11.23.2020

Thanksgiving 2020 in Perspective

Here we are headed into another major holiday still under the “wet blanket feeling” of the pandemic. This holiday, and Christmas soon to follow, will certainly look and feel different.    We may not be able spend time with loved ones like normal, nor will we have the excitement of public gatherings that we enjoy during the holiday season. We might be  lonely or feeling depressed. Possibly we are frustrated and overwhelmed. Whatever the case, it will be a different and potentially challenging holiday season.

As tough as things may seem, let’s keep things in perspective.  We are still blessed.   If you woke up this morning in good health with a roof over your head, you should be thankful.  If you and your family know you will  have three meals today, be grateful.  If you have the ability to see and read this message, don’t take that for granted.  If you have family and friends who love you, even though you might not get to hug them this Thursday, you are blessed.  If you have all of these things you are in a very small percentage of the world from a wealth and comfort perspective.  We may not get the holidays that we are used to, but we are blessed and should remain grateful for the things we have. Consider the real meaning of Thanksgiving and maintain perspective.  Happy Thanksgiving

11.16.2020

Sixteen Years of the MMM!

The Monday Morning Minute was born sixteen years ago this week.  It began as an encouraging internal communication at Fleetwood Retail Corp. Since then it has grown into a widely distributed blog with the goal of starting your week with a challenging or encouraging thought.  People need a jump start on Monday morning to get back into work mode.  We all need a reminder about our leadership roles as we begin each week.  More importantly, we must continuously learn and grow.

 Some of you have been along for the ride from the very beginning, others have joined more recently.  Many of you I know, some of you I do not.  Whatever the case, I hope you get a little something from my shared thoughts each Monday morning. 

11.09.2020

Vision

My son grew up playing in-line roller hockey.  When he was young, and I was helping coach his team, it was hard to get kids to understand that by the time they got to the puck it will have moved.  The key is to skate to where the puck is going to be!

Have Vision.  Anticipate!  Vision is a key to leadership.  Good leaders can see and anticipate where the puck is headed.  Having vision means seeing the big picture, anticipating the future, planning ahead.  Vision is not easy; consider some of these failures to anticipate the future….

 “Groups with Guitars are on their way out.”

                    Decca Records, turning down the Beatles, 1962

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.”

                    Ken Olson, President Digital Corporation 1977

“I don’t need bodyguards.”

                    Jimmy Hoffa – One month before his disappearance

We may not miss out on foresight of such magnitude as these examples, but we need to try and see around the corner.  On a daily basis try to anticipate problems, foresee the implication of choices, and think ahead about the impact of changes in the world around you. 

 Have vision…Skate to where the puck is going to be.

11.02.2020

It’s still okay…

This MMM is a fresh repeat from just March of this year. I have found myself still in need of the reminder that it is okay to not be okay. When I first wrote this in March, I had no idea that I might feel the same way at the first of November, yet here we are eight months later and still in the middle of a pandemic.  Take the time to remind yourself and your love ones of the challenging times that we are facing, and that the frustration and overwhelming feelings we may have are acceptable and maybe even necessary to help us get through these times.


It’s okay…

It is okay to not be okay.  These are crazy challenging times.  You would be unique if you were perfectly fine.  Our lives, families, businesses and finances are all being impacted by this virus.  We are in uncharted territory and none of us really know how we are supposed to handle this.  We need to instill hope for our families, employees and organizations.  We know it is important to continue to lead.  We will get through this! 

It is okay to not be okay.  Don’t fret if you feel worried.  Who isn’t somewhat depressed? I know I feel overwhelmed.  Business owners are facing tough decisions. Uncertainty is prevalent and none of this is comfortable.  It is okay to be frustrated, even angry, by these feelings.  You have permission to breakdown occasionally.  A good cry might be a healthy thing.  However, you can’t let it overtake you.  Yes, we need to be strong for our kids, but we don’t have to be strong 100% of the time.  Crawling in a deep dark hole is not an option.  We need to be realistic without constantly succumbing to the negativity.  Acknowledge your feelings; respect the challenge you are facing and get back at it.  Don’t let the negativity overwhelm you.


It is okay to not be okay.

10.26.2020

Life is a journey

Have you ever heard the saying, "Life is a journey not a destination"?  It is a great concept to keep in mind every day.  All too often we want things to be all finished, resolved, and complete.  More often the events of our lives, including our business lives, are a part of ongoing change that makes us who we are and leads us where we are going.   It is in fact a journey, not a destination.  Sometimes we need to be reminded to enjoy the journey!

"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon—instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today."

-       Dale Carnegie

10.19.2020

Why do we wait?

Why do we wait until people grow old, or even die, before acknowledging and praising them?  Why do we let those who have positively impacted our lives walk around without knowing what they mean to us?  What don’t we tell people when they play a role in making us who we are?  We may not all get that chance, and we should not wait.  Obituaries are a great place for tributes, but they come too late.  No time is better than the present to share with others how they have impacted your life. 

Thank people who have given you good advice.  Praise those who teach you life lessons.  Tell people you appreciate their honesty and integrity.   Let friends and family know what makes them special to you.  Share your appreciation with people who listen and mentor you.  Verbalize your love for others.  Don’t wait another day…let people know the impact that they have had on your life. 

10.12.2020

Friends

Last week we talked about the importance of friends.  We need support and advice from friends.  The best of friends also challenge us.  Truly great friends will encourage us to change course.  They point out our poor decisions.  They care about us becoming better versions of ourselves.  Do you have friends who will be honest with you?  When you veer off course will they tell you?  We want and need friendships like this. 

 

Are you this type of a friend?  Like we said last week, friendship is a two-way street.  That means we have a responsibility to be honest with friends.  We owe it to them to openly communicate and encourage them to grow.  Certainly, they need our support.  Sometimes that support needs to take the form of a challenging conversation.

 

Have great friends and a be a great friend…    

10.05.2020

Friends

People are not meant to live alone. Friends and relationships are a huge part of our lives.  We may want to think we are independent and can live without those around us, but we all know that we cannot.  These times of social distancing and limited community events can be challenging for friendships, but we need one another now more than ever.  We need support and advice from friends.  We need the sharing of life with others.

Friendship is a two-way street.  It is as much about being a friend to someone as it is about having a friend.  Some friends come and go.  Others become fixtures in our lives for a lifetime.  Certain friends are placed in our lives at specific times for specific needs we may have at the time.   My life has been blessed with wonderful friendships.  Many of those have outlasted job and family changes over many years.  I can only hope to have been a friend to others in the way described by this insightful young girl.

 

True friends are the ones who see the pain in your eyes,
when everybody else is fooled by your smile.
--Kimmy Robbins, (14 years old)

9.28.2020

Attitude

I have written before, as many have, about the importance of attitude.  Most such writings focus on the power of a positive mental attitude.  Much credit is given to the strength of a proper attitude.  The power of positive thinking is a popular concept and a valid one.  What about the power of a bad attitude?  What about the impact of a negative attitude?  What is the cost of having the wrong mental attitude?  Consider the thoughts of the third President of the United States.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude
from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the
man with the wrong mental attitude.”

-Thomas Jefferson


9.21.2020

Critical

Have you ever described someone as being “too critical” or “always criticizing”?  People can be very critical.  It is almost second nature to many.  Criticizing is considerably easier than being positive and participating in a solution.  People should be better for having been around you. It is especially easy to criticize via email or social media. The challenge is to not just consider when others are being too critical but to monitor our own tendencies as well.  Don’t automatically be judgmental or critical.  Seek to provide positive feedback and constructive suggestions.  Individuals who are always critical are difficult to be around and can be de-motivating.  Strive to always be positive and participate in a constructive manner in your work life as well as your home life.

 Have a blessed week…

9.14.2020

Wisdom

Wisdom is a favorite topic of the MMM.  I find myself constantly seeking wisdom as well as searching out those whom I think possess wisdom.  My search for wisdom is a constant on my prayer list.  Whatever wisdom really is, I think we all need it.  The world would be a better place if people exercised a bit of wisdom before taking action.  Yet it is not always that simple.  Wisdom often takes more time and patience than we naturally possess.  It can also require an open mindedness that may make us uncomfortable.  I have written before about wisdom and our ongoing pursuit of it.  I have also written about how impatient we are as humans.  Consider the following which addresses both points…

Wisdom is not proven by argument or debate.  Wisdom is proven over time.  Some people adamantly proclaim that their opinion is best.  Regardless of how convincingly these people defend their viewpoint, time is the best judge of their wisdom.  The result of a practice proves its validity, not how loudly it is promoted. 1

This is so true in our country right now.

Have a blessed week.

 1 Taken from: Experiencing God Day-By-Day, Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

9.07.2020

Labor Day 2020

Much like Memorial Day and July 4th before it, this Labor Day holiday feels very different.  There is not the same excitement about the start of football season, or the fun associated with back to school.  Whatever BBQ gatherings do take place this weekend will likely be far fewer people. The activities we had hoped would return to normal by now have not.  The wet blanket of COVID-19 continues to be a constant in our lives.  But the reason for the holiday remains the same.  This great country was built on the backs of laborers, hardworking laborers.

From Wikipedia:  Labor Day is a federal holiday in the United States celebrated on the first Monday in September to honor and recognize the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States.  It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend.

A lot of hard work went into the comforts that we will all likely enjoy this weekend.  Enjoy your holiday!

8.31.2020

Be A Light

Today’s MMM is brought to you by Thomas Rhett.  He has released a great new song with some very timely lyrics.  The one line that is the heart of the song is “In a world full of hate, be a light”.  Our world needs light.  We need peace and we need to step back and look at the big picture.  Hate and anger are powerful, and they can snowball out of control.  Now is a great time to be a light!  Consider the meaning of these lyrics.  Better yet, consider acting out these lyrics.

In a time full of war, be peace
In a time full of doubt, just believe
Yeah, there ain't that much difference between you and me
In a time full of war, be peace

In a world full of hate, be a light
When you do somebody wrong, make it right
Don't hide in the dark, you were born to shine
In a world full of hate, be a light

In a place that needs change, make a difference
In a time full of noise, just listen
'Cause life is but a breeze, better live it
In a place that needs a change, make a difference

In a world full of hate, be a light
When you do somebody wrong, make it right
Oh, don't hide in the dark, you were born to shine
In a world full of hate, be a light

In a race that you can't win, slow it down
Yeah, you only get one go around
'Cause the finish line is six feet in the ground
In a race you can't win, just slow it down

In a world full of hate, be a light (oh)
When you do somebody wrong, make it right (make it right)
Don't hide in the dark (don't hide in the dark), you were born to shine
In a world full of hate, be a light

Yeah, it's hard to live in color, when you just see black and white
In a world full of hate, be a light

8.24.2020

Don’t Just Wait

When the pandemic started a lot of us thought that we could wait it out.  I can remember discussions with friends and clients about getting this behind us by summer or at least by the fall.  Here we are one week from September and it is far from over.  It is clear now that we cannot simply wait until this is over.  I do believe that it will be over, however, that will not happen like a light switch being turned off.  Even when COVID-19 is largely behind us things will not be the same.  I don’t care for the term “new normal”, but things will definitely be different.  People’s habits have changed, we live differently now.  We shop differently, we eat out differently (or not at all).  Folks are not traveling and likely will not return to the same travel habits quickly.  Social gatherings and entertainment venues will look very different. 

We cannot wait for things to return to normal.  As leaders we need to take action.  If your initial reaction for personal plans or for your business was to wait it out before adapting, you need to re-think that strategy.  If your business is dependent upon things returning to a pre-COVID-19 status you need to change your plans.  We simply cannot afford to wait; we need to be making decisions now.  I understand that there is a lot of uncertainty.  I realize you might not have all the data you would like to have to act.  In time like these taking some action is better than no action at all.  If we want to come out of this smarter and more successful, we need to be deciding how to go about that now!

There are two great times to plant a tree, thirty years ago and today!

8.17.2020

Mountains to Die On

Life is full of opportunities for us to take on battles.  There are times when it is important that we go to battle; take a stance for causes that we believe in; stand up for what is right.  Those situations are mountains worth dying on.  There are other mountains not worth the battle.  Some disagreements and conflicts simply are not worth the fight.  Maybe the issue is not that significant, not an issue of moral character or integrity.  Maybe the risks of battle far outweigh the rewards of victory.  Whatever the case, life requires us to wisely select the battles we choose to fight.  If you go through life without standing up for anything you will feel empty and regretful.  On the other hand, if you choose to fight every single little issue that comes along you will be in constant battle and probably will not experience many victories on the real important issues. 

Choose your battles carefully; some issues just are not the mountain to die on.

8.10.2020

What is right or who is right…

What a great world it would be if we were all more concerned with what is right than who is right.  We spend a lot of time defending our position, arguing our viewpoint, and building our own individual case.  Is our position always what is right?  That seems doubtful.  There are times we may be arguing for what is right, but often we are just concerned with being right.  Sometimes we even know that we are not right, but we just cannot bring ourselves to admit that we are wrong.  It should not be about being wrong.  It should be about what is right.  Try and think more about what is right, for your company, for your family, for society; not who is right.  Be humble…

“Pride is concerned with who is right.

Humility is concerned with what is right.”

            -Ezra Taft Benson


7.27.2020

People need loving the most when they deserve it the least. -- John Harrigan


I do not know John Harrigan or the context of this quote, but it is a challenging thought.  It is so easy to love people who are easy to love!  Cute kids, loving spouses and lifetime friends are easy to love.  They make us happy; we enjoy being around them and loving them.  More challenging to love might be the demanding and unfriendly boss or the self-centered co-worker.  And then there are the homeless, the sick, the chemically dependent, and the criminals.  What makes them deserve love?  Possibly those who need it the most are those who we truly do love, but because of the current circumstances we might not feel them to be deserving.  Consider the misbehaving teenager, the angry friend, and the betraying spouse.  It may be the hardest to love those close to us when they have wronged us or misbehaved.  Biblically we are called to love, not just those that are easy to love.     

7.20.2020

Wet Blanket Feeling


Four months into the pandemic and I have had enough.  We are just now seeing it peak here in Texas and I am so over it.  I feel like there is this wet blanket hanging over all of us.  It is depressing us in ways that we are unaware of and, making it worse, there is no end in sight. It is clouding our future plans and hampering decision making.  The negative impact on our outlook and mental health is something we have never dealt with before.  Sure, we are putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward.  We are adapting and surviving. But, I feel like it is just hanging over us and weighing on us more than we know. 

Early in the pandemic one MMM was about the fact that it is okay to not be okay.  As the pandemic drags on and hangs over us, we need to be reminded of that.  There is a reason we may not feel motivated.  There are days we will be in a funk.  Until the COVID-19 wet blanket is gone we will not feel totally normal. 

We must peek out from under the blanket and take positive steps.  Don’t be suffocated by the circumstances.  We don’t know when, but there will be an end to this, and we will get there! 


7.13.2020

Take a Breath Before You Speak


The strategy itself is remarkably simple.  It involves nothing more than pausing and taking a breath or two before you respond to someone who has just spoken to you.  At first, the silent gap may seem like an eternity, but in reality, it amounts to only a fraction of a second of time.

Observe the conversations around you, you will notice that many of us are simply waiting for our chance to speak.  We are not listening to others, but simply waiting for an opening and the opportunity to express our own viewpoint. Truly listening requires patience and discipline.  Don’t miss the opportunity to hear what is being said because you are planning what to say next.

This harried form of communication encourages us to criticize points of view, overreact, misinterpret meaning, and form opinions, all before our fellow communicator is even finished speaking.  No wonder we are so often annoyed, bothered, and irritated with one another.  With our poor listening skills, it is a miracle that we have any friends at all!  Are you listening?  Does this ring a bell?

No need to worry that you won’t get your turn to speak, you will.  In fact, it will be more rewarding to speak because the person you are speaking to will pick up on your respect and patience and will begin to do the same.  


Portions taken from Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff, By Richard Carlson, Ph.D.

7.06.2020

Happy Independence Day!


We live in a great country!  Sure, we are currently facing some challenges, but freedom, independence, and opportunity abound in the United States of America.  This past weekend we celebrated independence.  What does independence mean to you?  Obviously, we were not around when this country was under the rule of the British.  So, what does it mean to us to have independence today?  Consider the ability to speak your mind freely.  What about our freedom to worship as we choose?  We can also live, work and travel wherever we want in this great land.  These are fundamental liberties that we often take for granted.  You do not have to spend much time in other parts of the world to truly understand the meaning of independence and more specifically freedom.  The few freedoms that I mentioned above, are not available in many parts of the world and those are just a few that we enjoy.  We are free because of the foresight of our founding fathers 240 years ago, and because of the protection provided by our armed services for all those years.

I hope you enjoyed your Independence Day! Do not forget what it really means.   

6.29.2020

Important versus Urgent?


I don't know about you, but I am not very good at taking care of the important things in life as opposed to the urgent things.  I seem to I focus on urgent issues of the day, often just to put a check mark in the box.  There are things that are urgent that we all have to take care.  There are also things that are very important that we should take care of.  It always seems urgent to answer emails, return calls, go to the grocery store, and do the laundry.  Granted those are mostly necessities and they need to be addressed.  However, there are more important things like consoling a troubled neighbor, spending quality time with your kids, mentoring a young associate, or visiting an elderly relative.  There are important things in life that we should prioritize above the urgent issues of the day.  As you plan your day, think about the important versus the urgent...

Happy Monday Morning!

6.22.2020

Who am I?


I lost my dad way too early,
Who am I to doubt it was part of God’s plan?

His mother lived to age 98, why couldn’t he?
Who am I to question God’s timing?

He loved my mom and all of us so dearly,
Who am I to ask God why we don’t have him anymore?

He was married for 50 years, had nine grandchildren and a great grandchild,
Who am I to not thank God for the time we did have?

He had wood to carve, golf to play and trips to take,
Who am I to ask God why not?

He was kind, loved and respected,
Who am I to ask God why him?

For his disease there were no more options,
Who am I to ask God why no cure?

There were things I had not done or said,
Who am I to ask God for more time with him?

I never heard a bad word spoken towards him,
Who am I to ask God why not someone else?

He deserved so much more,
Who am I to question that God knows what he truly deserved?

I lost my dad far too soon,
Who am I to question God’s plan?


Barry D. Blanton
In loving memory of Don Blanton
January 6, 1935 – June 23, 2007

This MMM was originally issued 07.02.07.  I will repeat it as long as I write MMM’s on a Monday near the anniversary of the passing of my father.

6.15.2020

Listening, now more than ever…



Real conversations about uncomfortable topics cannot be held without genuinely listening.  If you follow the MMM, you know my thoughts on the importance of listening.  It is a critical skill that is needed now more than ever!  As an additional follow up to the Special Edition MMM from June 3rd, consider the following…

·       Make the effort, it takes effort, to listen and understand the perspective of others

We typically seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.  Often, we are either speaking or preparing to speak.  Think about what it means to listen with the intent to understand.  I mean seeking first to understand, to really understand.  To understand someone does not imply that you agree with them.  It means that you honor them with attentively listening and you truly care about their viewpoint. 

The issues we are facing in this country require conversations, which requires listening, which requires effort.  Take the time.  Make the effort.  Listen!

6.08.2020

Regarding the Special Edition MMM last week, here are a couple of follow up thoughts on my suggested responses…


Be thoughtful and intentional with social media posts, and be careful about what you believe on those forums.

·   Consider the old adage, “think before you speak”, a similar thought process should be applied to social media posting, “think before you hit enter”.  There is a lot of misinformation out there, as well as just plain useless information.  Impactful social media posts are grounded in facts and well thought out opinions.  We need more of that and less one-word shares of attention getting false information.

Educate yourself with facts from a variety of sources


·      We know that many media sources are full of biases and agendas, as such we need to broaden our sources to gather various viewpoints.  Educating yourself by researching topics and verifying stories takes time, but it is necessary.  Take the time. Educate yourself.

Be blessed…

6.03.2020

Special Edition


As if we did not have our hands already full with a pandemic, our society is now engulfed in a fragile state of racial division and violent protests.  This divisiveness is not new, but that does not make it acceptable.  The senseless killing of George Floyd is certainly not acceptable, but neither are the violence-oriented protests in response.

I am a 61-year-old white male with no idea what it feels like to be a man of color in this country.  However, I am pained by the stories of the fear felt by black men walking in their own neighborhoods and driving in their own communities. If this is not unsettling to you, it should be.  Simple answers and clarity do not come easily, but we cannot sit idly by.

A few responses seem clear to me…
  • Pray
  • Give grace and be slow to judge
  • Speak out loudly against racism and all forms of hatred
  • Make the effort, it takes effort, to listen and understand the perspective of others
  • Be inclusive and blind to ethnicity
  • Support elected officials, communities and organizations that are inclusive
  • Be thoughtful and intentional with social media posts, and be careful about what you believe on those forums
  • Educate yourself with facts from a variety of sources
  • Spread love by your actions in our communities and neighborhoods
  • Start conversations with your friends and families, with people of different races, and with people of different opinions
  • Pray


The MMM is not a current events or political blog, but a person I respect made a statement that tugged at my heart, “silence is seen as indifference”.  I am not indifferent and the MMM is not about indifference. 

6.01.2020

Make One Change


The world as we know it has drastically changed over the last 120 days.  What have we learned from all of this?  I am not talking about how to use Zoom or buy groceries online.  What have you learned about yourself?  Has being at home with your family presented some growth opportunities?  Does working remotely lead to more efficiency or more frustration?  Think about how you have changed and what you have learned.  What positive change do you plan to take with you from this experience.  Pick one significant change; make it meaningful and challenging for your personal growth.  It can be like a New Year’s resolution made on June 1st instead of January 1st. 

Make one positive change from these challenging times…

5.25.2020

Happy Memorial Day!


The purpose for Memorial Day remains the same, don’t forget that, but this one is totally different.  It still marks the beginning of summer, but we will not be celebrating in normal fashion.  Graduations abound this time of year, but they are not being held the same way.  Vacations usually begin next week, but will they?  It is time for outdoor concerts and festivals, but not this year.  It feels different because our world is different. 

Memorial Day is the day to remember those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy in this country.  Celebrate safely and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Their sacrifice puts our being stuck at home a few weeks into perspective.

5.18.2020

Life’s normal heartaches have not stopped…


The emotional drain and weight of these times are significant.  I am not even sure we know how this pandemic is really impacting our mental state. There is uncertainty, disruption, and financial pressure. We do not have our normal social outlets available to us. This is all on top of life’s routine challenges.  People are still losing loved ones and marriages are in turmoil.  Kids are dealing with chemical dependency and new cancer diagnoses are made daily.  Mental illness, poverty and hunger continue to plague people. Our friends, families and associates all have their normal baggage.  Now they have a pandemic on top of it!  People are crumbling under the weight of it all. 

Two thoughts…
1.    Be kind to yourself.  Don’t ignore the signs of stress.  As leaders we want to be strong, but it is okay to not be okay (MMM 3.30.2020). Give yourself a break; this is uncharted territory.
2.       Be there for others.  People are hurting due to the crisis but still challenged by life’s normal heartaches.  You might not be able to hug them, but you can still be there for them. 

5.11.2020

Mother's Day


If you did not talk to your mother on Mother’s Day, do it today.
If you have not recently told your mother that you love her, tell her.
If you have not seen your mother recently, plan a trip.
If you need to reconcile with your mother, just do it.
If your mother is not in your life or no longer alive, love someone like a mother.
If you need to forgive your mother, do it.
If you need to ask your mother for forgiveness, ask.
If you are a mother, bless you.

In loving memory of Barbara Ward Taylor (1940 -2008) - My mother-in-law lost her battle with lung cancer just one week before Mother’s Day.  She was a loving mother, wife, grandparent, friend and family member.  She had a wonderful zest for life and a love for people.