Simple Ideas

Earlier this week I observed an online kickoff session for a new coaching program I’ll be part of in the coming months. The CEO – a gentleman I saw as confident, transparent and relaxed – shared the vision, values and rules with his leadership team.

He focused a lot on the importance of ‘doing quirky well’ and delivering ‘wild hair’ ideas – and this company is in the insurance industry. When asked to describe the perfect leader for the organization, he said, “Somebody having fun and attracting a crowd that want to have fun with them.”

The thing he said that resonated the most with me is: “During these challenging Covid times, amidst the forces of fatigue, it’s important to find sources of joy.”

You might be noticing a lot of people with Covid Fatigue. I see it in my friends and family, and especially the few times I venture out and notice all the people who just seem to be over it. Yet, there’s a good possibility, Covid isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Whatever the next wave brings, it will be many more months before therapeutics and a vaccine provide an all clear.

Spend a few minutes thinking about all of the nearby sources of joy in your life…

Read that book you always wanted to and never had time. Build puzzles. Sit on the back porch during cooler fall weather and watch the birds and squirrels. Take an online course. Go for a walk. Visit a strawberry patch or cornfield maze. FaceTime your siblings, children, grandkids. Verbalize your blessings. Watch a comedy film you’ve never seen. Phone a long-lost friend. Listen to music or a new podcast. Carve a pumpkin. Look at old photos. Write down 10 things you will do once the pandemic passes. Clean your closets. Go for a drive to parts of the city you haven’t been to in a while. Have food delivered from your favorite restaurant. Hand-write a note to all those people who helped you along the path to your success. Smile. Laugh. Breathe.

Don’t let the forces of fatigue overwhelm you. Pursue joyful things… and be safe and socially distance along the way.


Who Knew

When I put my workout facility membership on hold in March because of the pandemic, I began walking in our neighborhood weekday mornings. Those early efforts lasted about two miles. Slowly I built up the distance and since June am averaging more than five miles, including a few 10Ks and one 7.2 miler thrown in for fun. I’m focused on ‘Don’t break the steak,’ which, as of today is 107 consecutive weekdays and counting.

Since I’m no longer surrounded by the silence of the pool, I have increased my podcast listening. One new program I came upon is “Flashback with Sean Braswell.” It takes moments in history and suggests the unintended consequences – “stories of disastrous turning points, dangerous ideas, crazy coincidences, unsung heroes and forgotten villains” – that occurred because of them.

Some Season 1 examples:

How Henry Ford inspired the Oklahoma City Bombing
How the YMCA helped launch the tobacco black market
How a meth peddling doctor changed the course of WWII
How a baseball strike saved basketball

There are unintended consequences in many things. I’ve been thinking about them in my life. What are some in yours?

Note: Jerry Seinfeld is credited with saying ‘Your only job is to not break the chain’ about writing comedy every single day. He rejects coming up with the approach, which is apropos.: “This is hilarious to me, that somehow I am getting credit for making an X on a calendar with the Seinfeld Productivity Program. It’s the dumbest non-idea that was not mine, but somehow I’m getting credit for it.”


Sun Rises

The final song of Act 1 in the long-running Broadway musical Les Miserables is a choral number with most of the show’s stars: One day more / Another day / Another destiny / This never-ending road to Calvary. Those words came to mind recently when a client said to me that his philosophy the past few months is, “Make it through today.”

Exactly four months ago, 500,000 people were diagnosed with Covid-19 in the world and 23,000 had died. Now, those numbers are 16 million and 650,000. For every piece of potentially good news, there seems to be a correlating, “Yes, but…”

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the lack of certainty in what comes next. Are we close to a vaccine, even though there is a long way to go with testing? Will public schools eventually have children in classrooms nationwide or is a virtual semester ahead? Do the leaders in Washington provide another round of financial support or has the national debt exceeded their willingness to prop up the economy?

The short answer: No one knows.

Thus, ‘Make it through today’ is perhaps the best approach to getting to the other side of this pandemic and whatever the ‘New Now’ turns out to be. It takes patience, discipline, a good bit of affirmation, and a belief that this, too, shall pass.

As the last words of One Day More say: Tomorrow we’ll discover / What our God in heaven has in store / One more dawn / One more day / One day more!


Planning Ahead

Tim McGraw’s ‘My Next 30 Years’ – released 20 years ago today – is a reflection on a life lived on the edge (‘Try to forget about all the crazy things I’ve done’) that the central character hopes is different moving forward (‘Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers’).

After last month’s post on my first 60 years, I started writing down things to focus on during whatever time I have left on this planet. This isn’t so much a Bucket List as a way to ensure I don’t get to the end and think, ‘If only…’

Some items so far? Fund college for our grandkids (who haven’t been born… yet). Take one ‘mega’ trip every five years and smaller journeys in between. Read 50 books – historical fiction, biographies and self-improvement – every year.

While another 30 years might be a stretch – for a long time I’ve said, ‘85 and out’ – I intend to make them, as the country superstar sang, ‘the best years of my life.’


Spectral Assistants

As Walt Disney World reopens today – hopefully, with no major Covid-19 spread – I wonder if the Haunted Mansion will be available for guests to experience. It’s one of the classic attractions at both the Orlando and Anaheim theme parks.

My aunts lived in L.A., so the first time I went to Disneyland was 1972. I don’t remember much about that visit, except the Haunted Mansion. I’ve visited the two Disneys many times since, and always find the path to the house with ‘999 happy haunts.’

A few weeks ago, listening to another ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class’ podcast, I learned Walt envisioned a Haunted Mansion as early as 1951, and made it part of the original plans for Disneyland. The Imagineers, however, struggled to bring it to reality, and Walt vetoed many potential versions, including one of a rundown building. Disneyland opened in 1955, and finally in 1961, it seemed they had things figured out.

However, Walt‘s priorities shifted. Ever ride the PeopleMover in Tomorrowland? That’s straight outta the 1964 New York World’s Fair, where Disney had several exhibits. Focusing on those delayed the Haunted Mansion until 1969. If you visit you’ll notice there are two parts: the first half has knocking doors, tombstones and other scary things, then the Doom Buggies take you through lighthearted fun. Seems Disney folks couldn’t choose which of two final plans to use, so they did both.

Eighteen years passed from Walt’s ‘let’s do this’ idea until it came to fruition. Think about that the next time you’re frustrated your team isn’t executing on your vision. Maybe you should provide a Ghost Host to escort them on the journey.