Aren’t We on the Same Team?

Companies don’t need to compete with each other. Most companies, most likely including yours, compete with themselves.

We fight wars between departments and sling gossip among cliques.


Wait a minute. Aren’t we on the same team?

Nobody is focused on treating team members well. Nobody cares about serving the customer. Nobody remembers share-holders. Nobody even notices the quality of the products. And nobody remembers how fiercely the competitors are fighting for market share.


Because we’re too busy pointing out the flaws of another department. We’re too busy making ourselves look good and justifying our actions. We’re spending our time and energy proving how right we are and how wrong they are. We’re discussing internal problems with everyone — except for the people who can solve them.

Who needs competition when you have gossip?

For that matter, who needs economic crisis, or low profits, or quality issues, or vendor supply shortages, or internal reorganization, or even cutbacks?

You can get the same effects on morale with a hint of gossip.

All for the sake of drama.

It’s preventing our companies from thriving. From providing fulfillment from working hard at a great company doing something valuable. From being a fun place to work. From maturing.

From growing, not just in numbers.

The enemy needs to be outside the building. Never forget this.

There’s important work to do.

How much better would your company be if instead of gossip, there was trust and respect for every person and department?

Cave Time and Video Games

I used to play a ton of video games. It was a distraction — time I should have spent on better things, as is clearer in hindsight.


Only now, I know why I was playing so much.

Mars and Venus refers to a need for men to process their experiences in their “cave.” I call it Cave Time. According to the book, men need several minutes once they get home to process a rough day at work. Cave time can be spent reading the news, watching TV, or just sitting in quiet. It’s pretty difficult for a man to transition right into “How was your day, Wife?” before taking time to process.

One time when I played a ton of video games, I was dealing with a rough time at work on top of the illness of a family member. I would come home, do the minimum amount of work to take care of the household, and retreat to my game.

It seemed like a real problem at the time, and Wife cautiously challenged my desire to be playing so often. I wasn’t sure what to say, since it was all I wanted to do after work.

Fast forward a couple of months. We quit our jobs and moved to another state.

I started up the game after several weeks without it. To my surprise, I no longer had any interest in playing whatsoever.

I played for a few minutes before quitting out of disinterest.

Then it hit me — I needed time to process what was going on in my life. Computer games were my cave time!

The issue is not the issue.

When the difficult problem went away, so did my need for cave time.

What is your cave time? (Or, what is your man’s cave time?) Is it surprising?

Ripples (You Get Back What You Send Out)

My friend tells me he is hesitant to take a new career opportunity because of the wonderful people he knows at his current workplace.


While the argument makes perfect sense to me, I have a hard time believing there are only good, enjoyable people at his office.

Another explanation seems much more likely: People return the feelings you express.

Imagine ripples emanating outward from the wake of a boat.

Let’s start with positive feelings.

A smile returns a smile. One “Good morning” deserves another. If you genuinely care for others, they are much more likely to respond well to you.

And likewise, the opposite is true about the ripples of negative feelings.

One biting comment in a meeting incites a slew of them. A critical comment to a customer service representative prompts short answers and unhelpfulness. Never ask anyone about their day, and they are likely to avoid asking you.

Back to my friend.

He is loving, caring, and genuinely interested in people. He grows deep relationships with others — much more than discussing the weather every day.

Doesn’t they make sense that they are caring and loving back?

The ripples we send out will only come back to us later. There is no avoiding it.

What feelings are you expressing to those around you? What feelings do you get back?

Vacation from Notifications

We couldn’t go twenty minutes without a distraction — whether it was a text message, calendar reminder, email, or app push notification. We were getting dozens of unimportant — but URGENT! — emails a day. And don’t get me started on how far behind we were on RSS feeds.

I thought technology was supposed to change the world and make us a thousand times more productive. But all I could think of is how much it was distracting me. And I get distracted easily.

I was about to explode from information overload.

It was time. Time to unplug and take a vacation from all of our notifications.

There is just too much going on to expect to be aware of everything and not go crazy. Knowledge is power; but too much knowledge is exhausting.

And there we were, overwhelmed by thousands of distractions. And we realized we had done it to ourselves.

Wife and I were experiencing suffocation by information. I’m getting a little asthmatic at the thought of how bad it was!

We all know stress is awful — but did you know that some stress is good for us? It’s called eustress, and our bodies need it. All of these notifications, however, were obviously an example of the bad kind — distress.

We took some drastic measures to defeat our distress:

  • We unsubscribed from email lists, one after another. (Our spam was automatically filtered, but this took care of our “legitimate” spam.)
  • We unsubscribed from paper mailing lists.
  • We opted out of unwanted general mailings and credit card offers.
  • We opted out of unwanted phone calls general mailings and credit card offers.
  • We stopped checking unread RSS feeds.
  • We took a hacksaw to our inboxes and archived everything that did not absolutely need our response. We ignored what could be ignored with innocuous consequences. (Sorry, not gonna watch that random youtube video.)
  • We pruned our calendars and disabled reminders for any event that doesn’t require immediate action.
  • We disabled dozens of update notifications on our smart phones. About the only things that notify us now are phone calls, text messages, and calendar reminders — which are very manageable.

And I couldn’t imagine going back! It’s so freeing not to be crippled by constant updates!

Now, our methods aren’t nearly perfect, as we still find ourselves on mailing lists and being called by telemarketers. But man, it’s so much better than the alternative.

Not convinced you need to take such drastic measures? Let’s try from another angle.

What activity would you LOVE to do but won’t ever do if you don’t clear out enough space for it? What if all of the free time you needed for your dream project was directly related to how much time you spend on Quadrant I activities?

What things are draining all of your energy so you are too weak to pursue your biggest goals?

What if you had the power to create margin and not be so unnecessarily busy just by putting up better boundaries against distractions?

If you’re happy with how many notifications you get each week, then don’t worry about it. But if you wonder how much you could achieve without them, you should consider it…

What notifications are the hardest for you to ignore? Know your weaknesses!

PS – Here’s an interesting article for fun — but don’t get distracted by it!

Busy Signal

The other day, I called an office only to receive a busy signal. I hung up thinking, “Did I really just hear a busy signal?!” I called again, half hoping someone would answer, and half hoping that I could hear the tones again. It felt so strange, since I haven’t heard one in years!

Several packages should have arrived while we were gone, but they never showed up. In fact, our mailbox was still empty after almost two weeks. We checked tracking information to discover the packages were back at their origin. That was odd, to say the least. This is not the first time we haven’t received packages, either.

So what happened to our mail, anyway?!

Some Nancy Drew sleuthing uncovered the truth. Apparently our mailbox had filled up quickly, catching the eye of our mail courier. Did you know there is a policy which allows the mail courier to return your mail if it has been untouched for 10 days?

Me neither.

And it wasn’t even 10 days…. Moving on.

I called to speak with the mail courier’s supervisor, who oversees package delivery. The goal was to figure out if there is a way to leave packages unattended. We now dread seeing the pink slip, since it means our package is under lockdown at the post office. That pink slip increases hassle times a thousand.

The worst is when we have been HOME during the mail delivery, yet we get the pink slip anyway… As in, no one even approached the door to ring the doorbell! BLECH. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for the amazingness that is our postal system, but we’re not really trying, are we?

When I called to confront the issue, I was immediately greeted with a busy signal. It caught me off guard. It felt like another life when I last heard one. I’ve tried occasions since this, to no avail.

But all of this — the missing mail with no notice, the withheld packages, the pink slips, the busy signal, the inability to reach a living person — all adds up to an undeniable “BUSY” signal to the customer (me).

This experience blasted a silence hinting at my insignificance as a customer. A “you’re not even good enough to insult directly, so I won’t even acknowledge your existence” kind of feeling.

Ignoring people is a deep kind of disrespect — no, stronger than that — a deep kind of hate. Be acutely aware of what your actions say to your customers, fellow team members, and even your friends. You might just be blaring a busy signal, unaware…

What will you do to become aware of how your actions are perceived by others?