Find the AMAZING

One of the “Amazing!” things I was blessed to see this week.

A small lizard I caught while working in the yard. My daughter’s friend was probably more “amazed” that I was letting it bite my finger..
Lizardingarden

 

Apparently, I’m known for saying, “That’s Amazing!” often. Whether it is what I see in nature, in music, in business, with people, etc. There are just a lot of amazing things out there.

The image below is part of a birthday card my youngest daughter made for me several years ago. It depicts me, looking at a sunset over some mountains and exclaiming, “That’s Amazing!” It related to how I see life, people, and my clients. Click on the image to read more about being AMAZED and how it related to the coaching I do.
That's Amazing

You did your best and other lies

Want to achieve more? Want to have greater success? Want to have more confidence?
I did my best and other lies

I’ll assume you are nodding yes. Or struggling not to.

If you want these things, you need to stop lying to yourself.

One of the pet phrases I believe hinders people’s growth is, “You did your best!” Or perhaps you’ve said it to yourself.

“I did my best.”

A variation on this is when I speak about some past failure, a time when I did not reach the goal I’d set, someone is bound to say..

“You did your best at the time.”

I understand the sentiment. People want to build you up. They want you to feel okay – that mistakes or missed goals are a “part of the process.”

Here is the problem with that phrase and sentiment.

In many case, I didn’t do my best. I did far less than my best. I, quite frankly, blew it!

And it doesn’t matter what the reason or excuse is. Perhaps I didn’t have the talent or I was too ambitious/far-reaching given my current resources, or I was lazy. Or I lost interest.

Whatever the case, there are times – many times – that our failures are caused by us failing to do our best or even close to our best.

When we “fail” to recognize this – when we gloss it over with pet-phrases like:

“I did the best I could at the time.”

or, when someone wishes to explain away my failure (or their failure) they offer…

“Everything happens for a reason!”

Yuck!! Yes.. there was a reason. The reason is often that I (and you) DID NOT do our best! Sorry.. you didn’t!

Personally, I hate the pandering comments that people use to try to make me feel better about those times when I did not do my best. It feels so dishonest. I’ve spoken to others who feel the same.

I don’t believe that such comments really help you feel better about yourself. In fact, I am certain of it. I’m certain it feels a sketchy and dishonest. A little bit slimy.

Now, of course,  you might be saying, “Umm.. thanks Matt. I feel lousy about myself or this failure and you don’t want others to encourage me?”

Au contraire my friend. I do want them to encourage you. I want you to encourage yourself. I want this blog to encourage you!

Part of recognizing that you DID NOT do your best when you, in fact, DID NOT do your best means you recognize clearly you could have done better. That you have the capacity to do better. That’s awesome! That means it is just a matter of resetting and executing!

Sometimes the truth is, what we need to hear the most is that we didn’t do our best and need to plan and execute better. The honesty is refreshing! It removes excuses and give a much clearer and honest perspective on what needs to be done!

Below are some steps for when you next blow it; when you next “fail!” at a given endeavor
[….and I can hear someone getting ready to quote Thomas Edison about not failing but finding 1,000 ways to NOT build a lightbulb.. Shhhh.. stop… I get it. But the truth is, he had lightbulbs that clearly failed and he knew it. He then went back, planned, executed, and improved! HE KNEW HE COULD DO BETTER!!!]

What to do when you didn’t do your best:

  1. Recognize it honestly as a sub-par performance

  2. Don’t excuse it.

  3. Determine why (lazy, poor planning, failed execution, etc.)

  4. Reset goal
    don’t disband your goal and do not give up!

  5. Plan for the new goal (quickly – read why action beats analysis)

  6. Execute better and more consistently.

The truth is, you probably still won’t do your best. It’s hard to sustain the energy to do your best every day at every moment. But doing your best occasionally and doing “well-enough”  or “really good” most of the time is probably going to result in great success!!

By the way, this blog entry was not my best on the subject but I did execute and get it done! And I believe it is good enough for human consumption!!

2014 – My Year in Preview

I know.. a lot of people do their year in review around this time. I didn’t. I know what I achieved and what I did not. We can summarize big things quickly:

2013 Rapid Review:

  • New Book – Building Your I.T. Career
    This is a rebirth of sorts for me.

  • New Business – Pulse Infomatics, Inc.
    Much greater focus and a more concrete action-plan.

  • New Relationships
    This will make it into the preview as well.

  • A big move to Los Angeles
    The girl is attending a performing arts school. She was commuting an hour and fifty minutes by train – ONE WAY – high school. Now we are 4 miles from the school. Very exciting!

There were other significant events mind you (songs and other writings). But I’m going to stop at those as having the most concrete set points. I can sort of hang my hat on those accomplishments and say, “Well done!”

Now What?

And today, January 1st, 2014 (er.. January 2nd), the question becomes, “Now what?”

I’m not asking this question today. As indicated in my prior post, The Resolution Farce, January 1st is not a day for making resolutions. It is a day to reflect, assess, and refine motion forward. The items I cover in in the preview of 2014 are things I’ve been thinking about and working on for some time.

I’ll break them into personal and professional – although for some things, the lines can get a little bit blurry. For instance, relationships often cross over between personal and professional. My work at learning to draw as well.. it is primarily a personal endeavor but I do, at some point, wish to create a book of sketches and writings.. ala Eric Sloane or Shel Silverstein.

You get the picture… (pun). And to that, here is my 3rd drawing.
A glass jar on my coffee table

Important to note: I have not put the items in either category into order of priority or importance. Also, I reserve the right to alter/adjust this list and perhaps add new items as needed.

Personal Items to Work on/Achieve for 2014

The following is a sort of FILDI manifesto!

Relationships

I don’t often write about my divorces. Yeah.. that’s plural kids.. I’m obviously not very good at this marriage thing. But an interesting thing happens when you married and when you are divorced.. Many of your relationships are part of, or built into, the marriage. Other married couples, etc. And one person in the marriage often runs the social calendar.

Post divorce, I discovered that people take sides or don’t really know what to do with you. Also, I have been out of circulation for a bit of time. I don’t really have people I hang out with.

My youngest daughter asked me why I don’t hang out with friends more often. And then I had a conversation with the older daughter about this as well. She and my friend Mike from high school both said something like, “Invite to be invited.”

So, don’t be surprised if you get invited to something I am doing.

Oh.. and officially, I don’t date so it isn’t that kind of relationship I am talking about. As I like to say, “My daughter is my girl and music is my mistress.”

The other part of this relationship thing is family. My children, my siblings, my parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, etc. I plan to work on these relationships too. It could be an even scarier piece of the puzzle – but I plan to enjoy it.

Drawing

I’ve always wanted to draw. I’ve spent 30 years telling people I cannot draw a straight line. Low and behold, in speaking to some pretty good artist, I’ve discovered that is a bad way to determine if you can draw. Straight lines are no small feat. But in general, I’ve always had an affinity towards pencil or pen drawings.

We were at the bookstore and there were sketchbooks on sale. My daughter wanted one so I bought her one but also bought one for myself. The above image is one of my first sketches. I’ve put it under “personal” items because, at this point, it’s a bit presumptuous to roll it into my professional life. Future goal, however, is a book of writings and sketches. I’ll post occassional sketches on my blog.

Fitness

I went to the doctor back in 2013. When they took my pulse, they took it a second time to be sure. 49 bpm. That’s pretty low for 47 (now 48). And low in a good way – good blood pressure, etc. He said, “You are in pretty good shape for a 30 year old.”  Hee hee. I thought that was pretty funny of him.

I do plan, however, to drop some more weight – mostly through portion control and upping my veggie to protein ratio. I also plan to start doing Yoga. I keep being told I would like it and it would help bring my fitness into a more rounded and emotional space. I am not sure what that means but, sure, we’ll give it a try.

Reading Fiction

I used to read a lot! But the truth is, I haven’t read a complete work of fiction in more than 10 years. As I plan to start on a novel this year (see writing below), it would probably be a good idea to read a couple. I have one sitting on my bedside table that my daughter asked me to read. I started it and am 10 pages into it…. after 3 months. Hmm…. Yeah, more reading is in order.

Professional Items to Work on/Achieve for 2014

Writing (books, articles, blogs)

My heroes have also been authors and now I am one. I sometimes forget this fact although I LOVE bantering around phrases like, “I was talking with my editor and…” It doesn’t matter what comes after that. The “and” is incidental. It is the fact that I used the phrase “my editor” in complete honesty. That means I have “an editor” that I can somehow lay claim to. She’s mine! (hi Mary Beth).

I have some other editors too but she’s my first.. sort of de-virginized me into the publishing world. And your first holds a special place right? She does for me!

I’ve been blessed to be published in book form, articles, essays, and even some poetry. I plan to do more of this for 2014. And across multiple disciplines. In fact, blogging is a big one. I have been negligent and half in/half out, for the most part of 2013. There will be a schedule and there will be blogging.

Finally, I have an official treatment and some notes on a novel idea that has been running around my head for several years. Sort of a Southern lit/John Grisham crossover novel. There is some family history in the story and then some embellishment.. and even a murder or two. I will start that novel this year.

Consulting & Coaching & Speaking (oh my)

Pulse Infomatics, Inc.

I launched Pulse Infomatics, Inc. this year. I already linked to it above. Basically, once we decided that we were moving into the heart of the beast (downtown Los Angeles), I figured I was near a LOT OF BUSINESS. Burbank, Pasadena, Glendale, and surrounding areas.

I’ve got some aggresssive goals with Pulse and have a new sales director working with me. What we do at Pulse is create custom reporting and document assembly systems. Basically, we consult companies and customize software to pull data from multiple systems into a single, consolidated series of reports. We also do document and contract assembly.

However, much of year 1 will be focused on helping small businesses connect Quickbooks to SQL Server and other databases.

CIO/CTO/I.T. Departmental Coaching

I’ve been asked to coach a couple small I.T. departments on better business communications and more proactive I.T. solutions. This is far less technical and more about business acumen and recognizing how and where they are valuable to the organization. There is also a solution design component that requires the I.T. group to be more aware of (empathetic) to how their users actually work. How the business actually makes money.

This is fun work and there is a lot of self-discovery. There is also some weird push-back from I.T. professionals who feel you sacrifice technical skills to be a better communicator and to better understand the business. I could not disagree more… and that is what makes this fun!

Music / Songwriting

I write some good songs! There! I said it! It’s not arrogance to say that. It’s a realistic self-assessment. In the same way that I knew/know I could write for pay, and did in short order once I started, I know this about my songwriting.

I have some wonderful connections into that community and plan to both record my own songs and also place my songs with younger, prettier, and more talented people. I was asked whether it would bother me if someone else took one of my songs and it went big! I was like, “Yeah.. that would be awful. I would cry with every royalty check deposited.” NOT!!

And lest I forget, I’m starting the Hillside Village House Concerts. This is not so much a professional item for me – I won’t make anything with them.  – In reality is is more a relationship item but it falls under music as well, so that is where I’ve put it.

Video & Audio Podcasting/video updates

I’ve been half-in/half-out of this world for too long. I’ve had a couple well-received podcast and won business through my tech and business update videos. But I have a more lofty and aggressive agenda in this area.

Basic updates and music

I started last year (and even the year prior) at consolidating my online presence. I’ll be updating the MatthewMoranOnline youtube channel more diligently. I’ll also post general updates, rants, technical tutorials, and information about and for songwriters and artist. And if that doesn’t cover enough, anything else that comes to mind.

Documentary style production

I’m going to start small here. But, I’m a HUGE fan of This American Life on NPR. I think it is the most well-produced and interesting radio show ever!!. Ira Glass has some great storytelling resources online. I’m not sure what I’ll produce but some of it will be autobiographical. They say, write and produce what you know.. and I’m getting to know me. Other topics include: dogs, parenting, music, and whatever else catches my eye.

Conclusion

So, there you have it. 2014 neatly bundled and wrapped, ready to be devoured and shared all at the same time.

I would love to hear what your 2014 plans are. Even a single item you are going to put into play! And I mean Play!!! Let me know in the comments below!

The Resolution Farce

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. I don’t recommend them. I do, however, have no problem with people establishing goals and using some demarcation point – the New Year is fine – as a time of assessment.

NOTE: I have not checked for usage and grammar. If that hangs you up, you probably aren’t going to achieve your goal anyway. Get over it!
– the management

The problem with resolutions is that people make grandiose plans to completely change their life based on this demarcation point. The problem is, they have not developed, nor clearly thought through the discipline, internal integrity, and the skills necessary to implement such a change.

It is because New Year’s Resolutions are a farce and have failure built in to them.

For instance, Diet & Exercise:

This is a big one for the resolution crowd. They’ll decide, sometimes prior to Thanksgiving, that they will eat anything and everything without any governance or temperance as a way to “get it out of their system,” prior to starting their new Diet and Exercise regimen after the New Year.

Armed with a new workout outfit and bag of gear, plus a year’s membership to a nice expensive gym, and a trainer, they determine that January 1st is “their time.”

The problem is, they’ve trained themselves only in compromise and putting it off until some future point. They’ve already determined that “change” isn’t something they really want.. they want the result and they are fine with that change occurring in the future. They are committed to their current lifestyle because they don’t really want to give it up.

They hit the gym – day 1 – excited. They, and the other resolutes, show up and congratulate each other. They workout, they sweat, they meet after at the juice bar and “replenish” with a wheat grass shake.

Day 2 – their sore! Oops. Day 3, their even more sore. And well, you don’t want to injure yourself. Plus, they’ll be back on it by Day 4 or 5.

There are variations on the theme but by about mid-January, most have missed 2-3 workouts. Because workouts are NOT how they view life. They’ve also been dipping into those sweets and pies and other stuff left-over from the holidays. Can’t let that shit spoil!

Diet and exercise are impositions on the life they’ve trained for. In fact, they went into a hardcore boot camp through the holidays. Eat whatever, whenever, to get it “out of their system.” Remember?

And by February, they’ve “failed” at the resolution. Once you’ve failed at the resolution – because the resolution is always a “future” item, it is easy to now point to some other future point – the beginning of February. President’s day! The start of spring. June 1st. The end of summer.

Soon –  because the future is always soon – we are starting November where it is pretty easy to see New Year’s around the corner. They can they say, “Okay.. after the holidays I am gonna do it!” Lather – Rinse – Repeat!

The resolute life

I have no problem with resolutions per se – but trust me, if the resolution is in the form of, “after the holidays” or “after this pack of cigarettes is gone” or “after this week I’ll get serious about my business” – you are simply NOT ready to make the change. There is no “after…” in a resolute life.

There is only the next resolved action.

This is helpful because you will fail and/or slip up repeatedly – particularly as you change the way you live and think.

Diet and Exercise in a resolute life:

Again, using this because it is a common one but the concept applies across business, finance, relationships, etc. It is ultimately about creating repeatable patterns – and avoiding destructive patterns – or at least avoiding patterns that do not fit your resolute life.. your goals.

“I’m taking a walk today and I’m going to eat a little less and a little better today. “

And then you do it. It leads to two things.. 1 – a small success, 2 – you are hungry.

Pre-determined actions/patterns

This is where patterns and pre-determined actions come in.

You see, if any tells you, you can lose weight without ever feeling anything like hunger, they are lying to you. I repeat, they are lying to you! If they tell you, you can “intend” to lose weight or that there is a magical pill – lying again.

They key to making a change in anything and avoiding failure as much as possible, is to pre-determine actions that break destructive or unwanted actions or patterns.

What is not intentional is usually accidental

Here is the thing about breaking patterns. You cannot just identify the new pattern or habit, you need to have a pre-determined way to address the old habit. If not, it will just happen.

So, let’s visit diet again. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with having ice cream or chocolate. I love those things. I’m particularly fond of vanilla ice cream or rocky road. I can eat a LOT of it. Multiple large servings.

So.. for me, I keep it to a single small scoop or a small cone 1 time a week. This is NOT a cheat day! It isn’t even a reward. It is simply the pattern for my diet. I do NOT buy a half-gallon of ice cream. I buy a small cone – and tell whoever is making it to make it 1/3rd the size they normally make it. Or I buy one of those small cups of Haagen Daaz at the store.

I allow myself 1 per week but I’ll be honest, I probably eat 1 per month. It just doesn’t figure into my day to day that often.

On the other hand, if I have 2 in a week, that’s okay too.. but my pattern is pretty much established.

If you are going to a friend’s house and you know there will be pie, cake, etc. eat it! That’s all good. Just have MUCH smaller portions and NO seconds.

Filling your plate for dinner.. fill it and then remove 2/3rds of it. That’s probably enough.

And have your snacks.. just not chocolate. Don’t have it around and lie to yourself and say you won’t eat it. Instead, buy celery, cut green peppers, etc. – without ranch dressing. Just don’t have the option available to you.

Soda’s? Just don’t! Juice either.. you don’t need it around the house.

If you pre-determine key actions, they won’t surprise you. You know what is coming up in your day!

If you do not predetermine (get intentional) with easily identifiable patterns and actions, you will “accidentally” repeat the same old pattern.

In Summary

Resolutions that have a future start date – specifically one that provides allowance for continuing bad, destructive or unwanted patterns, indicate a lack of readiness to make the change. The future date won’t help you. It will only reinforce that you can always “do it in the future.”

Like the song says, “Someday Never Comes.”

Instead of working on your New Year’s Resolutions, work on your resolve and create your resolute life!

Some simple steps for goals and their achievement

  1. Determine the desired goal

  2. Determine daily actions that get you there

  3. Identify patterns that derail you or work against you

  4. Create pre-determined actions that circumvent or do not allow for those patterns
    (intentional versus accidental)

  5. Put your first small action in play today/immediately.

  6. Resolve to reset daily if there is a set back (and there will be)

  7. Lather – Rinse – Repeat

What are your thoughts?

 

Wishes, Wants, and Needs

I was going through some old photos and found this picture that my older daughter took one day while we were on walk near my house.
I want more than 9 to 5

I love the sentiment. I’m not a big fan of graffiti, although, it is on a dumpster and is NOT gang related, so… I’m okay with it. Plus it gave me a blog topic. WIN!

I Wish, I Want! I Need, I Got!

I heard this phrase years ago from a motivational speaker. The idea is that if we “wish” we had something or could do something (I wish I was a writer.), we’ll always want it. On the other hand, if we make that “wish” a need (I need to be a writer), we’ll make it happen.

I don’t agree. That is far too simple!

There are all sorts of things people “need” that they do NOT go after with the focus necessary to achieve them. And there are plenty of “wants” we make happen that are clearly not needs.

I know many people who want things… wanna be I.T. professionals I’ve met through my book, wanna be performing musicians, wanna-be consultants and wanna be authors. But they are not those things.

The difference between the “wanna-be’s” and the “be’s” is sort of simple.. It’s the “being”. It’s the work.

There are a LOT of people who want more than 9-5. – but are not willing to put in the work needed. Incidentally, if you want more than 9-5, you are going to “be” more than 9-5. What I mean is that it is going to require more than 9-5 to get more than 9-5.

Especially initially. Unless you are a trust fund baby (if you are, contact me please, I have  wants too), you are likely going to have to work – sort of like a regular Joe – an everyday job to pay the bills, while simultaneously and in your “extra” time, putting the things into place that allow you to get that want or be that thing.

For instance, if you want to be a writer – you are going to have your regular job, paying your bills, and then, mornings/evenings, you are going to write.

As I wrote many years ago in my blog entry – A writer defined, “The Noun is wrapped up In the verb.” In order to be the thing (the noun), you must do the thing (the verb) that the thing (the noun) does.

  • Writers write!
  • Performing songwriters write songs and perform them!
  • Consultants consult!
  • I.T. Professionals learn and put technology into place!
  • People who want more than 9-5, put in more than 9-5.

What is stopping you?

I’ll give you a short-list of things I see that stop people from doing the work that turns “wanna-be” into “be.”

T.V.

This one always gets me. “I don’t have enough time in my day.” And then, in speaking to them, they’ve watched an entire season of “Breaking Bad” or “The Sopranos” or “The Dome” or whatever! Football, baseball, hockey, dancing with the stars, etc. Hey, I like Justified! I’ve seen most of season #1 and some of season #2… some.

Sports teams/fantasy football, etc.

I’m talking playing on a team or spending hours each week on your fantasy football. Hey, I get it. But I don’t really. At least not until you’ve done enough time-slicing and allocation of effort to put things into place. Don’t tell me, for instance, about your great book/story idea that you just cannot get to because you are too busy – and then tell me about your various sporting activities – watching or playing.

Time-sucking friends

There are friends who are more than willing to steal your time. They will even tell you that you can do whatever it is later. Stop hanging out with them. The real friend is going to say, “Why don’t we get together at the end of the week AFTER you’ve done X work towards what you want to be.”

If they say, “You can do that later. Come out with us tonight.”BEWARE!!!! Or don’t complain that your “wanna be” is still just that..

This image was posted on Facebook recently. I re-posted it because it made me laugh. It’s true not just for writers but for anyone who wants to turn their wanna-be’s into be’s.
the muse writers really need

Inspiration is NOT your problem. Perspiration is… ie: DO THE WORK!!

The noun is wrapped up in the verb!