Debunking Some Old Saws …

Spanking - Germany 1935 WikipediaFeeling a little like playing the “Devil’s Advocate” today with some old wisdom learned at my parent’s feet … or on occasion, across their lap.

Never Bite Off More Than You Can Chew …

The positive message here is that we need be careful about what we commit to and not over-extend ourselves.  Wise counsel in this modern age.

However, this advice is also predicated on the assumption that if you take on more than you have been able to do in the past or think you can handle, you will fail.   This seems to conflict with the idea of stretch goals, where we do exactly that by taking on tasks or responsibilities beyond our current capabilities.

The saying runs contrary to at least some of my life experiences and I suspect others will agree … we truly do not know what we are capable of doing until we try.

Don’t Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth …

I am not looking ANY horse in the mouth … been there, done that, almost lost a finger or two:).

That said, the message from this horse’s mouth is that when you receive something without having to pay for it, that gratitude is the proper response, rather than criticism of any less-than-perfect aspects of that gift.

This applies beautifully to all those who continue to post their personal declarations of privacy on social media sites like Facebook, which includes some of my oldest and dearest friends.  When one is using a public website without charge, one cannot arrange the rules to suit themselves.  I prefer the meme:  “If it should not be public, do not share it.”

But let me pose this question:  Do we abandon all responsibility when something is a gift?  

While I can assume that the cake my sainted mother lovingly baked for my birthday is not poisonous, I would be remiss if I ignored or discounted any obvious signs to the contrary.   When you give your children a new bicycle, you would be upset if they did not let know you immediately of an unsafe condition connected to that new bike, such as faulty brakes or loose handlebars.

Hmmm …

Measure Twice, Cut Once …

I bet this inclusion surprises some of you, since it seems so useful.  I have often experienced the negative outcomes of rework, lost time, wasted materials, and so on, when ignoring this piece of advice.   Maybe you have too.

At first glance, making sure you are doing something right to the right length, in the right measure would seem a wisdom slam-dunk … and it often is.

However, I wonder two things:

First, How well does this apply to our modern and fast-paced world?

Things change so quickly and so often that we assume some lack of accuracy with first reports and early launches.  

Think software, where for decades, we have happily accepted Beta versions of programs that run our lives, expecting bugs and defects to show up and be fixed with a continual stream of updates. 

Second, consider the idea of “Good Enough“, which is meant to spur action, as opposed to a long series of actions to create the perfect scenario, product, service, or statement.  

For us perfectionists, this is not comfortable, but from a competitive business viewpoint, it makes good sense.

If you have ever been burned by someone beating you to the punch, while you perfect your own … well, think about it.

Thanks for letting me share these observations.  Now you know where my mid-week head is at.  

What are your reactions to my observations?  

Would you share your own “debunking” of old wisdom?

Hoping to experience some real fine rants in the Heartland ….


Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You’re Told To Do Is Wrong

John Smith:

Excellent review by a trusted source of an important new book that should be a welcome addition to our reading lists, discussion groups, and our personal and professional development:


Originally posted on Take It Personel-ly:

Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You're Told To Do Is Wrong, Take It Personel-ly

You don’t usually have to look very hard to find scandals or tragic stories in the media of things that others have done that could have been avoided if the person/people involved had said ‘No’ to the ill-advised or illegitimate requests made of them.

Did you know that September is Self-Improvement month? As a life-long learner I am always looking to expand my knowledge, grow and improve where I can.  I recently read Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You’re Told To Do Is Wrong by Ira Chaleff, which fits in perfectly with the theme of self-improvement but on a company wide scale.

Chaleff uses both deeply disturbing and uplifting examples in his book, as well as critical but largely forgotten research to show how to create a culture where, rather than ‘just following orders,’ people hold themselves accountable to do the right thing, always.

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The Dying Truth …

Joy and Sorrow

Just a quick reminder as your workweek gets started …

Life is composed of many little moments, some of which will make your heart sing, some which will make your heart cry, and some which will leave you puzzled or confused … the reality is that your choices about how you view each of these moments will decide how you react.

Some folks will say “How else should I react?” or “I don’t choose ‘unhappy’ or ‘mad’ ”, which infers that emotional reactions are predestined and beyond our control.  This is a normal belief, one that I have used time and again.  However, in reality, our beliefs and values intersect to give us options on how we view life’s struggles and opportunities. 

 A few quick examples of the levels at which we make these decisions, greatly simplified and generalized by offering mythical either-or options:   

… When you step on that chewed-up gum, spilled liquid, or oil stain, how much time do you spend ranting and raving about the unfairness of it all versus the time you spend cleaning up and moving on …   

… When work goes differently and less smoothly than you are expecting, how much energy do you use looking for something or someone to blame versus    

… When something or someone you care about leaves your life, are you sad they are gone or happy they were there?

At this point, we should consider some truths about life, relationships, work, and all that stuff:

Our lives are more “Some of This, Some of That” than “This or That”.

We spend our lives sliding back and forth along continuums of possible reactions and attitudes.

We are not anchored inflexibly to spots on that scale.

We have more control over where we are, than the event we are experiencing.

We know all this deep in our minds and in our hearts.

No great “kicker” at the end … just a reminder to reflect and choose, not react and regret. Let me leave you with this thought:

“People make dozens, even hundreds, of decision every day to do or not do certain things.  THe choice we make during the day, no matter how trivial they may seem, contribute to creating a life that is more (or less) fulfilling.”

~ Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl, and Laura Whitworth in Co-Active Coaching:  Changing Business, Transforming Lives, 3rd Edition, page 8)

Seems a good enough incentive to me:)

Considering all my options very carefully in the Heartland ….




Doing What We Do …

Doing What We've Always Done

Actually, NO …

This familiar quotation is right in many ways, but it does not go far enough.  

Consider all the manufacturers who thought they could continue to crank out LCD watches, rotary dial phones, or VCRs.  Even though they continued to do what they had always done, their competitive environment did not stay the same.

If you keep doing what you have always done, you will eventually end up getting quite a bit less than you used to.   Eventually you will get nothing …  

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About “Joyous Corrections” and Other Oxymorons …

Mistake - chalk board - Morguefile

“Ah … Excuse Me … That’s Not Right”

My minister used this phrase recently when someone pointed out an error in a statement he had made … yes, we are that kind of church:)

This sparked my thinking about why we usually do not associate “Joyous” or even “Happy” with having to admit we were wrong about something.  

Whether in church, at work, or just hanging around the house, wherever we interact with others, this seems a bit of a problem for some of us.

After much thought, I finally decided that we do not enjoy correcting ourselves just because we ARE Continue reading