New This Spring

Spring seems to be taking its sweet time showing up where I am this year, which is a little frustrating. We’ve had a few tastes of it and then it goes back to being like winter. This week looks like we might more firmly move towards spring but I won’t hold my breath. Instead I’ll focus on the other things that spring brings, and that’s new life. Just like the New Year inspires us to make changes in our lives, spring inspires us to think new, fresh and alive. So today I thought I’d share a few thoughts on bringing new life to your family and relationship.

Spring is a great time to get organized and purge your belongings. It’s a great time to work together as a family, especially on rainy spring days when you’re stuck inside anyway, and go through all of your clothes and get rid of those that are too worn or don’t fit anymore. You can also take this time to pack away clothes that you all don’t use for the warmer months if that’s something you do. It’s a great time to go through all the items in your kitchen and bathroom and get rid of things that are expired or you don’t use anymore. Finally, you can go through all the other stuff and gear you’ve got (sporting, books, toys, gear etc.), and get rid of what you don’t use any more. All of the stuff you’ve decided not to keep can be great for a spring or summer garage or yard sale, or are great to donate to charities (as long as they’re not broken or ripped and the food isn’t outdated).

Spring is also a great time to try a new hobby or try out some of the new stores, restaurants and venues that have set up shop over the late fall and winter. Lots of towns and cities have evening courses at local community schools and other locations that you can take to try something new or learn about something you’ve always been curious about from business to food to languages to arts and crafts. I don’t know about you but I don’t enjoy seeing the local stores empty, so if we want them to stay occupied we have to shop from them. As we get out of winter and are more interested in being outside and doing things, it’s a great time to visit some of those new places and at least check them out and recommend them to a friend who we know might have more interest in them than you do.

Why do something new or make room in your life? Because sometimes our lives get stagnant and there’s a reason why the statement ‘out with the old, in with the new’ is so popular. It’s not about old being bad (it’s not), or about trying every new thing (not possible), but about being open in life, being willing to try new things, and especially about accepting growth and new life in your journey. New can be good, especially as a tool to keep your family, relationships, work and health thriving. What new will you try this spring?

Welcoming In The Customers

I love music and when I’m driving I love listening to a variety of music from oldies to pop to country to rock. The other day as I was driving around a classic, Piano Man by Billy Joel came on and as I was listening to it the words really spoke to me about what a business could be. You can check out all the lyrics here, or go on YouTube and listen to the song if you’re not familiar with it. Let’s take a look at what in the song spoke to be about local business success.

One of the first lines is about the “regular crowd.” A successful (local) business should have a regular crowd, whether that’s a group of people that show up at the same time and day each week (more along the lines of a ‘crowd’), or just regular individuals or couples that show up the same time and/or day or place really consistent orders.

The chorus talks about how everyone is “in the mood for a melody”, reinforcing the unity that they all have being their together, the camaraderie that all going to this bar together helps create, along with the pianist and his piano music. It doesn’t mean they’re all looking to hear the same song, just that they all agree they want to hear some great music.

Finally, the song goes through several of the patrons as well as the manager of the bar and shares a little about their stories. It’s a reminder that as much as they’re a crowd and there to be together, they’re still individuals and have their own needs, preferences, and especially stories and things going on in their lives that aren’t going on in the lives of the other people they’re sharing the bar with.

The song really speaks to the atmosphere and experience that a business can create. It didn’t talk about the drinks they each were picking or that it was the classiest or cheapest bar or anything like that. Yes, those things can be important, and can be the reason that people purchase from or visit a business. But the song talked about the people, the togetherness and the unique experience the piano man helped create for the people and the bar. It hearkens back to that small-town feel (in a good way) that some businesses can create, where everyone feels welcome, their story is known and accepted, and they choose to spend their evenings there.

What about your business? Is your business like the bar in the Piano Man song, or is it more like one of those songs that talks about how everything is terrible or a waste of time or pointless? I believe we can all create the experience of a Piano Man bar with a little care and attention. How are you welcoming in your customers?

Taking Time to Prepare

Whether you have a spiritual practice or not you’re probably familiar with the celebration of Easter which happens later this month. For those who celebrate Easter as a spiritual holiday, they’re currently going through a period called Lent, or some 40 days of mental and spiritual preparation before the actual celebration of Easter.

Preparation is something that should be a regular part of all of our lives, spiritual or not. We aren’t born ready for most things in our lives, we have to learn them or get ready for them. Sometimes that takes years of preparation and experiences to get to the point of being prepared to do something or be someone. There’s a reason that we vet the big leaders and people we hire (or we’re supposed to), so that we know we’ve got someone qualified and not just some random individual off the streets.

Part of preparation is planning ahead.  Sometimes that means just anticipating how things may happen in the future and being mentally (and financially) prepared for that, other times it means doing certain things first or doing things in a certain order so that you’re ready.  A great example is baking bread.  Bread isn’t a one-step process, you don’t just mix all the ingredients together in a random order and it’s done, you’re never done until you bake it, and most breads have several steps including a rest period and have to be baked.

I know we sometimes wish we could skip all the preparation and planning steps, but in many cases they make it easier to work through things when they finally happen and make it easier to deal with everything else that’s going on in our lives at the same time.  Don’t ignore the necessity and importance and value of taking the time to prepare. Taking that time can make things go easier and more successfully for you in the future.