Archive for May, 2008

Drunk or Just “Employed?”

May 29, 2008

Last week my Wednesday morning Eagles group was privileged to have Rabbi Daniel Lapin sit in as our guest.  Dave Ramsey had invited him to speak to his entire company that morning and our little group of thinkers was honored to dialogue with him for a couple of hours in advance.

As a Hebrew scholar, Rabbi Lapin shares some very insights about that language.  Here’s one of his many interesting examples: 

“When Noah planted a vineyard, drank of its wine and became drunk, the Hebrew word used in Genesis 9:21 to describe his inebriated condition is SHiCHuR.  But when someone hires someone as an hourly employee, as in Exodus 22:14, the person is a SaCHiR.  In Hebrew the words look exactly the same.

= SHiCHuR = Drunk

= SaCHiR = Hired Employee

What could drunkenness possibly have to do with being a hired worker?  Ancient Jewish wisdom’s response to that question is that neither a drunk nor an hourly laborer is able to act according to his own wishes and choices.  It is easy for us to see that a drunk has no ability to control his actions. What about a hired worker? After all, almost all of us need to work and what’s more, we are actually obligated to do so, since the day that God put Adam in the Garden of Eden, to work it.  But the word SaCHiR is specifically reserved for an hourly or day laborer. That type of hired employee yields much control to his employer.  Generally, a SacCHiR earns less and has fewer benefits than a longer term employee. He is usually at the bottom of the totem pole with little job security and often lives paycheck to paycheck. So, while for different reasons than the drunk, the SaCHiR also has limited options and control over his life.” 

This contrasts with someone who works for a pre-negotiated salary or commission or has their own business.  That person has some freedom in managing his/her time more independently.

I know this may sound a little harsh for the many of you who are employees.  This is not meant to belittle that status – but to just help you see it in perspective.  I have been encouraging everyone to be aware of the changing work models that I describe in No More Mondays.  We are rapidly moving toward the time when only 50% of the American workforce will be employees.  You may be a free-lancer, a consultant, a contingency worker, an independent contractor, an entrepreneur, an electronic immigrant, a temp, or a number of other growing terms.  All are reasonable terms for the creative, non-traditional work models that are allowing 465,000 new business startups each month in the United States alone.

This helps explain why people are lining up to get into the 212ºConnection.

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Your Days

May 29, 2008

At Brighthouse, an Atlanta-based innovation consulting firm, staff members get five week’s vacation, AND five Your Days.  The five Your Days are free days that the staff are encouraged to use to visit someplace conductive to reflection and thinking.  No particular goal to solve anything – just what they call “blue-sky thinking.”  CEO Joey Reiman believes this unstructured thinking is just as important to their success as time spent hunkered down in client meetings or looking at computer screens.

Other companies like Maddock Douglas and Google also encourage their workers to spend up to 20 percent of their work hours pursuing whatever intrigues them.

Here’s a favorite book of mine that addresses this issue:  How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci:  Seven Steps to Genius Every Day.  Few people have ever been as creative or inventive as da Vinci.  But he was also a thoughtful philosopher.  Leonardo reflected sadly that the average human “looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking.”  In his writings he constantly calls us to improve our senses – and our sensibility and sensitivity.

I hear repeatedly from people who are asking “What is the meaning of life?”  Leonardo da Vinci would encourage them to ask, “How can I make my life meaningful?”

Make sure you’re spending time thinking – and making your life meaningful.

Oh No — the Sky is Falling

May 29, 2008

In the constant interviews about No More Mondays, it seems inevitable that the question about being in a “recession” comes up.  I wish I could convey that whether or not we are in a recession is much like whether or not we believe the sky is falling. 

Remember that famous children’s fairy tale?  One day Chicken Little was scratching in the garden when an acorn fell on her head. She decides to tell the King, and on her journey meets many other animals who join her in the rush to share this startling news.  “How do you know the sky is falling, Chicken Little?” asked Henny Penny.  “I saw it with my own eyes, I heard it with my own ears, and a bit of it fell on my head,” said Chicken Little.

There are many version of this story, but the basic premise of the happy version is not to be like “Chicken,” but to have courage and don’t believe everything you are told.

I think believing we are in a “recession” is very similar.  If you experienced a little piece of a layoff, a real estate downturn, or the increase in gas prices, you can easily confirm that “I saw it with my own eyes, I heard it with my own ears, and a bit of it fell on my head.”  And thus you share the news with your closest friends. And certainly now would be a poor time to start something new or to leave the “security” of a real job.

But what if you recognized that the fear of a “recession” is going to immobilize most people, leaving you multiple opportunities for separating yourself from the pack and moving ahead.  You can counsel, coach, teach, or speak to those who are stuck in life.  You can come up with better solutions for economic transportation, reduce fuel consumption with efficient housing, improve health care, education, or provide methods for spiritual growth.  You can invent a better dog leash, or a more nutritional energy bar. Many of our 212Connection members have created fulfilling opportunities in the midst of this “recession.”  You can provide encouraging men’s conferences in 36 cities like member Brian Doyle has done.  Or offer more economical pharmaceuticals like West Conner is doing. Maybe you can find beauty in everyday settings with photography like Deby Dearman does or bring hope to struggling parents of unique kids like Theresa Lode is able to do. 

Of course in the unhappy version of the fable, the fox eats the chicken.  I like to think that the moral of that story is if you have nothing but bad news; just keep your mouth shut.

Over 50 and re-inventing myself

May 26, 2008

As you know I recently asked for stories for a Good Morning America segment on being over 50 and having to re-invent oneself. I am still scanning through the massive number of stories I’ve received – but they definitely fall into three major categories.1. Here’s an example of the first category – Not sure what to do.

Dan…….sorry, but I am not one of the fortunate ones who have successfully figured out how to re-invent themselves after turning 50…..so, I’m one of those who needs to hear the success stories and try to understand the blueprint of how to get it done….I know it CAN be done…..my wife is going to Nursing School at age 52, so I know its “do-able”……just have never been able to figure it out for myself…….I’m very frustrated and tempted to simply give up……to quit dreaming and accept my plight……can you help me, please??

2. Here’s an example of the second category – The company, government, church or spouse dumped me – what do I do now?

After 33 years, my husband is leaving me and I will be starting over from scratch. At 52 and never being in the work force, the thought of starting a career is very scary and intimidating. Some inspirational stories and advice from others who have gone through it will be a lot of help to me and many others in my situation. Thanks for all you do.

3. And here are just a couple of the many examples from the third category – It really can be done.

I’m 62, and I have just become a certified doula. I have been a technical writer and editor for an environmental engineering firm for the past 15 years. I’ve also worked as a certified administrative professional and secretary. As I began to prepare for retirement, I asked myself, “What would I do, even if I didn’t get paid?” I knew immediately that I would assist women with childbirth. Since becoming certified as a doula, I have been receiving requests every week. Blessings in all your endeavors!

And another –

Dan, I am 57 and I worked 31 years in television advertising sales at one CBS Affiliate in South Bend Indiana. I was working 70 to 90 hours a week. I was also elected chairman of the CBS Sales Advisory Council. A year ago I left my job of being sales manager which I did for the past 20 years. A few months ago, I opened my new restaurant, Cafelicious in Plymouth Indiana. My doctor couldn’t believe how much my blood pressure went down. (25 points diastolic and 25 points systolic) I spend much more time with my kids and relish everyday. I recently coached my son’s soccer team to a league championship. I have enjoyed reading your emails and books.
Best regards,

I trust that hearing stories from those who have successfully re-invented themselves provides hope and inspiration for all of you who are needing a fresh, new direction.  If you need some direction for a fresh start, join me this Thursday evening for a $1 teleclass on Cure for the Common Cubicle.

Bulimic Work

May 26, 2008

You know the term – Bulimia. The disorder where someone binges on food and then induces vomiting to compensate for it. As horrible as it sounds, I see people who very much display the same characteristics in their work.

Rob is a layout editor for the local newspaper. His cell phone never stops ringing: reporters are demanding deadlines that are impossible to meet, journalists are furious their stories have been bumped, a national news story breaks 15 minutes before press time, he knows his nagging chest pain is more than just indigestion, and once again he’s missed his son’s baseball game. But he sucks it up – knowing that in just 10 more days he can leave for his annual two week vacation. He’ll unwind and get rid of all this stress.

Or will he? We know that plan doesn’t really work. This bulimic way of handling stress – letting it build to a boiling point and then stopping work completely for several days doesn’t work. It is dangerous and destructive. That daily accumulation of stress doesn’t just go away in a few days of relaxation – it tears down in ways from which you will never recover. It clogs arteries, raises blood pressure, encourages grabbing junk food on the run, reduces concentration and creativity, and saps our spiritual and emotional energy. The ongoing effects are that it makes us more vulnerable to colds and more serious diseases. It sets us up for weight gain, facial wrinkles and strained relationships.

I actually had a physician mention recently that he had considered sticking his hand in a meat grinder – so he could collect disability and escape the daily demands of his position. It may have been said partly in jest but the pressure felt is not uncommon among workers at all levels. Another gentleman told me he had an ultralight plane – and was prepared to make a socially acceptable exit from the life of stress he had created.

Here’s a better plan: learn to deal with the stress daily rather than letting it build up to a boiling point. When you feel tension building, take a deep breath, pull your shoulders back, take a walk around the block, drink a full glass of water, eat a couple of carrots, let your phone take messages or spend 10 minutes in silent meditation. Drive a different way home tonight, check out getting an ergonomic chair, remove agitating music from your work area, and include small “Sabbath” times of positive reflection and anticipation into every day.

You Might be a “Sluggard” if…….

May 13, 2008

The dictionary defines a “sluggard” as a habitually inactive or lazy person. Here’s an example. My wife Joanne is mentoring a young lady who just got out of prison. While incarcerated, a grandmother cared for her 4-yr-old daughter. This gal counted the days until she could be reunited with her precious little girl. Three weeks after she was released she was told that the father of the child wanted full custody. It seemed odd that he was unwilling to care for his child while the mother was in prison – and now he has a sudden desire to be the sole caretaker.

However, the rest of the story soon came out. He has discovered that if can get custody of this little girl, he will receive free housing, food stamps and a monthly stipend. He can totally remove himself from having to work, and can live the life he has apparently dreamed of.  I’d call this guy a sluggard.

I have three questions:

1. What motivates a person to stoop this low, in using an innocent child as a ploy for personal gain?

2. What has to happen to a person to give up on this level – to decide that a meager handout is better than the wide-open opportunities we all have in front of us?  And thus deprive oneself of the incredible satisfaction of meaningful, purposeful and profitable work?

3. How have we as a society allowed this kind of option to even be made available?

The Biblical Proverbs are full of interesting descriptions of the “sluggard.”
Here are just a few telltale signs:

  • The sluggard is a procrastinator. Sluggards love to sleep, watch TV and put off anything meaningful until tomorrow.
    How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? (Prov. 6:9)
  • The sluggard is self-seeking. Always looking out for number one – himself. He has no consideration for anyone else.
    The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. (Prov. 13:4)
  • The sluggard makes no plans for the future. Every day is like the previous one – just wait and see what happens. He thinks only of the present. He constantly talks about tomorrow, because that’s when he’s going to do something important; but he never thinks ahead.
    A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing. (Prov. 20:3-5)
  • The sluggard uses unfounded fears and excuses keep from doing anything. The sluggard cannot possibly get to work because there might be some challenge out there.
    The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!” or, “I will be murdered in the streets!” (Prov. 22:13
  • The sluggard lacks self-discipline and self-control. Whatever is easy and immediately enjoyable will always be his first choice.
    The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth. (Prov. 26:14)

Okay, I know this doesn’t describe you – but what would you recommend for dealing with people like this?

Disaster or Opportunity? — You Decide

May 5, 2008

At 44 years old Phil had attained an amazing level of career success. Growing up in a family without TV he had developed an early appreciation of books. Now after 25 years in the publishing industry he was head of an $80 million division of one of the world’s largest and most respected publishers. He knew that being there was part of his calling. And yet he recognized a “growing dissonance” with the pressures from New York stockholders on the bottom line at the expense of product and customer focus. However, he assumed he needed to “suck it up, and stay – out of fear and a sense of responsibility.”His unrest was addressed on a fateful day in 2004 when, rather than receiving an expected promotion, he was given a severance package and the invitation to clean out his desk. While that experience was “scary and humbling,” Phil says his thought was, “You’ve answered the prayer of my heart – not my lips, but my heart.” He says he would never have taken the “risk” of leaving on his own.

Today Phil has capitalized on an exploding trend in publishing – downloadable audio books. His company, eAudioSource.com is a leading provider of audio books and Bibles. You may notice that he is one of our 48 Days recommended businesses. He simply found a new, innovative and fitting opportunity with even more potential for both time freedom and income than anything he had experienced in previous positions. In place of the challenges of a traditional publishing house, his “store” is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no employees, no physical inventory, and no limits to expansion. He is using every bit of his background, his valuable relationships and his unique expertise. He is still in publishing and, more importantly, is still fulfilling his same mission and calling in his life.

What a great example of taking one of those unexpected yet inevitable transitions that life brings us and using it as a springboard for even greater success – personally, in relationships and in creating balanced, fulfilling, purposeful and profitable work. Many of you are walking through similar transitions right now. Was losing your job or business a tragedy or a blessing? Are you expecting to use your background to create a more fulfilling new season in your life – or are you expecting less? Remember the Biblical truth: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

Check out Phil’s special offer for 48 Days members and readers of No More Mondays for The Word of Promise Audio Bible. You’ll hear the scripture come alive with readings by well know actors such as Jim Caviezel (Jesus in the Mel Gibson’s Passion movie), Richard Dreyfus, Lou Gossett Jr., Michael Smith, Rebecca St. James and others.

Creativity — Enhanced or Numbed?

May 1, 2008

Clara Isabel Logsdon

Yesterday in my Wednesday morning Eagles Group we were discussing the rapid changes in technology.  Some of the guys in this reading/brainstorming group now come in with their electronic readers rather than carrying the physical book.  And they may have their entire library in this one device.  Personally I still like the look and feel of a “real” book but others are telling me I’m nothing but a dinosaur.

 

Here is a picture of my youngest granddaughter (Clara Isabel) – who turned ONE last Monday.  See what she has in her hand?  It’s the Sansa Shaker MP3 player Joanne and I got her.  Her parents can load her favorite 125 songs in her own digital player – at one year old!  When she shakes it, the next song begins to play.  After just a couple of days she knows how to stop, play and advance at will.

 

When I was one year old we didn’t have a radio or a TV in the house.  By the time I was about five I could make music by blowing on a piece of grass held between my hands.  I guess things have changed.  Of course I know my granddaughter is brilliant beyond description — yet this gives me pause.  Are these digital “advances” taking us forward or causing us to perhaps miss our own creativity?  Do we risk numbing Clara’s imagination as we spoil her rotten?