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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Eight of Hearts

What's on your mind this week?  Are you enjoying the summer sunshine and planning a fun vacation?  If you are a soccer fan, then you are probably watching the World Cup games.  Maybe you are frustrated and troubled by the news reports of the oil spill in the Gulf and other disturbing things that are happening in society right now.  Hopefully, the Eight of Hearts can help you focus on possibilities and potential this week instead of disaster and dread.  Our analogy this week will deal with an 8-sided object that you probably see daily - the Stop sign.

What happens after you stop at the sign?  You usually have the option to continue going straight, make a right turn, go left, or turn around and go back the way you came.  One thing is certain.  You have to continue moving.  Those same principles can be applied to other areas of your life.  When you pause to determine which way to go, keep straight if traffic is moving at a steady pace, the route takes you past multiple places of interest, or there are multiple lanes available.  In other words, take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.  If you want to go back to school or pursue additional training, the availability of funding and classes will influence your decision.  As long as the money and courses are available, keep going.  When you need to integrate separate areas of your life (home, work, family, friends, community, etc.), find common threads to tie them together.  Share recipes, books, or hobbies that may appeal to multiple groups.  Recognize the value of flexibility in the pursuit of your goals.  For improved fitness, consider the significance of diet, exercise, and environment.  Relationship success can be impacted by compassion, reliability, and sensitivity to the needs of others.  Career progress is affected by different variables that may include your manager, corporate culture, and work assignments.  All of the lanes, or paths, will  get you to the destination.  However, different approaches may be necessary to help you arrive safely and on time.

Turn right at the intersection when you encounter roadblocks, need fuel, or have a new driver observing you.  Sometimes a barrier can actually be a good thing for you.  It causes you make adjustments and think outside of the box.  If you want to start your own business, don't get discouraged when you experience setbacks.  Use your creativity to turn the situation into a strategic advantage for you.  For example, if you have problems getting funding from traditional sources, consider alternative means of financing.  If your business will provide a tangible benefit to the community, do the research to see how local government and civic organizations may be able to help.  They may be able to refer you to grant and sponsorship programs that can assist you.  You definitely don't want any delays when you need fuel and are trying to get to a station to replenish your tank.  It is important to recognize who or what energizes you.  Fill up on a regular basis so you are not running on empty.  This will help you make the right decisions at the right time for the right reasons.  When others observe you they will get the right message.  Everyone is a role model to someone.  You lead by example even when you are unaware of being watched.  

Turn left for access to parallel parking spaces on the street or to safely navigate sharp curves.  Sometimes you might have to operate within tight time lines to achieve your desired results.  You get better at this particular skill set with practice.  Negotiate start and end points for tasks that fit into your schedule and allow you room to maneuver.  It helps you and those who may be in a position to assist you if you have a clear vision of what you want to do and where you want to go.  However, sometimes you cannot anticipate what you will find around the next corner.   Slow down and proceed with caution when you approach unfamiliar territory.  Embrace change and recognize that there is more than one way to accomplish your end result.

Do not turn around and go back the way you came unless it is absolutely necessary.  You want to move forward, not backward.  If you must choose this option, look for beneficial right and left turns that you may have missed the first time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Eight of Spades

It is commonly thought that there are 8 hours in the typical work day.  While that may be true for some people, it is not unusual for others to work 9, 10, 11, or even 12 hours each day.  Let's not focus on the time that you spend at your job.  Unless you work for yourself or are doing your dream job, the best part of your day might be when you leave work.  This week, the Eight of Spades will represent the flexible 8 hours of your day.  If you sleep 8 hours and work 8 hours, then there is another 8 hours available to you to use as you choose.  

In order to maximize your elective 8 hours, think of the time as a pie with slices that must be served.  The sizes of the sections will vary from week to week.  This is necessary in order to maintain the delicate balance between all of your roles and responsibilities.  Some categories might include:
Economy, Information, Group, Humor and Talent. 

You may allocate 1 hour to pay your bills, balance your budget, and handle any other financial business.  This time is needed to address your personal economy.  Another hour and a half could be dedicated to studying if you are in school.  If you are not pursuing an actual degree, you could use the time to read the daily newspaper, a magazine, or something else to increase your knowledge.  A conversation, webinar, or some other format of learning can be used to fill the time you have set aside for information.  Of course, time must be given to your family and friends.  Your support group requires attention from you in order to thrive and flourish.  They may need 2 hours per day.  While you are focusing on money, knowledge, and others, remember to take time to laugh.  A sense of humor is an essential tool to help you keep things in the proper perspective.  An hour of  laughter can make a difference in how you feel and how you react to situations.  There are still 2 hours left in the pie.  Use it to work on your talent, or gift.  If you are an athlete or musician, the time may be used for practice.  Photographers can plan to take pictures during the hours assigned to this pie slice.  Don't dismiss your hobbies as a waste of time.  Allow your creativity room to shine.

You need to P.A.C.E. yourself to get the most value out of your elective 8 hours.  There might be a Peach pie for the sweet things that bring a smile to your face, or an Apple pie for those sour, or tart issues that you might approach with less enthusiasm, or a Chicken pot pie to acknowledge determination, hard work, and accomplishment.  Eat an extra slice when you need help with effective time management.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nine of Diamonds

We are in the middle of baseball season.  Since the sport is played on a diamond by 9 players, it makes since for our card this week to represent a baseball analogy.  The game is divided into innings where each team gets an opportunity to score runs and to try to prevent the opponent from scoring.  Select a project, or plan, that you are working on now and approach it from the perspective of 9 innings.

First, Second, and Third Innings:  Make sure that all of your necessary equipment is in place (bat, glove, and cap).  The bat is the tool that you use to launch your ideas into the field of play. Focus, pay attention to detail, and swing at the right time.  When you get a hit, move as quickly as you can to first base.  Don't stand around and admire your achievement.  Forward progress is necessary to advance and score.  The glove is needed to catch distractions, obstacles, and discouragement.  These are not things to fear or avoid.  You need to control them when they appear and handle them in a way that decreases the likelihood of seeing them again.  The cap protects your head.  Study to increase your knowledge of what you are pursuing.  Be creative and think outside of the box to give yourself a competitive edge.

Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Innings:  At this stage of the game, it is time to make adjustments based on what happened in the earlier innings. You now have a feel for how the umpires are calling balls and strikes.  There will always be someone assigned to judge your performance.   Learn the standards that will be used and practice continually so that you can meet and/or exceed them on a regular basis.  Your umpire might be a manager, client, or teacher.   The strike zone indicates the position and timing of your opportunities.  Remember that it will be subjective depending on who is making the calls.  Be observant and flexible in order to maximize your success.  The umpires also determine if you are safe or out when you are running the bases.  You may have to slide or dive head first to reach the base.  This is called hustle and it is an intangible factor in any competition.  Your opponent may be smarter, stronger, or faster than you are.  However, do not underestimate the power of your sheer will and desire.

Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Innings:  Now it is time for the seventh inning stretch.  Take a break, sing a song, eat a snack, and plan how you will finish the game.  It is important to have a balance between work and other areas of your life.  You need to take periodic breaks and recharge so that you put forth your best effort.  This is also the time of the game when substitutions are made.  Let your team help you.  Each person has a role to fulfill in order to help the group. 

Remember, you are out after three strikes.  But you will get at least 3 opportunities to score each inning.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Nine of Clubs

Have you seen those calendars that give you a different word to learn each day?  You can even explore new meanings and uses for common words that you already know.  I like words because they tell a story.  The Nine of Clubs will help us with our word study this week.  Let's take a look at some nine letter words and see how they contribute to the stories that impact us.  When I started thinking of common nine letter words, these are the ones that came to mind:  newspaper, narrative, nutrition and notoriety.

A newspaper tells lots of different stories about a variety of topics.  It is divided into sections:  business, sports, classifieds, comics, and other categories.  If you had to produce a daily, weekly, or even monthly newspaper that told your stories, what would you say?  Would your Business section have articles about your current job, your dream job, or your entrepreneurial plans?  In your Classifieds section, are you buying, selling, or promoting a service or product?  There should be a purpose to what you write.  It doesn't always have to be serious or formal.  Everyone needs to have a Comics section in their publication.  A sense of humor helps to keep things in the proper perspective.  Laughter is a universal language.  You are the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Me Monitor.  You will decide on the content and the audience.  It may be a personal journal for your eyes only.   You might decide to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, or a Blog) and require people to subscribe to your paper.  Regardless of how you decide to present your story, the content should be the focus.

Some people may be better speakers than writers.  They will express their stories through a spoken narrative.  This can be quite entertaining because of the voice inflections, hand gestures, and facial expressions that may be used.  It is informative for the storyteller because they can interact with the audience and make instant adjustments to their approach as well as the content.  They can control which points receive emphasis and provide the foundation of the story.  Another good thing about a narrative is that those who hear it may recognize similarities to and differences from their own experiences.  This reflection leads to new stories that will impact, inspire, and stir the imagination of listeners.

For our purpose this week, the term nutrition will refer to our storytelling theme.  We want to tell and hear stories that we can easily digest.  They should be seasoned with humor and prepared according to a recipe that will produce a well balanced dish.   If the story is supposed to be an appetizer or healthy snack, then it should be short and to the point.  Of course, a dessert story needs to be sweet and tasty.  When the story is the main course, make sure it is fully cooked and served on time.

Our last word is notoriety.  What do you want people to remember about you?  What is your story?  Others can share their opinion and perspective of you, but you have the final say.