Archive for January, 2009

Achievement v Winning

January 23, 2009

Is winning the same thing as high achievement?  Ask the girls at The Dallas Academy in Texas.

The Dallas Academy’s girls basketball team lost to The Covenant School 100-0.  According to the APspectators and an assistant coach were cheering wildly as their team edged closer to 100 points.”

How did The Dallas Academy Girl’s handle their trouncing?  “Even if you are losing, you might as well keep playing,” said Shelby Hyatt, a freshman on the team. “Keep trying, and it’s going to be OK.”

That’s a statement by a high achiever no matter what the score.

The Covenant School officials have recognized their lack of sportsmanship.  “In the statement on the Covenant Web site, Queal said the game “does not reflect a Christ-like and honorable approach to competition. We humbly apologize for our actions and seek the forgiveness of Dallas Academy, TAPPS and our community.”  They have asked league officials to declare the game a forfeit.  A very classy act.

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment.  I get that.  But to be truly above average it takes more than performance.  It takes character.  Character is to admit you were wrong and to try to fix it.  Character also looks like this:

At a shootaround Thursday, several Dallas Academy players said they were frustrated during the game but felt it was a learning opportunity.”

Great job girls!

Nobody is Perfect!

January 21, 2009

How embarrassed would I be if I were Chief Justice Roberts and I messed up the most important swearing in of a President in our life time?  Even a stratospheric high achiever like this messes up some times!

Right Side of the Bell Curve

January 14, 2009

I was talking with a friend of mine recently about his son who is currently serving in the US Army in Iraq while his daughter-in-law is living with them in their home until her husband returns.  My friend told me his son was well protected in a backstage area, his spirit was upbeat, and he is coming home soon.

What struck me in particular was the communication my friend had with his son.  He commented, “It’s a strange world we live in,” and said he talked to him all the time.  In fact the son and his wife spoke a couple of hours each night.

Of course all this takes place online.  I thought about a story my grandmother told me.  My grandfather was in the Army when World War II broke out.  He left in 1942 and she saw him again in 1945.  There were of course frequent letters and an occasional phone call, but for the most part they were separated for three years.  During one four month stretch she had no confirmation of a rumor that the Queen Mary had been sunk on the way to Australia.  She knew her husband was on the ship and for months at a time she didn’t know if he was alive or not.

But it isn’t even just the difference between today and 60 years ago.  Even the soldiers of Desert Storm didn’t have the access to home that the soldiers of today do.

The way technology is changing the world is increasing exponentially.  For those under say 30-years-old, it may seem normal and it may not be as dramatic as for those over 30.  But, just wait a few years.

If you’re going to stay on the right side of the bell (at the high end of the bell curve) you better be on top of it.  You better be paying attention.  Technology isn’t for the geeks or engineers; its for the high achiever and the rock star performer, whether your in the field or not.  It’s for the average guy if you want to stay at least average.

Talent v Hardwork

January 12, 2009

This is a guest post from my 16-year-old son.  Enjoy!

We hear people say things like “Oh he’s just so talented” or “It just comes naturally” all the time, but throughout my life, despite how short it has been, I have found it very difficult to discover my talent; that one thing that I am truly gifted in; something that just comes naturally. I have tried, and still do try a wide range of things, everything from martial arts, to music, debate, and even work with the local rescue squad, but none have just come naturally to me. Sure I am good at the things that I do, but I am only good because of the hard work, time, and dedication I have put into it.

This is why I believe that talent is just a reflection of how hard you are willing to work at something to achieve the results that you want.

My band director has always said that “practice makes perfect”, my martial arts instructor tells me that “in order to do something right when you need it, you must practice it thousands of times so that it becomes just a memory.” This is what I mean by “how hard you are willing to work.” There are people out there who can just pick up an instrument and play it, or look at a prompt and write an essay without thinking twice. Those are gifts, and it is amazing what people can do with them, but talent takes dedication, and a willingness to get your hands dirty working to improve.

I am not gifted in music, but I really enjoy playing it. In order to keep up and carry my load in the band, I have to work very hard. During the summer, while preparing for marching band, I will often sit down with my percussion instruments for hours a day learning my pieces before band camp. I know that I am not the best, and I know that there is always someone who can do it better, but that does not matter to me. In the end, the satisfaction of knowing that I was able to achieve something so great is all that matters. In the end, I know that what I was able to do wasn’t just because I could do it, but because I was willing to put the time and effort into my work to make it the best it could be, and this I believe is talent.

Feeling Below Average

January 7, 2009

Wow.  Today was one of those days where it seems I couldn’t quite get anything right and I spiraled down into a real funk.  The depression I felt led me to some very poor behavior choices including eating very poorly, snapping at my loved ones and eschewing the work I have for the work I made up (I did conquer two crossword puzzles today, so I have that going for me).   When you are trying to start a business and have little time to waste that’s very poor form.

I did recognize something though.  I was able to spot one of the triggers that led to my depression, which isn’t too hard, but then I was able to trace it to the root.  The trigger didn’t cause the bad day; that started before the event.  Nor did identifying the trigger give me the ability to snap into a good mood with energy to be productive; I, as is everyone, am much more complicated than that.  But, by identifying the trigger and tracing it back I was able to at least point at an area I need to work on.

What happened was that I was supposed to meet a couple of friends to discuss some business.  I had texted them on Sunday to confirm that we were meeting on Tuesday at 9:30 am at Cracker Barrel. Both confirmed that yes we were.

After waiting 45 minutes at the restaurant I texted again.  One of them replied that we were meeting on Wednesday not Tuesday.  Doh!

That was the trigger.  But the insight I got was that my funk wasn’t caused by being stood up, because I got the wrong date, or because they had confirmed the wrong day.  What happened was that my heart was receiving the message, “You are not important enough to check your confirmation closely.  It does not matter to us that you’ve been sitting there all morning.”

I know these two guys well and that was definitely not the message they were intending to send.  But, something in me was receiving that message.  Now I know I need to work on my internal issues that are causing me to feel that way.  If I can work that out it will not only make me feel better it will help keep me from dropping into moods that keep me from performing optimally.

What are your triggers?  And more importantly, what are the triggers triggering inside of you that you need to deal with to be all that you are intended to be?

2009 Goals

January 4, 2009

I’ve taken the advice of several people I admire and am not setting resolutions.  Instead I’m setting goals.  If you don’t know where you are going how are you going to get there?

There are two ways to think about this.  First, in terms of a grand vision of the spectacular life you want to live.  The other is to be SMART about it (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely).  Of course there needs to be a balance.

Not all of us are going to lead extraordinary lives; most of us are average.  However pursuing SMART goals will get us step by step closer to extraordinary.  I don’t believe that if I dream it I can achieve it, but if I don’t dream it I’ll never achieve it and if I don’t pursue it the dream is simply a fantasmic waste of time.

Besides, as I sit here in the US in 2009 I realize that I already live an extraordinary life compared to most of the world and most people whoever lived.

So, I want to dream big but focus on the step before me.  I want to look for the extraordinary while doing the ordinary task that will get me there.  My performance may be average, but my effort does not need to be.

My goals for 2009

–Generate a specific income (which I think I’ll keep to myself).

–Create at least four new income streams.

–I’ll shoot for one household project a month, but knowing how life interferes I’ll make the goal 10 major household projects for the year.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to build an addition, but the project will be more like something that takes all weekend.

–I need to drop about 25 pounds, so I want to hit and maintain for a month 175 pounds.

–Take on all the projects I am given at church while creating and implementing two major campaigns.

–Read 52 books this year.

–Complete one major learning, self-development program.  I think I’ll go for learning to program in Java.

–Complete two major writing projects.

–I want to further and deepen the relationships that are important to me.  That’s really hard to quantify, but I think it means for me that I will make myself more available, I’ll initiate more contact, and I’ll participate in more avenues of relationship.

What’s your 2009 going to look like? Are you going to decide ahead of time or just let it happen?

2008 In Recap

January 3, 2009

I’m not going to say it’s been a while and that I am determined to make this blog a part of my life again; though really that’s true.  It’s not that I’ve avoided it or just got too busy doing other things.  Instead it’s more that I’ve questioned the basic premise that I started with: I’m an average guy.  As it turns out the answer is still yes, but even an average guy has amazing potential.  So, I’m back and this is going to be the main focus of my personal writing for the next year.  If you want to hear some of my thoughts on other subjects check out the links section and see if you can figure out which ones are me!  🙂

2008 was a huge year of transition for me.  I left/lost my job that I loved, but really feel like God is moving me in an important direction.  So, while there is some bitterness about that I feel like it’s all for the best.  I’m not traveling like I was and that’s good and bad (I think my wife would like just a little more travel!), but it has allowed me to connect with my family and friends in a way I haven’t been able to in a long time.

Last year I listed all the places I had been, but I haven’t been on an airplane since last May and haven’t been out of the country for almost a year so I won’t get into that.  Instead I’ll say that in the last year I’ve read 45 books, just short of my annual goal of 52.  The best fiction was The Great Gatsby and the best non-fiction Letter and Papers from Prison by Heinrich Boenhoeffer; very powerful!  (Not to say everything I read was this kind of book.  I also kept up on Robert B. Parker’s latest.)

I saw 75 movies. I had intended on finishing up the AFI top 100 movies of all time this year but I still have a ways to go.  I won’t say the best but reviewing the list for those you might have missed I’d say check out The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.  It’s a must see!

That’s it for 2008.  Next, what does an average guy intend on accomplishing in 2009?