You can’t get there from here

My dishwasher died this week. It was installed 8.5 years ago and, according to the repairman, dishwashers now last 8 to 12 years. Eight to 12 years?? I’m thinking, Whatever happened to QUALITY!! My lawnmower was made in ’82 and is STILL plugging along!

“Planned obsolescence,” he said, reading my mind. “It’s alive and well.”

So I went online to do some comparison shopping, figuring if I’m going to spend 

Kindness

My son Michael called this morning on his way to work. “Something just happened that I thought you’d enjoy,” he said. “I stopped at Starbucks on my way to work, and when I got to the drive-thru window, the cashier told me the guy ahead of me already paid for my coffee!”

“Wow!” I said. “You’re right. I love it!”

“So I paid for the guy behind ME.” That’s when the cashier told him that he was

Improvise

 

I’m an avid fan of the cable television program Inside the Actors Studio. Each week, James Lipton, dean emeritus of New York’s Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, interviews a famous actor or director. I love the passion with which these artists talk about their craft and the courage with which they tackle their fears and doubt. Yes, they are famous, but they are still mortals wrestling with the same insecurities as the rest of us. And the lessons they offer give a glimpse of the greatness in each of us that lies just beyond our doubt.

When Lipton interviewed Dustin Hoffman, the actor talked about the difficulty of

Airtime

This morning, my partner and I went out for breakfast. At the next table was a man in business attire having coffee with a woman. I was trying to read, but the man’s voice was so loud that I kept getting pulled into his monologue. He was talking about his daughter, a graphic designer living in a small loft in New York City, sleeping on an air mattress, just starting her career, and so on. After 7 or 8 minutes of uninterrupted airtime, he asked the woman if she has any kids.

I couldn’t hear her response. I just knew it was short, for he was soon talking

The way out is in

I recently got an email asking for an update on a coaching client, a woman I’ve worked with for about 3 months. Typically, I submit a list of coaching goals early in an engagement. But just a few days before this request arrived, I realized that the client and I hadn’t finalized any goals. So when the request came, I felt badly for letting this slip through the cracks. I began drafting a response. I tried to explain why the goals weren’t done. It was tough because I couldn’t violate the client’s confidential privilege, and I couldn’t adequately explain without providing details. I’d write and delete, write and delete. Then it hit me: the struggle wasn’t my desire to protect the client; it was my desire to protect me!

I had to laugh at myself. All the time I spent trying to craft a response boiled down to a simple truth:

Good usage, bad usage, and usage

In another life, I was an English literature major, which means I can drive family and friends nuts with my attention to language. Waiting for a client the other day, I was browsing through a waiting room copy of Life’s Little Instruction Book [1991] and was struck by instruction #459: “Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved.” It took me back to  Abracadabra‘s theme  and to a much more distant memory: a

Abracadabra

When Bob took over as head of a large business unit in his organization, he inherited a chief operations officer, Mary Jo. Initially, he was reluctant to keep her. The unit had financial problems, poor morale, a toxic culture, and a lot of people blaming Mary Jo for the problems, so he was watchful. But he realized quickly that she was very good at her job, and decided to hold off taking any action.

Fast forward a couple of years. Bob is moving his unit forward. He’s a systems

What we call feedback rarely is

In order for people to grow, adapt, and perform at their best, they need information about their own performance. One source of information—feedback—has earned a bad reputation. The word first came into the language to describe the self-correcting information built into mechanical systems and electronic circuits. Information was fed back into a system as a means of regulating system performance.

Thermostats, for instance, feed back information in order to maintain a set

Monkey bar beliefs

I went to the gym today for my usual workout.  The gym was closed last week while the owner and personal trainers completely reconfigured it. When I arrived today, it was substantially different. One of the changes was the addition of a set of monkey bars, suspended from the ceiling about 8 feet off the ground.

I kept looking at them during the first half of my workout. As a kid, I’d tried countless times to

WAIT

As a follow-up to the “Quiet” post, this is an acronym I heard years ago. A client reminded me  of it recently. “When I learned the WAIT acronym,” he said, “that was a learning moment burned into my head!”

WAIT stands for Why Am I Talking?