Jun 29, 2017 - Musings    No Comments

My Meal Worm Theory of Management

My favorite nickname is ‘Coach’. In addition to kids’ sports I always worked to coach ‘Management Principles’ to my staff members. Living in foreign countries I often did so through stories. So I have one for you.

 During the summers of my High School and University years I drove truck for al local moving company. It was good money, I met interesting people and often was given furniture and other unwanted items from the customers I served. One such item was a large fish aquarium.

During my graduate school years the aquarium was my proudest possession and was prominently featured as it was distinct from the hand-me-down furniture in my small one bedroom apartment.

As a poor graduate student I wrestled with the challenges of keeping my prize large Oscar tropical fish fed and healthy. 2-3 times per week I would go to the tropical fish store to buy worms to feed my Oscars. This became expensive and inconvenient. A small plastic container of Meal Worms cost over a $1.00 and lasted only three days.

So I decided to harvest my own Meal Worms and create a sustainable food supply for my Oscars. I got a plastic wash tub, filled it with three kilos of corn meal, added three small containers of meal worms, placed in on the lower shelf of the rack holding the aquarium, shrouded it with a light curtain and resigned to wait 2-3 weeks until the worms did their thing.

One day, several weeks later leaving for class I exited my bedroom entered the living room… and Whaaat!!!

All over the walls, my hand-me-down furniture, and crawling everywhere were hundreds and hundreds of insects. I had no idea what they were or where they came from. Then I saw that dozens more were crawling out from behind the curtain hiding my Meal Worm hatchery.

It turns out the Meal Worm is the larvae stage of the Darkling Beetle.

Where I had intended for my Worms to keep busy happily procreating to create an endless supply of worms for my Oscars, Nature had a different idea.

If I had conducted the simplest research on the life cycle of Meal Worms I could have saved myself many, many days and nights of collecting the unwanted beetles from my apartment.

How has this lesson served me?

My personal Meal Worm Theory of Management slowly matured as I used this lesson to discipline myself and my staff members that before proceeding with any project, large or small, we need to research to determine the likely interests and intentions of all the people associated with the project, internally and externally, as their intentions may be very different from our desired outcome.

Applying the learning from this experience has served me well as a manager and leader in the years since, especially when working in countries where I was not fluent in the local language.

I tell you this story to help you learn from my mistake and experience to keep your projects free of possible unwanted consequences – or beetles.

Although my Oscars loved the Meal Worms they did not care for the adult beetles. Clearing my apartment of the hundreds of beetles is another story.

Jun 12, 2017 - Musings    No Comments

THOSE TOP 37 THINGS YOU’LL REGRET WHEN YOU’RE OLD

  1. Not traveling when you had the chance.

Traveling becomes infinitely harder the older you get, especially if you have a family and need to pay the way for three-plus people instead of just yourself.

  1. Not learning another language.

You’ll kick yourself when you realize you took three years of language in high school and remember none of it.

  1. Staying in a bad relationship.

No one who ever gets out of a bad relationship looks back without wishing they made the move sooner.

  1. Forgoing sunscreen.

Wrinkles, moles, and skin cancer can largely be avoided if you protect yourself. You can use Coconut oil!

  1. Missing the chance to see your favorite musicians.

“Nah, dude, I’ll catch Nirvana next time they come through town.” Facepalm.

  1. Being scared to do things.

Looking back you’ll think, What was I so afraid of, comfort zone?

  1. Failing to make physical fitnessa priority.

Too many of us spend the physical peak of our lives on the couch. When you hit 40, 50, 60, and beyond, you’ll dream of what you could have done.

  1. Letting yourself be defined by gender roles.

Few things are as sad as an old person saying, “Well, it just wasn’t done back then.”

  1. Not quitting a terrible job.

Look, you gotta pay the bills. But if you don’t make a plan to improve your situation, you might wake up one day having spent 40 years in hell.

  1. Not trying harder in school.

It’s not just that your grades play a role in determining where you end up in life. Eventually you’ll realize how neat it was to get to spend all day learning, and wish you’d paid more attention.

  1. Not realizing how beautiful you were.

Too many of us spend our youth unhappy with the way we look, but the reality is, that’s when we’re our most beautiful.

  1. Being afraid to say “I love you.

When you’re old, you won’t care if your love wasn’t returned — only that you made it known how you felt.

  1. Not listening to your parents’ advice.

You don’t want to hear it when you’re young, but the infuriating truth is that most of what your parents say about life is true.

  1. Spending your youth self-absorbed.

You’ll be embarrassed about it, frankly.

  1. Caring too much about what other people think.

In 20 years you won’t give a darn about any of those people you once worried so much about.

  1. Supporting others’ dreams over your own.

Supporting others is a beautiful thing, but not when it means you never get to shine.

  1. Not moving on fast enough.

Old people look back at the long periods spent picking themselves off the ground as nothing but wasted time.

  1. Holding grudges, especially with those you love.

What’s the point of re-living the anger over and over?

  1. Not standing up for yourself.

Old people don’t take sh*t from anyone. Neither should you.

  1. Not volunteering enough.

OK, so you probably won’t regret not volunteering Hunger Games style, but nearing the end of one’s life without having helped to make the world a better place is a great source of sadness for many.

  1. Neglecting your teeth.

Brush. Floss. Get regular checkups. It will all seem so maddeningly easy when you have dentures.

  1. Missing the chance to ask your grandparents questions before they die.

Most of us realize too late what an awesome resource grandparents are. They can explain everything you’ll ever wonder about where you came from, but only if you ask them in time.

  1. Working too much.

No one looks back from their deathbed and wishes they spent more time at the office, but they do wish they spent more time with family, friends, and hobbies.

  1. Not learning how to cook one awesome meal.

Knowing one drool-worthy meal will make all those dinner parties and celebrations that much more special.

  1. Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment.

Young people are constantly on the go, but stopping to take it all in now and again is a good thing.

  1. Failing to finish what you start.

Failing to finish what you start.

“I had big dreams of becoming a nurse. I even signed up for the classes, but then…”

  1. Never mastering one awesome party trick.

You will go to hundreds, if not thousands, of parties in your life. Wouldn’t it be cool to be the life of them all?

  1. Letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations.

Letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations.

Don’t let them tell you, “We don’t do that.”

  1. Refusing to let friendships run their course.

People grow apart. Clinging to what was, instead of acknowledging that things have changed, can be a source of ongoing agitation and sadness.

  1. Not playing with your kids enough.

When you’re old, you’ll realize your kid went from wanting to play with you to wanting you out of their room in the blink of an eye.

  1. Never taking a big risk (especially in love).

Knowing that you took a leap of faith at least once — even if you fell flat on your face — will be a great comfort when you’re old.

  1. Not taking the time to develop contacts and network.

Networking may seem like a bunch of crap when you’re young, but later on it becomes clear that it’s how so many jobs are won.

  1. Worrying too much.

As Tom Petty sang, “Most things I worry about never happen anyway.”

  1. Getting caught up in needless drama.

Who needs it?

  1. Not spending enough time with loved ones.

Not spending enough time with loved ones.

Our time with our loved ones is finite. Make it count.

  1. Never performing in front of others.

This isn’t a regret for everyone, but many elderly people wish they knew — just once — what it was like to stand in front of a crowd and show off their talents.

  1. Not being grateful sooner.

It can be hard to see in the beginning, but eventually it becomes clear that every moment on this earth — from the mundane to the amazing — is a gift that we’re all so incredibly lucky to share.

 

Jun 6, 2017 - Musings    No Comments

Don’t Save Anything for the Swim Back

By Brett and Kate McKay from their blog “The Art of Manliness”

Jun 05, 2017

 
The hallowing of Pain
Like hallowing of Heaven
Obtains at corporeal cost —
All — is the Price of All —

–Emily Dickinson

In the excellent and under-appreciated film Gattaca, biotechnology and advanced eugenics have divided the “not-so-distant” future into two groups: the “valid” and the “in-valid.”

The valids are those whose embryonic genes were pruned and manipulated to allow for their birth as genetically superior children, destined to bring to fruition their parents’ best hereditary traits.

The in-valids are those who were conceived naturally, by parents who played a game of genetic roulette. More likely to carry “flawed” DNA and more susceptible to genetic disorders and weaknesses, in-valids are barred from society’s important professions and consigned to menial work.

Vincent Freeman is an in-valid. With genes that indicate a high probability of several disorders and an estimated life span of 30.2 years, he works as a janitor while secretly dreaming of becoming an astronaut, a vocation from which he is disqualified.

Vincent’s brother, Anton, is a valid, and their sibling rivalry is heightened by their genetic divide.

Growing up, Vincent and Anton challenge each other to games of “chicken,” in which they both swim out into the ocean as far as they dare; the first one to turn back is the loser.

Vincent always loses, until one day he shocks Anton by outdistancing him. Anton, who cannot keep up, almost drowns, and has to be saved by his genetically inferior brother.

Years later, after an insatiably ambitious Vincent uses subterfuge to join the space program and earn a place, through merit, on a mission to Saturn, the brothers have a rematch. Once more the underdog bests his fraternal rival, who again must be rescued from drowning.

Astonished at this turning of the tables, Anton asks, “How are you doing this Vincent? How have you done any of this?”

To which his brother replies:

“You wanna know how I did it? This is how I did it Anton.

I never saved anything for the swim back.”

 

May 13, 2017 - Musings    No Comments

“That which does not kill you, makes you stronger.”

Recently I ministered to a dear friend who had allowed depression and despair to embrace him for a while. He had been drowning in fears of financial insufficiency and mounting body challenges.

He longed to feel useful to himself – and mostly to others.

Suspending judgments, we spoke of learned (and earned) personal experiences of N’Gup (Never Give Up!) and “it’s not over until I win”. We agreed that it was times like these to ‘own-up to our talk’.

 

 

I shared the recognized wisdom and inspiration that I have always received by reading and re-reading Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”. Frankl was a Jewish Psychiatrist from Austria that endured four years in German Concentration Camps during World War II.

Re-reading his book always reinforced me to embrace chosen Life Philosophies.

I advised that I would send my friend a list of some of my favorite powerful learnings from Frankl’s wisdom and we would discuss thereafter. Here are the passages that I shared:

  • “Every day offered an opportunity to make a decision to determine if you would, or would not, submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom, which determined if you would become a plaything of circumstance or rise to your responsibility to meet Life’s challenges.”
  • “My unique opportunity lies in the way I bear my burdens.”
  • “It is often an exceptionally difficult situation which allows a man to grow spiritually beyond himself.
  • “One can make a victory of these experiences and turn them into an inner triumph.”
  • “Every man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering.”
  • “There is only one thing I fear – not to be worthy of my suffering.”
  • “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
  • “What you have experienced no power can take from you.”
  • “The consciousness of one’s ‘inner value’ is anchored in higher, more spiritual things and cannot be shaken by Life’s challenges.”
  • “It does not matter ‘what we expect from Life’, but rather what Life expects from us.”
  • “He who knows the ‘Why’ for his existence can bear almost any ‘How’”.
  • “That which does not kill you, makes you stronger.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frankl also learned that developing a ‘sense of humor’ is a trick learned while mastering the art of living and, “Humor, more than anything else, is the Soul’s weapon to afford an aloofness and ability to rise above any situation.”

Together my friend and I contrived to answer our big question and opportunity, “What should we do to reframe our past experiences and current circumstances to use them as ‘Warm-up’ for our future growth and contributions?”

We agreed that the following mantras would be embraced and provide direction for all our attitudes and actions:

  • “Life is what we make it – always was, always will be.”
  • “The Purpose of Life is a Life of Purpose.”
  • “Today is the First Day.”

 

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