One Green Blood's State of Mind

Monday Motivator: Adapt!

By Scott Westerman
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“Free your mind from seeing yourself as you are, so you can see you might become”

You could see it in the eyes of everyone in attendance at the conference. The business was changing. Traditional revenue streams could no longer be counted upon. Speakers were saying that the very existence of the organizations who had paid for us to come here were in jeopardy. Disruption of the status quo was happening big time.

“The past is no longer a precursor of the future.”
“Those who thrive will focus on their strengths and adapt to globalization.”
“If you have a vested interest in growth, you have a vested interest in innovation.”
“Adapt.. or die.”

If you are connected to any established industry, my bet is that you have heard these very words sometime in the last year. All of the quotes I’ve mentioned came from a conference I attended dedicated to university advancement and alumni relations. But wherever you are and whatever you are doing right now, they fit your situation, both personally and professionally.

Let’s look at each of the three dimensions of life and do a gut check on your adaptability.

The Mind – If your job disappeared tomorrow, do you have a Plan B? When was the last time you envisioned the future of your organization and thought about how you might help it adapt to remain competitive? What have you done in the last 12 months to expand your skill set to make you more valuable? What fresh contributions are you making to reassert your usefullness?

The Body – We don’t like to eat what we should be eating. And most of us avoid putting our “marvelous machine” through it’s paces to make sure everything is working as it should. Leaving your body on “idle” while you feed it substandard fuel inevitably leads to “the degradation of the matter and energy in your personal universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity”. This is how Mirriam-Webster defines Entropy and it is a constant companion. And what if the miles are taking their toll on your powers? Illness and aging are two inevitabilites that don’t necessarily have to curtail your quality of life. How would you adapt to new physical realities?

The Spirit – Purpose is at the center of of the our spiritual universe. With the seasoning of time, our understanding of our own purpose in life can become clearer. But it requires work. Discovering it, developing it and adapting your current behaviors to support your personal purpose will determine the extent of your success and happiness. When was the last time you spent any quality time with yourself to ponder purpose? Are you in a stagnant job or relationship that no longer serves your purpose? Are you willing to step outside of your comfort zone and realign your circle of support to better meet your needs? And how are you nurturing the cherished relationships that still add value?

History is littered with tales of how mighty brands refused to adapt and were laid waste. Kodak developed the first digital camera. Smartphones now rule the photographic space and Kodak’s revenue is a fraction of what it once was. The music industry resisted new distribution technologies. When was the last time you bought a CD? Broadcast radio and television cut costs rather than innovate. We now consume the bulk of our media via Facebook, YouTube, and Netflix.

Even today’s most powerful corporations are at risk. Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft can suffer the same fate… if they forget what they did to get to where they are.

One thing is certain. Our opportunities to contribute and add value will be different tomorrow than they are today. Security and success will go to those who anticipate change, prepare for it… and adapt.

Have a great week!

Feedback always welcome to Scott@spartanology.com

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Monday Motivator: The Art of Becoming

By Scott Westerman
Listen to an audio version of this message.

“By fixating on the end product, I’d gone blind to the beauty of becoming” ~ Beth Kephart

It was a proud moment… watching my friend Leigh Graves Wolf defend her dissertation. That’s the last hurdle you clear before you earn your doctorate. Her passions parallel mine: technology, teaching and watching people discover and achieve their potential. Her presentation was relaxed, smooth and confident. There was an air of fun floating around the room. Her committee, the PHds who helped guide her to this point, sat with cheshire cat smiles. Not because she was nailing her last final exam. But because they knew the adventures she had along the way.

Colleen and I felt the same sensation earlier this summer when we had the honor of witnessing the marriage of two young people we know well. The joy of that moment was made that much richer because we had watched their love grow and mature through the highs and lows that are the inevitable elements of every meaningful relationship.

Like Leigh’s PHd., marriage is a recognition of something that already exists.

The river of life is most richly enjoyed when seen in full relief and context. The rapids, the shallows, the jagged rocks and the fish swimming around your feet. All of these elements mix to create the Technicolor mural which defines a life.

People who only look at the finished product miss the best part. They haven’t seen the paint selection, the brush strokes and the sections that were painted over and over again until repeated practice and discovery made an imperfect, yet deeply meaningful work of art.

These are the joys in which the people who practice mindfulness revel. Washing the dishes can have the power of a walk through Yosemite at sunset. If you allow yourself to feel the water cascading over your fingers. If you can focus your senses on the marvelous micro movements of each muscle and their coordination with sight, sound and smell, sponging dinner’s remnants from a dirty plate can have as much significance as a well performed Mozart piano concerto.

I could identify with the pleasure Leigh’s dissertation committee felt that day, just as I could fully feel the love that our newly married friends felt for each other as they exchanged their vows, oblivious to everything except one another.

In both cases, I had witnessed their art of becoming. And that made the moment of recognition exponentially more powerful.

What are you doing right now? What is happening around you, inside of you as you consider this message? If you quiet the cacophony of thoughts that constantly fight for your attention, what does this moment feel like?

One of my mentors once told me to, “Think things through. And then put those thoughts away and focus totally on the now. Your subconscious mind will do the homework and you won’t miss the treasures that live in the moment.”

Great accomplishment is the sum of thousands of moments and the lessons that come with them. This is the art of becoming. As you pursue your dreams, don’t forget to enjoy the trip. The treasure isn’t at the end of the rainbow. It’s what you experience along the way.

Have a great week!

Feedback always welcome to Scott@spartanology.com

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Monday Motivator: The Small Stuff

By Scott Westerman
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“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” – Mother Teresa

Sometimes the smallest acts of kindness and support can make all the difference.

Remember the book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff“? Richard Carlson‘s timeless tome reminds us that our in-box will never be empty. It’s easy to get caught up in minutia that distracts us from the things that most contribute to our happiness.  “The purpose of life isn’t to get it all done, but to enjoy each step on the journey.” Carlson writes.

If you haven’t read the book, it’s title makes it easy to think that you shouldn’t pay attention to detail. You should. Just be sure you’re paying attention to the right details. (more…)

Monday Motivator: What Casey Taught Us

By Scott Westerman
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“Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” ~Casey Kasem

It’s a good bet that just about every rock jock who entered the business beginning in 1970 worked for Casey Kasem. At one time or another, we all ran the control board while Casey’s “American Top 40″ program documented the popular musical taste. I had the opportunity to spend time in person with Casey on a couple of occasions and he was every bit the self effacing gentleman the public saw.

I felt for Casey these past few months. The infighting with regard to his final wishes grabbed a paragraph in every obituary. That was unfortunate. But it doesn’t detract from what Casey taught us.

Here’s what he taught me: (more…)

Monday Motivator: The Father Factor

By Scott Westerman
The “Real” Scott Westerman will be 89 on July 10th. I’m the third in a line that started with his dad back in 1895. I’ve always felt richly blessed to have been born into a family with the father and mother I was dealt. And since Sunday was Father’s Day, I sat down to ask dad what lessons he learned from his father. I present them here, not necessarily as recommendations, but solely for your consideration. (more…)

Monday Motivator: Who is responsible?

By Scott Westerman
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“The person who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it.”— Lou Holtz

The blame game. We all love to play it. It is the essence of the blood sport we call “politics”. It’s the easy way out for those who won’t roll up their sleeves and contribute to a solution.

We love to get on the “accept it now and complain about it later” plan. But there is never any real return on that investment. To paraphrase Doug Larson, “The reason people blame things on others is that there’s only one other choice.” (more…)

Net Neutrality – A Complicated Issue

By Scott Westerman
I enjoy watching “Last Week Tonight  - With John Oliver”. Leave it to HBO to take the Daily Show Concept and put it on steroids. John’s piece on Net Neutrality was particularly piercing and contributed to crashing the Federal Communications Commission’s website.

The Net Neutrality issue is a complicated one. (more…)

Monday Motivator: Undivided Attention

By Scott Westerman

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” – Maya Angelou

Listen to an audio version of this message.

I just finished 10 days “off the grid”. I didn’t look at my social media accounts, avoided all but the most urgent emails and tried to focus on face time; one on one interaction with some of the people who are most important to me. That took me back to some thoughts I wrote down last year about Undivided Attention.

It was the highest complement I could receive. Whenever I have the privilege of speaking with a large group, I always love feedback. “Texting, Tweeting, Facebooking and Emailing are encouraged. Share what resonates with others.” At the conclusion of my time with an amazing group of student government members from across the State of Michigan, one of the kids in the front row said, “I know you told us we could text. I almost always do it. But for me, this was quality time. It deserved my undivided attention.”

It’s easy to lose focus in a relationship. Our distractions are many. Our allotted time is often too brief. It’s easy to let your mind jump ahead to what’s next on your schedule, or ponder a pressing problem.

Fight it. (more…)

Monday Motivator: Do Your Homework

By Scott Westerman
Listen to an audio version of this message.

“Every medium has a point of view. Challenge it.”

In the coming weeks the political campaign season will be kicking in. We will again be inundated by half truths, scary sound bytes and unsubstantiated charges, all designed to generate fear, uncertainty and doubt about some candidate’s opponent. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent to try and convince us NOT to vote for someone else.

By the same token, we are daily bombarded with messages designed to get us to do something, buy something, like something, hate something. The more shocking the images, the more lurid the charges, the better.

When you find the little voice inside your head saying, “Wow! I can’t believe what I just saw,” listen to it.

Challenge everything. But be willing to do your homework. The world is complicated. The issues we face don’t have easy solutions. If they did, we would have already figured them out. We all bring our prejudices and self interests to the table, too. Preconceived notions about how things “should” be can easily dominate our own thinking.

Do your homework. (more…)

Monday Motivator: Pressing the Reset Button

By Scott Westerman
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What happens when desire or circumstance puts you outside of your comfort zone and into that terrifying position where you must re-envision your future? Press Reset.

Colleen and I got new phones this week. After years as iPhone people, we’re moving to the Samsung Galaxy 5. It’s a different ecosystem and we’re rebuilding our application suite from scratch. It has been a sometimes frustrating, ultimately enlightening experience. Our phone desktops now look totally different. We’ve recreated some of the familiar but have also discovered new and better ways to leverage our smartphones to best serve our needs.

The environment is always in flux. Disruptors are everywhere. What happens if you’re an iPhone and your customer decides to switch to an Android? Here’s a fact of life. If your job isn’t at risk now, it likely soon will be. What happens if you are forced to press the reset button? (more…)

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