Monday, October 29, 2007

Recognize Your Garbage Trucks

Sometimes things come to me and I can't take credit for them; I can only take credit for recognizing it as something worthy and passing it on. This is such a case, that came to me today in an email.


"How often do you let other people's nonsense change your mood? Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss, or an insensitive employee ruin your day? Unless you're the Terminator, for an instant you're probably set back on your heels. However, the mark of a successful person is how quickly he or she can get back their focus on what's important.

Sixteen years ago I learned this lesson. I learned it in the back of a New York City taxi cab. Here's what happened. I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were Driving in the right lane when, all of a sudden, a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car’s back end by just inches!

The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started yelling bad words at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was friendly. So, I said, "Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!" And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, "The Law of the Garbage Truck."

Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it. And if you let them, they'll dump it on you. When someone wants to dump on you, don't take it personally. You just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. You'll be happy you did.

So this was it: The "Law of the Garbage Truck.” I started thinking, how often do I let Garbage Trucks run right over me? And how often do I take their garbage and spread it to other people a work, at home, on the streets? It was that day I said, "I'm not going to do that anymore." I began to see garbage trucks.

Like in the movie "The Sixth Sense," the little boy said, "I see Dead People." Well, now "I see Garbage Trucks." I see the load they're Carrying. I see them coming to drop it off. And like my Taxi Driver, I Don't make it a personal thing; I just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on.

One of my favorite football players of all time, Walter Payton, did this every day on the football field. He would jump up as quickly as he hit the ground after being tackled. He never dwelled on a hit. Payton was ready to make the next play his best.

Good leaders know they have to be ready for their next meeting. Good parents know that they have to welcome their children home from school with hugs and kisses. Leaders and parents know that they have to be fully present, and at their best for the people they care about. The bottom line is that successful people do not let Garbage Trucks take over their day. What about you?

What would happen in your life, starting today, if you let more garbage trucks pass you by? Here's my bet. You'll be happier.

Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so.. Love the
People who treat you right. Forget about the ones who don't."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Shouldn't She Have Her Own Blog ?

A lot of people consider me fairly upbeat and motivational, but sometimes even a motivator can use a refill, and I am blessed with a few such friends whom I admire, whose attitudes and vision are models for me, and are good places for me to plug-in when I need a pick-me-up.

I've one friend in particular who I keep telling that she really should write a blog, because so many of her words and insights are either very motivational, or very soothing and comforting. I emailed her this morning and explained how pretty the yellow leaves were this morning, on the trees in my yard; and how it was a perfect fall day... and she wrote back with a few memories of her own. I thought I would share them with you, and you tell *me* if she shouldn't have her own blog.

Reprinted with her permission (sort of):

"Sounds like a great morning there....seeing the beautiful leaves falling. Autumn is my favorite season! To me, it is just the most breathtaking of events in nature because of the leaves, the gorgeous sunsets, the harvest moons. Pure delight! I also love ... cold mornings, warm days, with a cool breeze, and nighttime that is cold and crisp.) When I was a little girl, I loved coming home from school in the fall, because Mom always had the most delicious things waiting for us for dinner. Stews, soups, spaghetti, hot apple pies, warm pound cakes, gingersnap cookies, all fresh out of the oven. We would open the back door and take one whiff and it was pure heaven for our senses! I try to do that for my kids, as the memories it makes are just the best!! Dang, now I'm hungry! LOL.

I also love the seasonal events in the fall....Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas (even though that is technically winter.) Just call me a sentimentalist at heart! I love watching the same rerun movies every year...."It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown", "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" (Snoopy and Woodstock are hilarious with the food....popcorn! HA), their Christmas special too, then the ever classic, "Its A Wonderful Life" with Jimmy Stewart. Wow. My kids know what a "sap" I am! "

Now honestly, folks... doesn't that just make you want to hear about more of life through those eyes? She's got tons of stories. Now if I can just get her to put them in a blog.

Stay tuned... I'll see what I can do.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Communication is a Two Way Street

Hey, there!

WOW... it's October, already! Started your Christmas shopping yet ? Yeah, I know... scary thought. Let's just get through Halloween, right? (smile)

I just sent this out as a full Ramblings, and generally, I try not to do Ramblings and Ramblings Lite the same, but I thought this was worthy, so here it is.

I consider myself to be an excellent communicator. And, it's generally held that if you can't communicate with me, you might as well give it up, take a vow of silence and become a monk or something, because I make it easy to communicate (that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.)

Some years ago I read a quote that said, "A misunderstanding is the mark of a lazy communicator," and I took that puppy to heart, so I go a long way in the communication process to make sure that I'm understood, and to make sure I understand what people are saying, so we're all on the same wavelength.

When I talk with someone and they misunderstand something I said, I assume I said it wrong and I try to fix it. When someone says something to me that doesn't feel quite right to me, I assume I took it the wrong way and I ask them to clarify or elaborate so I can make sure I understand it the way they meant it. But, as good as I think I am at it, every once in a while the whole thing gets screwed up and, as they say in diplomatic circles, communication fails.

As luck would have it, I experienced such a situation recently, and whenever that happens, I do one of those
post game analysis things where they replay the game and put every move under the scrutiny of "the experts" to see what went wrong and where, and in doing so I was forced to re-examine the guidelines and assumptions I use for communicating (they say that introspection is good for the soul), and I thought perhaps you might find them worthy of thought, so... here ya go.

First of all, communication is a two-way process. Both parties gotta *want* to be there, and want to understand and want to communicate, or it's not communication. There are a number of names for it (wasted time, for instance) but "communication" is not one of them. Have you ever tried to talk to a teenager who didn't want to be there? HA! Was that communication? I think not! So that's rule #1 -- in my book.

Rule #2: Both parties must assume that the other party is not intentionally trying to hurt them. I have a saying: "I speak intent." It means that when you say something to me, my automatic assumption is that you are not saying it to intentionally hurt me. This is a critical point. If I think you're there to try to hurt me, I'm going to be defensive, ready to defend and protect against your ensuing attacks. In communicating, both people must understand... that we're not here to try to hurt each other. That way, we can relax a little easier, and when one of us says something that feels bad to the other one, we can automatically re-frame it, figure out what was really meant, or ask the other for clarification so we can better understand. Public speaker Dr. Charles Jarvis (I've mentioned him before) says that in any group before a public speaker, there's at least 2 or 3% of the audience waiting to be offended, and if you're waiting to be offended, you WILL be. It is inevitable.

Many times in our interpersonal communication, one party -- and sometimes both -- are also waiting to be offended, and that is deadly to the communication process. I have lost friends -- yes... even me -- over comments I've made that were taken other than how I meant them, and rather than seek or accept my clarification, they chose instead to be hurt and, in some cases, terminate the friendship. So, I speak intent! If you're aiming to hurt me during a conversation, dag nabbit, I'm going to make you prove it ! It will not happen accidentally.

Rule #3: Each party must want to understand what the other party is saying. I know that sounds suspiciously like something I said already, but it's not. Have you ever been in a conversation where one party was more interested in rebutting what the other party had to say than they were in hearing what was being said? Were you that party? In his book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People," Stephen Covey says "seek first to understand, then be understood." It's another guiding principal for me -- try to understand where the other person is coming from so you know *their* experiences and references. My good friend Mitch Mitchell of TT Mitchell Consulting is probably one of the best I've ever known at being able to put himself in the other person's shoes and understand -- at an almost empathic level -- what they're feeling and saying. I'm not as good at it as he is, but I'm not bad; and I've relied on him over the years to help make sure I was in the proper frame on various situations. But you have to want to understand what the other person "means", and sometimes that goes beyond hearing just their words, and you can't do that if you're there waiting to "pounce." Seek first to understand, then be understood.

Rule #4: It is the speaker's responsibility to ensure that the message he or she is delivering is received properly by their intended audience (single person or group). Another guideline that I adopted, probably about the time I embraced that "lazy communicator" concept. This means I can't just "throw something out there" and expect people to understand what I mean. It is my responsibility to take sufficient care and provide enough background or reference information so that a normal person can understand where I'm coming from. Note: I didn't say they had to agree with it, just be able to understand it. I've seen many people throw out a concept or thought and expect their listeners to "figure it out." Well, "a misunderstanding is the mark of a lazy communicator."

If all this is in place, I believe your communication will succeed. But, ultimately each person in the communication process must take responsibility for their part, to make it work. It takes two to tango! But, what happens if, despite your best efforts, you just can't get on the same mental accord with the other person? Do your own post game analysis and make sure that your piece is in place. If you are convinced that you're not out to intentionally hurt the other person, that you really do want to understand, that you are in fact communicating as clearly and concisely and compassionately as you can and that you've done all you can to understand where they're coming from and understand their views... then... maybe you're not the one being the lazy communicator, and maybe it's just time to get off the field, and try to communicate another day.

And by the way... if in your analysis you find that you were wrong, by all means offer a prompt and sincere apology -- or two -- to the other party, try to re-frame and do better the next round.

That's my take on it! What do you think?

Have an AWESOME day.