What has happened to civility?

Before we had social media, “we” would discuss our differences face-to-face.  Today we post memes that struggle to include a scintilla of truth.  These short, and often vacuous, posts are more likely than not to be loaded with inflammatory language, sure to raise the ire of those who hold another view.

This isn’t debate – it’s at best cowardly.  At worst, you (right or left) are being used as an unpaid foot soldier by the political party and the wealthy to promote their message on social media.  Every share from some “independent” webpage is one more advertisement that didn’t cost them so much as a penny.

cropped-img_0009.jpgWhat is perhaps even more of a concern is that while we (the electorate) are busy attacking each other, we are distracted from the real problem: A bloated, out of control government that doesn’t reflect the limited Republic that Benjamin Franklin warned us about maintaining.

I am very concerned about the “state of politics” in the world today.  I am very concerned about loss of freedom, a federal government that is more in touch with Wall Street and the elitist than they are with “we the people.” But these emotional jabs, which lack any substance that friends are taking at one another, don’t further the cause of the country.  In my opinion, they only cause further division.

Perhaps we would all do well to meet in the town square, local coffee shop, or tavern and engage in respectful debate … face-to-face.

Tinkering in America

Observing the unique American life in his book, On Paradise Drive, author David Brooks says, “In America we have space-saving pop-up disk racks, prewaxed home dusters, turkey-and bacon-flavored dog biscuits, and self-propelled vacuums…built-in compass cuff links, and antibacterial toothbrush purifiers.  Behind each of these ingenious and highly unnecessary items there is some inventor, some tinkerer, some junior Thomas Edison dreaming of his patent-protected millions and his contribution to humanity.”

Brooks was echoing what Italian journalist, Luigi Barzini (1908-1984) said in the middle part of the last century.  Barzina said that upon arriving in the United States that he was struck with “our compulsion to tirelessly tinker, improve everything and everybody, never leave anything alone.”

Our nation has long been a collection of dreamers and tinkerers, optimists, and tireless workers.  Compared to our European counterparts, we work longer hours, get less vacation, and even when we are on vacation we are constantly monitoring our emails and responding to those important queries.  We just can’t leave work behind.  And regardless of pleas to work less and relax more…we’re not changing.  We are who we are; we are a nation that believes we can fix it – whatever it is.

We will fix the car, the bike, the company, the economy…it’s in our eclectic, mongrel DNA…but we should be careful that we don’t scrub this tinkering DNA out of our future generations.  Parents need to allow children to struggle, tinker, and find their own solutions.  And just as a child’s discovery of their God-given talents can be thwarted by well-meaning parents who don’t allow them to struggle, easy government handout programs for every malady or misfortune can also be an impediment to discovery.

So in the spirit of Luigi Barzina, tinker in your garage, tinker with your craft, tinker with some writing, tinker with other volunteers to find solutions, tinker with that new business idea, tinker and be satisfied that in the end, you may not find a solution but what you may find is your thought process is expanding…and then…who knows you may find some real “luck” and tinker yourself into some good old fashion, well-earned success.

Getting to “Did”

I want to learn more, have better relationships, exercise more, make a real difference, travel there.

I will start a new business, finish that book, volunteer to help, address that issue in my life.

I did it.

We all “want.” Some will even commit to “I will.” But getting to “did”…that’s work! But it’s also where we satisfy the longing of our souls.

Measure twice and cut once…but by all means cut!

Measuring is the easy part today.

How many times has someone visited your website?   You can find that easily, along with what time they visited, their geographic location, and what key words are performing best.

Which pages did they visit?  You can measure that and how long they were there.

How did they find your information, did they forward it, did they like you?  All quantifiable.

Who are your top performing employees?  Who are your most profitable clients?  What service or product gives you the best ROI?  It’s just a couple of clicks away.  If it can be imagined, it can be measured – relatively easily.   Hard, quantitative data can be provided and presented that leaves no ambiguity.

But the hard part has not changed:  What are you going to do about it?

Getting to Solutions

Consensus is relatively easy to attain, especially if you are particularly persuasive or you are the boss with predetermined answers.

It’s more difficult to get legitimate dissent based on a well-reasoned argument.

And it’s a rarity to get to solutions…requiring your personal commitment, not just committing others.  Of course, this is where “things” really begin to happen.

Ask

How much?

Why?

Why not?

Is this correct?

Will you?

What are you expecting?

And if I can?

What should I expect next?

What do you think?

Will you?

May I?

…or don’t and wonder.

You should…

…worry more, trust less, find the worst in others, assume the most dire, focus on your failures, doubt yourself more, aim lower, be less enthused, try nothing new, believe you are destined for failure, and when all else fails – give up.

Sounds ridiculous when you put it that way – is there a way to put it where it sounds less ridiculous?

This is life…unplanned

We spend a lifetime planning…

we plan for our education

we plan for our wedding

we plan for our family

we plan for our retirement

But most of life unfolds before us unplanned.   We live day-to-day with our family, spend time with friends, work with our colleagues, and generally go about our business.  Most of life isn’t planned…it just is.

Rather than looking forward to the milestones in life and expecting fulfillment in those events, we should plan to find joy in the present moment – where life is lived.

How will Your Giving Impact Someone’s Life?

In a land far away… a long, long, long time ago – there was a gangly kid kicking around the halls of a city school when he heard a voice from the stern-faced math teacher, “Hey Hahn, are you going to run?”

The long-haired goofy looking kid peered up through his hair, “Ah, yeah, sure…when’s practice?”

And thus began my lifelong love of running, a passion that has included a lifetime of memories.

Robert Kent, math teacher at Lincoln Jr. High School in Pontiac, Michigan was a memorable man in my life, and it wasn’t because he was an excellent mathematician.   It was because he spent his own time with my brother and me and “schooled us” in the art of running track and cross country.   He opened our eyes to a world of competitive running that we never knew existed.

Bob Kent’s unselfishness allowed two kids from the little industrial town of Pontiac to experience Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) sanctioned track meets across our region.  I remember the first time running under the lights at a large AAU meet – the stands were packed and looking at the other runners I thought, what am I doing here?  These guys are real runners; I’m just a kid from Pontiac.  I walked away with two trophies that day.   It was the proudest day of my young life.

Mr. Kent’s generosity made it possible for me to attend a week-long cross country camp where I experienced some of the most incredible training in my life.   When Mr. Kent returned from the 1972 Munich Olympics, he did so with a box of kangaroo-skin Addidis running shoes for an entire team of inner city kids.

So what’s my point and what is this story doing in a business blog?

Life is more than your business, your blog, your followers, your advancements, and your recognition.

A real rewarding life is about giving back – and I’m not just talking about your money.   That’s far too easy for many people.  Give of your time and give of your talents and experience.  Give and see how the simple gift of your time makes a real difference.

Give…as it has been given to you.

 

Our “Word” is Earned – Good or Bad

“I’ll take care of that.”

At the moment you utter those words, those to whom you have made your promise will think one of two things:

  1. No he won’t.  He never gets anything done on time, and I need to plan accordingly.
  2. That’s a huge relief.  He will get it done, and he will get it done right.

Our “word” is known to our colleagues and clients, perhaps better than it is known to us.

So, is your word your bond, or is your word empty?

Your word is your reputation – guard it… jealously.