Friday is a peculiar day. It’s a day some people wait all week for. “Thank God it’s Friday,” they’ll say on the elevator while you nod politely. Most people probably don’t realize they do this.
But you only get about 52 Fridays a year. So what’s happening to the other 312 days?
Figure out a way to get more Fridays into your calendar. This doesn’t mean more party-do-less-work days but taking that Friday enthusiasm with you all week. You once had it. As a pre-schooler you probably didn’t say “TGIF.”
Find something to get excited and enthusiastic about and spend your week chasing it down.
There’s an old Latin saying, “Qui docet, discit” (He who teaches, learns.)
You don’t need to wait until you have a teaching certificate, a particular degree, or gray hair to pass on knowledge and skills and inspire others. Volunteer to become a mentor, either formally through a program at work or school or informally.
You know more than you think you know; you bring your own unique set of skills and life experiences to the table. If you don’t know the answer, merely reply, “I don’t know but I’ll find out.” (You might even approach each day with that very question.)
The best teachers don’t preach to others, they learn from others.
So I ordered a doppio at the local Starbucks and the barista asked my name. “We’re trying something new,” she said. “We’re asking people their names.”
“Edward,” I said. (When in Rome, right?)
“Edward!” the barista repeated with zest.
I felt instantly welcomed.
It’s probably in Dale Carnegie’s classic, but its a known law of the universe that everyone loves the sound of their own name. It’s true. Using someone’s name gets their attention. It makes them feel warm and happy.
But many people don’t appear to make an effort to remember names. (Why bother, when you can just use “Dude.”) Some people even wear this trait as a badge of honor. “You know, I’m just not good at remembering names.” Well you should get good at it. It’s a handy little trick that doesn’t cost anything and it sets you apart.
When someone tells you their name pay attention and then repeat it back to them. And if it’s an out-of-the-ordinary moniker, make a confident effort, “That’s ‘Ag-a-mem-non’ you say? Nice to meet you!” They’ll be impressed that you are interested in trying to pronounce what they likely know is an uncommon name.
Plan “A:” You can do something you might dislike (deal with angry customers) and get paid.
Plan “B:” You can do something you enjoy (watch movies) without getting paid at all.
You can do “A” as long as you can put up with your circumstances and you need the money.
You can do “B” as long as you can go without a paycheck.
You probably can’t do A or B indefinitely. So you might opt for Plan “C,” falling into a life working a job you don’t like and augmenting it by zoning out in front of your flat screen during the off hours. You can get away with this for years. People understand.
Or you can make a new plan, Plan “Z,” and put on paper how long you intend to stay at your job, your options for moving within the organization or moving on, deciding where opportunities are and how you can leverage your skills, experience and interests to take advantage of them. But that takes some work, and you could fail. And the TV has 900 channels.
It’s easy to be a critic. It can be fun. You’ve got Twitter, Why not pile on?
The artist, Paul Emsley, had to create the painting and unveil it to the world. He had to do the work and take the risk. Most of the critics have probably never painted anything since grade school. Most have never met the Duchess of Cambridge, either, yet believe they are experts on her likeness.
To be a good critic, however, is not easy. You need to bring a level of experience and expertise to the table and demonstrate it with a carefully constructed critique. It’s easy to rate a film online. Click, there you’re done. It’s not so easy to sit down and write a review like Ebert does and make a living at it.
But most critics don’t approach critiquing as a craft.
There are plenty of tools available to you. So today will you criticize, or create?
The great Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz famously said, “90% of people don’t care about your problems and the other 10% are glad you’ve got ‘em!”
It’s not that the 90% are all rude, it’s that they’re living in their own heads, it’s the only reality they know. The people you see walking around are fighting their own fights. Every morning they put on their armor–clothes and a smile–and face another day.
If you want to connect with someone the key is to listen, especially to their challenges. (It’s not easy, and it’s more cathartic to share your own problems, but resist it.) If you make a point to genuinely listen to others they will be amazed. That’s because no one listens to them. Their spouse and kids don’t, their boss doesn’t, politicians don’t, and even their friends tend to focus on what they’re going to say next instead of listening.
If you truly listen you will be remembered. Go listen to someone.
A pet dog is an eternal optimist. He’ll check his bowl several times during the day, looking to see if bacon, liverwurst or some other tasty treat has appeared. The bowl itself represents limitless potential. Just wait long enough and somebody will put something in there.
A trained bird dog is an eternal optimist, too. But instead of waiting around his bowl he has work to do, locating game birds. (A good, trained sporting dog is not a “pet.”) Despite doing more work than his pet counterpart, the bird dog may actually get less “reward” in terms of handouts (and he doesn’t get to eat the birds he flushes).
Both dogs are happy, so which is the better life strategy? Granted, the dogs don’t have a choice, but you do.
You can wait around checking your phone or laptop for incoming business opportunities, and sometimes you’ll get some bacon. And it’s real comfortable relaxing on the couch.
Or you can get out there, relentlessly working the terrain, risking burrs and brambles as you enthusiastically seek out possibilities around each hill and dale.
Both dogs have their day. What will yours look like?