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Coffin_lgLast month, I got to visit a friend and relative who's a county coroner.  (Lesson learned: never eat BBQ with an engaging story-telling coroner.)  I saw more than my fair share of dead bodies over the weekend, most of which were still intact.  However, a coroner's job is take bodies apart so they can find out why they died.  I saw one such body, dissected on the table like a 3D jigsaw puzzle.  What was more disturbing than the scene was the smell.  Dead, taken-part bodies stink.  Regardless, it was a highly educational weekend in many ways.

To take something else apart, we in Iowa recently held our election primaries.  As I predicted many months ago (in spite of the fact that our current governor has lost a lot of political capital from both parties), Bob Vander Plaats could have saved himself a lot of time and effort by not even entering the race.  He lost soundly to 4-term-Governor-turned-candidate, Terry Branstad.  Then he was shot down again at the convention when he tried to challenge the bid for Lieutenant Governor.  But what has amazed me is the reaction of his followers.  The social conservatives have spent so much energy over the past few months painting Branstad as a liberal-lover or a RINO (Republican In Name Only) because they claim he ignores their desires.

I recently debated this point with a far-right-conservative, and I tried to impress upon him that social issues were still important... just NOT AS important as economic issues at the moment.  Once the party got the economy back on track, then other issues may come to the forefront.  It's called PRIORITIES.  No candidate can take on everything and do it successfully (just ask Obama).  Suffice it to say, he didn't believe me.  It was a very black-and-white mentality of all-or-nothing, my-way-or-the-highway with him.  (To be fair, I see the same behavior in the far left too... that's why I only talk politics with logical moderates and independents... way more productive and far less annoying.)

But I didn't write this post to bash the political players.  In seeking to seize the accomplishment, one must learn to prioritize.  What task needs my attention today?  What relationship should I focus on?  Which project should I do first?  What OUGHT you do first? then second? then third?  What OUGHT your focus be?  What OUGHT to be your priorities?  When you learn to dissect what you OUGHT to do, then you get through things a lot faster.

To avoid prioritizing, whether in politics or in life or in business, means your accomplishment will die a questionable death, and somebody will end up dissecting it.

Gazing Into McChrystal Ball

(Alternatively titled: "A Rolling Stone gathers no boss" OR "Flat Stanley travels to Washington") General-stanley-mcchrystal  

General Stanley McChrystal learned a hard lesson about workplace behavior.  No matter how incompetent you think your boss is, you don't vent your ill will to a public source.  Recently, there was an article in the Des Moines Register about some locals who had lost their job because of Facebook.  I've had situations before where clients thought I was writing about them in my blog.  I assured them that while they may see themselves in the pages, I have a policy about not writing anything critical about an active client (besides, I have MANY past clients who provide me with ample fodder).

Sometimes, people think they are justified in bad-mouthing the boss.  In this soft-economy era, there are more and more stories about employers who have abused the relationship with their employees.  I know of one recently dismissed individual who could easily and justifiably go to the media to blow the whistle on his boss' inappropriate and unprofessional behavior, but he refuses... bad-mouthing the boss just comes back to haunt you.

Granted, I've broken this rule myself throughout my career.  And I've paid for it.  And I've learned from it.  I'm fortunate now that I can be selective in my project choices, and I've learned to tell good client managers from bad client managers through the interview process.

So if you think YOUR boss is a complete schmoe, just remember what poor ol' Stanley is going through this week.  Then watch yourself before you let your inside voice play outside.


Coffee_filters One of the things I love about blogging is the ability, every once in a while, to stir up some engaging commentary from my readers.  (It seems my Facebook posts do that quite frequently.)  I generally like all blog comments, even from those who disagree with me, as long as they can disagree respectfully.

But recently, my blog has been receiving comments from the dregs of social media: spammers.  Even if they seem like legitimate comments, I really don't want to hear from ViagraGal, WorkfromHome, StudyOnline, BestGamblingSite.  Because of these low-life commenters, I've finally been forced to turn on comment moderation.  GRRRR.  These people want to fill my comment space with irrelevant advertising, so I'm now going to keep them out.

In systems thinking, we talk a lot about inputs, but how often do we discuss filtering out the unwanted inputs?  How do we keep out the crap?  In HR, they do screenings to prevent less-than-desirable hires from reaching the employment status.  In project management, we maintain controls to prevent scope creep from adding to our work.

What about in your job?  What are the undesirable work-turds filling your in-baskets?  What are the safeguards you can use to keep them out?

(And for those who use your real name to comment on my blog with relevant commentary, please be patient with me as I get used to publishing your comments as they appear in my in-box).

Yacht-A Yacht-A Yacht-A

Yacht_hayward  So Tony Hayward wants his "life back."

So the pressures of cleaning up BP's disastrous oil spill is too much for him to handle.

So he goes to a prestigious yacht race to cheer on ol' Bob (the name of his yacht).

Big deal... who cares?

Um... well... it would appear... A LOT OF PEOPLE.

On office politics, appearances mean everything.  Arms crossed.  Disengaging in a meeting.  Going to lunch with somebody.  Leaving early.  Arriving late.  Laughing at a joke.  People are paying attention to what you do.  For some of you, you may not care what other people think.  (For the most part, I'm right there with you.)  But, like it or not, we do have to be concerned about perceptions.  If they go unchecked, perceptions can become fact.  And facts can ruin careers.

You don't have to be obsessing about others' opinions every minute of every day.  All I'm saying is to watch out for the ammo you give their perception arsenal.

The Summer Soul-Stice

Summer_sun_sets  Been thinking about soul and passion a lot the past few weeks.  I'm a big fan of being passionate... about at least a couple things anyway.  On the longest day (i.e., most sunlight) of the year, it seems we have even more waking hours to be passionate... about something.

But are you letting the sun shine on your passion?  Can people tell what really gets you excited?  Me?  Well, let's put it this way, I could never play poker.  People tend to know exactly how I feel (positively or negatively).  If I'm talking about my kids or my writing or working with the SWAT team, you can barely keep my feet on the ground.  Life is too much of a guessing game as it is.  Why not shed some light on what makes you tick?  Many people, when they know this, are willing to help you out on your journey.

So as the sun sets on the "longest day" make it a point to share your passion with at least one other person.  Who knows where it might lead?  After all, if passion is silent, is it really all that passionate?

You! With the Thoughts! Slooowly Step Away From the Blog!

Step_away  My computer has been on the blink for the past couple of weeks.  Technical mumbo-jumbo.  At first I thought it was malware.  Then we thought the 2/3 of the RAM was kaputz.  Finally we figured out it was a hard drive problem.  Lenovo gave a startlingly fast turnaround time once the problem was diagnosed.

It's back in full working order now, and I'm very grateful for that.  It's hard being away from someone you love.  To be honest, blogging on another computer almost feels like cheating, so I've given myself a bit of a sabbatical.  Instead of writing, I've been doing more "listening" in the blogosphere.  No commenting... I just felt like lurking in the shadows of other people's thoughts.  And it's been really intriguing.

I learned about Patti Digh's friend, Celeste, who passed away recently, and how cool of a woman she was and the legacy she left on a lifetime of friends.

From Drew McLellan, I found out about Dawn dishsoap and how their brand message has a powerful impact on the disastrous BP oil spill.

Chuck Raasch of Gannett News told me that - rather than Republicans or Democrats - women were the big winners in last Tuesday's primaries... and why.

Because my colleagues and I recently discussed this issue, I read with interest Glen Alleman's short post about status reporting frequency and the one question we project managers should ask.

Canyon Girl caught my attention with Henry David Thoreau and the importance of paying deliberate attention to my surroundings and not taking things for granted.

My good friend, Pete Jones, shares my philosophy about avoiding chain restaurants.  I'll be eating at Pagliai's Pizza soon because of his recommendation.

Central College Professor Jann Freed gave a fitting tribute to coach John Wooden.  Jann totally nailed it, and her words inspired me.  I hope some day I can leave that kind of legacy.

There were some other blogs and posts and news stories I read on various sites whenever I could oust my wife or child from their computers, but I just wanted to share with you that some times it's OK to put down your own blog and take a little thought-romp in others' blogospheric back lots.

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