Making Decisions in The Grey Area

Murder is wrong. Feeding the starving people of an impoverished nation is right. Spanking your child is much less a black and white issue.

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Children need appropriate discipline. But, is a spanking the right discipline for the child? Different children respond in very different ways to spanking. Some hardly notice a spanking. Whereas a spanking might bring another child's world to an end.

The job as parents is to make decision in the gray area. To decide based on the child if spanking is the right discipline.

Likewise, every leader, team, and organization has to make decisions in the gray area. Whether on which vendor to use or what policies to set in place. The ability of a person to make decisions in the gray areas relates to a their ability to lead. When the smallest of decisions paralyze a worker, their ability to work stops.

A leader can weigh the pros, cons, to make a decision with widespread impact. The leader makes those decisions with confidence when it is time.

How do you handle situations when they are in the gray area? How do you assess the right decision? What size of decisions paralyze you? Who helps you make decisions in the gray areas?

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Schedule

Your schedule is a product of how you allocate time.

Each day we have allocated our time. There are the eight or nine theoretical hours you are sleeping. The two and a half hours you are eating. The eight hours you are working, (and sometimes more.) And then then the two and half hours you spend as “recreational time” whether watching TV, exercising, spending time with your spouse/child(ren). You decide all of this time.

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Your schedule is as full or empty as you make it.

Your to do list. Your calendar. The sports and events your family does are all decided by you (and probably you and your spouse.)

Whether or not you have time to go to coffee with friends is decided by you. Your calendar does not decide these things. You are not owned by this digital or paperback calendar with words and time written in it.

Your calendar is filled by you and only you have the power to stop filling it.

But when it is full, you are then considered “busy”.

So when your friends ask you how you have been and you reply with, “So busy.” It is not because of external factors that make you busy. It is your own fault. You make yourself busy. And the issue with getting busy is, busyness breed more busyness.

You have to start purging your schedule of the things that do not belong on your calendar. You have to develop your priorities and cut out the cancer like a surgeon with a scalpel, cut out the parts that do not belong.

Too many work meetings? Running late? Start rescheduling them. I would venture a guess when your work meetings regularly run after hours, you regularly start choosing the fast option for dinner rather than cooking. Paying a few dollars for some cheeseburgers, fries, and pop becomes the easier option rather than getting home and preparing dinner.

Then, because you are SO busy, you have to reschedule whatever it was you were supposed to be doing instead of working and getting you and the family dinner. So you reschedule it to another day. Not because you have time on that other day, but instead because you need to reschedule your plans and that day now has too much going on and you will definitely be exhausted by the end of it.

And thus, busy-ness breeds busy-ness.

When was the last time politely said in a meeting, “I’m sorry, I need to go. My family is waiting for me.” In the meeting notorious for running past the scheduled end time?

Does your schedule rule you? Do you actually stop and calculate when you need to go to bed to get eight hours of sleep?

Or, like a sickness, you do wait until you have symptoms of being tired before you get in bed?

When was the last time you set your priorities in life, built your calendar around your priorities, and purged the rest?

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Referee For Dummies

In listening to the podcast Men In Blazers where they interview Mark Clattenburg , arguably one of the best referee’s to ever ref the game of football (soccer.)

In his interview, Mark discussed with Rog his methods for being a great referee. The most striking method he mentioned is how he would watch team’s game tape in order to gain insights into their strategies. He would watch to see how they would position themselves and break the rules behind the back of the referees.

Watching game tape, he would watch to see not only the calls made by the ref’s in the game but also the calls they missed because they did not have eyes in the back of their heads. Mark was not there to watch his colleagues’ backs and cover them as the players broke the rule, but he could prepare for the players to do the same thing to him.

As we go to work each day, who covers your back? Who is watching out for you when you are not looking at work? Who is covering the things you cannot?

PS: Do these people know how much you need them? Do these people know what it means to you and the organization to have them covering your blind spots?

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Habitual Nature

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We are creatures of habit for the most part. We will do the usual thing in the usual way. Our habits and repetitive nature keep us predictable.

For someone you love, their predictive nature is why you love them. For someone who annoys you, their predictive nature is why you are annoyed.

What if you used the habitual nature of those who of others for your success? What if you took action in expectation of others’ habitual nature?

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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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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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Compensate

The most constant portion of my life is me. I am a highly constant part of my life. I am always a party to what I am doing and a variable in what I do, what I do not do, and where I go. I am always there. I cannot separate me from myself. My flaws, my skills, abilities, hurts, habits, hang ups, and intelligence are all a part of who I am. To constantly be getting to know myself better means, I know how to better operate within the constraints of who I am.

An excellent metaphor is staying in tune on an upright bass. If I am playing along and I start to notice the open strings are sounding flat, then I want to compensate and slide my positions a little sharper as to compensate for the flat strings. Doing so keeps me in tune with the rest of the band and means we all sound good together. 

Likewise, if I know I have a hard time staying off my phone or twitter during dinner; then, I need to preemptively put my phone away before I ever sit down for dinner. Knowing myself well enough and my self control to the point where I know what I am and am not capable of doing, I am able to preemptively work towards my own success. I start to learn how to trick myself to do the right thing even though I know my psyche does not want to do it out of fear or anger or simply a bad habit. 

Ultimately, I learn how to adjust for my own shortcomings and strengths for the good of those around me. I am also more successful in what I do. I know where my loopholes are. I know how to get around myself and work with me as a teammate not an adversary. 

Knowing my own natural actions and reactions allows me to know how I am going to react and I can get ahead of myself to be successful despite my shortcomings.

Where do you act or react poorly? How can you preemptively compensate for yourself from making poor decisions?

Preemptive,

–JT