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 ….


Taking A Long Shower …

Shower StuffI took a shower this morning, which is good news for both me and for others with whom I interact …

As I pondered that experience, it occurs to me that people come in four varieties:


This person uses the shampoo until it is mostly empty, almost empty, or less than half full.  They happily abandon “large” amounts of usable shampoo for the latest and greatest new shampoo.  Showers across the land are littered with large plastic containers which contain amounts of shampoo which might easily last another week … or three.

They are confident that more shampoo will be available as they desire or need such, and have a generally optimistic outlook on life.   God will provide and does so in plentifulness.  Cost is not a primary concern.  Whether the shampoo is completely used up or not is not a consideration.

Users approach life as a continual and reasonably predictable banquet …

mers care about their coin and stretch things as far as they can …

The Grid


The consumer can often be found, if one peeks into showers, tapping the bottle to get the last of the shampoo into a carefully cupped palm, in order to avoid spilling any drop of this valuable commodity.

Scarcity and need has been in their lives, or at least they are fearful of having this enter their lives.  Many early Boomers were raised by parents who knew that life can change abruptly.    Things once blissfully enjoyed can disappear or become rare.

The image of the Consumer is one of a wet person with their finger stuck as far inside an apparently empty shampoo bottle as they can reach, carefully scraping the very last traces of the shampoo into their palm.

Consumers take their pennies seriously …


The Saver was probably a Boy Scout or a Girl Scout.  They use the shampoo and when pretty much done, carefully deposit the rinsed bottle into a recycling bin.  Savers actually save and sort their stuff, including the stuff that many of us just want to flush, toss, or otherwise remove from our immediate presence.

This is sometimes done without regard for whether that particular recycling process allows for plastics.   It’s about saving the world, one smooshed and reused item at a time.  The motives are solid, but the realities sometimes suffer.

Savers care about the larger picture …


 Economists take things a step further than Savers.   Actually, they keep things a step closer by reusing that shampoo bottle for something else.  I guess the current term is “repurposing”, but not like when you shift a group from one project to another without warning, but when you reuse a thing designed for one purpose to another.

These folks are creative thinkers and will see possibilities that many of us just do not think about.  They see a shampoo bottle and visualize a decorative piece.  If the bottle is transparent plastic, they may see small brightly colored beads filling it or, with the top cut off, crayons or markers.

They are Savers on steroids … trying to use and reuse, rather than consume and recycle …

Bonus Questions:

My wife is a User and I have the half-full shampoo bottles to prove it.  What type do you think I am:)? 

What type are you?

What use can you make of this insight?

How far off the mark are my four types?

 Feeling ever so sparkling clean and a bit “better than her” in the Heartland ….



Dancing In The Aisles …

Dance 1Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.

Samuel Beckett


We all start our lives knowing this simple rule of living … little children dance with abandon and style, literally moving to their own music.

We don’t even have to learn this rule … it comes naturally at a very early age.

What happens as we get older?

We get cautious …

We get self-conscientious …

We get a little creaky …

We forget that dancing comes before thinking.  When you move, your body feels looser and your brain engages in a different way.  You are more prepared to think effectively.  Exercise is recommended daily for this very reason.   Healthy body, healthy mind …

Do not spend time reflecting on this one.  Just get up and move to the rhythm for a while, now, wherever you are, even if you are the only one who can hear the music and are the only one dancing.

Others may not join in, but they probably secretly want to.

If you do this without regret or concern, I can promise that your day will not be the “same old, same old“:).

Cutting a rug and not really caring who sees it in the Heartland ….


That great Image is from

What Was I Saying? …

Focus“The surest way to remember something is to try to forget it.”

via Anonymous, who sure has a lot to say about things

Interesting, isn’t it? … We want to forget something, so we try very hard to not think about it.

This, of course, results in us focusing on the thing we want to forget even more than we probably were before.

Focus creates learning and our brains record what we focus on.

So, following this logic, the only real way to forget something is to not think about it.  Try that and see how it works:).  Personally, I’ve always found trying not to think about something to be a sure-fire way to think about it.

The very act of trying not to think about a thing makes us think about it.

Some better options:

1)  Deal with whatever you would rather forget – take away its power to engage you.

2)  Get real busy doing something you love.  Distraction is a sure path to forgetting.

3)  Learn to live with memories … they are not real, just thoughts.

For a more in-depth and probably more valid discussion of remembering and forgetting, check this link:  Eight Ways to Remember Anything

In the meanwhile, I’ll be trying to forget something (what it is slips my mind at the moment) in the Heartland …


“Fill ‘Er Up” …

Service Station“A motorist saw a sign “Bob’s Service Station –  Last Chance for Seventy-Cent Gas –  State Line One Mile Ahead”.

He stopped and had his tank fillled, then asked “How much is gas across the state line?”.

Answered the attendant “Sixty-five cents”

Source:  Anonymous and from memory

Okay, this probably apocryphal story is obviously set in a time long ago, which remains now only in some of our memories. 

Gas prices under a dollar a gallon?

… had his tank filled …” as in not self-service?

The trip was not planned using MapQuest, Google, and all the other fascinating apps we have now to help us do just about everything?

Sigh …Grandpa, tell me again about the olden days …

While we may not be rooked into paying more for gas now, we still tend to make the larger thinking errors indicated by this quaint and slightly dated story.  

I am going to make three useful observations about this little story that still help us in today’s much more expensive , volatile, and highly political world.  Whether you are entering the work force, in the middle of your career, contemplating the new “retirement”, or just trying to get along every day, remember these things to engage your critical thinking skills:

1)  Be careful about what you read and react to … sometimes it’s not what is said, but what is not said.

Notice that the sign contained NO misleading or incorrect information.  The thinking errors occured in the driver’s mind, not in the communication they received.

We judge others based on superficial aspects, such as appearance, voice, culture, and setting, and not do the hard work of getting to know the person.  This results in massive misuse or simple non-use of potential in our teams, organizations, and society.

2)  Do not assume, which we have all heard before and yet still fall into doing on a regular basis. 

Making assumptions is hard to avoid in this world, especially given the sophistication of technologically-driven mass communication, the dizzying speed of social and organizational change, and just the sheer volume of information with which we are “pelted” every single day.

Our bias for action encourages us to make assumptions, fed by well-meaning folks who forget Cheryl Bachelder’s caution to us that “Action does NOT equal results” in every case.  We do not always insist on having the time to not rely on assumptions.

3)  Whether considering where to  stop for gas or what career move to make, you always need to ask questions.

Questions, well-phrased and intentional, are golden arrows which fly to the heart of our goals and objectives.

When you ask the right question to the right person at the right time … well, things just seem to go more smoothly then, don’t they:).

Think about all this next time you fill up the old Hupmobile or family truckster.

Meanwhile, I am giving thanks that I have a car for which I pay outrageous gas prices to keep it filled in the Heartland ….



Image:  Wikipedia page on “service stations”