Alignment

Our cars’ tires must be aligned. They need to be set in such a way that they follow each other when they make turns. The front wheels turn in exact parallel motion. At the same time, and the back wheels are exactly parallel following the front wheels.

When our tires are out of alignment, there is extra stress on the car. The body, axles, wheels, and associated systems around the tires. The tires wear down quicker because the wear on the tires is more and different than it should be. And the real punch in the gut is the gas efficiency of the car goes down. Gas costs go up. The engine is working harder against the tires, and the tires are working against each other.

When what you believe and what you spend your does not line up. It is the same as four tires being out of alignment and working against each other. The engine is working extra hard to try and keep the car moving forward. You are working extra hard to make progress in your life. You are less efficient because you are out of alignment.

Likewise, when what you do lines up with what you believe.

And what you think lines up with what you do.

And believe and how you feel about the world lines up with what you think, do, and believe. Your efficiency is maximized and your impact is expanded.

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They call it alignment for a car.

I call it centered for people.

Centered is when you are working on what you love. Nobody is afraid to come talk to you. Your emotions are exactly where they should be day to day and week to week.

Centered is when you are working on what you know is the right. Nobody is avoiding you because you are going to talk down to them and explain away their ideas.

Centered is when you are working on the project you believe in. Your friends want to come talk to you because they know you and they know what you stand for.

Centered is when you are doing what needs to be done. You can stop to talk to someone and make progress in a healthy way.

Do the people closest to you describe you as centered? Do you know what it would look like to be centered in your life? How can you be more centered? Who can help you see the blind spots in your own centeredness? Are you thoughts, beliefs, actions, and emotions all in alignment? Do you feel like you are working just as a hard and not making progress? What do you think, believe, do, and feel about your work? About your family? About your friends? What do these people think, believe, do, and feel about you?

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Default Settings

When you open Microsoft Word, the default font is probably Calibri. For better or for worse, it is what you probably end up using whether you like it or not or until you change it when you are done working on your document.

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Calibri may not even be the best font for what you are doing. Maybe you are trying to make a statement piece with a few words to communicate a central idea and what you really need is a heavy weighted font to really emphasize what you are trying to say.

Potentially you are trying to write a long for piece and you need something with good spacing and is easy on the eyes but is not too heavy.

Or potentially, you want to write in a plain jane and you want your font to have look and feel.

Any way you look at it, you still never get there because Microsoft chose Calibri as your font and you have not changed it.

Likewise, when you get up in the morning, you are stuck with the default breakfast options because that is what you buy when you go to the store. You have been trying to eat healthy, but you keep eating the same cereal because it is what you know you are not sure what other options are actually healthy.

You have been trying to read more, but that new year’s resolution really did not stick. You stick with the default of turning on Netflix after dinner and watching your show some more.

You meant to fix that leaky faucet, but you are not quite sure how and the weekends keep filling up with family and friends and anything else, it would be a shame to spend all day inside working on a faucet when the world is full of everything else.

No matter the thing, no matter the excuse, your default is easier.

It is easier to keep doing what you have been doing than it is to do what you want to do. But, now is the time to save yourself and make progress on your one goal or project. One thing for you to make progress on. One thing for you to improve one.

What is your one thing? Who is going to help you stay on track? How are you going to overcome your default?

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Zooming Out

An ant is tiny. The ant cannot comprehend the size of the continent it is on. It has no concept of the value and purpose it has in the context of the whole. It is digging, carrying, and working for the good of the whole with no any context at all.

Like the ant, a rat in a maze is wandering aimlessly through his labyrinth style prison following his senses looking for his goal.

To the ant, the ant hill is a large and a rocky knoll is a mountain. To the mouse the maze’s walls are the world it lives inside.

Our advantage is being able to stop and take a look down on their situations. We have perspective. There are globes to give us context of where we fit into the rest of the world. Our phones have maps with GPS to show us how to navigate the maze of roads, highways, and freeways we interact with.

How easily still do we find ourselves plowing through life with the same perspective as the ant and mouse?

My goals slowly narrow my perspective clouds from a wide angle at 150º or so down to 90º. Still a decent field of vision and useful to be successful, but not what it was. My vision still then narrows more until I am seeing less and less. At the end I am so focused on my goals I have been sucked into a 2 degree field of vision.

I am focused on my own problems and cannot see the value of my work in the context of the whole. I forget where I am and what my value is. I get my priorities out of alignment. I start to encourage marginal gains and growth sacrificing the bigger picture.

My tunnel vision is now costing us any progress we should be making and instead I cannot see around the biases I have developed. I cannot hear other voices through the noise I make. I are so focused on not tripping and being hurt again we cannot see the cliff we are about to walk off.

When was the last time you zoomed out on your life? When did you last assess your goals? What are your goals? What do you want to say you accomplished? What do you want to have said of you when you die?

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Stay on Target

You have seen your organization state their goals. You you have seen your organization act on their actual goals. Hopefully the two are aligned.

Spending your time on your organization’s goals will always net a positive. Your role has stated goals. Spending your time on your role’s stated goals will always net a positive.

In your personal life, spending your time on your simple goals will net a positive. So that when you achieve the measured result, you can celebrate. As you execute the actions needed to attain your goal, you can check off the associated boxes. Once more, we can celebrate our completion especially when we hit our goal in the allotted time. And nothing feels better than hitting a goal that is relevant to you, your family, and your personal life.

What goals do you have for your life? Are they simple, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time specific? (Yes, I tweaked SMART goals to fit some of my priorities.) When was the last time you set, tweaked, or took action on your goals?

How about failure? Do you know what it would like to fail at your goals? Do you know what it would feel like to fail a your goals? When will you assess these decisions so you do not accidentally set yourself on the path to failure?

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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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Goals

During 2016 I tried to focus on three main goals in everything I did. I described these things as Grit, Push, and Vision.

Grit, or sticking with something longer than I wanted to stick with them.

Push, pressing through the barriers and roadblocks I encounter in life.

Vision, developing some sort of direction or goals for myself.

I would probably give myself a 3 out of 5 on these. I tried, did not master anything, but definitely showed up. I am pretty sure I am being generous saying 3 out of 5 at that.

However, I learned from them. Vision brought me a sense of knowing what success would look like. I have no idea what I am trying to accomplish unless I have a vision for what success looks like.

I will not succeed unless I push through the barriers I encounter.

I will never accomplish anything unless I keep following my processes even when I do not feel like it.

It took me writing it out to realize ‘push’ and ‘grit’ are the same thing. I guess I should have written out my vision for what each of those mean. sigh

However, 2017 is a new year.

2017 is a year to actually take ground.

The year I write down what my vision is, define what push means, and really reflect on what a third goal would be if there is one.

Where are you trying to grow? How are you trying to develop yourself? How will you know if you are successful in developing in these areas? Who is going to help you grow in these areas?

Clarifying,

–JT

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Don't Stop Believing

I listen to a lot of podcasts about self improvement, self growth, and general social psychology/anthropology. For better or for worse, I listen to it all and have about 3 months worth of backlog I’ve been plowing through (Pokémon Go and PokéWalks have been a huge help.) But most recently I have been noticing a lot of conversations on my podcasts about getting to this goal or that goal or this point or that point and the necessity of getting a certain status/position.

Status and position is wonderful and useful. We need a certain amount of both to pay our bills. We need this position at a company to make enough money to eat, have a home, and occasionally take a vacation. We need this amount of status in order to be taken seriously within a community of people who we support and support us. We need a little bit of both.

However, neither one is the point. The point is the perpetual process of growing and learning. Even when I get to the goal or status or position. I am not done. I am only turning the corner on this leg of the journey. Getting a new job, getting married, having a kid, and graduating college are all turning points in life, not destinations. New cars, houses, couches, boats, lakefront property, are all amenities, not last stops. In life, there are no destinations. There are only turning points, roadside diners, and rest areas.

My journey is not over because I reach a certain point. My journey is turning a corner and preparing me for what comes next. Part of achieving a certain goal is the assumption of liability of what the next leg of the journey carries and assessing the responsibilities of a certain status or position before I set or achieve the next goal.

What goals are you working towards? What problems do you expect these goals to mitigate? What are some of the drawbacks of a new position? What are some of the perks of a new status? What is your assessment rubric for what you really need and want in life?

Journeying,

–JT

Propellant

I have survived. 2015 is drawing to a close. I made it past the Christmas mayhem, without as much mayhem and a little bit more peace and joy I think, and now I am riding into 2016 without a hitch. 

I will ring in the new year with friends and hopefully in a little better spirits than these past few years. Generally, my new years celebration means I am being woken up by my wife on the couch for the last ten seconds of the ball dropping to drink my drink, get up off the couch, get in the car, and make the long cold drive home. Apparently, midnight comes too late for me and grumpy comes a little too early for me. 

This year I am still holding true to my ‘Make No Resolutions’ policy. Not because I think Resolutions are bad, but because I have goals already. I am working toward goals, some of which date back to 2014. I do not think I need new goals on top of my old goals to muddy up the target I am trying to hit.

What I love about my goals is I have friends helping me achieve them. I have people who know me and love me helping me get farther down the path of the goals I have set for myself and I do not need the harking of a new year to remind me to set my goals. I need to continue to work forward. I need to continue to grind up against my friends and family as we work forward, encourage each other, sharpen each other, and propel each other forward.

Who is helping you achieve your goals? Who is holding you accountable for your goals? Who are you seeking out that has achieved your goals before?

Propelled by friends,

–JT