Do more than 80%

Sure, 80% of success is just showing up. That’s not a world I want to to live in, though. Anyone can just show up.

You showed up. Now do something useful.

Too many people depend upon too few

Nick Offerman played Ron Swanson on the show Parks and Recreation.

Ron Swanson is my favorite character on the show. I like Offerman even more than I like Swanson after reading an interview Entertainment did with him. Or them. Not much difference.

There’s nothing to be gained from social media or playing the latest game on your phone, he says. Sure, you have fun, but that’s it. Better to make something with your hands.

When you learn to cook, that’s a skill you have for life. You create a great meal for you and your family and your friends.

When you learn some woodworking skills, you can make a table that you can use forever.

When you learn to code, you can make a website or a program that makes someone’s day easier.

Offerman and Swanson are funny and brash. He – they – remind me of Mark Twain. Laugh, but after thinking about it, you get a little worried. There’s a serious point.

Never in the history of humanity have so many people been so dependent on so few people.

Everyone knows how to use and consume but few of us know how to build and fix. That doesn’t make for a healthy culture.

Terrorism. Natural disasters. Prolonged war.

What will happen? Will the majority of humanity simply hang around waiting for a handful of people to fix everything?

On will power

Will power is what we call the energy that drives us to action. Will power is also the energy that keeps us moving despite obstacles. We use our will power to over come obstacles and restrain ourselves from going off course.

It seems like we never have enough will power. We stick to the diet, for awhile. We go to the gym on Monday and then Tuesday and then . . . we get tired and have too much to do.

We start working on dreams that excite us only to loose interest and stop.

We beat up on ourselves because we lack will power.

We all have plenty of will power. The problem is we don’t understand how will power works. We don’t understand how we can strengthen will power. We don’t understand how to manage our will power.

Here are some of my epiphanies.

Will power can only be used on one thing at a time. Physicians tell us to loose weight by eating right and exercising. Thanks for the advice, Mr. Physician, but I can’t do to things at once. I’m only human. Start out by doing only one of these things. A good place to start is eating right, but start slowly. Create an easy to implement plan where you slowly replace junk food with real food. Once you are successful and have the eating right skill mastered, you can move on to exercise.

Will power is a finite resource. It is strong first thing in the day then slowly declines. This is why you should do your most important work in the morning.

Will power is renewable. Rest and relaxation is the key. You don’t need a week long vacation to replenish will power. Short breaks during the day do wonders. Do something you enjoy after work. Get enough sleep.

Strong will power is crucial when you are learning a new skill. Will power helps get you through the newness. Eventually the learning takes less will power as you progress, as you become emotionally connected with the new skill.

Sure, it’s a slow process. You won’t win a gold medal. You will make it across the finish line.


It’s all about helping people

Business and business people are generally misunderstood.  If you start a business because you want to get rich or famous or both, you will fail.  Maybe not right away, but, eventually, you will fail.

The successful business person figures out ways to help people today.  Get out of bed and help as many people as possible.  Repeat.

The entrepreneur helps people today but also sees how she can help people in the future.  How can my invention change millions of lives for the better?

Some get mega rich like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.  Some don’t.

Orville Wright died before he saw any significant wealth from his invention. Wilbur Wright lived long enough to earn some money from the airplane. Wilbur was worth about ten million in today’s dollars.  Certainly well off but not mega rich by today’s standards or even the standards of his time.

The airplane changed humanity.

Don’t worry about rich and famous.  Figure out a way to help as many people as you can.  You’ll probably make a decent living at it.

No guarantees, of course.  Help doesn’t always have a monetary value attached to it.

Greece will not improve it’s future through more taxes and austerity.

Only more Greeks getting out of bed and helping people will improve Greece’s future.


Give the people what they want

It’s Sunday, July 5th.  I’m sitting at my desk working through some paper so my Monday isn’t completely crazy.

I’m listening to Radio Margaritaville.

Jimmy Buffett isn’t that good of a singer.  He’s better than I am, of course, but that isn’t saying much.  He isn’t that good of a musician, either.

But he’s great.  Who doesn’t want “Boat Drinks” in the dark days of winter?

Diane and I were drinking a bottle of wine on a hot day on the patio of a winery.  The music was great.  A young musician was waiting his turn to perform.  He was nervous, hugging his guitar.

I over heard his father give him some advice.  Mick Jagger isn’t that good of a singer, the father told him.  But he and the rest of the Rolling Stones created a sound that people liked.  Music that people wanted to listen to.

You don’t have to be the best singer or guitar player or programmer or whatever.  You can’t be.

You just have to create something that people want.  What they need.

That’s good enough.


Patients and passion

The Wright brothers shouldn’t have been able to do what they did.  They had no education beyond high school, no wealth and no connections.  Better financed and better educated people were trying to build flying machines, too.  The United States government spent close to $100,000 on a flying machine.  Unless the Internet is lying to me again, that’s close to $3 million in today’s money.

But they did fly.  I guess being raised by a free thinking father and being from Dayton, Ohio was enough to over come the odds.

As an aside, inventions from Dayton, Ohio number in the thousands.  I think more inventions and patents have come from Dayton than any other American city.

Who knows?  Maybe the water?

Patients and passion also helped.

Patients isn’t easy to learn.  Patients is a skill that can be learned, I think. The opposite of patients is worry.  Worrying about how much time something is taking.  Worrying about the out come.  Will this work?  Am I wasting my time?

Patients isn’t an easy skill to learn no matter the time period, but it’s harder to learn today than it was in the Wright brothers time.  So many distractions. In the early 1900s there wasn’t the Internet or television or radio or even electricity.  The brothers powered the fan for their wind tunnel experiments with a noisy gasoline engine.

After working you had time to read and think and write long letters.  Back then people wrote long letters.

Patients and faith are the same thing.  The Wright brothers had faith in manned flight.  They had faith in themselves.  They had faith in their “wing warping” technique.  They knew they could build a flying machine before anyone else.  They didn’t worry or hurry because of competition.

The brother’s weren’t altruistic saints.  They knew that flight would change humanity.  They also knew accolades and fortunes would be theirs.  But there wouldn’t be accolades and fortunes without the flying machine.

So just concentrate on the flying machine.

Baby steps.  One after the other.

Passion is tomorrow’s subject.

Ignore them

There are a lot of broken people in the world.  Maybe even the majority of people.  Most of them are harmless.

Some broken people aren’t harmless.  They seek out ways to hurt people.

There are a lot of good people doing good work in the world.  Maybe even the majority of people.

Concentrate on working with the good people.

Ignore the rest.

No way to earn a living

I was waiting for the Lowes employee to bring my dishwasher to the register. I was listening to conversations.

“I have two hours and fifteen minutes,” one employee said.

“I just got here, but today’s my Friday!” the other responded.

Another employee walked past.

“I have two hours and fifteen minutes,” she said again.

“I got twenty,” was the response.

Similar conversations followed.

I realize we all have to make a living somehow.  Not all jobs can be interesting all the time, or even some of the time.

And Lord knows I’ve had days that I couldn’t wait to see the end of.

Dragging yourself to work and then counting the minutes until you can leave is no way to live your life.

That’ll drive you nuts.

The end of noise

Our new Ford F-150 came with a 6 month trial subscription to Sirius radio.  I never listened to satellite radio.  I was hooked.

I like the Classic Vinyl channel.  The 80s channel.  Songs I haven’t heard in a long time.  No commercials.


There was a commercial for a plumber in Pendleton, Or.  “Your toilet backs up and now you have poop on your hands.  There.  I said it on the radio.  Poop.”

Shut. Up.

I signed up for a year’s subscription.  I’m going to get a subscription so we can listen in Diane’s car and in the camp trailer too.

Radio.  Television. Newspapers.  The only point to these mediums is advertisements.  There’s stuff in between the ads for you to enjoy.

Who would pay attention to nothing but ads?  You have to have something in between.

It’s all changing.

Hurting the people you claim to be helping

Pedoscopes were x-ray machines used in many shoe stores from the 1920s to around the 1970s.

The shoe salesman looked through a porthole on the Pedoscope to see the bones of your feet inside your new shoes.  There were portholes so you and your parents could look too.


A better fitting shoe made better feet.  Your shoes lasted longer.  The Pedoscope was a tool to help.

Of course it was a gimmick.  The Pedoscope didn’t help you get a better fitting shoe. Wiggling your toes and talking a short walk around the store is still the best way of judging new shoes.

And the Pedoscope was potentially harmful.  Maybe the x-ray dosage was low.  Who knows?  It’s cumulative.

Thanks, but we get enough radiation from the universe itself.

Saying you’re helping but really hurting just so you can sell us something.

Lead in gasoline.  That’s a good example.

Diet food.

What else?

And saying that it may not help but doesn’t hurt is just as bad.