Religious Fervor

People show up in large numbers every week – an outward sign of their faith in unity with fellow brother and sister believers.

They sing and chant aloud… sometimes raising hands and clapping in highest praise.

If you challenge their passion and beliefs, be ready for pushback and maybe even an argument.

Many wear jewelry and other items so everyone knows exactly where they stand. Some even put banners and symbols in their yards… often to rub it in the face of neighbors.

Even with good friends, you’ll be forced to listen to stories about heroes from long ago… and you’re expected to accept that those things happened exactly as stated.

A lot of people have no interest. No feeling. No understanding of why anyone would spend so much time and energy – along with their hard earned dollars – on such unexplainable things.

I feel sorry for them.

You see… college football is back. It’s the 150th anniversary of the first game… and I’m gonna “Come Early. Be Loud. Stay Late. Wear Orange” until January 13.

Speak Softly

A lot of times recently Kathy and I were speaking about something when, a few minutes later, that same subject popped up on the News Feed of our iPhones. “That’s really weird,” was my initial reaction. After a few coincidences, I changed that to “I swear they’re listening to us.”

Of course, that’s not possible. Our possessions can’t hear us. Unless they do.

On June 30, 2009, we purchased a Honda Accord. I’ve driven it to clients for a decade… and we’ve made quite a few trips up and down Texas highways.

For the better part of the last year I patted the dashboard and said: “I just need you to get to 200,000 miles, buddy. You can do it.” On the evening of August 13, the Accord hit that lofty mark. In fact, we drove around our neighborhood for about 10 mintes so we could take a picture of the odometer at the magic mile.

The next morning, I left for my day’s coaching sessions. First to downtown, then the Med Center, and on to a client near the Galleria. Heading to the third appointment, I accelerated on the access road and the car quickly dropped from 40 to 20 mph. I pulled over into a parking lot and the engine stalled.

I had it towed to our mechanic… and after a few days and several hundred dollars, he told me: “It’s fixed for now, but its days without problems are numbered.”

I’m starting to believe our possessions really are listening.

Listen Hear

Think about the last conversation you had with – oh, I don’t know – your significant other, your child, a friend on the phone, your employee. On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how would you score your attentiveness?

I’m giving me a 2.

Just last night, our oldest daughter was talking with me… and I made a comment. She looked at me and replied, “Dad, I literally just said that two sentences ago.” I smiled and said, “I knew I heard it somewhere.” It was a weak attempt to cover my lack of listening.

There are many reasons why this happens (too often for me).

I have other things on my mind. I’m having a strong reaction and trying to manage my response. I’m racing ahead to what I want to say. I’m processing the last few sentences and miss the next ones. Sports is on the television. I’m looking at my phone. I checked out of the conversation. I’m focused on myself and not the other person.

Humans have an inherent ability to listen. Words flow in and out of our ears all day long. Hearing the other person – focusing intently on what they’re saying – is a different skill that takes discipline and practice.

I’m beginning a new habit: put down my phone the next time my daughter wants to talk, clear my head and do my best to be fully present for her.

Techno Flubs

Earlier this week a new look debuted on this blog for the first time since it started many years ago. I wasn’t looking to change the design. It’s just. Well. You know how technology works.

Last month I received a call from the company that hosts our Web site and blog. These ‘check-ins’ come every six months or so… and Kathy shakes her head afterward when I tell her how much more money I authorized to spend.

This time? Our blog security was no longer supported (think: spam) and to update that meant moving to a new hosting platform and to do that meant the previous look no longer worked.

Of course, as with all things tech, the transition didn’t go exactly as planned. First it was the site will be down for up to 24 hours… then there was an unexpected two-week delay due to an incorrect setting… and finally something about an ‘incompatible CDN’ that, candidly, I still don’t understand.

All told I spent three hours working with their experts to resolve everything… and, as always, they were polite and knowledgeable. Plus, they gave me a discount afterward for the trouble.

Which is why I don’t hesitate to recommend them. They always come through in the end. Go Daddy!

Go Fourth

Vision is interesting. When Kathy and I started Success Handler, LLC – first client session 16 years ago September 25, if you’re counting – my focus was on coaching small business owners by phone… franchisees specifically, printers in particular.

A couple of years of experience and we segued into franchisors and I did some keynotes. In 2008, I had my first engagement with a corporate leader. Then came facilitating groups, working with teams – including traveling offshore to the world’s largest oil platform – training, strategic planning… and now… international coaching.

During the past few years, I’ve traveled to Canada a dozen times, worked with leaders in Amsterdam and Romania, coached by phone with Singapore, and soon will visit Lagos, Nigeria.

So… on July 3, I had phone coaching sessions with several international clients – all citizens of other countries. Every one of them took the time at the end of our call to say: “Have a great Fourth of July holiday.”

Think about that for just a minute.

Quite a vision, yes?