I have played in a few golf tournaments in the last couple of months.  It is interesting to me how many good golfers are at these events.  I am always asking people at these events how much they golf.  Then after they tell me how ever many times a week I usually do a yearly calculation and figure out how many hours that ends up being.  If you golf 9 holes 2 times a week from May until September that is 80 hours in a summer.  That is probably minimum for most avid golfers.  Man, that is a lot of time. 

I am not saying golfing is wrong or you shouldn’t do it.  I just always like to look at what I could have done with my time.  That is 80 hours I could have spent with my wife and kid, or exercised, or read 5 books.

Golfing for many is relaxing and for me it can be also.  I understand that if you are good at something that you want to keep doing it.  That may be the reason that I don’t enjoy golfing as much.  I am always amazed by the good golfers that I golf with.  But after the round it always leads me to what could have been done with all that time?

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Today I am taking a staycation.  I could have gone up to the lakes but decided to start off the vacation at home.  Home can be very relaxing as long as you keep some boundaries of what you should and shouldn’t do.  This summer I have had weekend “vacations” but I have not felt rejuvenated.  So this time we are going with a different approach.  I needed some boundaries and guidelines for my staycation. 

Rules for Staycation:

  1. No doing any outside work.  Not mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, or any other thing of that matter.
  2. Keep the cooking to a minimum.  It is alright to cook breakfast and maybe some veggies for lunch.  You should be relaxing and ordering pizza or going out to eat for lunch and supper though.
  3. You must watch movies.  Get your movies ahead of time and find time to relax and enjoy them.
  4. Read many different things.  I have read business magazines, blogs, sports, and other books.  Relax and just read. 
  5. Relish the time with Spouse and Kids.  I have enjoyed spending time with my wife and also taking care of my little girl in the morning when she is most happy.
  6. Turn your cell phone and home phone off.  I did answer one or two calls earlier but have since decided you don’t answer your phone on vacation.
  7. Sleep in and take naps.  Enough said.

These are my staycation rules.  They probably will be changed but this is my first staycation. 

What would be your staycations rules?

Have you every got home from work and couldn’t remember what you did all day?  You look back and feel like you didn’t accomplish anything at all?

This happened to me the other day so I decided to take control of my days.  I decided to write down everything I did for the exact amount of time.  It took quite a bit of extra time but it was well worth it.

This is what I learned from keeping track of what I did:

  1. I spend a lot of time talking to people and should not view this as wasting time.
  2. I realized that I waste a lot of time going off on little bunny trails instead of staying on one project until completion. 
  3. I realized what percentage of my time I spent on things throughout the day.
  4. I realized if I made a list before I started the day and prioritized it I would be a lot more productive.
  5. I wasted less time looking on the internet and wasting time doing other things.

Try it for a week.  Keep track of what you do for a week then calculate where you spend your time.  Once you figure out the numbers figure out where you should be spending your time and adjust what you do and how you do it.

As a leader you need to constantly be aware of where you are spending your time.

Jonathon Mead had a great post on Zen Habits on “How to stop acting like such a big baby.”

It really hit home because the other day I had a day full of complaints.  I was feeling bad for myself and complaining about a bunch of things.  I felt depressed, burned out, and tired of the grind. 

Why all of a sudden did this happen?

I went down the complaining slide.  You know how it is when you go down a slide.  It starts off kind of slow and as you keep going it gets faster and faster.  That is exactly how complaining works.  Once you start your mind keeps going and going and going.  It doesn’t want to stop because it get some kind of adrenaline rush from complaining.  And it takes too much effort to get your mind out of it because you are lazy and enjoy it too much.

How do you combat this?

Take a day and do the following

  • Write down every complaint you make for the day.  You will be amazed how negative you can be.
  • Write down if any can be solved right now or in the near future.
  • Write down or do a positive action to combat that complaint.

The thing with complaining is that you need to be aware of when you are complaining because most of the time you are not. 

The first step to overcoming any shortcoming is being aware that it is there.

For more on complaining check this website out.

What happened to the days when your word meant everything?  Where if you said you agreed to something you held to it and so did the other party.  You didn’t need to get any expensive lawyers to use some fancy, sophisticated vocabulary to spell it out for you.  You did what you said because of your integrity and what it said about you.

Because we started using words so flippantly they became worthless and useless.  Instead of taking people at their words we needed signed contracts and agreements on things.  Even small things now need contracts or something along that line.  The crazy thing now is that it is getting worse.  Someone told me the other night that “contracts don’t mean anything anymore.  People will look to claim bankruptcy just to get out of a contract.” People will take the document to court and just because of one or two misplaced words will get it thrown out. 

What’s next?  Is there anything that will hold people to agreements?

I hope you will start to think carefully about promises and decisions you make.  Start right now and do it old school style.  Start small and make some small promises.  Write them down so you remember.  Then go ahead and follow through on them.  You will be amazed how surprised people around you are when you are a man of your word.

Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.

The other day I was driving around town just after lunch.  As I was looking around at how beautiful everything was looking I drove by a lemonade stand with 5 kids selling lemonade.  I drove by and almost kept driving then realized what it would mean to stop and get some lemonade from these kids. 

So I did a u-turn and reached in my pocket for all of my spare change.  I gave them the change and asked how many lemonades I could get for that(I have to try to teach in every moment I can).  Right away one of the kids got a blank look on her face and gave it to the older one.  I could get 2 lemonades and with the little extra I told them that it was their tip.

In every experience I have had lately I try to take a few things away.  What did I take away from this chance encounter with some kids at a lemonade stand?

  • Buy lemonade from kids whenever you can.  You can’t buy anything for a quarter these days anyway.  You might as well give the kids fifty cents and make their day.  Don’t just buy the lemonade engage the kids and ask them questions.
  • What if every business had as much excitement as these kids did?  Just think how many things people would sell if their salespeople had this much excitement over each sale. 
  • When did we as adults stop smiling so much?  These kids were smiling from ear to ear over a quarter.  It is hard for any adults to smile at all throughout the day.

Take the next week and sit down and write notes after every experience you have and analyze it.  What is good bad or otherwise? 

The only way we get better is to realize the mistakes we made and change the future so we don’t make them again.

Why is it so hard for us to accept that we made a mistake?  Why is it so hard to apologize?  Is it our pride that mainly gets in the way?  Why do we so badly want others to be wrong and us to be write?

The other day at work I was looking for a paper I gave to someone else.  That person had thrown it away and said there reasoning was that I never told them to keep it.  At first I was kind of upset because I thought it was their responsibility and I got a little bucky when they blamed me.  Upon stepping back counting to 10 and walking around I asked myself “Why I wouldn’t take the blame?”  I realized it was kind of a pride issue.  In that situation I realized that I should just say it was my fault.  Who really cares whose fault it is as long as it gets resolved.  The funny thing was a day after this happened there was another instance where the blame game was starting to go around.  Someone was supposed to check with a customer and never did.  One of the people asked if I had relayed the message.  At first I thought I don’t remember this at all.  Then I said it probably was me I must have forgot.  Right there and then the blame game stopped and we all moved on. 

Stop being stubborn and just take a blame for the team.  It will help everyone else get on with their day and out of the vicious cycle of blaming.

How many people do you know that take pictures or videos of everything?  Are you one of those people?

I have seen this a lot and vow to not be one of those people.  I am not saying not to take pictures or video, but rather keep it to a minimum.  Many people spend their time trying to capture things as they happen so they can look back and remember the past.  What does that make you focus on in your life if you have all of these memories captured?  It makes you focus more on the past.

My goal is to focus on the present and the future but still learn from the past.

If you don’t worry about capturing things on photo or video and just live in the moment your life will be much more rewarding.  Instead of worrying about getting the video camera or digital camera out you are present.  How many times do you actually end up watching those movies anyway?  Instead of trying to preserve memories start making memories by being present and looking to the future.  Think about the time spent sorting through pictures making scrapbooks or editing video.  If instead you would use that time to spend with your family how much more rewarding wouldn’t that be?

When your focus is ahead you can see the endless possibilities.  When your focus is behind all your thinking about what was and might have been.

The last couple of weeks have been filled with a few deaths.  From Steve McNair, to Michael Jackson, to Ed Thomas.  How all of these men’s lives varied differently and I believe speaks volumes about their character. 

What you do when no one is looking is a reflection of what your true character is.

Steve McNair had done a lot of great things and had even just run a football camp for less privileged kids.  He appeared to be a role model for every young kid in the area.  He was always smiling and played through much pain and injuries.  He was said by many to be a great leader on the field. But true leaders are leaders in every area of there life.  I am not downplaying anything Steve McNair did or what he stood for.  It is sad that what he will be remembered for the most is the affair he was having.  And ultimately being murdered in a murder suicide by his girlfriend. 

Michael Jackson led the way for many African-Americans especially in singing.  He was very successful and overcame great odds.  He was one of the most talented singers and entertainers ever.  It looks as though Michael overdosed on a prescription drug and was addicted to them.

Ed Thomas was regarded as one of the best high school football coaches in Iowa and even the Nation.  He not only was great at coaching football but great at coaching life.  What echoed in the interviews with former players and people close to Ed was how much they learned about life from him.  He not only lead his teams but he lead his family.  In the interviews with his family they didn’t weep uncontrollably what you heard from them is “God has a plan.” I even heard a story of his wife calling the family of the man who shot Ed and telling them she didn’t blame them.  Who does thinks of others when they themselves are grieving?  Someone close to Ed Thomas would know what it is like to be others focused.  He had been doing it all of his life.

What do we learn about people through their deaths:

Remember: Character is what you are is when no one is looking.  Or when you think no one is looking. 

All 3 of these men died unexpectedly.  If these men thought people were watching would they have been in these situations?

Steve McNair: Would he have been having an affair with this young girl if he thought people were looking and his wife would find out?  By his decision to do this he lost a lot of credibility in the eyes of many people.

Michael Jackson: He couldn’t handle things by himself so he used drugs to help him out.  Would he have taken them knowing he would or could die from them?  Leaving his kids without a parent.

Ed Thomas: He died in the weight room helping young men get better.  He died in a small weight room in a small town in Iowa.  Not a huge house or Condo.  Ed Thomas lived for others.  Ed Thomas knew this life wasn’t about him. 

What we can learn about others is how people around them respond to their deaths:

Steve McNair:  Wife is distraught and kids are probably in shock not only that there dad died but was being unfaithful.  Many questions unanswered.

Michael Jackson: Huge mystery surrounding everything for kids and everyone around.  Everyone was overly sad.  Many questions.

Ed Thomas: Family was calm and collected.  Everyone was sad but knew Ed lived with no regrets because he lived life to the fullest.  His kids spoke about God’s plan and wife reached out to the accused family.  Not many questions

Who do you think was a better leader and better prepared those around them?  Who set an example in everything he did?

I know Michael Jackson, and Steve McNair were rich and famous but Ed Thomas invested in his family and kids who are going to be great examples in society.

Remember that at any moment you could die.  What would people say if you died doing what you were doing right now?

Leaders don’t lead through fancy talk.  They lead through consistent action.  Most great leaders aren’t brilliant or the top of their class.  In fact most leaders learned how to lead in school already.  They didn’t lead in school because they had some position such as student body president.  They probably led a little tribe within the school.  As they got older they learned how to lead better and moved on to bigger things.

Leaders know that you don’t have to be great at everything.  You just need to be a lot better at a few little things than anybody else. 

People don’t wake up one day and say: “I think I am going to be a leader today.”  And then everyone starts following. 

That is not how it happens.

Leaders are people who stick their neck out on things and aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in.  Once they get a few wins and gain confidence with others through consistency they are on the path to being a leader.

They say it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert in a field.  Leadership is no different except it might take double to really be effective.  Why do I say that?  I think your path to leadership should be about 10,000 hours so you can figure out how to be a great leader.  And your next 10,000 hours as a leader lets you learn from failures and victories so you can truly become an effective leader.  No, you won’t be effective if you don’t look back on a regular basis and learn from your mistakes. 

Do you want to be Ordinary or Extraordinary?

The key is being CONSISTENT especially in your learning from failures and mistakes.