Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why You Need a Coach - Or, "What I learned from my first week of contacts"

Well, it has been a week of learning experiences. First time I've ever tried contact lenses. Here is a summary of what I learned: about me and about life.

Day 1- Friday: My "Contact Coach" aka the lady at the eye Dr.'s office, while watching me attempt to put the contacts in my eye for the first time, said "you're blinking." Well, duh.
     For over four decades, I have embraced the maxim "don't run with a stick or you'll poke your eye out." Notwithstanding the fact that you won't really poke your eye out - you might poke it IN, but not OUT - I have trained my eye that when fingers approach, CLOSE IMMEDIATELY. So, yes, I was blinking.

Day 2 - Saturday: Attempting to put the contact lens in my eye this morning, it strikes me that it is difficult to see this small, round, transparent object without having the small, round, transparent object actually in my eye so that I can see small, round, transparent objects. What's wrong with this picture?
     Ok, put on glasses, position lens, take glasses off, attempt to insert... oops, dropped it, find glasses, put them back on, find lens and repeat, skipping the "oops" step.

Day 3 - Sunday: Applying the "better living through modern chemistry" approach, I take a dose of antihistamine when I get up. It doesn't make the lens go in any easier, but it does cut down on the sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes.

Day 4 - Monday: Tried at home for 20 minutes to get the lens in with no success. Packed the stuff up so I wouldn't be late for a breakfast appointment. Ordered by memory since I couldn't read the menu. Arrived at the office. Tried for 20 more minutes without success. Frustration level mounts. I pack the stuff up again and drive to see my "Contact Coach."
     When I walk into the office, the coach says perkily, "Hi, may I help you?" Without pausing in my stride, I say, "Yes, you can. You can come over here to this table, watch me poke my eye IN, and tell me what I am doing WRONG! Please."
     She did. Thankfully. I think I was afraid I was going to break them.  "No, they're very durable," my Coach assured me.

Day 5 - Tuesday: Success at last. I got them in my eyes in under seven minutes.

Day 6 - Wednesday: Yesterday was a fluke. After 15 minutes, I packed things up in a hurry to get out of the door. When I get to the office, I open the case to try again. I realize that when you don't take the time to get the lens all the way into the case, floating in the solution, when you screw the cap down, you can slice that little sucker right in two. Durable, indeed.
     Back to the Contact Coach. I showed her what happened. She rolled her eyes. I prayed her contact would pop out.

Day 7 - Thursday: Whoa! Driving 3 1/2 hours with mono-vision contacts. Now that's a hoot. But I made it without running over anybody or anything.

Day 8 - Friday: There is hope. I got them in and had the best day yet.

Day 9 - Today: It's my off day. I'm glad I kept my glasses! :)

Seriously, I have come to appreciate my Contact Coach. I have come to admit that I'm much more comfortable coaching others than I am in receiving coaching myself. Why? Because I have to admit my inability to perform. But, leaders are learners, so I've been reminded of the value of a coach.

For the notepad - You need a coach because:
  • A coach can change your perspective. Coaches see things you cannot see. When you know what to look for, you can see things differently, so your perspective on your position changes. It is important for leaders to see from the proper perspective.
  • A coach can improve you performance. There is no doubt that my coach has helped me be able to get these lenses in more quickly and with less trauma to my eye and my attitude. Who knows. Maybe I'll actually decide to keep them.
  • A coach can increase your potential. With practice, we can all be better at what we do. And with improved skill, we can be more successful at other things as well. I'm learning to be more patient. I'm learning to control my frustration. And that gives me more potential to work patiently and calmly in other settings as well.
In Acts 9:22, Luke writes that "Saul grew more capable." In context, he was spending time with Ananias and other disciples in Damascus. Luke doesn't say it explicitly, but I believe that Saul was being coached. People around him watched him, listened to him and then helped him with his perspective, improved his performance, and increased his potential.

Want to grow more capable? Get a coach. SEE you later! When I get my lenses in...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Game On!

Like many of you, I receive a lot of cold calls from a variety of organizations seeking to sell me a product that may or may not be of any use whatsoever. Having been involved in sales and customer support, I know many of the techniques. If I take the call, I'll usually get politely to the point and cut through the pitch to the next action step.

If I can't take the call, but the sales rep asks me to return the call, I will out of respect. (I know that's sort of strange, but having made these kinds of calls, it really bugged me when church leaders said they'd call back and didn't. Can you say integrity?) Anyway, I just returned a call from a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, I called at 9:15. And the representative was not expecting my call. So, she wasn't prepared. The excuses included everything from "my computer is slow, what church did you say you were calling from," to "what is your zip code so I can look you up."

Needless to say, the call was brief, I didn't buy anything, and probably won't in the future. In retrospect, she could have benefited from  Art Sobczak’s Telesales Blog.

For the notepad:
  • If I ask someone to return my call, have my game on when they do. Be ready with the pitch or elevator speech to move the conversation to a point that is mutually beneficial.
  • If I promise to make a callback, deliver with integrity. James 5:12 says "Let your yes be yes, and your no, no."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now

    Peggy Noonan has been an inspiration to me. Ms. Noonan was a speechwriter for President Reagan. So, you know she has the ability to communicate. I've always had an appreciation for the way she uses themes in her essays, which are published regularly in the Wall Street Journal.

    More recently, her writing contained something else. A strong supporter of President Bush - she actually took a sabbatical to work for his campaign in 2004 - she became critical of his leadership and administration. Even though I've often said that critique is good, I was still troubled that one of my heros didn't seem to see things "my way."

    I've just finished her latest book and have a new understanding for Peggy. The book was summarized by this quote from page 170: "We need more actual adults who are serious about the business of the nation." Indeed. Her essential point is that, as a nation, we are tired of the politics we have experienced for the last two decades and long now for "leaders who can summon us to greatness and unity."

    If you are a political junkie and wonder why you feel so burned out or cynical as we await the upcoming inauguration, you'll find some solace in this little volume. If you are a little awestruck and anticipate the pagentry, pomp and circumstance of the largest peaceful transfer of power in the world, you'll find this book a great "curl up by the fireplace" read as well.

    The most important thing I gleaned from this book was a greater understanding of Peggy Noonan's perspective. I thought she had jumped ship. Instead, I found she simply ran to the bow to sound a warning to us as we try to navigate our country through some very dangerous waters. I'm grateful that she's still aboard. And, I'm grateful that she taught me something new about seeking first to understand.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Make XP Look Like Windows 7? Why?

I enjoy productivity websites. Lifehacker.com is one of my favorites. They recently posted an article entitled: Featured Desktop: Make Your XP Desktop Look Like Windows 7. My question is simply "Why?"

Admittedly, I can be a technogeek. An early adopter, but non a bleeding edge kind of guy. And, I really need to see a benefit before jumping to new technology.

As I understand it, Windows 7 is still in a beta state as I write this. Vista is the current version of MS Windows. On most of the machines I work on, we're still running XP. So, I ask again, Why would I want to make my current generation software "look like" the generation after next software version. If I really wanted the look, shouldn't I upgrade? It sounds to me like I can run the old stuff, but give the appearance that I have something new. There used to be a couple of words that describes this situation, as I understand it: poser or faker.

Hmmm. There are a multitude of applications here. Just think of a situation in which you want to hold on to the old, while pretending that you are state of the art. A relationship that is broken, but you pretend that it's not. You pretend transparency, but wear the mast.

C'mon if the new version is worth the upgrade, make the investment. We don't need any more pretenders.