Posts Tagged ‘discipline’

One Time, It Will Be the Last Time

As I left the house from my 20-minute lunch break earlier today I did what I always do when I leave, I kissed my wife and told her I love her.

I reached the office and sat for a moment and thought about that.  It’s a tradition we;ve established.  My wife does it and I do it, every time, without fail.  We never leave without taking a moment for each other.

Everyone tries to avoid thinking about the terrible things that can happen.  Most of the time, because they don’t happen all that often, we succeed.  We can get complacent.  We can get sloppy.  This is the sure path to regret.

I kiss my wife goodbye every time I leave, and I do it because one time it will be the last time.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day, one day it will.  One day I will kiss her goodbye, and it will be Goodbye.  I doubt very much that I will get advance warning.

There’s an apocryphal but wonderful story of Martin Luther.  He was out in a yard, working, when one of his parishioners came by and saw him with his hands in the dirt.  Indignantly, the parishioner said, “Martin, what are you doing?  If you knew that Christ would come tomorrow, what would you be doing right now?”  And Luther looked up at the parishioner and said, “I’d be planting this tree.”

Always be doing what you would be doing.  One time, it will be the last time.  Leave with no regrets.

Introducing Brass Tack

Today’s post is directly inspired by a fantastic post on the Brass Tack blog, run by Tamsen McMahon (@tamadear – and do you not LOVE her name?) and Amber Naslund (@ambercadabra, one of the best handles on Twitter, and one of the smartest people I’ve ever read).  The post is here, and you may not continue reading the below until you have read Tamsen’s post there.

I lived for twelve years in one town down the road. Met a few people. Caused some trouble. Ended up not wanting to stay because of the reaction some had to that trouble. I had a few friends, knew a couple of people, but on the whole, I was nobody.

Then I moved up the road. The first week I was here, I went to the Chamber of Commerce meeting. And instead of sitting at the back, getting my bearings, I sat up front and introduced myself to the Chairman before the meeting. I was invited to stay after. Then to sit on the Board. Then I was the Chairman myself after a couple years. The same thing happened in Rotary, and over and over in other organizations. Shockingly, in just a couple of years I knew everyone in town, where in the other town I knew only a handful of people. The difference was exactly what Tamsen brilliantly outlined in her post.

People drop out of those organizations all the time, and the main reason they give is “it just doesn’t work for me”, which, being that I was in a position to observe, meant “I don’t do anything, so nobody can tell how awesome I am. Guess I’ll quit.” Those of us that have been there, and worked, some of us for years, know that these organizations can be fantastic networking tools, but they respond with a multiple of the force we put into them, after we demonstrate that we’re in it for the long haul. Put in zero, and no multiple will help. Put it huge effort for one project, then disappear, and a similar thing happens.  But stick around and push, and pretty soon the other workers want to know who you are, and what you can do to make their lives better.  That’s business.

Tamsen put this all so well. And do we ever need the reminder.

A To-DON’T List

What’s on your to-don’t list today?

A few weeks back, on Facebook, I asked people for their time-management suggestions.  I got a lot of them, and most of them were outstanding.  One in particular, from my old friend Janice Welker, leaped out at me, and set me thinking ever since.  She said that a to-do list was a chance for her to decide on all those things she was not going to do that day, that she used it to remember who was in control of her life.  I thought that was a great concept.

So, in the spirit of that, here is today’s to-don’t list:

1. Don’t stay in bed because you think nobody will care if you’re just a few minutes late.

2. Don’t assume that Jeanette knows you love her, just because you told her last night.

3. Don’t figure that the kids will weed just as hard if you’re not out there with them.

4. Don’t leave the baby for Jeanette to change because you think your work is too important for you to take a couple minutes.

5. Don’t make your body try to do its work on a glass of water and some vitamins.

6. Don’t call later.  There is no “later”.

7. Don’t figure people are smart enough to know what you need without your asking them.

8. Don’t think you can fit everything in that you have to do without taking a couple minutes to plan.

9. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your job is more important than your family.  It’s just louder.

10. Don’t think you’re ever going to get around to going fishing with your Dad unless you put something on the calendar.

11. Don’t think people that need mortgage lending in Utah are going to call you out of the blue, even if you aren’t doing anything to let them know you’re there.

12. Don’t expect blocks of time to magically open up in your calendar so you can take your wife out for ice cream.

13. Don’t get discouraged because two hours of writing only gets 4.7% of your book written.  It’s 4.7% more than you had before you started.

There’s more, but this post was not on the to-do list this morning, which I had better get back to.  What’s on YOUR to-Don’t list today?

On Independence Day, Ours and Others’

Yesterday was my birthday.  Today is the birthday of my third son, Crispin (see left).  The day after tomorrow is the birthday of my country.  That birthday is called Independence Day, the day we here in the US celebrate grilling and fireworks and not having to go to work for three days, but we know that we should be celebrating the declaring of the independence of the thirteen colonies from the rule of King George III of England.

What did that independence mean, that we should celebrate it?  And what can we learn from it?

Here’s a by-no-means-exhaustive list:

  • Independence meant that the colonies were free to make their own policies with regard to taxation (specifically) and governance.
  • Independence meant that the colonies were able to keep more of their revenue at home, sending less of it overseas.
  • Independence meant that a war would be fought, because the above two things were not going to be granted by the mother country.
  • Independence meant that a large number of people – possibly a majority – would be separated from other people that they loved, not only by distance, which was already true, but by other things like religion and language and nationality.
  • And independence meant that a whole generation of men would need to start thinking about governance not as an academic enterprise, but as a practical matter.  They would need to create a country.  And they would be entirely responsible for their own affairs, sink or swim.

Worth celebrating?  I think so.  But how little use we make of independence, sometimes.

  • We are free to make our own policies for taxation, and we have opted for a confiscatory tax system that is punitively progressive, punishing disproportionately those men and women that create the most wealth.  I say “we”, but I mean “a few of us”, because for the most part, though we are able to determine our governance through the vote, less than half of us routinely bother to exercise that freedom.
  • We are able to keep more of our revenue at home, where it does us more good, but we routinely choose to purchase our goods from faraway places with strange-sounding names, opting for cheap over valuable.  This is not an anti-WalMart rant.  Sometimes WalMart is the best way to go.  But often, we don’t think enough of our independence to give some of it to create independence for others, specifically those local to us, about whom we care a great deal.  We should act like it more than we do.
  • We are still fighting wars.  We hardly ever fight them on our own soil any more, which is problematic.  It costs a lot of money to fight in places like Afghanistan.  It is rarely very successful.  This does not mean that it is unnecessary.  But as with all wars, if we are going to fight them, we ought to make certain there are no better alternatives (which will mean that things are very bad indeed), and that we are prepared to fight them as if they were being fought here, with all of our heart and soul, and a commitment to a very definite and specific outcome.
  • When we declare our independence from someone or something, that independence always separates us from those that are native to our old condition.  This is so hard to endure that all of us are still hostage to things that we know we shouldn’t be.  We are free to be free of things that harm us, or that hold us back.  How often we fail to exercise that freedom!
  • We are only as free as we choose to be.  We can choose to be adults, and have the things that adulthood brings, but if we are to have those things, we must do the hard work of considering our lives and taking responsibility for the choices we make, even when those choices leave us – often through no fault of our own – in a bad situation.  Cowboy up, I believe the phrase is.   We can do that, and we can all do it more often than we do.

Freedom is not just made by political systems.  I lived in a communist country for a couple of years.  Not a “communist” country, as some try to say that this one is, but a truly, no-holds-barred communist country in Eastern Europe, so I know what I’m talking about, a little bit.  There were people there that I met that were free-er than I am.  Freedom is an individual thing, and it comes from inside you, not outside you.

But independence is an external thing as well, and obtaining it increases our liberty, our range of action.  The founders of this country were fighting for independence, not just freedom.  They were successful in obtaining it, and in doing so obtained it for us.  May we, this year, resolve to use that independence to truly be a free people.

A Word on Time Management

I wrote a couple weeks ago about managing time and getting things done.  I have several techniques that I use, with varying levels of success, but of course time still gets away from me and I end up accomplishing less than I otherwise would.  Here’s something from a lawyer friend of mine:

Chris,

Like you, I did not realize how hard it is to "work" for 8 hours a day.  I have to keep track of my time in six minute increments--and they add up fast when I am reading your (entertaining and thought provoking) blog posts or the morning newspaper.  However, it helps me be accountable for how I spend my time each day.  Though obnoxious at times, it is good for me.  I still have a long way to go--it still takes me 10 hours to "work" 8--but I am getting better.

Thanks for keeping me on your email list.  Your writing is always entertaining.  You have a way of explaining life's lessons in a way that connects with a lot of people.

Hope things are well with you and your family.  Please let me know if I can ever do anything to help any of you.

Best,

Brock

Jones Waldo
Brock Worthen
Attorney