Getting from Retro to Get Go

“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.”  Jack Penn

Recently, I got a ‘heads-up’ notice about an upcoming college reunion.  It is always great to know you are wanted, but I am not a reunion kind-of-guy.  I am grateful for the invite, hold only very good memories of my alma mater and classmates, but it’s just not me.

Not only that, but I attended 8 colleges; never graduated and, what’s worse, kept on changing Majors. And, pursuing a career in Radio was an ideal incubator for wanderlust inclinations.  That’s me, I confess, guilty as charged. Altogether, I’ve probably scored enough credits that are the equivalent to earning a master’s degree.

Nothing against these confabs, but I don’t like being stuck in nostalgia-land. I am sure, for many, it can be a lot of fun.  Let me explain.

A good portion of my Radio career was spent playing the “greatest hits of all time.” For many years, it was fun and exciting.  Not only that, but I was performing this in my hometown, New York, at one of the top stations in the country.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Sounds great doesn’t it? And, it was.

However, living in the land of ‘was’ for so many years became a “Groundhog Day” repetitive nightmare.

There is the old maxim: “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.”

You may be familiar with the Oldie, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles.  Playing that and other songs most every day became a kind of torment.  What new could I say about these tunes that had not been said before at least a thousand times and still sound enthusiastic?

Now you’re probably saying, “poor baby” and you may be right. But, you‘ve got to know when to move on and take another course of action.

The Late Management Guru and Author Peter Drucker summed it best: “The hardest thing to do is to keep a corpse from rotting.”

That was me.

I needed to get from Retro to Get Go and it wasn’t easy, Today, that’s how I live my life.  I respect the past, learned from it but can’t allow it to become an indulgence or overseer.

Plus, the rules of life today are in constant flux and the updating process has become such a bitch that even the latest version is out of date before it goes to print, so I’m taking a pass on the reunion.

It really is a matter of Redefining, Refining and Realigning-know what you want, perfect it and implement it.

Now, that is easier to write than to execute.  And, let’s face it, there are times in life when no matter what you do, you just can’t win for losing and the only luck you’ve got is bad and that’s not good.

It’s like the story about the guy trying to get a handle on things; but it broke.

Then there’s the calm before the……………………..calm.

We are over the age of 50 so this is definitely a “been there, done that” scenario known only all too well.

But, we can’t just sit there and mope?  There’s a lot of that going on today.  Even the government classifies ‘moping’ as an area of dynamic growth potential.  However, there’s an extensive internship process and invoicing can prove to be a bureaucratic nightmare.

What’s worse, sideline sanctuary provides debatable consolation.

Yes, we have been “through the mill.”  So, what do you do?

Turn things around.  Be paradoxical, be counter-intuitive and unpredictable.

See things from a different angle.  We get married to a way of viewing and doing. It’s the stimulus-response, action-reaction thing.

But ask yourself, how is it working for you? It might be time for a mindset trial separation.  Habits are hard to break.  It’s a given.

Take a look at Millenials.  So many of them do what they do without experience. There is so much virgin territory open for discovery and formation that past sound judgments are irrelevant, easily rejected and considered meaningless.

Sure, it is walking a tightrope without a safety net but, if ‘sure bets’ were sure things, then, for sure, we’d all be rich and famous.  That is Getting from Retro to Get Go.  You’ve got to take a chance.

And then there’s stress.  All our lives, we have been indoctrinated to consider stress as a crippling agent, an achievement killer and something toxic.

In a recent interview Psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal, author of “The Upside of Stress”, offers a completely different take on stress.  She considers it “an experience that you have when something you care about is at stake”; something that  can actually make you stronger, smarter and happier.

Personally, I hate stress but find it to be a prime motivating agent.  It actually gets me more creative and focused while “under the gun.”

The hard part: Surmounting the initial surge of stagnation and fear that accompany the pressure and tension.

Stress as an activator?   Don’t knock it until you try it.  There is nothing worse than being stuck in a rut without a Plan B.

Kathy Edwards Lucas told me about her unique action plan.

Kathy is one of the nation’s leading certified life coaches. She shared with me her novel and effective approach to transforming a sour lemon narrative into a tasty lemonade finale.

Lucas told me about a time in her life when she was experiencing financial anemia.  She was going through financial drought.  Instead of bemoaning her fate, she made the most of her limited resource circumstance.

She didn’t shut down, give up nor isolate herself.   Instead, Kathy planned for tomorrow.  She shopped but didn’t buy.  She couldn’t buy.  Kathy took stock of what she needed once she generated income.

Kathy Edwards Lucas took inventory. She prepared herself for the future.  She designed a past-present prototype that detailed exactly how to handle forthcoming expectation.

When prospects brightened, there was no mental reorientation or readjustment to a prosperity mindset.  She had designed a fact-finding mission that eventually paid her beaucoup dividends.  Past intention was the construct for anticipated consequence and tangible consideration.

It reminds me of best-selling Author and Speaker Harvey Mackay’s motto, “Do what you love, love what you do and deliver more than you promise”; simple but sage words of advice.

However, as much as we might agree with this plan mentally and set forth a course of action, it is all too easy to become entrapped by ingrained emotional entanglements that keep us beholden to destructive relationships, negative attitudes and self-defeating behaviors.

This is not narcissistic indulgence.  Let’s be honest: The terminally self-absorbed have little regard for the concerns of others. They love the attention and are resolute in their one-way commitment to themselves.

What holds us back is the devastating grip of Distraction.  Goal setting and action blueprints that define what we set out to accomplish can many times take a back seat to the incidental.

What we deserve is placed on ‘hold’ as if unworthy of merit and completion. Our goal becomes an obstacle to distraction.

The mind has a way of filtering out rejection and tough times that accompany past triumphs.  It romanticizes the past, suppresses aspiration and restricts all likelihood of Getting from Retro to Get Go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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