Kick off the New Year with my favorite Podcasts

The New Year for many people brings a desire to set goals. The most popular of course is usually related to fitness. Other popular goals include reading more, learning more, being a better parent, getting out of debt and on and on.
Getting the right information to make all of these things happen can be difficult. For me, one of my best growth tools over the years has been listening to podcasts. A podcast is great for the convenience of listening while on the go and the vast variety of topics make it an ideal source for learning things that might normally be out of your wheelhouse.
I have many favorites and thought I would share mine in case you might be looking for some new outlets of curiosity in 2017.
The Art of Manliness: An eclectic podcast covering a variety of topics specifically targeted for men. Based on Tulsa, the host Brett McKay graduated from the University of Oklahoma so you know he is going to be great.
Ted Radio Hour: Just about everyone has heard of TedTalks. The Ted Radio Hour is a bit of a greatest hits type program that features a variety of talks and interviews of the speaker. A much deeper experience than just listening to a talk.
Snap Judgement: A favorite while on a walk, master story teller Glynn Washington and his amazingly talented team share stories that are engaging and in many ways eye opening.
Coaching for Leaders: I try to listen to this one often as the topics, guests and conversations have provided me many great best practices to improve my skills as a leader.
Stuff You Should Know: Ever wonder about the history of porta-potties? Why Easter Island’s Civilization Collapsed? What about how a Lighthouse works? Hosts Chuck Bryan and Josh Clark discuss random topics that are surprisingly interesting. The added benefit is that you will know a lot of useless trivia to annoy all your friends at your next party.
Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast: Craig Groeschel is the pastor of Life.Church which has lead the church world with innovation including being one of the first multi-site churches, offering the most downloaded free app in history, church online and more. In his podcast he shares the secrete sauce of leadership he has learned and is still learning along the way.
The Tim Ferris Show: I discovered this podcast very recently and have instantly become a huge fan. Tim Ferris is excellence obsessed and he uses his interviews to glean the best practices of high achievers from a wide variety of disciplines. I like this podcast so much that I got his new book as gift for my college age son for Christmas and I am working my way through all of his past shows.
ITunes makes podcast listening easy and if you are an Android user like me I suggest the Stitcher App as a good choice. 
Got a favorite podcast that you would add to my list? Leave a comment and share.

Hello 2017

The calendar has turned to a New Year and as usual for a lot of people I am spending time today being reflective of the year that was and the year that is to be. I started 2016 once again in the middle of the work storm of layoffs. In my 20+ year career with my employer I have survive an estimated 11 of these and they never get easier. Good came from this experience as it was the final factor to motivate me to fulfill a long time goal of getting the SRHM-SCP certification.
Basically this is a competency test for HR professionals and I jumped in to take the highest level of the exam. Fear of failing the test and excuses around the time needed to study had kept me from this goal for many years.
I will never forget those moments in the car right before going into the testing center as I sat in nervous anticipation. A couple of hours later my hands shook as I waited at the computer for my results.  
Yes I passed and as I stared at the screen it was hard not to shout out in joy even as I wiped a tear from my cheek.
So what was the big deal? Would I get a promotion as a result of this? No. Would I get a pay raise? No. Would there be a big celebration and recognition from peers or my company? No again. The big deal for me was simply meeting a challenge that required hours and hours of work in advance that may or may not have resulted in success. I was energized by the process.
Now I have a certificate to hang on the wall. No one seeing it will ever grasp the years of experience and the hours of study it represents.  
I have met many goals in the past that at the start seemed questionable. Marathons, triathlons, duathlons, Master’s degree, debt freedom, surviving stage 4 cancer and the list goes on. The end result has more often not been a celebration but instead a big question of “what next?”
I will have to be honest. There is a big part of me that wishes I could just be satisfied with the now result. Instead within moments a sense of let down and dissatisfaction steps in boarding on depression really. Many prayers have be dedicated to this aspect of my personality.  
Today thinking of the year that is yet to be I am left wondering about the next big next for me. My list is long and detailed with at least one or two goals that once again seem questionable in my ability to make them happen. The good news is that thanks to my obsessive goal setting I know my track record indicates that with hard work and focus I will succeed. The bad news is that I know my track record also indicates that the result will only bring temporary satisfaction.
A goal for 2017 is to ride a total of 3,500 miles or more
Nonetheless I will press on. God wired me this way and my curse is also my blessing to be embraced.
What about you? Do you know your next big next? Very few people seem to have goals and even fewer seem to have a plan to make them happen. Me, I can’t a imagine life without a forward reach. When I am goalless I am lost.

Do not let fear of not making it or worse fear of what happens next keep you from taking that first step. 
Your goal does not have to be climbing a mountain or winning that promotion. Instead it can be small like that phone call to a long lost friend you have been putting off or that choice for a salad lunch today. Don’t start off going to win the war. Start with a small victory or a spectacular failure. Just the fact that you tried will mean that you have pressed on. You unlike most people decided to try. 
I hope that 2017 will be your best year yet. Find your next big next and go for it. 

My twenty year work anniversary

Twenty years….

Launch day of the Sprint network

It is hard to wrap my head around that number thinking how long I have been with my employer as of today. I joined just five years of working after graduating college to be part of something that at that time was totally new.

Prior to 1996 by law there were only two wireless carriers in each town. That helped things remain stable as this newfangled technology was growing and at the same time limited competition. The government decided more players in the marketplace would reduce prices and increase innovation. Of course the billions of dollars that were to be made in the spectrum auctions were not a bad thing either for Uncle Sam.
I was working for one of the two at the time and thought it would be exciting to be part of a ground up new start opportunity.  
During these last many years I have been part of a lot of changes. I stepped into this company as a newlywed and soon had a house, a son and a growing set of responsibilities and challenges that come with maturing.  
In my work life, I saw a growth of technology and an evolution of my skills thanks to being part of a dynamic industry. I encountered opportunities to explore my abilities and found a path that led me in career areas I would not have imagined early on.
I also experienced the full corporate lifecycle with explosive growth, maturity, decline and now (hopefully) growth again. My job titles and roles have changed many times as the organization changed. Co-workers have come and gone. CEOs have come and gone. In the last fifteen years, there has been turmoil and changes with layoffs occurring on average once a year or more.
As a manager I have hired people, fired people, laid people off, celebrated promotions, celebrated life events and consoled life tragedies of peers, managers, and subordinates.

In a work world where now the average worker changes employers every 4.6 years according to the U.S. Department of Labor, I am an anomaly as are the many others I know that are long time employees here. 
Through it all I have remained singular in my corporate life for reasons I am not sure I even understand.
So how does one stay at one employer for so long, through so much change and still stay engaged, challenged and growing?

Know your purpose
My purpose, mission statement or whatever you may want to call it has evolved over the years as my interests and roles have changed. What has remained the same however is that I have consistently taken time to define why I work and then have used my why as a magnet to pull me forward in my actions and in my growth.
The tumultuous life that is the ever-changing world of the wireless industry has resulted over time in a need to constantly adjust my brand as organization shifts. Having a true north by knowing my why has provided focus even when all else around me is seemly in chaos.

Grow your skills through opportunity
My undergraduate degree is in Government from a small regional state college. Not exactly the credentials that will land you that high-level corporate position right out of the gate. Fortunately, work has provided many growth opportunities through in the trenches experience and formal learning programs. Even better, once I locked into my career path I was able to take advantage of the tuition reimbursement program to go on to a master’s degree in my field of work and later a senior-level certification. All debt-free and reimbursed by my employer.

Forget luck
“I don’t believe in luck, I believe in preparation” –Bobby Knight

Having faced many staff reductions over the years, I would like to say that each time I was chosen to continue it was due to my skills and my performance outcomes. While I have confidence in those areas, I have at the same time stayed prepared.  I am always striving forward, learning and keeping an eye on the external market for new ideas as well as the skills that others see as valuable.
Just as importantly, I have worked to stay forward thinking and positive through good relationships with those in the organization that are influencers and performers. I believe you learn best from those that are excelling in what they do.
Most importantly, I have continued to believe in the future. I have steadfastly held that no matter what change may come my way I will be able to handle it and the outcome will result ultimately in a positive impact.
We get back from the world and our careers what we put into it.
No longer after twenty years is there a reward of gold watches, celebrations, pension and retirement. Instead, the work continues so, therefore, I will quietly go about my day and press on while giving my best to the future that has yet to be revealed.   

Really, I would have it no other way. 

Happy 21 years to us

This week is our 21st wedding anniversary.

I can clearly remember the days as a teen and later as a young adult longing to have love in my life. I was never much of a ladies guy and there were times when I was sure I would never find the right person. It turns out I did not need to find anyone as thanks to a mutual friend we found each other through a blind date.

Imagine that! A simple lunch set up turning into a lifetime of togetherness. We are proof that it can happen.

Someone this week through e-mail made a comment about our length of marriage success and kiddingly said he should get advice from me. Me being me I could not help but respond with some top of mind thoughts. Here they are

  • Marry the right person to start (people are not fixer uppers)
  • Be partners (no separate accounts; no secrets)
  • Have common interests (hobbies that you do together)
  • Have uncommon interests (Hobbies that make you/her happy and provide “me” time)
  • Honor with actions (Always strive to think positively and speak positively about spouse)
  • Never stop perusing (dates, adventures together, random acts of kindness)
  • Never stop moving forward (plans for the future—dreams)
  • Surround yourself with successful marriages(If we are the average of those around us be around couples that will lift you up)
  • Make sure you are yoked (philosophy on God, money, health, children etc)
  • Marry your spouse and not your career. (Jobs come and go but family should be forever)
  • Communicate
  • Communicate
  • Communicate

Like any couple we have faced many challenges over the years but along the way there has never been any question that no matter what we are in this together and forever. Neither of us would have it any other way.

Happy 21 to us. There is no doubt in my heart that the best is indeed yet to come.

Let my life be the proof

While out at lunch the other day I had to pull the car over for a rather long funeral procession. As the police motorcycles, hearse and other cars streamed by the King and Country song “Let my life be the proof of your love.”
Let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Live is sacrificed
So let my life be the proof
The proof of Your love
Some pretty serious words to ponder sitting there in my car at lunch on Monday. I have no idea who was in the hearse or what kind of life that person may have led. Just judging by the number of cars in the procession this was a person of great impact.
 As I waited, I thought a lot about my life. Is it proof? Do others know through my actions what I feel in my heart and say in my head? When the end of my journey comes will I leave any legacy?
Here is the good news. My ride this Monday was far different from the person in the hearse as I was upright and heading into a new week. The procession turned into a motivational Monday moment with a simple reminder that life is too short to be complacent.
Each day is a new chance to make a difference. As long as you are alive you can be a difference maker and be the proof.

What a good reminder to start the week. 

Can following your passion lead to suckatude?

“Just because you are passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it” Mike Rowe
I grew up with a passion for music.  My greatest thrill as a youth were the times when I was performing as part of the high school choir, show choir, or the marching band. What an amazing feeling to be in front of hundreds of people and to relish in the accolades of their feedback at the end of each performance. As a senior, my peers were even so kind to vote me as “best male singer”.  
There was only one problem. I actually kind of sucked.
In spite of my great passion for music and my strong desire to be good with an instrument or an amazing singer, I did not possess any innate ability to be any good. I have a terrible voice, poor rhythm and a lack of psychomotor skills. Heck, even after four years in the high school band I was never able to fully memorize and play the school fight song. Now that is bad.
Had I followed this passion for music without a realization of my actual ability, I surely would have failed.
This is one reason I am such a fan of Mike Rowe’s advice on this video. It is okay to have a passion and to follow your dreams. The real key when it comes to our careers is to align passion and dreams with our abilities.

There are people that discover this secret early in life and go on to find fulfillment through an easy path.  For many people, however, the juncture between ability, passion, and dreams happen only after years of trial. For others, this critical path to fulfillment is never realized due to too much time wasted following the passions and dreams dictated by our societal norms while ignoring their natural gifts.
It has been my observation that to be a real success and experience happiness, we must find what we are good at doing and then become the best we can at doing it.  
I agree with Mike. Find your talent and then your dreams as well as your passion will come.
What do you think?

Oh and by the way, if you happen to find yourself standing near me at church during the time everyone is singing. My apologies in advance. 

How to make your goals happen in 2016

Yes 2016 is here and it is time once again to reflect on the year that was and plan for the year can be. For years I have taken time to write down my goals and think about what I can do differently and what I can do the same to ensure the coming months go well.
There is always a lot of excitement about the start of the New Year. I have read that somewhere between 40 to 50 percent of people set resolutions or goals. I have also read that as many as 80 percent of people break at least one resolution within the first five days after setting them. Pretty sad huh?
I have been there too and have at times found myself not following through with my goals and soon I am angrier and disappointed at myself more then I was before making them.
One goal I have is to ride the bike 2,000 Miles in 2016
It is this feeling of repeated failure after not achieving that I think prevents many people from bothering to even try to have goals. After all, what is the point if you know you will fail again and not follow through?
I may be naïve but I truly believe there is always hope to strive to be better and to get started no matter how many times in the past you have tried and not succeeded. Perhaps these were just lesson on what not to do the next time. The mere fact that there are people that do change and do have success shows that it can be done.
So how do we make sure the goals happen?
Write them down! Just saying you have goal is not enough. You need a battle plan to succeed with very specific details. This should include very small success milestones that will allow you to celebrate along the way.
Want to lose 30 pounds? Great set that as a goal then add details around the healthy eating steps you will take. Instead of focusing on the big number make it small and think big picture. What if the goal instead were to lose 2 pounds? Sounds way better huh?
Share with others! There is no doubt that peer pressure and support from people that care about you will make a difference. Just be sure and share with true accountability people that will call you out in a loving way when you need a push to move forward.
Don’t give up! “Successful people consistently do what others will not” This is one of my all-time favorite quotes and my motivation theme for 2016.
Others will quit after their first failure. You will not!
Others will start each day expecting defeat. You will not!
The key word here is consistently since consistency lead to habits and habits lead to change that becomes so natural soon you will not give it a thought.

I believe 2016 can be a break out year for me and for you. Set your goals, share them and then get to work. We can do this! 

The time is almost here.

In just a few weeks our son will be off to college and Michelle and I will make the transition to being empty nester parents.
Excited? Yes! Nervous? Absolutely!
Every parent since the dawn a parenthood has experienced the angst of this time. After years of family fun with events to attend, friends to host and plans to make soon the house will go silent and our child will be completely on his own. Only in our imagination will we know each day how he is getting along.
Thankfully the business of life for a young person through the last couple of years before college in a way help you prepare for the final transition. It seems Michelle and I have had a lot of time these last few months to see what is going to be like when it is just to two of us.
I have been pretty reflective these last few months thinking back to my effectiveness as a parent and the choices we have made over the years. Yes I have some regrets but overall I know we did our best and made many family first choices that I can only pray will pay dividends in his life as he moves off into his new stage of life as a Sooner.
College we welcome you and the many new experiences good and bad that are on the way soon for Conner.
I know the future is going to be and exciting adventure. 

Finding Joy at Work

Joy and work
These are two words that for the vast majority of us do not go together. 
Most of us see work simply as that space in between the weekends that serves to provide us medical care, vacations, and money to pay the bills. Often, this leads to the Sunday night dread as another new week of despair looms ahead. Is this you?
Let’s face it. Most jobs were never intended to be fun all the time. That is why it is called going to work as opposed to going to fun. 
Nonetheless, there are ways we can make the most of every day and in the process set ourselves apart from the masses living their work life in despair.

Know your purpose

Why do we work? Is it simply a means to an end so that bills can be paid and away from work fun can be had? That mindset may work for a time but in the long run it leads to drudgery. What if instead we first defined our life purpose and then next applied it to our jobs? My purpose statement is simple:
“To serve God, serve my family and serve those around. I strive to help others have success so that in turn I will experience success”
Your life purpose is critical as it should set the direction for every decision you make about your day and your attitude towards those around you. Feel like you are floundering? You might just need a little direction to move forward. 

Find an attitude mentor
Just about every work group has one these people. You know, the person that no matter what seems to come into work peppy and ready to get busy. These folks jump at the chance to tackle the extra project and take big changes in stride.
This is a person you will want in your inner circle. Ask, “Tell me, what motivates you to be so positive at work?”  I think you might be surprised at the answer and you will find great insight. If open to it, tell this person you are looking for an attitude mentor that will give you nudge from time to time when you may be showing negativity about the workplace.

Show up looking sharp and with a smile
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
I love this famous quote from Martin Luther King as it demonstrates that any job can be filled with satisfaction if you give it your best. Every day I see people working with grim faces while also looking frumpy. I have a secret strategy on my days I know are going to be the most challenging. On these days, I make a point to put on my sweetest shirt and best slacks. I also use a little personal pep talk in the car to slap a smile on that will carry me into the building. 
These little things may sound silly but they do make a huge difference to convince yourself that everything is going to be okay. Oh and on the really over the top days, I make sure to wear a pair of Batman undies that I have had for many years. Sure the day might be stressful but on those days I can have a sly grin on my face knowing that underneath—I am Batman.  

Believe in your future
So your job sucks. That is the time to understand most things in life that suck is temporary. Believe in your abilities, your potential for growth and continue to work with gusto. You might stand out from the crowd by doing so and find yourself up for promotion in the future. If not, then keep making the most of what you have now while also working to find something else that will satisfy you. The key is to not give up hope and to keep growing into the life you were born to have. Give every day your best and the best will find you. 

Joy and work—I hope you find the best of both.