Too Many Irons in the Fire?

warmth-fireIdeas are portable and easily shared. In a recent conversation with my friend, Coach Deborah Newkirk, I repeated the familiar refrain: “I’ve got too many irons in the fire.” This idiomatic expression comes from the days when blacksmiths had literal iron bars in literal fires. We now use it to mean “I am really busy.” Deborah shared something that her friend Dr. Jerry George said to her (see how portable ideas are?). Since I did not hear it directly from him, I will offer this as a paraphrase. I am not even sure of the context in which he said it to her, but here it is:

When you have a lot of irons in the fire, don’t be afraid to add more irons. Accept the blessing. – Dr. Jerry George

That resonates with me. Even though I do have a lot on my plate, I need to adjust my attitude a bit and remain open to new opportunities and blessings that come my way. The “too many irons” mindset can become an excuse for not doing something that matters. It may also prevent me from accepting a tremendous new opportunity.

The new approach I plan to adopt is to not be afraid of all of the irons I have heating, but rather to attend well to them while being open to even more irons. Now, not every iron is as important as the others at any given point in time. I may need to focus on some more than others at this moment, but they are all a blessing.

Having a lot of irons in the fire is a very good thing.

If you don’t believe me, just ask someone with nothing to do.

My Responsibility with Regard to My Potential

And Yours with Regard to Yours

We have all seen it before. A naturally gifted athlete with tons of potential refuses to work to develop that potential, and he or she ends up wasting it. We had a guy like that on our team.

It is sad.

I find it easy to get judgmental about that guy and about others who waste their potential.

Yet, it occurs to me that I also have specific and unique talents, abilities, and background that create my potential. The real question is whether I am putting in the work to realize my potential? Am I living up to my potential or am I instead wasting it?

That is a challenging question to answer with total honesty.

I have come to believe that it is my ethical responsibility to live up to my potential and to achieve my ambitions. To do anything less is to waste what I have been given. To me, that would be unethical.

My family, my community, and my world are counting on me to contribute what I can and to be the best version of me possible. They deserve nothing less.

So how do I achieve my potential?

Dan Fogelberg’s lyrics in “Run for the Roses” resonate with me:

It’s breeding
And it’s training
And it’s something unknown
That drives you and carries you home

While he is talking about race horses, I find application there for us. There is nothing we can do about our “breeding,” but the training and the “something unknown” is where we can reach our potential.

So, what is your potential? What is your responsibility with regard to it? What are you doing today to achieve it?

What You Can Learn From My Hard Drive Crash

On a recent Friday I turned on my three year old laptop as usual. Everything seemed normal, until it was not.

In the old days we got what we called the Blue Screen of Death. A simple restart usually solved the problem, for a little while. I had not seen a blue screen in a while, but this time the blue screen was the Blue Screen of Your Hard Drive is Dead!

Being an old computer guy who bought my first PC back in 1983, I know that a hard drive is a hardware device. This means they can and do fail.

So, I purchased and installed a new hard drive right away. Fortunately, I had all of my data backed up to a cloud backup service. That is the good news. The bad news is that it took ten days of constant restoring to get all of my data back. During that time I experienced disruption to my work duties as a result of missing data.

I also had to re-install the operating system and all of my applications, not to mention tracking down the license keys for each of them. I also had to reconnect each program to its data source once those files were restored. The amount of time I have wasted on this during the previous week has been staggering.

What would you do right now if you computer’s hard drive crashed and died?

While this is fresh on my mind, let me share some things you can learn and implement from my misfortune. The main lesson is:

Back up your data. Since your hard drive can fail, your data is not safe residing only in that one physical location. “Your data” is not specific enough. Remember, we are talking about your precious family photos of children when small and loved ones who have passed on. “Your data” also includes financial records, family information, and important email conversations. This is information you really don’t want to lose just because your hard drive crashes. Imagine your predicament right now if your hard drive crashed and you lost all of that. If you do not currently have your data backed up, please do it right away. Do not delay. There are two basic ways to backup your data:

  • Online automatic cloud backup. The easiest and cheapest way is to backup the way I do with an online cloud backup service like Carbonite. They are not the only ones, but their service certainly saved me. All of the data you deem precious gets automatically backed up to the cloud without your worrying about it. When and if the time comes that you need to restore your backed up files, you can do it easily. As stated earlier, though, it does take some time. One of the great benefits of this type of backup is in the case of a fire or natural disaster where your computer is located. If your computer is physically destroyed or stolen, your data still lives and can be accessed.
  • Local backup. A local backup is a physical drive or other storage system at your premises where you backup or clone your data. You may wonder why you need a local backup if you already have a cloud backup? Well, my wasted week of work is the main reason. Imagine if, in addition to my cloud backup, I had maintained a clone of my hard drive. When the main hard drive failed, I could have simply swapped the cloned drive in for the failed drive. This would mean that I would not have needed to reinstall the operating system, any of the programs, find any license keys, or reconnect any data. It would have made my life much easier. The word of warning, again, is that I would not want to count only on this one local backup because it is vulnerable to fire, theft, or other natural disaster.

I know there are many different solutions available for both online and local backup. This is not just a Windows or Apple issue. Hard drives are physical objects that can and do fail regardless of manufacturer. Take it from me, your data is worth protecting, and your time is worth saving.

Let me know if you have had similar experiences and what backup strategies you employ. I am looking for “best practices.”



Time Marches On – Mindfulness

If you keep a journal or write a blog — anything with dated entries — you are aware of the fact that time marches on. Even if you do not write with dated entries, you perceive the constant march. As I look back at the posts on this blog, I see large gaps of time where I did not post anything. It’s not that I was not busy or that life was not happening. In fact, the opposite is true. I have allowed the activity that springs from my many commitments to prevent me from writing for this site.

Among the many things I have been doing is completing the book Forward Story: Write the Future You Desire. I fully expected to have the printed books in hand by now, but I am learning the challenges of publishing. It is making me even more appreciative of the blessing of books and what goes into their creation. My already lofty view of books has increased considerably. (Update: the book was finally published in 2015).

How do we develop the perspective that since time marches on, we should be about things that really matter? At war with this obvious truth are the daily requirements of life like work, paying bills, buying groceries, changing the oil, and cooking dinner.

I believe the solution is what my good friend David calls “mindfulness.” This is making a conscious decision to be mindful about your life, your future, your past, and your day today.

If we live mindfully, we engage life as an adventure and remain active in bathing our experiences with substance and meaning.

How do you handle the march of time?

How to Find Your Dream Job

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is graduation season. A lot of freshly minted graduates are streaming out of our colleges, high schools, and technical programs. A lot of new graduates are looking for their dream jobs.

How do you find your dream job?

I want to share some insight from a good friend of mine named Bill Martin. Bill is an octogenarian with a lot of wisdom. If I told you his entire career history you would be amazed at this man’s success. If you could meet him, you would be amazed by his humility and charm.

He recently spoke to engineering graduates about how to find their dream jobs. Here it is in all its wisdom and simplicity:

  1. Get a job. Work hard and do great at it.
  2. Get a better job. Work hard and do great at it.
  3. Keep repeating this until you…
  4. Get your dream job.

I sort of understood this when I was young. I did not expect to have a dream job right out of the gate. I knew it was out there if I worked and produced value for my employers. A job well done leads to a recommendation and to advancement. The idea of an entry-level position is that you do not stay there long. It is simply where you enter.

In your pursuit of a dream job, don’t forget to get a job and do really well at it. That will lead to good things.

Thanks, Bill!


Update: Planting Seeds for the Future

About ten months ago I wrote a post about my first effort at growing a plant. I had never even tried it before, so there was a lot to learn — still is. The main point was that in order to reap anything in the future, you first need to plant seeds and tend them over time.

I have been watering, feeding, and tending those jalapeno plants over the winter months. The first day that my wife saw our first pepper was surprisingly exciting. The cycle from seed to first fruit is one of the most common processes in nature, but I hope I never lose the wonder of it all.

I have given away one of the jalapeno plants to a neighbor and still have five. Now that spring has arrived, I am almost to the reaping stage. Those five plants currently have 24 peppers growing and are nearing harvest time. Here is a photo I snapped this morning of two of the peppers on one of the plants:

Early Jalapneos

This experience has energized me to plant more. I now also have growing two varieties of tomatoes and the herbs cilantro, parsley, basil, mint, oregano, and thyme.

A few quick takeaways:

  • If you want something good to happen in the future, you must take the steps today to get it started.
  • You have to stick with it through periods of time when it appears little to nothing is happening.
  • Waiting can be boring.
  • You must continue tending, watering, feeding, and weeding your dream.
  • If you consistently do these things, you will likely have the good thing you desire.

Any experiences you want to share about dreams you have worked to achieve or your experiences along the way? Was your vision and hard work rewarded?