Note: So far, I have been unable to locate the source of what follows.
A lecturer when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked “How heavy is this glass of water?”
Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.
The lecturer replied, ‘The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”
He continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, We won’t be able to carry on.”
“As with the glass of water, You have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.
“So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down.! Don’t carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, Let them down for a moment if you can.
“So, my friends, put down anything that may be a burden to you right now. Don’t pick it up again until after you’ve rested a while.”
Here are some great ways of dealing with the burdens of life:
• Accept that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.
• Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
• Drive carefully. It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.
• If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
• If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
• It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to be kind to others.
• Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.
• Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.
• Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
•The second mouse gets the cheese.
• When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.
• Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
• You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
• Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
• We could learn a lot from crayons… Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.
A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
Bill Bryson is one of my favorite writers. He is the author of at least 20 books, including international bestsellers that include:
The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America (1989)
Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe (1991)
The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words (1984)
The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way (1990)
A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003)
Shakespeare: The World as Stage (2007)
On the Shoulders of Giants, Editor (2009)
Seeing Further: The Story of Science, Discovery, and the Genius of the Royal Society (2010)
Here is a brief excerpt from Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States (1998).
“When a celebration was deemed in order, the Puritans were delighted to let their hair down. The first Thanksgiving feast went on for three full days and involved, in addition to copious eating and drinking, such diversions as stoneball, a game similar to croquet, and competitions of running, jumping, arm wrestling, shooting, and throwing. No one knows quite when the first Thanksgiving took place, other than it was sometime between the beginning of October and the first week of November 1621. Nor was it regarded as the start of an annual tradition.
“No Thanksgiving appears to have been held the following year, and the Plymouth colony would not begin regular celebrations until almost the end of the century. For the rest of New England, Thanksgiving didn’t become an annual tradition until about the 1780s. For the nation as a whole, Thanksgiving wasn’t fixed as a holiday until President Lincoln so decreed it in 1863. The date he chose was August 6.
“The following year, it was moved, arbitrarily, to the last Thursday in November, where it has remained ever since, apart from a brief period during the Depression when it was brought forward several days to give stores an extra week of potential Christmas shopping.”
More Women are Needed in the Pipeline – In Both Business and Politics (Anne Kornblut’s Notes from the Cracked Ceiling)
I am presenting my synopsis of Notes from the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and What It Will Take For A Woman To Win by Anne E. Kornblut at today’s Take Your Brain to Lunch. This is a terrific two-hour event, led by Cheryl Jensen. It includes two 15 minute book synopses, followed by table discussions about the ideas in the books. Targeted at women in business, it is a wonderful event.
This book focuses on women in politics, women running for office, and the overall lack of progress for women in the political arena. (It came out last year, so it did not have the results of the 2010 midterm elections to include). Here is a paragraph that struck me about the difference between business and politics. It is about/from Meg Whitman (since thie book came out last year, this was well before she lost her bid for Governor to Jerry Brown in California).
In politics, so much time is spent talking, instead of doing. There are so few measurable results – no quarterly earnings report to wield, to prove things are getting done. At eBay, when financial reporters doubted her, Whitman simply had to wait until the next quarter’s numbers proved them wrong. In a campaign she has little to thrust in the face of a prickly press corps. Her complaints fit neatly into her outsider argument, but they also have the ring of truth.
“At least in business, whether you are a woman or a man, whether you’re African-American, Hispanic, or Asian or Caucasian or green, black, red, or yellow, it didn’t matter, because if you, in fact, delivered the results, that was enough to recommend you. There isn’t that here. There is a whole different feel to it. It feels to me, thus far, as less of a meritocracy and more of a popularity contest… “
And, she said with a hearty laugh, politics – with campaigns stretching out years – feels so slow. “This is sometimes a little like watching ice melt.”
The book states that the prospects for women in politics is about the same as the prospects for women in business. There are simply not enough women in the pipeline. This, I think, needs to change. Another quote:
In fact, the pool (in business) is almost exactly as small as it is in politics: Women make up about 15 percent of board director or corporate officer positions at Fortune 500 firms, slightly less than the 17 percent who hold seats in Congress.
As you are aware, we select our books for the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas from best-seller lists sources such as Business Week, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Amazon.com.
On Friday, November 19, the Wall Street Journal published its best-seller list for the week ending November 14. One category that it includes is “Hardcover Nonfiction Gains & Falls.”
It is very interesting to me that the # 1 hardcover nonfiction best-seller is the new book by former U.S. President George W. Bush, Decision Points (Crown Publishers, 2010). At the same time, the greatest increase in hardcover nonfiction sales is the book by his wife, Laura, entitled Spoken from the Heart (Scribner, 2010). In the week that ended on November 14, sales of her book increased 224%. That is a whopping 84% more than the second closest book by Oliver North about American Heroes.
What does this mean? How do you account for the windfall effect that Laura enjoyed while her husband’s book is at # 1?
I think that this says something about the American appreciation for the great intelligence and support that she demonstrated during her eight years in the White House. We have been very fortunate in America to have had many fine first ladies. with causes and campaigns of their own right. Remember Lady Bird Johnson’s campaign to beautify America? And Barbara Bush, who promoted reading to children? No one can doubt the superior intelligence in domestic and foreign affairs exhibited by Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama compared with their husbands. Sure, there also have been some duds – consider Pat Nixon (who at least had more common sense than her husband), Jackie Kennedy (who was only classy and glamorous) and Mamie Eisenhower and Rosalynn Carter (who were simply figureheads).
But, overall, this result says to me that America respects first ladies who do more than sit on a throne. Laura Bush was always a strong, reliable, and transparent figure. She represented her husband and America very well. So, while shoppers pick up the President’s book to sit on their shelves, they pick up Laura’s book to learn something.
And, doesn’t that say as much about us as it does about them?
Let’s talk about it!
Adam Bryant conducts interviews of senior-level executives that appear in his “Corner Office” column each week in the SundayBusiness section of The New York Times. Here are a few insights provided during an interview of Geoff Vuleta, C.E.O. of Fahrenheit 212, an innovation consulting firm in Manhattan. He keeps his employees focused by having them contribute to its set of 100-day goals — and asking them to meet them. “Never give people a void.”
To read the complete interview and Bryant’s interviews of other executives, please click here.
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Can You Handle the 100-Day To-Do List?
Bryant: Tell me about your approach to managing people.
Vuleta: I try to uncover what people are really good at doing and then give them a hell of a lot of that to do. I really, truly believe in that. I am the sort of person who’s never really believed in obsessing over trying to get people to do things that they are no good at anyway.
Bryant: What are you doing more of, or less of, as a leader?
Vuleta: There are always stages where you have to learn to get out of your own way. But there have been times, particularly in the last 18 months, where I realized I had become a creature of habit, and I needed to reinvent myself. I believe that you have to ensure that you are restless yourself as an individual, because you’re certainly demanding it of other people. So reinventing yourself is important.
Bryant: So what changed in the last 18 months?
Vuleta: I went through a big life lesson. Companies around us were growing faster than we were. And I began to realize that I simply wasn’t at enough tables to pitch new business. And then it became a question of, what am I doing that I’ve got to stop doing in order to ensure that I’m at more tables? Nothing like a good crisis to sort that out. So I stopped doing a good number of things at the firm that I’d been doing before.
Bryant: Were they hard to give up?
Vuleta: You think you’re important. There are four or five places in the food chain of any given job that I touched and that I believed it was important for me to be involved with. But you’ve just got to let it go, and that’s the hard thing. When you get to a point where you know you can trust yourself not to pull out the carrots to see if they’re growing all the time, that’s when you know you’ve made a change.
Bryant: What’s your philosophy of leadership?
Vuleta: One of the traits of a good leader is being able to build loyalty beyond reason, and getting people totally believing that something’s possible. And I’ve always believed — and this is fundamental to leading a group of people — that everybody wants to be led.
They want to know two things. They want to know what they should be doing, and they want to know that what they’re doing is important. And you must, therefore, set up an environment in which they totally trust that.
So your consistency of behavior is the most important thing in running a group of people. I have been let down often in my life by people in leadership roles who were just inconsistent — telling you to do something and doing something totally different themselves.
Bryant: So how do you create that consistency at your firm?
Vuleta: We get together every 100 days as a group, and we draw up a list of all the things that we want to get done in the next 100 days. And you go away as an individual and come back with commitments to how you’re going to contribute to that list. Then you sit down with me and our president and we discuss your plan. It’s just our job to make sure that the sum of everybody’s plan nails the firm’s list.
Bryant: Talk more about that list.
Vuleta: It’s made up of really simple things. What were the things that went wrong in the last 100 days? Let’s get rid of those. You want to nail your pain points and go, “O.K., what needs to be done to make sure that doesn’t happen again?” So that’s part of it.
And what do you want to do about your brand? How are you going to advance “thought leadership?” Not all projects are born equal — there are some that are grander than others. What are you going to do to invest in those? Who’s going to take responsibility for them?
And then there’s all the personal growth stuff, which everybody includes on their list. You want to advance. You want to grow as a person. There are things you want to get better at. But the thing that’s material about the list is that the company has agreed that those things are important.
Bryant: That’s not an easy list to write.
Vuleta: It’s a bit goofy to do it the first couple of times because people obsess over how they’re going to do something or what they’re going to do. It isn’t about any of those things. It’s only about an outcome. It’s only about what will have been achieved within the 100 days or at some point during the 100 days.
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Adam Bryant, deputy national editor of The New York Times, oversees coverage of education issues, military affairs, law, and works with reporters in many of the Times’ domestic bureaus. He also conducts interviews with CEOs and other leaders for Corner Office, a weekly feature in the Sunday Business section and on nytimes.com that he started in March 2009. To contact him, please click here.