Blog Post #247 Practice Makes Perfect

Blog Post #247 Practice Makes Perfect

Yes – practice does make perfect!!  (Doesn’t it?)

It depends on the practice!!!  

I might practice my tuba – but work on scales instead of some difficult parts and difficult fingering in Mahler’s Sixth Symphony.  My scales are good, but I have trouble playing the fast parts in the finale.

I could practice free throws in basketball all day long – but neglect to work on jump shots, passing, and playing defense.

I could do one variable algebra problems for hours, but that wouldn’t help my ability to do systems of equations or quadratic equations.

As used before, I like Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of 10,000 hours for mastery (or more).  If I spend 10,000 hours on figure skating, I might be good enough for the Olympics (or … if I spend 10,000 hours on one particular jump, but don’t do all the jumps, I’m probably not going to make the team.

But, practice is important.  Like another adage “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”; if I don’t practice my tuba (or piano or violin or whatever), I’ll probably miss the difficult notes when the concert occurs.

What are you trying to master?  Coding?  Music?  Some particular athletic event?  Keep on practicing – don’t give up – don’t say I can’t do it – because if it is possible, with enough time and effort you CAN do it!!!

Keep practicing!!!


What do you think?

Let me know at:

Have a great day!!


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blog post #246 Unintended consequences

Blog Post #246 Unintended Consequences


Sometimes we do the right thing for the right reasons and while that works, it also has a negative effect on something else.

Two stories:

Columbia (the South American country) had a strong drug producing economy.  (Illegal drugs that is).  Their climate was very good for growing cocaine and marijuana.  With so many Americans (and others) hooked on illegal drugs, the United States worked hard to help Columbian farmers / growers find another crop.  And they did.

The found that the same rich soil was good for plants – and especially flowers.  As it turns out, it was ideal for growing huge amounts of roses for Valentine’s Day.  Over the years, the sales of roses (and other flowers) replaced the drug growing in Columbia.  HURRAH!!!  Less drugs on the streets of the United States; more beautiful roses for Valentine’s Day – at much less cost.

In the days before Valentine’s day, giant cargo planes landed in Columbia.  Flowers were sorted, labelled appropriately and shipped out.  Giant containers arrive in Florida marked especially for Walmart – and almost as quickly as they landed – because of the labelling (RFID probably) they were shipped out all around the United States (and the world).  

I went to Walmart yesterday to see the displays at my local Walmart store.  There was a giant cardboard container with all kinds and colors of roses.  

Success for limited the drug traffic; success for providing a new (and maybe better) crop for the drug growers.

BUT … an unintended consequence was that the domestic American Rose growers – growing in greenhouses and in places like Southern California couldn’t complete as well with the Columbia roses.  And, so the United State’s flower grower suffered – an unexpected consequence!!

My second story.  Yellowstone National Park is a unique ecosystem.  There are bears, elk, trout, wolves, bison, and much more.  For income, the Yellowstone Department of the Interior people will sell Elk hunting licenses.  That became a good source of income for the park – and the number of elk were being depleted.  Hmmm … how to get more elk, so they could sell more hunting licenses and keep the hunters happy?  

Maybe if they removed just some of the predators of the elk herd.  

That was successful (maybe).  There were more elk, more hunters, more licenses sold and more revenue (and happier hunters).  

But, the elk needed more food.  They started to eat more of the tree shoots around the ponds.  In the spring when the beavers built their ponds, there were less of the trees they used to build their dams.  With less beaver ponds, there were less trout swimming in the ponds.  

And … that offended those that went to Yellowstone National Park to fish for trout.  

So the good done by helping the elk herd grow became a negative to the trout population – an unexpected consequence!!!

How about you – and your business.  How can you increase your business growth – and not hurt something else?  Fifty years ago, the garment industry was largely centered around New York City.  But with cheap labor in southeast Asia, most garment makers moved out of the United States.  The consumer got cheaper clothes, but the jobs went outside the US.

Maybe there are environmental impacts.  As your business grows you get more employees, and more traffic and more pollution?  Maybe as your reputation grows as a wonderful city; that crime increases?  (Some of these are problems for the Austin Texas area now – more people, more traffic, more traffic jams, more frustrated employees.)

So think through your situation – will it benefit you and your company?  But will that benefit hurt others along the way?

What do you think?

Let me know at:

Have a great day!!


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Blog post #245 Civility

Blog post #245 – Civility

We all know people who are passionate about certain things.  Unfortunately, sometimes that passion steps across a undefined boundary. Where did the concept of being civil go?   On this Valentine’s Day, maybe some more love might be appropriate!!!

An online dictionary defines “civility” as:

formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.

“I hope we can treat each other with civility and respect”
Synonyms are:  courtesy, courteousness, politeness, good manners, graciousness, consideration, respect

I see the national debate over so many things deteriorating into name calling; strawman arguments and attacking the speaker.  A week ago, I wrote about hatred and this post fits into that category.  People on both sides of the political spectrum attack each other with seething remarks.  One friend calls the current American president “Sh**gibbon”; and of course the current president calls the opposition party “treasonist”.  Those are only examples.  Do these people go to a church / synagogue / mosque on a regular basis?  Do they proclaim love and forgiveness?  

Taking the quote about defending a person’s right to say something is free speech, but there have been those (on both sides) that will yell down somebody whose opinions are different than their own.  Now speech that is hate speech or inflammatory with the intention of disruption might not totally fit under ‘free speech’ concepts.  

Can we ‘agree to disagree’ without being disagreeable?  

The rhetoric escalates quickly. Instead of saying “Hey, let’s get together for a cup of coffee (or a beer) and see what we can do when we work together”; becomes a ‘war of words’.  

The old children’s expression “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me” – when somebody calls you a swear word – or an untrue word it does hurt us – emotionally.  What pleasure does a person get by called somebody an idiot?  As I am writing this I am hearing a political advertisement on television with a candidate hawking himself as a ‘true conservative’ and how the ‘liberals’ are trying to undermine our morals, values, government.  

Yes, that candidate had 30 seconds to tell us why he is a good candidate for a particular office – and he used the time to show that he ‘dislikes’ the opponents by innuendo and slurs.

In some respects, it is like the school bully – attacking, saying hurtful things.  

In this blog I’m urging us to take down the walls, be civil with others.  You don’t have to love them, just put some courtesy and politeness into our lives.  In the last presidential election there was enough mudslinging and hate for centuries and it has not ended.

So, can we watch our words?  Can we be more understanding and tolerant of others who we don’t agree with?  Can we be civil?

What do you think?  Let me know at:

Thank you!!!


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Blog Post #244 – I missed getting a medal at the Olympics by 0.05 of a second

Blog post #244 – I missed getting a medal by 0.05 of a second.

Some athletes have trained for years (see yesterday’s blog on being a Olympic Team Member) – and the comments about 10,000 hours, time, money, commitment).

Then you get to the Olympics.  Yes, you have completed on the international level for years, yes, you have won your event a few times, and gotten second or third a few times.   The hype is that you are ready this year – your times leading up to the Olympic games are going up; your body is leaner and stronger; and your brain and maturity are at their peak.

But … you missed out by 0.05 of a second.  Instead of the interviews asking “How did it feel to win” (which is a fairly weak question in my opinion); the interviews are “How did it feel to lose out by 0.05 of a second?”

You are branded as a ‘loser’ – you were expected to win, but you didn’t.  You are a loser.  It’s not fair to find something to blame – you can’t say that the wind was behind the winner, but by the time you completed your run / event, the wind had shifted to be in your face.  You can’t say that the snow (or ice) was ideal in the morning, but by the time you went, the sun had made it rough and a bit sloggy.  You can’t say something I ate last night didn’t agree with me and I was a bit nauseous today.  Instead you smile and say “I just wasn’t fast enough”.

Your Olympic Committee gets you on a plane and sends you home. (Common practice, your event is over, no need for the United States or whichever country to continue to pay for your lodging and meals when you are no longer a competitor – unless you are playing for your own lodging).  

You missed by a very small margin.  Maybe the timing was off just a fraction – and now you are labelled a ‘loser’.  

It can be that way with goals.  You can’t control how judges judge or how you compete with others.  You can only change you.  Competing at the Olympics involves you and others.  You can change yourself, you cannot change them (well without unethical things like poison!!)

In reality, you met (and exceeded) your goal of being one of the bests in your sport.  You are a winner, not a loser.  

When you compete against yourself, you win; when you compete against others you might not always win.  At some point, you retire  – knowing that YOU did it; you DID reach your goal.

What do you think?  Let me know at:

Thank you!!!


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Blog Post #244 – I didn’t make the Olympic Team this year

I didn’t make the Olympic Team this year

Yes, as the title says “I didn’t make the Olympic Team this year”.  Also I’m not going to attend (in person) the Olympics (winter Olympics) this year either.

One reason was I didn’t have a goal of making the Olympic team.  Of those on the team this year, I would guess 100% DID have the goal of making the Olympic team.  They practiced – hours and hours. They had coaches.  They competed many times (maybe every weekend?).  

Another reason that they made it (and I didn’t) was that sacrifice they made.  

TIME – I like the comment by Malcolm Gladwell that 10,000 hours in the magic number of greatness.  Now, there are only 8,760 hours in a year (and if you assume ⅓ of the hours you are sleeping), that is about 4,800 hours available.  If a person had a job, or is a student, parent, you probably are down to about 2,000 hours available for practice.  Taking that a step farther, that is about 40 hours a week.  In most places, 40 hours a week is the equivalent of a full time job.  Let’s take an Olympian that is 25 married and is working a job (money is essential too).  If you work 40 hours a week, train 40 hours a week, and sleep 56 hours a week, that is 136 hours – out of the 168 hours in a week.  Not much time for eating or doing ‘fun’ things – you are training for the Olympics – not much fun allowed.  And … 2,000 hours for practice will mean it should take you at least five years of “full-time work equivalent” to get to Gladwell’s 10,000 hours.

MONEY- For most of the activities in the Olympics you need to compete on a regular basis.  That probably means going to the various ski contests, or to the skating rinks regularly.  You probably have to have sponsors – or rich parents / friends / relatives – or a fantastic great job.  Flying from New York to Colorado to ski twice a month is expensive – plus lodging, food etc.

INJURIES – from the stories that commentators make on the Olympic broadcasts, almost all have had some injuries along the way.  Skiers have gone off course and through fences, etc.  Skaters have gotten too close to another skater and have been cut – or knocked out.  Hockey players are notorious for missing teeth from violent plays against the boards.  Coming back from injuries takes time.

COMMITMENT – It takes a huge amount of commitment to be an Olympian – and maybe even more to be an Olympian Gold Medal winner. Thinking of some skaters (or others) that started at age 10 or 12 – early on, the parents made the commitment – driving the fledgling athlete to and from practices.  (I know of hockey parents who take their child to hockey practice at 5:00 in the morning as it is hard to get ice time).  At some point the athlete needed to make the commitment their own.  They had to choose to stay with the sport – or to drop out.  It also takes commitment to get up early on those mornings to get your running done, to lift weights, and then still practice after school for four to six hours.  (Plus get your school work done).  

SO … how about you?  Are you ready to put in the time, the money, expect and recover from injuries and the big commitment to be an Olympic athlete?  Or … are you ready to put in the time, the money, and commitment to be a CEO of a major company?  

The choice is yours – if you want something bad enough, you can work your way through all the steps and levels to achieve it!!!


What do you think?  Let me know at:

Thank you!!!


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Blog post #243 – Many hands make light work.

Back to adages.  Today – “Many Hands make light work”

I’ve used this as a joke many times.  If the lights go off (like in an electrical storm), you get everybody in the room / house / place to stand up and raise their hands – because “many hands make light work”.

The concept today is that having a group of people doing a project makes it go quicker.

If you have a group of people painting your living room, it will get down quicker, you will have people to talk to during the process, and the time will fly.

In our neighborhood, the homeowner association (HOA) has hired a maintenance crew to mow.  They should up with two to three mowers, two or three edgers, two of three blowers.  They hit the ground running.  Where one person could have done the work, with four people on the crew, they work together and can move on to the next project.  

It does help to have somebody working with you.  Light conversation and interaction can make a heavy task more bearable.

So – many hands do make the project  / the task / the work go quicker.

In today’s business environment, it is rare to find a project with just one person working on it.  Most projects are team projects – sure there is a leader of the team – but will all joining in to complete it, it is “light” work.


What do you think?  Let me know at:

Thank you!!!


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Blog Post #242 – Nothing Ventured, nothing gained

Blog post #242 – Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Back to adages.  Today – “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The meaning should be fairly obvious – do nothing, get nothing in return.  

There are other similar statements:

  • A turtle only makes progress by sticking his neck out
  • You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take (in basketball)
  • Do nothing, be nothing

A lot of this goes back to goals.  The bigger the goals, the bigger the steps to achieve them.  If you are successful – you will get great returns; even if not successful but you have worked on it, you are a changed person inside you – and WILL make progress as you step out.

As I frequently do, here is a Biblical perspective:  The Parable of the Talents.

A man was going on a journey and called three servants in.  To one, he gave 10 talents (a footnote in the version I am using says “A talent was a monetary unit worth about twenty years’ wages for a laborer”; to another five talents and to a third one talent.  He commanded them to make use of the talents.  When he returned the man with 10 had been faithful and had doubled the amount to 20; the man with 5 also had used the money and doubled it to 10; but the third had wrapped up his 1 talent and hidden it away.  The man took that 1 talent and gave it to the first servant.  He said “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

We all have some ability – whether simply just to work hard and be diligent and save – or with other talents – and we are to venture forth and gain from those talents.

We periodically hear of people working for fast food places (or other low income jobs) that persevere and become very successful.  

So, nothing ventured, nothing gained – what will that mean for you today?

What do you think?  Let me know at:

Thank you!!!


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Blog post #241 – Don’t judge a book by its cover

Blog post #241 – Don’t judge a book by its cover

Back to adages.  This is a good one – Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Let’s take it to books first (since it refers to books).  Maybe the publisher has a great artist that makes outstanding book covers – but the inside material is boring and not very valuable (maybe like my first book – except the cover was as boring as the book!!!)

And … likewise, maybe the author is a great writing, the material is superb, but he and/or the publisher couldn’t get an artist to design an appropriate cover, so the cover is just the title of the book in Yellow letters on a blue background – so, the cover is pretty  boring, but the material is great.

Now to people.  Some people are just not all that stunning in appearance.  If he didn’t have a black hat and appropriate clothes, I think country singer Garth Brooks would not get through an audition.  But, he has a great voice.  Another one (from the past) is Jim Nabers – who was Gomer Pyle on both the Andy Griffith show and his own show as a Marine recruit.  His downhome accent disappeared when he opened his mouth and sang.  

The movie with Will Smith as a down-and-out man who wants to be a stockbroker (“The Pursuit of Happyness”) has him interviewing for an internship – dressed in jeans and not appropriate for the position.  Somehow he convinces the  manager to hire him – and (of course) all eventually works out – with hard work.  

As humans, we tend to view people in good clothes higher than those in rags (although jeans with holes seem to be popular with teenage / college women).  We show favoritism because of the clothes.

I do occasionally do a Biblical reference and I will use James 2: 4-7:
For if a man with gold rings and in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while you say to the poor man, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet, have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?”

The outward appearance is nice, but the real person is inside.  I remember a student who had been in an accident whose face was distorted, even after some plastic surgery.  His mouth was off center on this face.  By his appearances he was not going to be a good information systems person.  BUT his brain was very strong and after graduation had a successful career.  

So, don’t judge a book by its cover – or don’t judge a person by outward appearances.  Get to know them (and with the adage a couple of days ago), walk a mile in their shoes, and you may (probably) find a diamond in the rough!!


What do you think?  Let me know at:

Thank you!!!


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Blog post #240 Love adages

Blog post #240 Love adages

Today – February 8th in my wife’s birthday.  As I’m in a series on adages, I thought I would look at some sayings on love.  Let’s look at Biblical saying on love:

  • “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
  • Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
  • “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
  • “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
  • “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
  • “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
  • “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
  • “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
  • “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
  • “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love.”
  • “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
  • “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.”

In my research there were many more both scriptural and secular comments on love.  Even the Beatles said “All you need is love”.

In generations past (and this is still true in some parts of the world), there were arranged marriages.  The parents of the man and the parents of the woman got together and developed a contract for the man and women to be married.  If you will, it was what it was.  Possibly in some of the royal marriages, the King would invite various royal suiters to visit the prince (or princess) because royalty should marry royalty. But, in these cases, as the man and women lived together and worked together, real emotional love frequently replaced the contractual love.  A French comment is:  “Love is often the fruit of marriage”.  

In modern times, (at least among us commoners), we date, we test the market, we “fall in love” – and we marry (or for some – we don’t marry but live together).  Love becomes an act of the will (and the emotions).  And … we as couples need to keep working to make love work.  Another adage I like is “Marriage is the act of falling in love with the same person over and over.”

So … love makes the world go round; love one another; love covers a multitude of sins; all you need is love!!!  

So, to Connie and to all – I love you; Let us love one-another!!!

So what do you think?  Comments?


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Blog Post #238 – Hatred

Blog post #238 – Another bad word 

Last week I took a word I hate – “can’t”.  As Henry Ford said “If you say you can or if you say you can’t; you are correct”

Yesterday I was reminded of another word – HATE.  Now I used that word in the first paragraph.  But, the way that I HATE that word is when it is applied to people (and groups) and obviously to people or groups that you do not like.  

I see undisguised hatred in politics.  Maybe the word ‘hate’ isn’t directly used all the time; but the name calling does get old.  I have a friend (?) that calls the president an idiot (and worse) and then another friend who insults all the liberals he can.  

I saw the same Sunday with the Super Bowl.  I heard people say they “hated” one team or another.  I can see dislike, but actual “hate”.  Can the people I know who really don’t know Tom Brady (for example) really ‘hate’ him – and to pluck out his eyes, or crush him, or sentence him to hell?  

From an online dictionary, I found this: Hate (v): feel intense or passionate dislike for (someone). “the political candidates hate each other”’; synonyms:  loathe, detest, despise, dislike abhor, execrate.  

From 1 John 2: 9 in the Bible, I see: “He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still”; I also see “Love one-another (John 13:34).  

I know intense / passionate dislike for one another.  I have been on the wrong side of that too many times – mostly me hating others (not so much on people hating me – although I’m sure that happened).  My bias is that life is too short to have such a passionate hatred.  I wasn’t around during Hitler’s reign, and from I sense, I would have not liked him – although he did solve Germany’s terrible inflation and money problems during the Great Depression – before his heart really turned black.  But with my current acceptance and understanding, true / deep hatred is a terrible black spot on the soul.  Recently a man who was a trainer for women’s gymnastics for the Olympics was convicted of molesting many young female gymnasts.  At the sentencing, a father of one of the girls rushed the man as to kill him.  Yes, the man through the trial was convicted of vile and terrible things – and to one who only knows what television tells me – it seemed as if the judgment was just – and ultimately, he will have to stand before God.  Let God judge him.  I also know the scripture that says “Do not judge, lest you will be judged.”  In my reality, there is one final judge – God.  God does hate sin; but loves the sinner.  My time on earth is maybe 100 years – after that from my limited understanding (after all who can fully understanding God); eternity comes after my death.  Should I hate somebody so completely that I miss out on a pleasant eternity?

How about we get rid of that word – hate; and substitute something like “I really don’t like that person”?

The Native Americans supposedly had the concept – Don’t criticize a person until you have walked a mile in his moccasins – or until you have walked a mile in his shoes – until you really have gotten to know him.  Can I hate Tom Brady until I walk a mile in his cleats?  Can I hate Donald Trump until I walk a mile in his shoes?  Can I hate Hillary Clinton or Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi or others until I walk a mile in their shoes?  

I know my problems – assuming others have their problems too (and as far as I know, there are very few truly perfect people around).  Maybe we should try to get alone – to learn to accept others as they are.  Why does the dictator of North Korea hate us?  (And … why do we hate him?)  Let us agree to disagree – but without being disagreeable.  (And following an idea from Scripture, maybe we should pray for those that we don’t like …)

What do you think?  Let me know at:

Thank you!!!


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