In the book and the movie, The Shining, by Stephen King, author Jack Torrance types constantly on his novel and becomes more deranged as time passes. When his wife looks at his manuscript, she is horrified to see page after page after page filled with the same sentence: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
That is a sadly accurate metaphor for a lot of the wasted time, ineffective busy-work and wheel-spinning that keeps many people from moving forward, getting somewhere and achieving their dreams and goals.
Setting goals is no problem for most of us—we have set hundreds of them in our lifetime. Often we have set the same two or three goals hundreds of times. Here at the beginning of 2015 ask yourself some pertinent questions about your life, work, finances, health and fitness:
1.) If I could wave a magic wand and make one or more aspects of my life different, what would those things be?
2.) What are the things that I could achieve on my own, no magic needed and humanly possible, even though it might be difficult–perhaps very, very difficult?
3.) What do I need to do EVERY DAY, instead of, or in addition to, what I am now doing, if I want to accomplish each of those things?
4.) Based on my history, what is likely to keep me from sticking to it until my goals, hopes or wishes are accomplished? Is it humanly possible for me to overcome those obstacles?
5.) Considering each of my goals: If I do achieve them, is it probable that I’ll decide it wasn’t worth the effort of sticking to it? How will I feel?
6.) Do I have what it takes in courage, conviction and commitment to do what it takes, every day, to move forward and finally be able to move past this goal line?
You may have other ways of motivating yourself or keeping on track for achieving goals, but those six questions can add to your spirit of resolution for 2015. Stop typing the same old things and fill this year’s pages with your accomplishments!
Send me an email to let me know how you’re doing with your magical wishes AKA goals. Or, use the contact form. I don’t publish personal messages and will be happy to hear from you.
Dark waters and a winding trail. Photo by Casey McCorison
If you are suffering from anything–pain, health problems, emotional turmoil, addictions or disorders of any kind or personal or work problems that keep you awake and feeling out of control–you may have found that wishing for relief can become a constant background noise that is almost as distracting as the suffering. Today I read two brief articles written by the same person, Dr. Christine Lasich, which provided some new perspectives for me–and which I realized can be applied to other situations as well.
Dr. Lasich specializes in physical therapy and rehabilitation and has a spinal-pain practice in California. For the last couple of years I have read her Healing Journal (she posts infrequently, but I re-read the old posts). I believe she is sincerely committed to trying to help those who have painful conditions.
Today, I read an article she wrote for the Health Central Site, Five Principles for Treating Both Pain and Addiction. As I read it I was impressed with her concise, logical steps for dealing with a complex problem. They may be well-known from other literature on the topic, but I liked her way of expressing them.
What is the painful part of your life? As I read and thought about those five steps, I thought they could be applied to all of the things that can cause us pain, suffering, unhappiness and discomfort:
*Physical pain and health problems of any kind–both short term and those that are not ever going away.
*Food and drink addictions and disorders: sugar, diet and regular soda, caffeine, specific foods or just quantities of food in general, yo-yo dieting, food obsessions, etc.
*Dependencies and disorders: relationships, a “broken heart” and “heartache”, a specific person who is a negative element, family relationships, money and debt, excessive behaviors, destructive habits and chronic problems that you may have struggled with forever. All the things that you wish were better in your life.
The Five Principles For Treating Both Pain and Addiction are, in brief:
1. Provide Chemical Stability.
2. Motivate for Change.
3. Relieve Suffering
4. Infuse Resiliency
5. Improve Health
Read Dr. Lasich’s very short article to understand how those are applied. Then, do some sit-down thinking to adapt the Five Principles to your situation. I think you will find that the process of reading the article and adapting the principles can start to provide some relief from the pain–any kind of pain–you are feeling. (It’s part of infusing resiliency!) Contact me, if you wish, to let me know how you were able to apply the concepts. I don’t publish personal notes and am happy to hear from anyone who wants to share some thoughts.
Stand out from the herd. (Photo by Casey McCorison, near Jackson Hole, Wyoming,)
Preparing for a Promotional Interview: It’s Never Too Soon to Start
If you want to be promoted to a higher organizational level or move into a specific area of work, start preparing for it long before management announces an opening. Rather than preparing just for the interview, prepare for the position and the work, then let that preparation show in your interview or other testing.
It is true that some in-house interviews are not optimally objective and do not identify the person best suited for the role or task. However, often that accusation is a way to justify not getting the position. One thing is for sure; If being selected based on an interview is the only way to move ahead, you will simply have to hope that the interviewer (s) and interview questions, give you chances to show your best self—then, take advantage of the opportunities.
The first step is to review your career and what you have done in your current work assignment and see how you have demonstrated your readiness for the position you seek. That will help you prepare for two questions that probably will not be spoken, but if provided anyway, will help you stand out from the others:
1. “So what?” This is what interviewers are thinking when you give a list of your career accomplishments. You know you have worked hard and have done several significant things, but the interviewers may need to be told how those things link to the position you seek.
As you discuss the most significant things you have done, link it to the position you seek: “That project taught me a lot about scheduling and time management. I can apply it if I’m chosen for the Team Leader position, by helping team members develop their own skills in that area and by being more effective than I would have been without the project experiences.” One candidate was disarmingly honest and said, several times, “Here is how I’ll use that, if I’m promoted.” There was no question in the minds of the interviewers that he had given it some thought.
2. “Why should we believe you?” This is essentially, “Can you prove it?” It is what interviewers are thinking when you say you will be effective in the new work or that you are a great team player or will be committed to the goals of the manager, or whatever you say you will do and be. Can you prove it by what you have done in your current work? One anecdote to show how you work and what you can be depended upon to do, is worth a dozen unsubstantiated promises.
After the most significant things you promise or state, see if you can provide an example. “Yes, I’m very committed to our company’s values in that area. For example………….” Or, “I know I can adjust to the new software, because….”
Be preparing, all the time. The answers to both of those unspoken questions have to be in-progress all the time–almost from the day you are hired. You can cram facts and knowledge but you cannot cram experiences, accomplishments, reputation and proven skills–those are developed over time.
Not all promotional processes involve an interview, some involve a review of your work or a review of a package you prepare about your work. Many employees discover they do not have as much to offer as they thought they did. They waited until an opening was announced to start preparing to get promoted. If you genuinely have been interested in the job or promotion, you will have done something in your current work that shows it. Find that something, then look for opportunities to let the interviewers know about it. If they never give you the opportunity, be prepared with a closing statement that covers some of it. When they ask, “Do you have anything else you would like to add?,” be ready!
1964: Goldwater, Ann Margaret, The Beatles, Annette, Bill Holden and Jackie Kennedy
Just about fifty years ago, this was a version of People magazine.
*I wonder how far Annette thought she would go after she was engaged? And did she?
*Why was William Holden stalked by death? (He was a favorite actor of mine, who many nowadays don’t know about, unless they watch great old movies.)
*Would you vote for or against Goldwater? (I was a member of Youth for Goldwater.)
*What about the Beatles? In our high school talent show, some of the boys wore mops on their heads and sang, “She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.” Their hair doesn’t look all that long, does it?
*There is the obligatory sexy cover photo–tame by today’s standards. I can’t picture Ann Margaret twerking.
*And, of course, the reference at the top, to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy leaving Jacqueline a widow with two children and an uncertain future. Jackie Kennedy had a lot to deal with in her life and I never fully understood that until I read more about her in later years.
That’s a week in 1964. Save a magazine or print out an Internet article this week and your children will enjoy it in 2064.
That Fresh, New Uniform Feeling
In 1972 or so, women officers on the Denver Police Department were given navy blue shirts to replace the white Ship and Shore blouses we had worn with our skirts prior to that time. In a few months, the skirts changed to pants (men’s pants, which didn’t fit very well, but which worked until we got women’s style pants later.)
You can almost see me saying, “Take my picture!” I was thrilled to have that crisp, new shirt and could hardly wait to get to work. Most of us have had that feeling about work, at some point. Sadly, it goes away quickly for many people and occasionally is hard to dredge up, even for the most motivated. Here is a way to freshen your thinking:
Tomorrow, pretend it is your first day on your job. Wake up excited to start, just as you did on whatever date you started. Get to work and organize your desk or supplies or locker or whatever you work with. Look around at your work space as though you are new and getting things set up, just-so. Think about your salary and having steady employment and how much better that is than looking through the Employment Ads.
Whatever benefits there are about your workplace, notice them and appreciate them fully. Coffee machines, vending machines, kitchenettes, clean bathrooms, supplies, heating and air conditioning, are relatively new features in workplaces. Not all office workers have them and no one who labors outside has those niceties.
Of course, that won’t make the problematic coworker become pleasant and it doesn’t change some of the stressful situations, but it can help you think about the alternatives.
The bottom line is this: Now and then, metaphorically, put on your fresh, new, navy blue shirt and be happy to have a place to go to work.
From www.remember.com– an interesting website.
Hackneyed: A phrase or action that is used so many times it becomes commonplace and dull.
My mother, Creola Kincaid Lewis, told me that her parents ordered her to stop making Egyptian-dancer hand gestures after she had done it dozens of times in one evening. Those hand gestures were popular with teenaged girls that year–1924–because King Tut’s tomb with all its well-persevered artifacts had been discovered and was a cultural phenomenon.
My grandfather, Henry Kincaid, said, “Sis, a few times was funny, but now you’re overdoing it, so stop it.” We could all use that advice.
I won’t give them further attention by listing the popular once-funny-or-cute-or significant-but-now-overdone and hackneyed phrases or actions that distract from communications or reduce it to a trite level. I will just challenge you to notice yourself and vow to reduce the number of times you do, say or write that thing. Then, replace it with something more sincere, personal or original.
Most of us also have figures of speech, comments and opinions that we have said, using the same words every time, hundreds of times, to the point of dullness. Someone I know says, in almost every conversation, “I was a multi-tasker before multi-tasking was a word.” The first time she said it, it was an interesting addition to her comments. After hearing her say it hundreds of times, Henry Kincaid would tell her to stop it.
You can test yourself in several ways:
*What phrases do you use repeatedly that you think are particularly impressive, insightful, funny or current?
*What are the ways you describe yourself or others that immediately come to mind when you’re talking?
*What are the phrases you have read on the Internet or heard on a talk-show or TV or in a movie, that you have adopted for daily use?
Listen to yourself and be on the lookout for overused, hackneyed expressions. Even though you may think it is no worries if you don’t, those who communicate with you regularly will think you are awesome if you do. I’ll do a little Egyptian-dancer gesture to celebrate!
Another Email Etiquette Tip: Make your email subject line fit your message.
It is convenient to select “reply” to an email from someone, as a way to save the time of entering an address–and sometimes that is appropriate for a quick turn-around email. However, it is frustrating to be searching for a phone number, schedule or some other specific thing and find only twenty subject lines that say, “Re: Project Plans.” It is also disconcerting to get a message about setting up a meeting, but the subject line pertains to a message you sent two years ago, and says, “Re: Sad news about Fred Benson”.
A chain of email messages on about the same topic: If each email is part of a chain of messages on one topic, customize each of them in some way, so the sender and you can find it later.
First message subject line: SLR Project Plans
Re: SLR Project Plans-McCorison contact info/schedule
Re: SLR Project Plans-Timeline
Re: SLR Project Plans-Change in email address for Tina Lewis
Re: SLR Project Plans-Immediate response needed: August update/SLR photo/name survey
The idea is to give recipients a way to save and recover all of the email messages related to the SLR Project, but also to find specific information within that group. Think of how many emails you would have to open if those messages all just said, “Re: SLR Project Plans” and you only wanted to know the timeline for the project.
A message about a completely different subject: If you look up a message from John and hit reply to send him an unrelated message, change the subject line. It not only is confusing to see a subject line about a topic you do not recall or that you are not aware of as a current issue, it looks as though you don’t care enough about the message or the recipient to personalize it.
First message: Sad news about Fred Benson
Second message, originally “Re: Sad news about Fred Benson”: Let’s get together for lunch
Forwarded messages: Many people hit delete when they see “FW:” in personal mail. In business settings they may not open it, thinking it is just FYI. Rather than using only the forwarded subject line, personalize it a bit as well, unless the person receiving it is expecting it and knows why they are getting it.
First message: Want your input–FW: SLR Project Plans
Second message: Your ideas? (Fwd msg. from CM to me about SLR Project Plans)
Yes, you do have enough time to make the email subject line fit the message. The email subject line is the first thing people look for, after seeing your name in their In-Box. Make it something that not only lets your recipient know what the email is about, but that also allows them to find it later. Do not give people a negative feeling about your message before they have even read it.
May 20th, 2015 Update: Good news! I found Mr. Featherstone! I feel much better!
November 10, 2014 Update: Many people have asked me, “Did Mr. Featherstone contact you again?” Sadly, no he did not.
The reminder still applies: Double and triple check what you put into those little fill-in-the-blank areas on Internet forms. Last week I realized I had written my name as “Tuba Rowe”. It can happen to all of us!
It is very frustrating to contact someone to ask for helpful material and not hear back about it. It is equally frustrating when the person receiving the request sends the material, but it is returned because of an inadvertent error in the provided email address. And I feel badly to think that a very gracious sounding man named Mr. Featherstone will feel that I’ve ignored him.
I have been trying to locate a person with the last name of Featherstone for the last three hours, to no avail. He wrote a very nice note and I want to send him the material, doggone it! LinkedIn, White Pages, search engines, Facebook, repeat and repeat again, but still nothing for the area where I am sure he lives. Finally, I decided to use this headline, in the hopes he wonders why I did not respond and decides to write again. Maybe he will see this and know I really did try!
Make sure you double check your email address any time you fill in a form. It is very easy to transpose letters, show a former email provider or make some other error, especially since website forms are often cramped and a bit confusing. Right now, I am going to try some variations on the email address I have been using, to see if I can figure it out.
You may be wondering what the photo in the article has to do with anything. Mostly I thought it was interesting to see the innovations of 1966. (Although why you would wear a sweater and white pants to watch TV in the sand, I don’t know.) Also, to remind us that technological advances usually are wonderful, but they can also cause a lot of frustration. If you are reading this, Mr. Featherstone, contact me again! Thanks!
Your Police Academy Training is the Start of a Great Career
If you or someone you know is planning on attending a law enforcement training academy in a college or technical school or a police or sheriff’s department, contact me, using the contact tab or the comments under this post (I’ll keep it private), and ask for a free e-book: Developing Your Career From Day One Until It is Done: Success In Your Police Academy. One day soon it will be a regular published book, but for right now I’m giving it away for free to help recruits, trainees and cadets feel more comfortable about their academy training and to help them be the Outstanding Recruit they want to be. I won’t put their email addresses on any list and won’t bother them again–it’s risk-free!
As you can know by looking at my bio information, I taught at the Denver Police Academy, served there as a lieutenant, then later as the commander when I was a captain. I teach instructional methodologies classes for academy instructors around the country and review lesson plans and test items for several academies. I wrote a book on promotional assessment center preparation and it has become a bible for thousands of officers. The bottom line is that I do know how academies work and how trainees can be more successful.
I also have seen many recruits come and go and never be the outstanding trainee or officer they wanted to be. I would like to prevent that in those who have the commitment and capabilities of being more and doing more.
Contact me–double check for accuracy on the email address–and I will send the material. I would like to know a little about the person who is asking for it and what their law enforcement goals are, but only what the person is comfortable sharing. It will be an invaluable and unique resource–and there is nothing else like it available anywhere else.
Police service is public service and law enforcement agencies need ethical, knowledgeable, skillful, fit and effective officers. The law enforcement training academy is where it starts!
I recently attended a high school class reunion. If you must know, it was my 50th year high school reunion, for Arkansas City, Kansas Senior High. I graduated when I was 5 or 6.
My high school friend, Sara Bly, worked like crazy to compile a DVD of video and PowerPoint, complete with music and comprised of old photos, scans of newspaper articles and other memorabilia. I helped by nagging her about it and making copies of her final product. It’s truly a masterpiece and I encourage you to start saving items now, no matter what your age, so your high school class can do something similar. (Even if right now you don’t think you care.)
As I looked over the photos, I realized, more than ever before, how many classmates have passed away. Their stories stopped right after high school or years later. Some were killed in Viet Nam, some died in car accidents, many fought cancer bravely until the end, heart failure took some and several ended their own lives.
The girl on the left is Tina Springgate, a funny and very intelligent girl and woman, who died from cancer shortly after our 30th reunion. She and I were on the Debate Team and she also was on the staff of the school paper,The Arklight. The last time I saw Tina she told me, “You’ll get to be the only ‘Tina’ before long.”
The girl on the right is Leslie Neal, my co-Feature Editor on the paper. We also co-wrote a column called, “Gleanings from the Grapevine”, in which we made what we thought were hysterically witty comments about various things around school, especially about the teachers. Leslie committed suicide when she was in her early twenties and I’ve never known why. I found out later that she was living in Denver at the time and I’ve wondered if I could have said or done something to make a difference–probably not, but I would have liked to try.
I’m in the middle, smiling with the other two–none of us having any idea what life would hold or how soon it would be over for two of us three.
I’ve included the photo of Tina Springgate, Leslie and me, not to be sad or morose about it, but to say that photos are still the best way to capture our memories. Even a written journal benefits from a photo or two of the author and others. However, take them in a way that gives people a chance to look their best and to smile for the camera, rather than the candid, often embarrassing photos you might take with your phone/camera when no one is prepared. A few candid shots are OK, but most women want to be ready to be photographed and both men and women look better when they are sitting or standing still, have their mouths closed and are looking moderately happy.
Tell people a day ahead of time that the next day is photo day for those who agree. Don’t force someone to get their picture taken, just let them see that you’re not making a huge production out of it. If your supervisor or manager is available, have a photo-op so people can get pictures taken with him or her. Some people will decline, but almost everyone who gets his or her photo taken with the boss, will be glad about it later.
In the 1970’s, Paul Anka sang the Nichols/Lane song that became a Kodak standard, “The Times of Your Life”. It’s easy for us to think of saving photos of family members and close friends, when we consider how quickly time passes. Think also of those you work with or meet with at work. Even the ones who irritate you, frustrate you or make you dislike them strongly, will one day–maybe sooner than you think–bring back worthwhile memories of that time of your life.