4029 A Man’s Life Doesn’t Consist Of What He Owns

4029 A Man's Life Doesn't Consist Of What He OwnsLuke 12:15 “And he said unto them, Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

People collect all sorts of things. It’s downright freaky what some people collect.

There’s a list of 25 things – strange things – people collect. A guy named Graham Barker started collecting bellybutton lint in 1984. He’s got 3 jar’s of it. Eeewww!

Phil Miller started collecting sugar packets in 1978. Phil is more sane than Michael Lewis. Michael collects moist towelettes.

In Sacramento, California you can visit The Asphalt Museum. I don’t know why anybody would visit it, but it’s there for all the weirdos who want to. But The Asphalt Museum might be more appetizing than the Museum of Burnt Food built by Deborah Henson Conant. One night in the late 80’s she put on a small pot of Apple Cider to heat, but forgot about it when she got a long phone call. The cider became a cinder and her museum was born. Good on her for making something we could all appreciate.

Do you remember all those CD’s that AOL used to send out in the mail? Lydia collects those. She’s got over 2,500 unique AOL diskettes (remember those?) and CD’s. It just thrills me to think of the fun times Lydia must have admiring her collection.

Becky Martz collects banana lapels. She’s got over 7,000 of them and I could not be more proud of her.

http://www.neatorama.com/2008/05/14/neatoramas-guide-to-25-of-the-strangest-collections-on-the-web/I have a collection of fortunes that come from fortune cookies. No, I don’t put any stock in them. I just find them entertaining. And small. Here’s a picture of my entire collection. There are few hundred crammed inside a little shot glass that I got as a souvenir years ago. I don’t drink. Never have had. But somebody gave me this glass from the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York. It holds the fortunes. It’s about at capacity now.

The good thing is my entire collection will fit in my hand. It’s not a large footprint.

Collecting Free Space And Margin

That’s what I want to collect now. Space. Open areas. Enter the movement toward minimalism.

Now it’s no secret that I’m a music fan. I first heard the term “minimalism” associated with music. The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Brian Eno and David Bowie were early proponents of it. According to Fact Magazine, minimalism in music dates back to the 60’s. I was more a Lou Reed fan, but I don’t claim to have enough sophistication to have comprehended minimalism in music. Certainly not at the time. I was just a teenager. Today, I still don’t really comprehend it.

The art world also ventured into it. Pop art was never my cup of tea, but artists would go with some basic colors on canvas. I’m a music guy and a cartoon guy. When it comes to fine art, I’m more of an Andrew Wyeth guy, not a Jackson Pollock fan. I once threatened to put my dog’s feet into some paint and have him walk on a large canvas. I was convinced it would be more artistic than anything Pollock ever came up with.

Robert Hood, a music producer out of Detroit, properly defined minimalism as well as anybody.

Minimalism is not going to stop because it’s a direct reflection of the way the world is going. We’re stripping down and realizing that we need to focus on what’s essential in our lives.”

I can’t really pinpoint when the current minimalism movement took root. You know what I’m talking about. The notion that less is more.

I was in the consumer electronics business for years. Japan was, and largely still is, at the heart of that industry. I remember seeing typical Japanese living quarters when I was just a kid. The spaces were really spartan by American standards. When you realize how many people are crammed into a fairly small space you begin to understand why. Appliances were smaller. Rooms were smaller. Furniture was smaller.

I’m guessing the whole eastern Zen philosophy had something to do with it. My only exposure to Zen was the book, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance. I was in high school when I first read that book.

Enter the Internet and a guy from Guam named Leo Babauta. He started a little website called Zen Habits. Somehow I found him early on and started reading his stuff. As a guy who writes a lot and reads a lot I was happy to find him. And I watched his story unfold as he grew in popularity and eventually found himself moving to San Francisco. I confess I don’t follow him as closely as I once did. It’s sorta like finding a little obscure band and following them everywhere. Then, when they break through and make it big you lose interest. It may not be fair, but so it goes.

I started following Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist, and Joshua and Ryan, The Minimalists. Tons of others have entered the blogosphere, but I’ve not ventured beyond these 3.

I don’t consume everything they do, but I do follow them on social media and I’m in and out of their email newsletters. Randomly I’ll read their blogs. I’d classify myself as a wannabe minimalist. I’m in love with the idea of becoming minimalist. Some might call me a non-practicing minimalist. Non-practicing is an odd idea to me. I’ve had people introduce themselves to me as non-practicing Jews or non-practicing Buddhists.

I’m not sure if we can be defined by things we don’t actually do. If we can, then I’m a non-practicing cartoonist and guitarist. I think I’ll start using that.

Free space and margin are intriguing ideas to me. Probably because they’re so foreign to me.

Is your life filled with stuff? Clutter?

I’m not a hoarder, but I may as well be. Okay, it’s not anywhere near that bad, but some days it feels like it.

I’ve performed a number of business turnarounds in my life. The very first thing I do is walk around and inspect. Then I call a cleaning party where it’s all hands on deck and we clean, sort, organize and throw away all the crap. Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, energizes a team of people more. When the job is completed everybody steps back and looks on the accomplishment with pride. I’m imagining that you know the feeling, even if it’s just cleaning out a closet, a garage or a room.

It’s refreshing. Invigorating. I love the feeling.

I just evidently don’t love it enough to embrace that lifestyle 100% of the time. But I’m leaning in that direction. Hard.

Too Much Stuff

In business I always followed some tried and true systems. When it comes to paperwork I’d review it, then toss it or file it. I only had two ways to file something. I’d file it to archive it or I’d file it to handle it. That means I’d have to actually do something with it.

You’ve likely heard people – mostly professional organizers – encourage people to toss out anything they haven’t looked at, used or worn in the last 6 months. Or the last year.

Me? I’ve got stuff I haven’t looked at in years. Clothes I haven’t been able to fit into for decades. Underwear that hasn’t been replaced in 10 years. Okay, too much information…along with too much stuff.

It’s the foolishness in our head that hinders the process of clearing things out. “I’m liable to need that,” is what my dad would often say. Yeah, right. You know what he’d say that about. A pigtail kinda of a thing I’d be holding, asking him why he still hung onto it. He’s cut off the electrical plug of a cord that had gone bad. So I’d be holding a plug with about 6 inches of wire. That’d be it. A little 6 inch wire with a plug on the end. I mean, what are you gonna do with that…safely do with it? NOTHING. It’s a fire hazard or worse. You’d shock yourself trying to cobble together some electrical item.

But that attitude, “I’m liable to need that,” drives all of us to keep stuff that should have been thrown out long ago.

I’m A Craigslist Wonderland

I’ve probably got $250,000 worth of junk that I could convert into 25 dollars cash money. Reminds me of that line Steve Martin used he first hit the national scene as a comedian. “I’m the author of the recent best seller, as soon as you all go buy one, “How I Turned A Million Dollars In Real Estate Into $25 Cash.”

Okay, I’ve over estimated the worth of the junk. And probably the scope of it, too. But I’ve got way more than I need. Or use.

Don’t you?

Everybody I know complains of the same thing. The only people who don’t are young married couples who buy their first house. Just give ‘em time. They’ll quickly join the rest of us and clutter their home with too much furniture and too much stuff.

I’m looking around the Yellow Studio and here’s the furniture…JUST the furniture inventory:

  1. One floor lamp
  2. One 2-drawer lateral file cabinet
  3. One large CD holder (it’s about 5.5 feet tall, rotates and has 4 sides)
  4. One 3-shelf bookshelf
  5. Three 4-shelf bookshelves
  6. Four 6-shelf (floor to ceiling height) bookshelves
  7. One media cart with pull out keyboard shelf
  8. One letter sized file cabinet with 2 shelves (on casters)
  9. One broadcast table (it’s really a conference table)
  10. Two black chairs
  11. One Herman Miller Mirra chair

Too much? You think? But there’s more. Every bookcase is full. Every CD shelf is, too. So are the filing cabinets. And don’t even get me started on the stuff on top of the filing cabinets or bookshelves. I’ve got stuff piled on top of more stuff.

We’ve got a local bookstore chain called Half Price Books. They’ve got a terrific business model. They’ll give you about a dollar a book, if you’re lucky. Then they’ll price the book at half or one third the list price. I envy their profit margins. But I just can’t bring myself to part with books for a buck a piece. Just looking at them on the shelf inspires me. That’s what I hate about Kindle or digital books. No book spines sitting in a shelf to remind you of what you read, or to inspire a new thought. Oh well, I’m waxing sentimental I guess.

I do have some things that I should list on Craigslist. Speaking of business models. Where would Craigslist be without our over abundance of stuff? I know they list jobs and various other sordid things. Are jobs sordid?

It’s Time To Enact A Plan

Here’s my plan. I’d love to hear yours…especially if you’ve done this before. I’ll warn you though. If you did it after 5 years of marriage and no kids, that don’t count. We’ve been married almost 37 years. We’ve got 2 grown kids. Stuff grows exponentially about every 5 years. So your 5 years is no match for my 37. Next.

Here goes. This is what I’m thinking about doing.

1. A room at a time. Is there a better way? I don’t think so.

Yes, a closet constitutes a room. And that may be the best place to start because it’s essentially a small room.

Even a small closet is like the VW Bug at the circus. Clowns just keep on piling out of the thing. “Man alive. How much more crap is in there?” It’s like there’s always just one more box. And it’s certain to be a box that isn’t labeled and one that hasn’t been opened in years. And you know what that means? You have to go through it. And that takes time as you sort through junk saying, “I’m liable to need that some day.”

No, you’re not. You haven’t needed it for years. And if you ever do need it, you’re not going to remember where to find it. Pitch it.

2. The 3 pile system works. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Keep it. Sell it. Toss it.

What more do you need? Don’t answer that. It’s a rhetorical question. The correct answer  is, “Nothing.”

3.  Look at everything with a VERY critical eye.

You’re not liable to need that some day. If you’ve lived without it for years, or even 6 months — you’ll never miss it.

Honestly, what are the odds you’ll need that item in the next 6 months. There’ve been many times when I looked at something and admitted, “I’m NEVER going to use this.” In years past, I think it was made more difficult because getting rid of your junk required having a yard or garage sale. I’ve worked more of those than I care to remember. I think I’m scared for life from working them as a kid. I hated them then. I hate them more now.

I know some of you love them. I even know people who venture out weekly to buy stuff at yard sales. Listen, I don’t even want my own junk. Why would I pay good money for your junk? I’m stupid sometimes, but I’m smarter than that. Besides, the point of all this is to de-clutter not re-clutter.

4. Donate or toss everything in that pile. Do it sooner. Not later.

I think the first move has to be this pile because the more you look at it, the more you’re going to be tempted to keep stuff. I know that look. I’ve seen it in my dad. I’ve even seen it in the mirror.

You start looking at stuff you’re planning to throw away and you end up taking stuff out of that pile saying, “I think I’ll keep this.” And you keep doing that until the pile is about half the size it was originally.

Speed is your friend. Act fast. If you’re going to take it to Goodwill, pack it up and head over there. Fast.

If you’re going to throw it away, get it to the curb and don’t look back. Do. Not. Look. Back.

And don’t go inside the house looking out the window at the curb wishing you’d kept something in that pile. Consider it gone.

5. Have a selling strategy for the stuff you’re gonna sell.

Why do we want to try to put a price tag on our junk before we ever look at the market value? Because it’s our junk. And our junk is worth way more than your junk.

This is not the time to be fixing prices on stuff. This is simply the time to organize and inventory what we’re going to sell. Here are some things I’m planning to do:

a. Take multiple pictures of the item. 

In case one photo is blurry. Besides, I may want multiple angles of the item. If it’s a serialized item, meaning it probably has higher value if it’s still working (think camera, audio or video gear, computer stuff, etc.) then I’m gonna want the photo to show any damage or scratches, too. People want to know the condition of such items.

b. Get the boxes to electronics (or other items, if you’ve got them).

I keep boxes. Now’s the time to rifle through the boxes to match up the box with the item you’re going to sell. It’s also time to throw away the boxes of items you no longer have or items you’re tossing.

c. Keep accessories with items using plastic food bags.

Put electrical cords and other items (including owner’s manuals) in plastic food bags and keep the bag with the item. Take pictures of all the accessories that go with the main item you’re selling. It’ll help sell it.

d. Keep all the sales items together so you know exactly where they are.

It seems obvious, but I’ve done this exercise before where I took pictures, got things ready and then couldn’t find the item because of all the mix up in the clutter mess. Segregate the stuff that’s “for sale.” Put it in a place all its own. You’ll thank me later.

e. Write descriptions. Be honest.

This isn’t sales copy. Yet. It’s a proper description of the item. Include the model number if you have it. I’ve even included serial numbers of electronics so people will have security knowing I didn’t steal the item. I’ll make note if I’m the original owner or not, too.

Make note of the condition. Does the item work? Is it heavily used? Does it look “like new?”

Write down exactly what the item is, but don’t embellish. This isn’t the time to write down, “Must see.” Just properly describe the item.

f. Go from highest to lowest price (or what you think will be highest to lowest).

You’ve got an idea of the items that will bring you the most money. Start with those items.

It may be furniture items. Or electronics. Whatever it is, select the item you think (that’s important, because you don’t yet know how much you’ll get for anything) will fetch the most money. Then work your way south.

g. Now for the un-fun part, research how much you can get.

Solicit your family to help. Divide and conquer.

Get online and find out how much the item is selling for. Don’t assume your item will sell for $200 if there are 5 of them in your area asking $75.

There’s priced to sell fast, then there’s priced to see how much you can get. That’s up to you. Again, your emotional noise factor can derail you here. Listen, this thing has been stashed away somewhere, unused for a long time. Why do you think you need to hold out for an extra $20? Makes no sense. But that’s your call.

h. Post the stuff for sale and don’t forget to hit up your Facebook friends.

I know many moms who have sold everything they had by posting it on Facebook. This may not work for everybody, but getting the word out among friends can be an easy route to clearing the decks of your “for sale” items.

There is one potential downside. Selling stuff to friends may not be what you want to do. “Hey, remember that car seat you sold me, well, the back strap broke.” Sometimes selling to strangers is a better way to go.

Write your copy, create the ad and get it posted. EBay. Craigslist. Wherever! That’s up to you. And I’m not about to dive into the ways you should protect yourself. Google it. But there are some serious things to consider. For example, do you want to invite people to come to your house or do you want to meet them in a public place with the item? Large items like furniture or appliances may not allow you any option, but you should figure out how you’re going to do it. What phone number do you post? Sort though all that and decide for yourself.

6. Put it all back together and enjoy your new-found space and freedom.

This is the invigorating part for me. I love this part of the process. I even enjoy the vacuuming behind furniture, touch up painting or anything else that is required to make the space feel fresh. It’s like a new start.

You’ve come this far so don’t short cut it. Vacuum those base boards. Paint. Move furniture around for a new, fresh look. Patch little holes where pictures were hanging (if you’re moving them).

Clean. Clean. Clean. From ceiling to floor. I suggest you do it in that order, too because dust from that ceiling fan will fall to the floor. Don’t clean the floor first.

7. I saved the hard part for last. Maintain it!

Somebody else can tell you how to do this because I don’t know any tricks. It’s just discipline. And even with discipline I fall back into habits of shoving items in drawers or closets.

I can tell you one thing I’m gonna try this go round. I’m going to go through drawers and closets every few months instead of waiting for some major overhaul effort. I think I’ll benefit from trying to do a little bit at a time to keep it the way I want it. It’s a pay me now, or pay me later kind of a thing. I’d rather pay a little bit as I go.

These things seemed so important at the time…

As I sort through all the clutter in my life I can’t help but remember how badly I wanted some of these things. Do you ever feel that way?

As I hold a piece of electronics, or clothing, or anything else…I take a moment and think, “I remember when I got this. I remember how badly I wanted it. Now look at it. Now, look at me!”

I have to consciously do this most of the time. And it helps me understand the truthfulness of that scripture in Luke. “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

It’s amazing how quickly things lose value. And how dissatisfied I can become with things I once longed to have.

And as I sit in a cleaned up space free of months of clutter I feel remorse for the money I’ve wasted. I think of the sum total of all the crap I’ve sold and tossed. And it makes me feel foolish. Deservedly so.

Starting this fall and winter…maybe I can lean more toward wisdom and be more responsible. Maybe more of us can understand the truth of all this and improve our lives. You know it’s not this stuff that makes our lives. It’s the people in our lives. I need to get this stuff out of the way so I can be better with the people in my life who matter!


September 13, 2014 Saturday’s Smile

September 13, 2014 Saturday's Smile Ballard Street

September 13, 2014 Saturday's Smile Ballard Street

September 13, 2014 Saturday's Smile Ballard Street

September 13, 2014 Saturday's Smile Ballard Street

4028 My Arrogance Took A Toll On My Friendship

4028 My Arrogance Took A Toll On My FriendshipI was arrogant. Pompous even. And I messed up big time.

I hurt a close friend and it was entirely my fault. Worse yet, I didn’t mean to hurt him. I was honestly concerned.

For sometime I’ve tried to make sense of some observations I had made about my friend. Something was different, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. He’s got mad skills. He performs. I’ll just leave it at that. His performances over the past few years didn’t seem quite up to par with the ridiculously high standards I’d seen in years past. It baffled me.

A guy who was smooth, polished and always on top of his game seemed to struggle at time. It just wasn’t the same and I was perplexed. To be fair, his performances were still very good, but he was special. The performances too frequently weren’t.

I set about to examine lots of the performances. And there it was. Something different. No idea what it was exactly though. The signs were evident. Struggling here. A little bit there. Was he just tired? Beaten down? It happens. To all of us. Even him.

Like most, I try to make sense of the world. It’s a habit that’ll drive a sane man crazy. Once, long ago, I was sane.

I was searching to connect some dots because I cared deeply about this guy. Enter my big problem. Arrogance of heart.

Some people approach life with more rational thought than emotional. I have mostly felt like I could measure both rational thought and emotion, but I’m very heart driven. It helps me empathize with people more than most. It helps me relate to many people. This time, it got me into hot water. A big hot mess.

I went looking for answers because I was worried about my friend. I made inquiry with a joint friend. He had some insights that I lacked and almost instantly I connected some dots. “Yes, that’s it,” I felt. Thinking I had spotted the source of the changes, and believing they weren’t positive, I wrestled with what to do. For days. And nights. I anguished about it, as I am wont to do.

I started writing an email draft. Only because my email program was open and my word processor wasn’t. It got quite long and I wondered how to best approach this. I’m sitting here staring at a few mics and audio gear, why not record a message? Yes. That’s a great idea. That way I can say it the way I want and he’ll hear it the way I intend.

Enter another big problem. I acted on my arrogance of heart. It’s one thing to be arrogant of heart. It’s something worse to act on it. I should have gone into a corner until the mood passed. Or climbed into bed and ducked my head under the covers. It would have been a wiser choice.

But that’s not what I did. If I’m anything, it’s proactive. I don’t tend to sit idly by. I tend to seize the moment. Those who claim living by carpe diem is the way to go haven’t likely lived by that motto as much as I have. I can tell you it often doesn’t work. It’s more likely that the day will not just seize you, but it’ll grab you by the throat, kick you in the groin and leave you on the ground wishing you were dead. But still I try. To seize the day. The moment. Make a difference.

And that’s the arrogance. I see it everywhere. People who claim, and others who actually feel, that they’re world changers! Like Pinocchio giving that motivational speech in the Geico commercial, they want to think they can make a big difference. And they can. But the arrogance is the belief that the big difference can always be positive. Or that it can be widespread. I know, I often suffer from it.

But I’m learning. Well, I’m leaning. Toward wisdom. The problem is leaning and learning require effort, pain and suffering. You don’t think so?

How many skinned knees did you suffer learning to ride a bike?

How many sore finger tips did you suffer learning to play the guitar?

How much suffering did you endure learning calculus?

I didn’t say it couldn’t also be fun or rewarding, but there’s some pain. You best make up your mind you’re going to endure the pain or you’ll never grow.

There’s a different kind of pain though when it’s your idiocy. It’s one thing to learn to ride a bike. It’s something else – far more idiotic – to learn to ride a bike off the roof into a swimming pool.

I recorded an audio of my concerns. I uploaded it to the cloud and sent my friend a short email telling him how much I cared about him. I decided to ride the bike off the roof into the swimming pool. An empty swimming pool.

I didn’t break any bones, but I almost broke my friendship. It didn’t go well. At all.

I spoke from my heart. I was emotional. I was concerned. My friend was moved. He was confident I cared about him. But he didn’t agree with me. And I could tell it hurt him.

So I apologized. And meant it. It’s something carpe diem taught me years ago. I have no trouble making amends. I’m quick to apologize. And I’m not one of those characters who does the same thing, always apologizing for it. No, I’m much smarter than that. I never make the same mistake twice. I’m ingenious in my ability to find brand new ways to mess up. My imagination for creating new problems knows no bounds. I rather crafty like that.

I fell on the sword. Then I fell it again. And again. I felt awful. On many fronts. I felt badly that I observed a decline in performance. It was true, but I still regret it. Yes, I did (and still do) feel my friend’s performances in earlier years trumped more recent ones. I felt badly for connecting dots. Dots that my friend felt didn’t exist. So not only did I draw lines between dots, but I was drawing lines between imaginary dots. See, I told you I was crafty.

So today, I’m sitting in the corner with my dunce cap on hoping you’ll learn from my foolishness. Hoping to help you lean toward wisdom where I failed to. And I’m hoping I’ll learn, too.

So here are my learning points.

1. Just because it’s my opinion doesn’t make it truth.

Yes, I had honestly studied and observed a difference in my friend’s performances. I still stand by that. He doesn’t agree and that doesn’t make me right. He thinks his performances are as good as ever. I think he’s losing confidence (he’s admitted as much) and it shows (he thinks he’s good as masking it, and he is).

My hopes that he would see what I see failed. Proof positive that my opinion is worth exactly what he paid for it. Nothing. He didn’t ask for my insights. I had no right to speak.

Here’s the odd thing. I’m not a person driven to always share my opinion. In fact, I’m only driven to share my opinion with my closest friends. Standing around a conversation circle where people are chiming in about how they feel about a subject has little or no impact on me. I’m not compelled to chime in most of the time. I’m rather content, in those circumstances, to watch and listen to everybody else.

I’m not excusing my arrogance to speak my opinion. There is no excuse. However, I am aware – self aware – that my opinion does sometimes drive me to share concern with close friends.

We mostly believe we’re right when it comes to our opinions. That’s why we have our opinions. I don’t know anybody who holds an opinion because they don’t believe it’s right, or true. But all of us know other people who hold an opinion counter to ours. We think they’re wrong. Not us. Well, we can’t all be right. Sometimes, we have to admit we’re wrong.

Have I changed my mind about my friend’s performance? No. But again, that doesn’t mean my observations are correct. I could be deluded noticing something that isn’t there. I’ve quantified what I’ve observed. I’ve noticed very specific changes. But it’s possible my vision is blurred, my perceptions foggy.

2. Even if I believe I’m right, who am I?

We all know people who will share their opinions with anybody, anywhere, anytime. I’m not that guy. This was a close friend. Somebody I really care about.

I always ask, “Who am I?” But this time I didn’t take the time to answer it properly. I should have spent more time thinking about that, but I didn’t. I let my emotions rule the moment. My heart felt concern drove me to do something I now regret.

Do you feel like you can make a positive difference in any situation? Do you feel like there’s always something you can do? Me, too.

Yet I know – my rational mind understands it clearly – that there are many situations beyond my control or influence. Still I try. It’s the fallacy of that carpe diem.

Maybe it’s my competitive nature. I hate to lose. I’m not talking about a friendly game of volleyball or cards. I’m talking about more important things. I hate losing a sale. A customer. A friend. I don’t surrender easily. Sometimes I don’t leave well enough alone.

It’s the arrogance of thinking I can make a difference, but sometimes I can’t. Does that plague you sometimes? Do you examine things and wonder how you might be able to affect change? Yeah, me, too.

Lesson learned though is that I may not be the right guy for this particular job. If I needed new flooring in my house (and I do in some places), I would never attempt that job because I’m unqualified. Why then do I feel qualified to tackle other problems? Because I sometimes lean away from wisdom instead of toward it. Sometimes, I’m an idiot.

I never do it unless I believe I’m right. But that’s not the point – not for today’s lessons. The real question is, “Who am I?” Who indeed.

Well, in this case I was a close friend. That confused me. It made me feel an obligation to help, to support. And lest you get the wrong idea, I didn’t just criticize my friend. I lifted him up. I did it clearly, too. He even acknowledged that he wasn’t worthy of the confidence I had placed in him. Well, I think he’s wrong. See, there I go again…thinking I’m right and he’s wrong. :D

He admitted some admiration for the performances of some other people, people who are inferior (in my opinion) to his own natural ability. I likened it to him being a real hundred dollar bill, but admiring the qualities of the counterfeit hundred dollar bills in the market. He knows I think he’s a terrific talent. That was entirely my point.

But my point got lost. Instead, I inadvertently cut my friend’s pride. And my own throat.

3. Let it go. Even if I’m right, it’s not always best to dive headlong into a thing.

Patience is a virtue. We’ve all heard it. We know it’s true. Why then do we violate that law? When I find out, I’ll tell you.

All I know now, that I may not have known before, is that I falsely believed patience would allow my friend to continue to experience a slide in performance as he mimicked some things he admired in lesser performers. I felt he would continue to do things that I thought would hurt him. Again, arrogance. And I didn’t really try to let it go. Mostly, because I care about him, or so I said to myself.

I’m not him. I’m not living his life. He’s an adult fully capable of doing his own thing. If he wants to change some things, that’s his business. I should have let it go. I should have told myself that it’s just my opinion and my view isn’t more important than his.

So what if I feel his performances aren’t as sharp as in the past? He feels good about them. I didn’t know that until I created this mess though. I learned a lot after the fact. Too late. And that results in another lesson.

4. Have a conversation that will teach you something. 

This is a big lesson. Rather than dive into what I was seeing, or what I thought I was seeing…I should have just talked with him and asked him how he felt about things. I purposefully avoided that though because I didn’t want to put him on the spot. And I didn’t want him to see my questions as, “You think something is wrong with my performance?” I just didn’t know how to go about it, but I should have figured out a way.

As I have done a postmortem on this debacle I’ve thought about how I could have found out how he felt without doing what I did. I still don’t have an answer. I’m sure one is hiding somewhere. Probably in plain sight.

If you can just engage in meaningful (and that’s the operative word) conversation, do it. I wasn’t smart enough to figure out how so I skipped this step. Don’t let your own stupidity get in your way like I did.

5. It’s not you. It’s me. But sometimes, it really is you.

It’s the famous Seinfeld episode where George gets a dose of his own medicine. A girl breaks up with him using a line that is his signature move, “It’s not you, it’s me!”

True confession. You know why I suck at cold calling? Sure, I hate it, but that’s the real reason. I’m bad at it because I’m too arrogant. I think, “There’s got to be something I can do better.” I assume control where there likely isn’t any.

I’ve long known this about myself. In fact, one time I had an opportunity  to become a Vistage chair. I thought it was something that would be right up my ally. My skillset and experience was ideal, or so I thought. Part of the process, as with many organizations, involves various assessments. Suspecting that cold calling was an important activity, I noticed some questions were designed to flesh out a person’s propensity to do it. Rather than answering what I thought they wanted, I answered honestly. My thought process was pretty clear at the time. If they really want somebody wired for that, then I just need to be true to who I am and not try to be something I’m not.

If I cold call people and get shot down, I’m going to think about how I can do it better the next time. That’s an awful habit for cold calling demons. Great cold callers will learn, but they just go in knowing it’s a numbers game. Rejection doesn’t mean they need to learn anything. They just keep dialing.

I don’t take rejection personally, but I’m such a control freak – and I’m too arrogant to surrender to the thought that there’s NOTHING I can do to affect a better outcome – that I’m going to work harder the next time to find a better way. That’s counter productive in the cold calling world. Great cold callers just make the calls fast and furious. It’s not  work for the faint of heart, or for people wired like me – people who think there’s some way to get a “yes.” I own my performance too much sometimes.

For me, it’s all about relationships. Even in business, I’m not transaction driven. I don’t even involve myself in transaction oriented enterprise. It’s not who I am. That’s why client or customer loyalty is THE thing for me.

That’s what I mean when I say, it really is the other guy sometimes. That’s likely the biggest lesson of it all for me. I’m not in control. It’s not my decision. All I can do is what I can. I’ve got to leave the rest without fretting about it. So this point is really about moving on! Just move on. Forget about it.

6. Arrogance. Control. Ego.

ACE. And I mean that in a bad way. Dom Irerra did a comedy bit a long time ago, “I Don’t Mean That In A Bad Way.” He said it was an Italian disclaimer enabling the person to get away with saying anything.

Well, arrogance, control and ego…I do mean it in a bad way. How could it not be bad? Easy. I’ll give you common synonyms.

Arrogance = Self Confidence

Control = Taking Charge

Ego = Ambition

So I guess they can be good or bad, depending on the context and intention. Today, I’m using them in a context that isn’t good. Don’t ask me to define the line for you ’cause I can’t. At what point does confidence become arrogance? When does taking charge morph into control issues? What prompts ambition to become a problem?

All good questions. Somebody wiser than me has to provide us with the answers.

All I know is that in this particular instance, with my dear friend, I let all 3 of these converge into something dreadful. In my arrogance I thought I could and should provide some clarity and advice. My sense of control led me to believe I could affect some positive change. My ego convinced me I was the person for the job. Three big problems. The trifecta of blithering idiocy.

I never did claim to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I did claim to be a knife. Today, I’m not sure. I’m feeling more like a spoon today. And not just any spoon.

Have you ever had a spoon go into the garbage disposer? I did. Just recently. It made the spoon unserviceable. There are some gashes in the spoon that will tear your lips up if you get that spoon by mistake. I did that yesterday morning when I used it to eat my yogurt. For the umpteenth time I thought, “Why do we continue to wash this thing and put it back in the drawer?” I guess we’re looking at that spoon like I look at myself today. We’re thinking it’s not that bad. And it’s not. Until we pull it out of the drawer and use it.

That’s how my brain is these days. It’s fine. Until I decide to use it. Fool that I am. I didn’t realize I’d slipped into the garbage disposer of life and damaged it.

Time for some sandpaper. Time to smooth out the rough edges. Time to lean harder toward wisdom. And nothing will do that like a big dose of humility. I know. Because today, I’m humbled. And I won’t soon forget it. Hopefully, my friend will.


 Linda Dee posted this on Google + and it properly depicts my performance. I intended to hit that large bag, but I missed. Woefully.

oops ouch! going to leave a mark

August 6, 2014 Saturday’s Smile

August 6, 2014 Saturday's Smile Ballard Street

August 6, 2014 Saturday's Smile Ballard Street2

August 6, 2014 Saturday's Smile Herman

August 6, 2014 Saturday's Smile Herman2