Green grass

We can spend a long time thinking about how green the grass is on the other side of the fence.

Or we can tend to the grass under our feet, which can be made lush by the work of our hands.

We can be preoccupied with gazing over the fence, or we can get to work making things better right where we are.

The choice is ours.

Daily goal

In preparation for a month-long workshop, I had a pile of books to read. 30 days to prepare, and about 1,500 pages to consume. I set a goal for reading 50 pages every night.

After a week, I was slightly behind schedule. I re-calibrated to 56 pages per night.

A little later, I had fallen behind again, and ramped up to 62 pages.

When I had two days left, I still had 300 pages remaining: 150 pages each night.

What I realized was that for the first part of the month, even if I was far below my daily goal, it wouldn’t take much additional work to make up the lost ground.

But toward the end of the month, things changed substantially. With time compressed, the burden increased significantly each day.

Take a look at this graph showing how those 50 pages per night would have played out if I had delayed. If I had procrastinated, it wouldn’t seem so bad at first … but it would get tough eventually.

Sure, it’s simple math. But for me, seeing consequence of falling behind — seeing it so clearly — helps me to remember: a little bit each day goes a long way. Little by little, drip by drip.

Whether it’s reading, or exercising, or practicing a skill … whatever it is, the cost of delaying isn’t noticeable at first. But it can add up.

Let’s work each day so that big number goes in the “what I’ve done” column, and not the column for what’s left to do.

Setting the tone

When you’re a leader ... your mood, your attitude, and your disposition set a tone.

People act — consciously and unconsciously — in response to how you act.

If you see that the group dynamic is not working, check on the tone your’re setting.

And here’s a secret: if you’re not the leader, and you choose to set a new tone that serves the group ... you automatically become a leader.


Write something in ink.

Not pencil.


Commit to it.


Something you believe in.

And keep your word.

Then do it again.

On hold

The way you tell (or ask) someone to wait lays a foundation for their experience of waiting.

I called two competing companies recently. Each greeting was followed by on-hold music. Here’s what I heard:

Call One: “[Company Name] Hold.”

Call Two: “Hello! Thank you for calling [Company Name]. This is Barbara. Can you please hold for a moment?”

Afterwards, I used a stopwatch. The first way to answer takes two seconds. The second way takes four seconds ... five if you count my reply.

Is the first company so busy that they can’t afford those extra three seconds to answer the phone in a courteous way? Of course, during my hold, I had plenty of time to ponder the way the phone was answered.

The three seconds saved might have bought the employee some time, but it came at the cost of my positive feelings toward the brand, and ultimately my patronage.

And the second company? I was happy to hold for Barbara ... and she was just as friendly when she picked up again.

Turning screws

When you’re turning screws — particularly the cross-slotted variety — you have to push the driver into the head of the screw.

Interestingly, it doesn’t matter whether you’re loosening or tightening. Either way, positive engagement is needed for the driver to work.

It’s the same with any kind of change that we try to make. We need to lean in.

Sometimes it takes a little pressure. Sometimes it takes a lot.

But one thing is certain: no engagement ... no change.

So go ahead. Lean in.

Credit for trying

Most of the time, you’re not going to get credit for trying.

But you do get something. You get experience. You get the opportunity to learn. You get the thrill of doing something that might not work.

And you get to flex your persistence muscle, which will get stronger over time.

Credit or no, your willingness to try is worth something. It might even turn out to be worth a lot.