Players win games, teams win championships

Some thoughts & quotes from John Maxwell’s “Equipping 101”

The most expensive employee isn’t the highest paid one, but the least productive one.

Attitude is:
-The advance man of our true selves.
-Our best friend or our worst enemy.
-Is more honest and more consistent that our words.
-Is the thing that draws people to us or repels them from us.
-Is the librarian of our past.
-Is the speaker of our present.
-Is the prophet of our future.

People become like their models. Who are our leaders models?

Finding good leaders is like mining for gold, you have to dig out 2 tons worth of dirt to find it but once found pays for all of the work.

You can tell a persons character by his/her relationships.

Finding talent in a business is no different than finding talent for a professional sports team. You have to recruit, scout, and draft the best you can find. Eventually, you will have to pay for that talent or risk loosing it; so stop investing in players that don’t grow.

Leaders attract potential leaders!

An organization’s Growth potential is directly related to its personnel potential.

As a potential leader you are either an asset to an organization or a liability to it.

This Too Shall Pass

The following are some of my favorite excepts from O.G. Mandio’s “The Greatest Salesman in the World.”  They are broken down by scroll number the quote comes from.  It is a short book that is really more of a “guide for living” than a “guide for selling”.

Scroll Number I:

“Time teaches all things to him who lives forever but I have not the luxury of eternity.”

“Failure is man’s inability to reach his goals in life, whatever they may be.”

“…the only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits… I will form good habits and become their slave.”

Scroll Number II:

“I will love the ambitious for they can inspire me!  I will love the failures for they can teach me.  I will love the kings for they are but human; I will love the meek for they are divine.  I will love the rich for they are yet lonely; I will love the poor for they are so many.  I will love the young for the faith they hold; I will love the old for the wisdom they share.  I will love the beautiful for their eyes of sadness; I will love the ugly for their souls of peace.  I will great this day with love in my heart.”

Scroll Number III:

“So long as there is breath in me, that long will I persist.  For now I know one of the greatest principles of success; if I persist long enough I will win.”

Scroll Number IV:

“I am nature’s greatest miracle.  Vain attempts to imitate others no longer will I make… I will begin now to accent my differences; hide my similarities.”

Scroll Number V:

” I will live this day as if it is my last… I will waste not a moment mourning yesterday’s misfortunes, yesterdays defeats, yesterday’s aches of the heart, for why should I throw good after bad.”

” I will avoid with fury the killers of time.  procrastination I will destroy with action; doubt I will bury under faith; fear I will dismember with confidence.”

“Henceforth I know that to court idleness is to steal food, clothing, and warmth from those I love. “

” This day I will make the best day of my life.  This day I will drink every minute to its full.  I will savor its taste and give thanks.  I will maketh every hour count and each minute I will trade only for something of value.  I will labor harder than ever before and push my muscles until they cry for relief, and then I will continue.”

Scroll Number VI:

“Today I will be master of my emotions… Weak is he who permits his thoughts to control his actions; strong is he who forces his actions to control his thoughts.”

“If I feel all-powerful I will try to stop the wind. If I attain great wealth I will remember one unfed mouth. If I become overly proud I will remember a moment of weakness.  If I feel my skill is unmatched I will look at the stars.”

Scroll Number VII:

“I will laugh at the world.  No living creature can laugh except man.”

” For all worldly things shall indeed pass.  When I am heavy with heartache I shall console myself that this too shall pass; when I am puffed with success I shall warn myself that this too shall pass. “

“Never will I allow myself to become so important, so wise, so dignified, so powerful, that I forget how to laugh at myself and my world.”

Scroll Number VIII:

“Today I will multiply my value a hundredfold… To surpass the deeds of others is unimportant; to surpass my own deeds is all.”

“I will commit not the terrible crime of aiming too low.  I will do the work that a failure will not do.  I will always let my reach exceed my grasp.”

Scroll Number IX:

“…dreams are worthless, my plans are dust, my goals are impossible.  All are of no value unless they are followed by action.  I will act now.”

“Never has there been a map, however carefully executed to detail and scale, which carried its owner over even one inch of ground.”

“I will not avoid the tasks of today and charge them to tomorrow for I know that tomorrow never comes.  Let me act now even though my actions may not bring happiness or success for it is better to act and fail than not act and flounder.”

“I will act now… When I awake I will say (these words) and leap from my cot while the failure sleeps yet another hour.”

“Tomorrow is the day reserved for the labor of the lazy.  I am not lazy.”

“This is the time.  This is the place.  I am the man.  I will act now.”

Scroll Number X:

“Guide me, God.”

The book itself has got me thinking about writing down the outline for my own personal philosophy.  I am not talking about a religious creed or a statement of beliefs but a guide to define the philosophy of life I would like to follow.  In ancient Greece, and to a lesser extent in later Roman cultures, it was common for the upper classes to adopt a philosophy of life.  In fact parents sent their sons to schools of philosophy, like Stoicism and Asceticism, partly to acquire such a philosophy.

If Only for Financial Reasons

February 19th I attended the Dave Ramsey Live event here in Oklahoma City.  I can say that if you have been listening to Dave for any significant length of time, read any of his books, or attended his  Financial Peace University; you are not likely to get any new information out of his live event.  This really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as Dave’s message is one of simplicity and focus over depth and sophistication.  All that said, Dave’s events are fun.  The event is as much a pep-rally as a financial training event.  Here are the only two tidbits (seriously, there are the only two) that I had not heard from Dave during some previous encounter with his material:

If you walk around life without a plan, you will loose your money to those that do.

89% of people who own $1,000,000 homes do NOT make a million.

While the information I got from the Live Event wasn’t exactly new it does work and sometimes everyone can use a little pep-rally.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Dear god in heaven, Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 has yanking and pulling!  I don’t know how long MS has had, what they call, the clipboard ring but I have a new found respect for Visual Studio (VS08.)  For those who are not familiar with this feature, yank/pull is a Unix staple (especially among EMACS users) that effectively saves a clipboard history for you.

Using a modified paste command will cycle you through your history pasting the your most recent copy to the edited text (and then highlighting it,) using the command again will paste the second most recent copy (and thus removing what was just highlighted.  Some versions of this feature will allow you to view a list of your clipboard history and arrow down to select it.  Imagine having a list of commonly pasted text instantly available to add to any document without your hands ever leaving the keyboard.

Once someone starts using this feature it because almost addictively beneficial. Trying to live without it is similar to trying to edit text without copy/past and has been one of the main reasons VS08 (or any other Windows text editor) is PAINFUL to use.  Admittedly there are a number of third party applications that give you this functionality, but really, should a user be paying for a feature that is as fundamental to using a computer as copy & paste… or virtual desktops?

Wait… oh well, back to Linux.

The New Notebook

You may remember I had a post a while ago about my preferred notebook for organizing my life. Well they don’t make it anymore, but the replacement they have is even better.  Check out the Cambridge Limited Business Notebook – Action Planner. Here are the specs:

Planner pages include fields for Date, Project Number, Title, Notes and Action Items
  • 96 Sheets / book
  • 20-lb. Paper
  • 8-1/2″ x 11″
  • Black linen cover
  • Side-perforated sheets allow for clean removal
  • Mead Item Number: 06064

One Notebook to Rule them all

One of the rules of my organizational methodology is that everything that I write on paper goes into a single notebook. I keep a single notebook and each and every page is titled, numbered, and dated. Each notebook is numbered and range dated when finally filled. This means that I carry a notebook with me most of the time and, therefore, the quality of the notebook means a great deal to me.

Now I can already hear people screaming “MOLESKIN” to me; but the problem with Moleskin is that they are pretty darn expensive (remember everything I don’t type on the computer goes into this notebook… it can fill up VERY quickly) and they are generally quality overkill for something that basically holds todo lists and diagrams. Finally, Moleskins are really more about brand than need.

So my notebooks need to stand-up to punishment, not be too expensive, and have a useful layout that doesn’t make me feel like a third grader. The Foray Project Planner Notebook is EASILY my favorite. So for future reference (like when I need to order new ones:)

Where to buy: Office Depot

Description: These refillable notebooks feature smooth, white, premium bond paper and distinctive foil-stamped linen covers with high-quality double-wire binding. Each notebook contains perforated pages for easy removal as well as a date box on every page to keep you on track. There are 80 faint-ruled pages of 18-lb paper in each refillable notebook.

Item # 766134
Manufacturer # 99326FY
sheet size 8 3/5″ x 11″
number of pages per book 160
binding type wirebound
cover color Black
cover material 22 pt. linen 924 grain embossed
opening position right side
number of holes punched 0
paper ruling faint ruled
paper color white
paper weight 18 lb
acid free no
brand name Foray

College Football

Ever year I talk my wife’s ear off about College Football.  Not that anyone who knows me didn’t already assumes I talk my wife’s ear off.  One of the re-occurring topics that I cover every single year with her is “my favorite College Football uniforms.”  So here is my top 10 list.

  1. Penn State – Home uniform (blue and white.)  Clean, simple, and easily the best looking team on the field when they are at home.  Penn State is the gold standard of College Football uniforms.  Wannabe look-alike: Georgia Southern.
  2. Notre Dame – Home uniform (blue and gold.) Maybe I like dark blue but seriously, how can you not love a uniform that needs no logo on it’s helmet and has actual gold mixed into the color.  Wannabe look-alike: Notre Dame… in green.
  3. Oklahoma – Home uniforms (Crimson and Cream.) Oh common, you knew this was coming.  The simple logo, the striking colors, and the lack of unnecessary shoulder or helmet stripes.  Classic, simple, and gorgeous! Wannabe look-alike: Alabama.  OK, maybe it should be Alabama withe OU the wannabe, but this is MY list and OU crimson is waaaaaay better than boring old Alabama crimson.  Plus I have ALWAYS hated the number on the helmet thing!
  4. Michigan – Home uniform (maze and blue.)  The winged helmet is classic and the colors are bold without being annoying.  Wannabe look-alike: Delaware.
  5. Auburn – Home uniforms ( orange and blue.) If you have to have tons of stripes on your uniform, you would be hard pressed to do it as well as Auburn.  I love these colors together.  The simple logo helps their cause as well. Wannabe look-alike: Illinois.
  6. Army – Special events home uniforms (black and camo!)  Seriously, have you seen these uniforms?  They are amazing!  I mean, do you really want to play football against a team that looks like they could pull out AR-15’s right after the game.  I would give a wannabe but I can’t think of anyone, anywhere, that look like them.
  7. Texas Home uniforms (burnt orange and white.) It is really really hard to pull off looking good in orange.  Texas is the only team that I know of that can do it. Wannabe look-alike: Tennessee.
  8. Navy –  Home uniforms (blue and gold.) Solid color helmets really do wonders for a uniform.  Navy is basically another one of those “classic” uniforms.  I really love blue and gold for football.
  9. USC – Away uniforms (cardinal, gold, and white) I hate USC, but I have to admit that they look dang good.  One of the few teams that looks better away than at home, the white adds something to the color scheme for me.  Good looking logo as well.  But I still hate them!  Wannabe look-alike: Minnesota.
  10. Georgia Southern – Yes, I know I just complained about the numbers on the helmets, but Georgia Southern does it in BLUE!

And Just because they probably need to be smacked.  Here are a few of the worst.

  1. Oregon
  2. Air Force
  3. Boise State
  4. Rhodes Island

Then there was Nethack

I recently saw a post from someone who (after 7 years) had finally ascended in NetHack. Ascending in NetHack effectively means beating the game and if you think 7 years is entirely too long to play a game you haven’t beaten; then you haven’t ever played NetHack.  I have posted about NetHack previously and suffice to say that I haven’t (in my 6 year of playing) ever come even CLOSE to finishing the game.  So to keep all of you from ever ruining your perfectly sane existence I am going to list a number of reasons why NetHack is both THE game by which all other RPGs will be judged and why you should NEVER start playing it!

  • –NetHack is the most expansive game ever created.  This is partially a product of design.  Like Legos, the game is almost stupidly simple, but the byproduct of such simplicity is infinite expandability.  Which brings us to the second cause of NetHack’s depth… It has been in constant development for over 20 YEARS!  Rogue (the game NetHack was based on) was created in 1980.  The origins of NetHack actually  pre-date the personal computer!
  • –Developers * Time * Design = The DevTeam Think of Everything! (TDTTOE.)  This is not a joke.  You honestly have to play the game to really “get” how connected each piece of the game is.  My favorite example of this comes from GameSpy when NetHack was inducted into their video game hall of fame: Eat a floating eye corpse and you’ll get ESP, which will allow you to see enemies anywhere on the map, but only while blinded. To take advantage of it, you may want to drink a potion of blindness, or preferably, find and wear a blindfold. Of course, while blindfolded, even with ESP you won’t be able to see inanimate objects on the floor — when you find piles of items, your character will have to “feel” for them. Oh, and you won’t be able to read scrolls. Whoops! In that pile of items you just felt is a cockatrice corpse — fortunately you were wearing gloves, otherwise you would’ve been turned to stone just by touching it. But now, blind and protected, you can pick up the cockatrice corpse and use it to attack monsters — now your enemies will turn to stone when you strike them! Unfortunately, their inventory turns to stone as well. Hey, no problem — you’ve got a pick-axe, so you can chisel open their statues to yield a pile of rocks and any of their old possessions. Sadly, thanks to the blindfold, you can’t see a nearby pit and tumble inside. Too bad you were holding the cockatrice corpse — it landed on top of you and turned you to stone. Yet Another Stupid Death, and another reason to cry out in anguish because they think of everything!
  • –You get one life in NetHack.  ONE!  That is it. You can suspend the game but not save it.  The closest thing to continuity between games is that you often come across your ghost from previous games (in fact your grave will often have your old loot in it…  cursed, TDTTOE.)
  • –The game doesn’t care.  In fact is probably works directly against you.  For example, you simply don’t know how an object will effect a situation until you use it (or until you find some side effect that you can test to discover it.)  All objects (potions, scrolls, spell books, etc.) are named differently EVERY GAME.  And so until you figure out what a “pinkish gold” potion is THIS TIME, you don’t know what it will do.  Then, even if you know what an object is, that doesn’t mean you know if it is cursed or blessed.  The game not caring also means that things like alters (or specialized equipment) are not necessarily likely to be the same alignment as you.  Hell, the moon phase even effects the game… the REAL MOON PHASE!  Oh, and did I mention that the levels are auto-generated and so are NEVER the same.
  • –Games go on for DAYS but death always seems to happen suddenly.  So just as you really start to get your hopes up, you loose 3 days worth of work in an instant because you get bit by a ware-rat, turn into a rat, and get killed by a group of fire ants that wouldn’t have given you any trouble 10 seconds ago.
  • –You have to do everything intentionally!  Don’t (I repeat don’t) just go running into a group of enemies and start swinging.  Because the game it turn based you REALLY need to consider as many possibilities of what will happen when you do something.  You certainly cannot think of everything that could happen but you will live longer if you at least try.  Heck, you cannot even leave old/cursed/useless crap laying around because and enemy is likely to pick something up and attack you with it.  And if you haven’t played before you probably can count on dying the first 6 times just trying to figure out how you will keep from starving to death.
  • –The only friend you have the entire game is your dog… and even god will not help you if you get him killed.

So 7 years isn’t to long to finish a game that was basically designed to be an exercise it masochism.  I will be lucky if I am able to ascend sometime in the NEXT 7 years.  For those who are not detered may I recommend the Absolute Beginners Guide to NetHack.

Almost, but nothing like, a book review.

Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box” by The Arbinger Institute, falls into the leadership/management book category of “philosophy lite”.  It has been my experience that anyone who has had even casually exposure to some basic philosophical ideas is often amazed at how common those themes come up in business books.  This is not, at all, surprising as leadership and management is often focused directly at understanding ourselves, understanding others, and understanding the relationships between the two.  There are even a number of business authors who have effectively made a career out of simplifying and re-publishing the concepts of other notables like Kant, Heidegger, and Locke. “Leadership and Self Deception” barrows heavily from Martin Buber and with significant influence from Freud’s concept of resistance in its later chapters on “self-deception.”

Without getting into the book too much, let me just say that I really enjoyed it. It seems to me that a great number of “hard” philosophy types strongly reject these obvious attempts at watering it down; but the problem that in many cases it is the only they would ever get broad exposure.

People do not generally operate their daily lives from a position of depth. One may get such depth on specific subject matter that is of personal or professional interest; but most cannot do it for all subjects necessary to operate all aspects of life. This is even more true for subject material that is arguably second in complexity only to high-level math (just try reading “I and Thou” through the first time without saying, “huh??”).  These simplified models can, therefore, provide value in spaces where they would otherwise not get used.

Additionally, this kind of leadership book is its usefulness at providing real-world examples of the more esoteric philosophical concepts.  It is not unusual for philosophy to suffer the criticism that its theories are not directly applicable to real life.  Yet, the fact is they are referenced (if not directly) for use in two of the most real-world fields available, business and leadership.  I think it would behoove some professional intellectuals to view the applicability of their theories in places other than literature and the movies.

“Leadership and Self Deception” is a great book and possibly, for some previously unexposed, a life changing book. The ideas in it may not be ground breaking but they are worthy of modeling. It is because of all of these reasons that it is one of the few leadership books that I think should be on everyone’s book shelf.

Random Excerpts from “Just Courage”

Some notes from the book “Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian” by Gary A. Haugen:

“The sin of injustice is defined in the Bible as the abuse of power – abusing power by taking from others the good things that God intended for them, namely, their life, liberty, dignity, or the fruits of their love or their labor.  In other words, when a stronger person abuses his or her power by taking from a weaker person what God alone has given the weaker person -…”

-Gary Haugen

“Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker”

-Proverbs 14:31 NRSV

In-justice is a particularly egregious evil because the sufferer (the weaker person who is being acted on) isn’t suffering because of a random unfairness, an uncontrollable act of nature or bad luck; but because of the very intentional abuse and oppression of a stronger person.

“(caring for the poor of Africa…) is not a matter of charity; it’s a matter of justice”

-Bono

“…we can give all manner of goods and services to the poor, but if we do not restrain the hands of the bullies from taking it away, we will be disappointed in the long-term outcome of our efforts.”

-Gary Haugen

Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong.

-Theodore Roosevelt

Violence is just different. Violence is intentional. Violence is scary. And violence causes deep scars.

-Gary Haugen

Those who prey upon the poor are not brave. They only prey upon the poor when they think they can… Most fundamentally the predators (the instigators of injustice) are afraid of the truth.

-Gary Haugen

Justice is the aura of God. It is something every human understands, even from the time they are small children, but something that doesn’t exist as part of “the world.” In a universe that has absolutely no concept of fairness; every being on this planet, regardless of race, creed, or belief, screams out for justice. Those that pursue it are considered the greatest examples of mankind. Those who die for it are considered martyrs and saints. And those who stand in opposition to it will forever be judged on the wrong side of history.

“Ultimately we can choose to be safe or brave.  We cannot be both.”

-Gary Haugen