Friday, October 13, 2017

I am being managed!

I am being managed!

It was shocking to discover. Not. Of course I am being managed. Mr Tsa has long been impressed with my abilities to burn through his bike repairs. I stretch chains faster than anyone, destroy front brakes faster than anyone, and log more miles than an antelope. So when I show up at his shop to rent a bike for the month, of course he is gonna manage me. He has 10 years of experience fixing my wear and tear on bikes. 

He started laughing when I showed up today. He said, "even I did not think you would be back for repairs this quick." I mean I have only put 400 measly kilometers on the bike these five days. But he happily told me why I was riding this bike, rather than one of his fancy bikes - he knew he was gonna have to fix it three or four times this month. And now it is as good as new. I mean I can't help it if it rains all the time nor that the mountains are so steep.

This is only one example of me being managed. I could tell you ways that my wife, my dad, my neighbors are all managing me. You are being managed too!

So the question is not if I am being managed, the question that is important is WHY am I being managed?? There are bad reasons for being managed, like you are a problem child, or like you are a bad attitude poisoning everything in your wake, or you horriblize everyone you talk about, or you only see the bad in everything, etc etc.

And there are great reasons for being managed, like I am a stud on a bicycle and yet Mr Tsa needs to make a profit. And reasons like I also bring great value to the lives of my wife, dad and neighbors, and so they manage me to keep things humming along. These are the calculations that we all make in order to keep things in the best possible balance, and to make sure that we raise boundaries against damage to ourselves and those we care about and those we interact with every day.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

There are so many possibilities

There are so many possibilities . . . 

It can be paralyzing. It is imperative that we find and groom our best selves - to be more. If we fail to accomplish this, the best of those possibilities will never get sifted, tried, sharpened, experienced, polished, and this needs to happen on my own terms and definitions, not someone else's terms (to raise the bar, not make it more manageable). No whimpering exchange of time and effort for money. This requires far more risk, because I gotta own this.

You have to know your calling, how you can best serve, what you were designed to accomplish, what you are made of, how much grit you may have, where your lasting contribution will be made, what you are compelled to accomplish. This demands you push yourself on a completely new scale. This requires far more risk, because there are no more safety nets (actually they never existed before, but most delude themselves into thinking that there are safety nets around them).

In this VUCA world, remarkable leaders are more sorely needed than ever before. Take the chance, stop living a 9-5 life, and let's go change the world. It will probably take and cost everything, and then you are only at the beginning. But you can't take it with you when you leave this world, so why not die by living the most audacious life possible - life was meant to be spent (Wilson).

If this does not sound like you, or at least the you you want to become, then hit delete, this is not for you. Your possibilities are limited. Your risk is low.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

We leave 15 minutes early?!

Anyone who spends as much time as I do, chasing flights and connections around the world, can tell you what a rare rare experience this is, for a flight to leave early. Not on time and not when scheduled, but early. I think this happens to me about once every 100 flights or so in a good year. This is the first time in about 2.5 years that this has happened the best I can recall. Needless to say, this is a huge anomaly. It bodes well for me, if this is the standard that the entire 3.5 week trip entails. I could really use some better than expected, or better than the norms experiences. Too much has been really disappointing in recent weeks.

What makes this early departure so great is that it exceeds my expectations! So few companies do this on a regular basis, that when it happens, it is worth noting and remembering. I regularly experience this with all things Apple, and most things Amazon. That is why they have not only my regular faithful business, but also endless recommendations to others in all my networks about how great they are and have been etc etc.  These recommendations are worth three to four times as much as my personal business transactions with these two businesses.

Apple and Amazon get it. They will work tirelessly to give me "exceed my expectation" experiences. Anything else for them would be a failure. And this is not to say that every product I purchase from Apple has been perfect. Nor is every transaction with Amazon and their market solutions always perfectly satisfying. But they are stellar enough that they are head and shoulders ahead and above anyone else out there. Can't believe that I used to feel this way about Toshiba computers, and then Sony computers, neither of which would I use as a tire chock for my 20 year old Renault today. You would have to pay ME big bucks to summit myself to those experiences

And why did I recently stop using Holiday Inn affiliate hotel, Candlewood Suites? Because of one horrific gaffe and all the little gaffe's that followed as they tried to "make up" for a huge leadership failure. I had one of the worst experiences ever in a hotel on my trip recently to PA from GA. Repeated calls to the front desk received no actions, finally only a threat to involve the local police and deputy sheriffs got me any relief at 3:36 am. I didn't think I should have to pay for such an experience, but I did - $178.10 worth, of which they eventually refunded me a third, and gave me 10,000 useless points on a less than useless card which I will never be able to take advantage of. And they wrote me a bunch of letters apologizing. But they never once admitted that they cost me a nights sleep, that they cost me business the following day, and that they are responsible for the property and grounds that we all pay them money for, so that we can SLEEP! When 11 pm rolled around it became clear that the party was not going to be stopped by the local employee's, I should have taken responsibility for myself and moved to another hotel, regardless of the cost, because my clients are worth that much and so am I. However I have properly voted after the event, by taking my considerable business account to other hotels, and most importantly telling my networks that you cannot reasonably expect the previous hotel chain to step up and do the right thing for you as the customer.

So an early departure? Exceeding my expectations? Damn right it is important. It is the only way to keep customers in the modern world, and I am far more forgiving than most of my fellow travelers! You can reference this "Good" is not enough - Lead Change Group blog to see my point and my point of reference.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

How much things have changed

No Malev Airlines, no Czech Airlines, no MAT airlines, and these three were the primary airlines I would have used each day when we first moved to Macedonia 18+ years ago. They don't even exist any longer. When I flew out today, I flew on Qatar Airlines! And sitting at the gates were four aircraft for Wizz Air (yes that is really their name and no English is not their first language), one Austrian airline plane and then this A320 for Qatar. I am sitting here snacking on warmed mixed nuts and drinking a 15 year old Glenfiddich writing to you on a computer thinner than the old paper books of long ago with a touch screen and a Bluetooth keyboard, neither of which even existed when we first moved to Macedonia (and since I am going to rural Asia and roughing it a bit, I don't even have the nice new iPad Pro with me, but still the tech I do have with me was inconceivable 18 years ago).

That is the most basic summary of the massive world changing difference in air travel out of little old Macedonia in 18 years. Yes air travel is a lot less fun and pleasureable than it was 18 years ago, but many of the changes are for the better. More flying options, far cheaper, and the ability to actually get some awesome work done on a machine that does not even weigh a pound. And granted, this is on good days. Flying on those Wizz Air flights is serious Cattle Class battles ... 

And don't forget that my pilot is British and my cabin crew is Serbian and Macedonian  both schooled in USA Universities. While I may be flying a Muslim Airline, the staff is a great mixture of local and International, and all Western Trained. Having said that, this may be the oldest A320 I have flown on in two decades - no USB ports! No Screens in the back of the seat in front of you. I like it! 

The book I am currently reading "The New Leadership Literacies" says that the changes I am documenting here are nothing compared to the ones that will take place in the next 10 years! It hurts my brain to think about it! I can't wait!

Sunday, September 17, 2017


I did not miss the irony that this post following the one entitled Rest, is Sleepwalking :-) . . . however . . . 

Too many days I can find myself sleepwalking through life. I don’t want to do this for even one single day ever. When I find that I am drifting along, and it is getting more and more difficult to focus throughout the day, then I am falling into sleepwalking. I am embracing ALL that could possibly be done, rather than focusing on and celebrating that which is most important to be done. I means I gotta resharpen my “no” and eliminate all the noise in life. I cannot do it all. Shouldn’t even try at this stage of my life, because i know far far too well that I can and must do few things well, and the payoff is clarity. No more sleepwalking!

Wednesday, September 06, 2017


A much overlooked aspect of PTA and DTA is rest. I am not talking only about the over advertised part sleep plays in this subject, but just rest as a central part of a healthy life. Far too many people start to scratch their heads at this point, because they have no idea what I am talking about. They are so overrevved and overclocked that rest is something no longer remember from their childhoods. 

I am currently on a rest. I am at the beach with all my children and grandchildren and nieces and their kids, as well as my parent, and even my brother's ex-wife! I know I know, that does not sound restful at all. But it is, because I am not emailing, video-conferencing, twittering, facebooking, browsing, studying, reading, or working at all. Instead I am having great conversations with my adult children, telling stories to my grandchildren, getting a tons of hugs, body-surfing the waves (and yes I am so sore I can barely move - priceless) listening to my son howl with laughter (this is something everyone should experience in their lifetime) and listening to the huge roar of the winning team in any particular game, no TV's are on (there are 7 of them in this huge condo), no one is sitting around staring at their phone, ok very little compared to normal, and this my friends is rest. Not to mention the hours of sitting on the balcony watching the storms, sunsets and sunrises while rocking in a chair. This my friends is rest.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Too much

Jon Wortmann writes that we are far far far too . . . everything. Our brains are simply not wired to stay engaged all all all the time. He points out that in the military when someone is on point, they rotate out every half hour, because few people can consistently focus intently for more than 40 minutes at a time without a break.

But most people in the West are living at the ragged edge, and their kids schedules are even worse! And we are constantly available to the entire world with our phones and the internet. We are so drained and focus depleted that we have nothing left. Work and the important things like love, relationships and living get the dregs that might remain. Add our constant movement from one place to another, along with the constant distraction of email, text and YouTube, then, well you get the picture, you live this life.

The problem with our global economy, political uncertainty, and reactive media is that too many of us are living at our edges. We work hard. Our kids’ schedules make us look like our schedules are calm. We play a lot. We travel constantly. We are on our phones frenetically. This means that our brains are always paying attention to something—until they can’t.

It is time to return to a more sane life, to regularly unplug and disconnect and have margin in our lives. This requires us to have a come-to-Jesus intervention in our schedules and expectations. Our mental health and our productivity demand that we do so. Let’s pace ourselves for the long haul, and a haul that produces more than frenetic movement and busyness, which by no one’s calculation is necessarily progress nor accomplishment.

You can read more of what Jon wrote here.

Friday, August 18, 2017


Those who are well read in the leadership and personal development fields are likely well versed in Greg McKeown and Essentialism - the diligent pursuit of less but better. One of the amazing ideas he espouses is PTA, Protect The Asset, and the asset is you! 

This is a wide ranging idea that covers everyone, no matter what your work, life and circumstances are like. If you have a high stress job that keeps you crippled and overextended, then PTA is the idea of making space and margin in that chaos so that you don’t burn out and and so that you can bring your best self to the work each day. If you have a high freedom job, like I do, then PTA takes a different bent.

As I was talking with a good friend/client today, it occurred to me in the middle of our conversation about PTA and the people we seek to develop, that a different acronym may serve us better - DTA - Develop The Asset, which once again is you and me. This idea came about as we were discussing that the key to successful development of others is development of yourself.

Read that sentence again. It is the crucial fulcrum of development, that I am developing me. This requires all kinds of intentionality and processes. As I wrote in my previous post about the Genuinely Wealthy, freedom to develop myself each day is real wealth. You can’t develop others if you aren’t moving forward yourself.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Genuinely wealthy

There are many many ways to calculate wealth. Most people just count the money. But honestly money does not equal wealth, at least not in my world. I have come to redefine wealth in terms of freedom. “Money pays the bills, but being able to control my own schedule and not miss out on family time is priceless.” That is true wealth in my world and in my understanding.  There are so so many ways to calculate wealth rather than with money alone.

First of all are the benefits that my current life brings me. The best perk is being able to define what I do and with whom and for how long. When I left my previous parent organization, this became one of the defining perks - that I no longer had to work with people I don’t like or care for or who are disgustingly negative with regularity. I get to work with the people that I can argue with yet not lose relationship over things, and that I enjoy. Best Benefits - the time to work out each day and develop myself each day and to invest in me each day. This alone is worth a 50% percent cut in pay, because the value is worth is 200%. Quite the payoff in my opinion.

Even though it is still 94 degrees on the balcony, I get to sit here and think and write and work on stuff that is important to ME. How do you put a price on that kind of stuff? You can’t, because it is more than a number in terms of what it means. I get to go to bed when I choose, I get to get up when I choose, I get to do what I want with whom I want each day, and that is worth more than any amount of money or financial compensation.

The genuinely wealthy don’t measure their lives in a a dollar figure. They measure their lives in advantages and benefits, and in non-monetary kinds of ways every day.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Enamel burning

There is nothing quite like the smell and taste of burning enamel, the kind of enamel that is on your teeth. In America, they numb you up so much that all you can do is vaguely get a small whiff of what is actually occurring in your mouth as they drill on your teeth. But here in Eastern Europe, four cavities filled with no novocain or pain relief of any sort, the smell and taste was keen and sharp. That was a two hour trip to hell today. I left the seat completely soaked and a puddle of stress sweat in my wake today. I had to come home and take a couple of hours to find my equilibrium again. Which included an hour long nap! Which I never do any more! That was probably my first nap in over three years, maybe longer. My neck feels like some hit me with a large hammer, and that I may never recover. I am such a wimp I know, but I totally had to come home and change every single piece of clothing today. These are the few times in my life where I miss North America.