You need to read less and think more!

This blog is about getting stoked and getting worthwhile things done. There is a sea of useless information bombarding you, and this is a desert island where you beach your boat and build a hut. There are also some clever little construction tricks to be presented.



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Why do you do it?

I once heard that people ask kids what they want to do when they grow up because they are looking for ideas. Have you ever asked yourself where your work fits into the grand scheme of things? I'll tell you here what we are all about, and I would love for you to post a comment as to what you are all about.

Good design tickles my sense of aesthetic, but what I really love about it is how it serves the greater good. Housing is a basic human need, and the need to meet it sustainably builds every year. The most important aspect of "Green Building" isn't VOC's, "carbon footprint" or LEED points. It is timeless design.

The remodeling construction market is purportedly 3 times the size of the new construction market, and I would be willing to bet most of those houses are functionally fine. But, they are ugly, dated and funky smelling. However, the oldest stained concrete project I know of is the Awahnee Hotel, and it looks as good as ever:

http://www.yosemitepark.com/Accommodations_TheAhwahnee_PhotoGallery.aspx

Moreover, stained concrete is the cleanest most serviceable type of flooring I know of. Even hardwood, though equally timeless, can collect "schmutz" through the gaps. So in my mind, the greatest gift I can give the world is to devise the ultimate concrete overlay that can be installed in older homes and ages as gracefully as a well placed slab of real concrete. This doesn't exist outside of my workshop yet, and I want to make sure it's everything it needs to be before I really roll it out. But that's what I am working on and why.

What are you up to? Is it what you were born to do? What would you do if you couldn't fail?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why you are going crazy

This concept is most easily understood in the Physical, so we will start there. Have you or a friend ever had to wear a cast for a month or two? What happens to that part of the body? How weak do we physically get with just a few weeks of no movement? On the other hand, what would happen if you took in a steady stream of stimulants and just lifted weights or ran in the same way until your body broke down? Would you get stronger, or would you destroy yourself with that? Clearly, intervals of eustress and rest are what build and maintain us physically.

There are at least 4 dimensions to a Human Being: Physical, Mental, Social, and Spiritual.

Are the other dimensions somehow different? Have you ever "gotten rusty" at a mental skill? Personally, I can remember working my ass off for straight A's through three semesters of calculus, and right now I bet I could not solve the simplest story problem with those skills without a little refresher. On the flip side, how sharp do you feel after cramming? It seems that the brain naturally enforces a rest interval with sleep, but if we manipulate our body chemistry against that are we better off? (Meth-amphitimines anyone?) Of course not!

Without beating this horse further, the point is stress+intervals of rest = maintenance and growth. Problem is, we seldom intionally set ourselves up for eustress/recovery cycle in all dimensions. Who pushes their sense of empathy like a weightlifter doing squats? Who trains spiritually like a marathoner for a special event? Rare birds indeed.

So "What do you do when you get 'that 2 o'clock feeling'?"(5 hour energy commercial) - How about take a friggin' nap? Do you have emotional casts on? How badly have we atrophied spiritually? Now, your reading crap on the internet chops are probably solid: shut it down and GO!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wake up and Piss Excellence

That title is cool is you are a Will Ferrel fan, and probably offensive if not. Sorry. I think it's awesome.

There are three easy strategies to wake up feeling great here. The most usable is first and the best is last. I'm not sure what a "Morning Person" is or if the occur naturally, but I am sure I was not born this way. Here's what works for me and please comment on what works for you below.

Assuming the two things after this don't happen (you passed out last night without planning today, your kids have to be to school soon, so forget about exercise, reading, or a quiet time), this works every time. Ask yourself great questions. Have a list of questions that focus you on the good things. For me it's:

What am I grateful for? - What can I look forward to today? - Who am I thankful for? How many unbroken bones do I have? How good does it feel to not have cancer right now? Who needs be to show up strong today? How can I make the most of what I have been given so far? How sweet is it to have ______ in my life?

The key here is taking some time when you are sharp to think of all the questions that work for you. I have to give the credit to Tony Robbins on this one: He said years ago that all thinking is asking yourself questions. I can't even evaluate that statement without proving it! Take control of that process straight away.

The best thing for me at least is to have my day all lined out the night prior. If you work independent and creatively or lead a small team like I do, deciding what to do (out of an impossibly long list of things that could be done today) is important work that must be done regularly. Do this when you are up and running well. Lay out your clothes the night prior. Have the coffee pot all set up on an automatic timer. Make sure anything special to be brought in is touching your keys or blocking your door. In short, set the morning up so the dopey version of you doesn't have to think too much and is happily reminded of the smart you that should take over in a few hours.

Finally, according to most of my heroes, in addition to knowing what you are going to do, waking up early enough to take some time to make yourself strong first is enormous. 30 minutes of cardio, a little mediation, reading scripture...whatever makes you the strongest can revolutionize your life if it is made into a daily ritual. When it really opens you up, and becomes as compulsory as showering or brushing teeth, things start to really change.

Now, go do something that really needs to be done!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Creating Value

There are two fundamental ways to go about our work. We can look at the market or our employers as something that value is extracted from, or a place where value is created. The default for most folks is value-extraction. The value creation paradigm works much better and is a lot more fun.

When my team shows up Monday they could do either. The tools, vehicles, customers waiting for us, and training all cost our company money and provides the opportunity for them to apply themselves. They can use their skills, strength and stamina to help make peoples homes or at least make homes nicer. Or, they could just try to earn a paycheck. The know that no matter what, if they work X amount of hours, I will write them a check for Y amount of money.

The problem with extracting value, is it sets up a game that isn't very fun. The employer is forced to devise ways to extract labor worth as much or more as the money the employee is extracting. It becomes an ugly tug of war for human effort.

When we adopt the mindset of creating value, everything gets lighter and fun. Giving feels good. Achieving feels good. Making customers light up is fun. Exceeding expectations is fun. Best of all, the money just rains in without having to pull and fight for it.

So, go forth and create some value! Use your mind, body, and all the information at your fingertips to do something for someone that makes their life better.