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Friday, May 28, 2010

Nine of Hearts

The number nine is represented by IX in Roman numerals.  That symbol will be featured in this week's post.  We are approaching Memorial Day when we remember and pay tribute to those men and women who have given their lives in service to our country.  It is fitting that we should take time to acknowledge the sacrifices that were made by those who volunteered to protect our freedoms.  They should be remembered every day, not just once a year.

As we pause to reflect and thank our military heroes, it is also a good time to let our own personal network of friends and family know that they are appreciated.  Highlight occasions when they had an influence on you.  Your progress and accomplishments are a memorial to where you have been, where you are, and where you are going.  Create a table with the categories Look, Listen, and Learn across the top as column headers.  For your row labels, use the colors red, yellow, and green.  Of course, this probably makes you think of a traffic light. 

 Let's examine the people, habits, situations and experiences that will make us stop, proceed with caution, or go as we pause to look, listen, and learn.  Try to be observant of your surroundings so that you will see what options are available to you.  When you look for opportunities, have a clear vision of what you want.  Consider the pixels that form the big picture.  If the resolution meets your standards, then go forward.  However, when you look and there are obstacles in front of you, slow down and be careful as you continue.  You don't have to nix your next move, just adjust your route.  As you look to reach each milestone on the way to your destination, recognize any issues, or risks that may hinder you.  Stop and analyze possible options to fix the problem.

Sometimes you have to make decisions based on what you hear instead of what you see.  That is why it is so important to listen with the intent of understanding.  As you listen, be aware of what is being said betwixt the lines.  Remember that what is not said is just as significant as what is said.  Go to the next conversation with key information that will benefit you.  When you have to respond immediately after you listen to something, try to present your reply as an elixir to benefit the others involved in the conversation.    Do not listen to things that are designed to make you lose focus.  We are a society of multi-taskers with too much to do and not enough time to do it.  The ingredients that go into the mixture that is your to do list should complement one another, not clash. 

Finally, you should learn something from everything that you see and hear.  Even when it seems that you have wasted your time, there is a lesson that will help you.  Rise like a phoenix and share your tactics with others.  You may need to learn some things over and over again until you recognize them in different formats and presentations.  It is okay to maintain and consult an appendix of prior approaches and outcomes.  Don't worry if you learn some bad habits along the way.  You can filter those through your productivity matrix to reduce their impact and eventually eliminate them.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nine of Spades

There has been a lot of talk in the news recently about the Supreme Court.  One of the Justices is retiring, so the President will have to nominate a new person to fill the vacant post.  You may recall from past years that there will be a confirmation hearing for Congress to question and eventually approve or reject the nominee.  It is a very significant event in our history when it happens because Supreme Court Justices serve for life.  Unless they decide to retire, they have a job until they die. They also have a lot of power since they preside over the highest court in the land. 
The Nine of Spades will represent your Supreme Court this week.  Instead of dealing with our national government and laws, let's take a look at the tenets of your personal constitution.  What principles or patterns govern your life?  Your Justices are not people, but the skills, characteristics, and actions that define you.  Some key skills that you might be judged on are communication, decision making, and time management.   Whether you are working on your job or relaxing with friends and family, what you say (or don't say) matters.  Most people also communicate through email and texting, so remember your words leave an impression in spoken and written form.  How many decisions do you make a day? There are probably too many to count.   Hopefully, most of them will be the right ones, but some of them may be wrong.  As long as you can explain the reasoning behind the decision, you will be able repeat the beneficial ones and modify the ones that didn't produce the desired results.  Time is a precious commodity.  There never seems to be enough of it.  When you treat it with the respect it deserves, it is an asset for you.  If you abuse time, it becomes a liability.  Be considerate of people's time and they will judge you favorably.

What are your most prominent characteristics?  Are you compassionate, creative, and friendly?  Do the words rude, immature, and impatient describe you better?  The tendencies that you display regularly are what others witness even when you are unaware of being observed.  They are inherent to your personality.  Most of us have a combination of the positive and negative traits.  Your Characteristic Justice will help you balance your behavior so that you present a more favorable and complete view of yourself.  When you exhibit the less than desirable aspects of your nature, file an appeal by apologizing and asking for a chance to show your other side.   

The Justice that is assigned to your Actions issues the verdicts, or consequences, for the things that you do.  Your ruling will be based on evidence, testimony and quality representation.  Conduct yourself with integrity and honor.  The result will be evidence that helps your case.  While your testimony is important, more weight is sometimes given to what others have to say.  You do not have control over what people will say about you.  However, you do control the image you project and what you let them see you do and hear you say.  Do not put yourself in situations where someone will be in a position to provide testimony that can harm you.  Finally, it is important to have a good attorney, or spokesperson.  When you have to deal with the legal system, the judges, lawyers, and other court professionals belong to the same club.  They know the rules, language, and techniques to succeed.  This is also applies to other areas of your life.  If you are operating in unfamiliar territory, make sure you have someone on your team who knows the environment and can guide you through the process.     

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ten of Diamonds

Technology has provided us with many tools that make our lives easier.  Navigation systems allow us to find our way to locations by entering the address and following the instructions of the friendly voice.  Some of us still use maps and landmarks to help us to get where we need to go.  The method of getting directions may depend on the distance to be traveled or the familiarity of the surroundings. 

Let's use the Ten of Diamonds as our treasure map this week.  If "X" marks the spot, we need to follow the clues to get there and discover the prize.  What are some of the common symbols, or markers, found on a treasure map?  There may be a flag, a tree, some rocks, or other landmark to let you know that you are on the right course.

Treasures are determined by individuals.  You may be familiar with the saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure".  What is valuable to you may not have the same meaning to someone else.  Do not be discouraged by others who are pursuing different objectives.  As you embark on the exciting journey to find your treasure, be prepared for barriers and booby traps.    Do not be distracted by those things.  They are simply part of the process.  Instead, concentrate on the clues and signs that will lead you to the finish line and victory.

Flags are banners that identify a group or territory.  During your expedition, they may come in the form of compliments and complaints.   Compliments may highlight key strengths that will be necessary to help you make progress toward your destination.  Use them to your advantage.  Complaints can also be beneficial.  They may help you see areas of weakness that need to be practiced in order to improve the skill set.  Awareness of the what needs improvement provides balance to your approach.

Trees have roots, branches, and leaves.  They represent your preparation and network.  Your roots are steps you may need to take before you embark on your mission.  They could involve education, training, or research.  That takes care of what you need to know.  Your branches are who you need to know.  Do not try to do everything alone.  There are people who can open doors for you, make introductions, and share shortcuts with you.  The leaves, or fruit, are the evidence that you are making progress.  They are what you have to show for your efforts.   

Rocks are symbolic of risks.  When you see them, evaluate the size, shape, and smoothness.  There is usually some level of risk involved as you pursue something of value.  It will help to have a strategy in place for dealing with small, medium, and large risks.  Some may be deemed acceptable and require little or no attention.  Others might have more serious consequences and cause you to actively try to avoid them.  Consider the benefits attached to each risk and take a chance when you stand to gain more than you would lose. 

Once you reach the "X", the treasure should be nearby.  If it is buried, you will have to dig for it.  Make sure you have your tools with you.  If it is hidden, you will have to seek it.  You might have to look under the rocks or climb the tree.  Just know that you are in the right place and be proud of yourself for getting there. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ten of Clubs

Graduation season is upon us. College and high school seniors are sending invitations to celebrate the end of a successful journey. They are also making preparations for the next chapter in their lives. Some of the young people leaving high school will choose to continue their education in college. Others may decide to serve their country by enlisting in the military. There is another group who will immediately enter the workforce. The college graduates will have similar options. Some will choose graduate school, while others will begin their careers.

Before any of these post graduate decisions can be made, the students must complete their tasks (studying) and tests (final exams) in order to receive their trophies (diplomas and degrees). We can use this analogy to describe some of the scenarios that occur in our day to day lives. The Ten of Clubs will represent the tasks, tests, and trophies that we encounter on a regular basis.

Some situations that the categories would apply to include a job search, weight loss program, and sticking to a budget. Stories about the current unemployment rate are reported daily in the news. You may know someone who is looking for work or even be a candidate yourself. As job seekers complete applications and submit resumes, they are doing the initial tasks necessary for consideration. If they are selected for an interview, there are additional tasks to be completed (company research, question and answer preparation, etc.). For this example, the interview itself is the test that must be passed and the trophy, or reward, is the job offer.

While the number of people looking for jobs may be driven by the economy, there are always people who want to lose weight. The topic is usually more popular at the beginning of the year as resolutions are made. However, there is a very profitable weight loss industry that indicates there are plenty of people who seek to shed pounds at any given time. Some of the tasks include changing the diet, starting an exercise routine, and adopting a healthier lifestyle. The test is simple. When you step on the scale, the number should be less each week. The trophy for this particular effort can vary depending on why you wanted to lose weight. If your doctor instructed you to do it for medical reasons, then the trophy might be lower blood pressure, better heart health, or less joint pain. If the weight loss was for your vanity, that is okay. The trophy could be a dress or pair of jeans that you used to wear but did not fit with the extra pounds. A lower dress size is a great reward.

Do you have a budget? Do you follow it faithfully? If the answer to either question is no, there are some tasks that you can do to help you. List your monthly bills and estimate how much will be needed pay them. You can get the figures by looking at past amounts. Write down everything that you spend. Identify needs versus wants. Your test will come when you are tempted to buy something that is not in your budget. If you pass, the trophy will be a balanced budget and increased confidence in yourself.

There are other goals that can be broken down into tasks, tests, and trophies. When you encounter obstacles between you and your desired results, remember the Ten of Clubs.  Complete your preparation activities, measure your success, and claim your prize.