Friday, September 30, 2005

"The Snake"

As a Raider fan, I must , at least for the time being, live in the past. And there is no brighter Raider past then the days of Kenny "The Snake" Stabler.

In all honesty, I was much too young to remember Kenny or any of the other past Raiders with a lot of details, but I knew I liked them. I used to draw pictures of #12 in class, tell people he was my hero, and walk with the Raider Swaggar whenever I sported my Raider jacket.

There was no ESPN in those days. I never knew stats. I never knew the standings. But it seemed to me they won a lot and as far as I knew THEY were the best. The Steelers, of course, were cheaters-- kind of like the Patriots of yester year.

Now that I can look back on the past with a little bit more of information thanks to the above mentioned ESPN, or better yet the internet. You know the Raiders were pretty good. They may not have the number of trophies like the "STEAL"ers, but during the 70's especially- if you were going to the Superbowl, you had to get past Oakland. (7 of 11 AFC championship games involved Oakland between 1970-80)

In our society, second best is not important. Even if you are second best more consistently then anyone is first. How many people make fun of the Buffalo Bills because they lost four Superbowls in a row? How many teams have been to four Superbowls in a row? One.

In my book, I would rather root for that team that is the one to get past. The team, year after year, is the team the others know they have to beat if they are to be good. The team everybody hates, everybody loves to watch loose, the team nobody but them enjoys the victories--but I guess that is why I'm a Raider fan.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Zig's Folly

Apparently I have switched from a morning blogger to an evening blogger. If there is one thing to know about me, I am consistently least most of the time.

The reason I'm so late today is because of tomorrow. We are going on an overnight trip to the mother-in-law's. That means that today, I had to get everything done that I would normally get done tomorrow, i.e. work twice as hard. Here's my point.

Zig Ziglar in one of his books he wrote asks, "Why are we so efficient on the day before a vacation? We seem to get everything done that we have to do, no matter how much that is." And then he asks, "Why not do that everyday?"

Why?!? Why?!!? Because you're not always going on vacation the next day! That's why!!!! I got so much accomplished today it was frightening. I only have a few things that will bite me on Monday--much better then the hundred things that usually bite me on Monday. But in exchange, I get tomorrow to relax and then a night in the desert, where I always sleep good, and time to work on a number of writing projects I've really needed some time for. I won't be at my mother's house, so I can be a social recluse.

So Zig, if every other day was a vacation, I could get everything done I had to do everyday...wait a minute...umm...OK. I get it now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Lesser of Two Evils

I may not always be the brightest bulb on the strip, but eventually I come around. Yesterday, I came to one of those conclusions that is probably right, but I'm not sure of the usefulness. Here it goes:

It's much easier to do something you do not want to do, then to not do something you want to do.

When faced with an unpleasant situation, or let's say an uncomfortable situation, it just takes courage to jump in, hold your breath and do it. You pretty much just cut loose and let it happen. Your expectation is that it is horrible anyway, so "let's just get it over with"! Even when overcoming enormous fears and anxiety, once you start...You suffer through it and you're done. You can return to your fears and anxiety for the next time, but that challenge is over.

What about not doing something you want to do. Is restraint as easy as courage? I don't think so. There is no conclusion to restraint, until you let it go. Ask an alcoholic. Does the desire ever go away? Is failure just one act away? Can you resist for a lifetime the inner urges for that one thing, that one act, that something you want so badly? Can you hold forever?

There's no rushing in to conquer the fear once and for all. No let loose, come what may. If you do that, you will do the thing you must not. It might be a ethics issue, a religious issue, a commitment issue, a moral issue. It doesn't matter. For what ever reason there is a boundary that you must not cross and for whatever reason, you want to cross it. The victory is never won, but on a day to day, temptation to temptation basis.

Unless you have a higher purpose or an ultimate goal. You will not stand. You will not succeed.

The victory is within. Only you get to experience it. Only you get to raise your arm in victory, knowing you just won a battle, but you can loose the war at anytime.

Courage is easy, restraint is the ultimate test. Do you have it?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Somewhere in the Middle

I know I have been rather nice in my latest entries, so here is a rant...

I am sick of people who do not want to work but want to receive full credit for doing so! What has happened to the work hard mentality? Why is it so rare? Why do I find myself asking, "what does it matter? The harder I work, the more others are willing to let me work harder."

I was asked to clear out some dead weight employees today. They don't always come in, sometimes they call in- sometimes not. They have been reluctant about learning their job responsibilities, and have actually been cocky in announcing to others that they can do what they want to do and no one was watching.

Others do watch. The ones that want to move forward. The ones who want to do good, yet are held down out of fear of being overloaded. It's sad to see, but the look in the eyes of these "good" employees when the others get axed is more relief then sad.

Why do we as a society put up with mediocrity?? Why let the average ones drag us down. We should strive for A's, not settle for C's. We shouldn't feel guilty because of the ones who are C's and cannot reach the A's. Should we let the slow and weak set the pace? Does that help anyone?

Here's my advise today: Get off you butt, roll up your sleeves, and don't stop until you have outdone everyone around you. Get angry if you can't catch the person ahead of you- draw from within the drive to push harder. Push! Push! Push! Don't stop, don't give up! Step on the ones that would tell you you're pushing too hard. Make them catch you!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Be COOL (Part 4)

Have you ever noticed that life is just not fair, or is it just me? Chances are today, something will happen to you that just isn't right. What are you going to do about it? My suggestion, and my writing over the next four days will be about how to be "cool" when things are not the way we want them.

L- LET it go! Probably the toughest steep of the whole process. It's hard not to want to seek revenge, to get even, or to extract what's due. But it's imperative to let it all go. These types of feelings will eat you up, drive you mad. They also rob you of the inner peace that "being cool" should give you.

If you carry around those feelings of "wait until later", it will be even harder to be cool next time the same or similar thing happens. Don't let it happen! Remember you have other options if you remain calm and open to new ideas. If you got burnt, protect yourself, of course. "Once bitten, twice shy" is not just a great song title form Great White. It's good life advice. But it doesn't mean to lie in wait, hoping for your pound of flesh.

To conclude, I believe Theodore Sturgeon once said, "90% of everything is crap". Not everything is as important as it always seems. Take some time to put things in perspective and "Be Cool".

Have a great Monday!!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sunday Scripture Choice

2 Chronicles 31:21

And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

SUCCESS: S*U*C- Challenge

When setting a goal, or determining a successful endeavor, if there is no challenge, there is no success. You might accomplish the task, but was there any value to it? Is it something that you can really hang your hat on?

I saw on the news that a married couple were the only winners of a $200 million plus jackpot. Although I won't say they won't enjoy the money, no one, including themselves, will consider the couple a financial success story. They got lucky. Their true success and happiness now will be determined by how they use the money they have been given. There are many stories of people who were given many things, but found them of very little value when self-worth was questioned.

Make the goal of your success worth pursuing. Aim for the stars. If it doesn't mean anything to you- what worth does it have?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Be COOL (Part 3)

Have you ever noticed that life is just not fair, or is it just me? Chances are today, something will happen to you that just isn't right. What are you going to do about it? My suggestion, and my writing over the next four days will be about how to be "cool" when things are not the way we want them.

O- think of OPTIONS. So if you have calmed yourself and are now open to new ideas, think of some different options instead of the obvious.

My family and I like to go camping, and we have our favorite place to go. One time we were faced with the fact our new tent would not fit in the site we loved so much. We decided to go a day earlier, get up to the campground early and have our pick of the "other" sites.

What ended up happening is that we found a site that fit our tent and that we loved even more! Of course we are now attached to that site, but it was the need that generated the search, and ultimately better results.

Now that was a simpleton situation, but in other cases, what if you took away the option of yelling and screaming, found yourself calm and open minded...are you more or less likely to talk to someone(an employee, a spouse, a child, a fellow driver) as opposed to flying off the handle?

And why should you care? Why extend courtesy to someone who doesn't deserve it? Why be the "better' person? Why stay in control? As the General put it...

"You can't help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself". H. Norman Schwarzkopf

You do it for yourself.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Be COOL (Part 2)

Have you ever noticed that life is just not fair, or is it just me? Chances are today, something will happen to you that just isn't right. What are you going to do about it? My suggestion, and my writing over the next four days will be about how to be "cool' when things are not the way we want them.

O- Be OPEN to ideas. When things go wrong, it could be God just reshuffling the cards of the universe. Maybe it's someone else's turn to go first. If you will, just entertain the thought that although you deserved to be first, win the prize, get the promotion, not to be cut off--for whatever reason the powers of the universe must have a greater purpose.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy". Martin Luther King Jr.

Staying open to other ideas outside of just your own needs and comfort helps sustain the calm, allowing you to feel less like you must do something and thinking of what you should do.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Be COOL (Part 1)

Have you ever noticed that life is just not fair, or is it just me? Chances are today, something will happen to you that just isn't right. What are you going to do about it? My suggestion, and my writing over the next four days will be about how to be "cool' when things are not the way we want them.

C- Be Calm. When you react emotionally, you cause others to do as well. The outcome is seldom good. When things go bad, anger, frustration, and a slough of other negative feelings are what come out first. Check them! Calm down and really think of the consequences of the action done to you. This will set your mind in a logical state. Now think out your response and react, if required. It's possible that no reaction is the best reaction.

The other day, I was cut off while driving down the highway. I had to hit my brakes, as well as another car, almost causing a small pile-up as cars went every which way. I will guess you can imagine my first thought...and the second was to chase him down and express myself. In reality, there was nothing I could do to help the situation. I would have to drive equally bad just to catch up to him.

A couple of miles up the road there was a sudden stop and guess who rear-ended another car. I felt sorry for the one that got rearended, but I did wave at the other guy as I drove past. Life doesn't always serve poetic justice, but on that morning it did.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures". Daniel Webster(1782 - 1852)

Be CALM when life's emotions are swinging in the negative direction. Your decisions are more clear and outcomes are more likely to work out in your the least, not against you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ziglar's Wisdom

"You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want."

"If people like you they'll listen to you, but if they trust you they'll do business with you."

"Character gets you out of bed; commitment moves you to action. Faith, hope and discipline enable you to follow through to completion."

"You cannot solve a problem until you acknowledge that you have one and accept responsibility for solving it."

"Failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night."

--Zig Ziglar

Monday, September 19, 2005

Pool: Closed for the Season

I was starting to write about the draining and dismantling of the pool this last weekend, and I was attempting to use it as a symbol of the end of summer and go on and on about the meaning of the changing of the seasons...but you know, it really doesn't matter.

We took the pool down because it's just too cool for swimming and the time and effort to keep it up just in case we have one or two more "hot" days just isn't worth it. The process of draining the water and watching all the nightcrawlers escaping their flooded homes and saving them from the birds was just as fun as swimming. We all splashed around the half -filled pool, the water logged grass and we all got wet to some degree. When it was over, the kids got all their sand toys out and picked up right where they left off in June: digging holes and filling buckets. No sad eyes, just excitement about the sand pile.

There really isn't any big deal in the changing of the seasons. I like the cool of the fall, the leaves changing color, the fishing improving (mostly due to less fishermen), but it is no different today then yesterday. It's just the progression that makes up life.

Is there something to take from all this? Sure. Enjoy today, know tomorrow will be right along and even if there are things that are different, it's really just more of the same.

And that's a good thing.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunday Scripture Choice

Isaiah 1:18

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

SUCCESS: S*U- Understanding

“Furious activity is no substitute for understanding.”- H.H. Williams

Although knowing where you want to go is a key element of success, knowing how to get there is another.

What does it take? Has anybody else blazed the trail? What resources are available to help you? What will it be when you accomplish the goal? Am I willing to learn and re-learn as I go?

I’ll explore these questions further as we explore the elements of success each Saturday.

Have a great Weekend!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Cellular Blues

I am one of the six people that still do not carry a cell phone. It’s not that I do not want one, I just don’t want to pay for one…continually, month after month. In fact, I believe the phone to be somewhat of an annoyance, so to pay for the privalege of people calling whenever they want just really…well, it doesn’t inspire me to run out, buy a phone and sign a contract to give my money away.

What really bothers me about cell phones is the belief that cell phones are mandatory now. How can you not have a cell phone?? Maybe it’s because I am not a social butterfly. Maybe it’s because I still like to have places to which I can say, “sorry, I didn’t have a phone”. Maybe it’s still a money thing, but I still feel complete without a cell phone on my hip or held to my ear.

The handless phone jacks are annoying as well. I don’t know how many times I have tried to figure out why the lady at the store is asking me what I want for dinner, only to notice the little wire hanging from her ear and across her shoulder. When I was little I was taught not to stare at the people talking to themselves on the streets. I guess that rule still applies but I am running out of places to stare!

The conversations are not just about what soup to get either! Sometimes the conversations are so personal, I get embarrassed to listen not that I have a choice but to listen. Why it is required to talk twice as loud into a cell phone then what you would do in normal conversation? Is there really any status to be won by announcing to the world that you have a cell phone and you use it?

Have you noticed that it is now OK to be late to meetings? If you call on the way and say you’ll be 15 minutes late, the rest of us sitting in the meeting waiting have to excuse you. You did call and let us know so it must be all right.

Driving with a cell phone continues to be an issue. I guess when you’re using a phone: turn indicators are no longer required, lane markers lines are optional, and sudden lane changes should be anticipated. It used to be that if you saw a car swerving all over the road, one would assume that they were DUI, now we just assume they got a call.

One day, I will have a cell phone- it’s ineveitable. My only hope is that my common courtesy and self respect stay intact.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

What's Truly Important?

Already this morning, I have had a discussion with someone who is a victim of someone stealing money out of her checking account. The total sum was for $150.00, but to this poor lady, that is devastating. It leaves her with about $17 until her next check next week. She was in tears and then dropped the "B" word- Bankruptcy.

I could tell by her reaction that this thought caused her embarrassment and a sense of utter failure. I know she has tried to move from her current situation by going to school, attempting "Avon" type efforts, and receiving counseling on how to fix her financial situation. She may not always make the best decision, but she always tries. So I feel for her when I see her start to break down and cry and really worry about the future and more importantly worry about money.

What a waste of life and time- worrying about money. Whether you have too much or too little- it just seems money is way too pervasive in our lives.

On our annual trip to visit grandma over Easter vacation, we always bring our croquet set. The kids like to take on their uncles and it is really the only time we play. My youngest son, out of the blue, hit his ball towards one of his uncles who had just become "poison". "What are you doing", was the obvious question asked.

"If I get out, I can go in the house and have a cookie".

This kid is not a quitter. He just still possesses that quality we all have as kids and somehow lose later on as adults: the ability to know what's important and what is not. Winning the game would be nice, the playing of it was better, and a cookie ranks them all!

I'll have to look it up, but someone once said "Worry is interest we pay on things that may or may not happen." Don't let worries, especially worries about things that are not that important, steal the joy of things that are more important to you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Head Over Heels (Part 2)

(Continued from yesterday)

As the running back lumbered toward me and as I was fulfilling my obligation to close the gap between us by moving toward him, all the coaching and months of drills and practice were echoing over and over in my head. “Bend your knees. Get low. Power into the tackle”. Of course there was also the other voice in my head screaming, “Look at the size of that thing! Run Away!!!”
As the two of us were about to meet “officially”, I had a quick, but strong, shot of confidence and almost started saying, “I think I can. I think I…” and then POW!! Hope, confidence and all the hours of training could not compensate for the extra 95 pounds of running back.
Like a B.B. hitting a freight train, I went straight backwards and quickly noticed how I was seeing clouds instead of grass. At one point, my feet swooshed by as if running through the clouds. I was airborne, spinning head over heels, and slightly dazed.
Now nothing makes a big…sorry, huge running back happier then to run over the top of a vanquished opponent. This running back was to make no exception. And as I hit the ground and found myself on my back, I noticed the big boy again entering my space, this time exactly over me.
If one is upright and one extends one’s legs, there will be a penalty flag. It’s called tripping. If one is flat on their back and extends one’s legs straight up, it’s called a tackle. I stuck my legs straight up in the air and made the tackle. I agree, the style was not anything for the highlight reel, but it worked then and the two or three other times the two of us met later in the game.
My old football coach, Coach Hatch taught that it was the small things that mattered. But when you’re dealing with a big thing, a huge thing, bigger then you might be able to handle, I am sure Coach Hatch would advise, “Just do what you can”.
All dignity aside, of course.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Head Over Heels (part 1)

I was a whopping 145 pounds at the conclusion of my High School Junior year football season. Weight training was now to begin for the upcoming season and goals needed to be set. I figured I would need to be at least 160 pounds by the start of the next season to secure a starting position. I began to eat.

I ate everything that moved, and anything that didn’t. I took on a job at Hardee’s not only to earn money to afford double lunches at school, but also to clean up on extra food at work! For months, I ate and lifted weights. I would do anything if it had the promise of raising my weight to my goal.

Opening night, I had done everything I could and I tipped the scales at 150 pounds. I had only gained 5 pounds! My ambition had earned me the starting spot of defensive back on the varsity team, the 5 extra pounds would have to do.

Everything went fine for the first two games and then we played Granger High School. Granger high school ran a tough running game anchored by a huge 245 pound running back. 245 pounds! He outweighed me by almost 100 pounds! I was a defensive back, but with their style of running attack, there was a very good chance he and I would meet.

Meet we did. About half way through the first quarter, the big…no HUGE running back cleared the end of the line and started making his way into my territory. It was the two of us, one on one.

(continued tomorrow).

Monday, September 12, 2005

It is written...

I’ve never owned a chainsaw before, but with all the trees I have, it was inevitable: I would finally have to get one. It wasn’t brand new and I didn’t get one until it was given to me, but I now am an owner of a Poulan 18” “Wild Thing” chainsaw.

I first used my new saw last weekend cutting stump roots before pulling them. I would dig a bit and then start cutting the roots with the saw, occasionally and often hitting the dirt, rocks, etc. down under the tree. Apparently I thought chainsaws should be used as trenchers as well. I was incorrect and the saw became very dull very quickly. I ended up resorting back to chopping the roots out with an ax.

Since the blade was used, I decided to replace the chain and blades instead of trying to sharpen them. I got the new blades and having never changed chainsaw blades before, I actually sat down and started reading the instruction manual on the blades repair and maintenance.

Do not sharpen blades while engine is running”.

That was actually in the instruction manual!! Is there really someone out there that needs that explained to them??? I could just imagine the testimony in court, “It never said to turn the engine off before working on the blades”.

I’m not mad that there wasn’t a warning about using the saw as a trencher. That was my dumb! But who needs to be told to turn off a piece of equipment whose sole purpose is the cutting through and off of limbs before grabbing the blade?!!!?!!

Point: Take some responsibility for yourself.
Not just in chainsaw safety, but in all of your decisions and actions. Don’t think that just because someone hasn’t told you to do, or not to do, something doesn’t mean that you are free to do what you please.

Here’s to a new week!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sunday Scripture Choice

Deuteronomy 6: 4-7

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy might.

And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

SUCCESS: S- Steering

Saturday Morning and what are you going to do? Is it planned out?

Now before you go on and start believing I’m some kind of “anal-retentive, got to plan every minute” nut, hear me out.

When I mean plan- I just mean you have previously decided what today will be. So when it starts happening, you can relax and know it’s all part of the game plan. Let me give you some examples.

Do you like to sleep in on weekend mornings? Just know in your head then that weekend mornings are for sleeping. When you wake up at 9, 10, 11- it’s OK. You planned for it. Maybe you want the whole day to be spontaneous. My suggestion would be to have that part of the program. Decide ahead of time that you are not planning anything!

I, myself, wanted to sleep in to 6. (I know that sounds sick) write my blog spot and then I am off to Lowe’s to do my "manly" shopping before breakfast with the family. The rest of my day has an agenda as well, with some open spots to do whatever the family decides.

The important part is that I am in control and have decided ahead of time what I am going to do today. I will not be frustrated later because I didn’t get to my blog, or I slept in too late and now must fight the crowds at Lowe’s. I will be able to enjoy the second half of the day, which I have no idea what that might be.

Sometimes we get too fixed on the big goals- “what I want to be when I grow up”. Although that is important- the battle is really won on the smaller goals. What am I going to do today- or even planning out tomorrow. Make each day, even if a day of play and spontaneity, part of the bigger plan of your personal success.

Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you ain’t going to get there.”

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Football Coaches

Watching my Raiders get dismantled in the second half of last night's game as well as the start of football season throughout the nation's high schools and colleges, I am reminded of the days that I spent on the field and the lessons learned.

Football coaches are great! They just put everything into it and therefore some of the funniest things come out of there mouths. Most, however, are very specific in what they want no matter how absurd it may be.

On blocking: “I want the hole to be so big…I can drive a semi-truck through it.”

On defending a receiver: “Wherever your guy goes, you go. If he goes to buy a hotdog, you hand him his change”.

On winning: “If we score more points then they do, we’ll most likely win.”

Coach Hatch said something to us that has stuck with me. “All I ask from you is perfection. You give me that, and I’ll be happy.”

And we would try to give it to him. I swear I would do the same pattern over and over again, and they seemed to look the same to me, but he would see slight imperfections and would drill us over and over again until we could see them too…and correct them.

To Coach Hatch, it was the small things that made the difference and he would not settle for “close enough”. Do you?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

When to Say When

I actually did it! I made the right choice today. There are so many things happening at work today and I woke up early to get started. After showering, and dressing I was ready to make my way out of the house by 5 AM.

Before leaving, I always go in and kiss my wife, Marci, good-bye. I try not to wake her up too much, but enough that she remembers that I said good bye. I could tell she wasn't feeling good and I learned that she had been awake most of the night with a bad headache. I told her I would call her as soon as my training, that I was teaching, was over- sometime around noon. I could hear the "yeah, that helps a lot" in her voice.

I gathered my stuff and while walking out the door, I thought- "what priority did I just set?" Is my job more important then my family? Does anyone at work really care about training as much I care about my family? Does my work really expect me to sacrifice my family's needs for theirs? Do I?

I stopped and went back in to inform Marci that I was staying home and that she could relax and know she could get some rest. She of course tried to convince me that I shouldn't, but I insisted more strongly and I am staying. I'll call in later and take care of the business I can over the phone.

Lesson: Set your own priorities! Don't be irresponsible, as in don't loose your job and the ability to make a good life for you and yours over dumb things. Just know where your limits are. Everybody wants all of you all the time- but no one really expects it. They expect you to stay "when".

Today I said "when" and I am confident the consequences will be very manageable.