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of life today are in constant flux and the updating process has become such a bitch that even the latest version is out of date before it goes to print, so I’m taking a pass on the reunion.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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bilingual and Lost in Translation

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.”  T. S. Elliot

Years ago, my then Father-in-Law came to visit. The man was a piece of work with a fabulous personality. Besides English, he had mastered Italian and Japanese languages almost fluently; but…

My wife and I took him to a sushi restaurant where he began immediately conversing and flirting with the female servers in their native tongue. They got a real kick out him.  Now, I know enough of the language to be considered ‘legally stupid’ but got the gist of what he was saying while the ladies thought he was hilarious.

As we were leaving, our server came over to thank me and mentioned that along with my father-in-law’s outgoing and entertaining delivery, the element that provided the biggest laugh was his wording; he spoke in a Japanese dialect more relevant to some long ago, by-gone era.  An example: instead of saying “car”, he used a dated phrase that described “a motorized wagon”; a term that applied in the early 20th century

And, that’s what happens to many of us.  While attempting to forge ahead, we inadvertently migrate to a universe of our own making that actually perverts original aspiration. The outcome: we unwittingly become advocates of retreat rather than agents for our own progress.

Let me explain.

Every day, we hear how our military is being gutted and down-sized.  Many of these veterans have spent most of their adult lives protecting us from harm.

Many vets have specialized skills and, compared to their overseas counterparts, American forces are trained to improvise and ‘think on their feet.’

That’s a gift.  It is also a curse.

Because of cutbacks, many vets are confronted with an unaccustomed and startling challenge; dealing with the private sector workplace.

It’s ironic.  Men and women dedicate their lives to defending the civilian home-front and, by doing so, become detached from the assignment they are empowered to protect.

They don’t know how to speak “civilian-ese.” They are lost in translation. They are not bilingual.  They are unprepared in explaining the codes of military craft into the language of the civilian marketplace.

When confronted by HR and decision makers, their in-person responses founder, giving the appearance of uncertainty and inexperience; a mischaracterization so distant from the actual.

The military life demands completion of duty, whatever the task.   But, in private sector interview situations, where a vet is questioned regarding their service career, job description and accomplishments, the usual reply is “I can do everything.” And, although that’s correct, it’s not real.

Although it is an honest response, it is disregarded because it is misinterpreted.  Unknowingly, the vet has communicated to the interviewer that they are desperate for a job and will accept any available employment opportunity.  Now, that might be true, but that’s not the intent.

Veterans don’t speak Bi-lingual.  The experience is there but the defining mechanism is outdated.

It’s a different take on the old saw from Country comedienne Minnie Pearl who joked: “When they were handing out looks, I thought they said books, so I said, ‘I’ll take a funny one.’”

We are over the age of 50 and it’s easy to rely on yesterday’s descriptions. It got us to where we are.  That’s the good news.  The bad news? It got us to where we are.

Some of us are more Social Media aware than others.  I fall in the latter category.  Sure, I use LinkedIn, too old for Instagram and do little FB (I don’t really care that someone experienced a life-changing moment and felt compelled, for the betterment of mankind, to post a picture of a duck seen on the way to West Covina-call me heartless, I live in shame. Got it).

In the past, I have dismissed its importance, delayed its integration and, most likely and to my detriment, have arrested   the progress of my career.

OK, so I’m slow on the uptake.

That’s why recently, I participated in a webinar dedicated to Social Media marketing.

I really learned a lot.  What I took away from the online course was that not much has changed.  Now, hold on.  Social Media is a dynamic and its influence has surpassed Radio/TV/Cable and print and amazingly, it’s still in its toddler stage.  The delivery reach and measurement conversion are mind-boggling but the objectives remain the same.

What I got out of the webinar was use of language.  I believe in Relationship Selling. I am a people person who enjoys dealing with the people I deal with. In fact, I consider many of my clients, friends.  I keep in touch, send out or email news and trends applicable to their business or personal interests. Some refer to it as Business Retention.

What I learned about Social Media is that it has taken quantum leaps compared to the old way of doing things. Retention is now referred to as Engagement and After Sale and the process is more effective and light years ahead of the way things used to be.

There is so much more to Social Media, but this is not the forum for further comparisons.

The point: I learned to speak Bilingual. A connection was made. It was a crucible moment. I was able to incorporate the known with the newly learned. It now made sense and, the process was no longer lost in translation.

Absorbed in the pursuit of success can create unanticipated complications. A real challenge occurs when, so absorbed in the quest to succeed, we lose sight of original intent. The purpose transforms into something peripheral.

What happens? Investment supplants Creation. Don’t misunderstand.  Of course, it is vitally important to allot time for concepts to evolve, progress and bring to fruition. That’s not the point.

Unfortunately, the mechanics of Investment can neutralize the creative process.

Before long, it becomes easy to question initial aspirations and wonder how and when did things spin so out of control.  Priorities get misplaced in a Bilingual world.

Think that’s ridiculous?  Consider how many 50 Plus Adults are so disenchanted, dissatisfied.  They want a new start.  The numbers are enormous.

And, contrary to urban legend, this upheaval is negatively impacting the Marketplace.  Today, we hear so much about   Millenials.  As smart and savvy as they are, many enterprises are discovering they can’t afford to lose the 50 Plus Adult.

Why?  Experience. Work and Social Skills. Contacts and that’s just for starters. Replacing an experienced worker regardless of previous compensation is a drain on the bottom line.

Research shows that replacing an experienced employee earning- say, $70,000 per annum costs a company 3 times that amount or $210, 000 in replacement costs.

So many executives in the corporate world become so fixated on reducing expenditures, that they actually kill the golden goose that depresses the bottom line.

The Solution: Keep an experienced worker but place them in a different capacity. Hire them as a consultant to their former employer, allowing them to pursue other goals while providing needed input, experience, know-how, contacts and training to the organization.

It is another “take” on Bilingual.  The consultant speaks the language of experience and know-how and acts as corporate cultural bridge.  The consultant gets to pursue their ambitions while the organization benefits with smoother transitions diminishing the likelihood of things getting lost in translation.

It becomes a win-win situation.

And, unlike my ex-father-in-law’s experience, everyone is on the same page.  And, that’s no laughing matter