Change is Inevitable

Change is one of those things that will forever and always be a constant in life. It will always be there. Sometimes in the form of a blessing. Sometimes in a curse.

But that change is inevitable means we can either embrace it, take it, or change the change.

Parents are special in that they get to see all the changes their children go through from infants, to little children, to young adults, and then adults. I have changed a lot in my 29 years. But in a lot of ways, I am who I always was. Except there have been some times in the past six years, where I wasn’t me.

Change does happen over time, and in my life, I didn’t see it happening. But I was changing. And not in a good way. I lost who I was.

It took hitting rock bottom for me to see it. And once I did, I began to re-embrace me, the real Richard.

In Life As a House, George says:

“You know the great thing, though, is that change can be so constant you don’t even feel the difference until there is one. It can be so slow that you don’t even notice that your life is better or worse, until it is. Or it can just blow you away, make you something different in an instant. It happened to me.”

And it’s true. Change is hard to feel when it happens a little at a time until you get to your destination and you don’t even know who you are and how you got there.

What is my grand ‘ol lesson for you now? Listen.

Listen to yourself. Listen to those around you. And as you listen, reflect:

Is this change for good or worse?

FOCUS: Not-so Broken Hearts!

Selected Life Lesson
A broken heart cannot kill you.
-Heather P’s Life Lesson from Marion, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
The last 400 days of my life have been quite the roller-coaster. Never before did I think I would again be single, get fired, run a marathon and then decide to stay in New York City for another two years! But here I am; probably as happy as I have ever been.

What do I owe this to? Perseverance. Sure, I struggled this past year. I went through a bout of depression. And I just wanted to quit at life sometimes. But we always make it through.

In the moment, I was not the most positive person in the world. (Just ask Steve!) But no matter how broken you are, we, this community is here for you. I love you for the time you give me each week. And trust me, you can make it through any battle.

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FOCUS: Be the Solution!

Selected Life Lesson
If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
-Peggy S’ Life Lesson from the Des Moines, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
Peggy is definitely sharing a true life lesson this week, and it can be true for work and life. I wish I had some profound addition to the lesson, but all I can say it this: Be an asset.

Have you ever sat in a meeting with no direction or end in sight? Waste of time, right?

Or feel like you or your company was not doing enough to be amazing? Waste of energy and resources, right?

That ends now for your life. It’s time to be willing to go after your goals and dreams and be a part of your own solution. What do you want? Tell me.

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What is a Mistake?

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I have been asking myself this question a lot lately. I also used to think that I was a person who wore his heart on his sleeve. It turns out perhaps that has not always been the case. Maybe I was more guarded than I thought. That has to change.

This is scary to me. I know it is scary to others too. But it has to change. Too many mistakes in my life, and in the history of the world, occur because what we are thinking and feeling doesn’t get expressed.

You’re with me right?

It could be a meeting with your boss. You’re fired up about something and you go in with an agenda, and you get scared or nervous – both natural emotions – but you don’t do what you set out to do. You didn’t listen to your heart.

I also wish I had a grand way to not let that happen. When I do figure it out, I will give that advice away for free.

But I found that quote from Winston Churchill and I’m constantly reminding myself of that this past week. We can only worry about the next chain, not the 15th link. It is the now that matters. It’s in the living that we make the life we want. Planning is good, but execution is key.

Where do you want to be in five years? Who the hell cares. Live for today and build the framework for tomorrow. Tomorrow you may find a new passion that drives you completely in a different direction. That is not a mistake. That is an act of personal heroism.

But, for me, I now know how to limit the possibility of a mistake occurring:

Speak Up
When I feel or think something, I now either write it down, or at least verbalize it to someone. When you keep thoughts inside, you don’t really hear them and it is difficult to analyze the emotions behind them.

Along with speaking up, you have to listen to yourself. Sure, if you’re talking with someone about something you should listen to what they say too. But almost more importantly, listen to yourself. Are you excited? Angry? Does it even make rational sense?

The greatest misfortune in life – in my opinion – is not acting on something that you want. If you want to be a writer, write the shit out of that journal! If you want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, start creating great stuff! If you love someone, tell them the next time you see them! Wait, tell them right now!

A mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn from it, and try to re-execute better the next time. It doesn’t mean you change the goal, but try a different tactic. Re-think how you got to that place. There is a way out. There is a solution.

The only mistake is not trying.

If You Explain, People Listen

In my experience working in politics, social media and non-profits, I have had my fair share of customer and client experiences. I am happy to say that most every interaction is marked as positive. But not all. In each situation, there have been negative moments, experiences and learnings. That is simply a part of life and a part of working in the “professional” world.

We see it a lot during campaigns since the Bush/Cheney ticket made it famous in 2004: You’re a flip-flopper. While I loved it then and it worked and was true, there was a deeper moment that was missed by the John Kerry campaign and something that we can all learn from. *foreshadowing to the lesson*

I recently heard a comment, “It’s just not something the clients are going to understand, ever.” I had to laugh at that and asked myself, “Why the hell not?”

In business, if you have a reason, especially something outside of your control, explain it. That is what you are paid to do. Explain what happened, why it is happening and what you are doing about it. But just because something is happening that is negative does not mean you or your company should hide from the truth. My friend Matt Cheuvront just wrote about this very topic.

It is also happening now with the Republican field for president. And it is sad that grown men and women can’t seem to admit their views have changed and evolved. As much as I criticize President Obama, on the issue of marriage equality, he has been clear that his position continues to evolve.

For instance, if ten years ago you supported something and in the ten years since, you have evolved, changed and grown as a person and how you view the world; explain it. Don’t let someone else tell your story. Don’t let a little negativity frame the story. It is just one chapter. Keep writing.

(flickr image via Mike Mertz)

FOCUS: Change!

Selected Life Lesson
Change at it’s worst, is still good.
-LaRi L’s Life Lesson from Kansas City, Missouri

Richard’s Thoughts…
Of course, change just for changes sake can be a bad thing, but I am looking at this from my personal perspective. Take my move to the Big Apple. Seriously, what is a home-grown Iowan doing here in a city of 8 million people?

Changing. That’s what. And it is stressful and tiresome, but also life-changing. See, the subway rides have given me new time to read and reflect and through that time, I have found something I am really excited about: Education. And better yet, how technology can improve education. I am not sure if anything will ever come of it and that can be a little bit scary, but like LaRi’s lesson says, change is still good.

I believe it is important for all of us to change and to grow. In the movie Tommy Boy, one of the characters says while he is trying to get a new business loan, “In business you’re either growing or you’re dying, there ain’t no third direction.” I think it is very similar to life. It’s time to grow!

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In Life. In Love.

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This column bi-weekly column, “From Richard’s Oft Cluttered Desk” appears every third Wednesday.

Leaving has been harder than I thought. I’ve known this day was coming for awhile and I thought I had prepared myself for the emotions I might feel, but I was wrong. I am not sure if anyone can prepare for the emotions, internally and externally, that comes from leaving a place you’ve always called home.

Since 2004, I have lived in four different cities and six different physical places. Each has it’s own memories and experiences. And each was hard to leave in their own way.

I remember back in the fall of 2004, I raced in my car named Teal to college. I couldn’t grow my wings fast enough. And I did. I experienced life and met great friends, a few of which I still talk to to this day. While at college, I lived in the dorms and then two separate apartments. Again, each place was different, but all hold a very special place in my heart.

Who can forget Eric’s terribly smelly hockey equipment in our room that funked up the whole corridor?! Or Brian, Laura and myself walking home at 2 in the morning … well, I don’t quite remember why. I guess we didn’t have friends that night. I remember parties, studying, napping, deep conversations and Euchre. Oh, and Brian and Jarred’s Christmas tree, which, if you’re interested, was a tiny tree-branch in a Mountain Dew can. It was quintessential college.

Then I got a job and the experiences changed but I stayed in my college town with these great people and this great city. I loved life. It was then I met Nathanael through this wonderfully crazy and unpredictable thing we call the Internet.

I’ve been to concerts, seen floods, broken a bone, had a surgery, come out, bought a car, transferred jobs and bought stock. All these great life experiences I will cherish. And as I prepared to leave this place, the Midwest over the last month, I’ve found that it is the experiences, the people, the memories that I don’t want to lose.

Living in the Midwest, I’ve had a car since I was 16. However, going to New York, I made the decision to sell my beloved car. Let me be honest, I almost cried when I handed over the keys. Maya, my silver Pontiac Grand Am GT (still proud of her!) was my third car, but the first purchase I made as an “adult” and the first car I bought with my own money. I loved her and she loved me. Oh, we fought, but in the end, I will always miss her. I know it is just a car, but it is these “things” that have helped create the memories I cherish.

I also know who I would pack up and take with me on this new adventure, but I’m not sure I have the space in our Queens apartment. I said good-bye to some wonderful people two Saturdays ago and by the fourth person, I couldn’t talk. As I walked to my car, Charlie, the rented one, I told my best friend that I wasn’t saying good-bye; I couldn’t handle anymore.

And it’s true. Good-bye sucks. Lloyd Christmas hated them and so do I.

So to everyone that has shared in my life up until today, thank-you! I’m not leaving, so don’t say good-bye. I’m still here. Oh, there are new tenants and new drivers of Maya (and Teal and Shadow), someone else will have my old job, but I know the memories and the love will never leave.

I’ll miss being close to these people, but we’ll always be together. In memories. In life. In love.

FOCUS: Simple Changes! (v3n16)

Selected Life Lesson
When something doesn’t work, stop doing it.
-Don S’ life lesson from Johnston, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
I often live by the mantra that if someone says something is broken, then no matter how well you think something is working, it is indeed, broken. But oftentimes, especially if we have poured our heart and souls into something, we’re reluctant to stop, even if we know deep down it isn’t working.

It’s simply human nature. We don’t like to admit we’re wrong. But today is your chance! You get a freebie! Find something in your life that isn’t working out, or isn’t reaching the full-potential and either make a change or cut it out and make a new plan.

Personally, I have done a better job in the last year of stopping a run when I am tired or hurting. My nature is to just push through, but after enough injuries because of doing that, I have changed. A few weeks ago I was on a run in St. Louis and I stopped half-way through my planned distance because I was on the verge of dehydration. It wasn’t working so I said, ‘alright, I’ll live to run another day.’ You will to. Get to changing and making your life a bit better.

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Orbiting the Giant Hairball

I love when randomly recommended books turn out to be amazing! Then I find out that the book has been one of the favorites amongst leadership folks for 15 years! I will say this before I give my review for the book … you need to read Orbiting the Giant Hairball. There, now if you want to know what the book has in store for you, read on! And on a side note, he self-published his book just like I did with Anything is Possible.

I have read a lot of management and marketing books, but right now this is the best one. It comes from Gordon MacKenzie who spent the majority of his professional life inside the walls of Hallmark here in Kansas City. And when I say “inside the walls” I’m playing a bit with words. To say he worked inside the corporate bureaucracy is a complete fabrication of what he did. For 30 he fought the Pyramid of Management as he calls it. In fact, his last job with Hallmark had a simple job title and no description: Creative Paradox. His job was essentially to encourage any employee to keep their creative juices flowing and to keep their great ideas from dying in the meeting room.

Why You Should Read It:

  • There are countless ideas you can use in your own creative brainstorming sessions.
  • You will walk away energized to re-take your company from the boardroom back to the creative world it began.
  • This book isn’t just about business, it’s about life.

What You Can Expect to Walk Away With:

  • You’ll definitely walk away energized about your life and with some ideas to take back to work.
  • An appreciation of the past but understand why the past means nothing in going forward.
  • You’ll have some tools on how to respond the next time your great idea is about to be shot down.

Let me just ask you this, just as Gordon once asked his old elementary school. “How many of you are artists?” Did you raise your hand? If you did; high-five! If not, when did you stop? We are all artists, but as Gordon posits, somewhere along the line, you were excited about your art, but were waiting for someone to come along and say it is okay to continue. When that doesn’t happen, creativity isn’t a safe place anymore.

This book should be a requirement of anyone in business, and especially anyone in upper management. It may not change anything, but just a slight change in their thinking is all that is needed to retake companies and bring the creative process back into the everyday operations of so many companies that are bogged down in the “business” of business.

FOCUS: Change! (v2n49)

Selected Life Lesson
The only thing that never changes – is change! Everything always changes.
-Jennifer’s life lesson from Anamosa, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
It is said that the only things that are true in life are: Death and Taxes. It’s satirical, but somewhat true. Today is Tax Day (unless you filed an extension of course!). We all complain about having to do taxes each and every year – but why? Are they going to go away? No. But they can change. Better yet, if we didn’t waste so much energy complaining about them, we could spend more time being positive about life and our dreams; which was last week’s lesson.

I suppose we should add something to to the list: Birth! We are all born! So, let’s choose to be positive about that fact. And if last week we focused on remaining positive, let’s take a look at what we can change this week. I am a notorious planner. I plan and plan and plan, because at the end of the day, I want to execute without questions. Sometimes that is a positive and a negative. What I don’t do though is reject change and all its possibilities.

Change is good and needed. We can all change in our lives. We can change our eating habits, our daily schedule, we can read more or join the choir or write a book. We can change! And we do everyday. But this week, spend some time on not only this week’s lesson, but last week’s as well. They go hand in hand. What can you change in your life that will make a positive impact? Good luck!

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