Posted in Self Improvement

Johnny Listened

The art of listening. Johnny Carson, the King of late night for almost thirty years, as I was growing up, was famous for two primary things. One was his comedy monologues, and the other was his interviewing finesse.

Of the two, even he admitted when a joke did not go well. Sometimes that’s what he turned into a successful monologue, a bad joke. He knew how to turn a “bomb-o” into a hit. While his monologues may have had one or two misses, you never hear anyone say that about his listening skills.

Instead, you hear how he always made his guests look good. How he could be as interested in the farmer from Idaho, as he was Frank Sinatra. People say things like, he never tripped up a guest’s last words. In other words, he had learned the art of listening. 

It’s funny, regardless of what host today, or tonight, people may be fond of, I don’t hear anyone mentioning this. They say that, after Carson left, he may have stopped performing, but he never stopped listening.

Listening, truly listening, is more than a get ahead skill, or good communication. It’s more than a wonderful learning tool. It is a way of showing others how much you care about them. Listening never started an argument. To start an argument you have to stop listening, and start talking, or acting in anger. 

Listening shows others, what they have to say is worth hearing. It’s empowering to others. Listening says, I’m open to your opinion. Listening communicates the value of others in your life, not just to them, but to you.

People that you take the time to listen too, know you are on their side. Even if, after they get finished speaking, and that’s the most important part, letting them finish, you disagree, they know you value their insight. Also, a man that finds himself listening, will find himself being listened too. Johnny did, and because he listened, America listened to him for almost thirty years.  

Posted in Self Improvement

Vacation Plans 

  A vacation, it’s what most Americans dream of, but fewer of us are taking them. Why are they important? There are many reasons, but I’d like to focus on three.

First everybody, at some point, needs to regroup mentally. The cares of this life can, at times, be overwhelming. The ability to unplug for a few days functions almost like a reboot on a computer.

Second, whether it’s a staycation, (time off at home), or a trip, your body could use the rest. You work hard everyday, between commitments at your job and at home, you could use the break. Time off isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity, just as sleep is.

The last reason is that it gives you a chance to reconnect as a family. Spouses, children, and even friends need you. They need the you that isn’t overworked, sleep deprived, and stressed. A vacation allows you the time to spend with the people you love.

These are just three reasons why we all need a vacation. I’m sure you can think of many more, but I would ask you one last question. Do you have a vacation planned? Is there a block of time you’ve set aside that you can look forward to taking?  

I would strongly recommend, at the very least, you schedule a day off, and write it on your calendar. It will function as a relief valve on high stress days, giving you a pleasant reason to look ahead. Last year, a mini trip, reset my perspective at a very crucial time in my life. I’m excited about this year’s vacation, because I know firsthand how vital they are to my health.

Posted in Self Improvement

Tech Troubles

  Tech troubles, we live in an age where many are intimidated by computers, smart phones, and tablets. At the same time, it opens up a whole new adventure for others. I believe the main difference is twofold.  

The first is that it can be intimidating. Computers can be confusing. The people that I know, who face the frustration, want technology to just work. This is something we all can understand. To them, it’s only reasonable, that it should be as reliable as a coffee pot.

For all of its advances, it still has a ways to go before that is the case. However, that shouldn’t rob anyone of the options that it opens up. There are ways to insulate them from the annoyance factor in many cases.

An iPad, or tablet computer is a perfect companion for both the tech novice and the tech geek. It’s been my primary device for five years now. I like it because you can add a keyboard when you need it, and leave it behind when you don’t. It’s a lightweight, reliable way of accessing digital resources.

Others prefer a phone, laptop, or a desktop computer. For some, an Android or iPhone phone is the only computer they use. Bigger smartphones fit the bill for many people. Google has an inexpensive laptop known as a Chromebook that is very low maintenance. While I prefer Apple computers, to me the easiest to use, there are now has several low stress options.

Besides the intimidation factor, is the issue of time. They may not have the time that geeks like myself have to watch keynotes, read, and listen to podcasts. Thankfully they don’t have to, there are other ways of accessing information.

One is family or friends such as myself. I love technology, and I love sharing it with others. If you are a computer enthusiast, make yourself available to help those in your life who are not. It can be a very rewarding experience.

Second there is your IT technician at work. Yes, they can at times be bombarded with questions, but most of the ones I know enjoy helping. You’re approaching them, not as another wanting something fixed, but needing their expertise. Most are glad to advise anyone who wants to learn.

I would also encourage you to view technology this way, as a better coffee pot. The coffee maker of today is better than twenty years ago. Computers are much the same, an advance of typewriters, telegraph, and other tools of the past.

It’s not a matter of skill, talent, or intelligence. Everyone, regardless of age or interest, can take advantage of the options that technology brings. A whole new horizon, from history to medicine, and even college level courses are available free on the internet.

More than that, you have something to contribute. No one but you knows your story. Computers are just an avenue to allow you to share it. Others could benefit from your experiences. 

Overcoming the tech hurdle can have life altering effects. Not only in your life, but in the lives of those you could reach. Someone, else has a different issue, one you’ve already solved. They may be sitting at their computer, searching for an answer. You’ve got it, let’s get you up and running, so you can help them resolve their problem.