Archive for the ‘Pinpoint your Location’ Category

SOS-organized-toolsAre you an organized person? How do you know?

Do you love labeling and alphabetizing things? Is that all there is to it? Is there no clutter around? If you’re a pile maker, can you find what you’re looking for in the pile? That’s getting closer.

If you were out at sea and a situation arose – a change in the wind, the sudden appearance of unwelcome weather, whatever. You would need to change tactics, you might need a tool, a rope, or some certain thing. The questions is: is that certain something at hand at the time that you need it? If it’s there, you were prepared … and organized!

Get it?

It’s not about clutter, it’s about being effective when you need to be. There are a lot of industries and projects where you need things to be at hand. I think about cooking (although I’m more of an eater than a cooker). When you get a recipe, it starts out with a list of ingredients and possibly measuring and processing devices you will need to complete the dish. You collect these things and have them at hand. If you are missing ingredients you might need to go to the grocery store and pick them up before you are ready. You then have everything at hand at the time you need it. You are organized.

There are two tools that you may not give much thought to, but if you have these two tools organized you will find many small difficulties managed.  I am borrowing this concept from David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD).  In his book with that catchy title he mentions these two tools: A “to do” list, and a calendar.  Simple enough.  But the impact he makes is by saying you need these two parts of your personal organizational system to be trusted.

Trusted?  What does that mean trusted?  One part of this is that they are organized.  And by organized I mean, they are available and at hand when you need them.  They need to be available, but they also need to be so easy to enter data in that the process is almost frictionless or you won’t do it.

This has been my experience.  I’ve been experimenting for years with different ways to create and use a ToDo list (I’m sure you’ll hear more about this than you’ll ever want to, later), I’ve found things that work good and things that create too much resistance to be practical.  Now a trusted calendar is another issue.  I’m still searching.

If you can easily put information about the things you need to do and when you need to do them in the right place and they’re all available – great.  But you need an easy and trusted way to review and check in – Or, hey, it’s the 21st century, have them tell you that they are there.  But without this checking you miss things, tasks or appointments fall through the cracks.

When this happens, you stop trusting your system.  You stop entering in items you need to have available – organization slips away and when you need something at hand at the right time, it’s not there.

Are you looking for me to have a solution?  Sometimes the best I can do is define the problem.  Oh, I know.  You just keep it all in your head.  Fine.  I’ll blog about that next time.  I’ve tried this and we’ll talk about how it works – or how it doesn’t.  I’ll shamelessly advertise for GTD one more time.

Stay tuned.

SOS-ocean-currentThere are some things that are different about life at sea than the life that we are so used to experiencing here on the land.  The lack of discernible and reliable landmarks can be disconcerting for some out on the seas.  The danger of not being able to survive in the water for days on end without the assistance of a vessel underneath you to simulate the land and to give you a buffer from the depths below, can cause anxiety.

One characteristic that makes living at sea different and unpredictable is the idea that where ever you are located there is a current at work.  There is no such thing as standing still.  The waters are always in motion going somewhere.  Standing still will lead to drifting along.  You might not expect or even particularly like where the waters will guide you.  If you do nothing, you will still end up somewhere.

On dry land we don’t notice it.  You can sit down in a public place and “people watch” (oh, please tell me we all do this – I’m not the only one!).  You see the stream of humanity at a mall or airport and think about those who catch your eye.  Where are they going?  What kind of life are they having?  Would we have anything in common?  Would I be able to understand what they’re going through?  Whatever your thoughts, you can stay in that place and observe.  You won’t be moved.  There is a concept of “there” or one called “stationary”.

Our life experience is more like that of the sea.  Events and time change things.  Nothing stays the same.  Even in old places where I used to live the trees have grown up and people have made decorating choices that leave the place with a very different feel.  Even though all the places are “stationary” they have changed.  And I have changed in my thinking and the way I look at them.  It’s familiar, but it’s all different.  The current of life (maybe just of time itself?) has altered what was, or maybe I’m different and my perception is altered by who I am at this time.  Yeah, it can get that philosophical just that fast.  So there has to be a point, right?

First there’s the hurdle of knowing this to be true.  I think if you look at it you’ll see or feel the pull of the current of life (er, time).  So what can you do about it?  Precious little.  But can that knowledge be used to your advantage?  I would say yes.  Let me give a couple of examples.

For one thing, stressing about change turns out to be pretty futile.  Things are going to change.  Embrace the idea and it will definitely go easier for you.  Fighting the current may be a good work out, but it’s not a good long range plan.  Doing this is like complaining about the weather.  People love to complain about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it (sorry Mr. Twain).  It is going to change, incorporate change into your thinking and some of the resistance you face will evaporate.  Things are going to be different, because that’s how things are.

Of course our desire is that things change for the better.  It turns out there is something we can do about that.  Knowing that change is going to happen we can leverage it.  We can know that although we missed that last wave, another one will be coming.  We can gather our strength and orient our ship to take advantage of the next one that is inexorably coming along.

Later on I’ll talk about some things we can do to get oriented to leverage the current that is already there and pulling at us.  But just recognizing it can change our outlook in the present and help us in planning for the future.  Look for the current, if you can’t see it, you can see it’s effects all around.  Heighten your awareness – look around.

If you know a change is coming, how do you get oriented to take advantage of what’s coming anyway?

It’s now May and I actually published a first newsletter.  I’m not saying this because I’m particularly proud of myself, but I’m just surprised at how high the barrier to action can become.

Originally, I was wanting to publish on April 1st.  That way any failure could be seen as a joke.  But that didn’t happen and I just committed to myself that I was going to put something out in April.  I did publish just before 11pm on April 30th.

The weekend before, April 28 – 29, on Sunday morning my computer just “popped” and died.  Well, there goes last minute preparations.  But I actually went down in the basement and gathered together three of the four dead PC’s down there and scavenged parts until I came up with a working power supply and was back in business by the evening of Monday the 30th.

So the editing didn’t get done like I wanted; the formatting didn’t get done like I wanted; the style of having shorter snippets with links back to the blog to keep the newsletter from looking like a novella didn’t get figured out; and the Google analytics didn’t get set-up.  But it got out.

So what can be said for incomplete and imperfect action?  It’s done.  This opposed to planned perfect action that isn’t done.  This is an exercise in moving from “ready, aim, aim, aim, aim….” to “ready, fire, aim, fire, aim, fire”.  Do you see the difference?  Do you understand the difference?  We’ll talk about this some more, but do you have experience with this phenomenon?  Share your thoughts, I’m in the mood to learn.

Now I missed a tax reporting deadline, so I better go clean up that mess.  I also didn’t put as much time into the budgets for May as I wanted to.  Oh, and there’s the Bible study tonight – I guess I’ll be brushing up on that over lunch today.  So how many other things got pushed off to make one thing happen?  It would seem there are trade-offs that are made.  What is the best way to decide which should be traded and which should be elevated to doing status?  We’ll talk more about this.  I think Mark may have a few things to say on this topic.

So what do you do during the times in your life when the wind isn’t discernible and your sails lay limp against the mast?

I’ve felt a little like that over the last week or so. My productive time is in the early morning, but lately (including today) I’ve had to go in to my 2nd job to get a few things done before I have to be at my 1st job. What, did you think I just sat around and philosophized in blog posts for a living?

This has been disappointing as I was trying to build momentum during those morning hours to make some progress. However, pouting about a change in the wind or our circumstance does no good. We just need to adjust and take advantage of the new situation. For me this has meant grabbing extra sleep in the morning hours. I know that won’t last long. Soon I’ll be back to my early morning bright eyed ways. So the extra sleep has been nice.

So when your sails aren’t catching any wind, there are still things to do. There’s an opportunity for rest. Rest is just as important as activity. We build up our reserves are allow ourselves to regenerate and repair while in repose. We can look around the ship and see if anything needs attending to while our attention isn’t to the wind and wave. Is there any tidying up that can be done, minor repairs, inventory checking, or even charts to be consulted?

There are still things that can be done, even when we are in a dead calm.

Are there times when you can’t see your way through? When you aren’t sure where you are going? Or maybe there are times when you don’t even know where you are! How do you navigate through times like these?

Since our sense of sight is so integrated with everything we do each day, we not only depend upon it – we definitely take it for granted.

So what do you do when your sight is clouded by situations, such as weather, or by natural deterioration or injury?

We are left to rely on instruments. The most common would be corrective lenses for our eyesight. But there are also navigational instruments like the compass and the sextant to help us figure out where we are so we can know where to strike out towards where we want to be.

I plan on putting together a series of posts to expand on this idea and see where it takes us. What lessons can be learned? What applications can be made to help make sense out of our lives? We will see.

If you have any ideas or thoughts or suggestions of your own, I’d love to hear them.

I had a thought on how to express the fact that no one is perfect, it goes like this.

I once came across a group of perfect people, unfortunately they wouldn’t let me join them.  I won’t bother telling you about them, because they wouldn’t let you join them either.
Is that mean to say?  Or does it help bring home the point that I’m not perfect, and it’s likely that you aren’t either.  Does it have the right impact.
I am paralyzed by the concept of perfection.  I struggle to produce an article, book, picture, audio, video, or software program, because “it could’ve been better.”  That kind of attitude keep great thoughts and ideas from being shared into the marketplace.  The ability to get something “good enough” and get it out there, along with self-discipline and consistency… wow I have some things to work on in my life.  Hey, how about a better attitude, a cheery disposition, and a little less grumbling and complaining while you’re at it?
Is that too much to ask?
This is my third attempt to get a post up onto the blog. My original topic has left my mind as I’ve been trying to figure out a way to accomplish this task.
There are many skills to be learned that can be an asset to us and serve us well in life. As I kept trying different things I came up with this idea, and I asked myself – can a person learn to be more resourceful? Or do some people have this as a trait and others don’t? In fact there are many abilities that could be considered traits of a person… but are they really?

Let me just think of a few of the top of my head: resourcefulness, leadership, decision making, empathy, enthusiasm, organization. These are all characteristics that we have or we admire in others if they have them.

But if you fall short in these things, are you just left on the sidelines resigned to the fact that you aren’t meant to possess them? I am of the opinion that there are many things that we assume just aren’t part of our nature and we will have to live without or compensate for. What do we base this assumption on?

I like to use piano playing as an example. I don’t play, but I’ve seen many people do it. Even great concert performers – it doesn’t look that hard, really. You just sit down and rub your hands over the keys. But when you try it, it doesn’t produce the sounds your expecting. I guess I wasn’t born with the piano playing trait.

But who is? It takes desire and lots of time practicing and the ability to play is only an ability because there was the investment in skill building. Now some people are gifted and start off with a bang and progress rather rapidly to mastery of the skill. Others (probably most) start off botching up the rudimentary exercises and sounding pretty pathetic. But with perseverance and maybe some help from a piano teacher or two, achieve a level of competence that would appear to be a trait or ability they naturally possessed.

There are many skills available to us that will make our life’s journey easier. The first step we need to take is to accept the fact that we can obtain these skills. They are not delivered in the DNA of some as a gift and just outside the reach of the rest of us. They are skills that can be acquired with the desire and the effort to go after them.

What abilities do you feel you lack? Oh and here’s a question for you to ponder – should we even focus on skills we lack? Are we better served to enhance our strengths, or to try to turn around our weaknesses? What do you think about our abilities being merely (merely?) trained up skills?

I’d love to enter into a discussion with you about this. Leave me a comment just below.

Posted via email from setofsail’s posterous

What causes you to move?  What spurs you into action?

  • Is it the ticking clock or the day on the calendar with the red circle around it?  Is the deadline looming before you?
  • Is it the dread of missed opportunities in the past, or disappointment you’ve cause others by your unwillingness to get going?
  • Is it a hunger or deep seated desire that burns from within that drives you on?
  • Is it a transcendent moment of inspiration that causes you to look up and away from your circumstance and see something higher and more beautiful, and you don’t even notice that your feet have begun to move of their own volition?

There may be others as well, but I have to stop at this last one.  It’s what brought me here to share this with you.

At the end of September I attended the annual Peacemakers’ Conference.  It was in Dallas, TX this year.  This was my sixth one and each year I come away inspired and full of intentions to blaze a new path for the next year.

This year was special because I was able to graduate – here we are graduating (source)

2009 Annual Conference Graduation

That’s my big head popping up all the way over on the left.  The other tall, lanky bookend on the right is Ken Sande, the founder of the ministry and author of The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict (note this is an affiliate link to Amazon, I’ll receive two nickles if you buy this book! And it’s worth buying, I’ll vouch for that.)

At the conference a video short was shown and I was one of many who asked if a copy could be made available for sharing or even using to make a point during presentations.  They are a responsive bunch out there at the Billings, MT headquarters.  They offered it up in a way I can share it here.

And it was this video that knocked me off center and got me to blog about it!  And that, in turn, will cause me to share the super secret location of this blog with you because I want you to see this little video.  And now that you know I’m here, you can come back and visit and hold me accountable to launch out and press ahead. (You can get an e-mail to tell you I’ve posted something here if you will share your e-mail address with me in the little box over on the right.

This video is kind of a mind trip, so get your headphones on and turn up your brain’s neurons – you only have to pay attention for less than two minutes.  I know you can do it.

You must comment below and tell me your impression. I was really impacted and I want to hear from you about how it touches you.

Just getting started.
We are headed into the month of November, the seasons are in full display.  Our tree in the back yard that runs right up against the house was so confused that it was budding, while the huge burning bush we have in the front went in two days from a gigantic fireball of crimson to a tangly mass of twigs.  The year is winding down.

As the winds pick up and the temperature drops, it almost seems natural to pull your coat a little tighter and turn in on yourself philosophically as much as physically.  This year is almost spent, where did it go?  By that I mean, what did you do with it?  More personally what did I do with it?  It is a natural time to ask those type of questions.  Recounting and tracking the past are good and worthy exercises.

However, this becomes little more than reminiscing if we don’t take what we gather and direct that knowledge towards plans for the future.  Now is the time to begin planning.  It is time to maneuver our thoughts to be in position to launch out into the new year.

I keep looking for the ideal place to chronicle my steps.  I want a place that I can access online, because it makes it easy for me to get to.  I also have determined to keep it public so that I can be held accountable for my determinations and so that my mistakes can be learned from by more than just me.  I’ve tried a number of things, but blogging just seems to be such a natural fit for this kind of activity.

In keeping with the nautical theme that I’ve found to help express many of the things I’ve learned or am learning, we’re going to call these types of posts the Captain’s Log.  I started by getting this site up – this is probably the 4th incarnation of and the theme was just found off the Internet, it’s nothing specialized.  But it gives me a visual of where I’m headed.  Setting sail.  Launching out.  In motion.  It’s a start. And as you can see from the picture, it could well be a rocky start!

I invite you to come along with me.  See how things grow and change and be encouraged.  What I want you to see is that I’m not perfect, but I’m on the move.  I especially want you to get the sense that I have nothing that you yourself can’t have.  You can launch out on your own journey.  We can be fellow travelers.  I invite you to come along with me and let’s see what we can see.