Saturday, February 22, 2020

Footlose in the Cloud

Written by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, February 21, 2020

Whenever I feel overwhelmed I oftentimes read Jeffrey Gitomer’s book, The Little Gold Book of YES!Attitude.  I don’t know how many times I have read both the original version and now the revised edition.  I also have it on CD and have repeatedly listened to it.  Why do I continually read it?

I realized decades ago that I am far from a perfect human being but I also recognized that life is much easier when you maintain a positive attitude.  Gitomer states that probably less than 1% of all mankind ever takes a course or reads a book on “attitude.”  I was (past tense) guilty!  Now I can’t stop reading them, especially YES!Attitude.  I have also read most if not all of Orsion Swett Marden’s books written between 1890 and 1920 and there are a lot of them.  They all deal with attitude and the importance of not only reading about attitude but also making it a life-long study. A lot of Marden’s books can be found on Amazon as a Kindle read for just 99 cents each.  It will be the best dollar you have ever spent!

With that said, I sat down this evening to read YES!Attitude, again.  Life in 2020 has rarely been as good and has rarely been as bad with all the politics involved in just about everything and everyone’s lives.  Like so often happens, I read the following section from the YES!Attitude book and I had to stop reading as the floodgates of history were opened in my mind and the memories were not pleasant.  Read it yourself:

“Negative people are worse than negative occurrences. 
The argument is over in ten minutes –
the person may hang around for years.”
Jeffrey Gitomer, The Little Gold Book of YES!Attitude.

That one thought caused me to think back to the mid-1970s when I was stationed at the Coast Guard Training Center in Petaluma, California.  I can’t tell you how excited I was when I was selected to become a Yeoman Instructor at the Class-A Yeoman School on Governors Island, New York.  It was truly an honor to be selected to teach students how to become what I was – a Yeoman in the United States Coast Guard.  One of the first things we were tasked with doing was to move the school to Petaluma, CA.  The transition went as smoothly as possible and we were open for business.  For most of my 3 years at the school we had four YN1s that taught class and we were supervised by a Chief Petty Officer (YNC).  The assignment should have been one of the best possible duties in the Coast Guard for a Yeoman, to be a Yeoman School Instructor.

It became a mental nightmare for me and I am sure the other three YN1s as well.  The School Chief had issues.  Since we are talking about a military organization it was not considered appropriate or even possible to report on your supervisor(s) and you basically did as you were told or ordered to do.  In the case of the Chief, there were a lot of very unfavorable rumors about him and his activities. He was also absent a great deal of the time and no one knew where he was.  In addition, he had a drinking problem and everyone at the school knew it.  We went about teaching our classes almost as if he was not even present at the school.  We had a list of excuses to explain away his absences if the Command Training Officer ever inquired.

I don’t remember what the actual “occurrence” was that triggered what happened next and that fact alone is important because things are rarely as severe or important as they appear to be in the moment.  Nonetheless, I felt that for my own happiness I had to make a change.  Being in the military, quitting was not an option, I was under contract.  I researched my options and discovered an obscure sentence in the Personnel Manual that suggested an instructor may be transferred if the instructor or School Chief felt the instructor was no longer qualified to teach.  I sent a memo to the Training Officer stating that I felt I was no longer qualified to teach and that I was simply burned out and it was not good for my students.  The Chief heard about the memo; I know not how.  He tried to get ahead of the story with the Training Officer by writing him a letter telling him what a horrible instructor I had become. 

Before you form any opinions of what I have written thus far, here is the rest of the story.  The same Chief had given me the best points on my annual evaluations.  He had given me the highest recommendation to take the YNC service-wide examination.  He had also given me the highest possible points to take the Chief Warrant Officer’s examination.  Fast forward just one year and I was promoted to both Chief Petty Officer (YNC) AND then to Chief Warrant Officer (W-2). 

The Training Officer now had two documents in his possession. One from me and one from the Chief that I was unaware of.  The Training Officer asked to meet with me where he showed me the Chief’s letter.  I had no intention of airing the School’s “dirty laundry” with the Training Officer but the Chief thought that was my intention and as stated, he wanted to get ahead of the story.  When I read his letter, I was angry beyond words and I truly mean that.  I was unaware that a person could get that angry.  The Training Officer, concerned as to how mad I had become, directed me to go to Sick Bay where I was seen by the Base Doctor.  My Blood Pressure was off the chart.  He made me lie down in a darkened room for about 90 minutes to calm down. 

It is strange that I don’t remember much of what happened next but I do remember that I was not transferred and I continued to teach at the school but the school had a new Chief in charge and life went on.  I was later transferred upon completion of my normal three-year assignment and eventually was promoted to YNC and then to CWO2 in rapid succession at my next duty station.

The point I want to make is that for more than two years I was giving the Chief “rent free space in my brain” or to use 2020 language in my “cloud.”  There was no doubt that it was a very negative working environment in regards to the Instructors and the Chief.  At the same time, it was a very rewarding assignment to be able to teach your profession to students. It was truly the best of times and the worst of times made so because of one individual.  What I wouldn’t have given to have access to the Gitomer’s YES@Attitude book at that time in my life.

It WAS a military situation and it was not as simple as just changing jobs or locations.  You were under orders and worked as directed.  For the most part we just buckled up for the ride and went about our business. 

Most people are not in the military and as such have far more control over what they must tolerate and what they can change.  I thought my story may help people understand the ramifications of allowing people to rent free space in their brain or as the title suggests for 2020, in their “cloud.”  Negative people can literally kill you with their negativity if you permit them to occupy that space in your head as I was obviously doing for quite a while.

Here's a valuable exercise for you that I learned from Joe Tye much later in life.  He said that to solve a problem you must name it to make it real and to give it weight. Tye then suggested that I obtain a rock (I went to Home Depot and bought an 8x8x1 patio brick).  He then said to write what the weighty problem was on the brick with a black magic marker.  My instructions were then to put the brick into my brief case and carry it around for at least a week to serve as both a constant reminder of the problem and how much importance I had given to it.  It gives you a physical reminder that most problems are actually in your head and very few have a life beyond your head.  Then came the most important part of all.  He said to take the brick and throw it over a bridge in a lake or river.  That physical action signals the brain that the problem is now gone – you are relieved of carrying it around with you on your back.  IT WORKS!

If I had this exercise in Petaluma I would have put the Chief’s name on the brick and would have carried it everywhere I went to serve as that reminder that I have a job to do in spite of what I perceived to be an insurmountable problem.  It really didn’t matter what I thought of the Chief as a leader or as a man.  It mattered what I did about it and whether it affected my job performance.  It would only affect my job performance if I let it; I didn’t.  I did let it affect my attitude and that is what this Nugget is all about.

In a sentence, how do you stay positive in such a negative world?  As Gitomer points out throughout the book – you must think about a positive attitude and you must study YOUR positive attitude.  PERIOD!  He also said that people allow people to rain on their parade because they have no parade themselves!

If you want to have and maintain a positive attitude, my advice would be to first read Jeffrey Gitomer’s book, The Little Gold Book of YES!Attitude; you won’t regret it.  Then ead it more than once.  And especially read it when you are feeling low and/or unloved. 

What is a positive attitude? “The simple definition”, according to Jeffrey Gitomer, “is the way you DEDICATE yourself to the way you think. Interestingly, it’s also the definition of a negative attitude!”

Imagine that!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Did You Hear About It?

Written by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, February 6, 2020

There was a day, past tense, where I had a morning routine.  When I first woke up and got past the hygiene duties, I would then check my emails (took only a few minutes) and then I would read something positive to start my day on a positive note.  Then along came Social Media.  I added checking Social Media, primarily Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter right after I checked my emails.  I don’t know how much time I spent doing these four things but I can assure you it was far more than either deserved.  What I have since discovered is that between Facebook and Twitter there is far more negative posts than positive posts and yes some of those negative posts have been from yours truly.  Linkedin was more of a business orientated site and therefore the entries were neutral to positive in nature.

One of my favorite authors/trainers is Jeffrey Gitomer and Gitomer suggests that we all resign our position of Chief Executive Officer of World Matters and concentrate/focus on the things that do matter most to us.  Something we can actually do something about.  What a novel idea.  I recently finished reading QBQ! The Question Behind the Question written by John G. Miller (for the third or fourth time) and again I was reminded about how important it is that we ask questions of ourselves to insure we are on the right track to success, achieving our goals and hopefully happiness. 

What does all that mean?  Thought you would never ask.  To me it means I have been spending way too much time on things that are best labeled as non-important or even better as non-important-there-is-nothing-I-can-do-about-them-so-forget-about-even-looking-or-listening-to-them status. 

As a test I suggest watching the local news for 30 minutes.  It typically consists of news, weather and sports.  You can eliminate one of them by putting your head out the window or just looking up today’s weather on the Internet.  News?  It is usually very negative.  If it bleeds, it leads!  Do you really need to listen to negative bleeding news stories?  As for sports, you can program your phone to send you a message with the latest scores for your favorite teams.  You have just eliminated a need to watch even the local news.  On a typical New Orleans area evening news, you will see the 45th update on the collapse clean up of the Hard Rock Hotel, a couple of more people shot or murdered, numerous car break-ins and an occasional story you may not have heard.  Two segments on the weather and then news about the local sports teams and virtually nothing on national sporting news.  It is the same things, night after night.  What can you do about any of it?  Nothing!

National news is a different kind of animal.  You can deny it or not; if you actually listen to the words the National News Media uses in its reports, you can quickly pick out the words and phrases used to lead you in a certain direction in regards to your thinking and even your beliefs.  Making matters worse, most of the major news sources are owned by a very small number of people.  If the direction of the news comes from its owners it would then be understandable as to how it could have a bias in one direction or another.  It can also cost a great deal of money to put on a national news show and that means advertisers.  If YOU were advertising on any television show, not just news shows, you as well would have certain beliefs you would prefer to support or not support.  Therefore, the news content has a strong input by ownership and advertisers before it is even broadcast.  A great many news stories contain false information that appears to be true just like a lot of Social Media has posts that appear to be real news but again are false.

Let’s say you are not aware of some news story that may or may not be important to you.  Don’t you think that a member of your family or a friend or a social media post will ask you, did you hear about it?  Did you see it on TV?  Did you read about it?  Just look around and watch the number of smart phones being flashed in people’s faces to make sure they have seen, heard or read about something important.

The next time you watch a national news program, instead of just mindlessly sitting and watching, actually listen to the words used and you decide if the words were specifically used to draw a conclusion from you or lead you in a direction you may not have gone on your own.  Something as mundane as voice fluctuation can cause you to think in a certain way or change the meaning of a simple sentence.  Want proof.  Read the following sentence over and over again but put voice emphasis on the word emboldened and see how it changes the meaning of the sentence.

I did not say I beat my wife.  I didn’t say it but someone else may have.
I DID not say I beat my wife.  It was something I actually DID but then qualified it.
I did NOT say I beat my wife. I simply said no such thing
I did not SAY I beat my wife.  I did not say it but I may have implied it
I did not say I beat my wife.  I did not say it was me who beat my wife, could have been Joe
I did not say I BEAT my wife.  It was not a beating, maybe a little roughing up
I did not say I beat MY wife.  It was not my wife who I beat, I beat the neighbor’s wife
I did not say I beat my WIFE. It was not my wife, it was actually my dog I beat.

I have found that political discussions are far and away the worse.  A reporter will ask a question of a politician and the politician will provide an answer.  Often the answers do not fit the question.  The problem occurs when the reporter rarely challenges the politician to explain their position further or asks follow up questions to get to the truth.  As such if you tend to believe what you hear, you may in fact be hearing a false narrative that goes unchallenged by the reporters.  You are then left with a very one-sided and often times false news story.

So, you watch the news, first thing in the morning, maybe during lunch and then again at supper.  But the worse news cast is the late-night news.  Think about it because that is what your brain will be doing when you think it is trying to sleep.  You get one more bite at the late-night NEGATIVE news just before closing your eyes thinking you are going to get a good night’s sleep.  WRONG!  It just doesn’t work like that.  Unless you practice, you cannot turn your brain off and on with the snap of your fingers.  You have just fed your brain negative information.  How will your brain process that information?

Challenge #1:  Go for just one day without turning on any news program – NONE!  At the end of the day, assess how you feel.  Do you feel like you are experiencing anxiety or withdrawals?  Do you think you missed out on something important?  What will you do tomorrow morning whether you watched today’s news or not?  Most people think they “need to know” the news because it is important?  Is it?  It may be important to someone but is it important enough to you for you to take some sort of action?  I seriously doubt it. Will you change some activity that you normally engage in because of something you heard on the news?  Again, I seriously doubt it.  If you smoke, have you not heard “news stories” on the hazards of smoking?  But you smoke anyway.  If you hear how bad sugar can be for your health do you reduce your sugar intake accordingly?  Do you reduce the sugar intake for your children?  Again, you may at first but will you continue on that path because it is the right thing to do or will you revert to what you did before you heard the newscast?

Challenge #2:  Learn to read.  I don’t mean teach yourself how to read words or a group of words, I mean really teach yourself the value of reading.  Here is an original quote from yours truly.  You can read for a CHANGE or your can READ for a change.  If you think about that you will get the humor in that one sentence.  Most people in spite of what they will tell you, just don’t read books anymore and haven’t since they left high school – studies have proven this.  5% or fewer Americans read just one book a year.  That means 95% do not read any books in a year.  Which group do you fall into?  When I say “learn to read” I am suggesting you do something to insure you are in the 5% not the 95%.  Set a goal to read.  I suggest you read at least one book a month; twelve books a year.  If you spent just 30 minutes NOT watching one newscast and spent the time reading, you will have read for 3.5 hours a week.  Most books can be read in 7 to 8 hours.  If that is true, reading just 30 minutes a day would equate to reading 2 books a month or 24 books a year.  If you are selective in your reading, you could improve upon your career, whatever that is or you can begin setting yourself up for a different career provided you read books related to the career you desire.  As an example, if you were in sales as I once was, can you see where you could and would improve your ability to sell and understand people by reading 24 books a year all relating to sales and self-improvement?

Challenge #3:  Imagine you are years into your retirement.  You are mentally reviewing your life thus far.  Would you be wishing that if only you had watched more television?  Or, would wish if only you read more books regarding your profession?  I have read over 1200 books and I didn’t start reading until I was age 44.  When it comes to my education, I feel that I have wasted a good portion of that time until I turned 44.  At the risk of sounding very immodest, I consider myself to be a very good manager and trainer.  Was I the best?  Not even close to the best but I was constantly getting better every day that I read. Compare that to being stagnant on the days I didn’t.  You are either advancing to your life’s BIG goal or you are actually falling behind.  In which direction are you going? Are you sure?

Challenge #4:  WRITE!  Does your family know what you do and what you have done that you would want them to know?  Will your grand children and great grand children and their children ever know what you did or have done?  It’s your legacy.  Don’t you want future members of your family to know your successes and ambitions?  Leave a written legacy; you won’t regret it!

I write these Nuggets for the Noggin because of my life’s mission statement/goal:  To help people do what they do, to do it better!  I then use Joe Tye’s Direction-Deflection-Question (DDQ) by asking, “Is what I’m about to say, do or write, consistent with my desire to help people do what they do to do it better?”  If yes, I say, do or write it.  If no, I don’t!  This Nugget was written to help people do what they do to do it better.  If it helps just one person, I have won the day but not the war.

Here's my email:  If you read one book more than you otherwise would have because of this Nugget, please email me the title and maybe even a short book review for my benefit.  I use my blog, to post book reviews on the books I have read as well as Nuggets such as this one.  I will certainly credit any review you write for having written it providing you give me permission to post it on my Blog.

ps   If you were to watch 60 minutes less news and use the time to read, that is about one book a week or 52 books a year.  You would definitely be an expert in your field, light years ahead of your competition.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Written by Rand Paul
Book review by: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, February 1, 2020
Anything in BLUE is a linkable entry

I chose to read Rand Paul’s book because I have seen the reports that indicated that as many as 66% of Americans are now leaning towards a Socialistic form of government.  There could be only two reasons why this is so, if it is true.  First, that is what our students are being taught in our schools, the news media and the entertainment industry.  Second and most likely more responsible is that these same people have no concept of what Socialism actually looks like and the damage it has done throughout history. 

Some people, like me, will read this book because it does give you a very good understanding of Socialism both past and present.  These people are looking to verify their level of understanding of Socialism. 

Some people believe they already know everything there is to know about Socialism so why read the book?  It would be easy to suggest that choosing not to read the book is their problem and not mine and that would be true.  But far more importantly, moving towards Socialism in America is America’s problem and it is a problem provided you understand what Socialism brings and does.

I could never give an adequate explanation of the contents of the book as that would be left to each individual reader’s understanding to achieve.  It IS a book that EVERY American should read.  If your vision of the future of America is one of Socialism, then you had better be absolutely certain that is what you want and you can’t possibly know that if you don’t know what Socialism has been and continues to be.  Paul explains throughout the book that Socialism gives the appearance of being a good government for everyone.  However, the ONLY way Socialism can work, requires that the government controls almost every aspect of a person’s life.  If people choose NOT to be controlled, government’s only remedy is violence.  Paul describes how tens of millions of people have been murdered in the name of Socialism. 

As I read the book one thought kept pouring through my consciousness.  You can vote your way into Socialism but you will have to shoot your way out of it.  Most if not all countries governed by Socialism ban the ownership of guns by its citizens.  Therefore, if you later discover that Socialism violates every aspect of the freedom most people seek, they are unable to do anything about changing it.

Who should read the book?  As stated, EVERY American but especially freedom loving and freedom seeking American!
Would I read it again?  Definitely parts of it
Would I give it as a gift?  Absolutely!

Monday, February 3, 2020

Written by John G. Miller
Book review by: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, February 3, 2020
Anything in BLUE is a linkable entry

“What to really ask yourself to eliminate blame, victim thinking, complaining and procrastination.”  If you want a book review in just one sentence, then the sub-title of this book would suffice because that is exactly what this book is all about.  It is not just about the questions; it is also about when you ask the questions.  More importantly, it is about your answers to your own questions.

Miller published this book in the early 2000’s and that is when I FIRST read it.  I have read it two or three more times since then and again in February 2020.  My goal was to use QBQ to practice what I preach, read something positive every morning; that WAS my goal.  As I started reading it, I simply could not put it down to wait for tomorrow’s chapter to read and instead just read it all at once.

Almost any reader could find themselves discussed on any page in the book either as you are now or as you may have been in the past.  Simply put, this book teaches readers how to ask better questions of themselves that if asked and answered would without question improve not only their lives but the lives of everyone they come in contact with.  QBQ may have been written over 20 years ago but it is just as critical to self-improvement today as it was when it was first written.

I have a personal life’s mission statement, “To help people to do what they do to do it better.”  Recommending this book as required reading satisfies that goal.  If you truly want to be the best person you can be then read the book; otherwise, don’t read the book – you choose!

Who should read the book?  Everyone; no exceptions.  I found it exceptionally valuable serving as a real estate broker/manager/trainer for a large real estate office.
Would I read it again?  Definitely.  I already have, at least three times
Would I give it as a gift?  Absolutely!  This is especially true for young (and old) teenagers to get them started on the right path at an early age in life.