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of life today are in constant flux and the updating process has become such a bitch that even the latest version is out of date before it goes to print, so I’m taking a pass on the reunion.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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sellouts, Sycohphants and Shaddenfreude

                                  “Don’t give up.  Don’t lose hope.  Don’t sell out.”                                                                                          Christopher Reeve

Am I the only one seemingly imprisoned in some vile and eerie state of surrealism where Sellouts and Sycophants have ensnared, outmaneuvered and subjugated the custodians of common sense?

It’s a field day for eunuchs, quislings and the narcissistic.

Now, we all need financial relief and recognition for a job well done is greatly appreciated.  Plus, it’s getting cold.  So, there is immediate need for making provision for winter’s unrelenting disposition.  We do what we need to do.

But, what the hell is going on?   It seems what’s wrong is right and what’s right is meaningless.  It’s as if some ominous pathogen has quietly but deliberately infected our basic sensibilities and caused a seismic shift in what is considered basic Values.

We all know the adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”  Sure, that’s true.  But, volume is an imprecise assessment of substance.

This is not a political rant.  In fact, may a pox befall most elected officials.   Generally speaking they are Sellouts and Sycopchants beholden only to “others.”  Most times, the agenda of “others” is in sharp contrast with the concerns directly affecting you and me.

Politicians can be so megalomaniacal that it puts into question their mental soundness.

Perhaps I’m wrong but when it comes to most affairs of state, the only winner is the holder of the cards in a game of “3 card monty.”   And, guess what?  That ain’t us.

Enough said on that front, but it does shine the light on Sellouts and Sycophants.  They will do all they can for the sake of power and control.  It’s not just personal power.  It’s the capacity of lording over others.

It reminds me of the old Show Biz line, “Enough about me. Let’s talk about my show.”

Look, we all need a paycheck and life in the early 21st Century isn’t all angel cake and tinker bell on gossamer wings.  So, it is imperative we make mid course corrections and then move on so we’re not left behind.  .

Unfortunately, there are those who inflict as much pain as possible on others.  I’m not a psychiatrist by any definition of the word but life experience and a bit of research have shown me that there are individuals who relish “shaddenfreude.”   Shaddenfreude means gloating with glee over the gloom or discomfort of others.   These are people who like to manipulate and inflict distress upon others.  Call it whatever you want, but it is sadistic in nature.

These people are ingrates.  They present themselves as better and smarter than most of humanity.  Privilege is due them. They are the “squeaky wheels” driven by an abundance of arrogance and a delusional sense of entitlement.

What they don’t realize is something once said by Ralph Waldo Emerson:  “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”   Actions really do speak louder than words.

In reality, the crux of the matter is most of these people have very little self-regard.  In fact, they use their arrogance as a shield.  The shield pushes away others so their deceit is secure and their fraud remains undetected.

However, they live in fear of being “found out.” They can’t bear the thought of being discovered for whom they really are.  That’s why they are so thin skinned.  They can’t take criticism.

And, since they can’t control their own lives, they set out to control the lives of others.

That’s the real issue: Control.

Years ago, in my DJ days, there was a Radio Manager who was considered a programming genius but a total S.O.B.  He put the fear of god into those who worked for him.  He made life miserable for many people in Radio.

Jump cut 20 years later and I had the chance to meet him.  He turned out to be a really great guy and was very helpful to me.  In our time together, he was totally honest and explained why he took on that S.O.B persona.  The reason:  He didn’t want anyone knowing how little he thought he knew, so his safety net was total control.

Those of us over the age of 50 know a phony when we see one.  We still have to deal with them, especially in a professional work setting.  But, it doesn’t mean emulating their controlling demeanor.

People who have no control over their own lives have a tendency of wanting to dominate the lives of others.  Psychiatrists refer to it as Displacement.  Since they can’t control their lives, they look for a source outside themselves to control.

On the other hand, those who have self-control have little or no interest in dictating how others should live and breathe. They will guide and mentor.  In the work place, they can even be rough at times, but they will be fair.  They are confident enough in their own talents and abilities.  Domination is a classification so remote from any personal character analysis.  .

These are uncertain times and, in order to get ahead, it’s very easy to mimic the behavior of Sellouts and Sycophants.   We all want more.  And, many of us are panning for gold by exploring and considering the latest secrets to success.  Sometimes, it’s all too tempting to adapt behavior alien to our core values.

And, by doing so, we take on the characteristics of what we find so alien.  We assume the identity and behavior of a sellout and sycophant.  And, that’s crazy.  It’s not who we are.

Here’s a warning:  Be careful.  Replicating fabricated identities, you do so at your own peril.

You see, living a lie means a lack of” Ease.”  And, when taken out of a position of ” Ease”, it creates an environment ripe for the incubation of Infection and Disease.

Now, let me take this one step further. We know when we are out of sorts.  We feel it when we see it.  The same holds true even in the most unexpected sources.

In the book, “The Hidden Messages in Water”, Author/Photographer Masaru Emoto took pictures of ice crystals.

So, what’s significant about that?

Well, through highly advanced micro-photography, Emoto captured amazing transformations.  He observed when someone with a positive disposition approached the ice crystals while being photographed, the configuration of the crystals turned totally white and beautifully shaped.

However, when someone troubled and negative came within proximity to the crystals, they turned ugly, shapeless and grey.  Check out those pictures in Emoto’s book.  They are amazing.

So, if something as minute as ice crystals can be affected by positive and negative energies, then you must consider how Sellouts and Sycophants influence you.  Their effect can be be nothing short of amazing or destructive.

What I’m saying is don’t allow yourself to be seduced and drawn into a vortex of ethical ambivalence.

Until proven otherwise, don’t jump to mirror the appearance of strength.  It might be hiding a host of inadequacies.

Look, we all need a paycheck and life in the early 21st Century isn’t all angel cake and tinker bell on gossamer wings.  In life, we all make certain realignments but then move on.

But, there are those who inflict as much pain as possible on others.  I’m not a psychiatrist by any measure of the word but life experience and a bit of research show that there are individuals who relish “shaddenfreude.”   Schaddenfreude means gloating with glee over the gloom or discomfort of others.   These control freaks manipulate and inflict hardship on others.  Psychologists refer to it as a form of displacement. It is limiting, debilitating and sadistic in nature.

These are strange and unsettling times in which we live.  It’s incumbent upon each and every one of us to be true to our own moral and value compass.    Today, it’s our safety net in today’s 3 ring Circus that we call life.

We can start by not ceding Control of our lives to Sellouts and Sycophants.  If they can’t control their own lives, what the Hell are they doing trying to run ours.

I always return replies that are sent to dickheatherton@outlook.com

 

 

Sampling the Exceptional or Settling for Mediocrity

“The person who seeks all their applause from outside has their happiness in another’s keeping.”     Dale Carnegie    

I can’t recall a time when so many people have opted for a life of settlement and maintenance that forfeits their right to maximizing the Exceptional.

To me, it makes no sense.  It’s antithetical to the American Dream.   It wasn’t all that long ago people took risks.  We were pathfinders. We journeyed to realms undiscovered.  We sailed upon uncharted waters.  We took flight into the great beyond, all with cautious optimism and utmost respect for the unknown, the uncertain and the unexpected

But, the driving force was the desire for self-fulfillment accompanied by an abundance of wide-eyed anticipation.

Yes, I know this sounds over-the-top romantic and the rantings of someone over the age of 50.  But, in reality, taking initial strides upon virgin terrain can dismantle even the most efficient strategies of preparedness.

When you get right down to it, you never know.  You just hope for the best and go for it.  Shakespeare once said, “It is not in the stars to hold our fate but in ourselves.”  Let’s face it, we hold dominion over our own destiny.  That disqualifies personal judgments linked to resignation, self-imposed limitation and aspirations abandoned.

I’m talking about passion, that inner driving force, that lacerates your very core screaming for birth, implementation and fulfillment.

It becomes your sole purpose for being.

Unfortunately today, there is a prevailing mindset that celebrates complacency, discourages success and consecrates the dogma of mediocrity.

Sameness is a killer.  It is an enervating bitch.  It strangles innovation.  Looking at it from another perspective, it is the vapid celebration for coming in fifth in a four man race.  That is a prescription-in-waiting for nonexistence with the debilitating side effects of cynicism, worthlessness and despair.

Enduring happiness and satisfaction are derived through personal effort and achievement; not by predetermined outcomes and equal distribution.

I am not an anarchist.  I don’t believe in “anything goes” and down-with-order. I believe in structure.

For many years, I worked in Radio and, as talent, worked within format guidelines.  It was incumbent upon me to shine within the confines of the format and be the best that I could be.  The payoff: the better I was, the better the ratings.  The greater the ratings,  the greater my compensation package.

Sure, I took chances.  In retrospect, sometimes I was 2 steps away from sheer brilliance.  Sometimes I was even 2 steps from god-awful.  But, I was out there doing the best I could without the benefit of a safety net.

Safety nets discourage the Exceptional and mute satisfaction derived from effort.

As a Radio personality, there was no place for settlement, maintenance or mediocrity..  It was not an option. It was succeed or being “shown the door”.  And, being placed “in between success” is not something to be relished with any enthusiasm.

If your goal is to be as good as everyone else, congratulations, you are now-one of the many.  You don’t stand out.  You are no longer a “someone.”  You have been relegated to the status of a “some thing.”  Instead of being unique and exceptional, you fall under the classification of inconsequential and invisible. That’s means you are a replaceable commodity.

Today, with modern technology and predictive analysis calculations, it’s all too easy to become disheartened and yielding to the findings of some statistical probability equation.  That could render a negative forecast for your undertaking.  Putting it bluntly, it means the numbers don’t add up.

Albert Einstein has said, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

Don’t get me wrong, experience counts.   And, the capacity to forecast fatal flaws cannot be dismissed as preposterous.

But, if you have done your homework and still believe strongly in you project and yourself, then go for it.

Now, the past is a guideline that cannot be disregarded.  What’s the old saying about those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. It is true.

However, analysis is based primarily on the past in order to predict future outcomes.  But, the past cannot forecast the future with total certainty.  Sure, history is a guideline.  But, it is only……a Guide Line.

Life is not a rubric cube.  There are permutations.  Life is filled with anomalies that thrust humanity onto some wildly improbable journey.

You can’t ignore the power of unpredictability.  Sometimes things just happen.  In fact, sometimes the best stuff happens by mistake; and that funny little quirk doesn’t compute all that well.

Ever go to the store where they are handing out free product samples?  Are they doing this to be nice?  Is it a way of thanking customers for their patronage by dispensing goodies?

No way.  Many companies understand the power of the soft sell..  Research shows when customers are given the opportunity to sample product without hype and hard-sell, there is a greater likelihood of product purchase and building brand loyalty.

Why?  Because customers come to their purchasing decision voluntarily.

No one pushed them.

It’s a variation on the power of unpredictability.

The same is true with Exceptionalism.  Perhaps it’s time to sample the Exceptional you.

What are your assets?  How can you improve upon your strengths and raise them to Exceptional grade?

Sure it takes time.  It does not miraculously occur overnight.  Exceptionalism comes with time and practice.

So, practice the presentation of your Exceptionalism.  If you don’t believe in your own Exceptional ability, you end up singing in the chorus of  Mediocrity.

Years ago, I had lunch with a good friend of mine, Reggie Brooks.  Reggie Brooks is a super-demand Author/Speaker and an expert when it comes to Real Estate Investment.

Being an Author/Speaker was something I had always wanted to pursue.

During our lunch, I mentioned to Reggie that I too had become an Author/Speaker.  But, there was no conviction behind my words.  At the time, It was wishful thinking.  I had not yet paid any dues.  I had no real podium experience. And, my words came across as shallow and theoretical.

Theories are what they are.  Until put to a reality test, they are nothing more than upgraded BS.  And, BS is the nesting place for the theoretical.

This is about Quality over Quantity.  You are NOT one of the many.  You are one in a billion.  So, tell me, what is the upside for settling for Mediocrity?

So aspire to the Exceptional.  Work it.  Work towards the fulfillment and employment of your Exceptionalism.

And, with patience, sheer determination and a bit of good luck, you can be the beneficiary of Mother Nature’s unexpected bounty of good fortune.

Now, this is not happy motivational talk.  Consider this:  Can you explain why meteorologists have such a difficult time predicting the weather more than a few days out on any consistent basis?  They certainly have every technological bell and whistle

If this is so, then tell me who or what apparatus can foretell with total certainty future success or failure?  It can’t be done.

What I am saying is hold on to your dreams, nurture them and bring them to fruition.  Don’t opt for a life of settlement, maintenance that forfeits the right to maximizing the Exceptional you..

What I’m saying is don’t you dare give up on you.

 Because of spam and phishing expeditions I reply back only if contacted 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