Posts

Better or Worse (#188)

A few weeks ago, I took an Uber to downtown Boston for a meeting with a group of peers. About ten minutes into my ride, traffic stopped completely. A major car crash had occurred 100 feet in front of us after a car had come down the highway entrance ramp in the wrong direction. People were walking around wounded and it was chaos. It must have happened a split second before we got there.

I’ll admit, the initial thought running through my head was “If only I had left the house five minutes earlier.” When I let everyone know about the accident, their concern was first and foremost for my safety. This is when I realized I was looking at the situation all wrong. Really, I was lucky that I wasn’t there just sixty seconds earlier or I could have been among the accident victims. My timing wasn’t bad, it was great.

I was reminded of this experience during a bike trip my wife and I took across Croatia last week. Toward the end of the second day of riding, one mile from the top, she hit a pothole masked as a puddle and was thrown from her bike. Bloodied and battered, she got back on her bike and rode the rest of the way to get help.

At first glance, it did not look good. She was in a tremendous amount of pain and had pretty serious cuts and road rash. But as we cleaned up each of the wounds and consulted with some medical professionals on the trip, she’d fortunately escaped any serious injury or broken bones.

Even though we’d been looking forward to this trip for a year, there were two ways we could have chosen to handle this unexpected setback:

  1. Taken the “It could have been better” perspective which involves frustration and self-pity about getting injured during the trip and having to miss part of the experience.
  2. Taken the “It could have been worse” perspective which involves relief and gratitude that she did not have to be airlifted from an island to a hospital or have to return home and cut our trip short.

My wife was firmly in the “it could have been worse” camp. She made the best of a difficult and painful situation with a genuine sense of gratitude.

In last week’s Friday Forward, Blame Game, I shared an experience that a friend of mine, Jayson Gaignard, had that led him to decide on taking ownership for his misstep and how it developed into a teaching moment for his daughter, especially around the concept of control.  He’d written that he was trying to teach his daughter to “take 100% ownership of things you can control and have 0% attachment to things you can’t.”

We all face situations where it’s tempting to believe that the entire situation is beyond our control. In reality, this is only half true. What happens initially may be beyond our control, but how we react to it is not. What’s more is that our reaction to situations is often far more important.

How will I show up at a meeting if I’ve been stewing in anger during the hour leading up to it versus reflecting on all the things I’m grateful for and with perspective?

How might we remember a trip spent moping around after our spouse got injured and lamenting their “bad luck” versus telling everyone she is lucky it wasn’t worse—and truly believing that?

Our reactions to external events shape our mindset and our Emotional Capacity. They impact how we show up in the world each day and the energy that we give and take from others.

Could a situation have been better? Sure. But it can always be worse as well.

 

Quote of The Week

“Whether your cup is half-full or half-empty, remind yourself there are others without one.”

 

-Matshona Dhliwayo

 

 

The post Better or Worse (#188) appeared first on Friday Forward.

Four for the 4th (#183)

This week’s Friday Forward falls over the July 4th holiday, a time when most people in the U.S. are on vacation, including me.

Although I have never skipped a Friday Forward, I thought that I would honor the spirit of vacation by re-sharing some of the most popular Friday Forwards related to travel and vacation.

Many of the posts below were published when the Friday Forward community was much smaller. For some, it will be the first time reading them. For others, including me, these posts will serve as helpful reminders about the value of travel, getting out of our routines, and family time.

The Rewards of Travel: An extended trip to Australia with my family reminded me of the many personal and business benefits of travel.

18 Summers: This Friday Forward affected a lot of parents. Many wrote to tell me that it inspired them to make similar plans with their family.

RV Reflections: 9 lessons learned about life and business from a 10-day RV trip with my family through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

BS of Busy: Being busy has become somewhat of a status symbol and cultural crutch, but it doesn’t make us happier or more productive.

 

Quote of The Week

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”

 

-Alan Cohen

 

 

The post Four for the 4th (#183) appeared first on Friday Forward.

Gaining Perspective – Part Two (#123)

Last week, I wrote about my family’s recent service trip to Puerto Rico for April break and shared some key learnings from the experience, including the importance of community and getting out of our comfort zone.

I wanted to follow-up this week with a few more thoughts and takeaways.

Giving to Get

When giving, you often gain something unexpected. In my case, while cutting thousands of vegetables for World Central Kitchen, I saw one of the chef’s doing a rock and cut motion that has alluded me for over a decade. After a few lessons and hours of practice, I now have it down and acquired a new life skill. Similarly, my daughter never felt comfortable around knives in the kitchen. She too got some instruction and, by the end, was comfortable cutting anything. She took that confidence with her into our own kitchen at home.

Perspective & Adaptation  

Even before an all-day power outage, many of the traffic lights were not functioning, often at large three-lane intersections. While you would expect this to result in chaos, people cooperated and adapted to keep their driving situation safe. A few cars would go from one side and then let cars from the other side go; everyone was civil and respectful. This situation gave me a better perspective for how we can work together when faced with a challenge. I was also reminded that we tend to adapt to changes faster and better than we believe.

Bursting the Bubble

The best-selling book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance depicts the deepening divide between different cultures and classes in the United States –  particularly from a “city versus country” perspective.

I saw this same dynamic in Puerto Rico. For example, at first glance, you would not know that there had been a devastating Hurricane in downtown San Juan less than a year prior. But travel 30 minutes outside the city and the havoc and destruction that Maria wreaked is pervasive.

When the power went out countrywide, almost every building we could see in San Juan had power thanks to generators. In the rural areas? It was dark.

We also saw the same discrepancy visiting the private children’s hospital downtown and the public hospital outside of the city. The former looked very similar to what I would except to see in Boston, with lots of glass, bright colors and modern infrastructure. The latter felt more third-world, with few windows, metal-barred cribs and heavy doors that kept patients isolated in their rooms.

Our worlds become very small when we stay within our own bubble. Sometimes, even a short drive minutes away can burst that bubble, significantly altering our perceptions and perspectives.

Asking Questions

While volunteering with Lola, I asked her what she needed most besides food and money. Her response was “beds.” She explained that several people in the community did not have a clean bed to sleep on since the storm, including one who recently had a stroke and heart attack.

Our company just so happens to work with a lot of mattress companies. So, upon returning home, we reached out to them. As of right now, we are in motion with a few partners on an initiative to get clean, comfortable beds to those who need them most – and it all started with a question.

The best advice I can give you is to experience something different this year. It could be a trip, a new way to get to work or just changing your routine. You will be surprised by the impact.

If you haven’t yet, I’d also encourage you to read the Esquire article that spotlights the work organizations like World Central Kitchen and people like Lola are doing to bring light and hope back into the lives of Puerto Ricans.

If you missed Part One,  you can read it here.

 

Quote of the Week

“Sometimes the only reason for us to be somewhere else is to see things from a different perspective.”

Leila Summers

The post Gaining Perspective – Part Two (#123) appeared first on Friday Forward.

Travel Rewards (#106)

As I mentioned in last week’s note, I am just returning from an extend trip in Australia with my family. This trip reminded me of the many personal and business benefits of travel. In fact, many founders of well-known companies, including Warby Parker and TOMS shoes, have credited travel as the inspiration behind the launch of their companies.

Acceleration Partners recently created a new travel-focused benefit for our employees which requires staying unplugged from work for at least five days. That means no responding to Slack messages, work emails, phone calls, etc. The goal is for them to be truly immersed in their experience. We also recently helped make a few employee’s travel dreams a reality.

I decided to keep track of the benefits I was experiencing from this trip and three major themes emerged from doing so.

  1. Challenges Comfort Zones

Although most of us know that getting out of our comfort zone is important, many of us struggle to do it regularly. When you travel, you’re pushed out of your comfort zone by default because you’re removed from your regular routine. As such, it becomes easier to try new things which, ultimately, leads to gaining new perspectives.

For example, despite her fears, my daughter scuba dived for the first time at the Great Barrier Reef as she did not want to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She loved it and now, we’re talking about getting certified together.

Similarly, I always said I would never drive on the other side of the road as I thought I would get too overwhelmed and make a critical mistake. Then, at the last minute, we decided to rent a car while in Australia. I was very nervous and cautious at first, but then really enjoyed the experience.

  1. Turns Off Our Autopilot

Ever drive home and have no idea how you got there? Related to the one above, when your routine is altered by travelling, it takes you off autopilot; the use of your conscious mind is called upon so much more.

On this trip, even walking on the right side of the sidewalk wasn’t taken for granted. I couldn’t get from point A to point B without keeping my head up. The same was true for crosswalks and driving. This awareness led to more observation of what was around me and more presence in each activity, something I realized I need to get better at in my daily life.

  1. Questions Our Assumptions

When you have a routine of doing something in a certain way, it’s easy to not question whether there is a better or different way to do it. Many deep-rooted assumptions are tested when travelling.

For example, when I tried to tip several people on this trip, they seemed offended or even refused. My friend from Australia explained to me that service employees are generally compensated fairly; many feel that they should simply do their jobs well without the need to be tipped.  Also, many casual restaurants were set up so that after you ordered your food and beverage at the bar and found a table, it was brought to you. Not only was this efficient, the bill was already paid when you wanted to leave, which was ideal for a family with tired kids.

That model of prepayment has led me to think about some new business ideas and how it could be applied to our existing business. When you see things being done successfully in ways that differ from what you’re accustomed to, it can make you question the status quo and think about both new problems to be solved and new solution to existing problems.

As you kick of 2018, I’d encourage you to make a plan to change your scene or your routine, whether that is through travel, taking a Bucket List trip, or simply changing what you do each day so you can see the world in a different light. Pick a different stop for breakfast/lunch or change how you walk or drive to work. When you do this, you will get off autopilot. At the very least, you’ll experience something new.

Quote of the Week

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”

Mark Twain

(Visited 15 times, 13 visits today)

RV Reflections – Part Deux (#87)

Last week, I shared my initial takeaways from our recent RV trip though Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks. Upon some additional reflection, here are five more insights that I wanted to share.

5. Less is Often More: Living with four other people in 200 square feet of space for 10 days gave me some important perspectives. First, I was reminded that happiness is really not connected to material goods. Having less things (clothes, toys, gadgets, cars, shoes, bags, etc.) can be very liberating, especially as we traveled each day with all our possessions. Along our journey, we met many people who had sold their homes and belongings and were now happily living in their RV. They were fully mobile and enjoying life to the fullest. Although I didn’t bring that many clothes, I could have brought half of what I did and been fine.

6. Constraints Improve Creativity: Having constraints (space, monetary, etc.) forces you to be much more creative in solving problems and finding solutions, rather than just throwing money or resources at a problem. For example, we used duct tape and bungee cords in a myriad of different ways and a highlight of the trip was when we made an ice cream cookie pie in a frying pan over an open fire that will become a family tradition. We also got creative about recycling and waste, which you become aware of when you have to travel with your trash.

7. Over-Scheduling is Over-Rated: Somehow, we have come to associate being busy as being better. We spend our weekends running from activity to activity and have a hard time saying no, something that we often carry over into our vacations. I’m totally guilty of this. I tend to try and pack in way too much in a short amount of time; I over-schedule and then regret it.

With only ten days to enjoy two of the most captivating parts of US, we knew we needed some sort of plan – especially since we had kids with us. And while we scheduled hikes, swims and other fun excursions, some of the best moments of the trip were the unplanned ones. This included the kids’ playing cards on my son’s birthday while looking for bears at sunrise on the side of the road; roasting s’mores; and playing “do you remember” from past vacations. Often, the desire to see and do everything ends up diluting the overall experience.

We have decided to cut back on some activities this fall so that we can dedicate more of our weekends to “family time” instead of “divide and conquer” time.

8. Dare to Delegate: This entire trip would not have been possible had I not coordinated with team members, delegated my responsibilities and created processes and escalation paths that others could follow in my absence. For the very first time, I made the decision to completely walk away from my e-mail while on vacation, something that I was nervous about doing. I even removed my work e-mail from my phone.

Making and acting on the decision to truly un-plug forced me to create long-overdue delegation processes. Was it a perfect process? No. But one should never expect a new process to be. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Now, I know what worked and what didn’t so I can improve the process for next time. One thing that this email-unplugging experiment definitely did was allow me to see the value of permanently changing how I interact with my e-mail going forward.

9. Detox from Digital: Related to #8 above, this was my first real digital detox. As with any detox, I experienced some withdrawal for the first day or two, but it subsided quickly by the third day. It also helped that most of Yellowstone doesn’t have cell phone coverage, so there really wasn’t even an opportunity to cheat; nor did I want to. It was a welcome change.

There is a real fear that our technology has become an addiction and that our brains crave the dopamine in the same away as other stimulants. Without the constant distraction, I was able to read and write more attentively, think more creatively and contemplate strategically about the future of my business and family. I even had several breakthroughs on both fronts. It was also really nice to focus on and engage with my kids, play games and simply enjoy each other’s company.

If you have yet to visit Yellowstone, Grand Tetons or any National Park for that matter, I can’t recommend it enough. I think you’ll find the experience unrivaled, inspiring and truly memorable.

If you do plan on a trip to WY, reach out. I am happy to share our itinerary.

Quote of the Week

“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

Unknown

* Glazer Family Grilled Cookie Recipe: Light a fire and lightly spray a flying pan with Olive oil. Open package of Immaculate Baking Cookie Dough. Fill pan with dough balls, pressing them flat to cover up any seams. Cook for 20-30 minutes about three to six inches away from the flame, making sure outsides aren’t sticking to pan (similar to an omelette) with your spatula. Add a pint of your favorite ice cream to top and remember the handle will be hot. Enjoy!

(Visited 92 times, 85 visits today)

RV Reflections – Part One (#86)

I am just returning from 10 days travelling aboard an RV through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons with my family. It was an off-the-grid trip that recharged my batteries and gave me enjoyable, quality time with my wife and kids. This time off also lead to several breakthrough business ideas and lessons that I thought I would share.

1. Rip-off and Duplicate: “R&D” is a widely-used term in Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Instead of the traditional meaning of Research and Development, it stands for “Rip-off and Duplicate.” The idea is that, rather than trying to figure it all out on your own or reinvent the wheel (which many entrepreneurs are known to do), it’s better to find process and best practices that have proven successful (and unsuccessful) and then modify them to fit your needs and circumstances.

This is exactly what my wife did in planning for our Wyoming trip. She collected itineraries from several friends who had taken the same trip before and learned what they liked and what they regretted doing/not doing. By adapting their experiences for our trip, we saved a lot of time and were able to pack in a lot of wonderful adventures in our 10 days together.

2. Don’t Overlook the Backyard: A few months ago, while on a flight, my daughter met a mother and daughter from Australia who had been travelling the entire world for six months. In her conversations with them, they shared that their favorite place was Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. This is not the first time we’ve heard this. I’m continuously surprised how many families we’ve met from Asia and Europe on this trip who have traveled so far to get here and we had overlooked it in favor of places further away, even though we live so much closer.

In looking forward and seeking the “new,” we often overlook or take for granted the things that are in our own backyard, be it places, people or experiences. For example, we might conduct a nationwide search for a new employee while overlooking an existing team member from within our organization who might be a perfect fit for the role we’re looking to fill.

3. Use your Built-In Camera: The human eye is estimated to have the equivalent of about 480 megapixels, far more than any camera we use. Too often we don’t take advantage of this built-in super HD camera and rely instead on technology to watch key life events. We worry more about preserving the moment than enjoying it, ultimately taking way more videos and pictures than we will ever be able to watch or enjoy.

I’ll admit, I took a lot of videos and pictures during this trip and got my share of “Dad, not another picture” groans. Upon reflection, the most memorable moments of the trip were often when I just enjoyed it. This included our early morning encounter with a herd of Bison crossing the road and witnessing a solar eclipse, experiences that no camera could truly capture the magnificence of.

Deeply engrained memories are created by engaging all our senses and I am going to work on doing a better job of watching events with my own eyes and creating more organic memories.

4. Following the Herd

Sometimes, crowds do know best. On a few poorly marked tourist sites, we decided to follow the crowd and it led us where we needed to go. That said, this should be done with caution. There were times when we saw a bunch of people pulled over on the road with binoculars and glasses. When we asked them what there was to see, they responded that they had pulled over because they saw everyone else had pulled over. Blindly following without asking the right questions can lead you astray.

To be continued next week………….

Quote of the Week

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.”

Seneca

(Visited 80 times, 81 visits today)