Patience and Progress

One of the things that’s been interesting as we’ve watched this virus challenge evolve and move through the first half of 2020 is how agonizingly slow it seems the learning process is. I don’t know that we often have the opportunity to really watch the learning process from day one. If we think about things that we’ve been working on for years like finding answers to cancer, or discussing the education system, or the different culture and race conflicts and genocides over the centuries, or even world hunger and the need for clean water, in many of the situations we’ve been able to make some progress and have a starting point at which to turn or can look at what people have done before us that has worked on one level or another.

And yes, in some ways we can turn to old standards to get some answers like doing autopsies, talking with medical professionals who have been part of crisis zones, and running known medical diagnostics on samples. But even now, some six months into this fight, we’re still learning new things every day and there’s still so much doctors don’t know yet and may not know for months if not years. You may have heard the saying that you can learn something new (and be good at it) by investing somewhere between 20 and 10,000 hours. I know, that’s a huge difference, but it depends on what you’re learning and how much of an expert you want to become at it. But as I’ve said before, learning really should be part of our whole lives, and we should be continually learning.

I think we forget how long some things do take, because we have so much at the tips of our fingers through the internet, or a few messages away through the internet with an expert who does know. These past six or so months have given those of us who are part of the general population, a really good idea of the roller coaster ride that doctors and scientists have gone on for many years with the cancer, Alzheimer/dementia and HIV studies just to name a few. I’m not saying that I think we need a shortcut or to have all the answers (although some more answers would be reassuring for everyone on all of these counts), but that the learning process, like success, sometimes takes a long time, certainly longer than we would like. Of course, there are often some things we can do to keep progress moving and continue learning and being successful, and sometimes that progress involves figuring out what doesn’t work.

How can you show patience while making progress on your success journey this week?

Knowledge is Power

We’re proud people. It’s absolutely OK to be proud that you know something or how much you’ve learned or the degree you’ve gotten. It’s not a bad thing to recognize and celebrate your accomplishments. In fact most people focus too often on what’s not right or what has failed and don’t spend any time celebrating what goes right or what they accomplish.

What’s not OK is if that’s all you do or if you let that be a limit for you. The moment you say “I know that” and assume there’s no more to learn or nothing your current knowledge, you’re setting yourself up to fail, because there are very few things that have an end to knowledge, and most people have only tapped into a tiny fraction of the knowledge of the world by the time they die.

The saying “knowledge is power” is right, the more you know the more you’re capable of doing or becoming. When you take the time to learn something new you’re opening the door to a whole new world, a world of possibilities and potential that you can’t imagine now because you haven’t opened the door yet. But trust me, it’s greater than where you are and what you’ve accomplished thus far, even if that’s pretty amazing. You have all the power in the world at your fingertips thanks to the internet, it’s just a matter of tapping into that power.

So go ahead, say “I know that” this week and celebrate what you do know. But once you’ve celebrated what you do know take time to learn something new about what you already know so that you don’t get stuck or stagnant. Go ahead, live and learn a little this week!

Dog Days of Summer

I’m a big dog lover, having a dog growing up was one of the best experiences. I think it’s important for all kids to be either raised with or regularly exposed to pets so that they can have a healthy, not fearful, relationship with them, should they ever come into contact with them as a kid or adult. One of the families I work with recently got a dog and being with them and the dog has me thinking about pets, and about the phrase ‘dog days of summer.’

Some say the ‘dog days’ originally referred to the dog star Sirius appearing which could happen in late July. Now we refer to them during the days of summer when the day is so hot it just makes you want to lie around and do nothing, except pant with your dog of course.

I loved having a dog growing up and I look forward to having a dog again soon. But having a dog, or any kind of pet, is a big responsibility and not something that everyone can do full time. If that’s the case for you there are lots of organizations around the country that welcome visitors to be pet petters, some organizations have volunteers who take in pets for short periods of time before they find a full time home, and you can also pet sit for neighbors and friends.

Why do I encourage regular interaction with pets? Because just like many other things in life kids need to learn how to interact with them so they can respect them, know how to interact with them, know how to react to many different behaviors and feel comfortable and confident when they’re around. Pets are much better than people at picking up on how someone is feeling, so they react strongly to fears and anger, and unfortunately often react in ways that reinforce that anger and fear.

Pets are treasured members of many families around the world, and with more awareness, education and interaction I believe we can turn the tide for many dogs, pets and kids of the future.

A Little Relationship Advice

When you’re asking for advice about a relationship topic, just about everyone else has something to say. Everyone’s been through at least one relationship and everyone’s had at least one good one and one bad one, whether we’re talking about family relationships or romantic relationships. If you’ve had the unfortunate experience to not have great relationships, getting advice from others is a good idea. If you’ve had a bunch of great relationships it’s still not a bad idea to get advice from others or talk with them about how they work through the issues in their relationships. Why? Because everyone is different and they handle problems differently, so even if you’ve dealt with a specific problem before dealing with it with someone else will go differently. As well, situations change and life sometimes works differently and there are different other factors in play, so the way you’ve handled a situation in the past may not be able to be handled in the same way in the future, even if we’re talking about the same 2 people dealing with it.

Of course, just because you ask for or receive advice it doesn’t mean you have to apply it to your life, or apply all of it. And the lesson you learn from it may be a different lesson than they learned, or you may be able to apply it in a different way. I think a big part of the advice concept is the sharing of experiences and lessons. It’s not (just) about sharing how smart you are but about going through this journey called life together. Maybe they need to share the lesson more than you need to learn the lesson.

Sometimes you’ll get lucky and someone will randomly share an experience with you, but other times you have to admit that you’re feeling lost and ask for help. It can be hard to ask for help, but that’s a big part of what relationships are here for. Relationships really exist to improve our lives, to challenge us at times, yes, but ultimately we should be better for the relationships we’ve had. Yes, there are always a few bad eggs, but that’s life, and it’s up to us to get out of those relationships before too much damage occurs.

So the next time someone offers some advice I encourage you to listen to it, and this week I encourage you to reach out to someone else and ask them for advice. You can ease into it with something small, but choose to get out there and build those relationships and learn from the people in your life.

Learning to Love Yourself

This month we’re talking about a topic related to one we talked about a couple of months ago, the topic of love.  I know, it may seem strange to talk about love in a month that’s not February (we talked about the topic of heart in February), but love is something we should talk and think about all year long.  It’s not just a topic for couples or those interested in being a couple, but for everyone.  Love isn’t just about being romantic, love is about all kinds of relationships we find ourselves in, whether work, earth/nature, family, neighbor or romantic.

Today though I want to start off the week with talking about the topic of self love or loving yourself.  It’s a double edged sword topic because when we focus too much on self love we’re accused of being selfish, and usually rightly so.  But at the same time if we’re so selfless that we only think about others, our own needs can be ignored and others can forget that we too have needs.  We’re not talking about missionaries who intentionally are selfless, but about the rest of the people in the world who, faith background or not, tend to live a more “normal” life of people, work, and daily/weekly/seasonal activities.

Why choose to love yourself? It’s about more than just making sure you’ll be around for the needs the other people in your life have.  We should all have a reason we want to keep living, to stay alive, to wake up another day.  We all have gifts that we bring to the world, for some of us it’s a question of figuring out how or where we best fit in, and sometimes there’s not an easy answer to that.  But loving yourself is about more than just making sure you’re alive and breathing, it’s about contributing to who you are as a person and becoming better because you’re worth it.

We may not all agree with the same faith beliefs or agree with how the world and we were created, but I can’t see us being disposable, lemmings or robots.  I believe that each and every one of us has value to add to the world, and for most of us that has to start with us believing in and accepting who we are.  I challenge you this month to open yourself to learning what you love, adding that love to your life on a regular basis and learning how you can best help love grow and multiply in the world.

Sometimes School Stinks

Schools are officially in full swing and kids are getting back into their schedules and of course doing lots of homework.   I graduated from both high school and college, attended both public and private schools and attended 3 different colleges in different states during my college years, so I’ve seen some of what the educational world has to offer.  I’ve had some great teachers, I’ve had some teachers who had great personalities even if I don’t remember learning anything, I’ve had a ton of forgettable teachers, and I’ve had teachers who were terrible in more ways than one.

I’ve also met lots of of people having worked in schools and with kids outside of my own educational experience, plus owning my own business has introduced me to many people.  I know people from all around the world, and while their corners of the world may be a little different than mine, there are things that are unfortunately the same throughout the world that we need to pay attention to so that we can make the world a better place for the next generation.

School was created as a way to make sure that everyone learns certain things, like reading, writing and math.  We’re all exposed to some science, history and physical education as well, but those are less memorable for many of us.  Today I want to take just a couple minutes to talk about something that we don’t really like to admit: school failures.  I’ve already spoken to one of those negatives: teachers who stink.  Some teachers just don’t care about the kids, they’re just in it for the paycheck.  They share the same info every year and don’t take the time to make it come to life for new students, or consider the interests of their new students to add additional aspects to the classes.  It’s unfortunate because at some point in time they probably were passionate and did bring life to what they teach, they just don’t anymore.  As a parent there’s not a lot you can do other than encourage your kid to do the best they can and just get through it.  Sure, you can bring it up to the school board, but that doesn’t always work out in your favor and may do more harm than good.

Issue number two is that schools don’t always teach what people really need to know.  Because of the fact that I work with a wide variety of businesses some of my education that may not apply to others has been practically helpful, but much of it has not been, especially with the availability of Google and answers being a couple of clicks away.  There are many other skills that I wish had been taught but weren’t.  As a parent the best thing you can do is help teach some of those things at home and get kids involved in activities and learning experiences that are available extracurricularally.

Finally is an issue that we’ll talk about in greater depth in the coming weeks: bullying.  Relationships are the building blocks of our world.  If we aren’t able to create relationships of all kinds it’s much harder to do our jobs and live our lives.  There will always be some who are just bad people, but I believe most people don’t grow up wanting to be bad, they want to stand out or finally find acceptance.  If it’s your kid doing the bullying make sure to put an immediate stop to it and teach them better ways of interacting with others.  If they’re the target of a bully, encourage them to stand up for themselves and try to help the bully see the error of their ways, but if they don’t and adults aren’t able to intervene and turn the behaviors around, it’s time for new friends and acquaintances.

What lessons about school have you learned?

What Has Your Business Taught You?

This month we’ll be talking about learning! I spend time every day reading a host of newsletters to make sure that I’m up on what’s going on in the business world and I learn more to be better equipped to help my clients.  What I’ve learned over my years in running my own business is that it’s all one big learning opportunity, one that I’m grateful for each and every day. So to start the month off I thought I would share a few lessons about learning in business.

1-When you stop learning you risk your success.  I can’t think of any industries that don’t benefit from learning.  Whether it’s learning preservation techniques, reporting methods, new products to offer your customers, new techniques on problem solving or the latest technology, there’s always something changing, often things that you can lose or gain sales over.

2-there’s always a cost.  Whether you choose to spend the money to make things happen at a faster rate or you choose to invest the time, there’s always a cost.  I started where many other business owners start, with the cost of time rather than money because I didn’t have any.  Today there are even more free opportunities for being successful in business, just know that it will take longer and be more work than if you could invest some money in it.

3-you can always improve.  I will be sharing more about this topic on Friday, but very few of the companies I come in contact with are in existence to be essentially one hit wonders.  Everyone wants to have at least some lasting success.  If you want lasting success, you have to be open to improving, growing, learning and expanding.  If you don’t think you have room for improvement, ask a few of your customers what they would like to see from you and check out some of the reviews posted online.

4-business teaches you to make tough choices.  It’s not easy to let go of an employee or a paying customer, or stop offering a product or service, but sometimes it’s necessary for the future and health of you and your business.  Sometimes you’ll have to make snap judgments and live with the results, other times you’ll have plenty of time to research the facts of the situation and make an educated decision. It’s still up to you to make that decision though.

Your business’s success depends on your ability to learn, grow and change.  What have you learned lately from your business?