The Rumor Mill

I was having lunch outside the hotel, looking over the beautiful bay, sun shining on my face.  I had just completed my 31st annual sales meeting.  It was a good three days (not the usual two days of info miraculously stretched into five).  Excellent speakers, relevant data and training for the most part, great food and of course plenty to drink for those who care to imbibe.  Now I’m tired, waiting to leave for the airport and next to me are two attorneys about to begin their conference.  They are catching up on lost time, but I quickly realize what they really are doing is systematically picking apart everyone they can think of.

“How’s Joe?”                                                                                                  

“Oh, you know.  About the same.  Still married to that same gal.  Three kids now I think.  Probably put on 20 pounds.  Still as loud as a carny at the state fair (he actually said that).  Not sure he’s got what it takes to make it in this line of work.”

And on and on it went.  Person after person was skewered.  No detail was left out.  No hearsay or gossip was left unsaid.  I ate as quickly as I could and made my way back inside, wondering if I was listening to a message meant for me.  Do I do that too?  Who am I kidding, of course I do.  We all do.  It’s practically our national past-time, which of course doesn’t make it right—just ubiquitous.

I sat there thinking about the last few days.  How did I do comparatively?  Did I weigh-in every chance I got?  Was my opinion all that mattered?  Did I defend anyone?  Did I ever get up and just leave the conversation?  Or, did I coach and mentor anyone? Did I give sage advice based on past experience?  Where appropriate did I gently correct and redirect?  When it’s all said and done and a few folks are sitting around talking about me, what are they saying?  And don’t think for a moment they aren’t…

How often do we hear “begin with the end in mind,” in business?  It’s a universal axiom that makes so much sense when you are developing strategy and tactics for a particular business case or project.  But do we ever apply it personally?  How often do we begin with the end in mind for our lives?  Our marriage?  Our parenting choices?  Our choice of careers?  Our impact on this world?  What do we want others to say about us?  I’ve always remembered a quote from Tony Campolo, “Life is about testimonies, not titles.”  Most of us don’t really live that way.

I believe a lot of folks think this way selectively.  “I really want to be a good boss.  What do I need to do to make that happen?”  Or “I want to be good at this parenting thing.  Where can I go to get some advice?” And on it goes in different parts of our lives.  As usual in life, we tend to seek out assistance when things aren’t going right or when there is pain or fear.  Precious few seek out assistance proactively and go ask experienced friends, coaches, parents or mentors how they got where they got and what can I expect if I go down this path?

I know a few guys who are proactive in this area and have even asked me about certain things.  What an honor and privilege it is to be in that situation.   But to make that an integral part of everyday and every decision is not really a primary consideration each morning.  It’s a utopian thought for sure.  Who could possibly always keep the end in mind?  Yeah, probably only something we can aspire to in our broken world, but then again it is a matter of training and willpower, isn’t it?  Each day, each decision point becomes another opportunity to ask “how do I want this to go?”  “What is the end game here?” Like many things in life, it’s easy to say and incredibly difficult to do. 

So what’s the big takeaway on this one?  Maybe it’s as simple as how do you want to be known or remembered?  Not that we become people pleasers, but clearly tearing everyone down, every chance we get, isn’t the answer.  It’s like parenting—kids remember nearly everything they see us do, and far less of what we say.  So, set a good example every day and when necessary reinforce it with words.


A Different Perspective

Awww man, not again. How about a week off? It was so nice just hanging here by the fireplace in the corner of the bedroom. Decent view of the sky, no issues with the dog and you even zipped me so that fat cat can’t slip inside. Oh, alright, here we go.

Wheeeeee, love that launch onto the bed. Pillow top mattresses are the best. Hey, easy on that, can’t you see I’m ripped down there? Enough tugging, already, I’ll let you in. OK, there we go—love that first deep breath of fresh air. How about you go downstairs and fix something, or mow the lawn first and I’ll just stay here and relax and enjoy the ceiling view and fresh air?

Huh, what the…oh, okay. I’ll just shut up while you fill me up with the usual. Dude you really ought to go shopping soon. Some of this stuff is wearing a bit thin, if you get my drift. C’mon, not the purple briefs, what if you get into an accident? And those gray socks, truly man, they reek and you’re about to pop through on both heels. Break out some coin and do us both a favor.

What, only three pair of undies and socks, sweet, short trip this time. No jeans, okay, all business, that’s cool. Let’s close something this week, you’re only batting .275 this year and momma needs new shoes, plus two in college, just saying. Wait a minute, no workout shoes or gear? What’s up man, don’t give up on that last ten pounds! Now, take a breath and rethink that last move. C’mon, you can do it. You know they’ll have a gym, at least a bike or treadmill or something. Nice, there we go. Love those old Nike’s—at least on this end of the trip. Don’t forget the socks, those cool ankle ones with the black stripes on the side, ahhhh, yes, love those. Ok, hoss, looks good from here. I think you can close me up for the—WAIT!! Belt, where’s the belt? You know the black-brown reversible one. It’s not in the side pouch. That’s it stop for a second, hang on, it’ll come to you. I know, you probably hung it up on the tie rack, go check. There you go, knew you’d remember—you always remember. Nice catch. Alright, we’re good now, night boss.

Hey, easy there, what time is it? Ohhh, man, an early flight, hate these morning runs. Easy on the handle, chief, or that’ll be the next thing I lose. Okay, here we go, let’s get this week off to a good start. Don’t forget to grab an apple on the way—one of those good Fuji’s you love, plus you know how you love chucking the core over the rail on the bridge.

Hey, why are we stopping, it’s only been 30 minutes, we can’t be there yet. All I can see are the reflections of lights in the windows, but that doesn’t look like the airport to me. Where are we? Stuck on the highway? There you go again always cutting it too close. One small hiccup and we’re toast out here. No HOV lane, no alternate routes, you gotta quit taking so many chances. By the way, living on an island is cool and all but that extra twenty is going to cost us someday. And don’t give me that TSA Pre-check BS, everyone one and their mother is in that lane now—you can’t count on under ten minutes through security every time.

Ohhhh that’s cold, man that airport concrete is always a shocker in the morning. Hey, you ever think about a little WD-40 on the wheels once a decade?? And by the way, there’s a rock stuck in my left rear caster, I know you don’t feel it, but its killing me and causing some nasty chaffing down here. Ok, fine, whatever, but hey—did you see that Tesla back there? Pretty sweet dude. I know, I know, two in college, not yet. Plus I heard they blow up or catch on fire or something—maybe best to wait.

Escalators are the best, mainly because they are always followed by, ahhh, linoleum, so smooth, and so under-rated as a premium floor covering. How’s the foot traffic so far? Seems like we’re moving pretty steady—at least at the pace you call steady. Man, what is it with you and airports? You’re doing 35 in a 55 zone. Wanna pick up the pace a bit? I feel like I’m stuck in 3rd gear here. Oh, my, did you see the wheels on that sleek green one over there. Gotta be a Samsonite—solid legs on those babies. And in case you missed it, the gal pulling it wasn’t all that bad either. Hey, what, no harm in looking, right? Okay, I get it, eyes straight--no distractions. Way to be steady.

How’s the Pre-check line? How’s the Pre-check line? C’mon, move over a bit, let me see. Oh, snap, that’s two minutes tops, maybe three. Once again you’ve defied the odds and made it with time to spare. Whoa, easy man, these rollers are murder on my spine. But it’s worth it as here comes the best 15 seconds of the trip. Oh, you have no idea how good a little radiation feels…invigorating. It’s probably like one of those massages the missus is always talking about. Verrrrrrry nice. What? Who are you? What’s happening? What random spot check? Oh alright, whatever. Easy on the material buddy, just some odds and ends in here, no sharp objects or hidden flasks of Old Grandad. Yeah, yeah, that’s a belt in there—nice leather one, reversible too. Hey ladies, quit yer gawkin, nothing to see over here. Just cuz the hood’s up doesn’t mean you need to sneak a peek. Move along citizens.

I hate those guys. No respect whatsoever for a fine specimen like me. Alright, what’s next? Oh yeah, more lines to stand in. Hey, show me your phone, did you get the upgrade? What, oh, exit aisle, well that’s the next best thing. Okay, nap time. Now remember, wheels out partner, wheels out. Ah, snug fit, but excellent company. Hey baby, what’s your name? Where you from? Italy! Nice….

Nope, I was wrong. This is the best part of the journey.