Essentials vs. Incidentals

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”    Henry David Thoreau

Recently, the Oracle, the US entry in the America’s Cup Race plucked astonishing victory from the clutches of the Kiwi competitor.

The Oracle had lost 7 races in a row.  New Zealand had been all but designated the newly anointed sovereign of the seas. Most sideline observers considered the USA’s likelihood of fortune reversals akin to “swimming with the fishes” in San Francisco Bay.

The American Cup Race team astounded the sailing world and most everyone else with such an unlikely victory.

How did they win?  They focused on what needed to be done.  They cut the crap and got to the point.  They devised a step by step plan, with allowances for the unexpected, to get back into the competition and win.

And, that’s what we need to do.  We must get back into our own race by giving ourselves permission to eliminate self-imposed limitation.  Call it self-emancipation.  Call it what you will, just do it and stop wasting time.

We’re over 50 now and the clock is ticking.  So, what the hell are we waiting for?  No one is going to save us until first we truly desire to save ourselves.

That requires removing clutter.

Ask yourself what is Essential and what is Incidental?

Essentials are our choices, the things we must do.

Incidentals differ in importance and determined by circumstance.  If allowed, they vary from slight distractions to thoroughly obstructionist matter. The degree of distraction is unimportant.  Know this: they are goal toxins.  Incidentals clutter the mental landscape and trigger the ambiguity of purpose.

The problem is there are so many incidentals in life today it’s incredible that anything meaningful ever gets accomplished.

Here’s a few quick examples:  You know you need to contact someone.  However, you believe the outcome will be not all that favorable.  So, you do everything you can to avoid making that call. The Incidentals get in the way of the Essentials.

Tell that to the crew of The Oracle.

Sure, it’s procrastination.  Who sparks with anticipation to any form of rejection?

When I was in Radio Sales, I had a very good client who noticed a billing problem.  I told them I’d get to it.  It was no big deal.  But, I just let it go.  I don’t know why but I developed a fear of straightening out this relatively simple matter.

But, months passed, fear grew and I still had not taken care of the billing mix-up.

Talk about task-avoidance. I had concocted in my head some ridiculous pathway of Incidentals that inhibited me from uncovering a Solution.

I was evading the Essentials.

Finally, I got off my butt and with some help, got the billing problem resolved.

Why did I let this happen?  I don’t know.  But I had bestowed upon Incidentals the muscle to obstruct the completion of Essentials.

Am I the only one who’s ever done this?  I don’t know.  Philosophers say the closer we get to project completion, the more “noise” we begin to hear.  In other words, Incidentals have the capacity to sideline and even subjugate the Essentials.  They are a countermanding force with no redeeming properties.

Now, perhaps you’ve had an experience similar to this:  You’re working on a proposal. You’re on a deadline. They want it delivered only by snail mail.  It’s late in the afternoon. The cartridge printer has run out of ink and time is ticking away. You must finish this presentation and get it in the mail today.  It’s getting late. Traffic is brutal.

You get to a box store.  They’re out of the cartridge you need.  Next place, same story. Time is wasting away. Finally at the third location, success!.

Heading home, you’re stuck in traffic.  It’s a mess.  All you want is to get to what is Essential but you’re are bogged down by these symbiotic, draining Incidentals.

Sure, that’s life!  Understood.  But today, there seems to be more delay and distraction and much less free and clear.

Part of it is Time Management.  It’s living with the reality that today almost everything comes with an attached Incidental levy.  It is incumbent upon all of us to make provision for the expectation of Incidentals (fatal flaw analysis) as we plod on toward the completion of Essential.  It’s Murphy’s Law adapted to the 21st century.

I was discussing this piece with my very enlightened daughter, Christina, and her take was:  “Leave the dishes and go conquer the world.”  And, you know she’s right.

So, what’s important to you?  Like the Americas Cup Race, are you “in it to win it”?

Are you allowing Incidentals to override Essentials that transform your active, creative and productive status to something passive, languorous and aimless?

That’s not life.  That’s existence.

You are too young to be old.  Incidentals lead to stagnation.

Face the Essential, fight the Incidentals, get back in the race and win!

For return response go to dickheatherton@outlook.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Underestimating the Power and Value of You

When was the last time someone told you how important you are?  It’s probably been a while.

Now, this is not some feel good positive spin piece.

In our 50 plus years, most of us have experienced the joys of renown and success as well as disappointment and failure.  We have encountered the unexpected, adjusted our game plan accordingly and moved on.

What I’m saying is we have learned from experience.

We have survived triumphs and turndowns. And, we’re still in the fight. We don’t give up.  We go to our corner.  Nowadays, we need more than a minute to prepare for the next round, but with the sounding of the bell, we’re ready to do battle.

That’s who we are and how we get through life these days. It’s not heroic and it’s certainly not romantic. It’s our reality.

However, it is a differing scenario for today’s younger generations.

They lead their lives with preconceived notions that clash with harsh reality. Of their own volition, they choose to cocoon.

To some extent, we all do this.  Most of us aged 50 Plus, do it to heal our wounds, take a momentary break and then get back into action.  They don’t. For the most part, they lead a monastic existence.

Now the younger demographic have minds with sponge-like abilities that absorb so much more than we can marshal today. And,  they pride themselves in what they think they know.  But, they don’t know what they don’t know and lack real life experience.

Aah, the conceit of innocence.

What’s worse is they buy totally into the snark factor.  Now, growing up, most of us to some degree, would have been placed under the classification of smart ass. 

The difference being we were taught life’s lessons, sometimes the hard way, but we learned.

The 18-49 Adult truly believes no one knows more than they do.  That’s a given.  It’s part of growing up.  But, in our younger years, there were outside influences that steered us back on track, more so than the 18-49 Adult of today.

We did not suffer the consequence of self-imposed isolation precipitated by the confining influence of the web and social media.

So many in the younger generation, how can I say this properly, don’t get out much anymore.  Their real life human connections are select and few.  They are in front of a screen for hours on end.  Their lives are more virtual than real.

They are influenced more by anonymous sources. Anonymity becomes the petri-dish for chaos, disinformation and confusion..  What’s troubling is there is no accountability construct whatsoever.

So what takes shape is a non-judgmental view on almost everything.  It metastasizes to such a degree that right and wrong become irrelevant.  There is no challenge to prevailing convictions and no place for critical thought.

They lack our socialization skills.  They descend into a subsistence based on their belief system formed by their web selections.  Compared to us, they deal so much more exclusively with like minded peers and dwell in their online universe.

Sure, we all prefer the company of like-minded individuals.  That’s natural. But, the 18-49 Adult restricts diversity of thought that creates a constricting and self-indulgent environment; all the while totally believing that they are the sole proprietor of the open mind

However, being 50 Plus, we reject this atmosphere of exclusivity.

Unfortunately for the younger on line generations, being that insulated, they truly believe they are stars in their own world.  And, unfortunately they really are.  They watch the so called “reality shows.”  Online, they read vicariously about the outrageous behavior of today’s “headliners” to which they aspire to emulate.

As a result of excluding differing opinions, they believe they have license to mirror behaviors they see, hear and and read about and position themselves as stars in their own illusory sphere.

Welcome to the new Show Business!

Think I’m wrong.  Take a look at reality show contestants; especially the rejects.  Most of these “wannabees”  are absolutely certain they are worthy of superstar recognition.  They lack portfolio, but why quibble about the small stuff. Right?

Speak to business owners that need help but find themselves in a pool of younger applicants so displaced from reality.  It’s not about the customer, it’s all about them.  And, this is especially true even in this faltering economy.

Now don’t get me wrong, while growing up, we all had illusions of fame and untold fortunes and most of us over 50, still hold out some lingering but dim hope, though tempered by time and experience.

Today’s younger generations immerse themselves in illusion.  What’s more troubling is they reject resources to extricate themselves from self-delusion.  You see, this is their universe, constructed with little regard  nor tolerance for responsibility while dismissing contrary influences beyond their self-crafted orthodoxy.

They are their own judge, jury and executioner.  This mind-set is based on entitlement and indulgence.

Now, this is not a piece about how much better we are compared to younger generations.

However, I do believe we are better off than younger generations.  I feel sorry for them.  It’s always rough looking back on all the mistakes we have made in life.  For me personally, it’s sometimes cringe-worthy.

Here is what I believe are the strengths of being over the age of 50::

1). I believe we learn and have learned from parents, teachers, mentors and forces that didn’t always share our “enlightened” points of view.  They made it abundantly clear we didn’t know what the hell we were talking about.

2).  I believe we don’t see ourselves as masters of the universe but more as stewards of our own realm.  We are responsible and held accountable for our actions that affect us and those who rely on us.

3).  I believe at our age we have better Social skills than younger generations, and that serves us well.  We are so much more open to change than those aged 18-49. Sure, we have strong core beliefs, but have learned that we are not always correct and sometimes need to make mid-course corrections.  We are Social and more flexible because we deal with living and breathing humans every day.  Our relationships are real, not virtual nor anonymous.

4).  I believe life has taught us how to deal with others, even those whose opinions are dissimilar from ours. We evaluate differing views.  We might not agree or accept them but our inner filters do not preclude the option of diversity.

5).  I believe we don’t Interface as much as we do Face to Face.  Living in an online universe that promotes anonymity creates a world of irresponsibility and a false sense of entitlement.  There is no accountability.  Interface is a fertile breeding ground for an abundance of snark.

We do Face to Face.  Now we might not be as web proficient as younger demos but we know BS when we hear it and can smell it a mile away.

6).  I believe life has shown us there is very little quarter for false and unearned Entitlement.  It’s all part of dues paying. More importantly, we know that Entitlement should be employed with prudence and discretion.  If you’ve got it, no need to flaunt it.

7). I believe we know what is needed to get the job done right, the first time. We have experience servicing customers and dealing with the public.  We know how to serve instead of being served.

8). I believe we are not exclusive.  We are inclusive.  More importantly, we are exceptional. Why?  Because we have value and respect values..

9).  I believe we have compassion.  We have life experiences. Life can be one hell of a task master.  Let’s face it, at one time or another, we have all been village idiots.

We have done well and been kicked around a bit by the fates.  We are amused and annoyed by the 18-49 Adults behavior.  We recognize that in our own way, we have been there and don’t that.

What’s different from previous generations is the total lack of opposing criticism.  It’s spiked and  filtered out of their equation. That’s very troubling.

Hopefully  when all is said and done, we’ll be there to comfort and guide the 18-49 Adults when…………….and if…….they ever come out of the ether,

That’s the power and value of being 50 Plus.

So, for God’s sake, stop underestimating the power and value of you.

I do respond to comments.  Please email me at dickheatherton@outlook.com

Momentum, Perfection, Charley Warner & Excellence.

You’ve heard the story about the guy who was going through very hard times.  Things were sooo dreadful, the only luck he had was bad.

Nothing was working for him.

One day, while looking up to the heavens totally aggravated, annoyed and frustrated, he shrieks out, “Lord, why me”?

Suddenly, massive dark clouds appear, humongous bolts of lightening emerge, deafening, roaring sounds of thunder reverberate so powerfully, the concussive force knocks him to the ground.

Then, coming from above, a sonorous, commanding voice is heard saying,………………”because you piss me off.”

Let’s face it, there are times when no matter what you do, nothing seems to work  And, now that we’re over the age of 50, our personal  “luck ledger” appears to have migrated from assets to liabilities a lot more often.

Life is a game.  Yes, a game.  And, as in almost all games, there is momentum. It happens inexplicably.  Everything is going along perfectly.  And, then suddenly, things turn upside down.  They go sideways, up and around but definitely not heading in your direction.  There is no real reason for the course change.  It just happens.

Even Psychologists can’t figure out why.  It’s just part of the life experience.   It’s immutable.  It’s unexpected and, when it happens, IT HAPPENS!.

I remember when I first got into Retail Sales.  Now, I had done well in Radio as talent.  So, why would I have trouble in Sales?  Famous last words.  I was in for a very rude awakening.  I got  hit big time with a reality pie.  Starting off, I couldn’t make a sale or do one thing right.

One day, I called on a college in San Mateo, CA.  The meeting was with a man who had been the President of NBC Radio.  Needless to say, he was a very sharp guy. He took one look at me and said that I looked like some dead meat brought in by a stray dog.

And, I felt that way.  I had no hope.  That man’s name is Charley Warner.  And, I am so grateful to have had him come into my life at that time.  Thank you, Charley Warner.

Warner read me the riot act.  He told me to get off my butt, make a list of all good things I’d accomplished in life and come back in a week with the list.

At first, I could not think of even one good thing.  I was so down and out and feeling like there was no future..  That’s not the kind of attitude that attracts success especially when you’re you’re married with 2 kids and located 3000 miles away from your home base.  I was the furthest thing from perfection.

It took me a considerable amount of time to complete the assignment. Now, I was starting out in Sales and the goals I’d set for myself were perfection personified. Talk about delusion.  In retrospect,  the goals were impossible to achieve.  I had overlooked the obvious facts: learn to crawl before you walk, walk before you can run.  Most importantly, understand that previous skills and talents take time for integration into the new mix.

But, the more time spent working at Warner’s assignment, the more I accepted my good, I re-evaluated my worth and began realizing that life really is a game.  And, in games, there is momentum.

What I learned is that none of us is perfect and never will be.  Perfection is an unattainable goal.  So, stop striving for perfection and re-calculate for Excellence.

Striving for Perfection is demoralizing.  It leads to failure and depression.  It’s a waste of time and drags you down.  Take it from someone who knows.  I’m Exhibit A.

Excellence is motivating.  You and I are not perfect.  But, even now, I can beat myself up unmercifully, trying to reverse mistakes and seek perfection.  All I’m really doing is getting in my own way, interfering with the pendulum of  momentum and not necessarily in a positive direction.  The result: too much of a not so good a thing.  .

Life has it’s ups and downs but mindset affects duration.

Now,  Reflection is something we all need to do now and then.   But, too much is paralyzing.  It stops growth.  And, part of growth is making mistakes and learning from them.  That does not mean imposing a sentence of self-imposed servility and brow-beating.

Actually, too much reflection incubates an atmosphere of perfection. Self-absorption obstructs reality.  And, since no one can attain perfection which is not reality, we wind up in a virtual lotus position, accomplishing little and becoming more depressed.

Worst of all,  you become a theorist.  And, talking is no substitute for actually doing.

The next thing you know you’re aggravated, annoyed and shrieking to the heavens …………..…and, well,……………….…..  Don’t     go      there.

Life is a game and games have momentum.  They have ups and downs.  Attitude abbreviates or prolongs current momentum. Down times don’t last forever.  Accept the fact that there is no perfection.  So, be Excellent.   Know it, believe it, get off your butt and get going.

dickheatherton@gmail.com

 

 

 

Holiday Standard Time 101

OK, let’s right to the point:  Ever wonder why it seems so difficult these days trying to make connections?

You seem to be doing all the right things.  You’re out among them doing all you can to achieve Success Again but wondering when the tide will finally turn in your favor.

Yes, things have changed.  What we tend to overlook is that although most of us are working so damn hard these days, we all need a break.  Any respite from the maddening world, is considered manna from the gods.

Welcome to………………………………………Holiday Standard Time.

Now, reading this you might find it some of this facetious but this is today’s stark reality.

There are 365 days in a year.  Take out Saturdays and Sundays.  That totals 104 days.  Subtract 104 from 365 and we’re down to 261 days.

This is reality.  It is the new world, Holiday Standard Time.

Holiday Standard Time(HST)  is all about  Holidays’ connective tissues,  Those are days preceding and following Holidays.  Yet, you are on a mission.  You are looking to connect and succeed but having a difficult time doing so.

Plus, today, too many people are in a state of fear; fear of losing their jobs and escape into Holiday Coma.  They are present physically but checked out mentally.

Lets get to the longest period of Holiday Standard Time: Thanksgiving through New Years.  Starting 10 days prior to Thanksgiving to 10 days following New Years Day, most people are “going through the motions.”  Ever try contacting someone then?  It’s close to impossible.  If you do somehow connect, they’ll wish you well, tell you let’s connect in the new year.  You’ll ask when might be a good time to call and they’ll say, ……..Oh……………  ……………. May

May?

You see, they are not there.

Altogether, that’s another 53 days shot to hell.  So, we’re now down to 208 days.

You’re over 50 now and you’re beating yourself up questioning your abilities, your talent and wondering where you went wrong and questioning if you’ve lost it all. What’s going on?

Let me brutally honest with you.  YOU HAVE NOT LOST IT.  It’s just that there is a new paradigm shift in the marketplace today.  People are working like a dog, more than they probably ever have in their lives; that is WHEN mentally, they are actually there.

Here’s another element of HST.  People are fearful.  They go into Achievement Hibernation.  I’ve written about this in the past.  It is when people are on such overload, they are terrified, paralyzed and don’t know what to do.  They are looking for someone to save them, save their companies and their jobs but don’t know how to reach out.

They are afraid of making a decision for fear of making a wrong one which could lead to their termination.  Recognizing this will serve you well.

Currently, their only refuge is HST.  Holiday Standard Time.  It’s their only relief.

Back to the Holidays:  Presidents Day, Martin Luther King Day, Easter/Passover, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving,  There are probably another 2 or 3 official or unofficial commemorative days but, for arguments sake, let’s round it out to 10 days. That brings the number down to 198 days.

Most people take 2 weeks of vacation time.  That leaves 188 days left with weekends already in the tally.  Almost half the year is gone.

People can’t wait to get away.  Let’s not forget the fantasy and reverie aspects tied to good old fashioned R&R.

It is Holiday Coma.  Call it what you will.  It’s all part of Holiday Standard Time.  People revel in it. They start checking out mentally and dislodge from reality a week prior to vacation time.  Then, when re-adjusting back to work mode, getting out of HST, add another week.

So, for every 5 days away, deduct an additional 10 days; 5 days before and 5 after a week’s vacation X 2 weeks.  Altogether that’s 20 more days.  That leaves only 168 days left in the year.

But, there is even less time in which to make your mark.

Consider other Holidays like Easter/Passover.  You can subtract another 7 days right there.  So we’re down to 161 days.  July 4th,  Labor Day, Memorial Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day.  Since these holidays are independent of each other, while subtracting  the 5 holidays, deduct 7 days for pre and post per holiday. That’s another 35 days deducted from 161 and now we’re at 126 days.

Then, there are sick days; yours or the person you’re trying to connect with.  Deduct conservatively 5 days.  So, now we’re down to 121 days.

At this point, that means out of 365 days in a year, there is less than 1/3 of the year in which to connect.

Throw in scheduling conflicts, last minute changes, emergencies, delays, unexpected travel, corporate takeovers, shifting priorities, cutbacks/downsizing, etc.   That’s another 10 days.

That means there are 111 days left for productivity and 254 days of Holiday Standard Time.

Most of my life, I have worked in the Entertainment industry.  What I have learned through experience is attempting to contact someone in Radio/TV/Film on Mondays or Fridays is an exercise in uselessness.

Every business has its own unwritten rules.  I’m sure there are certain permutations in your field that must be acknowledged, followed and respected.

So, conservatively, deduct another 10 days.  That means there are only 101 days left to do your thing.

This is not a joke.  It is life today.  You must recognize, it’s not you.  This is not meant to be an excuse.  People are looking for release, good times to experience or relive.  At the same time,  people are scared.  They are looking for answers while entrenched in escape mode.  It’s their only release.

You can help them.  It’s just a matter of getting to them.  Don’t give up.   They need you.

dickheatherton@gmail.com