“Have You Thought About This?”

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I had breakfast with my friend Kevin yesterday morning.  I wish I could tell you I thoughtfully invited him to breakfast because I knew it was his birthday.  I could tell you that, but it wouldn’t be true.  I knew it was his birthday when we met for breakfast only because Facebook provided the reminder yesterday morning.  I arrived at the Kirby Lane Café before he did, so I had the waitress primed to greet him with “Happy Birthday” greetings.  She suggested I order a “Happy Birthday” sugar coated, whip-cream laden pancake topped off with syrup.  I declined.  Kevin would have done an about-face and walked back out the door.

When it comes to eating only the right foods, being extremely smart, getting an ample amount of exercise, being highly successful at his job, remaining youthful, traveling all over the world, staying physically and mentally fit, reading thought provoking books, having near perfect children and always being on top of his game, Kevin is second to none.  Actually, the fact that we are close friends defies explanation.  We have nothing in common with the exception of having “near perfect children”.

I don’t fall into the category of “smart”, but I’m clever enough to know my two kids read my blog on a daily basis.  Consequently, why not give credit where credit is due.  The General ensured the kids were near perfect.  What did you expect?  She kept reinforcing the fact that if they didn’t follow her instructions and do precisely what she told them, they would turn out just like me.  That’s all it took.  They opted to march in goose step and follow her instructions to the letter.

One of the things I value about my friendship with Kevin is that he is consistently ahead of the curve in offering encouragement and support.  He doesn’t just do it with me, it is a natural part of who he is and everyone whose life interfaces with his has the opportunity to benefit.  He has the ability to think forward and plan ahead.  He is definitely is not a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of guy.

At ground level, Kevin is a teacher.  His style is unique.  He is never at a loss for words and his words are only good words.  Pumped, positive and purposeful is pretty descriptive of his style.  It is not one of those “the show must go on” kinds of performances that seems like it is manufactured and canned. Kevin’s approach simply unfolds under the guise of friendship shared with undertones of helpfulness. The exchange of ideas or information surfaces in an almost naïve, “have you thought about this” sharing of information.  He doesn’t come across as a know-it-all, but somehow he knows things men three times his age haven’t yet discovered.

Kevin thoughtfully asked how the marketing was going related to my book.  I replied, “I don’t even stay ahead of getting my day-job complete, much less have time to think about marketing my book”.  He replied, “I’m talking to me, too”. That’s the other thing about Kevin; he is honest and transparent about things in his own life he senses are a work in progress.  He went on to say, “The things you should be doing, I should be doing with my book.  But for now, let’s talk about your plan.”

I’m sure my body language was pretty revealing.  How many people do you know who eat pancakes in a fetal position?  My message was clear: “Please don’t ask me to do one thing beyond what I’m already doing.  I don’t have time.”  Kevin smiled and asked, “Have you read “The 4-Hour Workweek?”

Obviously, I had not read the book.  Kevin kindly said, “It’s not nearly as well written as your book (I told you Kevin was kind and encouraging).  He then added, “Despite the fact that it isn’t as well written as your book, ‘It is on the New York Best Seller List’.”  He sensitively didn’t add that the book is published in 35 languages.

Apparently the book is about coloring outside the lines, taking a few shortcuts (all legal of course) and simply making life happen. In the author’s own words: “$1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy.  The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows”.  Hang with me, I mean the author.  The goal of the book is not finding the perfect job, because the perfect job is the one that takes the least time.  Is that double talk?  The author maintains that “outside of science and law, all rules can be bent or broken, and it doesn’t require being unethical.”

Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Workweek” offers the precise principles he used to become any number of things by thinking outside the box and refusing to adhere to routine standards of behavior or self-imposed limitations.  After all, he should know from the vantage point of personal experience.  He is the first American to hold a Guinness world Record in tango.

From my vantage point, Ferriss didn’t do so well with his first job.  On the other hand it only paid minimum wage. Who wants to start their career track at the bottom rung on the corporate ladder? He worked as a cleaner at an ice cream parlor.  What he discovered is that the manager’s methods duplicate effort.  Ferriss did it his way and finished what was thought to be an eight hour job in one. That left him time to read kung-fu magazines and practice karate kicks outside.  The manager’s parting words when he fired him three days later went unheeded: “Maybe someday you’ll understand the value of hard work.” According to the book, the concept of hard work is antiquated and overstated.

My friend Kevin perceived my need to free up time so I could get around to the stuff I perceive to be really important.  Kevin obviously has been so busy in his own work that he hasn’t kept up with my blogs.  Otherwise he would know that calendar glitches are a defining part of my broken lifestyle.  On the other hand, maybe he already knows that.

Kevin asked, “Would it be helpful if you had someone to assist you with scheduling and keeping up with your calendar?” By that time I had freed myself from the fetal position and was focused on the life lessons he had to share.  But like I said, Kevin and I live in different worlds.  I smiled at his next well-intended suggestion.  Like I said, “Kevin thinks outside the box and he is practical.”  He suggested that I hire someone in India (for minimum wage) to manage my calendar and assist me in staying on track.  If nothing else, the suggestion put a smile on my face.

For now it is business as usual.  However, I’ll find time on my calendar for another breakfast or lunch meeting with Kevin.  My psyche needs the support and encouragement he always provides.

All My Best!

Don

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