Say It Ain't So

You can say whatever you want, whenever you want, to whoever you want.

Go look at your Facebook feed. You can say whatever you want and there is little to no recourse for saying something wrong, offensive, or polarizing. You might get some rough comments from people polarized the opposite direction as you. You might get affirmation from people who agree with you.

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But either way, you can say whatever you think to be true to a community of people who have decided they want to be your friend.

Is this really so different from two thousand years ago sitting around in the local city gates or town square and talking about the politics of the day? You could say whatever you want then too.

If you walked up to the conversation and someone didn’t want to hear what you had to say, they could walk away. But I am guessing people still sat around and agreed with their counterparts and objected against the other side.

The only difference I can see today is scale. Facebook connects us to more people than before. Today we are responsible for what we say just as much as we were 2000 years ago. And the same as 2000 years ago, the guy who thinks the earth is flat was not persuaded otherwise over the campfire or the Facebook post. Nothing any of the round earth people said ever made a difference. Why would they be persuaded today?

Should you post the next opinionated Facebook post? Should you gush your opinion into the comment section of your friend’s political post? Should you really post that? Should you really?

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Pressing Embarassment

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Invented in 1440, the printing press changed the world. Before the press, a book was hard to come by and expensive. Much less reading a book, touching and holding a book. A library was a storehouse of books. All of which were one of a kind or hand copied.

Rare one of a kind treasures.

Between 1440 and 1500, the world went from these few rarities to twenty million volumes. By the end of the 1500’s there were potentially 200 million volumes.

Literacy was suddenly on the rise. People everywhere had access to the volumes being printed.

Eventually, volumes turned shorter and shorter. Magazines and newspapers were born. They started adding pictures and figured out how to reproduce images.

Children would stay up way too late. Reading books. These books would leave an imprint on a child’s face if they fell asleep reading. A 16th century Facebook I guess.

Parents were concerned for their children’s safety. All this reading and media they were consuming. It would eventually have to turn to something evil and rot the brains of these young innocent minds.

It all seems so silly now to think about. How could reading too much or staying up reading a book ruin a child?

If only there were a good analogue to today’s culture. What do you think they will look back at us and laugh about?

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You Ready For This?

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The great part about the new year is it is new and fresh. A great opportunity to start over. Resolutions to stop eating bad. Resolutions to start working out. Resolutions to stick to my budget. Resolutions and goals galore.

The issue with the new year is I am still the same person on January 1st that I was on December 31st. I do not magically lose the baggage of the life I lived before January because the clock rolled over another year.

But the more I make decisions today to make changes and improvements. The more today I start sticking to my budget, eating right, and working out. The easier it will be come January to keep doing those same things.

Come January, it will not be any easier to start the good decisions and stop the bad decisions. I will have the comfort of knowing I am not alone as I ignore my resolutions. And we all know misery loves company and when will I ever have more company than for New Year’s Resolutions?

I would sure like to finish 2017 strong rather than give up because I did not live out the year perfectly.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions going to be? What is stopping you from sticking to them now? What excuses or lies are you telling yourself to keep yourself from succeeding at the goals you are not starting? Who can walk with you for the resolutions you want to start next year, but today?

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Discount Products

The industry sets a price for something. The consumer decides how much it is worth.

A conference. A phone. A house. A bag of chips.

The industry set the price on all of these things.

We will only pay so much for each of them. However, at some point we will trade our money for a discounted version of each item. We no longer get the original item, we only have access to the discount version because we do not value the product or service as much as we did.

We will go get a discount oil change from a non-expert, in a conveyor style environment, with a cheap oil that won’t last as long, and protect our engine as well all in the name of saving a buck.

Even though, what we wanted was the dealership oil change with the right oil, and the expert care that can hear the timing belt being out of alignment in the engine.

So willing so quickly to discount the service before you even get close to receiving it. Willing to cheapen the whole experience all in the name of saving a couple bucks here or there. But you must have it. Or do you really need it?

Was saving a buck really worth it? Did you actually save anything in the long run? Where else are you discounting the service you actually want? What else do you need to pay full price for so you can get the experience you actually want?

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Production

I started school in a kindergarten, much like many of my peers. We went to kindergarten, some even had the privilege of going to a pre-kindergarten environment. After that we had the pleasure of working our way through first grade right on up through twelfth grade progressing from an elementary school to a middle school or junior high, and then culminating our early education with high school.

Like clockwork, we showed up at the allotted time. Each time we graduated to the next school, we would start waking up and showing up earlier and earlier to accommodate the limited supply of busses our given school districts had.

In accordance with our teachers we would do enough work to graduate to the next grade, thus proving we had learned everything we needed from the previous grade. At some point we even began to have a little bit of a say in what classes we were showing up to.

By the time we’re in our late teens. The system spits us out, ready for the the final step, college.

When we graduate college we are then fully educated for adulthood. Class after class graduates with degrees.

Post graduation is a chaos induced bucket of ambiguity. No more rails to follow.

What are you trying to produce? What is your metric for success? Is what you are trying to produce actually what needs to be produced? Is your final product actually designed to be successful?

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For Patrons Only

“Restrooms for Patron’s Only”

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Because it costs too much to let other people use it. Then you might have to let everyone use it. I’m sure the cost per flush on that bathroom would bankrupt you. The cleaning process would overwhelm your labor costs. The toilet paper costs would throw off the ROI of people using your bathroom.

Or you just don’t want to deal with all that other stuff, so you don’t. You tell people ‘No’ unless they buy a pack of gum or stick of beef jerky.

Most people won’t. They will walk up the street to your competitor, use their bathroom, and probably end up spending more than they would at your establishment. They might even make a meaningful connection to the clerk who is focused on saying, ‘Yes.’

But at least your bathroom is clean and readily accessible.

Where are your priorities a little cockeyed due to a social norm? Where are you saying, ‘No’ where you could be saying, ‘Yes’?

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Right To Peace

Freedom. Almost synonymous with Ol’ Glory. Our right, our privilege and our banner. As an American, freedom has been one of the most monumental pillars of my identity. I have the right to bear arms. I have the right to freedom of speech. Right to freedom of the press. Right to…

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Rarely have I ever considered the cost of freedom. The method by which freedom is attained. Freedom is not given, it is earned. Earned through bloodshed. Fighting. War. Revolution. Rebellion. Absolute and complete defiance.

Freedom comes at the cost of war.

Peace comes through a very different means. Peace comes by choice. Peace comes in the face of war. In the face of oppression.

I do not have to cause conflict to gain peace. I have to give up conflict to live out peace. Peace is not brought through fighting. Peace is a decision I can make in any circumstance. I can prioritize the other party enough to find resolution through peace.

Freedom through peace.

When was the last time you worked to live out peace before you worked to have freedom?

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Well Balanced Diet

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We have all heard it before, you are what you eat. Over consume alcohol or candy or bread or beef, and you will see a difference in yourself and it will be reflected in your health. Eat a good balanced healthy diet and your body will reflect it.

Likewise, you are what you eat. Watch a strict diet of dark angry movies and tv shows, you will see it in your attitude. Constantly watch popular news and digest their firehose of angry news, you will see it reflected in your personality.

How is a bad movie going to effect you any different than eating a half an apple pie in one sitting? Maybe you went the extra mile and ate the pie while watching the bad movie. You know what you can handle. You know yourself. I know myself. I know what I can handle.

The same way I have to pay attention to what I eat and how I am taking care of my body and what I am taking in. I have to watch my social media, movies, news, and tv shows to make sure I am not overeating bad media.

It is all equally available. The internet is a flattened landscape, for now, and we can only blame ourselves for finding bad media to suck down like it is going out of style.

What makes it onto your tv? What makes it onto your phone screen? What makes it onto your computer screen? Do you want to be more or less like what you are putting on your screens? Do you want to have friends who are emulating what you are putting on your screens?

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Story Time

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You have lived so much life. It has passed you by, day by day and has come and gone. The memories you have of trips, adventures, and daydreams from childhood. The experiences you have from the time you spent doing chores, working odd jobs, learning new skills, and how you learned to drive.

These are yours. You had to be there. You can share them and express them. Discuss the nitty gritty and share what it was like to be there when you were there. People listen and share too. They commiserate about the bad and celebrate the good. The neurotic self absorbed narcissist is more rare than common.

Sharing your story is healing to past hurts and soothing to the soul where there is turmoil.

Listening to someone else’s story also has strong qualities. Hearing where they’ve been. What they’ve learned. How they have dealt with a very different life than yours, or maybe their life has too many uncanny similarities to be real.

Either way, you get to hear them, learn them, and share with them. Hearing their stories you can bond your souls and share in all the twists and turns and ups and downs and look forward to what comes next.

Who’s story do you need to hear next? Who do you need to tell your story to? How often do you really listen to other people’s stories? How often are you putting yourself in a situation to hear other people’s stories? How often are you putting yourself in a situation to tell your story?

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I Woke Up Like This

Beyoncé may have woke up the way she did. But you and I oddly enough did not.

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It has taken us our whole lives to get to where we are. We are who we are because of the course of life we have lived, the decisions we have made, and the experiences we had as we lived life.

Your over or under productive lifestyle did not start yesterday and it is not going to disappear tomorrow. Your craving for sweets, dessert, ice-cream, and candy did not start three minutes ago and it will most likely not stop three minutes from now.

Similarly, our social standards did not start yesterday. The government policy was not born last week. The highway and transportation infrastructure was not built over night.

Why then do we expect to lose weight, pick up new habits, and perform social reform in a week.

Set a realistic incremental goal for yourself and start there.

Do you want to lose weight? Start going for a walk once a week. Once you have mastered your once a week walk, add in a second walk.

Whatever your incremental goal is, get a teammate to help you in the process. It is easier to shoot for the moon when you have teammates and friends to help you assemble the rocket.

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Consuming Raw or Undercooked Meat

Every restaurant serving beef, pork, fish, and eggs has the warning about the dangers of consuming raw or undercooked meat? I would not be surprised if there are mountains of legal precedents regarding these warnings and how they have saved restaurant after restaurant from millions of dollars in lawsuits.

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But these warnings are everywhere. They have become white noise. When was the last time you actually read one of these notices? They are there. Go to your favorite local eatery and they probably have one of these warnings.

They are not pretty. They are not fancy. They are just a warning against the common knowledge. A warning many people ignore.

I like my eggs sunny-side-up. Some people want to eat a steak that is blue. I do not want to get sick. I am guessing people who eat blue steaks do not want to get sick.

Why do we still let this noise persist? These signs have as much use as a restroom sign. Never visible until you need to see them. But we keep posting restroom signs and meat disclaimers because we have always posted meat disclaimers.

How much of your work do you do because the industry or organization has always done it? How much of your work ends up being background noise, invisible till needed? What is more meaningful that you should be working on?

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Finders Seekers

Have you ever notice we find what we are looking for?

When we go to the grocery store looking for milk and there it is. We go to the mall to find new shoes and there they are. We get on amazon.com to order toilet paper and there it is.

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We go to one coffee shop to find rude baristas with burnt coffee and there it is. We go to the other coffee shop to find perky baristas with sugar coffee and there it is.

We go out to the restaurant that has good food with bad service. And? Every time we get good food and bad service.

We show up to work expecting the same people to be frustrating and the same people to be a pleasure to work alongside.

What if the problem is we keep looking for the same thing and finding it, not that the thing we’re looking for is always present every time we go looking for it? What are you looking for? What should you be looking for?

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In The Midst

The highway is full of people and life. The road does not lack traffic or action.

When you travel down the highway, you are surrounded by people. They are mere feet or yards from you. They are in their space moving down the road in the same way you are. Going the same direction, possibly even with the same destination.

These people have the same problems and fears you do. Traffic. Speed limits. Tailgating. Fender benders. Stop lights. Flat tires.

They plague you both equally.

Yet the inches of steel and aluminum and white or yellow lines and speed of travel separate you into our own little worlds. You are secluded into your own personal bubble with no connection with the other drivers. And you live with these problems and fears by yourself.

Do you recognize you are not the only one with the problems you have? Do you share your problems with your friends? Who do you share your problems with? Who do you support as they have problems?

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Hitting The Mark

Where is your destination? What are your goals? How do you measure progress? How do you get there?

I recently experienced a situation where I thought I was spinning my wheels barely making any progress on what I was doing. I was trying to improve the quality of product but I felt like I was ultimately failing.

Turns out, I was not only doing a good job but out performing the widely accepted metrics of the industry.

I had no metrics of my own. I was just firing my work off into the ether and it felt like everything I was doing was barely more than a success.

Where is your destination? What are your goals? How do you measure progress? How do you get there?

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Gut Check

When I am talking to someone who is highly passionate about a topic I am interested in, it is very hard for me to not get swept up in the emotion of the conversation. I especially become equally emotional when their is an injustice for them.

I want to help them and make it right. I want them to know how they can make it right and get themselves out of the bad situation. I want to twist them around and help them see how they can get out of the bad situation.

More lately, I have been catching myself as I get swept up in the emotion. I stop myself and monitor my feelings. Not because my feelings are negative but strictly because I go too far. The person I am talking to might be passionately explaining something at a 6 out of 10 but I am ready to take it to an 11 and just go overboard to the extreme.

Slowing down and checking myself has helped me measure my own excitement and extremist moments. More importantly, it has also helped me temper my response to whoever I am talking to. I deliver a measured and equal response to their passion. I do not stoke their fire and escalate them from a 6/10 to a 9/10. Instead, I help them process their response to be fair, equal, and healthy. Other times, I let them vent, and then I help them move on to another topic or take on a healthier topic.

How do you react when someone is passionate about a topic? How do you temper your response when someone has suffered an injustice? How do you decide what to respond to and what to let roll off your back?

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Flying Solo

When you run into a struggle. You are not alone. You do not have to do it alone. There are people in your life who want to be there for you and they want to be a part of your life. They are your friends for a reason.

I am not the first person to have the struggles I have. You are not the first person to have the struggles you have. I ask my friends for help when I have hardship and I share with my friends in real time where I am at. Sharing my struggles or requesting help from friends has never been met with denial.

Friends do not leave each other in the lurch. They pick each other up and share when they are celebrating and when they are hurting.

Who are your friends? Who do you share your high points with that is not your significant other? Who do you share your low points with that is not your significant other?

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However, Although

In my high school English class, we had to write a paper on the famous novel Watership Down by Richard Adams. Being the famously intelligent student I was during my senior year of high school, I did not finish the book. I paid attention to the conversations in class, I started reading the book. But truly did not care or finish the book.

We then were required to write our summary of the book and relate it to something, I cannot remember what I was supposed to relate the book to or even what I wrote about besides writing an eleven page paper when the requirement was five to seven pages.

The teacher that year required we turn in a rough draft of the paper for her to review as her way of assisting us in the paper writing process. So I did. I was up till 11:30, midnight, or later the night before pounding out the rough draft.

The following week we all met with the teacher one-on-one to discuss our drafts. When she and I met, I don’t remember anything else about my discussion with her besides one thing.

She laughed at me.

My teacher laughed at me for starting a paragraph, “However, Although?”.

My goal in doing so was to get her opinion of which word would better start the paragraph. Ultimately, I just picked a word and said nothing else to her the rest of the conversation.

Who do you have influence over? How careful are you with your influence? How much do you measure your words and actions with those you have influence over?

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Consistency

Posting so frequently I have to regularly be writing and producing posts. I am constantly observing to find more ideas. Many ideas. I have to come up with enough ideas that I can throw out the bad ideas and keep the good ones. Sometimes the bad make it through too.

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As much as I like the ideas I have, they all are not good ideas and not all of them turned into a post. My ideas page is full of ideas that will never be posted because I know the ideas are not worth the time it takes to post much less the time it would take to read it.

The idea is only the first step. After the idea I have to sit down and write it, workout an image I like. All of this take time and patience on my part because I want to be done after I come up with the idea.

The most difficult part of the process is the writing the post. I will regularly run into a phase where I do not want to write something, cannot write something, or just plain do not know how to address a topic. The only saving grace I have in this process is routine.

The more I go to the same place. In the same chair. With the same view. At the same time. The fewer and fewer issues I have. The words write themselves from the tips of my fingers when I am feeling truly inspired and they steadily drip out of my fingers when I have no motivation or at all.

Where are you stuck? What routine do you have to help you cross the hurdles in your life? Where are you so beholden to routine that you are sacrificing others for the sake of routine?

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Fact Finding

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What is your story? Where does it start?

What happens in the middle? Where does it go wrong? What does it look like on the other side?

When was the last time you asked someone else about their story?

Are you actually getting their story or are you fact finding about how they succeeded and failed? Are you really digging into their lives? Are you waiting for your turn to talk?

I have yet to find someone who does not want to tell their story. Truly listening to someone else tell their story takes more than just showing up. You have to listen too.

Who’s story are you listening to?

–JT

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Blank Canvas

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When you do something, do you look at it and ask how it should look or do you dig in and get started?

It is so hard to stop and make sure it is going to look the way it should. The way it should look does not have to be the way everyone else makes it look. But do you know what a success will look like when you get there?

Do you know what a failure will look like when you get there?

Developing a picture of where you are headed can decide how the process should go and how the process will look through the development of your ideas and projects.

Having a clear picture of the end result will keep you from being over run by the structure overseeing you.

Changing the picture of your final product based on new information is natural.

What is the picture of success for what you are working on? When was the last time you updated your picture of success? What new information have you gained to help you succeed?

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