#213 moments

The world lost many souls this year, one of the most notable being Neil Armstrong.  When I mention the name, most Americans instantly think of “walking on the moon”.  How strange it must be to have your life defined by something that occurred in a matter of minutes.  An enormous amount of preparation, and 151 minutes in Armstrong’s case.

Jesse Owens, the decorated runner, once described the experience of an Olympian as ” a lifetime of training for just 10 seconds.”  So many people are remembered by something that happened in a relatively short amount of time.  Ben Stein has impressive credentials and a lifetime of achievement, but he has remarked that he knows his obituary will read “Bueller, Bueller” in recognition of the 10 minutes he spent as the boring teacher in the classic film.

Your whole lifetime doesn’t have to be memorable.  The whole year doesn’t have to be stellar.  The whole project doesn’t have to be perfect.  Tonight as we bring the year to a close, take a moment to reflect on the moments/deeds/memories/loves that stood out.  The pieces can define the whole if they are powerful enough.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com




#212 towering achievement

As one of my staff members reflected on the year, she described it as “gray”.  “Nothing really big happened,” she said.  

But when I looked at her year, I saw a collection of little wins: process improvements, staff training gains, outreach efforts, a record of accuracy and service, etc.  I feared that if she did not take satisfaction in these achievements her staff would not see their significance either, setting everyone up for a “gray” year next year.

The analogy I used to describe this to her was that she had a bunch of little boxes.  Her job as a manager was to tie a ribbon around them and make them into an impressive tower of gifts.  Big wins don’t need to come in big chunks or be a silver bullet.  Small, continuous improvements can add up to produce significant benefits as well.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#210 take stock

Think about yourself or your institution and how you operate.

Are you like a money market: slow and steady growth, with little risk and little return.

Or are you like a blue chip stock: relying more on your reputation than on your current performance.

Or perhaps you are more of a high risk stock:  taking big gambles, but having high return.

Two thoughts about this:
1) It helps to have your personal comfort level aligned with that of your organization.  If you’re not comfortable taking big risks in your own life, it will likely make you nervous if you work at a place that rolls the dice could risk losing it all.

2) If you work in a money market type institution, you may be doing well in literal terms — balancing the budget, making progress, etc. — but with the economy and inflation, it is likely that you are actually falling behind if you are only incrementally growing.

Whatever your path — personal and professional — be intentional about being on it.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#209 lighter than air

When I first heard this I thought it was a joke, but apparently it is true: helium is going to become hard to come by. Not only does this impact the balloon enthusiast, but it has far more serious implications. Helium is used in MRI machines, welding, nuclear reactors and space shuttle fuel tanks.

Helium is the second-most abundant element in the universe (after hydrogen), but a combination of factors has led to the shortage.  Believe it or not, last year’s warmer-than-usual winter is a contributor; natural gas production and prices were down so the helium by-product was reduced as well.  Demand for helium is growing and global production cannot keep up; thus the shortage.  And the government is involved as well; nearly all of the world’s helium supply is found within a 250-mile radius of Amarillo, Texas and the U.S. Federal Helium Reserve there controls much of the supply.

So who is at the end of the production food chain: the casual balloon consumer.  Soon the days of bouquets of balloons from the party store will be gone; either helium won’t be available for that use at all or it will be priced beyond what someone will pay.  Forget about balloon arches at prom, release of hundreds of balloons at football games or use of the latex decorations for countless events.  It is doubtful that the next generation will be able to conceive how frivolously helium was used as it is now.

I mourn the pending loss of plentiful helium balloons.  It only takes one to cheer up a person or add sunshine to a room.  And I wonder what whole new industry will replace it.  Will there be gizmos to easily allow balloons to float down from the ceiling? Will clowns instead hand out stickers, candy or removable tattoos?  Will Macy’s again fill their floats with air and suspend them from trucks (as they did in 1958 during another shortage)?  Will party stores go out of business without the lucrative sideline of balloon bundles?

Whether you’re six or 60, the next time you see a helium balloon, pause and soak it in.  It is one more aspect of today that may not exist in the future.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com



*www.wired.com/archive/8.08/helium.html
Also: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20 and http://www.popularmechanics.com 6/25/12


#208 good tidings

One of my favorite, funniest memories occurred when visiting friends many years ago.  I only saw them at Christmastime, and my memory of where they lived was sketchy due to just annual visits.  This was in the pre-cell phone, pre-GPS, pre-navigation systems on your phone era — and I got lost.  Really lost.  So lost that I had to stop at a store, call them, describe where I was, and then write down the directions to follow in order to get there.  

Once I turned onto their circle, I saw the whole family outside — with flashlights — guiding me into their driveway like it was an airplane landing strip.  We still laugh about it all these years later.

I will visit them again this holiday; no batteries required.  Just tell Siri that I want navigation to their address and, wa-la, she will guide me there.  It will be infinitely more efficient, and undoubtedly less fun.

High tech is wonderful, but so is high touch.  Now that the madness of Christmas Day is over, try to add some low key time with friends into your schedule.  The annual get-together can make enough memories to last for the year.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com




#207 appreciation

I recently heard the parable about a dog with a bone.  The dog was given a big bone.  He began wagging and was quite happy with his feast.  He then trotted off with it and came upon a pond.  While holding his bone, he looked in the water and saw another dog with a bone.  Not realizing it was his reflection, he grabbed for it, and as a result lost the bone he had.

This Christmas, wag your tail and appreciate the bones that you are given.  Merry day!

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com