Fast Food

I have stopped eating at most fast food restaurants. Occasionally, once or twice a year I will in a moment of pure gluttony or desperation pick up some fast food, but otherwise? No.

(I recognize it is a bit of a privilege to be able to make this decision, and for that I am thankful.)

It is also a decision based on my values. Most simply it has to do with eating healthy. Equally importantly, it is out of frustration with the service. These poor people are working for a mega-corp for sub par wages in a job with little to no positive long term outlook.

And with their employer having no interest in their long term success. They have no interest in the joy of their customer. They are looking to make it through their shift, go home, and hopefully have made enough money to make it till the next time they get paid.

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I have been there and I totally get why they are that way. And likewise, I do not want to support the mega corp they work for. I want to support places that are genuinely interested in their most important customer...

Their employees.

For instance, when I worked at Starbucks (granted it has been a while) they seemed genuinely interested in my success and profitability beyond my time at Starbucks. Between stock options, retirement, healthcare, free pound of coffee every week, a generous discount on everything else, and a well outlined career path and transferring within the company to a place I might like to work longterm. They had enough opportunities for me to feel valued and likewise value my customer.

Because the company was so interested in taking care of me, I was very invested in taking care of my most important customer, the actual customer on the other side of the counter ordering drinks, pastries, and hot food. I was thrilled to take care of them because my company was thrilled to take care of me and it was a pleasure to work at Starbucks for years.

Who are you supporting? How are you giving your subordinates, friends, family, or direct customer relations more than an a transactional relationship? How are you adding value to other people’s lives? How are you engaging others for their benefit first?

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Friends Forever

There is an older gentleman I met while I was working at Starbucks. He and his friends came in most every day we were open every year. He was a delight. He was met almost always by his friends and they sat around solving the world’s problems in the midst of our café. They were always good natured and I was glad to know them all.

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Several years have gone by since I worked there, I have aged some and he has continued to age some, and he is now reaching a point where he needs assistance in his living. He is still a delight and today, he is being taken care of by his friends who he met with every day at Starbucks.

His friends have a voice in his life because their most vibrant connection was a table covered in coffee cups, napkins, and newspapers. It brings me so much joy to know he is in good hands with his friends being the decision makers in his life as his health slowly declines.

These people are an inspiration to me to develop the friends and connections I have. These men were introduced through a coffee shop and met regularly to be friends. And now they continue to care for each other more ways than the years of theoretical conversations they had over coffee.

To know that one day I might also be cared for by my friends bring me warmth and joy. To know he is being cared for by his friends brings me peace. And I never could have guessed how far these relationships they were developing might grow.

What relationships are you investing in? Who are the people you want to take care of you as you age? Who do you want to be with you as you reach your twilight years? What steps are you taking to bring people into your life to know you well enough to know what you would want when you reach your twilight?

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Meeting New

Traveling to a new place it is easy to enjoy the sites, be scintillated by the novelty of the newness, and to enjoy the diversity of people. People who do not live where you live, do what you do, or think how you think.

Getting away from home really has the potential to bring you to a place where the world is your oyster.

You are also an island unto yourself.

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You are the only one from your town, thinking the way you do, and doing what you do. You are generally away from your tribe and without your support network.

You do breath air. Much like the people around you.

You do eat food. Much like the people around you.

You need somewhere to sleep and eat.

So, what is stopping you from meeting the people you cross paths with already? Engaging them in who they are and what they do? Finding out what is coming next in their lives? Their family? Their occupation? What do they do in their spare time? How do you know someone you will cross paths with today is out of their element and could use a local guide to get to their next adventure?

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Moving

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I moved earlier this year and a herd of my friends showed up to help me move. They showed up to help us load a U-Haul. They brought their own trucks and cars to load up. They helped unload the U-Haul. They made jokes. They got the job done without thrashing our old place, our new place, or our stuff.

They showed up and helped and completely made it happen. We might have been able to do it without them using the sheer force of will and stubbornness, but it would not have been as good.

They not only blessed us but they saved us from an immense amount of frustration, headache, and loneliness. We are incredibly grateful to them all.

What can you do this week to be a help to someone else? What little or big thing can you do to add value to someone else’s life? What skill, ability, or knowledge do you have and can use to help fill a need in someone else’s life?

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Favorite Part of a Song

I was singing along to one of my favorite songs and towards the end of the song, the lead singer sings the chorus and another singer sings the bridge over top of them. It is truly a goosebump sort of moment.

All the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The hairs on my arms stand up. I get a slight shiver in my spine and my smile spreads a mile wide.

I know it is coming and still. I cannot stop it from happening when I listen to my favorite songs.

So good.

Whether it is our favorite song, favorite movie, play, musical, book, painting, tv show, or time of year, we all have these little items we love. However, what stops us from making more of these moments?

What stops us from planning these moments out and being ready for them all the time so we do not have to wait for them, instead we can experience them more often. We can plan these moments out for others to add value to their lives.

We can enrich the lives of friends and family by sharing our goosebump moments and share enrich our own lives by asking others about their goosebump moments and we can see something new or old in a way we have never seen it before.

Who are you sharing your goosebump moments with? Who are you asking about their goosebump moments? How are you seeking out new goosebump moments?

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Classified

Meyers Briggs. Race. Gender. Marital Status. Political Affiliation. Gluten Free. Dairy Free. Height. Weight. Body Type. Face Shape.

We do not lack for different ways to classify ourselves and each other. I would say I have barely scratched the surface really. These are the few things that came to mind for me off the top of my head.

Having so many different ways to be different and to assess and classify each other. We have tests for everything. Moreover we have plenty of different ways to put a context around who we all are. And yet, I still barely feel like I understand myself, much less anyone else understands me.

The reality is, I do not need more ways to classify myself and others. I need to see other people for who they are and meet them where they are at.

I need to talk with people.

I do not need to talk with a classification.

Addressing the person I am talking with on Twitter as a person, not a classification.

What classifications do you naturally jump to? How can you better address the person you are talking to? Who can help you see people as people and help you catch yourself before you launch into that Facebook tirade?

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Down and Dirty

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My closest friends are the people who are people who are covered in the same crap I am.

When I am down in the dumps, they get right down there with me and join me in it. Whether I am covered in mud, grease, dirt, manure, blood, sweat, or tears. They join me in the crap I am in and they are on my level.

This is how I know they are my friends, they are covered in the same thing I am.

It is hard to judge or feel judged when you are covered in the same crap the person next to you is covered in. But when someone stands at the top of a chasm tossing down a rope to a me and says, “Climb out.” It is hard to feel like they are my friend. It feels more like they want to be my savior.

Who are your friends covered in the same crap you are? Who are you getting dirty with when they are in the middle of their crap?

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Corner

Mass transit is great for getting a lot of people from here to there on the predetermined schedule. In Europe, the mass transit systems more extensive and reliable than we might be familiar with in the United States. However, most of us have at least experienced the yellow cheese wagon buses that took us to and from school during our elementary school days.

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No matter what, mass transit is a great resource with a very clear purpose and definition of what it is for.

Likewise we have many things we are for or in favor of. From washing dishes and cooking dinner to getting things done at work and running errands on the weekend. We have many things we are in favor of. We even have people we are in favor of. People we are developing relationships with or maintaining long standing relationships.

We also have people who are in favor of us. People who have helped us grow and mature. Decipher between right and wrong. And people who have helped us when things were not going so well.

These are people who have decided they were for us. They put themselves aside and chose to be for us in small and large ways. The network of people we have in our corner can be as numerous and extensive as the European transit system or as simple as a bus getting school children too and from school on any given day. Either way, the system of these people are in favor us and our success.

Who are you for? Whose corner are you in? Who are you supporting and helping? Who do you have in your corner? Who could you ask to be in your corner?

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Acting Out

Children react to things that they do not want to do with a pretty standard reaction. They push back on reasonable requests. Say no. Throw a fit. Or just plain ignore you and do what they want to do.

As they mature we help them see healthy ways to have these conversations. We help them see when they should do things they do not want to do. We help them convey their emotion in a healthy way. They start to develop their own ability to process their thoughts and feelings and convey them in a socially acceptable way.

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Through the process, they become more mellow.

Their behavior changes when their parents call them out on unacceptable behavior.

How are you acting like a child (saying no, throwing a tantrum, ignoring requests)? How are you acting like a parent (calling others out when they act in unreasonable ways)?

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Switched

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“This is like shooting fish in a barrel.”

I have never shot fish in a barrel, but I am pretty sure it is not actually that easy. These fish are not sitting still. They are swimming around and bouncing all over the place. Especially when they get the scent of another dead fish in their water. How much will they be bouncing around then?

How about your teammate you just asked to take care of some odds and ends? It seems like it is going to take more than you expected. They are reasonable people. They are the expert in their field. That is why you went to them for help.

Maybe it is not as easy as flipping a switch.

Who is helping you? Are you doing everything they need to help them help you? Are you actual weighing the cost of your actions?

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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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Terminal Beard

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There is a phrase referring to beards called the terminal beard length. It is the maximum length a man can grow his beard. This is the longest a given man can grow his beard.

It is not limited by the man’s ability to curate and encourage his beard to grow, but instead it is limited by his genetics. He can’t grow a longer beard because he just does not have the capacity to grow a longer beard.

There is no cream, oil, or balm that he needs. There are no supplements to make it grow longer. There are only genetics, a healthy grooming regimen, and the beard. Most other factors do not matter. Therefore, he is limited to his given terminal beard length.

Similarly, we are limited in our given capacity for friendships and relationships. There are many different hairs of relationships. Short and long, the random gray hair. The hairs that end up knotted even though we just combed them last night. Or even the hair that feels like an iron spike despite the fact that we condition every morning.

There are many hairs and lengths of hairs. But we are still limited by the terminal beard length in the deepest relationships we have. The relationships that stretch all the way out to the very longest points in our beards. We are careful to condition and oil these hairs to keep them from falling out.

Our relational capacity is then limited to our ability to be there for the relationships that matter most to us. We might care about all the hairs in our beard, but we have to stop and invest in the ones longest and strongest.

Who are your friends who mean the most to you? Do they know they are so important to you? What are you doing to curate those relationships so they continue to be your longest strongest hairs?

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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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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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My Own Press

My biggest problem with listening to the people who know me best is not that they tear me down. It is that they build me up. I need to be built up. I need their help. I need the help of my friends to help me keep up my self-esteem. And to be the yin to the proverbial yang, I also need to not get so caught up in what my friends think of me that I forget who I am.

I need to keep my head down and keep working hard. I cannot let my friends’ perspective steer me off course to be more self-important than I really am.

I am no more than my friends say I am. I do not exist to please my friends. But I am only as good as they say I am. No more. No less.

Believing I am more than my friends say I am will only lead me to live in the illusion of fame, the busyness of too much to do, and the arrogance to make mistakes.

What does arrogance lead you to? Where are you developing pride? Where do you need to be taken down a notch?

Humbly,

–JT

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Organizations

I have historically tried to rely on systems and organizations as a safety net and avenue for success in my life.

There is nothing wrong with trusting organizations. But they are not here for my success. They have a limited scope of use and value and I am not at the core of their purpose. My ability to succeed is largely built on my actions and my own ability to make choices in line with my values and priorities.

My ability to make these good choices and succeed is going to be heavily influenced by the people in my life. The social systems and organization I build around myself.

Bringing these people into my life is as much about their success as it is my own. I am not bringing people into my life to only make me better. I am also joining with their social systems and organization to make them a more successful person. More importantly, when I join into their system with their success at the core of my decision making process. They will succeed and I will succeed.

Who’s social structure are you joining? Who are you trying to help succeed? Who are you bringing into your social structure?

Structuring,

–JT

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Wrestling Elephants

When my son is on the verge of falling asleep in the afternoons, he will fight it. He will fight it so hard. He will pull his wubanub (wub) out of his mouth over an over again.

Every time he pulls the wub out of his mouth, he wakes himself up. When he wakes up, he fusses hard core because he is grumpy. He is grumpy because he is tired. We will put the wub back into his mouth and then he will start to doze off and then he will realize he is dozing off and fight it, flail, pull out the wub. Then we start the battle all over again.

The issue is, he needs to sleep.

He.

Needs.

To.

Sleep.

He is wrestling his little elephant and he keeps wrestling it despite the obvious benefits it will bring into his life.

However, how often am I any different? How often do I not do something I desperately need despite my personal preference in the moment? How do I react when my friends try to give me a tool to help me grow? Do I accept it or fight it off?

They are obviously giving me this advice because I need it. Why do I take my time accepting it?

How often do I handicap myself by pushing away what I need because I am grumpy, afraid of the change, or being selfish?

What are you not doing because you are afraid of the change? What crutch are you pulling away because of the change it will bring? Who are the people in your life you trust to give you the tools you need to succeed in the moments you want them least?

Wrestling,

–JT

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Manning Inc.

I am assessing my board of directors. The people who are guiding and developing me. The people who are helping me be a better me. The people who are my friends, neighbors, and mentors. The people who shape me.

I’m not assessing them for their quality. I am assessing them for my qualities. I am assessing who I am by looking at the people around me. There are adages about being the “sum” of the people around us or attracting people who are like us. No matter where you fall on these maxims, I know I am influenced by the people around me.

I like these people.

I am like these people.

I want to understand how this affects me and who I am.

I want to know how I am affecting them and who they are.

Who is on your board of directors? What ways are these people influencing you? How are you affecting these people?

Warm Regards,

–JT

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The Value of The Yen

It is so interesting how I stop accepting myself. I end up telling myself little lies about my ideas, my thoughts, my value, and my ambition. I start filling myself with doubt. I ignore the truth my friends have given me. The encouragement my friends have poured out on me and start focusing on the little things that are wrong with me. 

After a while I start to look in the mirror and see an intelligence quotient score, which is too low

I see a pant size, which is too big.

I see a shirt fitting too tightly.

A hairstyle, not groomed correctly.

A heart, is not happy enough.

A husband, not loving enough.

A friend, not attentive enough to the people who matter to him.

Relative who does not ever call.

And after a while, I begin to think I am barely worth the clothes I am wearing. 

No one ever told me I have so little value. I have convinced myself of this idea. As a matter of fact, the people who might be the very people who would jokingly say these things to me are not saying these things. Even their jokes are positive. Their love is ever present. I am the only one telling myself these lies. 

I am the only one trying to define myself of something that is totally and completely insufficient to measure my self worth.

I am the only roadblock standing between me and progress. I am feeding myself these lies.

I am the only one who can plug the hole of these lies pouring into my life. 

Where are you lying to yourself? What lies are you telling yourself? When are you going to start telling yourself the truth?

Valuably,

–JT