Archive for the ‘personal development’ Category

Why Being on Time Matters

September 20, 2019
I once lost a job I never had by being late to an audition. It was for a national touring musical production and I was more angry than anything else. I was so pissed off it affected my day. I was angry at the producer and director, but I was also angry with myself. I was young, and not keenly aware of how important timelines were. It became a profound learning piece I often reflected on as I built my acting and stunt career.
A few years later, after I’d been spending some time in the film and TV industry as an extra and a stand-in, I once heard someone in the crew say “early is on time, and on time is late.” he made the comment since those of us cast as Stand-ins were expected to be on set when crew was, even if the Director, Producers, and Actors were still in their beds, or waiting for transpo (on most Film and TV productions, when actors are flown in, and for those principals in production, they have a shuttle, or limo pick them up and take them to and from set. Every day) the crew, and my fellow Stand-ins and I would all drive to Base camp, get shuttled in to set, have breakfast, and wait (because hurry up and wait is another thing I learned on a movie set, but more about that another time).
Early is on Time; On Time is Late. simple, beautiful, and to the point.
I’ve heard that expression many times since, and even used it myself. Remarkably, I have heard it in places other than the film and TV industry. And you know what? It makes sense.
Maybe the exception can be made for a party.
But for everything else, punctuality is still valued even if improper punctuation use is not. If you book an appointment with a client and you are running late, you notify that client as soon as possible and offer them the option of rescheduling if it works for them. Usually they will say ‘no’ and appreciate the fact you called. If you are running late and you say you are 10 minutes away and it actually takes you 45 minutes? Color Me impressed if you even still have a client waiting for you.
If you think I’m being too hard-lined about this, consider the following example.
You go to a restaurant and get sat at your table, and you place your order.
You’re told the order is going to be out shortly. And then 10 minutes becomes 15 minutes and 15 minutes becomes 20 minutes and by the time you get your order you have moved beyond hungry because you’re frustrated and irritated. The delay of: a doctor’s appointment; a meeting with a client; a contractor’s scheduled work time; a flight departure; a train; buying a car; a hotel check in…
They all have a profound impact on our day, to say the least.
I find myself somewhere beyond disappointed in such cases, because the sanctity of the contract was broken. Because the level of disrespect is palpable. It transcends inconvenience. It becomes something more. It creates a domino effect. What you have set in motion by being late typically has to run its course, and you are helpless to stop it. Exceptions are made, and should be, but as a rule, this standard is inviolable.
Being early shows that you respect and value other people’s time. Whether that is you getting ready to go out on a date night with your partner, or take your kids to the playground, or the water park, or whether it’s putting a presentation in front of a board of directors, or a vacation tour, do it for everybody else, and in doing so, you do it for yourself. Be early. Even if it is a few minutes. Because that minute is more appreciated and less noticed than if you are five minutes late.
Being early is subtly nuanced, and that nuance carries long after the clock stops ticking.
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one step at a time

September 12, 2019

Being positive. It’s an enlightened process to be certain. I think living itself is a source of positive energy because of the effort at a molecular level to make things happen. That includes the simple act of opening one’s eyes, or placing one foot in front of the other. Think about that. Walking is a constant state of being out of balance, of falling. We are in a state of constant falling when we walk, but we course-correct with microseconds to spare.

But life is also consumptive and it’s our job to make sure we know how to sidestep the quicksand and swim with the rip current because at various times in our lives we are going to get caught by both. Think in terms of the Chinese finger puzzle. Struggle and you’ll be trapped; loosen and relax your energy, and extraction happens without effort.

I’ve always believed that people who are not ready for the worst can’t be prepared for the best. But I’ve also discovered there are limits. Still, being privy to the concept and activation of patience allows for positivity. That applies to people, goals, and situations.
One step at a time. That’s how my mountains are summited. That’s how things are accomplished. That is how you can accomplish whatever it is you set you sights on. Whether ordinary or mythic, it can be yours. Just take it one step at a time.

One step at a time.

Observations

May 1, 2019

An interesting series of things happened the other morning that cause me to elevate the mental acuity of my youngest yet again.
Already slightly exasperated because she forgot her book bag, I’m listening to her from the back seat engage in this long ball of yarn treatise on things that disappoint her, things that ran the gamut from shoes to the colors I liked and  how they were different from the colors she liked. Then, out of nowhere, she looks over and sees a dog in the back seat of the vehicle besides us. The first thing she says is, “Oh look, it’s a cute little puppy.”

It really wasn’t a puppy, but it’s a thing that we do and she has picked it up. Doesn’t matter how big or small or old the animal is, they’re still a puppy. Anyway, she looked at him and made that comment And then without missing a beat she said, “well, I hope he’s wearing a seatbelt.”  At the intersection I pull up just so she could see the puppy and we both look over at the same time and before I could say a word, Addison Rose at the top of her lungs yells, “oh my gosh! Hey! Put down your damn phone”  because the driver of the vehicle was on his phone.

First of all, full marks to the kid for being so safety-conscious. Second of all, full marks for using all of her words in that sentence correctly and in context. Now I could tell looking at the dings and bumps on this guy’s Cadillac that he probably wasn’t the best driver, and according to one nice big white scrape on his wheel well he probably tried to hug a wall or a parking pole too close for comfort and the wall was having none of it.

But her sheer Brilliance and understanding of what the guy was doing and recognizing that he wasn’t being safe was a thing to behold.
Luckily for the operator of the Cadillac, Addison’s voice carries. So he heard her and rolled down the window all the way. “Excuse me?” He asked the question more perturbed than indignantly. Before I could say a word Addison Rose said, “put down your phone!” And he looked at me and shook his head as he said, “your kid should mind her own business.”

I couldn’t help myself or stop the words that came out of my mouth as I said, “Maybe that’s why you have a dog instead of a kid, but it’s pretty bad when a five-year-old has more common sense than you. Maybe you should take the bus.” To which Addison said “yeah!”

Well, the fella told me I was number one but he used his middle finger to do so as he rolled up his window. He continued playing with his phone, probably updating his social media status, likely not to reflect that he had just been schooled by a 5 year old. Addison turned her attention to the dog in the back seat and just kept talking to him even though the window was up, just cooing over and over again about the cute  puppy.
So, that’s what life with Addison Rose looks like.  Don’t even get her started on not using your turn signal indicator.
On a more serious note, more serious than all of this, think about your actions and the examples they set as well as how much common sense is going into your decision making process. this isn’t just about driving, it’s about life in general.
Don’t be afraid to exercise common sense And make the right choices.  There’s nothing wrong with being a good example, just like there’s nothing wrong with saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
If a five-year-old can figure that out some of the time, then we’re simply making the  process too difficult for ourselves.

Why Being Authentic Matters

March 29, 2019

I’m currently on a ride and drive tour. I have learned a few interesting things during this tour. I continue to learn. I learned being authentic matters more than it ever has.

I learned courtesy, capacity, patience, and awareness. Above all else, I’ve grown to truly appreciate character and integrity.

With courtesy, I simply reinforced something that I’ve known, which is to be nice to everyone, even those who can’t be nice to anyone. And the reason why is because once in a while those people come around. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, you know you’ve left your mark.

Capacity. I learn to show up prepared to give 100% every single day. Sometimes that means creating a shield to protect yourself from the negativity. All you have to do is create a shield where your energy flows out but theirs does not flow in.

Patience. It’s a dangerous presumption that because you value your time and everyone else’s, that they will reciprocate. It’s a dangerous assumption to believe people will do what you ask them to in a teaching, training, or facilitation setting. Be patient and set limits, and for those who don’t want to come along, move the rest of the group forward and they will either catch up or be left behind. It is the 10-80-10 rule. Don’t waste your time on that 10%. There’s never a positive return. Not ever.

Awareness. Be aware that some people are going to come in and troll whatever experience it is you’re creating. They will bait you, either with talk of religion or politics, or simply by being demeaning to you and everyone around them. They will be course, they will be knuckle draggers, and they will know little of civility.
Be aware how you enter,  start, end and leave. Leave The space on a high point. What the individuals do with that is their business. But you don’t want to give them a reason to trash you. Those who will are likely to do so without a reason. Those who want are likely to extol the virtues of your ability, your skill, and your engagement. Leave them grateful for the experience.

Character and Integrity. Everyone has an idea of the latter. A colleague on a set once deliveried the perfect definition of Character. She said, “character is defined as making the right decision when the choice isn’t obvious.”

So, the next time you have a class, session, seminar, or event, be authentic, be energetic, and serve the people you are there to teach and train. The good ones will get it. They’ll feel your authenticity, and they will carry your message forward.

That is grace and elegance, and what truly matters.

The Kindness of Strangers

March 7, 2019
Very early in my film and television career I was told by a friend with far more experience than I had to “be nice to everyone on the way up because you’ll see them again on the way down.”
It is always far easier to judge than to take a moment and arrive at a conclusion. By judging, we quickly assess and ascertain, we file and categorize, and then we move on. By doing so we miss out.
I’m reminded of a trip I made to Key West with an old friend. Towards the end of the day we wound up at Mallory Square, where we met a fellow who went by the simple moniker Pirate Tom. He was a guy with an old dog, a beat-up guitar, and not much else. But man could that fella tell a story. He was genuinely happy or at least took great pains to make us believe so. We spent several hours with him, hanging out and talking to him. Wound up getting him a couple of beers, and considering the experience, I think we got away cheaply.
I’m currently on the road. Will be for the next month and a half or so. Part of the new promotional team introducing a brand new automobile to Market. It’s been a lot of fun, being able to utilize my facilitation and content delivery skills in such a varied and often challenging environment to a range of individuals who run the gamut from enaged and caring to completely disconnected, disrespectful, and diseased.
Think about it. We show up to a dealership and ask for these people to give us several hours of their time so we can review content with them and help them understand the vehicle better so that they can then approach customers and clientele appropriately. The response we got really did span the Spectrum from gratitude and warmth to disrespectful crabbiness and colorful commentary. We got all sorts of questions from those who have a genuine interest in learning to those who simply asked when they could get some damn cars to sell.
We show up as strangers and leave sometimes optimistic that we’ve set a group of people up for success, and other times less than hopeful.
Today was one of those days right down the middle. At the end of the day I headed down the road to my next destination and checked in to my next hotel. I’ve become quite The Connoisseur of what should and should not be in a hotel room.
Crossing the threshold into the elevator with my carry-on behind me I turned to hit the button to go to my floor and the key fob from the vehicle I’m driving slips out of my hand, bounces on the floor before taking a well-aimed dive into that space between the elevator itself and the elevator threshold. I watched it disappear and could only imagine what kind of trouble it was going to be to bring out a certified elevator technician to come out, lock down the elevator, raise it and climb down into the pit to retrieve the stupid key fob for the hapless and clumsy human. Thankfully one of the hotel staff saw me looking stupidly at the elevator floor. Once I told her what happened, she tracked down the hotel’s maintenance individual. A few minutes later Miguel showed up, grabbed a flashlight, and shined it down into the dark abyss. Eight or so feet down was the key fob boldly taunting and staring back up at us. He told me he could get it and disappeared before I could react. I quickly followed behind him as he went to a large space that had become a sort of catch-all closet for everyone support-staff related. There he grabbed a very large piece of metal trim, and a magnet.  He went back to try his magic, and it worked up until it got to the bottom of the elevator where the fob forced the magnet to release its steely grip and freefell back to the floor.
Miguel disappeared again, this time returning with a coffee hook affixed to the end of the flat length of metal. In his first attempt he hooked the key ring and very slowly started to pull it up. Before you knew it he handed me the key fob and suggested I keep it in my pocket.
I know too many people who would have turned the other way. I’ve seen too many instances where individuals have all but said ‘it sucks to be you’. I found out from the front desk manager that this is simply the kind of person Miguel is. He doesn’t know what the word no means. Reminds me a lot of Leon, a gentle soul very much like a brother to me.
I asked for Miguel to be called to the front desk. And there I gave him a tip. At first he would not take it, and then I insisted if he wouldn’t use it for him maybe he could buy someone dinner or get something for a grandkid. After much protest, he accepted the money. I think even my abundance of gratitude may have been too much for him because he disappeared before I could thank him again.
What’s the moral of the story? Forgo fumbling with a fob? Take the stairs?
Be grateful for the kindness of strangers. They may happen to be your salvation and your sanity when you least expect it.