Fast Food Express Lane Blues …

Running - Presenter Media


Let me clarify …  


Sometimes in life, fast is good, helpful, or even essential.  Here are some instances of that, from the trivial to the vital:

When the food is supposed to be served hot.

When the work is due and others depend on your contribution.

When damage will occur to property if you do not act.

When a person needs immediate mental or psychological help.


We often apply this “Fast is sometimes good” concept incorrectly.   

First, we leave out the “sometimes”, assuming faster is always good.

Second, we apply the concept to everything in our lives.

I impatiently tap my foot while waiting the 45 seconds it takes to order, pay for, and receive my Biggie Burger from my favorite QuickNGreasy (trademark pending) drive-thru restaurant.

Waiting in line to be safe while flying on an airplane was so onerous that a “fast lane” option had to be created, so people were not “inconvenienced”.  This must have come from our grocery stores, which almost always have “fast checkout” lanes or even “self-check out“, both of which exist simply to get you out of the store even faster.

Many of us grow faint at the thought of actually reading an entire article, let alone a complete book, from the very first word to the very last … we demand an “Executive Summary”, which in my opinion is another way to say “I don’t have the attention span to concentrate on one thing for any significant amount of time.”

We have created this “Fast Food, Express Lane, Faster is Better, Executive Summary” perspective in many parts of our society and culture.   Now this might just be my misconceptions, while your experience with speed in our modern culture is different.  Take no more than 5 seconds to consider this possibility.

The problem is that we have created the need for all these incredibly quick ways to get through our days and nights for two reasons, at least in my experience:

We have too much to do and must find short-cuts in order to keep going.

We lack the ability to maintain a more focused and long-term approach to our work and our life. 

I  was thinking about all this recently, as I violently pounded my computer mouse on the desk, while impatiently waiting for a large amount of information to download.  Apparently I think a computer mouse works like elevator buttons … you know, press more often and harder to make the elevator come faster.

I was enraged at the idea of not having near instantaneous access to a 40-some page research article.

As I considered this, I remembered that I was originally miffed not to find a good synopsis of that multi-page article, to avoid reading the whole article completely so I would know what was in it.  That would take a lot of time.

Finally I zoomed out for a more objective view and realized that the reason I was searching for this information in the first place was to create a quick response to post on a social media site I frequent.   I was feeling the pressure of time before I ever saw the article and all of this was for a dubious purpose … why did my response need to be so quick?

Three learnings here for me, and possibly for you if you ever find yourself speeding along and wondering how you came to such a fast pace:


I like technology and love the rare occasions when I can claim the title of Early Adopter.  However, my pride exists as another example of “faster is better”.

Technology these days almost always is available before it works.  Think about those sporadic updates that begin whenever you acquire the latest and greatest technology.  

This is another way of saying “We need to fix that thing we sold you”, which would be unacceptable in many aspects of our consumer life, but which we meekly acquiesce with when it comes to our computers, our tablets, and our smartphones.

When our technology allows us to do things more quickly, we become used to doing things more quickly.   We do not always question whether doing something more quickly is doing something more effectively, enjoyably, or correctly.   Why is download speed so darned important, anyway?

We buy the latest and greatest (interpret as faster) gadgets just because they are supposedly faster than our current gadget.


I mentioned some reasons why speed might be important at the beginning of all this.  Those and other good examples of real reasons to move quickly aside, many of us have adopted a “Speed Is Good” mentality, which we often apply without question or distinction to every part of our lives.

When we accept that mentality, we tend to expect things to be faster, whether an objective reason for increased speed exists or not.  We now become very irritated and start pounding on inanimate objects simply because they do not deliver results as quickly as we expect them to do.

We are an impatient species these days.


Aside from situations that involve life or death, injury or harm, or involve me getting a hot cup of coffee in the morning, most of our daily activities could be accomplished at a slower pace than we tend to assume.

Our organizations are often leaderless in this respect, allowing cultures of speedy response and fast action to grow, rather than to instill a more thoughtful and calmer pace.  We blame competition for this emphasis on speed, even though the economic landscape is littered with the bones of organizations and people who “got there first”.  Technology is even less our friend in this respect than I mentioned above.

On a personal level, things are even less complicated.  You choose how you live … if you feel stressed because things are moving too fast, choose differently.


Of course, maybe I’m just feeling cranky this morning, because the pace of  my life seems to be negatively impacting the quality of my life.

If you can honestly say that more speed in your life IMPROVES the quality of your life, please ignore my ranting.

Seriously considering slowing down significantly in the very cloudy and soggy Heartland …


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Paying Attention …

Who Are You - Presenter MediaNot a new thought, but valuable enough to bear consistent repeating…

FIRST QUESTION:  What and Who Do You Pay Attention To?

Think about those things and people who capture your interest or demand your energy.  Consider what is happening to your time and energy every day, over a week, and through the seasons.

Sometimes we have no choice, but to pay attention to something.  Our work may require this of us, and we cannot choose not to pay attention without risking significant job actions.  Of course, sometimes we talk ourselves into thinking that we “have to” focus on some work-related issue, when no particular evidence other than our own thinking supports this.

Other times, when we are honest, we choose the level and quality of our focus in an area and on a person.   We probably have much more freedom to change in these instances than we might think. 

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: How Does What You Pay Attention To Help You?

Here are some common topics under which activities and individuals can be grouped.  Please note that in some cases, we pay attention to a person because of a goal or the reverse.  In those cases, consider the tangible value that derives from your investment of time and energy in that person or activity.

Please add any other major areas not included below to your Focus list.

FINANCIAL:  You focus on making and using money through earnings, investments, and the acquisition of valuable things.

CAREER:  You concentrate on building professional experiences and reputation in a workplace environment.  Titles and authority are important to you.

FAMILY:  You nurture familial relationships with children, parents, cousins, and other relatives, along with people you feel close to.

EMOTIONAL:  Your concern is primarily about how you feel about others and events, with a goal of healthy interactions and emotional stability.

STRUCTURAL: You work to develop a pleasant and safe environment for yourself and your loved ones.

Also remember that items on your list may overlap with more than one topic.  

For example, I used to run 4-5 miles per day and often started my weekend with a race at some local event.  As my children grew, I began to enter them in the short races which often accompanied my longer races, producing both health benefits and shared relationships with my children.

ANOTHER QUESTION:   How Well Does What Is On Your Focus List Align With What You Really Value?

This is the most important step and the hardest for most of us to do, since it involves really getting clear about what we want out of life.

I would say this is the place where you need some objective help.  You alone know best what you concentrate on doing or thinking , as well as what you truly value.  

However, a professionally prepared helper can make the process of determining the fit between what you do and what you want much easier than when you slog through the process alone.   There’s a reason why professional coaches are coming into the public eye more frequently.

FINAL QUESTION (Two-Parter):  1)  What Are You Going To Reduce Or Stop Doing, and 2) What Are You Going To Start Or Increase Doing?

Well, you knew I had to ask this one, right?

Not much point consider your current state of focus, unless you also create specific plans with measurable milestones and clear goals to change your focus where it does not align with your values or goals.  

These plans should include something like a “Stop or Reduce” list and a “Start or Increase” list of actions to help you devote more of your focus, and your energy, to the things which matter most.

Having lots of fun asking some very useful questions in the Heartland ….



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Dangerous Desks …

Dangerous Desks - Presenter Media

… and who am I to argue with a best-selling author, whose works continue to sell and be made into films and television series?

For some people, a desk is something other people have to sit behind, but for many of us, it is an essential piece of furniture, whether we toil in a cubicle, open office, or in our den at home.  The basic elements apply, even if you just spread out in a booth at a BreadCo or Starbucks.

I do wonder if some additional information is necessary, though.  Here are some quick diagnostic questions to ponder as you go about your daily work.  If you do not have a desk, take a few minutes to create a visual image of a desk that you might use, then answer the questions:


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Are You Busy Right Now? …


Most of us juggle multiple roles as needed and sometimes at the same time.  Even within a role, you have sub-roles.  

At work, you may be a colleague, an employee, a boss, a collaborator, or a rival … all within an hour or two.  At home, you may be a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling, or an in-law, each of which requires a different perspective and approach.

The trick here is to know which role needs our focus and energy at a particular time.  Work at your vocation in the office, but let your home be a haven for being a spouse, a partner, a parent, and sometimes a child.


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Risking Without Risk …

Risking WIthout Risk -

Well, we ALL want glory, right? …

Not really … most folks are probably more interested in stability, safety, enough to meet our needs and some of our wants, and to be known to those who we care about.

If you are one of those many, you may think this post and that quotation have little to offer you.   I beg to differ …

As we go through life, most of us are confronted by a series of firsts:  First overnight away from Mom and Dad, first airplane trip, first date, first kiss, first day of high school … and so on and so on throughout our lives.  First job interview, first job, first promotion, first challenge at work, first job loss, first time to buy a car, rent a house, buy a house, have a child, adopt a child, watch a child leave, lose a close friend or a loved one.

Every first includes some element of risk that we might not succeed or manage the moment.

Whether we desire risk in our lives or not is immaterial, because risk is already present and very prominent.   Risk is part of what makes life interesting and sometimes very exciting.  We risk every morning when we open our eyes, take a deep breath, and move. Continue reading