training and support for front line sales managers.  The amount of resources we invest in our people is awesome!  However, I do worry about our investment priorities.

Since I joined the company eleven years ago, a major and continuous priority has been on mastering our internal systems – you know, using the CRM; navigating our on line sales library; filling out all of the flags and fields for each step in our selling motion on every client, every prospect, and every lead; scheduling people for meetings…

There can be an inherent weakness with such emphasis on the internal – those individuals that master the process (and to be fair succeed at sales-quota performance for at least one year) tend to get promoted.  Not because they are stellar with people-management skills; but because they have become an internal systems crutch for less experienced, less knowledgeable teammates.

Fred Smith, Founder of Federal Express, said this:

A manager is not a person who can do the work better than his men; he is the person who can get his men to do the work better than he can.

Being comfortable with helping your direct reports be better than you – there’s an interesting challenge for managers, true?

Where to focus management time is another interesting burden.  I believe this because I have a small following of front line managers who reach out to me periodically for advice.  I find mentoring managers extremely fulfilling, even when their up-line sales leaders don’t know of our conversations.  These front line managers have simply decided that whatever formal support and training they’re receiving from their organization is not enough.

No worries – front line management (in sales or any other function) is one of the toughest roles in every organization, don’t you agree?  And if that’s the case, then I think front line managers should seek guidance, coaching and in many cases counseling from any credible source they feel can help them master that position.

I say “counseling”, because many front line managers feel a need to be involved in and perhaps even in control of things.  I had one manager ask me at our very first coaching (aka counseling) meeting, “Gary, what is my job?”  He went on to clarify his feeling that he should be the “super closer”, involved with every deal on his team.  After that, he felt he needed to inspect each of his direct reports’ “systems excellence”; followed by forecasting (weekly); managing conflict (daily); running meetings; etc. etc. etc.

Of course, when he was done listing all the etcetera’s he felt were a priority his list led to time management concerns on how could he possibly get everything done every day.  Sound familiar to you managers?

In my opinion (and personal experience), front line managers can’t get every task on their daily list done.  And if true, that begets the question, “What do I chose to not do today?”  It may sound oxymoronic, but one key to managerial success is letting go:

Ignore me as needed to get your job done.

– sign on VP’s door courtesy of Liz Wiseman

If the manager has hired the right people; given them the right environment of support; trusts them to be excellent; it is amazing what that manager’s direct reports can accomplish!

Being supportive and creating a fun working environment might be more important than how much managers “know” about the tasks assigned to their direct reports.  Is that how your manager; or you; operates?

GAP

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Pretending…

Before we get started permit me to say for the record, I don’t know.  I hope you find such an admission does not make me a pretender:

To know that you do not know is the best. 

Lao-Tsu

I met Bob Perkins earlier this month.  He is the Founder & CEO of the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (www.aa-isp.org ).  Sales and the month of March remind me basketball (which I wrote about recently “Coaching” ).

Basketball is very popular in Denver this year. Fans are hopeful the Denver Nuggets are contenders; not pretenders.  I don’t know if they are, but the debate reminds me of my hometown team – the Chicago Bulls.  Perhaps not the Bulls you might be thinking of:

Former NBA center and coach Johnny Kerr said his biggest test as a coach came when he coached the then-expansion team the Chicago Bulls and his biggest player was 6’8″ Erwin Mueller.

We had lost seven in a row and I decided to give a psychological pep talk before a game with the Celtics, Kerr said.  I told Bob Boozer to go out and pretend he was the best scorer in basketball.  I told Jerry Sloan to pretend he was the best defensive guard.  I told Guy Rodgers to pretend he could run an offense better than any other guard, and I told Erwin Mueller to pretend he was the best rebounding, shot-blocking, scoring center in the game.  We lost the game by 17.

I was pacing around the locker room afterward trying to figure out what to say when Mueller walked up, put his arm around me, and said, “Don’t worry about it Coach.  Just pretend we won.” 

James S. Hewett

It took a while, but my Chicago Bulls ultimately morphed from pretenders to contenders and then champions, true?  The key to their success?  I don’t know.  Many simplify the answer to “Michael Jordan”.  In reality however, the Detroit Pistons pounded Jordan into submission before Phil Jackson was hired as the Bulls’ head coach.  Was the “Zen Master” the difference?  I don’t know.

There are pretenders in my profession.  Bob Perkins is not one of them – he and his organization are authentic.  Inside sales; aka telephone sales; lead-generation; cold-calling; smiling and dialing… it is one tough job.  Pounding the phones day-in and day-out?  It pounds the pretenders into submission and out of the profession quickly.

Bob Perkins and his organization (started 20 years ago) have stepped in to help.  I don’t know, but I believe pretenders can become contenders and ultimately champions if they have the essential elements and get a little help.  What are the essential elements?  I don’t know – maybe it’s selling to the right audience:

The best audience is intelligent, well-educated and a little drunk. 

Alben W. Barkley

What’s “a little help”?  I don’t know.

Bob shared his opinions.  He has certainly been front and center witnessing all of the technology “advances” over the past 20 years; salesforce automation systems; CRM; integrated dialers; predictive analytics.  There has been an endless stream of technology product peddlers peddling technology as “the answer” to effective cold-calling.  Will technology help pretenders become contenders?

Bob’s response was, “I don’t think so”.  After being immersed with inside sales; automation; and technology trends for 20 years; Bob suggested the future will actually be “humanization”… putting sales professionals – real people – properly trained and continuously coached – back into the profession.

Is that the path from pretenders to contenders?  I don’t know… but I certainly hope so.

GAP

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Day by day…

Happy Anniversary Debbie!

If I do the math 46 years is the equivalent of 16,790 days.  Tomorrow will mark 46 years; 16,790 days.  A significant amount of time to be with one’s significant other, true?

In reality it’s been significantly more than 16,790 days when I add in the 365 days we were engaged, plus the many more days we dated from high school into college. And every day for over 16,790 days – more than 46 years – I have enjoyed being married to my high school sweetheart.

Many of you are in a long-lasting relationship; many have been married longer than we.  A Mile High Salute!  Maybe my relationship thrived because I was a “Road Warrior” for several years?  As one of my colleagues once said:

The secret to a long marriage is a husband that travels. 

Lisa Kwiecien

As you know, I write about my wife frequently; not necessarily daily; but frequently.  Like any couple, we have our good days and our not-so-good days.  Like many couples, we’ve also had some of those relationship-testing; foundation-rattling; we’re-not-going-to-make-it; kind of days.   When those days have occurred we followed James P. Owen’s advice:

When you’re riding through hell… keep riding.

Any meaningful journey is like that, don’t you think?  Even one of America’s most famous sweethearts offered all of us her guidance on life’s journey:

Pain nourishes courage.  You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you. 

Mary Tyler Moore

Over our 16,000+ days, we have had more than our share of wonderful things happen; all driven by love.  In fact, 46 years ago this month the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 was “Love Train” by the O’Jays.  According to Wikipedia:

The word ‘train’ comes from the Old French trahiner, from the Latin trahere meaning pull, or draw.

I have been a passenger on that love train as my wife has pulled us along for 46 years!  Of course, I’ve tried to pay attention to the little things that make a difference day by day; lighten her load a bit; smooth the tracks.  Rob Gilbert made a list:

How to have a Winning Day:

You have to listen more than you talk…

You have to smile more than you frown…

You have to be fascinated more than you’re frustrated…

You have to believe in yourself more than you doubt yourself.

You have to work more than you whine.

You have to do more than you don’t.

I have also paid attention to my role, responsibilities and boundaries:

Men ordering custom colors must first bring in a note from their wife. 

Guiry Paint Store

It’s OK; she writes the notes; I run the errands; we make a great team.  And on those occasional occasions where disagreement looms, I heed Harlan Miller’s advice:

Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving three or four things a day unsaid.

16,790 days and our love train is still rolling strong.  No matter our future course; no matter the challenges we will face; the trials that will test us; not even the weather we may encounter; our love train will continue – pulled along by my significant other – regardless of whether the wind is boosting us from behind our back or resisting us as it blows hard in our face.  Etheridge Knight’s words will continue to guide us:

Love is a rock against the wind.

Happy 46th Anniversary Dear!  You’re my rock and I love you.

GAP

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Coaching…

March reminds me of basketball; and basketball, reminds me of coaching.  Coaching – personally and professionally – makes a difference.

March is full of basketball news and events.  The NCAA even copyrighted the title of their men’s Division I tournament, “March Madness” ©!  Fans apply that slogan to other NCAA divisions; women’s teams; and even associate March to the NBA regular season wind-down to their playoffs (a marathon that actually begins in April and ends sometime during the next NFL season) because:

Overkill is underrated. 

Col. John “Hannibal” Smith

The A-Team

This (if you’ve seen the movie) was spoken by a leader, and a coach, who believed in the power of a plan.  By I digress.

I’ve been blessed in my life from the guidance and grit I’ve received from coaches.  In basketball, Harley Knosher; Bud Johnston; Larry Wiley; and others too numerous to name coached me and helped me get better.  Bearing in mind, I was already pretty good – they still helped me get better.  I adopted this experience in my “elevator pitch” today; I help others get better at what they already do best.

Not that all sports analogies work out well:

Golfer Tommy Bolt is known for his sweet swing and foul temper.  While giving a clinic to a group of amateurs, Bolt tried to show his softer side by involving his 14-year old son in the lesson.  “Show the nice folks what I taught you”, said Bolt.  His son obediently took a 9-iron, cursed, and hurled it into the sky. 

Thomas Roswell

Nevertheless, I have benefited greatly from coaching in my personal and professional life.  Unlike basketball, when I started out in the sales profession, I didn’t know anything about anything.  Sales is what we do when we can’t do anything else.  No one has the aspiration, “Damn the rejection – I’m cold calling!”

So when I couldn’t do anything else, yet at a young age needed to provide for my wife (married at 20) and family (fatherhood at 23), I turned to sales, “Damn the rejection – give me a phone!”

Frank Justo coached me in my early days, “You better speak up or your prospect will throw you out …” Rob Denkewalter too, “Stop frowning when you present or your prospect will throw you out…”  Their coaching helped “me” get ready to face “them” – the prospects.

I’ve had coaches my entire career.  Nick Ryder; Tony Marabotti; Jim Anderson; Teah Bennett; and many others too numerous to name.  To this day they help me think about me.

I say all that to offer context on this; Integrity Solutions Research Brief.  The bad news?  Their research suggests when it comes to coaching in the sales profession – we suck.

The good news?  They offer us a starting place to improve:

The aspect that is rarely discussed is not a sales rep’s skillset but their mindset. Do your salespeople have limited, negative thinking that’s getting in their way? People need to change their thinking first in order to change their behavior. Almost every training program misses this critical point and therefore fails to help coaches develop this important aspect of performance. Helping to improve the conversations that they have with prospects and clients is important. However, the conversations that they have with themselves are just as important and too frequently overlooked when it comes to coaching.

Regardless of your athletic, academic, personal or professional situation; what conversations are you having with you?  Who’s helping you get better at what you already do best?

GAP

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40 years from now…

Posted Mar 6 2019 by in True North with 0 Comments

I recently read a newspaper article about a trend with millennials who are borrowing from their 401(k) accounts to buy a house.  The article didn’t say whether it was their parents’ house (where they’ve already taken over the basement LoL!)  OK; OK; that’s a bad joke we Boomers tell too often.

The article suggested millennials’ retirement needs that will arise some 40 years in the future are not a priority.  I get it – 40 years seems a long way off.  Truth be told, 40 years ago I would have been holding an actual paper, newspaper.  Do you think we’ll even be reading newspapers (digital or otherwise) 40 years from now?

When I was reading the newspaper I was actually reading the “paper” on my smart phone.  I don’t know why we call it a “phone” anymore – we seem to use it for everything but making phone calls.  Do you think we’ll even have cell phones 40 years from now?

According to Fox News Tech, cellular technology was quite the novelty, “40 years ago…”  http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/04/03/first-mobile-phone-call-was-placed-40-years-ago-today.html  That article was published in 2013 referring to a 1973 event – actually 46 years ago.  I bet millennials think of 1973 as the Dark Ages.

A lot has been said and even more has been written about the millennial generation which is poised to dominate the workplace – and the world!

At my company not a day goes by without some announcement and/or recognition about our college recruits.  I understand our enthusiasm.  These young professionals are bright, articulate, abundant, and affordable; all-in-all, awesome!

Yet, I find the absence of discussion about my generation – Baby Boomers – a bit concerning.  Do others think we should be retired (or dead) by now?  Now Walmart is eliminating greeters.  Believe it or not – we’re awesome too!

It’s easier to have the vigor of youth when you’re old than the wisdom of age when you’re young. 

Richard J. Needham

Too old; too expensive; too inflexible; too technically illiterate; there are many pop culture; bad jokes affixed to us Boomers.  Our knowledge, skills, and experience seem no longer to be celebrated.  But really – we are not “too old”:

Leonardo DaVinci was fifty six years old when he painted the Mona Lisa.

Leonardo lived into the 16th century.  Not exactly the Dark Ages; and no – I didn’t know him personally!

I wonder what the millennials think they will be doing 40 years from now.  If they’re already spending monies ear-marked for retirement, will they not need savings in 2059?

Maybe they think the high paying technology jobs companies are hiring them for (in some cases instead of more experienced aka “older” workers) will last for the next 40 years.  Maybe they think they will earn so much money, so quickly, that they can retire early; open a boutique; and enjoy a self-employed lifestyle that will carry them through to their sunset.  The optimism and the possibilities seem limitless.

But wait a minute… unless I’ve succumbed to Alzheimer’s or Dementia this week, it seems to me that 40 years ago those were the aspirations of my generation!  Then life happened:

Life is what happens when we’ve made other plans. 

Susan Jeffers

Well, maybe today’s youth have everything figured out.  But just in case, they might consider upping their contributions to some kind of account they will rely on when their children’s generation are ready to take over the world (and their jobs).  That day may arrive sooner for them than 40 years from now.

GAP

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Who’s tougher than you?

Spoken as a verbal tag line by “Lou from Littleton”, former radio sports talk show personality on the airwaves of Denver and beyond (“FIFTY THOUSAND WATTS OF POWER – 850 KOA – THE BLOW TORCH!”).

Lou’s real name is Tom Manoogian.  He was one of my favorite radio personalities – his distinctive verbal style originating from Detroit; catchy clichés; a Broncos homer; soft on his callers (referred to everyone as “cous” as in cousin); tough on company B.S.  How tough?  He left the broadcasting booth at KOA to buy a competing radio station so he could call the shots; do things his way.

Imagine if our remedy for office B.S. was to simply buy another company.  We can all agree that office B.S. is tough. But any job; families; friendships; relationships; politics; life in general are tough too.  Just about everything is competitive these days.  That’s OK – we’re tough enough:

I’ve been up against tough competition all my life.  I wouldn’t know how to get along without it. 

Walt Disney

Everyone dreams; for a few, dreams come true – if we’re tough enough.

While Lou was on the air, he made his callers feel so comfortable that they often related personal tales about overcoming adversity.  Sports challenges, for sure; but also stories of life’s trials and tribulations we all face sooner or later; less or more.  And if the caller was “J.K.” and J.K. had a story to share about overcoming adversity, at the end Lou would always add, “Who’s tougher than J.K.?” as testimony to J.K.’s triumph!

Lou applied his, “Who’s tougher than…” to sports stories of the day.  Comeback victories; beating the odds; under dogs slaying prohibitive favorites; any and all tales of victory; punctuated by Lou’s, “Who’s tougher than x, y, or z?”  Verbalized with gusto; articulated slowly; every syllable over emphasized. “WHO’S…TOUGH…ER…THAN!”

I thought of Lou from Littleton the other day on my drive home from the airport.  Actually it wasn’t “day”, it was night; actually, it wasn’t “night”, it was one o’clock in the morning.  Up for 19 hours, I wasn’t even home yet.  And of course, I was scheduled for a 9:00 a.m. meeting.  That’s what Road Warriors do.  I’m out of practice.

I used to be a Road Warrior back in the day.  Thirty years ago, these marathon work days occurred every week.  I never gave it much thought, other than “hang tough”; “just making a living”; “all-in for the big bucks”; “makin’ the donuts”; “who’s TOUGH…ER…THAN”.  Others may have lighter work schedules; but just about everyone has tough times of one kind or another, true?

Tough times don’t last; tough people do. 

Mike Shanahan

You’re right; many of us endure hardships at work and at home without ever taking off on a plane.  Many of us have to be tough just to make it to the end of a day; just to make it home; just to make ends meet.  So how do we get through?  Where does toughness originate?

Well, recognizing life’s struggles for what they are is a good place to start.  Having the right attitude goes a long way to getting us to the end of each day.  Associating with the right associates helps too:

Stick with the optimists.  It’s going to be tough enough even if they’re right.

James Reston

So, here’s to you and to your tough mindedness.  Here’s to your shear will power to overcome adversity.  Whether you call into the radio station or not; WHO’S TOUGHER THAN YOU!

GAP

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Cynical…

It’s been on my mind lately.  I’m worried about my attitude.  I have so many blessings in my life – but happiness doesn’t feel the way I thought it would.  Maybe you can relate?

Maybe life in the 21st century is wrought with constant stress; continuous motion; always under-the-gun?  Maybe it’s my job?  My department operates by opposite patterns – we are continuously up against project deadlines; yet almost every meeting I attend starts late.  Maybe modern reality has replaced more traditional views on punctuality:

Punctuality is the politeness of kings. 

Louis XVIII

Maybe it’s me?  I know no one is perfect and everyone is busy.  Yet, I seem to be the only one bothered:

I have CDO; it’s like OCD but all the letters are in alphabetical order – AS THEY SHOULD BE! 

Unknown Sage

Maybe I‘m becoming cynical.  That’s not good.  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary©:

1: having or showing the attitude or temper of a cynic: such as

a: contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives… based on or reflecting a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest…

What do you think?  Are people today “motivated primarily by self-interest”?  Are you becoming cynical, too?

I try to believe people are fundamentally good.  I think I’m generally trusting; and trustworthy.  But with today’s incessant barrage of spam; self-serving leadership spin; common people constantly being conned by crooks and congressman alike; is it now natural to become “contemptuously distrustful of human nature”?  Maybe Elmer E. Wyland, Founder of the Westernaires (www.westernaires.org ), was a closet cynic:

The more I know adults; the better I like children.  The more I know children; the better I like horses.

Today, will I feel you are motivated primarily by self-interest?  Will you be contemptuously distrustful of mine?

I don’t know – I actually smiled when I read this passage in the book Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea ©:

If you asked anybody in the worldwide offshore community… who was the best ROV operator in the business?  they would say, John Moore.  If you asked them, Who is the most temperamental, cantankerous sonofabitch they’ve ever been around? They would say, John Moore…  I have a foul temper, Moore says of himself, always have and probably always will.  I am firmly convinced that the world is mostly populated with idiots…I didn’t like taking orders from people that are stupid…

Gary Kinder

“The most temperamental, cantankerous sonofabitch around”.  Has a nice ring to it, LoL!  Maybe the world is “mostly populated with idiots”.   I hope not – that would be worse than cynical; that would be downright pessimistic:

Pessimist

A person who not only expects the worst, but makes the most of it when it happens…

In 2019 I need to re-find that trusting, good-natured person I know I can be.  I need to be less cynical; more optimistic:

Optimist

The person who makes it possible for the pessimist to know how happy he or she isn’t. 

Unknown Sage

Not to continue harping on cynical, but … Maybe it’s not being “happy” at all that should be important.  Maybe it’s something else:

I’m not happy, I’m cheerful.  There’s a difference.  A happy woman has no cares at all.  A cheerful woman has cares but has learned how to deal with them. 

Beverly Sills

That’s it Beverly!  Thank you!  We all have “cares” – it’s how we chose to deal with them that matters.

OK then everyone, let’s look past our cares – and our cynicism – let’s be cheerful in 2019!

GAP

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Luv rules…

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – everyone, it’s not too late.  There’s still time to do something special for that special person.

OK, OK – so I can’t take credit for creating this awesome display of love for my love.  That was someone else’s awesome display of their love for their love.  But I can take “observation credit” for stopping along the roadside while driving through this western Illinois farming community to take the picture, can’t I?  I think my wife will give me credit for a little kind-hearted, photo-plagiarism because I know she knows tomorrow:

Love rules without rules. 

Italian Proverb

Who says men are oblivious and have no powers of observation?  OK – so a billboard is hard to miss; not very subtle.  But observing that man’s demonstration of love reminds us all that tomorrow, no assumptions; no taking her for granted; no obliviousness; no subtleties are allowed.  On Valentine’s Day, we must shout our love for our love from the top of the mountains!  Of course, we hope our women do the same for the men in their lives:

You know “That Look” women get when they want sex?  Me neither. 

Steve Martin

Tomorrow may be a special day in my marriage, but our relationship over the years has taken constant care (and patience).  Thankfully, my wife has patience:

Patience strengthens the spirit,

sweetens the temper,

stifles anger,

extinguishes envy,

subdues pride,

bridles the tongue,

restrains the hand,

and tramples upon temptation. 

George Horne

It’s easier to be patient with the little things I suppose.   But when times get tough, the most convenient person to argue with, vent to, and take our frustrations out on is often our partner, true?  Life seems to move so fast; people seem to be so stressed; the media inundates us with so many sensationalized issues.

I don’t know; are meaningful, loving partnerships easier or harder to find these days?  With everything racing at a break-neck pace, who’s responsible for maintaining a healthy, loving, long-lasting relationship?  Well, here’s a view from Wyatt Webb:

You are 100 percent responsible for 50 percent of any relationship.

Carrying more than ½ the load you say?  Yep – you and my wife, too.

Thankfully, my wife and I are still in love after all of these years.  We will do something quiet this Valentine’s Day; we enjoy our quiet time together – always have.  We’re blessed with sharing many common interests, so spending time together and “decompressing” from our fast-paced life is a nice retreat.

Like you, our conversations will span a variety of topics; children; friends; happy memories; love.  Of course, when we’re together we will also synchronize our calendars; debate upcoming projects; disagree on priorities; discuss business; and almost always review our finances.  Yuck!  Necessary I suppose, but certainly not very romantic.

Yet this Valentine’s Day I will be reminded:

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. 

Mignon McLaughlin

So here’s to February 14th – Valentine’s Day.  May you enjoy it with someone special in your life.  If you’re lucky enough to be in love, may you cherish your quiet time together; sharing common interests; being patient with life’s challenges; relishing the restorative results of romance.

And if you’re with someone but you’re not yet sure if he or she is “the one”, don’t worry – trust your gut feeling:

Love is not finding someone you can live with; it’s finding someone you cannot live without. 

Rafael Ortiz

Love rules without rules on Valentine’s Day – and every day.

GAP

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Impossible …

What do you believe is impossible?  Developing a cure for cancer at one end; or the common cold at the other?  Space travel?  At an individual level – losing weight; quit smoking; getting out of debt; finding happiness?

In the book, Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea©, the main character said this about the “impossible”:

Working on the bottom of the deep ocean wasn’t impossible, it was only considered impossible… Other people labeled things impossible not because they couldn’t be done, but because no one was doing them… Realizing that impossibility dwelt only in the imagination was the gateway to a new world of thinking… 

Gary Kinder

OK, he suggests the difference between impossible and possible starts with our belief.   Then a “new world of thinking” can emerge that will lead us to overcome the impossible.  Thinking – systematically; specifically; in ways others have not thought – yet.  Lewis Thomas, President of the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute said this:

A good way to tell how the work is going is to listen in the corridors.  If you hear the word “Impossible!” spoken as an expletive, followed by laughter, you will know that someone’s orderly research plan is coming along nicely.

It seems that the path beyond impossible requires dedication and great optimism.  Not some pie-eyed, there’s no place like home, close your eyes and click your heels type of optimism.  But a mindset grounded on a pragmatic process of thinking things through while avoiding the pitfalls of theoretical debates:

Green’s Law of Debate

Anything is possible if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Unknown Sage

In The Path Between the Seas © David McCullough details at great length how prior generations thought of building impossible, man-made monuments, of momentous proportions.   He writes about their new world of thinking; of overcoming obstacles, known and unknown, not the least of which was discovering the cause of and then the treatment for malaria.  Many thought building the Panama Canal was impossible.  Until someone figured out how to build it.

What about today?  Are we enamored with geo-mechanical monuments?  Do our beliefs center around advanced technology; the Internet-of-Things; driverless cars; and drone-delivered pizzas?  What about the Dark Web; spyware; invasive-ware; and other malware – are those “advanced”?

Will we ever center our beliefs (and our resources) on people vs. things?  Mental illness; poverty; homelessness; addictions… can enough money, energy, and commitment ever be harnessed to address these humankind challenges?  Or do we believe finding those solutions is impossible?

No matter which impossible endeavor we chose to address it’s always better when we have support from our family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, fellow Americans, or just our boss, true?  But if we are going to overcome the impossible, we need that support early; at the darkest most difficult point in our journey:

Clarke’s Law of Revolutionary Ideas

Every revolutionary idea — in Science, Politics, Art or Whatever — evokes three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the three phrases:

It is completely impossible — don’t waste my time.

It is possible, but it is not worth doing.

I said it was a good idea all along.

Unknown Sage

In 2019, what do you believe is worth doing?  Can it be done?  Or is it impossible because no one is doing it – yet?

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

Robert Schuller

Indeed.  What impossible feat would we all do for those we know; for those we don’t; for those in need?

GAP

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