Monday, March 31, 2014

Three Big Toes

There are lots of manly ways to hurt your toe.The dreaded turf toe is a common football injury. It always sound a bit of a "weak" injury when it causes players to miss games. I have turf toe right now, and I no longer think it is a joke. My problem is I do not have a good story. I was walking up stairs, with my hands full, and missed a step, with everything but my big toe. As I stepped up with all my weight on one lone big toe...ouchies. I dropped like a sack of potatoes. No macho sports story for me, just the inability to hit a step with my foot.

The big toe is overlooked for it's importance to your everyday, all day activity. Absolutely everything you do on two feet rely on the big toe. I have broken a pinky-toe with less irritation to my daily routine.  

What is your big toe at work, or at home? What is that one person or little service you take for granted every day and do not show appreciation for? I do not have an extra big toe to swap out the injured one. Make sure you look for your "big toes" in your daily life, and thank them. I am sure you have some irreplaceable people that could use your appreciation..

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I am a proud Eagle Scout. There are four things I mainly attribute to for who I am as a man today. My family, the Church, Boy Scouts and my Fraternity. A lot of guys have a sports coach in there, but I never really had that great coach I looked up to or used as a mentor (not including my Dad). I'm writing today because another one of my Scout Masters passed on this week. George Grim had a stroke and died, leaving my Dad as the only long serving Scout Master I had as a kid left.

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are a target of a lot of negative things; media attacks for membership policies, constant jokes about molestation, and general "nerd" jokes. They are actually very similar to the Catholic Church in this way. But, I will always defend the BSA because the good far outweighs the bad. It is not even close. As a boy and young man, my Scout Masters helped instill so many good things in me I cannot count. Good citizenship, confidence, survival skills, problem solving, teamwork, leadership, goal setting, community service, friendship, love of the outdoors, my somewhat obsessive love of knots, doing a good turn daily, and on and on. To this day I strive to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. This is the Scout Law.

The men who spent their free time volunteering to instill these things in a young boy should be honored. George Grim, along with Paul Luke, Bill Chester, Dallas Heston, Ralph McDonough and many others should all be commended for their great work and dedication. I hope I have lived a life worthy of my Eagle Scout badge, and will recommit myself to the Scout Oath today in their honor.

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

And for Mr. Grim, I will look to the West, and sing that song you would always sing on camp-outs at night to your beloved West Virginia home. I hope you have been taken home down that country road.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Emotional Bank Account

I am a firm believer in trust and the emotional bank account. A brief explanation; you act with honesty and kindness over time, to develop trust and mutual respect with individuals. Then if the time comes that you may have a disagreement, you have a trust already existing, and assume positive intent from the other person while working on the issue together. I know this can sometimes be a nice concept, but difficult to practice. I normally choose the more positive high road when possible.

Last night a longtime friend and mentor blasted open what I thought was a well invested bank account. I was asked about a procedural issue, not my personal opinion, and offered advice I would give any of my volunteer constituents. The response I received was emotional, personal and not colored with any positives directed at me. I was basically called a "company man" and accused of scraping out all humanity from the situation. This hurt me very badly. The comments hurt because of the source and the 20+ year relationship I have with the individual, one I consider a close friend. To immediately go to the "company man" card was really inflammatory. I wanted to say, "have you paid attention to who I have been for twenty years, and do you think I would change overnight?" I was really hot over the comments, and probably was the cause for J to play on her iPad all night, since I was blowing off steam about the event. I ended the discussion on fairly friendly notes between my friend an me, but I am still bothered by the interaction.

I am left this morning with a review of why things got to that point. Am I too sensitive? Was the comment just an emotional blast that I took too seriously? I do not know, but I will commit to talking with my friend about how it made me feel. I will remain committed to my emotional bank account system, the plan has worked well most of the time, so no need to withdrawn my deposits. Look over the obscuring clouds, follow the light, and be a leader of positivity.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Joe Satriani's Time Machine album cover.
March 19, 2014. Wow. Time is flying.

My kids are getting so big, J is busy at work and with the family. I have been very busy travelling for work, working with my volunteer efforts. Baseball spring training is here, March Madness starts this weekend. I just do not know how 2014 has gone so fast. Is there any way to slow it down, to get in the time I need to refresh and stay focused on the most important things in my life, my family?

I am sure this is a conundrum every parent faces. I cancelled some tentative plans today to make sure I am home. I have to be able to realize one day I cannot be everywhere all the time. J told me today she felt like she won because I chose her over an alumni event. That made me upset, a clear indicator I have been over scheduled. J is very generous and understanding with my volunteer life, and I never want to abuse the time sharing trust she has. I do not have the time machine, nor do I have an answer today, but I will stay more aware of the compounding affect my time away from home has on CC&J.

My plan: Slow it down, review appointments in person with J, spend time with just J, sit on the floor and play as much as possible with C&C, treasure each tuck-in I do for C&C. Be thankful.

Monday, March 10, 2014


Never travel without your batteries fully charged. I had a low phone charge this morning, even though I thought I charged overnight, and my noise canecelling headphones died on the first leg of my trip. What makes that more annoying is I bought expensive airport shop batteries just a couple weeks ago, and left them at home. So I will now buy expensive airport batteries again. This is a bit irritating. Luckily I can read without tech or listen to music with regular headphones, so no real issues, just some first world problems. 

What I am reminded of is to make sure my batteries are charged. Not the phone, iPad, laptop, headphones or any other consumer electronic, but me, my mind and body. I normally get around 6-7 hours of sleep, which is barely enough. I drag in the morning, and work out most days before I get my workday moving. But what can I do to truly recharge my batteries. With two small kids this is a constant challenge. I do find that exercise and good eating help a whole lot. They don't make my morning drag that much more peppy, but throughout the day I have a lot less lag. But aside from the physical battery I need to focus on the mental and emotional ones. 

How can I make certain the mind and spirit are charged? Learning and challenging myself help a lot. It sounds silly but watching the new Cosmos show last night engaged my brain, and excited the child inside and his love of learning. As a kid I wanted to be an astronomer, I loved learning about the sun and stars. Not sure when that stopped, or when I diverted, but I felt like a kid watching this program. I forgot how much I love this stuff. Hopefully the show stay on the great path it seems to be on, and maybe I can dust off the star map and show my kid some things this summer.

I am also spending this Lenten season refocusing my connection to my faith. This is a  forty day period to spend denying myself any harmful or destructive behaviors, and making sure my faith stays a central part of my life.

In all there aspects of keeping my battery charged, mind, body and spirit, I am glad I can take my family along with me. They are really the charging station for me, that is my battery core. With my wife and kids along for the trip, my battery will always need charged, but I we'll always have the reasons to stay on right next to me.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Lurking in the Shadows

The photo above is from my dry erase wall in my office. I leave it there as a daily reminder. Over-thinking and worrying about details can get in the way sometimes, especially when relationships are involved. In life there is a large sphere of things you do not, and con never control. Within that big zone, there is a smaller sphere that you have total control over what you can affect. The key is expanding your green circle, so you minimize the gap of what you cannot control.

My firm's former president had a saying about to looking into the shadows to see what is going on in them. People whispering and working against the team goal. He emphasizes walking toward the light, and helping folks walk along with you.

These two concepts are very similar. There will always be folks in the shadows, complaining, pointing out problems without any solutions. You cannot control this, and you should not focus on correcting it either. If people are not strong enough to bring their questions or problems into the light, they cannot be taken to credibly. Maybe work on the trust issues first, and see if that can help. I will never turn someone away that wants to discuss differences, or bring forth issues. But I will not focus on what is going on in the shadows either. Moving forward in the light will be my path, and hopefully I can bring some people along for the ride. The more you increase your affecting circle, the more light you shed. The more light you shed, the smaller the shadows.

Saturday, March 01, 2014