Making Time to Slow Down

My mother, Saint Helen of Immaculata, had a saying that I heard ad infinitum growing up—that saying was, “haste makes waste.” I’m not sure where she picked that one up and I’m guessing it wasn’t one I imagined I’d come back to—but I did, especially after acquiring some life experience.

Quality takes time. There are other idioms like, “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” I remember that one being part of St. Helen’s repertoire, also.

I’m finding that the things that have acquired staying power in my own life are things that haven’t happened overnight. Writing, health awareness, cultivating skills that never go out of season, these things take time.

I’ve written about Malcolm Gladwell and his 10,000 hour rule. It’s about putting the time in and recognizing there’s a commitment to the long haul.

Unfortunately, much of our culture runs contrary to that. We want fast. We demand convenience. We’re impatient when we don’t win $1,000,000.00 in the lottery.

Success sometimes runs contrary to convenience.

Success sometimes runs contrary to convenience.

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Trip Planning

Back in the day, before Google siphoned all the fun out of planning that special vacation journey, travelers had to rely on non-Internet tools to route their vacations. Some of these old-school accouterments were things like maps, gazetteers, and a handy-dandy atlas.

Now, all you have to do is ask Google (or Siri), “what’s the way to San Jose?” and before you can say “Swiss cheese for brains,” you’ll be routed on your way.

Growing up, I remember the year our family took a vacation trip to Burlington, Vermont. I think I was 13, or maybe even 14-years-old. My sister was two years younger. I still fondly remember that first trip to Burlington, a vibrant college town, nestled alongside Lake Champlain.

Of course, traveling with the ‘rents sometimes meant that Dad, Herman, or Winter Carnival King of ’51, required quadrants so he’d know his bearings along the way. If he didn’t get them from Saint Helen of Immaculata, he might get a bit cranky, and of course, it might become hell on wheels between the two of them. I think I get some of my driving impatience from my dad when I’m logging time behind the wheel on a trip, and I get lost somewhere between points A and B. Maybe it’s just a male thing. Can I even publicly state that men and women are different? I sure hope so.

Hitting the open road!

Hitting the open road!

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Selling Cookies

Being able to sell is important.

Being able to sell is important.

It’s been a while since I posted on an “off” day (an “off” day, in case you haven’t noticed is any day that’s not labeled Tuesday or Friday).

I just got to Seth Godin’s Wednesday blog post on Girl Scout cookies. I wanted to weigh-in because what he wrote was that important and resonated with me.

The lesson of his blog post was universal (don’t ask “no” questions, especially in sales), but he picked something that most everyone was familiar with—selling Girl Scout cookies. Good God! Who doesn’t like Girl Scout cookies? Continue reading

Waiting and Working on Hope

I’ve loved history and studying anything from a historical perspective, whether sports, religion, music, etc. for a long time. History and sociology are parallel threads that run through most of the reading that I’ve been doing for the past several years. Aiming to read 25-35 books a year and this year, with a late season push, I’ll probably finish near 30, has had a profound influence on me and on how I view the world, or perhaps better, the United States. This self-directed course of study has also helped me enter a post-ideological phase of life that I’m rather enjoying. Continue reading

Becoming excellent

Excellence

Let me make an observation. Excellence isn’t something that most of us strive for.  It seems that good enough is close enough. Perfunctory is too often the norm. It infects our work culture, our politics, our interpersonal relations, and our communities.

We expect excellence from everybody else though, don’t we?

What if we chose to pursue excellence in our own lives? Would it make a difference? Continue reading

Wisdom for my day

I think I mentioned that my mom, now dubbed St. Helen of Immaculata by my sister, often offered tidbits of wisdom in the form of sayings and even poems to the young JBE.

One in particular has stayed with me all these years. It’s authorship is unknown and I might argue that it’s loosely based on a poem by Rudyard Kipling. The wisdom expressed is something I can really understand now, 40+ years later.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

This second passage comes from none other than Confucius, arguably one of the greatest thinkers of all time.

The illustrious ancients, when they wished to make clear and to propagate the highest virtues to the world, put their states in proper order. Before putting their states in proper order, they regulated their families. Before regulating their families, they cultivated their own selves. Before cultivating their own selves, they perfected their souls. Before perfecting their souls, they tried to be sincere in their thoughts. Before trying to be sincere in their thoughts, they extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such investigation of knowledge lay in the investigation of things, and in seeing them as they really are. When things were thus investigated, knowledge became complete. When knowledge was complete, their thoughts became sincere. When their thoughts were sincere, their souls became perfect. When their souls were perfect, their own selves became cultivated. When their selves were cultivated, their families became regulated. When their families were regulated, their states came to be put into proper order. When their states were in proper order, then the whole world became peaceful and happy.

When all else fails us, I say look to the past to find your way forward.