Adjust vs. Change

Unexpected things happen all the time which we have to deal with, whether we want to or not. We can adjust to the circumstances or resist them. I find the people who adjust are a great deal more successful than the ones who don’t. It is one thing to be stubborn to your convictions, it is entirely different thing to be unaccepting to the new circumstances that have just occurred. Instead of looking at things under the painful guise of “Having to Change,” I think it is more effective to say, “It’s time to adjust.”

I would say it is definitely time to adjust when your company decides to let you go. Oh, they can say it in so many different ways; they can tell you they are retrenching, downsizing, rightsizing, re-purposing or re-aligning staff. I had one client call it a “RIF.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with the acronym “RIF” … it stands for “Reduction in Force.” I guess you might say that is a nice way to tell people, if there is such a way, they have been laid off. But in your eyes, you see it as being canned, kicked to the curb, booted out, terminated, shown the door, sacked, discharged, axed, let go, dumped, ditched, dismissed, pink-slipped, issued your walking papers … or in the simplest of terms … FIRED. I heard one person say they had been issued their “DCM” notice, which stands for “Don’t Come Monday.”

Whatever a company wants to call being “laid-off,” the reality is you now have to ADJUST to this new situation. I really prefer using the word ADJUST rather than CHANGE, because it seems easier, in context, to do.

The weather changes and you ADJUST what you are wearing.

The economy changes and you ADJUST your spending habits.

Traffic is bad and you ADJUST your route.

Sales are down so you must ADJUST advertising or prospecting activity.

Production is down so you must investigate the cause and ADJUST.

Your health changes and you ADJUST your exercise and eating habits.

Your boss changes and you ADJUST to their style of management.

You have a newborn baby and you ADJUST your sleeping habits.

You get married and you ADJUST from an “I “ to a “We” way of thinking.

In business you have to ADJUST to competition, technology, economic issues, healthcare issues, rising expenses, changes in media advertising, changing demographics of customers, and availability of workforce … to name just a few. So, instead of using that painful word “CHANGE,” may I suggest you start looking at approaching things with an ADJUSTMENT mentality.

People have a real tendency to resist change, but they do seem more accepting of ADJUSTING to the circumstances. Sometimes it is just the perspective of how we are going to address a situation/problem that will help people buy into doing what is necessary to fix it. Most of the time you don’t have to change everything to fix a problem; you just need to make some ADJUSTMENTS. Would you rather someone say to you, “You have to CHANGE what you did.” … or … “With a few minor adjustments, what you did is going to work great.”?

Our world is constantly changing … so your life is in a constant state of adjustment. Always remember, there are things you can’t change so you must ADJUST or you will not succeed.

Successful people know that

if they aren’t reaching their goals

it is time to ADJUST their actions.


The Amazing Power of Four Words

Some say the four most powerful words in coaching are, “I believe in you.” I think we need to expand that to teaching, mentoring, management, leadership, parenting, and relationships. What a wonderful thing to tell somebody, “I believe in you.” Think of how it made you feel when it was last said to you. Oh, there’s the problem … are you having trouble remembering when someone last said it to you. That is truly a shame, because the words are SO POWERFUL and have a way to motivate, inspire, and encourage us all. But the flip side of this is, when was the last time you told somebody those words? Are you having trouble remembering when? That is a shame as well.

In our personal lives, so many times we take for granted the ones we love the most and give them the fewest compliments. Oh sure, they know we love them, they know we think they are really talented, they know we appreciate the little and big things they do for us, they know we feel we can always count on them … sure … they know. Right? A compliment not given is no compliment at all. Inspiring words not shared are not inspiring at all. Don’t assume people know how they are doing, when your mouth never utters a word.

In our business lives, we also take people for granted. The U.S. Department of Labor found that 46% of the people who quit their jobs, did so, because they didn’t feel appreciated. WOW! We spent the money to find them and train them, but we can’t utter a few words every so often to let them know they are doing a good job. The words are free … they cost you nothing … but not saying them can end up costing you a lot.

I have had bad teachers and good teachers, bad coaches and good coaches and bad bosses along with some good bosses. I can’t ever remember any bad teacher, coach or boss being a positive person. NOT ONE. But, I can remember the good teachers, coaches and bosses who all had a positive side to them. I wanted to do more for them and not let them down. I would never want to disappointment them because THEY BELIEVED IN ME and told me so.

What a wonderful thing it would be to have someone say … “Because of you, I succeeded.” “Because of you, I didn’t give up!” We all need affirmation; some of us need it more than others. If you want people to produce more, raise their level of competence, perform at a higher level, and deliver more than expected, then let the following four word phrases become part of your everyday life. Great teachers, managers, coaches, and bosses all know they should …

Show them the way                 Help them keep trying             Make them feel special

Help them learn more             Show faith in them                    Prepare them to win

Inspire them to succeed         Be a confidence builder           Be there for them

You will be amazed what a positive effect the phrases “I believe in you!” or “You can do this!” can have on people. If you don’t believe me, just give it a try. It sure can’t hurt to try and it costs you nothing to do it … but it could be costing a lot … to stay silent.



Character is Displayed at the Bottom of the Basket

Character, or should I say – lack thereof – is being revealed to us daily. From the house painter who said they would prime before they painted (and they didn’t), to the mechanic who replaces your carburetor when only the fuel line was clogged. Their character has just been revealed; they chose to cheat you.

It’s just a simple purchase … a basket of peaches at the local farmers market. The peaches on the top, and even in the middle are all beautiful … but the farmer’s character is revealed with the fruit they placed on the bottom of the basket. The fruit on the bottom should be just as good as the fruit on top, but a farmer of weak character will put the bruised (damaged) fruit on the bottom. A butcher can put the best looking side of the steak face up, so you see it through the clear plastic, but when you get home, you find the underneath side full of gristle and fat; again, a weak character is revealed.

Clothes style change, fads change, hair styles change, popular music choices change, technology changes, car models change, expectations, salaries and opinions all change … but good character should never change. Actions indicate CHARACTER … not words. Here is a short poem I wrote about the importance I place on character.

Fame is fleeting, popularity, notoriety and wealth can leave you too.

Even your good health can slip away and there’s nothing you can do.

There are those who will sing your praises for what you did today.

Then curse your actions tomorrow … and there’s nothing you can say.

So heed my words carefully, they are simple but oh so true.

You reveal your character daily in everything you do.

Guard your thoughts, words and actions, for they shout loudly who you are.

Your actions reveal your character and will be seen both near and far.

And when you leave this earth, there is but one thing that will endure.

Your character will be the mark you leave  –  on this you can be sure.


Good character isn’t hard to identify … it is simply doing the right thing even when it may be the hardest thing to do. Good, sound, strong, morale character is a choice … you can choose to have it or not. That painter, mechanic, farmer and butcher all made a choice and their choice instantly revealed their character. It would also give me a good reason to NEVER want to do business with them again. Fool me once, shame on you – Fool me twice, shame on me.

I want to do business with people who are trustworthy, reliable, responsible, and considerate … those actions will establish a fine reputation. Isn’t it amazing what just one bad peach tells about a person.

Your Choices Define Your Character

So Choose Wisely

Shed Those Funky Feelings

Lack of confidence affects job interviews, promotions, athletic /musical/ theatrical performances, negotiations, romance, and leadership … to name just a few. Now, let’s take it a step further. Let’s add someone trying to tear you down by telling you that 1) you’re the problem 2) you are really lousy at this, or 3) you will never amount to anything.  

I have a dear friend of mine who is going through a rough time in their life, which has caused them to doubt themselves. When you think about all the things that life can throw at you, that are totally unexpected, we “ALL” can have some good reasons to doubt ourselves.  A company being downsized and having to let go 500 people can cause each one of those people to doubt their ability. Did they get let go because of their lack of talent, knowledge, skill, or attitude?

The next thing you know you are in a FUNK, unhappy, maybe even considering yourself to be a little depressed; well, welcome to the human race. You sure aren’t alone. I truly believe that everyone, and I do mean everyone, at some point in their life, doubted their abilities, value, talent, skill, or self-worth. Recording star and multiple Grammy winner, Taylor Swift, (who made $50m last year) said, My confidence is easy to shake. I am very well aware of all of my flaws. I am aware of all the insecurities that I have.”  So, how in the world can you get to feeling better about yourself?  Even though it may seem that other people and circumstances are to blame for your self-doubt, that really is not so. You are the person truly responsible for your own mental state.

That last statement is easy to say, but hard to handle. Telling someone to “Snap out of it”, “Get over it,” and “Let it go,” doesn’t usually get great results. So, the most important thing to understand is “YOU” hold the keys to opening the doors to your confidence. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Before you give value to anything bad being said about you, first give some thought to who is saying it and for what reason. People who are biased, prejudiced, egotistical, uncaring, jealous, bitter, nasty, envious, impartial, and/or opinionated could have a real tendency to want to tear other people down, just to make themselves feel better. They could feel threatened by your talent and want to hold you back to help their own career. Would you give value or worry about what a person said if you knew they were a stupid, shallow, conceited jerk? SO, don’t give ANY VALUE to what others say … except from friends who are offering constructive, helpful suggestions.

Never let REJECTION kill your confidence. Many great people have been insulted with dreadful rejections. The great writer, Rudyard Kipling, in one rejection letter, was told he doesn’t know how to use the English language. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas. A so-called expert once said of the NFL Hall-of-Fame football coach, Vince Lombardi: “He possesses minimal football knowledge and lacks motivation.” If these great people had believed what others were saying about them … they would have never been successful.

Don’t let anyone ever bring you down, make you think bad of yourself, tell you what you can and can’t do, hold you back, destroy your self-respect,  take your smile,  decide your self-worth … and never accept as fact that you aren’t smart enough, pretty enough, creative enough, good enough, talented enough, or committed enough to succeed. Move past their opinions and never look back; rearview mirrors are for cars … not life.



If you don’t believe in yourself …

why should anyone else believe in you?

Great Minds – Average Minds – Small Minds

“I am an office mystery.

I’m never seen but I’m everywhere.

I’m always on the job and often forecast important events.

I make an unmake morals, reputation and cooperation,

but I’m seldom blamed for my mistakes.

I have no responsibilities,

and I am one of the most powerful molders of opinion.

I add humor and anger to the office,

and I pass with the speed of sound.

I’m basic in human nature, and you must accept me.

I grow right behind you.

I am the office grapevine.”

(Author Unknown)

Careers and reputations are damaged every day by the grapevine. People are fired and lives are forever altered because of false rumors, innuendos, insinuations, and gossip from the grapevine. People who are biased, prejudiced, uncaring, jealous, impartial, and opinionated have a real tendency to taint the facts in their favor. I have no time for those types of people in my life. Most grapevine gossip is critical, judgmental, faultfinding, and negative in substance. These are all things I can do without in my life. Erma Bombeck once suggested that our national pastime in America is not baseball, it’s gossip.

Gossip is just a way for people who have nothing better to do … to help them deal with the people who are doing something better. It is an enormous time waster that really doesn’t serve any good purpose at all. There is an excellent tenet to keep in mind about people who are always sharing gossip: People who gossip to you … will gossip about you. I heard it once said that … Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots. That sentence alone should forever change your opinion of those who gossip and be an excellent reason to never do it yourself.

I am not a fan of people who gossip. I think people who gossip are   1. not as productive as people who don’t    2. are shallow-minded    3. definitely not management material. Here are a few simple rules to follow that I feel will help your career and your personal life when it comes to gossip.

  • If you won’t say it to them … then don’t say it about them.
  • When talking about someone, pretend they are standing beside you.
  • Never “fan the flame” of gossip nor pass it on.
  • Disengage from the conversation – fake a call, meeting or deadline.

Eleanor Roosevelt said it best when she stated: Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” Most negative gossiping people are trying to make themselves feel better about their inadequacies by trying to make you look bad. If you find someone is gossiping about you … just think to yourself that they are making “YOU” the center of “THEIR” world. WOW! You just got really important.

If you must gossip,

talk about a person’s virtues not their vices.


Barn Movers

In 1981 Donna and Herman Ostry bought a farm in the small town of Bruno, Nebraska, about 60 miles outside of Omaha. The farm came with a big barn that had been built back in the 1920’s and also had a nice little creek that flowed through their property. The creek was both a blessing and a problem for the Ostrys. It was great to have readily available water for their farm animals but it also flooded a lot during heavy rains. The barn floor seemed to always be wet and muddy and then in 1988 they had a huge flood where the water rose about 30 inches up the side of the barn walls.

 The Ostrys desperately needed to move the barn to higher ground but the cost to contract with a company that has both the capability and equipment to move a barn of this size was prohibitive.  One night sitting around the dinner table, Herman Ostry commented that if he had enough people he could pick the barn up and move it to higher ground. Everyone laughed off the comment as silly … everyone except his son Mike.

I wonder if “young” Mike knew that people scoffed at the idea of traveling 30 miles per hour on a railroad car. People actually thought that traveling that fast would stop the circulation of the blood. I wonder if “young” Mike knew that Eli Whitney was laughed at when he showed his first cotton gin, that Thomas Edison had to install his electric light free of charge in an office building before anyone would look at it, that Westinghouse was considered a fool for suggesting you could stop a train with wind, or that Samuel Morse had to plead before 10 Congresses before they would even look at his telegraph (which revolutionized communication). Maybe “young” Mike just thought … WHY NOT … and then he set out to figure out a way to make his Dad’s statement a reality.

Young, inexperienced, doesn’t-know-any-better Mike did some calculations and figured out that the barn weighed about 17,000 pounds. He then figured out that he could design a steel grid system that he could place under the barn that would weigh another 3,000 pounds. So, the total weight that would need to be lifted was 10 tons. When you think of that amount of weight to be moved, you usually think of a giant crane … not a whole bunch of people. But “young” Mike figured if he could gather up about 350 people, they would all need to only be able to lift approximately 50 pounds each.

Mike presented his calculations to his Dad and they both thought it would work. Mike and his Dad got a little lucky on the timing to present their idea to their small town. Nebraska was getting ready to celebrate its centennial and the town of Bruno had put together a committee of townspeople to decide on different things to do for the celebration. Mike and his Dad convinced the town to make the barn moving a part of the celebration. The word got out and over 4,000 people from 11 states witnessed the event.  Here is the YouTube link to the actual event.

A little before 11 a.m. on July 30th, 1988 … in front of the local television cameras, 344 people moved the barn 143 feet up a gentle slope to its new foundation. All in all, it took 3 minutes to move the barn. So, the next time somebody hits you with an idea that you think is silly or maybe even impossible … think again, and never discount the POWER of TEAMWORK.

Re-live this idea again in your head. Someone in a meeting says, “Let’s move a 17,000 pound barn, 143 feet, up a slope, and do it in less than 3 minutes, using no machinery.”  Now that idea sounds pretty nuts, ridiculous, stupid, impossible, and far-fetched to me. But a need, a desire, a creative mind, a well- designed plan and a giant team, all working together, made it happened.

 Teamwork Really Makes the Dream Work 


Getting Them Over “Fool’s Hill” Alive

I wrote an article for Father’s Day that is really appropriate for any occasion. You don’t have to be a father to get some value from the article, so I wanted to share it with everyone. Here is what I wrote:

Since this is Father’s Day, and I happen to be one, I thought it appropriate for me to throw in my two-cents on the subject. After 23 years of parenting I can say with confidence, that I am “NOT” an authority on the subject. As a father, I learned firsthand that children aren’t born with an instruction manual, so this is a, learn as you “screw-up”, job.

I remember visiting my wife’s parents after our son Tyler was born, and her Dad made a very calm, off-the-cuff statement about parenting, which I will never forget. He said: “Our job as parents is to get our children over Fool’s Hill, alive.”  Boy was he right. I also didn’t know that everything I was doing was going to be copied. I didn’t know that a 3-year-old could repeat exactly what you said, word for word … with the proper inflection, when you think no one is listening. But, I soon realized that our son was going to be a direct reflection of our effort and love. I never doubted my wife, she was the rock; I doubted me.

To me, D.A.D. is an earned title, a badge of honor, which comes with enormous responsibilities. In my mind, the D’s in DAD stand for so many things.

It was now my Duty to take care of him. I needed to instill in him Determination so he could Distinguish himself in whatever he did. I needed to teach him he didn’t Deserve success, he had to Deliver. I needed him to understand he would encounter Difficulties, Dishonesty, Disappointment, Disrespect, Defeat, Disagreement, Disobedience, and Doubt on his journey to being successful. I wanted him to know there is never a reason to stay Depressed or Dwell on mistakes, because tomorrow is always another day. I wanted him to be able to face Danger head on, Dare to be great, be Defiant to the naysayers, Demand the best of himself and live with Dignity. I needed him to recognize the importance of Dreaming but that we are all graded on what we Do, not what we Desire. I had to get him to understand greatness is achieved by those who are Dauntless, Durable and Devoted to their goals and sometimes he would just have to roll-up his sleeves and get Dirty, Demonstrating to all, he was willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

The “A” in D.A.D. was going to be simple for him to remember, but the core to everything when it comes to success and failure. Everyone is graded by their ACTIONS. His success in life would be Determined by what he Decides to Do and then Does. There are no trophies given for Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda … and you can’t take back what you did … so, act as if everyone in the whole world is watching, because they could be.

Then a chill came over me because I knew one of the best ways to teach was by example. Why should I expect more from him than I would from myself? As his DAD, I wanted more for him than myself, but it is not fair to demand more than I am willing to strive for. Do as I say, not as I do … is a lousy way to teach. Yeah, I got real scared. Would my son be proud of me; would I be deserving of the title D.A.D.?

Then I learned one more thing on my DAD journey; when they know you LOVE them, they become a lot more forgiving of your faults. Was I there all the time when he needed me? No. (his Mom was) But, he knew I wanted to be. At times, was I too tough on him , not fair, a poor listener, too strict, too stubborn in my ways … Guilty as Charged.  But, if he says just four simple words, “I love you DAD,” I will know I succeeded at what mattered most; he knows I love him and always will. All DADs deserve the title of D.A.D., if their children LOVE them.  AND … I’ll keep working on making him as proud of me as I am of him.

If you want your children to know how to live,

Don’t Tell Them How – Show Them How


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