Expectations

You can’t hope things into compliance. If you want something done a certain way — and you're in charge — you need to communicate your expectations.

If it’s procedurally critical or critical because it’s important enough to you ... then put some rules in place. Solicit cooperation.

And if it’s not worth setting a protocol, then it’s probably more trivial than you once thought. Maybe not worth being annoyed in the first place.

stephen
Expressing thanks

How can we say “thank you” without using words? Without material goods? Without gift?

How can we express our thanks through our actions? Our gratitude through what we do ... seen, and unseen?

Our words might be the beginning. But it’s what we do that brings the expression to its fullest height.

stephen
In storage

From time to time, we decouple ourselves from things we’ve kept in storage. We realize, “I’ll never use this. Why am I holding on to it?” and we take determined steps to donate, sell, or discard the items. It’s liberating. It’s cathartic.

We can do this with other things too. A grudge. A regret. An unhelpful narrative.

We can ask ourselves, “Why am I holding on to this? This is not useful to me.”

And then we can give ourselves permission to loosen the bond. To let it go, and to move on ... liberated.

stephen
Getting credit

Where are you seeking acknowledgment ... and not being acknowledged?

Where are you wanting credit ... and not getting credit?

The deeper question is more important: what’s behind that desire? And why does it bother you so much when it’s unfulfilled?

Addressing those questions might help to alleviate some frustration, and you might gain a better understanding of yourself in the process.

stephen
Create the culture

If you want a workplace where people say “hello!” to each other when they arrive, then start by saying “hello” to people.

If you want your neighborhood to be the kind of place where people check in on the elderly, befriend the widower who lives down the way.

If you want your children to live in a household filled with music and laughter, put on some music and lighten your heart.

The culture we seek is perhaps not so far from our grasp ... but often, we have to take the first steps.

stephen
Solving a problem once

Years ago, my brother and I were working with two other people to unload dozens of 4 x 8-foot panels of melamine-faced particle board. These panels weighed 95 pounds apiece, and we paired off to carry them from the truck into the job site.

As my brother and I worked together, we unloaded the sheets the same way each time. Our hands and carrying positions did not change from sheet to sheet. Our individual roles stayed constant.

The other pair varied their methods. Sometimes they carried on their right side. Sometimes their left. Sometimes one person was in front. Sometimes the other. Forward facing ... backward facing. They made a choice each time they approached the truck bay.

One pair worked efficiently. The other did not.

I’ve carried that lesson with me. When faced with a task involving repetition, find a good way to do it — the best way you know how — and then do it that way consistently.

Don’t solve a puzzle multiple times when you only need to solve it once.

stephen
Setbacks

Sometimes something happens, and we think, “This is terrible. All is lost.”

And indeed, we do experience setbacks, tragedy, and loss.

But there are also times when we can step back and look at our situation through a wider lens.

In some times of trial — maybe many of them — we can find ways to see setbacks as setups to bigger and better things. Like fire that destroys, but also makes way for new life … some of our darkest moments are followed by beauty, light, and opportunity.

stephen