An apple will turn brown and shrivel if it just sits there. It happens to us, too. Our body shrivels if we sit too long - as does our brain. Atrophy is defined as “to cause to wither or deteriorate.” Cells of the brain and central nervous system may atrophy in old age because of restricted blood flow to those areas. Yikes! Let’s get the blood flowing, people!
I say, rather than wither, let’s be “fresh.” Now, the dictionary has more than a dozen definitions of the word, including smart-alecky, uncured, inexperienced, sassy, supplementary, and brisk. I wish to discuss none of these. The “fresh” I’d like to address boasts these wonderful adjectives:
To me, “fresh” also means “keeping our edge.” What I mean is - we hone our skills, we experience life boldly, we study, discover, practice, and comprehend absolutely. Fresh is appealing.
Here are five areas that have helped me continue to pursue “freshness” on a life-scale within the 8 to 10 range…
Amend our style
Here, I’m talking our fashion, our polish, our refinement. For instance, if we’ve had the same hairdo since the 80s, perhaps it’s time to trust our stylist for a more modern approach. Men, we have the option to grow a beard or shave our beard. If we grow, let’s keep it trimmed. If we shave it off, let’s just don’t do it during hockey playoffs or we’ll jinx our team out of the run for the Stanley Cup. Every now and again, all of us need to walk into a few clothing stores that aren’t on our familiarity list and see what’s fresh. The folks in those shops usually have pretty good taste and would love to help. Or, just bring a lady with you. My general rule is, if the ladies like it, I’ll wear it.
Bonus: We need to stack this planet with wonderfully moral characters, so whatever we do when it comes to change – let’s keep our character. Unless, of course, we’re an ass. Then let’s look in the mirror, call an expert, and get to work on our self.
Converse with a stranger
My daughter and I were fortunate enough to share a taxi with a nice couple as we arrived in New Orleans one summer. The couple was in their late 80s and very friendly and talkative. They told us of a nice swing band at the Ritz Carlton playing the next evening, so my daughter and I decided to go. It was terrific watching them show the youngsters how to dance. A wonderful evening occurred, all because we were open to a chat.
Bonus: Be cool with this one. Let’s not be creeps. Or converse with creeps. This isn’t a trolling expedition, it’s about hearing the stories of others. Sharing stories and hearing others’ adventures creates wisdom and memories.
Listen to the unfamiliar
Classical music for instance. These are the genius composers of music, played by genius musicians. It can be candy for our ears. Visit a park to listen and we’ll most likely hear kids playing, birds chirping, river water, and the breeze, among other things. If we don’t hear these things, we’re at the wrong park! Yes, I enjoy a Hallmark movie every now and then. Don’t judge.
Bonus: Periodically, take away all sound by using noise-canceling headphones. Back in the day I did this with the Clash song, Train in Vain and realized there were not one, but two singers in harmony. It was a spectacular sound that I never knew prior to that moment.
Master a unique talent
When I was in my early 20s I decided to learn five things that were quirky and unique. Something that would set me apart from others, just for kicks. And occasionally, they show up in conversation or action, and people smile because of it. They are a simple magic trick, walking on my hands, juggling, unicycle, and a quick joke. Yes, I’ve heard it before… I should combine a few of these and join the circus!
Bonus: During my 30s, I came up with five more unique areas, and did the same in my 40s. I’ll continue as long as I’m blessed with a new decade. Hope you decide to join me in this venture.
No need for us to go crazy on this one. Let’s be smart and safe, otherwise we may be to blame for a missing person’s report. Instead, let’s make it simple. It can be as easy as taking another route home from work. It’s quite nice seeing something new. If you ride a bike, take a different trail. Enjoy spaghetti for breakfast and pancakes for dinner. If you work in a large building, visit some floors where you’ve never been and introduce yourself to a couple of folks. Robert Frost, the 19th century American poet, said it best, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Bonus: Take a friend or loved one and pack a couple of sandwiches or some fried chicken to enjoy with a blanket under a tree. Wine helps too.
Basically, try “fresh” things. Pretty soon, we have better stories to tell - audience-captivating stories. Stories that intrigue, persuade, and sell. So yes, this practice is great for our business as well.
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I was shaving my face the other day and things got ugly. Blood, sweat, and tears ugly. In the process of this single shave, I cut my neck, my lip, and the skin alongside my jawline. The white sink began to splatter red.
Now, at the gamble of getting gross, I’ll stop my story here (too late?) Anyway, it made me think. I concluded that a few factors are in play here – the person, the circumstance, and the tool. In most cases, the setup of these three factors is what determines our failure or success. In my case that morning, my mood was on the positive side, the circumstance was very familiar, and the tool was excellent. So, what went wrong?
I didn’t let the tool do the work.
I tried to force the tool to cut deeper and faster. I pushed. In other words, I led from behind. This can be the pattern of poor leaders as well. Poor leaders push others from behind. They force individuals to do things through manipulation and fear. They call their employees “staff”, or “workers”, or “operatives.” Poor leaders treat individuals as if they are expendable – like the cheap, flat, wrench tool that comes in an Ikea box.
Of course, we must guide the tool, as good supervisors do. Guidance is leadership. The dictionary states that synonyms to ‘guidance’ include: leadership; instruction; direction. Choose the right tool and let it perform to the best of its ability, with our guidance. Similarly, hire the right person and let them perform to the best of their ability with our guidance. The person and the tool go hand-in-hand, so to speak.
Great leaders create a vision – a daring destination – and go first to show others where we’re going. They inspire, guide, and partner with the individuals on their team. They lead by example because they love what they do, and they truly value the individuals on their team. They value the people in their lives because of who they are, as opposed to only what they accomplish.
This notion of leadership has been adopted in many ways, by many respected leaders:
The person. The circumstance. The tool. All need to align to produce the best results. Respect the tool. The tool is the instrument that is the catalyst for a job well done. The tool can be anything – a razor, a saw, a pen, a laptop. The one thing it cannot be… it cannot be your employee. If we see our employees as tools, we need an intense lesson in leadership.
Treat a person like a tool, and they’ll move on. As they should. Guide a person into success, and when they’re ready to move on, they will be a more talented and wiser individual. As will we.
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