I Don’t Know

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It’s clear we like to know where we’re going. The idea of mystery, question marks and pure unknowns disturbs us.

The statement of “I don’t know” can be liberating.

Many won’t go there. We’ve been duped into believing that we have control, can master anything we set our minds to, or there is a solution for every problem. Terry Walling once wrote that the best leaders know how to live with the questions. As tough as that is to swallow and live, I agree, from my own experience. There’s something about moving forward without an answer. There’s something inspiring about moving forward without knowing (exactly) where you’re going. I’ve had so many twists and turns over the last ten years, I’ve come to a peace about the dance. It is life.

In America and other parts of the world, we’re trying to keep the status quo and be innovative at the same time. It doesn’t work. We want to find talent, but we don’t want to get too close to our gut instincts. We want to give advice on employee wellbeing, but don’t want change the structure. Many organizations turn to data and technology to replace what only a human can do. It’s almost like a throwing up the hands approach. When the robots take over, then I’ll bow down to the alter of data. It’s really just a mask anyway, for those who can’t look into your soul, or their own. Data and technology is mostly a spice or flavoring. The human is the main ingredient. Always has, always will be. 

Am I advocating dumping research into the cures for cancer or diabetes? Am I saying data won’t help the talent recruiter make better decisions? In no way do I believe that. However, anything used to make up for our intellectual laziness and discipline will only be a band-aid on a gunshot wound. I think we need more of doing what we know we need to do, instead of analyzing endless data/excuses.

Here’s how to start embracing your “I don’t know:”

  • Understand that being in a place where you don’t have an answer is not an indictment of your intelligence. Anyone who condemns you for your I don’t know is an insecure…you know the right words
  • Understand we live in the age of titles, certifications, etc., the truth is found in the pursuit and not an outcome with a label
  • I don’t know leads to knowing. It’s a sad irony how we miss the boat here. By the way, companies like Google are looking for this in the people they hire
  • A full and vibrant life is found in those able to embrace the unknown.
  • Surround yourself with people who are on a similar journey. It will keep you strong in a faux world

 

What About Now?

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You’ve got plans, I’ve got plans. Most of these plans relate to the future. It’s a future that no one can be certain of. Watch out for those who say otherwise.

What about now?

You can be certain about now. The now is 100% certain. Are you shocked by how little attention we pay to it? The now is often treated as a person we meet at a party, who might be the best connection we could make, but we’re preoccupied with the anticipated arrival of the beautiful one. Always looking past to get to something else.

Do you find yourself looking past your now?

I understand many will wait and let life come crashing in with some big disruption, before turning their heads. The irony is we’re warned every day to live now. Few heed this because of an arrogance marketing and innovation often produce. And by the way, it’s not the fault of marketing and innovation. The fault lies with us. We pervert and corrupt, in order to convince ourselves the lies are true. Even Eric Schmidt declared that robots will one day be omnipresent in our lives. Into the future we go, be damn the warped logic. Humans doing what humans do.

Is it time to pay attention to the now?

I search out each day to find beauty and wonder. Yes, it is soft and it is an art. That’s one way I embrace my now. I also own it. If I’m going to be surprised by an impromptu appearance by death or some debilitating disease, I want to be found in my now. Mine equals ownership and all the responsibility that comes with it.

Here are some things that are found in the now:

  • God
  • Beauty
  • Love
  • Music
  • Breakthroughs
  • Tolerance
  • Understanding
  • True Hope
  • Success
  • Integrity

Planning for the future can be virtuous, but not being able to stop in the now is a recipe for distraction and regret. I know you’ve heard this before. Thing is, you and I are terminal, we should live that way.

What Big Data is Missing

What big data is missing is behavior change. Yep, good old fashioned behavior change.

I’m struck by the amount of data that companies like Google and SAP kind churn out. Even our friends at Facebook do a good job at this, though I question if it’s worth $19 billion. All of these entities, and more, are producing and analyzing data that can lead to disruptive innovation. A good thing all in all. Our world is changing rapidly because of this.

So why are we such a mess, when we have all of the data for just about anything under the sun?

Let me give you an example of what I mean. There’s tons of data confirming the dangers of distracted driving. Has there been a shift away from this type of behavior? According to the CDC, we have a problem. Do you find it ironic that we enough data to make an educated decision to not text (as one example) while driving, yet continue to do it? How about the amount of sleep we get, and don’t get. Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a sleep disorder specialist, at Winthrop University Sleep Disorders Center in New York City, suggests that Americans suffer from “sleep machismo.” Wall Street’s calling and we have to answer, be damn our mind and bodies.

So what do you do with this?

  • Make a decision and then manage it. John Maxwell is famous for advocating. A heart attack crystalized his understanding here
  • Be humble. Don’t think bad stuff only happens to the other guy or gal. It can and will happen to you. Arrogance is such an ugly thing
  • Have a healthy suspicion of data, research, etc. Do your homework and be fearless
  • Understand what’s important to you. My wife is second in my life, so if big data says communicating my feelings will strengthen our relationship, I’m going to do it
  • Life over the sun is where you need to be. People living there rarely take things for granted and are in the moment

I hope we don’t come to a crossroads where history stands laughing because we were not able to connect the dots between understanding and action. In some ways it appears we’ve already started down that road.

Can You Spare 3 Minutes?

Einstein

I noticed (paid attention to) my kids and their screens this morning. I, like many, am challenged by what's acceptable for screen time in my home. Apple, Facebook and Google are just a few of the contenders for attention. Their business models are rooted deeply in this.

My post today is not so much about social media, as it is about what we spend our time on in a given day (given is a keyword here). We all have been given 1,440 minutes in each day.

Can you spare 3 minutes?

Sparing 3 minutes is a starting point. It's a starting point for you to discover how much a gift time is and maybe how much time you're wasting on the pursuits that, in the end, won't amount to much.

So what should you do with 3 minutes? Here's a suggestive list:

  • Take in nature. Right now, where I'm at, nature is sending a love letter to the senses.
  • Turn off the screens and do nothing.
  • Look at people and consider where they may be at.
  • Count all that is going right in your life.
  • Tell someone you love them-on purpose.

Now go do this every day. You'll still have 1,437 minutes leftover. Who knows, maybe that 3 minutes you spared will grow.

5 Easy Ways for Small Businesses to Cut Costs

Every penny counts, so get lean and mean. 

Every small business owner knows that costs are easier to
control than revenue—and that’s especially important for startups, who can run
up quite a bill while they’re waiting for things to take off. Here are a few
ways you can boost profits and power through lean times, no matter what niche
you serve.

1. Think used

Depending on the type of business you operate, you might be
able to incorporate used items into your office or store to save money. Light
fixtures, furniture, art, desks, computers and more can all be had for
significantly less than retail if you do some Craigslist hunting. Don’t be
afraid to repurpose industrial equipment that local companies might want to throw
away, as it comes cheap and you get that cool ‘industrial’ design
to your business. Be sure to test used electronics before purchasing—but a
little extra time can save you a lot of money, particularly in the beginning
when it matters most.

2. Move to the
cloud

How much are you spending on printing out and distributing
office memos? How often do you upgrade your version of Office or the Adobe
Master Collection
? Google offers great ways for companies to share ideas and
create documents for free with their Google Docs collection. Adobe and many of
software distributors offer low cost cloud-based services that require a very
low monthly fee which can save you from having to spend hundreds on upgrades
every year. Cloud storage solutions are also becoming more affordable and
reliable; Google Drive, Drop Box and Microsoft all have
great solutions which are all cheaper than buying multiple hard drives.

3. Be energy efficient

You don’t need to be moving into a new space to enjoy the
savings from implementing energy efficient devices into your office. Start by
considering new lighting solutions like CFL’s LED’s or even energy efficient
tungsten bulbs. Unblock windows and utilize skylights if available. Not only do
windows help save on lighting costs all that natural light can help make your
employees happier. Instead of turning on the heater for the whole office,
invest in some energy efficient electric heaters
for the areas where it gets coldest. Hook up all electronics to smart power
strips that automatically shut off all power once the day is over and everyone
is gone.

4. Shop around

Let your office supply vendors know that you will be
shopping around to find the best deals and prices on the products you use the
most. Then do it. Online retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart
offer great prices on bulk items and often will ship free to your store or
office. If you really like your vendors, offer them the option to price match or
to offer you other services to make up the difference in cost. Do this with
your internet, cable/satellite, and phone services yearly to ensure you’re
receiving the best rates available in your area.

5. Rethink your location

Are you absolutely sure your location is best suited to your
needs? Restaurants and some stores might be hard-pressed to move elsewhere, but
you should still consider the cost benefits especially if you have a loyal
clientele willing to go to another location. While you’re at it, you should
consider allowing as many of your employees as possible to telecommute. By
doing this and utilizing free Google services like Google Voice/Talk, Docs and
Drive you can reduce the amount of space you need in an office, how much energy
you have to pay for, and how much you have to spend on electronics.

Aimee Watts is a staff
writer for
Mobile Moo. She has spent
ten years telecommuting full-time, and loves spreading tips and advice for
fellow work-at-home parents. She loves gadgets, new ideas, and skiing with her
two favorite people: her husband and teenage son. They live in Evergreen,
Colorado

5 Questions with Daniel Wong, Author of The Happy Student

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Very pleased to bring you our second installment of the 5 Questions series. Today's post features Daniel Wong the author of The Happy Student; 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success. You'll be intrigued by his insights on students and the issues around happiness.

What percentage of students in high school and college are happy?

As an education excellence coach and speaker, I've had the privilege of speaking to and working with thousands of students. A majority of students tell me that they're simply not happy! I estimate that only 5% of students say they're happy.

Just to be clear, when I say "happiness" I'm not just referring to a temporary emotion. I'm referring to something you experience at a much deeper level even when you don't feel very cheerful. I'm talking about long-lasting fulfillment.

I believe the main reason students are unhappy is that they feel "forced" into education. They feel like they have to do their homework, have to participate in extracurricular activities, have to study for exams. Teachers and parents don't commonly encourage students to take full responsibility for their education, so students don't feel like they have a choice.

But if you want to be a great student— or great at anything, really— you need to make a conscious choice. No one can force you into becoming great! Even the most well-meaning teacher or parent can't force a student to become a great one. We need to empower students to commit to their own success, instead of trying to nag or coerce them into becoming successful.

Based on your experiences what makes most students unhappy?

Students become unhappy by trying to run the race that other people want them to run, instead of deciding to run their own race. It's easy to give in to peer pressure and to "go with the flow," but if you do that, you're trying to find happiness on other people's terms. Placing your happiness in the hands of others definitely isn't the way to become a happy student.

Students need to define success for themselves, rather than just accept society's definition of success.

What connection should be made between the state of happiness, or unhappiness, in students and career aspirations?

When students don't ask themselves what's truly important to them, they end up pursuing the things that other people tell them is important. This is true when it comes to what classes they choose to take, and even what career they choose to pursue.

I've spoken to many students who are pursuing a particular course of study just because other people think it's a good idea. That's a recipe for unhappiness in the long-term!

People who haven't learned how to find enduring happiness as a student will potentially become unhappy workers, and even unhappy parents. The problem of unhappy students is one that we cannot ignore.

Happy students are much more likely to discover their passion and their calling, which will lead to more happiness and success in their careers and beyond.

Is happiness a choice?

Yes, happiness is a choice, much more than it is a feeling. Besides, when we think of the people we admire and respect the most, we'll probably realize that they are people who have done many things to make themselves unhappy in the short term. But in the long term, they became people of courage, commitment, conviction and character. These are the things that contribute to your happiness in the long run.

So happiness really is a matter of making day-to-day decisions that will result in you becoming a bigger person who will be able to add more value to other people's lives. At the heart of it, happiness isn't just a personal thing.

Where in the world are students most happy?

That's not an easy question to answer, because even though I've had the opportunity to travel to many different countries, I haven't been to every country in the world.

But I have observed that the happiest students are the ones who are given plenty of freedom to explore and discover. I think it's a sad fact that the longer students are in school, the less curious they become! Students who are encouraged to develop a spirit of curiosity— rather than a spirit of competition— are the ones who end up the happiest and also the most successful.

We live in the Information Age where there's so much knowledge available online. Education shouldn't be about forcing students to memorize facts and equations— you could easily find that information on Google or Wikipedia. Education should be about teaching students to care— to care about what they're learning and doing, and to care about the world around them.

The happiest students are the ones who have learned to care.

 

Thoughts on Marriage-The Winning and the Losing

I don't know if I've ever written a post on marriage. I know I've never written about the winning and the losing side of it. With the exception of my wife, I just haven't. Sorry.

Marriage can be a powerful part of Epic Living.

I happened upon this post while on rel=”youtube” target=”_blank” title=”Google+ Update: Share Your Favorite Circles with Others”>Google + last week. The writer, Kelly Flanagan, is a therapist practicing in Wheaton, Illinois. It is by far, one of the best takes on what makes for a thriving marriage. He does an excellent job of breaking things down in a way that most anyone can unwrap. I think he's onto something that many already know; a life-long relationship is essentially about serving/giving to the person you love. The greatest irony of this is found in the fact that you get so much more back from that serving/giving.

Married or not, you'll gain a lot out of his perspective. I'd love to know if you see applications beyond marriage too. 

Connecting on Google+

Google+ 

I am actively engaged in the land of Google+.  If you're a subscriber to the Epic Living blog and would like to connect there, send me an email with your information (email address) and I will forward you an invite.

Does the World Need Another Social Network?

Ok, I've taken the dive with Google +. There are many out there who are wondering if we need another social network.  I asked myself the same question this afternoon and came to the following conclusions:

  1. We do need more social networks.  That doesn't necessarily many another Facebook or Twitter.  Maybe it's in your community where you live or a cause you're passionate about.  It's right as breathing.
  2. If you're taking the bumble bee approach to social networking (online or otherwise), then you need to reexamine your motivations.  Take a hard look at who you are or who you were before you drank the kool-aid, and then order your social networks around that.  You've got to do this.
  3. Google + is rightly placed.  Google has such a huge influence around the ordering of content and flow, that for them not to be involved would be silly.  I'm not gushing over with Google fan-love when I write this.  Google is like Churchill or Edition; what they created and impacted was bigger than who they were as influencers.
  4. All of this flurry on social netowrks and the experiements, ventures and such created have produced good strategy and tactics for me.  Lord knows, you need good strategy and tactics for your brand (personal or business) these days.  I'd be overwhelmed if I didn't.  For example, I know why I interact on Brazen Careerist versus why I interact on LinkedIn.  By the way, strategy and tactics will also lead you to learning the art of saying no and turning off things that have a button.
  5. If we were living in the industrial age, then Google +, Facebook and Twitter would be nothing more than eye candy and entertainment.  Since we are no longer in the industrial age, you should start acting differently.  Differently in that you think like an entrepreneur, even if you're far from it in form.  If you don't start acting differently, you may wake up and find yourself in a ghost town of one.