Blog Post #281 Your environment

So, what is going on around you?  

Troubles?  Good things?  Hatred? Love? Storms and cold? Warm and pleasant weather?  Bad co-workers? Great co-workers?

Really we’re talking about your environment (or circumstances) today.

I liked this quote: ““Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; they are but the instruments of the wise.”

Sometimes we let circumstances rule us.  We get a bill for more than we thought; the car breaks down; the pet dog dies; the roof leaks; the neighbors don’t mow their grass.  Whatever goes on around us affects our circumstances / our environment.

Al Capp, legendary American cartoonist, had a character Joe Btfsplk.  Joe walked under a black rain cloud. Wherever Joe went catastrophe was sure to follow.

But, we can choose to let circumstances rule us – or to overcome them.  

Recently Stephen Hawking, British physicist and author died.  For many, many years, Hawking was confined to a wheelchair with Lou Gehrig’s disease.  He used a speech synthesizer to communicate because of his disease.

Joe could have succumbed to the disease – or chosen to ride above it – and he did rise above it.

There are some additional quotes that relate:

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.

Every cloud has a silver lining

Are you letting circumstances rule your life – or are you finding a way to use them as instruments to rise above them.

So – how about you?  Do circumstances rule you; or can you rise above them??  Let me know at: brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

 

Go for it!!Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #280 Spring

March 20th was the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere (at 11:15 a.m. Central Daylight Time in the USA).

In High School (many years ago), we sang an English version of Edward Grieg’s Varden (or English – Last Spring) .  The version here is not quite the same but similar enough:

Yes, once again winter’s face would I see to Spring’s glory waning,
whitethorn outspreading its clusters so free in beauty enchaining.

Once more behold from the earth day by day the ice disappearing,
snow melting fast and in thunder and spray the river, careering.

In Grieg’s native Norway, winters are long, the desire for spring even longer.  Spring brings us hope, new life. Winter is like death, dormancy.

Emerald meadows, your flow’rets I’ll spy and hail each new comer;
listen again to the lark in the sky who warbles of summer.

Glittering sunbeams how fain would I watch on bright hillocks glancing,
butterflies seeking from blossoms to snatch their treasures while dancing.

He (Grieg) writes of seeing spring again – emerald meadows, flowers, larks, sunbeams, butterflies.

But he finishes with this:

Spring’s many joys once again would I taste ere fade they forever.
But, heavy-hearted, I feel that I haste from this world to sever.

So be it then! yet in Nature so fair much bliss I could find me;
over and past is my plentiful share, I leave all behind me.

(This version is from: https://www.smule.com/song/edvard-grieg-varen-the-last-spring-english-lyrics-karaoke-lyrics/391422520_393408/arrangement)

It is the last spring for Grieg (at least in the poem).  He is ‘heavy-hearted’ to be ‘severed’ from this world, and he ‘leave(s) all behind me’.

Spring is a joy (even in Texas where winters are not as cruel).  Trees budding, flowers blooming, sunlight shining longer each day.  In the north part of the United States (where most of my life has been spent), is the ecstacy of lilacs, the joy of flowering crabapple trees and daffodils blooming.  It has been long pent up, but bursts forth in beauty.

Like Grieg, we too experience winter and winter doldrums; we too wait for the rebirth of spring; we see the flowers and experience the joy.

It can be like that in life.  We struggle through a project (or several projects), we trudge through the allegorical snow, to find that first flower – that snowdrop, and wait for the grass to appear.  

But, also like Grieg, at some day, we will experience the last spring – and eventually death.  Then we can reflect “Was our life worth something?”; “Did I make a positive difference in the world?

But, for now this first days of spring, we need to “take time to smell the flowers” and to be renewed again.

That last day, last spring will come for all of us eventually.

So – how about you?  Does springtime refresh you?  Let me know at: brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

Go for it!!Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #279 Leadership Principles from Geno Auriemma

Four leadership principles from Geno Auriemma:

  1. Give each player what she needs, not what she wants.
  2. Empower your group to figure it out.
  3. No apologies for high demands.
  4. Own your mistakes.

Taken from: https://mollyfletcher.com/leadership-secrets/

 

Let’s look at those principles:

(1) What a person needs, not what I want.  My granddaughters are learning the word “want” (at age 5).  “Papa I want that”. They can be very persuasive. But, it might not be what they need.  Given a choice between ice cream and broccoli, the ice cream will be chosen 99% of the time.  (Leah might pick the broccoli once).

With kids and with adults – even senior adults like me – I want a lot of things.  Hopefully over the years, I’ve learned that wanting something and needing something are very different.

(2) Empower the group to figure it out.  With teams the team members need to work together.  I’ve known basketball teams when one person won’t pass the ball to another – even if the other person is open for a good shot.  They call it “teamwork” for a reason – teams have to work together.

(3) High demands.  I also liked to challenge my students to become more.  I was disappointed in students who were in the class only for a grade.  (I’m remembering one who did a grade challenge to get her grade changed from an A minus to an A.  Even now several years later, I don’t think she worked hard enough for the A. But I caved in when the department chair suggested her request (hmmm – ‘demand’) for a grade change had merit).

(4) Own your mistakes.  I’m made a lot of mistakes over the years.  (Comes with age). It would be nice to have a scapegoat to blame.  But, mostly, I do own my mistakes. Like being late to a meeting – I know I need to get going, but sometimes I just procrastinate a little too long; traffic gets heavy – and I’m late.  Lesson learned – start earlier!!

So – how about you?  Are these four lessons part of your life?  I’d like to know at: brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

 

Go for it!!Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #278 Teamwork

Many motivators suggest that getting to the top is hard work, built on an individual’s skills.  But, in most businesses and activities, there is teamwork.

I like Geno Auriemma, the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Connecticut.  He has lead his teams to eleven national championships, several undefeated seasons, has been the winning coach of the United States Women’s Basketball team at the Olympics and more.  

YES – Geno has been very successful – he works his team hard.  BUT … he doesn’t win championships – his teams do.

He has a vision that he passes on to his teams; he has a passion that he passes on to his teams; he motivates his teams; he coaches his teams – but they are the ones who take the basketball and put it in the hoop.  Geno has not played one second on the floor. He doesn’t put on a jersey.

Great CEOs of companies build on smart leaders under them.  The CEO may take the leadership team and challenge them to move forward.  He (and understood She) doesn’t physically make the products; he doesn’t physically sell the products to consumers; he doesn’t load trucks and hire line workers.  But, indirectly he does all of those things. He (again also She) sets the visions, he has the passion; he motivates his team; he coaches his people – who do the actual work.

A adage I like is an army of rabbits led by a lion will defeat an army of lions led by a rabbit.  The best leaders can get that army of rabbits to work together; he (she) can inspire his (her) team to do more.  

I have a friend and former student who coaches college baseball.  I have suggested to him to watch Geno Auriemma and other great coaches.  Not much is different from the first place and undefeated team and the last place team without wins.  They both have players and coaches. But what is that essense that makes a last place team into a first place team?  How can one coach and direct a baseball team, a basketball team, or a work team? Vision, passion, motivation, little insights and solid coaching.

Go for it!!

Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #277 – A look at Succes

Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it. – From Henry David Thoreau, American writer / philosopher

Years ago, I started out as a teacher (high school for seven years) and then college for 38 years.  I enjoyed being in the classroom and challenging and encouraging my students. (I didn’t like grading papers and tests and assigning final grades).  By my sixth year teaching at the collegiate level, I was getting positive feedback, recommended for teaching awards and more. I wasn’t teaching for the awards, I was teaching for the students.

Today’s quote relates to that.  If I had set my goals to be a outstanding teaching, and worked towards it, I may have missed out; but by looking at the small details – encouraging Lou and Ben; helping Joe (who had a great brain, but poor English skills (and his mother was an  English teacher); getting a grant for specialized equipment to help Ted, a visually impaired student succeed, and more.

One afternoon late in the day, I was in my faculty office at Quinnipiac University, when the Lou and Ben (mentioned before) stopped by to shoot the breeze (that is, just to talk).  After about 10 minutes, Ben (who was president of the student body that year), said “Oh, by-the-way, you were selected as our outstanding faculty member of the year”. I was floored – totally unexpected.  I had been to a couple of faculty meetings, I was the advisor to three campus groups; but it wasn’t because I expected honor and glory; but to help out the kids.

People – service, be patient, understanding, give more than you receive, encourage and who knows – you might be getting the next award!!

Go for it!!

Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #276 More sports

David beat Goliath again

In the NCAA March Madness Division I basketball, there are four regions; and in each region are 16 teams.  The committee evaluates each team and gives each team in a region a ranking – or a seed. The best team gets the number 1 seed and the worst team (that made the tournament that is) gets a #16 seed.

This year is no difference.  Through the first round of the tournament, there are some upsets – such as a couple of #13 seeds beating #4 seeds; a few #9 seeds beating #8 seeds.  But the shocker of 2018 is #16 University of Maryland Baltimore County (maybe better known as UMBC) beat the number 1 seed Virginia. And, not just beat them – UMBC won by 20 points.

Throughout history, there have been upsets – the favorites defeated by some lowly advacary.  Maybe David versus Goliath in the Bible is a typical one. The giant, undefeated, against the lowly shepherd boy with only a slingshot and five smooth stones.  Truman defeats Dewey.

Are there lessons to be learned with a #16 seed beating a #1 seed?

Sure – for the #1 seed:  sometimes it is easy to overlook that first game.  UMBC? Never heard of them. We should get Creighton or Kansas State in the second game of the tourney.  Retrievers? What kind of a team name is that for UMBC? It can be easy to be cocky and ‘assume’ that the ‘better team will win’.

Sure – for the #16 seed:  keep fighting, keep going.  What are the other teams weak spots?  How can we take advantage of those weak spots?  How do we prepare for this game? (And … don’t be defeated before it starts.  Your attitude must be ‘we CAN do it’ – rather than ‘wow – we did good to be in the tournament this year’.

Of the 64 teams that starts, 32 teams remain.  UMBC can say ‘we are among the 32 best college basketball teams in the country this year’.  They also can say through good logic – we beat one of the four teams expected to be in the final four this year; we beat them.  Now WE carry the mantle of a #1 seed forward. Their opponents for the next round were anticipating playing a top seed (Virginia) and now have to be prepared for a different team (that they probably didn’t scout).

How is it in life?  Can a start up company displace an established company?  Sure. Can an underdog beat the favorite in the business field?  Back in the early days of computing Sperry Univac was recognized as a superior computing machine, but IBM hustled more – and out sold Univac and took over the first place in the large computing market.

Hustle, keep your attitude, and keep going.  Use your skills and motivation to move to the top.

Go for it!!

Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #275 Winners / losers / good sports / whiners

Yes, it is “March Madness” again.  Where the NCAA picks 64 teams to play against each other in both Men’s and Women’s Basketball (for Division I); plus Hockey (Frozen Four for Men and Women); Wrestling and possibly others.

Americans love their sports (not that the rest of the world doesn’t love their sports either – soccer (aka “fuitbol” and “football”) enthusiasts also go crazy over their sports.  

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a powerful entity on campuses.  They will get a lot of television revenue, plus ticket revenue. Where colleges generally have free or reduced costs for students to attend games on campus; almost all have to pay now to attend games.  Plus airlines, hotels, restaurants and others that are involved in the travel business get a cut too. Many campuses conveniently take spring break this week so students (and supporters) can travel to the games.

I have a friend who LOVES college sports.  During fall football season he watches ALL bowl games (including recording games to watch later).  LIkewise now in March Madness, he takes time off to watch the games.

There will be winners and losers.  Out of 64 teams in the Men’s Tournament, only one team will end up – and 63 teams will be losers.  Some games will be blow-outs (especially as #1 seeds in each region beat up of #16 seeds); and many will be close.  Seeing some early results, there will be upsets where #13 seeds Marshall and Loyola-Chicago defeated #4 seeds (Wichita State and Arizona).  

Campus pep bands will be there pumping out fight songs and oldie hits; there will be students with their face painted.  Cheerleaders will be making pyramids and leading the followers in chants.

And … as can happen, there may also be some poor losers.  Maybe some supporters of losing teams will be drunk and maybe throw rocks and harass the other team’s supporters.  Maybe there will be negative signs like F*** YOU <team-name>.

I was the faculty advisor for the pep band before retiring.  While we (the band) was generally good sports), some of our fans (frequently drunk) would yell negative comments.  Our campus’ Athletic Director stopped the pep band from playing a particular song as the partisan fans would yell “You Suck” or worse to that song.

Then there are the referee baiters.  It can be a tough life making a split second decision on fouls and ball possession.  Television commentators may even add to that chaos as they replay the action and go frame by frame through the foul and announce to the world that the referees ‘blew’ that call.  And, there may be the team coaches after the game who proclaim on television that their team was robbed from moving on in the tournament by some bad calls.

Of course, it is a sport.  It is for well trained players under the direction of coaches (and assistant coaches and trainers, and athletic directors) give lip-service to the concept of good sportsmanship.  We might see after a close game that a coach may not shake the hand of the opposing coach in a loss.

Sometimes we lose sight of the event.  Yes, we all want our teams to win, yes; we all are partisan; but in the majority of cases the team that wins was the best team ON THAT DAY.  if those same two teams were to play another day, the outcome might be different.

So, we have winners – we need to be good winners; we have losers and we need to be good losers; and we have whiners.  We need to stop ‘whining’ and move on.

(As I’m writing this, I am reflecting on other parts of society – where some whiners are still upset about political outcomes.  Agree or disagree on the outcome – support the process and be a good sport.

As Grantland Rice wrote years ago: ““For when the One Great Scorer comes t0o mark against your name, he writes – not that you won or lost -but HOW you played the Game.”

What do you think?  Are you a winner or a loser?  Are you a good sport – or a whiner?

Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #274 What you think, you become

Yes – what goes into your brain becomes YOU!!!!

One of the early Beatles Songs was “I’m a Loser” – where the concept is that the guy lost his girlfriend and calls himself a ‘loser’:

I’m a loser, I lost somebody near to me

I’m a loser, and I’m not what I appear to be.

I don’t sing those lyrics – although it is a catchy tune and I love the Beatles.  I don’t want my words to say that I’m a loser. I am NOT a loser; I am a WINNER!!!!!!

I hear a lot of people putting themselves down.  “Oh, I don’t remember names well”; “I just can’t lose weight”; “My arthritis is getting worse”.

These are such negative statements.  I try to put POSITIVITY into my brain!!!

What are you thinking today?  Positive thoughts? What is your self-talk today?  Positive? What are your goals for the future – upward and success (or downward and failure).

PUT the good stuff in your brain – speak the good stuff to yourself – and to others.

I tell my wife she is pretty (and she is).  She most frequently says “I’m not pretty”. In her brain she is thinking negative.

Stand up tall and yell “I’M A WINNER” – repeat it all day.

Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative was an old song from the 1930’s.  And that is true – do accent the positive. A friend was talking about Kenya – where running water in households is rare – and that the people are generally very happy.

Attitude – what does into your brain becomes YOU!

What do you think?  Are you positive TODAY – and ALL DAYS?

Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

Have a great day!!

Bruce

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Blog Post #273 Some history

This Saturday is March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day – a day to celebrate the Irish.

There is an expression “The luck of the Irish”.  Having been to Ireland twice and read Irish history, I think that is incorrect.  The Irish were beset by Cromwell, by the English. There were religious wars (Protestant versus Catholic).  It is ironic that King Henry VIII was honored by the leader of the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation as a ‘defender of the faith’ only to start his own denomination later so he could divorce / kill wives so he could have a male heir to the throne – and that same church (Church of England) as the official state church later was the official state church of Ireland when Ireland was under British Control.

Ireland lost about half its population in ten years from 1840 to 1850 because of the potato famine.  Seemingly potatoes were the mainstay food for many Irish families and when a deficiency in trace minerals occurred and the potatoes died, many starved.  I’ve seen pictures of bodies stacked up on carts to be taken to the cemetery. The younger who managed to scrape up a little cash, left for America or other places.  And, even then were discriminated against in America. The “Know Nothings” group and others claimed the Irish were poor and parasites on humanity. In New York City, the Irish had their neighborhoods and policed themselves.  Now used as a football mascot, the ‘fighting Irish’ was true – with fights and poverty.

Now 170 years later, the Irish-Americans are well established and well respected.  LIke many cultures, they have married across cultural barriers.

Having marched in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade for many years with Quinnipiac University; having been to the Irish Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University and having been to Ireland (and married to a woman of Irish descent), I understand that it took time for the ‘luck of the Irish’ to come through.

Our battles in civil rights keep changing.  Some are close to solved (although as a white American male, I many not understand what has yet to happen).  Women still don’t make the same as corresponding males. Blacks are still discriminated against (most notably when stopped for traffic violations).   There is discrimination against Hispanics, transgender, gays, and others.

Can we ever live in peace?  Can we ever “love one-another as I have loved you” as Jesus said.

Is there hope for mankind? What do you think?

Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #272 Adaptability

Are you adaptable?  

A while back an accident farther down the road from me and my car backed up traffic for miles.  I had choices – yell, scream, be upset, or … just take it as it was (and pray that nobody was seriously injured in the accident).

All of the cars of the road had to edge together as police and emergency vehicles drove on the shoulder to get around us and to the scene of the accident.  Eventually about 15 minutes later, the police started routing traffic onto a side street for a couple of blocks so that we could get to where we were going.  

Yes, I needed to adapt to the situation.

I have talked of goals frequently in this blog.  Using SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) to move forward.  But sometimes we have to adapt to reach those goals.

Years ago when Mt Everest was determined to be the highest mountain in the world and some people started to climb it by going through China.  There were routes and camps along a promising path to get to the summit. (Although nobody get get to the summit then). But, then China closed it borders to mountain climbers, so the climbers had to find a new route.  

So, if our goal was to climb Mt Everest we might have had to adapt to changing political conditions.

Maybe I have a goal of becoming a “C” level executive in our company, and then some bad financial news happens and I got laid off – time to reevaluate the goal – maybe becoming a “C” level executive in another company is similar enough.  

Maybe we have our education and professional goals, but “aha” I fell in love with the cute girl in my finance course, and my plans changed as we pursued marriage and then a family.  Maybe you were on the fast track to being a partner in one of the Big Four Accounting Companies – and you got tired of the long, long hours and travel (and being away from family and hobbies), and you had to adapt your goals to be a partner is a local / regional accounting firm.  

I know many students who at age 18, 19 or 20, had their plans to major in a particular field and become a professional in the field (like computing), only to hear of other opportunities.

One former student was the son of an entrepreneur who had built a worldwide company.  He pursued his technical degree and was well regarded by the technology company who hired him.  They were grooming him for higher positions in that company, when his father took ill and the son adapted to the family business and eventually took over (and continued to grow that business).

Nature talks of the ‘survival of the fittest’ meaning the weak and unadaptive die off.  Are you adapting to your situation and environment? What does it take to adapt and yet keep your goals and focus?

What about you?  Are you adaptable?  Can you make lemonade when life gives you lemons? Can you make the adjustments needed to more forward?  How are you going to do it?

 

What do you think?

Let me know at:  brucewhitecoaching@gmail.com

Have a great day!!

Bruce

 

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