5 Things We Can Learn From Our Couch

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about something that we spend a lot of time on, but might not spend much time thinking about…

5 Things We Can Learn From Our Couch

1. We Don’t Have To Just Sit On It

Sure, most of the time we spend with our couch, we are just sitting on it — watching TV, watching Netflix, watching movies, basically any time we watch anything from home. But a quick glace at Wikipedia reminds us that couches are also used for other things like “sleeping, eating, jumping…and other improvised activities” (not sure what they mean by “improvised activities” — is couch acting a thing I am not aware of?). The point is, couches can be used for many things. It may be known for one thing, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have many other benfits to offer. Same can likely be said for your business.

2. Some Benefits Are Hidden

After reading #1, you may be thinking, “I own a food truck, what in the world do I have to offer besides delicious empanadas? What are my improvised activities?” Valid questions. Some extras we have aren’t always easy to see. Kinda like the pull-out bed. You may call it, a hide-a-bed, bed-couch or sleeper-sofa, but whatever name you give it, you should also call it awesome. It is a secret bed that is stored with the loose change and crumbs underneath the cushions. Your added benefits may not be visible at first glance, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

3. We Can Make It Fit

In addition to sleeper-sofas, couches come in many other shapes and sizes — love seats, L-shapes, and sectionals, just to name a few. No matter what your room looks like, you can find a couch to fit it. It is a good feeling to know that we have flexibility. I hate to be repetitive, but the same can be said for your business.

4. But We Shouldn’t Force It

Just because you can find a couch to fit your room, doesn’t mean you can force it through the door. I once helped a friend move and the worst part was moving the couch. It was big and awkward, and after more time spent spinning and twisting than a 1950’s dance, I thought we may have to saw the legs off to get it inside. We eventually got it inside, but it was a pain because we had to force it. Just because your business can be flexible, doesn’t mean you should force it. If you have a new family, don’t create a job that requires you to work 80 hours a week, 2000 miles away. Find a better fit.

5. Testing Helps

I have a friend who traveled to a bunch of furniture stores and tested out dozens of couches before she found the one she wanted. It took time, but she was happy with her decision. The couch fit the shape of her living room, fit her color scheme and most importantly, fit through the door. Want to know how to find a good fit. Test it.

5 Things We Can Learn From The Arizona Cardinals

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about something that I will be paying very close attention to for the next 17 weeks (and hopefully a few more after that)…

5 Things We Can Learn From The Arizona Cardinals

1. Failure Is Not Fatal

For most of my life, you would only need to look in one place to find the Cardinals — the bottom of the NFL standings. In their 28 years of playing in Arizona, they have finished with a winning record just six times. However, three of those times have come in the last three years. All of a sudden, they have gone from laughing stock to respected franchise.

A famous John Wooden quote says, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” The Cardinals failed many times since coming to Phoenix in 1988. Many times it appeared as if they would never win. But luckily for Arizona sports fans, their failure was not fatal. They have figured out how to change and are beginning to reap the rewards.
2. Individuals Can Change

If there is one Cardinal player who is a walking billboard for the above Wooden quote it is Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu has failed school, drug tests, and recently his knees have failed him. He carries failure like experienced travelers carry neck pillows.

Despite all that, the scrappy safety is seen as one of the best defensive players in the NFL. Like the Cardinals organization, he has not let that failure become fatal. He has cleaned up his life, his image and (Cardinals’ fans hope) his knee problems.

3. You Need The Right People In The Right Places

My football knowledge is limited but I know this much…when the Cardinals were bad, their owner was bad. And when their owner was bad, their coaches were bad. And when their coaches were bad, their players were bad. Sure they have good players and coaches here and there, but never enough and never in the right positions.

Now they are good because they have a future hall of famer in Larry Fitzgerald, a top 10 head coach in Bruce Arians, and a star quarterback in Caron Palmer. They have all the ingredients needed for success. Something they haven’t always been able to say

4. Continuity Is Critical

The Cardinals return every player who scored an offensive touchdown last season — something that is unheard of in the era where players change teams more than most people change toothbrushes. This familiarity may not seem like much, but in a league that is so balanced, even the tiniest sliver can make a huge impact.

5. With Great Power Comes Great Expectations

Sorry Spiderman’s uncle, responsibility is not the only thing that comes with having great power. Expectations are also known to follow the powerful. When the Cardinals were bad, they had no expectations (except maybe to lose 12 games). Now, they are being picked to win the Super Bowl. It is clear they have the power, now we’ll find out if they can live up to those expectations.

5 Things We Can Learn From The NY Times Crossword Puzzle

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

Today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” is a little different. It is inspired by a terrific book by Angela Duckworth called Grit: The Power of Passion and Perservance.

In one section of her book, Duckworth talks about a New York Times article titled “How To Solve The New York Times Crossword Puzzle.” The article is written by Will Shortz, the crossword puzzle editor for The New York Times. If anyone knows how to solve a puzzle, he’s your man. Duckworth takes elements from this article and applies them to our everyday lives. Similar to what I try to do with this 5 things post.

In order to respect Duckworth’s book, I am not going to copy her work. I am simply going quickly highlight a few points she made and sprinkle in a few of my own. Hopefully this will get you to check out Grit: The Power of Passion and Perservance.

5 Things We Can Learn From The New York Times Crossword Puzzle

1. Start With What You Know

Shortz says, “step 1 in solving any crossword is to begin with the answers you’re surest of and build from there.” Duckworth perfectly illustrates how this same approach can help us find our purpose in life.

2. It is Okay to Guess

Finishing a crossword puzzle is not easy. You won’t have all the answers. You may need to guess. Duckworth shows how there will always been a good amount of trial and error as we look for what we are passionate about.

3. Bring an Eraser

Shortz says we can’t be afraid to erase an answer that isn’t working out. We often hear “to try, try again”, but many times in life, we are wise to cut our losses when we are doing something that isn’t meaningful.

4. Look For Clues

The New York Times crossword puzzle is filled with little hints. There are plenty of hints in our lives as well. We just need to start noticing them.

5. Step Away

According to shorts, “If you get stuck on a puzzle, a time-honored technique is to put it aside and return later. Perhaps the brain works subconsciously on problems in the interim. Whatever the case, a fresh look at a tough puzzle almost always brings new answers.” Substitute life for puzzle and the advice still works.

5 Things We Can Learn From Fans

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about something that comes in very handy this time of year…

5 Things We Can Learn From Fans

1. Good Can Be Better

In doing a little research for this post, I learned that ceiling fans first appeared in the 1860s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that they were built with the ability to change speeds. For the first 100+ years of their existence, fans only knew one speed. Now, nearly every fan you find features a control that can vary the speed, similar to how a light has a dimmer.

I imagine that when fans were first invented, there was probably very little complaining about the speed of the fan — people were thrilled just to have something that make a room feel less hot. But somewhere along the line a very smart person showed up and asked, “how can I make this better?” That person looked at something good and made it better. We too might be able to do the same simply by giving people a few options to choose from.

2. Faster Isn’t Always Better

I think the fan in my bedroom must be a close relative of a helicopter propeller. When it is at the highest speed, papers start flying, blinds begin rattling and it feels as if the whole room could come down at any moment.

Even when the house is as its hottest, the fan remains at medium speed. Sure, I could turn it up full blast, but while I would be cooler, I would be stuck cleaning up the remnants of my room. It is a good reminder that just because I can make something go faster, doesn’t mean the result is worth it.

3. We Become Complacent Easily

Does your ceiling fan rattle? Mind does. But I usually only notice it for like 2 seconds. Very quickly my ears just become used to it and I can no longer even hear the sound. If I get up, leave the room and then come back, I can hear it right away. I may even twist the light bulb or turn the glass casing, which usually fixes it. For like 2 seconds.

The noise comes back, but by that time I am sitting down and comfortable. I turn on the TV or zone out and the noise goes away. Because I lose focus on the issue so quickly, I am unlikely to fix the problem.

4. Going The Right Direction Makes All The Difference

These days, not only do fans have speed controls, but they also have the ability to change direction. When I first learned of this, I figured that it didn’t matter which the direction the fan went as long as it was spinning.

I was wrong. Apparently the direction matters very much. So much in fact, that one direction creates the feeling of cool air and the other direction creates warm air. Knowing which direction you want makes a world of difference.

5. Turn It Off When We Leave

Fun fact: regardless of the direction of rotation, fans actually add heat to a room. Fans never add cool air to the room, they only move the air around. The reason we feel cool with a fan is because of the wind chill effect.

It works like this…we sweat -> air mover over the sweat -> the evaporation rate increases. More evaporation = cooler sweat = cooler human.

Because of this, it does not make any sense to have a fan going if there is not someone in the room. All that happens is the electricity bill goes up and the room actually gets warmer.

Many of us have high stress jobs. We are constantly have to be on top of our game. But when we leave work, we may want to learn a lesson from fans and turn it off.

5 Things We Can Learn From Disney Dads

Happy father’s day to all the dads out there! In honor of dad’s day, I thought it might be fun to see what types of things we can learn from the great padres in Disney movies. Enjoy…

1. Dads come in all shapes and sizes

When we think of Disney dads, we think of the commanding Mufasa (The Lion King) , the chiseled King Triton (The Little Mermaid)  and the celestial Zeus (Hercules) . I don’t know about you, but my dad is never going to look like that, no matter how many badges he earns on his FitBit (although, his billowy chest hair does sort of resemble Mufasa’s).

We often forget, but not all fathers from Disney movies are impeccable specimens. The Sultan from Aladdin is pudgy, Marlin from Finding Nemo is nervous and Maurice from Beauty and the Beast is just plain kooky. More than that, many Disney father figures aren’t dads at all. Rafiki (The Lion King)  and Carl (Up) make quite an impression on their young friends, without having any kids of their own. 

Size and strength are not what make a dad feel superhuman.

2. Empathizing > embarrassing

No matter how embarrassing your dad may seem, he has nothing on Goofy. In A Goofy Movie,  Max is constantly hiding his face as to not be associated by his bumbling dad. Goofy spends most of the movie trying to make his son happy, but only making things worse. All because he can’t figure out what Max enjoys.

All that embarrassment is forgiven, however, when Goofy begins to relate to Max and sneaks them into the Powerline concert. An exclamation point is added to their father/son relationship when they bond over a shared experience.

As Powerline says, “If we listen to each other’s heart, we’ll find we’re never too far apart.” (Which is a great line until you start to realize that the flip side means you are not too far apart form becoming an embarrassing bad just like your old man).

3. A family is best team you will be on

As his name implies, Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles) is a pretty impressive dude. As a solo act, he is able to stop about 95% of the bad guys in Metroville. But it isn’t until he teams up with his wife, Elastigirl, and their children Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack that he is able to take down the sinister Syndrome.

Being a family isn’t easy. A quick search for U.S. household statistics will tell us that. We don’t get to pick everyone we are stuck with and they often test our patiences. However, when we are faced with a trial, a total family effort can make us all incredible.

4. But sometimes your kids need to go solo

In spite of everything I just wrote, there will be times when a father can’t (and shouldn’t) be there to save the day. Take Hercules for instance. Zapped of his god-status as a baby, he is raised by mortal parents. He later learns if he can become a true hero, he’ll be able to return to My Olympus and rejoin his dad, Zeus.

If Zeus is really the king of all gods, I would imagine it would be pretty easy for him to show his son how to be a hero and then they would all have one big party in the clouds with their supernatural friends. But Zeus knows that Herc’ has to handle this one on his own.

Letting your son or daughter go on a journey of their own is probably one of the hardest things a parent can do (besides figure out how to work iTunes and the DVR). It had to be tough for Zeus, but in the end Hercules completed the journey by himself and was a much better man because of it.

5. A father’s influence is like a bad credit score

It sticks with you forever. The best Disney example of this, of course, Mufasa (The Lion King). He dies when Simba is just a cub, but that doesn’t mean he is left out of the movie. He shows back up in clouds, water and stars. His short time with his son leaves a huge imprint, which is summed up by this iconic scene…

Five Things We Can Learn From Holidays

In honor of Memorial Day, I have given a holiday twist to the latest installment of Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects.

Today let’s take a look at holidays. Technically they are not objects, but let’s see what we can learn from these special days.

Five Things We Can Learn From Holidays:

1. Some Days Are More Special Than Others

A holiday, by definition, is a day on which normal activities are suspended or reduced. We hit the pause button at work so we can spend time with family. We ignore the everyday minutia and enjoy every minute of the day. We do everything we can to make the day special.

Think the rules for special days can only be applied holidays? Think again. We can take this same approach on all aspects of our lives. Try making a typical workday special by suspending stress and reducing rut.

2. Limits Lead to Value

Another reason holidays are special is that they are rare. There are only 10 National Holidays, which equals less than one per month. If we had a one every week, the power of a holiday would be significantly reduced.

Disney has taken advantage of this idea by creating the Disney Vault. Each Disney movie is only offered for purchase for a limited time, after which it is put “in the vault” and not sold for several years until it is once again released. Disney controls their market and keeps old movies fresh by placing limits to when they will be available.

3. It is Important To Reflect And Remember

Most holidays involve a person or an event from the past. We have holidays that celebrate teachers, trailblazers and turkeys. How we observe holidays may vary, but the common thread is that we honor these days by reflecting and remembering. Looking back into the past can help us see the difference made in our present.

Not everything in our past is something we want to remember. But that doesn’t mean we can ignore it. By reflecting and recalling our past (both successes and failures), we are more likely to see a better future.

4. The Power of One Day

The difference between a two-day weekend and a three-day weekend can feel like the difference between a hole in the ground and the Grand Canyon. That one extra day puts a smile on your face and changes Monday from a bad word to a day to celebrate. Amazing what an additional 24 hours can do for your self-esteem.

When we are working on our dream, time will be a tricky thing. We will either feel that we aren’t ready right now, or that we are already too late. Three-day vs two-day weekends show us how powerful one day can feel. We shouldn’t lose sight of the power of the hours that are right at our fingertips.

5. Take Time Off

Holidays let us take a break from work. In honor of that, I am letting you out early. Only 4 lessons today! Enjoy the day off and have a nice Memorial Day!

5 Things We Can Learn From Superheroes

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about the topic of the biggest movie of the year….

5 Things We Can Learn From Superheroes

1. We All Have A Beginning

All superheroes have an origin story. This is the back-story that tells of a journey which that person took to become a superhero. The story could involve: living as a mutant, being bitten by a spider, or inheriting a parent’s fortune. We may know this part of the story, but it is not the main thing that comes to mind when we picture someone super. We get caught up in the laser vision, the web-slinging, and the awesome gadgets, and forget that even the greatest of superheroes had to start in the beginning.

2. We All Have A Super Power

If you Google “What are the best super powers?” you’ll find over 15 million results covering everything from mind control to superhuman strength. You’ll find a wide range of articles from 25 Superpowers You Wish You Had to 15 Breakfasts to Super Power Your Day (okay, so maybe that second one doesn’t really fit, but I am a sucker for breakfast). The point is that there are a ton of superpowers out there. The key is to find and cultivate what makes each of us super.

3. We Can’t Do It All

Did you know that kryptonite was first introduced so that Superman could go on vacation? Seriously, it is true. In 1943, a mineral named “kryptonite” was used on The Adventures of Superman radio series because Bud Collyer, the actor who played Superman and Clark Kent, wanted a break from the series. Beginning with the episode, “The Meteor from Krypton”, the writers started including Superman’s one weakness. A stand-in groaned for several episodes until Collyer came back from vacation. No matter how super we are (or how bad we want to go on holiday), we all need assistance, and…

4. That’s Why It Helps To Have A Sidekick

Batman has Robin. Holmes has Watson. Potter has Weasley. Even Steph Curry needs Klay Thompson. If it is okay for superheroes to need an assist, it is definitely okay for us to ask for help.

5. Presentation Is Important

If superheroes have figured out one thing, it is presentation. From Ironman to Wolverine, superhero costumes are pretty darn sweet. They have a cool factor that makes the person wearing them seem unstoppable. There is a reason so many kids (and adults) want to dress up like them for Halloween. We may not need skin-tight clothes, but we all have a costume. If you are a blogger, your website is your costume. If you are a chef, your food is your costume. If you are a saxophone player, your Kenny G covers are your costume. We can all work on our presentation by spending some time on our costume.

5 Things We Can Learn From Calendars

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about something very timely….

5 Things We Can Learn From Calendars

1. We Don’t Have To Be Boring

To channel my inner high school speech… A calendar is defined as “a system for fixing the beginning, length, and divisions of the civil year and arranging days and longer divisions of time (as weeks and months) in a definite order.” Talk about a boring definition. But calendars are hardly boring. You can find sports calendars, movie calendars, & music calendars. There are calendars with babes, babies & Babe: Pig in the City. Anything we can think of, we can turn into a theme for a calendar. Just because we may be seen by others as a system…civil…definite order…, doesn’t mean we have to be boring.

2. When We Are Memorable, We Outlive Out Shelf Life

In 2009, I was given an awesome calendar featuring characters from The Simpsons. Guess how long I have kept it hanging up in my room? If you guessed 12 months, you are wrong. The correct answer is 7 years (and counting). Sure, the day, months & years expired on December 31st, but I have kept it hanging for all these years and turned it into decoration. I can’t be the only one that keeps an old calendar around. This Christmas, my grandpa was given a customized calendar featuring pictures of his great-grand kids. You better believe he will keep that thing around into 2017 and beyond. As I mentioned above, there is nothing that says we have to be boring. When we are memorable, we will last long past our expiration date.

3. Order Is Important

Yes, I keep my 2009 calendar hanging, but I do not use it to track my week. If I did, I would be thinking January 12th is a Monday. I get a new calendar every year and it is one of the many tools I use to keep my life in order. Calendars are great because they can feature things like the cast of Downton Abbey, but they are also great because they give us structure. They show us the days, weeks, & months and can help us plan accordingly.

4. It Is Nice To Have A Back Up Plan

I like to think I will always remember my mom’s birthday. Even though I have not forgotten it in 30 years of living, I still put it on my calendar. Why do I do that? Is it because I am actually afraid that I will forget what day it is and not send her a birthday cake emoji? Not really. I do it because my memory is not perfect. Things happen and distractions arise. We all get busy and it is nice to have a backup plan.

5. Make Sure You Can See It

My wall calendar is above my bed. My phone calendar is in the top left, aka lead-story, position on my cell phone app list. I rely on both so much that I keep them front and center. Whether it be our calendar, our bank account or our hair spray, when something is important, we make sure we can see it.

Five Things We Can Learn From Autocorrect

When I say the word “learning” what comes to mind?

Maybe you think of a colorful classroom full of energetic 1st graders. Or maybe you think of a stuffy college lecture hall with a buttoned up, grey haired professor.

Whatever you have in your mind, I think it is pretty safe to guess that you are picturing some type of school setting. And that makes sense given the fact that most of our learning comes from formal education.

But what happens when we stop our formal education? Do we stop learning?

Not at all. We just learn differently. As we grow older we trade in our learning from chalkboards and homework to learning from board rooms and networks.

That is the great thing about learning, it is not confined to certain times or locations. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

Think about that time you were just one minute late for the bus. You probably learned that every minute counts. Or that day you didn’t recognize your wife’s new haircut. You probably learned to be a little more perceptive.

We all can learn some very important lesson from the things we encounter on a daily basis.

With that in mind, I would like to introduce a new segment that I am calling “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects.”

For the first entry in this series I will take on something we all bump into anytime we type into our phone or computer…Autocorrect.

Five Things We Can Learn From Autocorrect

1. If you go too fast you are bound to mess up

Have you ever tried to type a text message so fast that what comes out is just a jumbled mess? Your fingers are moving so franticly that autocorrect has to work extra hard to decipher what you are writing, and nothing comes out right.

What happens next? You have to delete all the mistakes and type the words all over again. You ended up taking twice as long and typing everything twice because you tried to go too fast.

We make this same mistake in our everyday lives. We try to solve problems by throwing speed at them instead of substance. We franticly finish fast but all we have to show for it is just jumbled junk.

2. You can’t fix errors with errors

Recently I tried to spell the word “viable” in a text message. But my fingers hit the wrong keys and I typed “viakle” instead. Autocorrect sensed that it was the wrong word and changed it to “Viking.”

Autocorrect was doing its job, but it still didn’t make my sentence correct. It simply fixed an error with another error.

Sometimes we think we can solve every problem just by changing it. But just because it was changed doesn’t mean it was made better. Remember when you made a mistake at work and covered it up with a lie. That is like using Viking when you should have used viable.

3. Sometimes you are just too far off

I often spell words so poorly that autocorrect has no suggestion for it. I am so far off that autocorrect is just looking at me like, “that’s not even close to any real words.” In those cases I have to start over and really put some thought into spelling it correctly.

Think about the time your boyfriend got mad at you and you couldn’t figure out why. I bet when you stopped and really put some thought into it you had a much better guess at the correct answer.

4. Sometimes you really are right (even when others disagree)

Autocorrect is great, but it is not perfect. Just the other day I was going to play wiffle ball with some friends. Anytime I would type “wiffle” into a text message autocorrect would change it to “waffle.” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy waffles just as much as the next guy, but in this case my message had nothing to do with delicious breakfast foods.

In real life, just like in text messages, there are sometimes you will be right, no matter what other people say. It is important to recognize those times and ignore the popular opinion and trust your gut.

5. We can all use help
I am good at typing but with autocorrect I am much better. I am good at math but with a calculator I am much better. No matter how good we are at something, we can all use a little help at one point or another. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.