Love

•March 7, 2012 • Leave a Comment

3-7-2012 7-55-35 AM

I apologize again for not writing in so long.  The last couple of weeks have been extremely difficult and the culmination is today.  This afternoon, I will be saying goodbye to someone that will forever be special to me and will remain a piece of me for the remainder of my days.  Today I say goodbye to my grandmother.

The last couple of days, as do many people, have been a tidal wave of memories and reminiscing about what kind of person she was or what her lasting legacy will be.  In the end, the only thing we leave behind is who we were and what we’ve done.  When I think about my grandmother, there is one word that stands above all…love.

My grandmother loved her grandchildren like no other.  We were all the sparkle in her eye.  She loved all of her “youngins”.  And still, my grandmother was the matriarch she needed to be.  She spoiled us immensely, yet she made sure we all stayed on the right path.  I can’t count how many times that woman threatened to “snatch a knot on my head” or “whoop my butt”, and all the same I can’t count the number of times I’ve been wrapped up in her arms getting those little pecking kisses on the forehead hearing “your grandmommy loves you so much”.  She was everything we ever needed, wanted, or could ask for in a grandmother.  I remember the sense of excitement I used to get when taking that drive down to the little town of Campton, Kentucky and remember the billowing excitement as I started recognizing the little triggering places in town knowing we were minutes away from seeing her and my grandfather, waiting at the door for us to run up and wrap our arms around them.  What I wouldn’t give for that moment just once more.

My grandmother loved her children so much.  Over the years, our family has had it’s share of ups and downs, good times and bad times.  Yet the foundation was always my grandma.  She instilled in her children the importance of family and what being a family really means.  Being a family meant pulling through the challenging times as much as relishing in the wonderful times.  Nothing meant more to her than having us all together huddled around that kitchen table while her sons and daughters shared all the gossip around that bustling metropolis of Campton.  But more important than anything is how she instilled in her children the need to be there for each other.  When times have gotten tough and we need to be there for each other, we are.  Sure, we disagree and fight at times, but it’s part of being a family.  It’s what you do when it matters that counts.  I’ve watched the way my family has pulled together over the last several weeks to take care of making my grandma’s last days as comforting as they could be and it filled me with joy knowing that this is what while my grandma would have been so mad for everyone making such a fuss over her, she would have been elated seeing them all together helping each other, comforting each other, and picking each other up when they needed it most of all.

And when I think about my grandmother’s love, it would be a travesty to not remember her biggest love of all.  I think what has made the last several weeks so much more difficult is in many ways I feel I am reliving the pain of losing my grandfather again.  It has always been hard to think of either one and not have the image of both in mind.  I have never seen two people more in love.  Now, those of us who knew them have without a doubt had the privilege of witnessing the comical bickerings that comprised the “Cord and Vernie” show, where my grandmother would typically let out a “Cord, I’m gonna sock you in the nose if you don’t just shoosh!”, and my grandfather would retort with “Ehhhhh, Vernie…now don’t you start commencing on me!” before putting those hands in his pockets to jingle some change, doing that adorable shuffle down the hallway, then falling over in his chair with a gaping mouth staring at the ceiling in almost instantaneous slumber.  We’ve laughed till we cried at these comic musings, yet none of us ever saw a love like theirs.  I remember the anguish in my grandmother’s face when he died.  A part of her went with him, there is no doubt.  They meant everything to each other, and filled each others live with smiles and laughter.

The next several months are bound to be challenging.  Memories will wash over me and my whole family for the rest of our lives.  We’ll remember watching soap operas while grandma knits what seems like enough slippers to cover ever foot on the continent.  We’ll remember the fried chicken, the mashed potatoes, and the fried apple pies.  We’ll remember getting home from that Kentucky trip to find a wad of money stuffed in our pockets that granny had hid there the night before because she knew my parents would never accept it from them.  So many things that would make me cry if I didn’t have so much to smile about.  I will miss my “mah-maw” like no other person.  She makes me who I am and a better person.  She makes our family a better family.  I miss you.  And I love you.  And as I write this, I smile because in my head I hear that familiar response she always left me with…”and I love you more”.

Night night, mah-maw.

 

Dedicated to the loving memory of Verna Bach

March 25, 1917 – March 5, 2012

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The Trust Fund

•February 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

 

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs

I’ve been thinking a lot about how much of a role the principle of trust plays in our lives. Trust is really such a multi-faceted principle to grasp depending on how it’s applied. In particular I’ve been thinking on what trust means on a personal level, a professional level, and on an internal level.

The last month has been kind of challenging for me. When we come to periods of great transition things always change with relationships. We start to learn which people were really there for us and which friendships really stood the test. It comes down to trust. We believe in people for who they are deep within. We believe in who that person really is and the value that their friendship holds. Through every point of change in my life I’ve encountered personal attrition. Some were expected and others were tougher to understand, but it’s the ones that survive the test of time that build us up and keep us feeling uplifted and stronger. Their belief in us breeds trust and genuine care.

It’s been a while since I’ve really experienced it, but I’m beginning to remember how powerful professional trust can be. Too many companies are so rooted in the “way we do things” that they don’t understand the stifling and restricting fences they build around people. It takes trust for a company to bring in people and give them the freedom to innovate, to create, and to make a difference. Talent and skills can only flourish when properly cultivated by corporate trust. It’s powerful to watch an organization evolve regularly and grow daily and just as powerful to watch the way that people raise the bar every day within this kind of ecosphere.

Another kind of trust exists and often has a direct interaction with these previous two. This is internal trust. There is power in believing in ourselves. It’s hard to do when we don’t know if people believe in us or if our employer believes in us, but at the end of the day the only way we accomplish our goals in life is to know that we can and take actions to get the job done. It’s all about mindset and perspective. It’s all about courage and determination. Believe in yourself. Know that there is always a way. Trust in yourself.

Be What You Believe

•February 7, 2012 • Leave a Comment

2-7-2012 11-44-17 AM

I’ve been doing a lot of inventory lately into personal ideals and self reflection following a lot of changes in my life. I’ve had a lot of new perspectives and outlooks on things both personal and professional.  One of the common threads I’ve come to understand is just how important it is to position the essence of who we really are to align with the ideals of what we really believe.

“They’re all talk.” Heard that one?  “They talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk.”  That one too?  So many times in life we encounter people or entities that speak a big game but just can never take the stance that the fundamental principles that I endorse and in turn project to others apply to me or us as well.  You can believe in something, but do you really embody that belief?

The last while has been quite challenging because I’m starting to see through a lot of the fog to really see people in a much different light.  Many times, loyalties and commitments can narrow our view and can blind us from really understand the way people really are and how they act.  People speak a big game about the way people need to treat others only to mistreat the people they should be caring for and respecting.  Companies talk about growing, innovating, creating, and revitalizing only to be caught in the same ruts over and over again.

“Your actions speak so loud that I cannot hear what you are saying.”

One of my favorite quotes from my most influential teacher growing up.  It’s one thing to say it, but it’s another thing altogether to be it.  When we don’t follow through on the principles we believe to be right and true, we lose credibility.  We lose it to those that believe in us as well as to ourselves.

So what’s the magic formula to successfully doing this?  Well, we know we can’t change everyone and everything, but we can start somewhere.  We can begin with ourselves.  We can all take the time to understand what is really important to us.  We can understand that in order to stand for this thing I need to stand up against this other things that deters me from accomplishing the first.  I need to say what I’m going to do then follow through and do it.

Conviction only point our direction in life.  Courage drives us there.

Happy and Not Satisfied

•January 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

1-19-2012 9-34-22 PM

The last couple weeks have been very mentally and emotionally taxing.  Not to say that this is a bad thing, but it is a very different and enlightening thing.  When we make big changes in our lives, we often going through periods of self realization and self reflection.  This is one of those moments in my life, as I’ve been realizing in myself that I am developing a new mantra:  be happy and  not satisfied.

Happy is the pinnacle of what we strive for and what we desire to become.  What is better than pure happiness?  It washes over you like a hot shower on a freezing cold day.  We sleep better, we breath a little easier, we walk a little lighter.  Clarity sets in and things just make a little more sense.

The question becomes where do we go from here?  What is the next step beyond happiness?  Where is the next big adventure to come from?  What triggers the side of us that long for making things better and seeking growth?

The answer comes in finding that perfect balance between happiness and lacking satisfaction.  You may say this sounds like a bit of a gloomy perspective but quite the contrary.  The idea is to appreciate life…realize the joy in accomplishment of your personal goals, in the strength we find in people we care about and trust, and in always enjoying today as if it was our last day.  At the same time, remain unsatisfied by building a firm stance that there is always something better to achieve and strive for in life.  In all that you do, pursue a consistent and continual goal of endless improvement.  We choose to set the bar for ourselves, yet there is absolutely no limit to where we decide to set that bar other than the limitations we put upon ourselves.  The people that have accomplished the most in life are the relentless, determined, and fearless kind who chose to live their lives on the power of passion and persistence.

You can accomplish absolutely anything you are resolved to do.

I will repeat that…you can accomplish absolutely anything that you are resolved to do.

I say this line to myself every morning.  I have decided in my head and in my heart that this is truth and it is very real.  I will also say that this transcends the whole notion of the power of positive thinking.  Positive thinking has never accomplished anything, but rather is has laid the roadmap to plot the course for the power of resolved and determined actions.

Enjoy every minute of every day…you deserve it.  Today is precious, but tomorrow is right around the corner waiting for you to be just a little bit better.

When Starting Over Isn’t

•January 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment

 

1-10-2012 7-44-01 PM

First, allow me to apologize for the lapse in time since my last post.  I’ve tried to keep up a regular weekly cadence to my posts but due to the previous mentioned career move and transitional activities I’ve been up to my eyeballs in getting myself organized.

One of the toughest choices in deciding to leave a position after 11 years with the same company is the uncertainty of starting over.  In today’s professional markets, tenure such as this in relatively uncommon, especially in terms of technology related career fields.  Here you’ve spent a long time building a certain rapport with the people within the organization and forging relationships.  You’ve dedicated yourself to trying your best to put everything you have into making what you do valuable to people and your company as a whole.  Then for whatever reason the determination comes that you feel that you’ve exhausted all that you can do somewhere and would be better suited going somewhere else.  How will I do this all over again?  Self doubt creeps in and you start to feel like maybe you’re stepping backward.  There’s the “known known” or the comfort zone of knowing what was expected for years now though maybe not necessarily fulfilling all of the personal aspirations that you would envision for yourself, but the other side of the coin is not knowing really what to expect and the unknown of not knowing what lies on the other side.

I can happily say that I’ve resolved this answer for myself.  Professional enlightenment can be quite amazing at times, and I feel compelled to share with you all that I have honestly never felt so right about a career move.  I had very specific reasons for deciding to make a move to another company, and a set criteria for needs and desires I was seeking in a new organization in order to fulfill these spaces.  When deciding on my new employer, I had felt that they were a good fit for these goals, but I had not imagined that within two days in the building that I would experience such an overwhelming feeling of being in the right place.  Today, I sat and listened to the chairman of my company spend the day with the new employees of the company and share with us his vision, his passions, and the ideals behind the culture that have been carefully cultivated for many years now.  I was literally speechless as times as things I was seeking and felt I was missing with my former employer where expressed as essentially the core values verbatim of my new company.  It was an epiphany of sorts that the place that I had sought really existed and I am now a part of the group that really shares what I believe can make an organization united and focused on a shared goal.

But in terms of the new beginning, it dawned on me that I really am not starting over as much as I had thought.  In many ways I am for the reasons listed above, but what was really apparent throughout this process is this understanding that what my new company finds important about me is me.  It isn’t about going somewhere else and starting the journey over…it’s about taking all of what you’ve attained and all of the essence of what you are and providing that to the service of an organization that values the innovation, the individuality, and the talents of the people they include within the culture.  Too many times companies spend a lot of time and effort in recruiting and bringing in people with exceptional skill and experience only to stifle what they bring to the table with rigid approaches and inflexible corporate bureaucracy.   Moving to a company dedicated to removing these restrictions of its people and allowing them to be a growing organism within that brings their own ideas and perspectives to the table is liberating and fulfilling to say the least.

This is a brave new adventure, but I’m not starting over.  When we know where we need to be and seek it, we find it.  There is something very special about becoming a part of something so special.  I heard a great phrase today concerning our state of mind that I will always remember and will share.  Live your life to be gracious and unsatisfied…gracious for who we are and unsatisfied because of what we can be.

The Foundation of Many Bricks

•December 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

12-25-2011 10-03-58 PM

As I mentioned last week, I have decided to move on in my career and change companies after 11 years.  A lot of thoughts go through our minds when we are anticipating and mentally planning a major transition after such a long time.  It’s been an odd feeling to say the least, if not bittersweet at the end of one personal era and excited to begin the beginning of the next.  One thing I’ve consciously been doing in these last few days before moving onward is taking a personal inventory of what things will I hold onto the most as I move forward, what lessons will I move to the top of the pile to use as a new tool in the belt, and what things will I miss every day.

I’m a firm believer that everything we do in life plays a role in the next act.  We are all on a continuous journey and perpetually learn lessons if we choose to find them.  In moments in our lives, we go through periods of self evaluation where we look backwards and reflect.  What could we have done differently?  What did we really do well?  What were the things that contributed to the successes and failures we’ve encountered?  Sometimes we find commonality in these reflections and other times we find new unique opportunities for insight.

Without a doubt, more so this time than others, I have spent a lot of time focusing on the people that have really provided the foundation for my growth over the past several years.  Many of you are loyal readers of this blog and I’ve reached out to a lot of you over the past couple weeks individually to express my gratitude, but allow me again reiterate in simple yet meaningful words that the people with which I have shared these experiences, many of which for most if not all of these past 11 years have greatly been a contributor in keeping me motivated and driven to succeed.  Professionally, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most innovative and passionate people.  Their commitment to success has pushed me and powered me in so many ways.  Personally, I have also forged some amazing friendships that have become a part of the fabric of my life.  One of the saddening points of this transition is losing some of that daily interaction with all of these friends, but I know that I will continue to find power in my new home in the lessons they have taught me and the belief they have in what I do.  Each one of them have been bricks that have been my foundation.

I was also thinking through some of the differences within myself I will be taking with me on this new adventure.  One glaring one that I am noticing is the confidence to excel that I am feeling from the onset.  In the past, I had looked at career moves as simply a new job.  A new place to make a living and earn money.  This is truly the first time I believe I am heading into a new life.  I move on with new determination and focus from the beginning of the ride unlike anything that I had experience in the past.  In many ways it makes me reflect and realize how happy I am at the place I have positioned myself in my life.  It really took me a long time and many years to find it, but I know that I’ve reached a place where I’m happy to be who I’ve become and the person into which I continue to evolve.  I happy to say I’m building a good house on my foundation.

This has been a wild and crazy couple of weeks.  A lot of the time it feels like I’m on a perpetual roller coaster with the butterflies doing backflips in my gut.  I am so delighted thinking about starting a year with a new vision of the future and a renewed passion for what I do and what I will be capable of doing.  In closing, let me say that my wish for all of you is to seek and find that same level of excitement in all that you do.  We can get complacent and not really take the time for self evaluation.  Life is all we have.  Put yourself in the place to maximize what you are getting out of it.  Find the value in who you are, what you know, and those that have helped get you there and use it to set the stones that make up the foundation of your life.

Personal Vision

•December 15, 2011 • 1 Comment

12-15-2011 5-28-39 AM

First I want to apologize for the lack of blog entry last week.  This have gotten crazy busy lately, and along those lines tie into what I want to share with you all this week.  You see, this week I made the decision to make a career after eleven years with the same company.  It was a tough decision but an incredibly worthwhile opportunity and gives me a much grander and more exciting view of the future.

Obviously, this didn’t just happen last week.  It was a process that took some time to get through and even initially discover.  There was a valuable lesson I learned out of this adventure that will be something I hold dear to me for the rest of my life.  I learned to power and value of setting a personal vision and never compromising on yourself.

The last several months have been a period in my career “lifespaces” unlike any other.  In a lot of ways I treated this process as a bit of a social experiment.  I had decided to pursue new opportunities and began to reach out to investigate what the market thought of me and let those coming to me help show what my perceived value was to my craft.  I didn’t just want to walk into something knowing what I wanted both from a cultural perspective and a financial aspect, but I wanted those that I was speaking with to help drive that vision of myself so that I had a clearer picture of my stance in the community.

Very quickly, my search became overwhelming.  I was pleasantly surprised at the number of responses I received, yet at times seemed to be swimming in the 24-hour swirling pool of names and numbers.  There was this constant blending of positions for which I applying mixed with a flux of people reaching out to me to request my services.  I quickly had to develop a strategy for how to weed these out.  This was a great exercise because it helped me immensely in coming to my final determination.

The tools I developed where very simple yet prompted a lot of thought and consideration.  It forced me to really strongly consider what was ultimately important to me about what I do in my career and for whom I work.  From this, I collected three key criteria for any company that I would select:

  1. It had to be a company with a clear and strategic vision of who it wanted to be and effectively assimilated that vision to it’s employees at all levels
  2. It had to be a company that was committed to the continued development and growth of its employees on both a professional and personal level
  3. It had to be a company with people that simply were enjoyable and were I felt I could have fun going to work every day

Once this plan was in place, very quickly the cream started rising to the top.  In particular, one company grew to embody and epitomize these very values.  The further along in the process I migrated with them, the more and more I felt that this was the place to be.  Of course, the mind would stray when new opportunities would come into play and more frequently I would find other companies that shared similar visions, but none more predominantly than this one.  It did become stressful as the thoughts wandered in about making sure to make the right decision.  Luckily I am blessed to have a wonderful support system in family and friends who continuously reminded me that I would make the right decision.  Ultimately, the position was offered and without hesitation I accepted it and know that it was the right choice to make.

I’m extremely excited as I move on to my next great adventure.  Not just because it’s something new.  Not just because it’s something different.  This time more than ever, it’s because it’s simply the right place for me to be.  It’s the place that I encapsulated when I first sat at this same desk and developed my criteria and set my boundaries for where I needed to be.  Planning, then visualizing, then pursuing.  With these three steps, there isn’t a lot that we can’t accomplish.  The lesson I learned was develop where you want to be then put yourself there.  In all that we do, it’s the key to a happy better life.