Daily Views

This month I started doing something at the end of each day that seems to be having a nice impact on my personal development. In a brief reflection – usually just minutes before I share it with my ‘accountabilibuddy’ – I identify one thing I did really well.

These ‘that was a good moment’ recognitions might come from a coaching session (“I met the client right where they are”) or how I responded to a customer service rep (“I was polite and patient”) or that I focused for a longer than usual amount of time without getting distracted (“I didn’t go down any bunny trails”).

These first few weeks I’ve found I don’t have to go searching. The ‘one thing’ readily bubbles up for me. If I remember to do this 200 days a year, that will be a big leap in getting better… one small step at a time.

I think today’s ‘I did really well’ will be writing this blog and sharing my new approach with you.

Too Much

What films can I watch over and over? “Casablanca,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and “Back to the Future.”

My favorite movie lines?

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” (“Gone With The Wind”)

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore,” (“Network”)

“There’s no crying in baseball.” (“A League of Their Own”)

And, of course, “Wait a minute, Doc. Are you telling me you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?”

My least favorite film? Even though it won the Academy Award for Best Picture, I did not enjoy “American Beauty”… although it made a great point I’ve never forgotten.

When the ‘actor who shall not be named because he is accused of doing really bad things’ is talking to Annette Bening and says: “This isn’t life, it’s just stuff. And it’s become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that’s just nuts.”

That’s something I continually remind myself as I look around the house we’ve lived in since the year that film came out . Downsizing coming soon to a theater near you.

Missed Conceptions

In January, I received a request to travel to Nigeria to conduct the training program that’s taken me multiple times to Canada and once to Amsterdam. Of course, like everything that’s eight months away, it didn’t seem that big of a deal.

I was intuitive enough to ask, “What does it require besides a passport?” The response: “You have to get a visa and a couple of vaccines. That’s all.” I’m not sure where in the dictionary ‘a couple’ is defined as seven, but that’s how many needles poked my arms. There was also 16 days of Malaria prevention pills – which had to be taken at the exact same time.

Over the months before departing, every time I told someone where I would be going, there was an audible, ‘Huh’ or ‘Oh’ or ‘Is that dangerous?’ or ‘Better you than me.’ Eventually I quit saying anything.

After one stop, a layover and a total of 14 hours in the air, I landed in Lagos on September 9. For security purposes, the company has escorts who meet employees and contractors right outside of Customs, walk you to a bus… and drive to the site two hours away. Although having armed ‘lead’ and ‘chase’ cars with sirens going the entire time seems a little ‘attention-grabbing’ as opposed to quietly driving on the roads, I never felt at risk.

As for the training, the 30 Nigerians in class were terrific. I have been part of 20 of these and this is the first time attendees asked to take pictures with us. They even gave us Nigerian shirts to take home.

What are my biggest takeaways from this experience: 1) Ask better questions upfront; 2) Space out the vaccines; and, 3) Don’t tell anyone beforehand. It was a great experience, albeit with some different hurdles than usual, along with a bunch of good memories and a booster shot of perspective.

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.