Archives for June 2015

Wisdom: Skydiving and Parachutes

Wisdom - Skydiving and Parachutes - Pathmaker Blog“You don’t need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive TWICE!

When Frank Sinatra sang My Way, he became the vocal hero of every individual who considers themselves their own man. And, being a little independent myself, I understand the sentiment Ol’ Blue Eyes was conveying. In fact, there are a number of times that I have actually proceeded in that manner, and been somewhat successful along the way. However, as the quote above indicates, there are times when you have to do it the same way everyone else does, or you may not be around to do it again!

It is obvious to virtually everyone that if you are going to skydive you need a parachute, so no one would intentionally attempt skydiving without one – that would be pure suicide! Now, let’s take that thought into the realm of business! With things like the Lottery and Publishing Clearing House Sweepstakes we live in a world where the Great American Dream centers around the idea than we can get rich quick. As a result, we often determine that there must be shortcuts in the business world, ones that will allow us to succeed without having to pay our dues. The reality is that’s not reality! The key to success in the business world is to work hard and follow all of the basic rules for the business you are in. As ever, the name of the game in sales is numbers – the more people you talk to the greater your chance of a sale.  It’s like the old adage says, “The harder I work the luckier I get!”

If you want to “live to fight another day” in the business world you have to make sure that you are following the prescribed rules, sort of like having a parachute to skydive. Now, you can develop a new, better parachute or a smaller, more economical plane – that, after all, is the basis of innovation! That’s how businesses survive and thrive, by employing a variation on a theme – not by skydiving without a parachute!

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To make changes You must first change Your mind

To make changes You must first change Your mind - Pathmaker Blog“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything else, either.” – George Bernard Shaw

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that is what Thomas Kuhn had in mind in 1962 when he developed the concept of paradigms shifts. In the simplest of terms, a paradigm shift is “a change from one way of thinking to another.” In my lifetime, a number of paradigm shifts have taken place and have led to a number of inventions and innovations. Below are a few examples of change in thought and the changes that they have brought about:

  • “It takes all day to cook dinner” (The microwave)
  • “The quickest and best way to create a manuscript is on a typewriter (The word processor)
  • “The best watch is the one with the most jewels.” (The quartz watch)

I could go on and on, but I think you have already gotten the point!

As a result of paradigm shifts, perhaps one of the most deadly phrases a businessman can utter is, “It’ll work – we’ve always done it that way!” Once a businessperson becomes stoic and locked into their ways they may very well be paving the road to failure. The question becomes, then, how can one make sure that they are, in fact, “keeping up with the times.”

This is not an easy question, of course, but perhaps the one simple answer is to explore every idea that is offered up, even if at first they seem a little far-fetched. Once brainstorming becomes an acceptable procedure at your business, you will find that people are less inhibited and will be able to explore a number of possibilities that people often keep to themselves for fear of ridicule. Remember, according to Mr. Shaw, if you can’t change your mind you can’t change anything else, either!

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Wisdom: I didn’t say it was Your fault

Wisdom - I didn’t say it was Your fault - Pathmaker Blog“I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.”

What a world we live in! Not only does the vast majority of the population not want to accept the responsibility of their actions, they look for a scapegoat to blame their inadequacies on. That’s what makes the validity of this statement so devastating! You see, when Harry Truman put the now famous placard on his desk, “The buck stops here” it was understood that, when all is said and done, the one at the top is responsible for what happens due to what those under them do. Today, however, instead of flowing up, responsibility seems to flow down – – with the lowest person in the chain of command being stuck with the brunt of everyone’s actions/words.

What this does, of course, is create an extreme amount of paranoia and distrust among the ranks of the working populace. People are afraid to make an administrative decision for fear that they will be brought to task and punished if things don’t go as planned. Young, naïve underlings are sacrificed on the throne of corporate advancement while shrewd, manipulative over-lords spend as much time and energy covering their bases as they do furthering the firms they work for. “And,” as Sonny and Cher told us, “the beat goes on.”

If you want to be a successful, and beloved, manager, don’t look for people to blame should things go wrong, spend more time working with people on your staff/team to ensure that the things don’t go wrong! Nurture those naïve individuals who come under your tutelage, helping them to understand the process and showing them how they, too, can be successful. For as ridiculous as this may sound, the more you help others the more you help yourself. Maybe it has something to do with casting your bread upon the waters, or if you want to be great in heaven be a servant in this world, or maybe it just is the manifestation of the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

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Without a Vision the People Perish

Without a Vision the People Perish - Pathmaker Blog“Where there is no vision, the people perish” – Proverbs 29:18

There are very few people who would argue with you if you proclaimed, “Solomon is, without a doubt, the wisest man to ever live.” That’s why we should take heed of his words of wisdom, including what he has to say about having a vision.

Many of us in the business realm know that we need a vision if, in fact, we want our businesses to succeed. The thing is, much fewer realize that having a vision is not enough. Rather, we must share that vision with those who work at each and every level of our business. To allow our employees and/or co-workers to enjoy success, real success, they need to be able to spend each day knowing that they have taken at least a small step in making that vision a reality!

You see the reality is that motivation, true motivation, is not achieved simply by increasing the size of one’s paycheck. There has to be an avenue for people to experience a sense of accomplishment. That’s why, in the manufacturing world, while very productive the assembly line creates burnout at an alarming rate.

A good example of this can be made by comparing two summer jobs I had when in College. While at International Paper Company (IP) my job was to feed wood into a grinder, which converted it to pulp, which was then made into paper. On the other job I worked for Saratoga County mowing along side the road. At IP I had a foreseeable end to a project, eventually the truck I was working on would be empty. Even though another truck was immediately wheeled in, at least I saw an end to my efforts. On the County, however, it was the same thing all day, every day – – there was never an end in sight!

So, the key is to share the vision with others, and then divide it into accomplishable tasks that allows for a sense of accomplishment. For, with just a little paraphrasing we can say, “Without a vision the business perishes.”

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Facing Failure with Enthusiasm

Facing Failure with Enthusiasm - Pathmaker Blog“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

Upon reading this I found myself strolling down memory’s lane to a place far, far away in time. I was just getting my writing career off the ground and, as fledging artist, was finding a lot more of my articles being turned down than being accepted. I had yet to have my first novel published, though I had sent out multiple queries on each of my ideas – – a hundred or more I’m sure! One day I saw my good friend, Dr. J. Patrick Otto, current Chair of Education at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, storm out of the Faculty Room of the Christian school we were teaching at. Catching up with him I asked what was wrong.

“We were just talking about getting a book published,” he explained, “and Sharon said her friend gave up trying to have his book published because he had already sent it out four time sand no one wanted it! Four times,” he exclaimed with emphasis, “obviously he doesn’t want it as bad as you do!”

And therein lies the secret of Mr. Churchill’s statement: If you want something bad enough your enthusiasm will never wane, regardless of how many failures you encounter along the way! This is especially true in the business realm. Each day, each week, each month and each year you need to attack your ultimate goal with fervor, vigor, and undying enthusiasm. If you don’t, you’ll never get that first novel published!

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Wisdom: Of all the Things I’ve lost I miss my Mind the most

Wisdom Of all the Things I’ve lost I miss my Mind the most - Pathmaker Blog“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.”

As I got older I expected not to be as sharp as I once was. However, while my rememberer isn’t what it used to be, I take great solace in the fact that individuals much younger than me are having the same problem! It seems that I am not alone when I utter the phrase, “Of all the things I’ve lost I miss my mind the most!”

I got to wondering about this the other day, and jotted down a short list of reasons why people feel as though they have lost their mind. And, I came up with some pretty interesting stuff – which I will take the time to share with you here.

We Live with Technology Overload

I do not have a smart phone – mostly because I refuse to spend my time trying to learn how to keep up with it! Friends I know who do have smart phones advise me that they just about figure out how to use it when it will automatically download updates and they have to start the learning process all over again! With some of them, they seem to lose their minds at least once every three months because of this!

We Live with Information Overload

Even our lexicon is growing with leaps and bounds! For example, did you know that conversate is now a word? I’m not even going to get into everything you need to know to text with someone. For example, I got a message from a casual female acquaintance, and she signed off with LOL. I told my wife that was somewhat presumptuous of her, and when asked why I explained that I didn’t think she was in a position to sign off with Lots of Love, at which point my wife was able to LOL as she explained to me what it really meant! Like others, I seem to be losing my mind when all I want to do is communicate with others.

We Live with God Health Overload

I have always been told that coffee is bad for you because of all the caffeine. I just read, however, that it is good for you because of, that’s right, the caffeine. Nuts are good for you because they provide protein – Nuts are bad for you because they have too much fat. Fruit is good for you because of the vitamins they contain – Fruit is bad for you because they contain too much sugar. No wonder we all are losing our minds!

If you have been paying attention you will note that the common element here is “overload.” That’s why, if you want to minimize losing your mind, you may want to implement the old KISS principle whenever and wherever possible – Keep It Simple Sweetie. The simple lifestyle is something we all long for, but so few of us actually strive for! So, next time you are missing your mind and are regretting that you lost it, just KISS and you will undoubtedly feel a lot better about life and about yourself.

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Wisdom: Smiles Wherever or Whenever

Wisdom Smiles Wherever or Whenever - Pathmaker Blog“Some generate happiness wherever they go. Others generate it whenever they go!

I would think that most people, at least if they are like me, would rather generate happiness wherever they go rather than whenever they go! And, in the business world, this is an especially important differential. Whether it be clients, staff, or cohorts, if you only generate happiness whenever you go you have a real problem that demands immediate attention!

The first challenge in addressing this is, of course, is determining if people look forward more to having you walk into a room or walk out. To determine if people do, in fact, dread to see you coming look for the following telltale signs:

  • Do people become surprisingly quiet when you walk in?
  • Do you notice that when you walk in others invariably walk out?
  • Do smiles seem to mysteriously disappear when you are around?

If you answered “yes” to even one of these, you need to work on your office-place demeanor!

If you actually care what others think about you, your next task is to determine why others are less than thrilled when you are around. The most obvious way, of course, is to ask someone – but that is not always the easiest. For the sake of our discussion, let’s suppose that you are able to locate someone who is brutally honest and shares all of your foibles – you will then find yourself at the next step:  Accepting that you need to change!

Unfortunately many who generate smiles whenever they leave tend to live denying the fact that there is a problem. Once this hurdle is conquered the next step is to go about making the suggested changes. No doubt about it, this may take a good deal of time and an even greater amount of effort. It is not impossible to change when you bring smiles, but it won’t happen on its own, either!

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Wisdom Chapter 1: Honesty

Wisdom Chapter 1 Honesty - Pathmaker Blog“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” – Thomas Jefferson

In an era when there is such a lack of honesty on almost every level of society, it is time that we take a moment and ponder what, exactly, Thomas Jefferson is sharing with us here. While honesty and integrity are integral parts of a person’s very being, the execution of honesty is more than just advisable – it is also a pragmatic approach to life!

When you are involved in business, it is vitally important that you understand that true wisdom mandates that you are always to be honest. One of the expressions that PATHMAKER very often uses to make this point is, “No secrets, no surprises.” This is true whether we are dealing with each other in-house, or if we are dealing with our clients.

One of the most important keys here is the fact that, generally speaking, people are quick to forgive us our frailties. If we are going to miss a deadline; forgot to do an assigned task; or overlooked an important aspect of our assignment we generally can be forgiven. That doesn’t, of course, mean that there won’t be ramifications because of it – possibly even negative ones, but we will undoubtedly be forgiven. However, if we are less than honest and try to cover up our problems, we fall victim to yet another famous quote, this one by Sir Walter Scott: “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

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WARNING: Dates on the Calendar are closer than they appear!

WARNING Dates on the Calendar are closer than they appear - Pathmaker BlogOne of the most disastrous things that can happen to a business person is to put a “due date” on their calendar for a project to be completed a couple of months down the road and then not re-visit that page of their calendar until it is to late to meet the deadline they had written down! The question at hand, then, is how does one ensure that this doesn’t happen to them?

The answer is not particularly complicated, nor does it particularly take a genius to figure it out: The key is to break the project down into accomplishable tasks and put each one of those on your calendar as well! This serves several purposes:

  • Makes you evaluate the project immediately.
  • Allows you to accomplish tasks on an on-going basis.
  • Allow you to discover if there might be complications before it is too late.
  • Makes you re-visit the project frequently.

As most anyone will tell you, the older you get the quicker time goes by, meaning that “Dates on the calendar are closer than they appear” is not a joke but a solemn reality!

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You can’t make everyone happy so concentrate on me!

You can’t make everyone happy so concentrate on me - Pathmaker BlogYou might find that a little giggle escapes when you read this – I know one did when I read it!  The thing is, if you think about it, this sentiment can be anything but funny.

For example, if you find yourself working in a situation where you have several bosses and each and every one of them has this outlook on life, you will undoubtedly have a lot of confusion in your work life! And, no one should be subjected to that kind of pressure!

As you have undoubtedly surmised, this is a sentiment of someone who is a little on the selfish, self-centered side to say the very least! And, more often than not, that type of individual is not one who is highly respected among their colleagues and subordinates. Which brings us to the crux of this issue – are you one of those who adhere to this philosophy? If so, especially if you are in a management role, you need to consider what the ramifications are on those around you are when you employ this attitude!

Undoubtedly this little blurb is not going to cause you to change your complete personality and outlook on life. Hopefully, however, it will help you understand your responsibility to those who work for you/with you, and will allow you to view your outlook from a different perspective. As you may already know, and have been probably been told, the world doesn’t revolve around you, nor should you expect it to!

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