Category Archives: Just do it

Strategies for Avoiding a Fight with Your Wife (A series…)

Strategy Two

Don’t Try and Win the Toilet Seat Debate

 “Men who consistently leave the toilet seat up secretly want women to get up to go the bathroom in the middle of the night and fall in.”

Rita Rudner

Okay…this is a disgusting topic but it must be covered. For some reason, society, which in this country normally pushes the individual to make decisions and solve problems for themselves, has determined that the default position for any toilet seat is down. I am not sure if it was determined by vote…by committee…or whether I have just been brainwashed into thinking it is an unspoken law but for whatever reason, civil society dictates that the correct position for the toilet seat when there are women in the house is down.

If there are just men in the house, a position of up seems to be okay as that is the position of most use. Also, most men are able to make the proper adjustment in the middle of the night and put the seat in the down position if that is the service that is required. It is miraculous, but somehow when guys find the toilet seat up, they recognize it, put it down and do not shout to the other guys, “who left the toilet seat up?”

Many years ago, before it was taboo to speak of such things, one of my friends changed the signs on our corporate bathrooms to “Pointers” and ‘Setters”, referring to types of bird dogs used for hunting. It was humorous for the guys, but in retrospect, I can’t remember many of the ladies enjoying the potty humor.

When I visited China over a decade ago, in many places there was just a hole in the floor. We thought of it as behind the times to say the least but maybe their society is so old that they once had a hinged seat and this very same up or down debate drove them to just a hole in the floor.

One strong manly friend of ours confessed while hunting with a group of us that he stopped fighting it. He lived with his wife and several daughters and he just gave in and became a “setter”. It was almost a religious moment hearing him tell the story in the hunting lodge surrounded by empathetic whiskered men. We all wondered if that was what our future held.

Many people attribute Isaac Newton’s famous quote, “what goes up must come down”, to him watching an apple fall nearby. For us men however, it just confirms that he was probably married and maybe lived in a house full of daughters. He knew the law of the toilet seat long before gravitational formulas entered his mind.

Regardless, it is a losing battle for men to debate…if there are women in the house, return the seat to its rightful place. Yes, it requires .0000013 calories and as many seconds to put it back down but you will spend exponentially more energy and time trying to win this fight to no avail.

HighFive YourLife Principle

What goes up must come down. Don’t fight it…put the seat back down!

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Why You Should Take Your Kids Fishing!

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”

Henry David Thoreau

I recently came across an old picture of a bass that one of my kids caught. Check out the expressions on my boy’s faces. I loved taking them fishing. My dad took me fishing. His dad took him fishing. I am sure that for generations along our family line, the dads have been taking their kids and grandkids fishing.

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Taking your kids fishing is awesome. It is an experience or sum of many experiences that sometimes have little to do with actually catching fish. There are boat trailers that lose an axle or have a flat tire. There is always the pressure of backing a trailer down a busy boat ramp with multiple “experts” and old timers watching and judging. There are plugs that are sometimes remembered only when the boat is quickly filling up with water.

There is bait to buy and keep alive. There are licenses and boat regulations to consider. There is bad weather, hot sun and early morning departures which impact your whole day.

There are boat batteries that run down and motors that won’t start. There are snacks, gas, and ice to buy. There are fishing lines that break and hooks that end up in fingers and ears. There are rods and reels that fall into the water and stringers of fish that drift away because nobody tied them to the boat. There are anchors that have the same fate…a well meaning toss over board with no rope attached to the boat. There are tangles and knots. There are long hot hours that go by without any bites except from mosquitoes. There are snakes and gators that keep you on your toes.

There is all of this and finally a nibble…and if the fish gods are smiling on you, your child lands a fish. Life is good again…or so it seems to the younger ones. For those older and more mature anglers, they know that life has been good all along.

hf70 As with fishing, life is much less about the end result than it is about the journey. Going fishing is all about teaching your children how to solve problems without them even realizing they are growing…it’s about them learning that having fun does not always mean things won’t go wrong. Going fishing is about spending time talking with your kids while you are waiting for the fish to bite or for someone to tow you in. Going fishing is about introducing your children to the wonders of nature. Going fishing is how you make a miserable outing into something that your kids will treasure forever.

Don’t rob your kids of these experiences. Even in the bible it tells us while raising kids we are not to spare the rod…and,  I might add, nor the reel and a box full of tackle. Do all that it takes to make a fishing trip possible. You may or may not catch a fish but there is no question that your misery will pay you back to the positive down the road.

 HighFive Your Life Principle: Go fishing with your kids. Enjoy what others may call misery and make memories that will last through the generations.

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Sustained Effort Makes Things Work…Rock Steady

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential”
Winston Churchill

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Throughout most of the 90’s, we held concerts at our water park in Central Florida. Water Mania was a new water park and was hardly a match for the much more established competitor, Wet-N-Wild. We did not have a big budget and needed to do something to make us stand out. So at great risk, we decided to hold concerts at our massive wave pool.

As a revenue source, it was unreliable and often times very costly. On one concert alone, we lost $50,000. The chance of rain was always a threat. The chance that not enough people would show up to cover the cost of the concert, was always a possibility.

As a security risk, it was challenging. We had to have scuba divers underwater in the pool to make sure nobody disappeared underneath the carpet of inner tubes. Our friendly water park staff had to make the transition to becoming tough security enforcers typical of concerts.

As a marketing tool however, it was effective. We were up against bigger attractions with multimillion dollar ad campaigns. It did not work over night but over the years, it did what it was supposed to do…it put us on the map. Many people who would have otherwise not visited our young water park, made their way out to hear the bands. For some, it is their first memory of the park and it eventually helped make Water Mania an icon in Central Florida.

scan0001Bachman Turner Overdrive

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Kenny Loggins

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Molly Hatchet

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Bad Company

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America

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Greg Allman

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The Outlaws

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Little Feat

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The Marshall Tucker Band

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We closed Water Mania after twenty years of business in 2005. During the years that we did the concerts, we were constantly evaluating the risk reward tradeoff. It was tough on our family and staff but in the end, it was worth it. Sometimes simply sustained effort makes things work and it is not always clear while you are in the middle of doing it, that it is a good idea.

Consider your children. Sometimes it just seems like it is too hard to keep them pointed in the right direction, day after day after day. And then one day, they are gone from your home and on their own. At that point, you will know for sure what you already suspected…that every ounce of energy that you spent in their protection and development was worth it. Sure you have had a few bad nights and sure there will be more in the future but your effort made your family a family…you put your family on the map. You did your part…and it was worth it.

Would I do concerts again if I had a chance to start over? I would like to say yes but there is not enough rain insurance in the world to make my wife happy about it…so I guess the answer would have to be no…It was a dream that it happened and something that I will never forget. Sustained effort is what most of us need to achieve our dreams. Rock Steady.

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I Played In A Rock Band!

“I’m continually trying to make choices that put me against my own comfort zone. As long as you are uncomfortable, it means you’re growing.”
  Ashton Kutcher

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I recently met my three college buds for our annual fishing trip in Florida. We have been doing this for more than two decades and are amazed each year when we are able to pull it off. Our wives not only allow this opportunity but encourage it because they know how good we are for each other. We play cards, fish, cook our own meals and talk about life’s challenges. Each of us comes away with a new zest for moving forward in a positive way with the things that are before us.

This year I planned something special. One of our group is an excellent guitarist who played professionally when we were young. I hired a band to come one night and asked them to let him play with them if he wanted to which they agreed. I kept it a surprise and as we prepared to finish fishing on the lake, my friend heard the sound of an electric guitar and said “that’s a live guitar”. I then told them what I had done and the rest of the evening was great. We cooked steaks and gator tail and listened to our own private band.

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As the evening drew to a close it came time to get my friend to play with the band. As much as we encouraged him to play, he just wouldn’t do it. In an effort to loosen him up, I put my fears aside and jumped up and joined the band. Soon one of the other buds came up and played the bass and we had the time of our lives. I think that secretly it was something that I had always wanted to do and when the opportunity presented itself, I couldn’t resist.

My moment of glory turned out to be a happy moment for everyone involved. I think everyone enjoyed seeing me step out of my comfort zone and make a fool out of myself. The band played along and helped us and the folks watching stomped their feet and got in to the music. I am quite sure I wouldn’t sell any tickets but it made me feel great and my kids are sure proud of their father for trying something new.

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Think of the things that you secretly would like to give a try before this journey is all over and step out of your comfort zone. It will put some rhythm back in your step and your true friends will be proud of you!

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Otis the Pig

“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”
Winston Churchill

Otis was a gift from someone. He needed a home and I guess we wanted a pig. He started out in a pen but kept breaking out. Finally I stopped trying to contain him and just let him wander around our farm with the cows and chickens. Soon he took up residence underneath our old frame farmhouse and the Otis legend began.

photo (10)Can you believe this guy lived underneath my home?

Otis was just friendly enough to come when called, especially if it meant that it was time to eat. After most meals, any leftovers were taken outside and given to our hungry friend. You could hear him making his way from under the house seemingly with great effort. He would eat almost anything. He grew into a huge animal. A good scratch with a stick on his belly would soon cause him to roll over in a state of pig ecstasy. His hair was stiff and tough. There wasn’t anything cuddly or warm about him other than he was constant. He was always there. He wasn’t “kept” there…he was there because he wanted to be there.

What can we learn from Otis the pig?

Define yourself and don’t let others define you. It is that simple. I imagined him being a pig in a pen and Otis saw himself as a noble pig…a worthy pig…a…well, maybe I am taking it too far…maybe he was just a hungry pig but he still did not let me define him. He let me know how it was going to be until I finally said okay, be what you want to be.

We should do the same. Everything around us is trying to define us or describe us…to gauge our potential or likelihood of success. Everyone around us tries to define what our success should look like. Be bold. Define yourself and while being courteous and kind to those around you, choose your life and live it. Make Otis proud.

HighFive Your Life Principle: Be brave and define yourself or others will try to do it for you.

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Chewing Gum and Walking at the Same Time Maybe Should Be A Challenge! (Two great mistakes of the multitasker)

“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simple not giving the kiss the attention it deserves”
Albert Einstein.

My wife cannot sit still. Her mind is always racing and consequently her body is always trying catch up with all the tasks her mind has told her need to be done. She is the consummate multitasker. Her phone has become the consummate enabler for good or for bad. The picture below of her on the phone while sweeping is typical.

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Being productive is awesome but don’t make the mistake of thinking you are a great multitasker if, when in reality, you are falling victim to the two worst mistakes a wannabe multitasker makes.

 

Mistake One
Don’t mistake being busy with productivity

I love getting things off my checklist and going to bed feeling like the day has been productive. I like to think that I can work on many projects at the same time. When I say, however, that I can process many issues and problems, I don’t mean that I can focus on all of them at the same time. I became very good at prioritizing and delegating so that many problems were being addressed at the same time when we built and operated a water park. But this is not saying that I can do two things at the same time. I do not do well for example, trying to listen to someone talk to me on the phone while someone in front of me is also talking. I can switch gears quickly to another issue but I cannot handle both of them at the same time very well.

When we multitask, the danger is that we mistake the need to get things done right now with the need to get one thing done correctly. It is almost unavoidable that the old story of the farmer trying to feed his chickens plays out at our home weekly.

The story goes that the farmer went out to feed his chickens and while walking across the porch noticed that the step needed a nail pounded back in it. He thought that he ought to go ahead and take care of that before anyone tripped on it so he headed to the barn to get a hammer. Once there, he recognized that his tools were all over the place from a recent project he had been working on so he decided to take the time to clean up the place and get his tools back in order. While doing that he saw his broken screwdriver he had busted the day before and remembered that he had planned on going to the store to buy a replacement. Being efficient he decided to make a list of everything else he needed to get so he could make the most out of his trip to the hardware store. He went back into his house to get a paper and pencil. The paper was easy to find but the pencil needed to be sharpened. He reached in to his pocket for his pocket knife but it was not there. He strained his mind to remember where he had left it and recalled that he has used it the previous day out by his front gate. He walked to the gate to look for his knife almost tripping over the hungry chickens gathering around his feet. Giving one of them a nice boot he exclaimed with stress in his voice…dang chickens..can’t you see I am busy!

Do you sometimes get so many things going at once that you feel like you are sometimes just making a lot of motion without getting anywhere?

A great example of someone who seems to be doing a lot of things at the same time but in reality is doing it in an orderly fashion would be a chef. He gets an order with chicken and steak and salads and beans and desserts, all of which require a certain amount of prep and cook time. He knows when each needs to be started so that it comes out at the right time to be served as a hot meal. He accomplishes multiple tasks because of his experience and by delegating and when the smoke clears you have a nice meal sitting in front of you.

A lesson for the wannabe great multitasker is to not mistake busyness with productivity. When given multiple issues that require your attention, develop a way to prioritize them between those that need your attention and those that can be handled by someone else. Delegate what you can. With the remaining issues determine the priority of each one and the amount of time that may be required. You may be able to send out an email on some issues to get the ball rolling so you can started on other issues while waiting for a response. Then focus all of your energy and wisdom on the one issue right in front of you. Take it to the furthest point of resolution and then move on to the next issue on your priorities list.

To someone on the outside you look like a madman picking up the phone and barking out orders and moving from file to file. But they don’t see, that much like the chef, there is order to your madness. In fact you are giving each issue your 100% attention in the critical framework for when it needs to be solved. When you can apply 100% of your attention to multiple issues during the day you are an effective multitasker. When you handle all of your crisis at once they do not get 100% attention. Though you are giving 100% of you, both you and your progress are stressed, frustrated and ineffective.

Mistake Two
Don’t incorrectly use the label “brainless”.

There are a few things we can do at the exact same time well. For example, chewing gum and walking seem to be mutually executable without taking away from the other…for most people! We can fish and converse with our friend and drive while we listen to good music. We typically can mix what we would call “brainless” activities together and do them at the same time. The problem is that we sometimes mistakenly put the brainless label on things that actually require our attention.

For example, some may feel like you can read the paper or watch TV while listening to your spouse talk about their day. Others may feel like you can go through in your mind the children’s home work projects that require your attention while you are kissing your spouse. We allow these type of multitasking experiences to happen because there generally is not a significant short term penalty for not paying attention. We do not realize however, that damage is being done. It is nearly impossible to focus on two things that need our attention at the same time in a meaningful way.

I remember by example what the leader over my church mission in Chile taught me. Once a month a few of us would have the opportunity to go to his home for training and direction. I was 23 years old and it was time that I treasured with great anticipation. While in his office with just a few other missionaries, he would lead us in wonderful discussions and impart wisdom. Occasionally one of his young children would interrupt our meeting and just barge right in. I watched with great interest as he would bring our meeting to an abrupt halt and focus all of his attention on the child. When he was finished and the child left, he would turn to us and pick up right where we left off, without missing a beat.

I learned so much from that experience. When we handle many issues it is important to be able to prioritize them but first we need to make the correct assessment as to their importance. My Mission President knew what was most important and did not hesitate to prove it to us by his actions.

Recently my wife tried to clean the pool with a long net while talking on the phone. The back end of the pole hit the pool screen throwing her in the pool phone and all. Sometimes we are reminded that what we think is a brainless activity actually requires more attention.

My recommendation is next time your spouse wants to talk about the day or give you a kiss, turn off the TV and stop thinking about the other things on your mind. Pay attention. When your kids come in and seem to be hanging around and want to talk, turn off the movie or stop mowing the lawn and focus on their lives. Pay attention and next time you are chewing gum and walking reconsider what really constitutes a brainless activity. Maybe you can make some improvements at home. At least consider that at times, you or I may be the one that actually deserves that label.

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How Long Can a Spider Crawl On You Before You Notice It?

“May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house”.

      George Carlin

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I was mowing the lawn near dusk the other day and went back into an area that had not been mowed in a while. There were logs and limbs and vines everywhere. I normally am pretty good at spotting a spider web but this time I missed it and drove right into it. I hate that feeling and immediately began brushing off my head and  shoulders in case the spider had gotten on me. I had on a hat and sweatshirt but the hood of the sweatshirt was not on my head. I felt a sense of urgency and wailed at the unseen but possible threat lurking behind me.

All seemed okay as I backed out and continued mowing the rest of the yard. A couple of minutes passed and suddenly  I felt something on my neck. I quickly wailed at it and sure enough the huge spider fall on my leg. It gives me the creeps to even think about it again. I knocked it into the grass and kept mowing. As I came back around I found the spider crawling in the grass and a few days later the spider in the picture had a web close by. I assume it was the same one. He (or she) is about 3 inches across.

The thought that this spider was crawling on me for a couple of minutes before I noticed it makes me shutter! I suppose my thick layer of clothes gave me some protection. I should have hopped off the mower sooner and had somebody else take a look to see if I had a spider on my back but I didn’t take the time.

What uncertain things do you have lurking out there in your life that are waiting to bite you in the back at some unforeseen point in the future? Instead of living your life with the worry, stress and fear, go take care of it and get things out in the open so that you can see a clear way forward. Even if the outcome is painful, better to take in on your terms instead of being surprised by it later on. Identify the threat and do your best to neutralize it. The threat could be credit cards out of control, or poor eating or drinking habits or an intersection that needs a stop sign. Take the time to get help if you need it. How long will you let the spider crawl on you before you notice it and take action?

HighFive Your Life Principle: Don’t let threats linger. Get them in front of you so that they do not sneak up and bite you from behind.

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