July 27, 2010

Six words no one should ever say

"It's all on the website but...".

Have you ever said these words?
If you ever hear yourself saying them when someone - a client, a customer, a colleague - asks you for information, it's time to take a vacation.
Those words have nothing to do with providing service.  They have a lot to do with other things. They make the person wrong for not finding the information already. They presume that the person would rather go away and read material on a website than talk to you.  They make it clear that you, at any rate, would rather that they go away than talk to you.  In fact, you're irritated that they would bother you with a question that you have already provided an answer to somewhere else.  Even if it's the first time they have asked you for that information.
What are you committed to?  If you are committed to helping others, to sharing your knowledge and expertise, then do that. Willingly. And be thankful that someone is interested enough to ask.

July 21, 2010

who are you for others?

We have direct influence over a fair number of people in our lives.  Employees, coworkers, children, partners. Beyond, everyone within our circle, everyone who knows us or even, knows of us.
When you have a few moments, make a list of who is in your circle.  The people who know you.  You may be surprised to see how large your circle is.  I would bet that in less than five minutes, you can easily generate a list of over 100 people.
When we think about what direct influence is, we typically think about what we have to say.  Advice, opinion, discussions, conversations. It is easy to see how our words directly influence others.  There is also the influence of our actions, what we do.  Yet there is another way we influence that is less obvious. It is very powerful.  It is the influence of who we are.
Think of someone you admire.  Who is that person for you?  Perhaps you like how calm they are in a crisis, or how they are always cheerful no matter what is going on in their life. Or perhaps you like that you can count on them to do what they said they would do.
If members of your circle did this exercise, what would they say about you?  Who are you for the people in your life?  Think about it for a bit.  Then go ahead, ask a few people.  And pay attention to what they say.  Because who you are for others is where you are having a tremendous impact in your life.

July 15, 2010

choosing

My neighbours beside me are tearing down their house and building a new one.  They contacted me a few weeks ago.  They told me there was a possibility my large fir tree adjacent to their property might be damaged but they would try their best to save it.  They asked me to write a letter indicating I wouldn't sue them if the tree died as a result of the construction.
I wrote the letter.  A week later, they contacted me again to tell me the arborist recommended the tree be cut now, as it was otherwise very likely to fall on my house.
The second piece of information arrived the day I left for my holiday.  I felt manipulated; there was a big difference for me between my tree might die (the circumstances under which I wrote my letter) and my tree needs to be cut down now.
I spent time suffering, being upset.  Then, through a conversation with someone who doesn't like to see me suffering, I got a different perspective.  I have a choice.  My choices are:  keep the tree, and accept the high risk that it will fall on my house, or have it cut down.  The decision became very simple.  I gave approval to have it cut. They took it down yesterday before I arrived back home.
The suffering is gone.  I have a bit of grieving but it is minor.  My yard is very different.  I have a view of the Olympic mountains.  There is a lot more sunshine on my deck.
We experience situations like this every day.  Often, we choose to suffer, complain, and feel hard done by or affronted by the actions of someone else that have impacted us.  We can get a lot of mileage talking to others about it.  No matter how much sympathy we get, however, at the end of the day we don't feel powerful. We feel like victims.
In almost all situations, we have a choice.  Making the choice gives us power and frankly, feels a lot better.  Who wants to suffer and feel victimized?  Far better to embrace the change, and move on to what's next.

July 10, 2010

developing muscle

I am three-quarters of the way through a 2.5 week road trip with my kids.  We have camped, driven the Oregon coast, ridden ATVs on sand dunes, driven through the Avenue of the Giants redwood forest, experienced Disneyland, and now are in L.A.  It's been busy.  Busy, not so much in an intellectually challenging way as in a logistics and planning the next step ahead kind of way.
I haven't blogged since we started the trip.  I notice how my creative cells are occupied with the survival aspect; keeping me and two kids organized and safe while away from home.
I am committed to posting on my blog regularly.  Yet it takes effort to make it happen.  My default, when I am occupied by other things, is to not do it.
This is the case with most things outside of what's required to keep our lives going.  They take effort and conscious choice.  You can develop muscle at doing them, establishing a habit or routine, putting some sort of structure in place to make it happen.  And then it takes less effort.  Even then, sometimes it slips and you realize one day you haven't done something for weeks, even longer.
All there is to do once you notice, is to decide if you really are committed to it.  If you are, consciously choose to set up the structure again to make it happen.

a few photos from the road