Thank you

My family and I enjoy amazing freedoms thanks to those who have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice.  My weak ability at words is insufficient to state how thankful I am to the lady and gentlemen warriors who have fought and died for the rest of us.

I thank you for the freedom and security my family and I feel.  Please know that we do not take this freedom for granted.

People Incentive Process

I was reminded the other day of some advice I gave in a mastermind group a while ago.  A business owner was having problems with absenteeism.  His business was small enough that when one person was off, the owner ended up doing that person’s job, leaving him no time or energy to do what he needed to do to grow his business.  Unfortunately for him, the absenteeism was getting to the point where someone was absent nearly every day.  I suggested he consider P.I.P, People, Incentive and Process.

The first thing to look at when there is a persistent and pervasive personnel problem in an organization, first look to People.  Very frequently, especially in small organizations, one or two people are the “bad apples” that are creating the environment that contributes to the entire organization’s underperformance.  I suggested that if one or two people are the major contributors to the absences, then he needed to let them go.  Not only would replacing them reduce their absences, it would help send a message to the rest of the team that attendance is required.  Next look to see if anyone is creating a hostile or unpleasant work environment.  That can contribute absences.  Then look to who are you hiring, where are you hiring them from and how are you vetting them.  There is something wrong with this process.  A great example is one of the college house painting companies.  It started when someone figured that most house painting happens in the summer and college kids need summer jobs.  He could give the kids jobs, paint houses and make money.  The college kids were not looking at house painting as a “real job” and weren’t showing up consistently.  Within a couple of summers, he went from having nearly 100% college kids to nearly no college kids.  He found that middle-aged laborers who had kids to feed at home showed up every day.

Next thing to look at is incentive.  Is there any incentive for showing up every day or, alternatively, disincentive for not showing up.  I remember reading an article about a company who had an absenteeism issue.  They started with a game.  For every pay period that you worked every scheduled day, you got a playing card.  After seven pay periods, they played a hand of 7 card stud.  The winner would get rewards like iPads, gas cards, a night out, etc.

Finally, look at process.  Basically, how do you handle the issue.  In this owner’s story, when someone was absent, he went and covered for them.  I suggested that if he was forced to live with a certain amount of absence, he needed to change his policy.  Options included having other employees cover the effort, hiring some floaters for his team, having some people on-call, etc.

What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Stronger

Nice story about a person creating the balance in life that works for her.  In her case, she is an introvert who’s life demands a certain amount of extroversion.

“As an introvert, you need to know yourself. What you need, and what stresses you out. It’s not about what you can do. Most introverts can impersonate social butterflies when necessary. . . . It’s about balancing the cost of those performances with your own mental health.”

Source: What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Stronger

breaking the surface

Powerful question, “OK. … What do we need to do?”

It gets you from suffering to action to solution. Very wise thesis advisor.


I remember swimming at the lake by our reserve. My brothers and cousins and me, we would dive deep, after we had swum out far enough that we couldn’t touch the bottom anymore. We would hold our breath, trying to be the last one to rise to the surface. I remember opening my eyes and floating in that space between light and dark, watching the sun shimmer through the water in soft waves. Looking at the light, feeling the burn in my lungs, and finally, finally, breaking through the glass of the water, gasping, sputtering, wiping my eyes and laughing.

This last month felt like I constantly trying to break through the surface.


And it’s hard for me to admit that. I’m not superwoman, but I do “a lot.” I’m in my PhD. I own my own business. I write and manage this blog. I’m a single parent…

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What’s stopping you? Hint: It is probably you.

One of the most common excuses for NOT doing something is lack of preparation.  In an Hewlett Packard annual report, they say the men will apply for a job when they are only 60% confident in their ability to do the job while women will only apply when they are 100% confident in their ability to do the job.  Imagine how many capable women decided to not apply for a job that they would have excelled at.  How many opportunities were missed because they wouldn’t even apply.  Speaking as someone who has hired people, there were times that I would have loved to meet someone who was only 85% ready for the job as listed because I didn’t have enough strong candidates for the role.

This isn’t just about jobs either.  Are you pursuing a dream?   Are you spending your time doing the things that you love and are taking you to a place you want to be?  It not, what is holding you back?  Are you waiting for some else to tell you that you are ready?  They never will.  Are you using the excuse that you aren’t prepared yet?  STOP!  In reality, if you aren’t taking actions today to move you toward your dreams, the only one at fault.  The good news is that you can change that right now.

Each morning, ask yourself what can you do today to improve your life and your community.  Ask yourself what small action can you take.  If you have a little voice in your head, note its concerns because it may have something important to say but don’t let it stop you.

Take the leap.  Pack your parachute on the way down.

Tell me in the comments what’s holding you back.  I’ll share what I can that might help.

Please share because your friends may be holding themselves back right now.

“Just stop,” the most useless advice

Ever try to break a habit?  It isn’t as easy as simply not doing the habit.  It is incredibly difficult to “just stop” but why is that?  Habits are actually hardwired into our brains.  According to Ann Graybiel and Kyle Smith in Good Habits, Bad Habits explain how the brain builds a closed loop.  Simply choosing to NOT do the task is actually you working against your brain.  Even motivation isn’t that helpful.


To stop doing a habit, it is important to understand the environmental triggers and create work arounds.  First, try to minimize triggers.  Second, start with the easier to eliminate habits first.  Third, build strategies to distract yourself.  Even making a habit 20 seconds harder to do can make a big difference.  Fourth, measure your actions and the results.  Fifth, be realistic.  It probably took you years to build a habit.  It will take time to eliminate it.  You will have setbacks.  That’s ok.  Just restart the process and keep moving forward.

The sign says icy conditions ahead

It is 80 degrees and sunny today. The sign says, “Icy conditions ahead.”  There has been no ice here in a months and won’t be for months to come.

This road winds down a hill to cross a little bridge hidden under shade trees, over a bubbling stream. Due to the hill, the shade and the stream, the bridge does have ice many times when the rest of the roads are dry and safe. From October through March, it is a great sign and warns of real concerns. On a warm, sunny day in May, it doesn’t make much sense at all but it is still there. It warns of icy conditions when people are driving to the beach in July. The sign is a good sign. The sign communicates an important message…. for about six months. For the rest of the year, the sign is pointless and out of place but still there.

What signs do you carry with you that are now pointless and out of place?  “Be quiet and let the adults speak?”  “Don’t make waves?”  “Don’t be a trouble maker?”  “Take the safe path?”  “Eat everything on your plate?”

Are these signs still appropriate or are they warning you about icy in the summer?  Some signs were never right for you.  Some signs were right for you when you were a kid but you’ve outgrown them. Some signs may be appropriate for you but only some of the time.

Put the signs down. Don’t listen to messages that no longer work for you.

Share this post with someone who is carrying the wrong signs.  Share the signs you need to need to put down in the comments.

That’s a way?

Years ago my wife and I were walking on a trail. We just happened to be walking near a couple of women when the trail ended because of several fallen logs. They had fallen long ago and were overgrown. I could see the trail start again on the other side. My wife and I started climbing over the logs. One of the women pointed into the bushes to a trail that was so overgrown that we hadn’t even seen it. She said to her friend, “Lets go that way.”

Her exclaimed, “That’s a way?”

We lost sight of them as we climbed logs and they went into the overgrowth. A mile down the trail they came out of the woods about the same time and place as we did.

Their trail showed them different sights and gave them different challenges than our trail did. In the end we all had great experiences and reached similar destinations.

Don’t judge the trail others have taken, even if you couldn’t even see it in the beginning.  Don’t doubt that you are seeing a trail. Don’t doubt that you are on your right trail even when others take different paths.