A Little Busy

 
FrontPageOk so little is an understatement. I’ve been a lot busy! I’ve neglected my blog and the friends and communities that have supported me (I still feel their support and I thank them very much).

So let this serve as an explanation of why I’ve been distracted of late (more on that in a new post coming soon).

 


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Recapping 2012 Part 6 of ??

CyclistLike every year 2012 had times of joy, sadness, pain, euphoria and everything in between. Some would say it was a roller coaster and mean that in a bad way while others would mean that in a good way. I look at it like a bike ride with flat sections, hills, twists, turns, and wind all of which have their benefits and their costs. If there’s one thing I was certain about, I didn’t coast much in 2012 and that’s exactly how I like it.

Up Vs. Down

Up is good. Down is bad. I’d rather be on my way up than on my way down. It’s better when stock prices rise than fall. It’s better when things are looking up.

Being out on a bike ride yesterday in a hilly area, I’m not so sure up is good. Up is a struggle, up takes a lot out of you. When the road would level off, or better yet, point down, I could rest and even pick up speed without any effort. That’s called coasting and I think I’ve made my feelings about coasting clear, both in my book and in this blog post.

I’m not going to talk about coasting today, I’m going to talk about hills, working hard, struggling, and ultimately conquering the challenge.

Where I live, the roads are fairly flat so when I get an opportunity to bring my bike back to the area I grew up, with all the hilly terrain, I take it. That’s right, I actively seek out a difficult ride because I want the challenge, I want to test myself, my fitness, my determination. That is the difference between a successful person and one who coasts.

As I began the ride the first hill I encountered was a steady gradual climb, not too steep. I was surprised as I found myself downshifting much sooner than I thought, loosing speed quickly, my breathing becoming labored. If this was a sign of things to come I was in trouble.

Fortunately I was here before and I knew that this first hill was the adjustment hill, my body gearing up for the challenge ahead, the rest of my ride would be at a higher level of conditioning. A lot of people would become discouraged or maybe even quit at this point, but those who push on find the strength to continue.

I was gaining elevation on the entire ride out. Sure, there were some periods where I could rest, but the down hills were shorter in this direction. When I got to the 10 mile mark and turned around I had two things going for me. First, I had a tailwind instead of a headwind. Second, since the uphill sections were longer going, the downhill sections would be longer returning, giving me more time to rest and recover. That’s what I believed anyway.

With a headwind you feel it, you struggle against it as if climbing a hill. I call headwinds perpetual hills. When you turn around and the wind is now at your back, you don’t notice it, it doesn’t seem to aid you as much as the headwind hindered you. Doesn’t life seem like that sometimes, the struggles are so much harder, and longer than the good times?  I think that is because many people don’t consider the value in the struggle, don’t take the time to relish the accomplishment before moving on to the next challenge.

The same goes for those long hills up that are now just as long but much easier on the way down. The problem is that you’re going much faster downhill and they seem so much shorter than when you were going up. The anticipated rest is over before you know it and once again you’ve got to struggle up. By pedaling downhill you aren’t working as hard but you’re increasing your speed giving yourself a little more momentum as the next hill begins or as the road levels off. In life I find too many people stop pedaling downhill and don’t set themselves up for success.

Up is good but it’s also hard. The harder you work the more satisfied the victory. Are you willing to push yourself? Are you willing to seek out a hill?

 


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You Complicate Me

 
Jerry McGuireIn the movie Jerry Maguire, Jerry says “You complete me” (I never saw the movie but you couldn’t escape that phrase at the time). You complete me meant they were a perfect match, the missing part that each needed. If Julie and I had a similar statement I’m sure she would say “You complicate me.”

Living with someone who asks what next, a builder who is looking for progress, a person who is never satisfied with the status quo, can’t be easy. I hear this statement, usually asked as a question, quite a lot, “Why do you want to complicate our lives?” Julie asks.

When you only have one choice, no options, life may be easy but I’m sure that it’s not very interesting. One thing I can say is that my life is very interesting and I hope Julie says the same. As we consider a new option on the hike of life, a new challenge, a new complication, I know that we will approach it as we do all major decisions, together.

More important than taking on the challenge together is our belief in research. By asking the right questions, the hard questions, by asking all the questions, no matter how obvious, stupid, or hard, you are setting yourself up for success. Sometimes people get frustrated with our level of scrutiny but I don’t mind.

Whatever decision you’re making, whatever you do, don’t stop asking questions until you’re completely satisfied that all options have been fully explored. It’s only complicated if you don’t plan.


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Collaboration + Competition = Coopetition

America's Talking

Collaboration benefits everyone, competition benefits the winner. Are these two concepts mutually exclusive or can they be combined to form a unique form of partnership?

In July 1994 NBC launched a new cable television channel. America’s Talking was the first job for many college graduates and my first “real” job in television. We were all excited to work there with the feeling of a start up but the backing of a major network. We were also fortunate to be working on such highly sophisticated equipment so early in our careers and we were grateful for the opportunity.

Grass Valley 300 Switcher

State of the art at the time!

Each video editor (I was one of six) wanted to prove themselves, but we also needed each other, for support and to learn from. It would have been very easy for the more advanced editors to keep their knowledge to themselves, to standout and benefit personally while the team suffered (we all know people like that, I’m sure). We chose to collaborate and shared the skills we learned. We took it a step further however by pushing each other to perform at our highest levels.

When one of us came up with a video effect, the rest of us would try to out do it, and eventually we would, so the original creator would try to improve it even more. Each day we were excited to see if our great effect had been bested. When it was, rather than feeling disappointment, we were genuinely happy for that person but set out to crush them just the same. This was a friendly competition where all involved benefited as our skills improved exponentially. I learned a new word for this phenomenon in the #PoCchat on twitter – coopetition.

PoCchat

Rather than just a bunch of young, inexperienced television editors, coopetition applies to real professionals too. When I was looking to change my career and become a financial planner I went to a couple of Financial Planning Association meetings and conventions. All of these people were competitors looking to attract clients to their firms and yet they collaborated on research papers and software and vendor evaluations, these competitors shared their best practices, the techniques that helped them to attract and retain their clients, and they did so willingly. All professional associations have this in common much like my fellow editors needed to learn from each other.

The best thing to come out of our coopetition at America’s Talking was a challenge one editor presented to the others. We had a series of 30 second spots that needed to be edited each week and they consisted of many items from multiple cameras, to music, to various effects. The goal was to pre-program all the elements so that you could edit the entire 30 second item with one push of a button. Each week we would get closer, combining some functions and automating others, until finally we had such a deep understanding of the equipment that we could  program and time all the various elements, completing the edit with one push of the red button.

Our coopetition made us all excellent editors. I have continued working with one of those editors to this day and we often look back on that time as our most productive. How can you leverage the intersection of collaboration and competition in your team?


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Up Vs. Down

Up is good. Down is bad. I’d rather be on my way up than on my way down. It’s better when stock prices rise than fall. It’s better when things are looking up.

Being out on a bike ride yesterday in a hilly area, I’m not so sure up is good. Up is a struggle, up takes a lot out of you. When the road would level off, or better yet, point down, I could rest and even pick up speed without any effort. That’s called coasting and I think I’ve made my feelings about coasting clear, both in my book, What Next, and in this blog post.

I’m not going to talk about coasting today, I’m going to talk about hills, working hard, struggling, and ultimately conquering the challenge.

Where I live, the roads are fairly flat so when I get an opportunity to bring my bike back to the area I grew up, with all the hilly terrain, I take it. That’s right, I actively seek out a difficult ride because I want the challenge, I want to test myself, my fitness, my determination. That is the difference between a successful person and one who coasts.

As I began the ride, the first hill I encountered was a steady gradual climb, not too steep. I was surprised as I found myself downshifting much sooner than I thought, loosing speed quickly, my breathing becoming labored. If this was a sign of things to come I was in trouble.

Fortunately I was here before and I knew that this first hill was the adjustment hill, my body gearing up for the challenge ahead, the rest of my ride would be at a higher level of conditioning. A lot of people would become discouraged or maybe even quit at this point, but those who push on find the strength to continue.

I was gaining elevation on the entire ride out. Sure, there were some periods where I could rest, but the down hills were shorter in this direction. When I got to the 10 mile mark and turned around I had two things going for me. First, I had a tailwind instead of a headwind. Second, since the uphill sections were longer going, the downhill sections would be longer returning, giving me more time to rest and recover. That’s what I believed anyway.

With a headwind you feel it, you struggle against it as if climbing a hill. I call headwinds perpetual hills. When you turn around and the wind is now at your back, you don’t notice it, it doesn’t seem to aid you as much as the headwind hindered you. Doesn’t life seem like that sometimes, the struggles are so much harder, and longer than the good times?  I think that is because many people don’t consider the value in the struggle, don’t take the time to relish the accomplishment before moving on to the next challenge.

The same goes for those long hills up that are now just as long but much easier on the way down. The problem is that you’re going much faster downhill and they seem so much shorter than when you were going up. The anticipated rest is over before you know it and once again you’ve got to struggle up. By pedaling downhill you aren’t working as hard but you are increasing your speed, giving yourself a little more momentum as the next hill begins or as the road levels off. In life I find too many people stop pedaling downhill and don’t set themselves up for success.

Up is good but it’s also hard. The harder you work the more satisfied the victory. Are you willing to push yourself? Are you willing to seek out a hill?

 


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The Yardstick of Success

Yesterday’s post was on goals, the flexibility, the rigidity, the evolution and the choices we make regarding goals. Today I wonder about measuring success, deciding whether you met, exceeded, or fell short of your goal. 

When it comes to my job one factor I can use to measure success is salary. When I first graduated college and began working, I made $19,000 and I thought I had really made it. I could afford to purchase the one thing I wanted more than anything – a Jetski. Looking back I had no idea what success could be. Now I know better and no matter how much I’ve increased my salary I know it is still small when compared to some people. But does that diminish my success?

The answer to that question depends on the measurement, the scale I use. If we all compare ourselves to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett then we all fail. For me, at this time and in this place, I am successful as far as my career goes. But what about other things, things at which I’m a novice like I was when I got my first job?

When it comes to my book, the sales of my book, my scale is not large. I measure sales in tiny increments. I push forward however because I want to succeed, not because I have to but because I want to. I’m reminded of someone who answered a question for me as I was writing What Next. Jorge responded to a question about success on LinkedIn and said “The harder the goal, the greater the measure of success.” Selling the book is a difficult goal but each sale, each positive comment, is worth more to me because of the struggle.

I’m reminded of someone else who had a similar sentiment as Jorge, President Kennedy. In a speech at Rice University in 1962 President Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

What goal are you willing to accept because it is hard? What will serve to organize and measure the best of your energies and skills? What challenge are you unwilling to postpone? Will you win?


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