Hardly got time to think

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Ever since this year started, I have been sooo busy. Not a good busy. Just a very frazzled, nonsensical, crazy busy. The kind of busy that generates a lot of smoke, but very little light.

I have a small house deal that started at the end of November. I thought, “Okay. Easy in, easy out.” Not so. With some of the financing oddities and the strangeness of the inspections and appraisals, this one has just taken forever! My seller has been as good as gold, and buyer’s agent has been a pleasure to work with. But the whole thing just goes on and on. Now it looks like the deal might close in the next couple of days, but nothing is cast in stone. It’ll be over when it’s over.

I did make a discovery earlier on this month. Just after we got back from our family vacation to Maui, I started looking at a Kickstarter item I’d ordered. It’s call the Productivity Planner. It’s put together by the same guys that brought us the Five-Minute Journal in 2015. (I liked the Journal so much, I bought the Productivity Planner too!)

The discovery I just made about the Planner is that it is designed around a couple of concepts (more than a couple really). One of these concepts comes from Gary Keller (and others). Keller in The One Thing talks about identifying the One Thing, which if you accomplish it, will make everything much easier or even unnecessary. This is one of the grounding concepts used in the design and implementation of the Productivity Planner.

The other concept or tool is Pomodoro. I had stumbled on the term Pomodoro in the past. I knew it had something to do with a small, tomato-shaped timer. What I didn’t know was the Pomodoro was a technique or tool for improving personal productivity. I’m not going to go into a great detail here about Pomodoro. However, discovering it here in the Productivity Planner, and having a chance to play with it, I can see where Pomodoro is slated to become a great tool for me. It just fits!

So, here’s to a productive 2016. My Productivity Planner–the print version–should ship the end of this month or early in February. I’ve had a “preview” with the PDF version the Planner’s creators sent out, so I’m raring to go. And practicing Pomodoro in the meantime.

Closing thoughts on 2016

The year 2015 has been a year of new things and breakthroughs for me. I started a new business (real estate). I’ve been focusing on developing new habits.

In the past few weekfive minute journals–about the last three months of 2015– I’ve started something called The Five-Minute Journal. For those of you not familiar with this little book, the Journal is a guided journal, designed I think for people that have never done journaling before, or otherwise need prompts to guide them in their journaling activity. I fall into the last category.

I really do need something to get me going with my journaling. The Five-Minute Journal has been than tool. It’s become a daily routine or habit. Looking ahead to 2016, I can see that this something I will be doing regularly.

The first section of the Journal is a how-to. How to complete each days entries. They are identically the same for each day. You do the journal first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. In the morning: Three things I’m grateful for, three things that would make the day great, and daily affirmations. In the evening: Three amazing things that happened today and things that could have made today better.

After doing my journaling for the first few weeks, it was the last item that started giving me trouble. How could I have made today better? The first few weeks, I was picking on myself! After a couple of weeks of doing this, I came to the conclusion that each day was just a “good” as I could make it. I really couldn’t go back and consider things I could have done to “make today better”. So I decided to begin doing an identical entry each day in answer to this question. My answer? “Today was perfect.” What else could it be?

Each day is what you make it. No point going back and trying to fine tune it in retrospect. Each day is perfect. I don’t have the ability to go back and change it, so why dwell on it?

Each day there is something to be grateful for. Often I find more than three things, so I’ll scribble in a fourth or even a fifth! I very often have some small goals or tasks to achieve each day that, having achieved them, it would make my day great! Again, often I find more than three, so I’ll fill up the white space with numbers four and five.

Daily affirmations? Each day in The Five-Minute Journal has a quote. Quite often that quote will give me an idea — for something to be grateful for, for something that would make today great, or an affirmation. My global affirmation for each day is, “I am kind and wise and prosperous.”

Do you journal? Do you have a daily affirmation? Please share in the comments if you like.

And have prosperous 2016.

Gerry.

American management – Funny or not so much?

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Recently, I reposted (shared) an American management humor piece on Facebook. What amazed me was not that it was funny–it was. What amazed me was the number of reposts I got on my repost! Apparently a lot of people identify with this story, and bizarre ways our so-called industry leaders behave.

management humor

Here’s the story:

The American and the Japanese corporate offices for a large multi-national corporation decided to engage in a competitive boat race. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance.

On the big day they felt ready. The Japanese team won by a mile. Afterward, the American team was discouraged by the loss. Morale sagged. Corporate management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found, so a consulting firm was hired to investigate the problem and recommended corrective action.

The consultant’s finding: The Japanese team had eight people rowing and one person steering; the American team had one person rowing and eight people steering.

After a year of study and millions spent analyzing the problem, the firm concluded that too many people were steering and not enough were rowing on the American team.

So, as race day neared again the following year, the American team’s management structure was completely reorganized. The new structure: four steering managers, three area steering managers and a new performance review system for the person rowing the boat to provide work incentive.

The next year, the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, the American office laid-off the rower for poor performance and gave the managers a bonus for discovering the problem.

Funny? I’m interested to hear your comments. Please tell us any funny (but pointed) management stories you’ve heard lately!

And as always, thanks for reading.

Gerry.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

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The saying “This is the first day of the rest of your life” has been attributed to Charles Diederich, founder of the 60s drug rehab facility known as Synanon. It has also been attributed to a mid-60s group of anarchist street actors called the Diggers.

Pundits have criticized the well-known slogan. One criticism is that if today is the first day of the rest of your life, that would mean that tomorrow is the second day. The day after is the third day, and so forth. So that as a mantra for living each day anew, it fails.

As well (say the critics), if today is the first day of the rest of your life, that would mean that yesterday was the last day of some previous life–clearly an untenable argument. You only have one life.

Petty criticisms aside, I grew up in the 60s so a lot of the cultural accoutrements of the period have followed me in varying degrees. This particular saying is one that has stuck. Not as a daily prayers or mantra, but something I come back to at certain decision points or crises in my life. I don’t really seem to need it in times of joy or good fortune.

As those of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter might know, I’ve recently had a sort of career diversion. I took a layoff from a company I’ve worked with for a little over two years. Two years ago, that would have been less of a concern than it is to me know. I’m a couple of years older (read: a couple years closer to retirement). I’m disenchanted, disillusioned with my chosen career path. Healthcare, where I’ve worked the last 20 years or so, has become less about being a helping profession–the reason I went into healthcare in the first place–and more about being Big Business. Healthcare is no longer about the nurses and the doctors and their customers–the patients or healthcare customers that depend on their services. Healthcare is now more about the insurance conglomerates and so-called reimbursement–that is, how much much money can healthcare extract from the pockets of those it was intended to serve.

“The rest of my life” includes more work, to be sure. It doesn’t necessarily include healthcare.  When I’m thinking now of “today being the first day of the rest of my life”, I’m thinking of writing. I’m thinking of the fledgling real estate investment business that my wife Jan and I have started. I’m thinking of perhaps experimenting with some occupations and obligations that while I was in healthcare were overshadowed. I’m in a fortunate position in that I have some time to ponder.

If you had a day–today for instance–to start over–to reset your life, what would you do? A new occupation perhaps? Or to finally retire and spend more time with friends and family? To travel to new and exciting places?

What does the rest of your life look like?

Golden Hour

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Photographers and other artists all know about the “golden hour”–that one hour of perfect, golden light every day.

The golden hour actually occurs twice a day. Sometimes known also as the “magic hour”, it is a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to when the Sun is higher in the sky.

This morning on Lake Lorene there was just enough naked sun peaking out from behind the clouds to provide some of this magic. In the Pacific Northwest winter, the Golden Hour can turn out to be a “golden five minutes”, as the sun is always playing hide and seek.

So, you enjoy it when you can, snap a picture if you’re quick enough and if you have the time, share it with your friends.

Bacon-Jalapeño Cheese Ball

Found this little gem while I was browsing today.

cheese ball

Bacon-Jalapeño Cheese Ball

6 slices bacon
¼ cup chopped pecans
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp cilantro
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 jalapeños (ribs and seeds removed), finely chopped
Crackers (for serving)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet set over medium heat until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Allow to cool slightly, then crumble and divide in half.

In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, parsley, garlic, cumin, cayenne, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, half of the minced jalapeños, and half of the crumbled bacon until well combined. Season the mixture to taste with salt.

On a large plate, stir the toasted pecans, remaining minced jalapeños, cilantro and bacon together. Moisten your hands slightly and shape the cream cheese mixture into a ball Roll. Then the ball in the pecan mixture until well coated.

Cover the ball with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Enjoy!

A new adventure

MHS main campus

This week I embark on a new adventure.

I’ve been with the same employer, Multicare Health Services, now for a little over two years. During my tenure, I’ve gotten an MBA and a project management certification. I’ve learned a ton more about the EMR software that I’ve been working with for years. I’ve also experienced what it is to become totally embedded in an organization–its culture and politics.

Two years ago, if you would have told me I’d still be here at MHS, I would have said you were nuts. The job was wrong, the organization was wrong. The day I started I found out that the woman that had hired me had been terminated! Another analyst, who had been on the hiring team that had interviewed me (and who I became pretty good friends with afterwards) told me that when she interviewed me, she “didn’t think I was going to make it”.

Well, oddly enough, I made it. In fact, at two years, my stay with this organization was longer than my friend’s, by well over a year!

How it all came to an end

Multicare has a well-known penchant for hiring like crazy for a couple of years, and then when the financial fortunes of the firm take a downward turn, laying everyone off. It seems that human resources are the easiest, quickest things to trim from a bloated budget.

That was what happened with in my case. I was the business end of one of these trimmings. Fortunately, I was given an “option”–to take a “voluntary separation”. That is, I took a certain number of weeks of pay as compensation, and I agreed to leave.

I did this with eyes wide open. I wasn’t pressured or forced in any way to leave. However, I could see the writing on the wall–either get out now, or take a chance on being let go later with no “package”.

So what’s next?

I read a lovely farewell email from our CEO, Bill Robertson, this morning. The keyword was “farewell” and Bill emphasized the blessing hidden in the word “farewell”, and closed his email with the now-famous Irish blessing:

“May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

I am taking Bill’s comments to heart, taking the “best of our shared memories, the best of our good will, and the very best of our hopes” along on my journey. I wish the best to those I am leaving behind.

Farewell

Farewell will also be my mantra. This organization as been a great educational experience. They say that the best teacher is experience. Those experiences can be good or bad and both sorts of experience can be huge assets.

I will be using those experiences, those human connections and those ideas as I move up the road.

Gerry Wieder | Registered Nurse | Senior Real Estate Specialist® | Realtor® | Keller Williams Puget Sound

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