Month: January 2018

Blog Post #232 Standards

Standards

Today I’m thinking about standards.  I’m reminded when I put on a tennis shoe (athletic shoe) that inside the tongue of the shoe are four measurements – USA, UK, Europe and one other.  Americans still use the English measurement system (inch, foot, mile); while the rest of the world uses the metric system.  

Back in the late 1970’s I had an assignment to teach the metric system to teachers and it seemed like we were headed in that direction.  Alas, Americans did not adopt the metric standard.  

In computing there are many standards (although many I am not even aware of).  Protocols – like HTTP – Hypertext transfer protocol; FTP – file transfer protocols; and others allow one user to “talk” with another use over the internet.  The standards set up a common ‘language’ for interacting with others.

I also think of the incongruity of where there are not standards. On my car, I press a button down to lock the doors; on my wife’s car it is the opposite – I press the upbutton to lock the doors.  In my car, the lock / unlock for both front seats is similarly located – on the door panel.  On my wife’s car, the lock / unlock for the driver is the same, but for the passenger it is in a different location.  On my car, the cruise control is on the right; on my wife’s car, the cruise control is on the left.  On my car, the windshield wipers are on the right turn bar; and they are on the left on her car.  On one car, I press a button at the end of the turn bar to wash the front window; on the other car I pull the turn bar towards me to wash.  

There are standards (or lack of standard) of meeting somebody – such as standing and shaking hands in many societies.  Some Asian societies bow; French may kiss each other’s cheeks.  

We are moving towards autonomous vehicles.  The car makers are in discussions about the standards – and implications on society.  Should an autonomous car slow and stop when approaching an intersection with a yellow light; or should it be like many of us do now – rev the engine and drove through the yellow light just as it turns red?  

In our area, there are different lights for turning left on a green light when there is no oncoming traffic.  One light has a flashing yellow – with a sign above it that says “left turn allowed on green light”.  Other lights have a solid red light – no turns when the other lights are green.  Some lights don’t have arrows – I guess that means use our own judgment.  

Setting standards is a basic way for society to interact with each other.  What areas do you know of where standards could be tightened?

Let me know:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

Thank you!!

Bruce

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Blog post #231:  The WORST word in the English language

The WORST word in the English language

I think (and many agree with me – or … more probably; I agree with many others), that the WORST word in the English language is a hyphenated word:  CAN’T – for CAN NOT.

The worst sentences in the English language go something like this:  I CAN’T do that.  

Now there are times when that word is appropriate, like this:  Question:  Bruce, can you run a 4 minute mile?  Answer:  No, I can’t.

The famous quote attributed to Henry Ford was “If you say you can or you say you can’t; you are correct”.  

Likewise as kids we learned from “The Little Engine who could”.  Where the little engine was able to pull the train over the mountain and to the kids / village below, after several other engines sat that they “can’t”.  

For kids the answer might be a little flippant – “Son can you take out the trash?”; “No Mom, I can’t”.  

The word “Can” expands our comfort zone – or puts us into the zone just outside the comfort zone.  Maybe the teacher asks “Johnny could you give a talk tomorrow about playing on the basketball team”.  If Johnny is shy, or doesn’t want to be in front of the class, Johnny can say “No, I can’t”.  If pressed, Johnny might say “I don’t feel comfortable speaking in public or speaking before my classmates. “  But, if Johnny said “I think I can” (or even “Yes, I can”); he can do it.  

How about this scenario:  Somebody takes me, blindfolds me, puts me on a little plane and then drops me (and some boxes with supplies) in Antarctica.  When I land on the ground I have two options – I can’t do; or I can do it.  If I take the supplies and find a way to make shelter and to prepare food and to dress warmly, although outside my comfort zone, I CAN survive.   

A teacher asked her college students if they could go a week without any electronics (that is, phone, internet, email, snapchat, instagram); most would say “I can’t do that”.  There might be the few that say they can – and in a few days are going crazy because of the lack of their ubiquitous phones and technology. It are those that persevere that can (eventually) move mountains.

My last three years of teaching were at the University of Texas where the motto is: “What starts here changes the world”.  Now that is really true of all college programs – but we have to believe and we have to get outside our comfort zone and say “I CAN DO THIS”.  

A friend and academic colleague talks about his first week on the job with a big consulting firm.  His boss gives him a project to work on, and insists that he can ask for help anything.  Wanting to look smart and valuable to the company, he spends that first week spinning his wheels, digging for information for this project and not finding it.  At the end of that first week, the boss called him in to ask how it was going.  He sheepishly had to say “Not going all that well.  I’m kind of overwhelmed.”  The boss continues and asked “Why didn’t you come to me and ask me for help?”  His answer of “I wanted to do it on my own” was an example of “can’t”.  He was too proud to ask for help – even help that was offered to him – even pushed on him.  He couldn’t get out of his comfort zone (from college and previous education), that you don’t say “I’m lost and I can’t do this”.  

So, how about you?  Are there things that you COULD do; that you are saying “No” too quickly.  There is frequently a good balance – don’t say “I can’t” too quickly; but don’t go too long without help.

What do you think?

Comments:  Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

 

Bruce

 

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Blog post #230:  Marking and Celebrating Milestones

Marking and Celebrating Milestones

Particularly with longer team goals, you can lose sight of the goal.  As the old adage goes ““When you’re up to your waist in alligators, it’s easy to forget you came to drain the swamp.”  Losing sight of your goals is fairly common as ‘life goes on’.  

Let’s say as a professor, I started as an assistant professor; then become an associate professor; then a professor (or “full” professor).  And … in my case, a professor emeritus.  In most universities you need to stay at one rank for seven years before you are eligible for promotion to the next rank.  But in those seven years at an associate professor (i.e. beginner), you can lose sight of the end goal of being a full professor.  

To be promoted (and eventually promoted to full professor), one needs three solid factors:  Excellent teaching; good scholarship; service to campus / profession.

Each day as an associate professor goes into the classroom, he/she needs to ask himself (herself) “Is this good teaching?”; “How can I be a better teacher?”.  And again, after class – “How did I do today?  Was this excellent teaching?  How can I be better?”

There are many ways to improve teaching.  One way is to attend training sessions on teaching; watch videos (like TED Talks).  Another way is to find excellent teachers on your campus and sit on one of their classes (ask permission first – it could be a test day).  Take notes, after class take that professor for a cup of coffee and ask them how to be a great teacher.  Read books on being a great teacher; look for internet sites on being a great teacher.  In some cases you just need a little more effort and desire to become a great teacher.

For me the toughest part was the scholarship / publishing area.  My campus needed six publications in five years to be promoted.  The suggestion is to save one day a week for solid research and writing.  Then find colleagues to do joint publishing.  I was active in a professional organization (see next paragraph), but through that activity I was jointly published with a number of solid academics.  For an academic career that covered 38 years, I had over 70 published papers, plus many more presentations.

And, maybe for me, the easiest was the service component.  From early age, I tended to like service from campus committees – both undergraduate and graduate; to community service (music mostly).  On campus, there were a lot of service activities available.  There were a varity of committees – from the library committee, to the parking committee, to student affairs, to the faculty senate – I probably served on most (okay, not really, but you get the idea).  I was an advisor to THREE student groups (pep band, fraternity, and a group majoring in my department).  Outside of the campus were the professional groups.  I chaired a national conference FOUR times (the previous was at most TWO times).  I was an officer in that organization; I was on national curriculum committees.  I reviewed for several publications.  

Now, back to the topic; each class day; each day working on a publication article; each hour spent in service were small steps on that way to promotion.  

At the end of each semester, I took time to reflect on my goals of being a full professor and how that semester was part of the overall scheme of things.  

So, how about you?  Can you create steps on your way to a bigger and in-the-future goal?  Get started!!  

 

What do you think?

Comments:  Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

 

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #229 Stuff Happens

Blog post #229:  Stuff Happens

Even with goals – life still happens.  You are progressing nicely on goals; your short term goals are on target.  You think you will meet and exceed your goals early.  Then <boom>.

Stuff happens:

  1. A hurricane drops 20 plus inches of rain on your house and you can’t work; you can’t get out of your house; and when you do; you end up in a motel for several months while a cleaning crew takes out your wet, moldy drywall and rebuilds.
  2. You are driving your car through an intersection and another car / driver runs the red light and slams into you.  That goal of running a marathon this year is out the window.
  3. You are mowing your grass and suddenly you feel light headed and collapse on the ground.  You are having a heart attack.  Your goals are in the dust – as your new goal is to survive and get well
  4. You are celebrating reach a goal and you are taking a cruise when the cruise ship runs aground and you can’t get home for an extra week.

Yes, stuff happens – life happens.  You can control yourself – but you can’t control all the variables.  You can set a goal for running the marathon, but you can’t set a goal of stopping a driver running a red light.  

You need to back up – face the new reality – create new goals that will fit with the new realities.

And … in all these things you need to be positive – and have a great attitude.  I’m reminded of I Thessalonians 5:18: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you”.  In all circumstances – hurricanes, car runs a red light; heart attack; whatever – give thanks.

 

What do you think?

Comments:  Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

 

Bruce

 

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Blog post #228:  Perseverance

Blog post #228:  Perseverance

So, let’s see … you have set your goals – they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely (SMART).  You have been working on them for a month – and doing great.  Then something happens and you are tempted to drop that goal.

Let’s see what that might be:  Your goal is to lose weight – maybe something like:  By March 1, 2018 I will weigh no more than 150 pounds.  I envision myself as happy; I will feel great; I KNOW I can do this.  But, you are going to a conference in another city.  The hotel breakfast has bacon, eggs, Belgium Waffles, syrup, all kind of breads and rolls.  You see the bagels and the cream cheese and you are tempted to eat all the favorite food.  You are at a table with good friends who are not losing weight and they are enjoying the great food.  Then there is a conference lunch.  There is a plated lunch, and you see a plate with a chicken breast covered with a gravy / sauce; there are rolls with butter (and you love butter); then the dessert comes – a luscious bowl of ice cream covered with chocolate sauce.  Again, you are with friends and laughing and enjoying life.  You said something about trying to lose weight, and your good buddy Bill looks intently at you and asserts “You don’t need to lose weight – you look great”.  Your other friends at the table agree with Bill.  Then that night after a conference dinner loaded with carbohydrates, fats, sugar you go out with your friends for a couple of beers.  You remember a comment that beer is like liquid bread – full of unneeded carbohydrates and sugars.  

So how do you resist?  Two ways – way one is to not eat everything on your plate and to drink water rather than beer or cocktails.  The other way is to enjoy the meals and beer in moderation.  Another quote you remember is “a slip is not a fall”.  You can have a ‘slip’ this weekend at the conference – enjoy your friends and your time away from home – and then get back on the course when you get home.  

Some people can handle the second method – enjoy in moderation and get back on your routine when you get home.  For a couple of days you can probably make it.  That might be you – or it might not be you.

Others cannot handle it – and have to push the food away and drink water.  One of my friends had an alcohol problem (now over 20 years ago) and was an alcoholic.  He quit cold turkey then and even now goes to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings monthly.  He refuses to go out to bars – even with close friends.  He has it in his brain that one drink will lead to two and to many, many – and he will become an alcoholic again.  While I don’t know that is true or not, I do understand him and understand his stand and I will not pressure him to go out to a bar to hear the music.

So, what person are you?  It also may vary with the goal.  What about a smoker who is working hard on quitting smoking?  Can he go to a smoke filled bar with friends (all of whom are smoking) and not want a cigarette because everybody else is having one – and his brain is yelling at him “Just for tonight”.

These are situations of being ‘tempted’.  How good are you at resisting temptation?  What if a girl in Las Vegas tries to pick you – and after all what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?  What if the clerk in giving you change gives you a $100 bill instead of a $10 bill – will you take the money and run?  

Is there some temptations you can overcome – and some that you are susceptible to?  Maybe you need to know your limits – and when you are at a boundary that will put you at odds with your goals – and your beliefs / life? Saying “no” is not a problem in most cases.  If a friend is pressuring you to say ‘yes’; and you will offend that friend if you say ‘no’ – maybe it is time to downgrade that friend to an acquaintance.

What do you think?

Comments:  Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

 

Bruce

 

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Blog post #227:  Do You REALLY want to – part II

Blog post #227:  Do You REALLY want to – part II

We have been talking of SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) and reaching those goals.

Yesterday we talked about setting goals that we maybe aren’t fully committed to.  (Like losing weight).

We have talked about declaring our goals openly (“let’s have a party” to declare our intent / goals); we’ve talked about imaging – picturing ourselves as having reached the goal; and even to the basics – the goal is attainable and relevant.  

So, how to get committed?

Is this a good goal?

Is this a GREAT goal?
Does this goal consume a good part of your thoughts?  Is this goal like my friend Lori who recently lost 100 pounds so she could get hip surgery?  

And … to the basics:  Is this relevant to me?  And … is this attainable?

If I was Lori – who lost 100 pounds someplace between the first lost pound and the 100th lost pound, I might have said “to hell with it.  I just get a wheelchair and let my life pass away”.

Lori proclaimed her goal on Facebook – told the world – or at least told her Facebook friends.  Not once did I see somebody write back to her “Give up Lori”.  As Lori posted “I’m down 10 pounds, her friends on Facebook give “love” replies and posted “Go for it Lori” comments.  The same happened for her other posts when she weighed in.  She had publicly stated her goal, the relevance of the goal, and her friends supported her.  

Another friend recently has set a goal for personal fitness – especially weight training.  She posts once a week about how much weight she has bench pressed, how much weight she has deadlifted; how much accumulated weight she has lifted and more.  Her total in her most recent post was over 6 TONS!!!  Impressive.

What is YOUR goal – are your really committed?  If so, go for it – proclaim it; live it; make it part of you; and if you are not really and fully committed – drop that goal and find one that can be a passion for you.

So, you must change your brain, your attitude, your thoughts.  

What do you think?

Comments:  Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

 

Bruce

 

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Blog post #226:  Do you REALLY want to?

Blog post #226:  Do you REALLY want to?  

We have been talking of SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) and reaching those goals.

Sometimes we set a goal that we ‘know’ we should set; but that we maybe aren’t excited about.  

Let’s take the stop smoking goal.  You KNOW that stopping smoking is the right thing to do – you are convinced that it is vital to your health.  (But … down inside … you really don’t want to stop.  You get some pleasure out of smoking.  It is a time to stand (probably outside) and think and take some drags off of a cigarette).  

You have a great goal – you have researched various methods, you might have talked it over with a friend or a spouse.  But you are NOT committed to reaching this goal.  You can go ‘cold turkey’ for a few days and then back in a routine slip back into the old comforting habit of smoking.  

So the issue isn’t that the goal is good – because the goal is very good for your health; the issue is not that you don’t know how to stop – you do know how to stop; the real deep issue is mental – you really don’t want to change.

So, you must change your brain, your attitude, your thoughts.  

This might be a place to put the pain / gain principle into play.  Figure out the pain – search for a website that shows the results of smoking (I just did – and it is pretty graphic).  Does financial pain affect you?  Figure how much money you are spending on smoking.  One site I looked at suggested it is about $2,500 a year if you smoke a pack a day.  For a year, you could take a very nice vacation on that money; for five years a good amount going to a new car.  

Compare the pain to the gain.

Personal – I’ve added a few pounds.  Yes, I’ve made the goal to be no more than 195 pounds by March 1st – but I really haven’t put enough pain / gain on it to make it work.  I’m good at rationalization – I’m not obese; I’m only a little over my ideal BMI (body mass index) – and the concept of I really do like to eat – especially candy and peanut butter – isn’t much of a pain point for me.  I need to work more on the pain side – like my pants are getting too tight.  

So … are you REALLY committed to your goal?  Or did you make the goal because making goals is a good thing to do at the start of a new year?

What do you think?

Comments:  Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

Bruce

 

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Blog post #225:  Change part III

Blog post #225:  Change part III

We have been talking of SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) and reaching those goals.

So, let’s have a PARTY!!!

Sometimes we don’t want to be too vocal about our goals.  Maybe secretly inside we are worried that we announce our goals and don’t reach them, we’ll look silly.  So we think we should be quiet about our goals and … hey – if we reach it – good; and if we don’t reach it – nobody knows!!!

But – why not have a PARTY – announce it.  

Politicians have a party (or maybe more correctly – a press conference) to announce their candidacy for office.  Balloons, colorful streamers, maybe even cake – just to let people know they want to be your government, mayor, representative, or whatever.  

What if we announced our goals – loudly – to our constituents / friends / family?  What if I declared publicly that I am going to lose weight (or quit smoking, or find a great job or whatever).  What if I had a PARTY announcing my goals.  

Maybe I’m sneaking a candy out of the candy dish – and my wife sees me and reminds me of my goal to lose weight – or I’m eating at a fast food place and my friends see me ordering french fries?  Would they correct me?  Would it be more deeply embedded in my brain because I had publicly declare my intent – that is – my goals?

By announcing my goals loudly and firmly I’m placing myself in the crosshairs of others.  I think this will make me think – and change my mind – if I eat that sweet or take that cigarette.  

 

Comments:  Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

 

Bruce

 

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Blog post #224 – Change part 2

Blog post #224:  Change part 2

We have been talking of SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely).  

Let’s face it – Change is tough.

As an Information Systems academic, I talked about change in my classes frequently.  In business, new technologies can make a company better, cut costs or increase revenues.  To not change as competitors do change can lead to falling behind competitors and losing market share.

The concept in information systems was:  (a) freeze; (b) change; (c) unfreeze.  Basically that meant prior to making a change in some aspect of an information system, to ‘freeze’ the current situation / software / hardware / systems; then to implement the new situation / software / hardware / systems; and then to make it the standard by ‘unfreezing’ it.

As an example, I was in charge of implementing a new development system.  It tied into reusable code libraries, better editing, and increased productivity.  We conducted training sessions on the new system (and I was even sent to an off site location to train staff there).  Staff saw the new systems and started embracing the change.  But, there was one person who refuses to use the new systems.  He had been trained on the new system, but proudly proclaimed “I will use the old system until it goes away”.  That is, he asserted that he wasn’t going to change until he had to.

The new system was implemented, productivity increased and the one stayed on his old platform until two months after the change was implemented, that system disappeared.  The person had to use the new system.

Many companies will encourage change with such things as parties, (okay, cake and beverage); balloons; banners promoting the change; t-shirts; other trinkets; etc.  The idea was to get the change firmly planted in the staffs’ brains that it was a change for the better.  

The reality is that change is going to happen – and will happen.  If change was not happening, we’d all be riding horses, plowing our fields with oxen and no cars, no airplanes, no television and no computers.

So … what is holding you back from accepting change?  Some phobia?  Think about it; embrace change.  And … in today’s environment, change is pretty much inevitable – change or die!!  (Well, maybe don’t die).

What do you think?  Ready to embrace change in your life, in your work?

 

Comments:  Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

 

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #223: Change – with pain or gain

Blog post #223:  Change Pain / Gain

We have been talking of SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely).  But, to reach a goal, you need to CHANGE!!

Let’s face it – Change is tough.

My friend Lori just over 100 pounds – 100 POUNDS – WOW!!!  That involved LOTS of change in her life.  She had to embrace that change – make that more than a goal – but an ULTIMATE thought in her brain – “I WILL LOSE THE WEIGHT”

But change can be tough.  Let’s take an example – “I will weigh no more than 185 by March 1, 2018.  I can picture myself as fit and very happy, I can fit into my clothes and even get new clothes.”  But, the person comes home after a very stressful day and is feeling down – and eats a half-gallon of ice cream to feel better.

The suggestion is to make not-changing painful and make the change beautiful and inviting.  Example – the person losing weight.  If I stay at my weight, I will be at a higher risk for a heart attack, for diabetes, for a stroke.  I will be less attractive with my double chins.  I will waddle when I walk.  Staying at my current weight is just not an option.  But, if I change, my risks for the health related topics will decrease.  I’ll be able to wear stylish clothes;  I’ll be able to exercise more; I’ll be getting compliments; I’ll be feeling a LOT better about myself.

How about the quitting smoking goal.  The pains of not quitting are significant.  There is a suggestion that the person with the goal of quitting smoking should visit a hospital where people with resportative breathing issues causes by smoking and see the people with lung cancer and emphysema.  Then think of the gain / the rewards of not-smoking – the more money (since they are not buying cigarettes) – and maybe picture that new car; the new house – the increased savings for retirement.

Change is outside our comfort zone.  We’re going places we haven’t been before.  For the smoker example, he/she has probably smoked since high school.  It would be a common action to reach for a cigarette when stressed or ‘just because’.  Quitting is outside their comfort zone – it has been (maybe) 20 years since they started smoking.  They need to consider the pain and the gain involved in quitting.

[Aside – the only time I considered smoking:  I was working at a warehouse during my college summers.  Three of my co-workers were smokers.  Management gave them a smoke break in the morning and afternoon.  They would go out on the loading dock – sit down, light up a cigarette and smoke.  I went out one afternoon just to talk when the manager came out and said “Bruce, you don’t smoke – get back to work”!!  So, it was enticing to consider that smoking gave a person two breaks a day that I wasn’t taking!!]

So … for your change – you’ve set your goals; you are envision yourself; you are fixing your sights on your goals – and now you need to put pain on your current status and gain / reward on your future status.  

 

Comments:  Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

 

Bruce

 

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