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Archive for June, 2010

Man, I really didn’t expect to think this way as a father.

It’s the last day of school and my wife and I are ecstatic!   Like run from the building pouring your locker contents into the trash as you go ecstatic!

Why?!

Being an active parent in the school community AND working to pay the bills AND trying to be a social human being is damn near impossible.  Maybe it’s us, our community, our school, our work…  but I don’t think so.

Summer gives us a chance to take a break.  Mornings don’t have to start and crank up to 11 by 6:15am.  Everyday doesn’t have to be non-stop from dawn to 9pm.  We don’t have to go to parent meetings, boosters, flings, sales, conferences, clean ups, lock downs or whatever right in the middle of the day.  And, yup, there’s far less drama from the kids… fewer hurt feelings, confusions, messed up schedules, illnesses.

Was it always this way?  (Seriously, someone tell me it was.  I’ll feel less crazed.)

Many of these things are necessary to provide kids a great launch into their own lives.   And we have to pay the bills and socialize.   There’s got to be a better balance though.   I’m definitely not the only dad who has ratio strain right now (more energy going out than is coming back in).

If you’re wondering… yes, I’ve read the 4 hour work week and done the Tony Robbins thing and “do only the most important things”.   It’s just frickin’ hard.   Maybe the lack of tangible progress on community development, creation of value and wealth creation makes the ratio strain seem so much worse.   There’s something to be said for working the land to feed your family and homeschooling…. then again, maybe we’d lose more than we gain in going for a less busy approach.

and with that… SCHOOL’S OUT… and I’m happy.

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The 5th in a 5-Part Series…

To start, the goal is not to be an ‘elite’ athlete…

(5)   Your actions are the consequences of – and an impetus for – action

When a golfer golfs, there is an intention that is enacted by the hitter when the club makes contact with the ball. To the frustration of all levels of golfers, it is not directly related to the trajectory of the ball.  Such is it for a lot of business as well.  Intention only ‘seems’ related to action… but that is an illusion. Cognitive gymnastics are NOT related to the physics involved in action.  Intention is inferred, and the physics of the ball, in this case, is tangibly real.  A history of training practice, trial and error, and mirror neurons interacting with consequences has guided the body to perform. As an elite athlete has said over and over,

It’s not the racquet. It’s not the shoes.  It’s not the ball, the court or the noise.  It’s the mechanics and muscle memory – that’s means ‘me’.”

The result:

The golfer is left with any delta between their inferences and their behavior to rationalize his or her actions.  Good or bad results (both relative terms) contribute to adjustments that confirm or frustrate the golfer’s next set of actions. Don’t make adjustment, don’t whine about the shots you take.  Same for business, isn’t it!

When you want something in business life or in sport, recognize that successive approximations is the mode… the adaptation, the mobility, that exists to allow you to get closer to your goals or escape from a not-so-good conditions. It is NEVER EVER about some binary event. IT IS about hundreds of thousands of intricate, small tacitly known events leading up to some specific execution of an action.  Business success is NEVER EVER about making ‘THE deal.’  IT IS about the millions of tacitly known events that put one in position to execute some specific actions you are focused on.

Isn’t competition great!

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Working the polls is always a great time.  Beyond meeting people and helping get out the vote I really enjoy all the discussions about politics and elections.   One of the discussions that comes up constantly is how we all need to improve how we conduct elections.  Most folks claim we need better technology – electronic voting, online voting, easier systems, voter alerts, better messaging, real time vote counting, digital fingerprints and what not.

These potential improvements may not be improvements at all and are pretty low on the priority list.

Our elections aren’t all that inefficient.   And they aren’t all that hard for the voter.   In fact, the election process is remarkably stable, resistant to complete systematic fraud, can still take place without a power source and takes less than an hour for most voters in a  typical election. Oh, and it is VERY INCLUSIVE to ALL TYPES OF PEOPLE – which is sort of the point.

What does need to get better is voter attitude.   We had a 25% turn out in my precinct and some of the 25% who turned out acted as if voting was some great burden.  Puhlease.

It is not too much to require citizens to show up, ink a ballot and slam it in a box.

Improving the technology isn’t going to magically make people care more.  That’s not a tech thing at all.

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There’s only so many times you can make that claim before people don’t really trust it.

the new iOS and iPhone doesn’t change everything.  the first iPhone didn’t change everything.  It shifted who made money in Silicon Valley and in media, but it didn’t change everything.

and it isn’t doing it again.

The oil spill.  That changed everything.  The iphone, it made Apple money.  9/11, that changed everything.  the new iPhone made Techcrunch write some blog posts.  Barack Obama’s election changed everything.  iPhone 4 is just another release.

This marketing has to get real.  at some point.

Then again, Apple will probably sell 10 million of these with this ridiculous message.

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“So we cheated and we lied
And we tested
And we never failed to fail
It was the easiest thing to do.

You will survive being bested.
Somebody fine
Will come along
Make me forget about loving you.”

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Blame! Blame! Blame! Boy do we love to dish it out in this country (only country I have any insight into, FYI.).

Who screwed up the oil rig? Who fat fingered the computer on the flash crash? Who ruined main street? Who heated up the oceans and melted the glaciers? Who started these wars?

And on a more personal level – who’s to blame for this relationship or that messed up deal or that poor choice or that car accident…

On the flip side, we also like to heap praise on ourselves, our celebs, our CEOs, our saints, our leaders for how much of a difference they made. Without you, where would we be?  Here’s a big bonus just for you.  Here’s the MVP trophy.  Here’s the street cred.

All of this assumes way too much control by humans over the incredibly complicated interconnectedness of the world – in business, sports, relationships, politics.   No doubt specific folks shape and contribute, hurt and hinder, but no single person is due that much credit nor blame.

I don’t know when our culture gained this orientation.   Maybe it was from the beginning… the whole “American Way.”   Where there’s a will, there’s a way.   You can do it!  It’s up to you!

The attitude is maintained by repeated association of blame and praise to the negative and positive happenings in our lives.  The association is inaccurate but is very hard to break.  Perhaps there is some juice in this attitude.  Maybe it helps keep people working more.  Maybe it helps people commit longer than they would with a different view.

Personally I don’t think it’s healthy.  Nor do I really think it leads to bigger business, better policy, or decades of championships.   I think our individual powers don’t extend much beyond keeping ourselves alive.  It takes a tremendously positive mix of variables to help us thrive beyond the basics in life.

Persistence is the key.  Survive long enough for the mix of positive variables to align.

Fear of failure and over indulgence in taking credit are the enemies of persistence.   They are energy wasting red herrings.   So much of persistence is about maintaining your energy (physical ability, concentration, passion, etc. etc.).

Change when it’s too painful.  Help others along the way. and keep going.

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I put Ubuntu 10.04 on a Dell XPS laptop on Friday. All weekend I’ve put it through the paces on general computing, mobility, battery life, software installs, programming tasks, and everything else to test whether I can use it on a daily basis.

Good news! I can!

It might be the very first Linux distro and version I’ve been able to completely use out of the box without doing a single compile of a driver or essential software package.

From WiFi to backlit keyboard to stand by mode to webcam and skype calls to long painful ATI 3d drivers. It all works.

Even better… the darn thing is very “pretty”. I love the integrated mail, chat and social stream into the desktop alerts. I love the new default visual styles. I love the Ubuntu Software Center.

On a very nerdy note I was delighted that the Eclipse package is finally up to the latest for Ubuntu in the officially support repository. I hate when I have to go do something special for a decidedly popular piece of software.

Now I still don’t think the basic PC user should bust out Linux. There’s still enough that CAN go wrong and when it does they will be lost or calling a pro. It pains me to say that, but it’s the same way I feel about phones, cars, TVs… if you’re mainstream, stick to mainstream stuff where the support will be easier and cheaper and more standard.

Linux or not… this is a freaking sweet release. You gotta love great software no matter your brand preference.

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