This was not at all how I planned to start this week of blogging but sometimes reality rears its ugly head and our plans need to change.
Over the weekend I learned that a friend passed away. He was relatively young – in his early forties – and while I’m at an age where death pays a visit in my world a lot more often than it used to, this one has shaken me up. You see, this is a guy whose life was seemingly very much on track up until about 2 years ago. He had some physical challenges – very bad arthritis – which made his job in golf difficult. Things started downhill. He tried to start a business but it never quite got off the ground. His marriage broke up. His social media activity became less frequent as did his general communication. I even heard he was homeless at one point. While none of the obituaries mention a cause of death, it may have been as simple as a broken heart, deep depression, or as complex as a suicide. I don’t know that it matters.
I wrote something on this topic a year and a half ago:
We all know a person who displays symptoms of things not being right in their lives. Those symptoms could come in the form of substance abuse or a big weight gain. Maybe their personality has changed – gone from light to dark. If you care about that person, you probably think about a way to say something that asks about what’s going on. It’s hard – people have feelings, after all and they are probably just as aware as you are of what they’re doing. Probably more so. The ensuing discussion can be hard for both of you. Sometimes it can derail a friendship. More often, it begins a healing process, but only if you care enough to say something.
I tried to follow that advice with this friend. I tried to help with the business start-up, doing the digital work and marketing. I invited him to come cook with me (he had professional training and loved a kitchen). Other invitations to meet up went unanswered. In short, I tried. And yet I feel as if I could have done more. I didn’t really “say something.”
It’s easy to say that his family should have been helping – he has a lot of family in the area. Who knows – maybe they were estranged. Maybe he wasn’t keeping them informed. How many of us tell our loved ones all is well when the reality is that our world has fallen apart?
I’m sorry to start the week on a down note but PLEASE. If you have people in your lives who seem to be lost, helping them find their way is really about helping you too. Be that selfish. Do more. Don’t wait and don’t be afraid. They might be gone before you overcome your fears.
We do food on Friday here on the screed and I’m starting to think we ought to do golf on Mondays since now that it’s golf season I seem to find golf themes to start the week. I’m not sure if any of you watched The Players over the weekend but it contained a fascinating study in psychology. We talk a lot in golf about it being a mental game. Bob Jones, a golfing icon, summed it up perfectly:
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course…the space between your ears.
There was no better example of this than Kevin Na during The Players. It’s a great business lesson too. For the uninitiated, The Players is often referred to as the fifth major. Whether it is or not, it’s a big deal in the golf world and it draws a top field. Kevin Na is a young (28) golfer who turned pro out of high school and won for the first time not long ago. He was probably best known for carding a 16 on a hole last year (which he did with great grace and a smile, by the way). What is unusual about him is that he struggles to start his golf swing. There’s no way to describe it so I’ll show you:
It’s painful, and what’s even weirder is that once he did manage to swing he was playing well enough to be leading the tournament into the final round. It’s a great example of how often our worst enemies lie within us, both on the golf course and in the office. How many of us spend time negotiating against ourselves rather than the other party in a deal and deliver worse deal terms than we might otherwise have got? How many of us operate without a plan or without regard to data that might prove useful? How many of us let our fears of failure undermine our abilities to function, despite the fact that there is plenty of evidence (like Na’s scorecard) that says we’re doing well?
Part of our ability as businesspeople is our mental capacity, which includes the ability to shut off our brains when we need to and just let our other skills take over. To a certain extent, we need to get outside of our heads in order to let our brains function. I’ve had the experience of feeling as if I’m watching myself give a presentation to a few hundred people, one for which I’ve prepared diligently. My head got out of my brain’s way. Hopefully Na, who seems like a good guy, can use this experience to do the same. How about you?
Image via Wikipedia
I was riding home on the train last night and there was a guy chowing down. “Eating” would be a gross understatement – he was mechanically stuffing his face for nearly the entire hour of the train ride. Since it’s Friday, he seemed right on topic for our weekly food theme.
If you walk around at lunch time you might spot a number of people behaving in a similar manner. They’re focused on something other than their food. Eating is something they do because at some point we all have to. I get the sense that if they could take a pill and be done with the eating thing they would. Then there are the folks that don’t really seem to be enjoying their food but just keep eating it. When they’re done with one thing – or whatever is on their plate – they’ll move on to the next thing – or to your plate! Kind of food sharks – they must keep eating even if they’re not hungry.
Which of course prompted a business thought. Continue reading
I’ve been in meetings all day so this will be really brief but sometimes short really is sweet! I had breakfast this morning with a former colleague. Although we were in different departments of a large company, we often collaborated on things along with a third person. I always enjoyed her thinking on things – she was (and is) bright and energetic. The work was challenging, especially since it was in the early days of digital and the “right” answers weren’t very obvious (and still aren’t a lot of the time!).
This morning she asked me a question I couldn’t answer: why did the other colleague and I stop speaking to her? What triggered our silence? Honestly, I had no clue, but the question did remind me of a great lesson. Continue reading
When you get past the speed limit age-wise (that would be 55 in many states), your doctor wants you to have all kinds of tests as “baselines” so when you start to complain about stuff she can see what’s changed. I was told to go get a stress test even though I tried to explain that I’d been getting them regularly for the last 30 years or more. Let’s see if you buy the explanation because she didn’t! Continue reading
Yet another over 40 friend got the sack yesterday. It had nothing to do with his age nor with his competence. Mostly, like many of my pals who’ve been shown the door over the last few years, it was about a change of direction. As I speak to them, most of my friends had an inkling that something was amiss. Interesting projects were given to others. They weren’t invited to meetings that concerned areas in which they were involved. Certain people seemed to be avoiding them. There are always signs – we just choose to ignore them or we notice and get angry but don’t do much. So here’s a request for both the soon to be terminated and those doing the firing. Continue reading
It’s interesting how often you think you’re the only one with a problem only to find out that you’re not alone and, in fact, might be quite normal. A dear friend and I were talking the other day and he mentioned his 5am nightly(?) wake-up in a state of panic. He, like so many of my friends, is self-employed and he never knows exactly what he’s going to bill in the future. He does, however, have a pretty good idea about what he needs to bring in so he doesn’t lose his house, health care, and a meal or two every day. Usually he spends a few minutes tossing and turning and gets back to sleep but not always. Continue reading