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Archive for the ‘Work ethic’ Category

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Have you ever had “one of those days”? Yesterday was just such a day for me. More on that in a moment. First, some backstory is in order.

Thirty years back, my dad worked as a Christian school administrator, of the small K-12 variety. Accordingly, from Junior High through high school, I had the “opportunity” (aka, the privilege) of working summers and evenings in maintenance, custodial services, roofing, landscaping, and the like. I met several notable characters along the way, some larger than life.

Mr. Voightlander was just such a character, his large frame, firm handshake, and boisterous laughter firmly etched in my memory. So, too, are some of his stories. His name was Harry, or Henry, I’m not exactly sure. After all, it has been over thirty years. I was a Sophomore, and he was the school’s mechanic, responsible for keeping a fleet of a few buses and over a dozen vans up and running.

Mr. Voightlander didn’t even work at good old Shreve Christian for more than a year, but as a kid, a year in my life felt like forever. One day, while he was fixing a part of some type that I needed for my work in the school building, he took advantage of the opportunity to tell another story. We stood in the humid Summer Louisiana morning in a non-air-conditioned outdoor shop, a large 3 foot square homemade wooden box fan serving a dual role as his workbench.

The story he told that day was of his past work as a truck driver and mechanic. It seems that drivers in the older trucks experimented with their diesel engines, screwing the injectors deeper into the heads in order to increase the horsepower. If they kept them too far out, heavy smoke would come from the stacks. If they got them pushed too far in, fire would come from the pipes. But, according to Mr. V, if they got it just right there was “no smoke, no fire, they were just a gettin’ it”.

Back to yesterday. I got a tremendous amount of work accomplished at the office. Not too many days are quite like that. Ignore the fact that most co-workers and customers were off campus for the day. That is irrelevant, and I digress. Let’s just say that something happened as I tuned up for the day, and all cylinders were firing at maximum horsepower. Where the day started with a disheveled and covered up desktop, many old unaccomplished tasks it’s slave, I found the wood before day’s end. It felt really good. And, it reminded me of Mr. V.

One of the things I loved about him, besides his stories, was his work ethic. He always seemed to be working hard. And, he seemed to enjoy his work.

1 Chronicles 28:9-10

“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.”

I really enjoy my job. It is hard, and there are some days that are better than others. Yesterday was just such a day for me: full horsepower, few interruptions, and a lot of output.

“…no smoke, no fire, just a gettin’ it…”.

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“This city is going on a diet”. Such were the words of OKC’s mayor a few short years ago, and while I feel like I am in better shape this year than most of those I’ve lived, maybe I need to take his advice.

First, some brief history. When it was first concocted, Dr Pepper advertising touted it’s health benefits. “Drink a Meal” and “enjoy it at 10, 2, and 4” were it’s tag lines.

In my younger days, I took them at their word. I drank about 3 DP’s a day, and it showed in my girth. I topped out slightly above 200, but it carried more like a fluffy 250.

Fast forward to 2011. The times, they are a changin’, and so is Mr Metabolism. While the contribution from better leg muscles is certainly a factor and Mr Fluffy is hiding out, I did not like what I saw from the fitness room scales this morning. 200 has come and gone, yet again.

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So, what to do, what to do? I have not drunk Dr Pepper in years, but I still enjoy the occasional Coke while perusing “The Facebook”. I strayed away from a new mid life friend, “Mr Treadmill”.

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I need to get back on the wagon. I need to read more, as well. Fewer carbs, fewer Cokes, and more Chaucer? Well, maybe not that kind of reading, but I have a stack of good books calling for attention.

So, in the spirit of Dr Pepper’s touted positive benefits, I’m contemplating a 10-2-4 diet. 10 pounds, and 2 to 4 books, hopefully in the same time frame, preferably before 2012 comes and it all comes to an end…

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You can tell a lot about a hotel by how it is “equipped”. How was my lodging on this trip? Pretty nice, to be honest. The place my colleagues and I stayed was a small Inn located in a quaint Silicon Valley hamlet not far from our “secret” meeting locale. Aside from there being no coffee in the room, I can’t complain.

I found it interesting, however, to find the restroom equipped with an
ultra modern push button phone right next to the toilet. Ultra modern, maybe, when it was installed in 1985, that is. I wonder when the last time was that this phone set was used.

And it got me to thinking. (sorry to spoil the fun)

This visit to sunny CA was all about educational delivery systems, transformation versus substitution, pedagogy, and such. Our university has long prided itself on being a leader and innovator in putting technology to use in promoting student learning.

In the 60’s, we had a nationally recognized reel to reel tape dial up system where every student had a private assigned study carrell to use for accessing recordings of professors’ lectures. It was still in use during my freshmen year, and it seemed cool even then, although dated and old. That same year, we put the first computer lab on campus. They were Apple IIe computers, and my life was changed forever once I discovered the back room where they were set up.

Fast forward 26 years. My same university, where I am now a bleary eyed administrator instead of a wide eyed freshman, is using the latest Apple technology. But, much like the “Bat. Phone”, is it misplaced and unnecessary? iTunesU, anyone?

A laptop for every student; a chicken in every pot. Is that what the masses really need; is that what they are clamoring for? Is that what we need in order to transform?

They say the only things guaranteed in life are death, taxes, and change, and for many Republicans, only a partial subset of that list is necessary. (you choose)

To quote the past philosophers of Jefferson Starship/Airplane fame, “winds of change are blowing by”. We need to get on board that bird.

No matter the format, I have faith my colleagues and I will navigate the changing climate and find a way to step it up a notch.

If you have some thoughts on that, feel free to give me a call to discuss. During our call, please ignore if you hear water running in the background. In this modern era, there’s no telling where I might be when you call…

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I was sitting on an airplane with some colleagues earlier today, and I noticed how one of them was using an iDevice to help look up information on another iDevice. One device for each hand; once touch screen for each thumb….

I looked across the aisle at another colleague, and he too was working just the same way. It got me to thinking: “how did we get anything done before our plethora of devices?”. Maybe, more appropriately, “how do we get things done today, despite our plethora of devices?”. Multi-tasking 101, anyone?

I like a good iDevice as much as the next guy. I’m writing on one now, and near Cupertino, California (read, Apple Mecca) of all places.

Opposable thumbs helped Eve pick up the first Apple long before Steve Jobs came onto the scene with his Compubox in the 1970’s, and we’ve been paying for it ever since.

So what’s my point here? As Little Frau might say, put down your device and live life. Engage. Love on your cat. Odds are, it does not care what you can do with your phone, so long as you can open a can…

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Someone I am acquainted with was recently seen lip-syncing in a comedic video parity. “1080P; 16×9; I’m rockin’ man cave status with a screen like mine…”. And it got me to thinking…(sorry to spoil the fun)…

What defines “the man cave”, exactly?

Neanderthals called caves their home. They provided protection from the elements and from predators. Maybe the Cro-mangrons of 2011 are looking for the same thing, but we’ve likely misidentified who or what we are hiding out from.

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Not so many years ago, it seemed like “the man cave” was the garage. It was the place where a man kept his tools and went to escape to his work/hobbies. He could fix his kid’s broken bicycle, or hand carve a piece of furniture for his lovely Little Frau (not to suggest Neanderthals spoke only German, mind you).

Today, pop culture has defined the man cave as “the home theater”. A real man must have a monster TV, right? Don’t get me wrong. I have a fairly large TV. It’s a great place to watch the big game or a vintage shoot em’ up Western. It was a gift from my father in law. He’s a good man. But, he knows how to step away from the TV and get back to the work bench.

So, whether your cave is the garage, the home theater, or just the big chair where you sit to read, pray, and blog on a quiet morning, the point is not that you have a refuge and escape, the point is that you get out regularly and continue to do a little hunting and gathering when necessary.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8.

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It happens all the time, or at least it seems like it. You think you are on top of things; you think you understand the situation around you; you believe you have it under control.

Then, it happens: something breaks down, and you begin to learn the full scope of things.

Case in point: air conditioning. I have been fairly faithful in changing out the air filters in our house for the four plus years we have lived here. Sunday night into Monday, the air stopped working so well. Come to find out, aside from being a little low on Freon, there was a “mystery” air return that I have failed to service. It was right under my nose, six feet above it, actually, and I somehow failed to watch it along with the other three. Suffice to say, a 98 cent air filter can make a huge difference. So can keeping your eyes open.

The same reality for home maintenance is true with systems, organizations, churches, and people. You have to keep your eyes open to the full scope of your surroundings, and a little inexpensive time devoted to preventative maintenance never hurts.

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Not getting the whole picture? Does the message seemingly not make sense, especially in the current context? Sometimes you just have to go a little deeper, then it becomes more clear to you…

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We’ve been buried in a round of financial systems consulting at CampOC this week. In additional to some very useful tools and information for improving what we do and how we do it, the Instructor/consultant has blessed us with some great one liners.

“Rule Number One” is reflected in the title.

A department is a who; an object is a what.

Other good ones from the week:

“Not everything worth doing is worth doing well”.

“I am so excited…I know I don’t look it, but I am…”

“Two years from now, we are going to love our jobs”.

And, finally;

“This has been another specialty of the Department of Redundancy Department”.

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