Friday, August 26, 2011

Choppin’ Doors

By Julie Rahm

A thousand years ago, my husband John worked at a K-Mart. He worked there while attending the local Community College. He was hired during the Christmas season to work in the toy department. When spring arrived, he worked in the garden center and later on the loading dock. He also waxed the floors when the store was closed. The store managers actually locked him inside, alone and “released” him by unlocking the doors in the morning. He was held captive inside the store, waxing and buffing floors, until the manager returned in the morning.

One evening, as John tells the story, he smelled smoke inside the store and called the police, asking them to send a patrol car to check the outside of building. As John hung up the phone with the police, he heard the fire sirens. Instead of a patrol car to check the outside of the building, the police dispatcher had immediately called the fire department. In three minutes there were seven fire trucks and a score of volunteer firemen outside the locked door of the K-Mart! The Fire Chief was yelling for John to open the door. John yelled back he didn’t have a key. The fire fighters were determined to get inside and wouldn’t wait for the manager to arrive to unlock the door. Out came the big fire axe. And, the fire fighters chopped in the door of the K-Mart! The door exploded inward and burglar alarm screamed loud enough to wake everyone within two city blocks. Those remaining residents, who slept through the arrival of the seven fire trucks, were now wide awake. In bath robes and bedroom slippers, neighbors began to gather at the K-mart to investigate the commotion. There was quite a crowd for two o’clock in the morning. John called the store manger who promptly arrived to turn off the alarm. At this point, John was certain to be fired. However, the Fire Chief gave the store manager a “stern talking to” for locking John inside at night. John didn’t get fired. To add insult to injury, the fire fighters tracked their boots all over John’s freshly waxed floor. There was no sign of any fire. Customers entering the K-mart the next morning were bewildered by the missing front doors.

This story is John’s favorite. It serves as a lesson when asking for help. How often in life have we asked for help and been disappointed. Sometimes the help is too much or too little. And, like John, sometimes the help is not what we expected. So, my message this week is when asking for help, be sure everyone involved understands your expectations. Be careful what you ask for. Or, the fire department may arrive to help and chop in your front door!

Get your own help that always meets your expectations by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at Listen to the Mindset Mechanic Radio Show, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bang on Coffins

By Julie Rahm

A thousand years ago, when my husband was a teenager, he worked in a cemetery. He mainly cut grass. But, as a part-time job, he dug foundations for the tombstones. Tombstones are quite heavy and will settle into the ground if they are not supported underneath by a cement foundation. It was John’s job to dig an appropriate size hole, mix and fill it with concrete. His boss was Mr. Edgar Case. Edgar was at least eighty years old and his family had owned the local tombstone business for three generations. Edgar knew how everyone was buried in the cemetery. You see, the cemetery was quite old. Revolutionary War soldiers are buried there. Everyone is not “laid out” in nice neat rows. A lot of the customers are buried haphazardly. Edgar remembered who was where and how.

In addition to an excellent memory, Edgar was retentive. The holes for the foundations were roped off and dug deep. Gravel, sand, cement, water buckets and the tarp for the dirt were laid out exactly the same way for every hole. The process was consistent and exact. John did most of the digging. But, Edgar would do his share. Edgar worked slow but steady; all day long. Most often the duo would dig all the way down to the ground box. (Coffins are placed in a cement ground box.) When the bottom of the hole would reach the ground box, Edgar would inevitably take the shovel and bang on the box to rattle the coffin. John was mortified at Edgar’s antics. Edgar would yell the name of the deceased along with a slanderous remark or two while laughing big and loud. As you can imagine, some of Edgar’s remarks were quite colorful. Edgar often performed a celebratory dance on top of the ground box and coffin. You see, Edgar always knew the deceased. It was a small town.

At first, I thought the story was morbid and somewhat disrespectful. But after some thought, I have changed my view of Edgar’s celebration. In a weird way, it was like two long-lost friends meeting again. Except in this case, one was dead and one was not. Edgar continued to out live his friends. He watched them get buried one by one. How did Edgar live long enough to bang on all of his friends coffins? The answer is evident. Edgar’s body, mind and spirit triad had strength and balance. For his body, Edgar ate well, worked hard and got plenty of rest. For his mind, Edgar always had something meaningful he needed to accomplish everyday. And lastly, Edgar fed his spirit by banging on his friends coffins, expressing joy and rejoicing in the memories of friends departed.

Like Edgar, you too can live long enough to bang on your friends coffins! Tune-up your body, mind, spirit triad by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at Listen to the Mindset Mechanic Radio Show, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Junk in the Front Yard

By Julie Rahm
Some homes here in my County have junk in their front yards. A lot of this junk has resided in these yards for a long time. It seems most of this trash is multi-generational junk. There is Granddad’s car, Dad’s boat, the family refrigerator from 1970 and assorted farm implements meant for horses. All of this junk could be recycled instead of rusting away in a front yard. Within city limits, there are ordinances preventing the tarnishing of the landscape. But, outside the limits of town incorporation, folks are free to use their front yards as a personal landfill.

It sounds like I am bothered by all the front yard junk. In fact, I am not bothered by it at all. It’s not the front yard junk that bothers me. As America’s Mindset Mechanic, I am bothered by the mental junk that individuals carry around in their heads. Mental junk is those useless beliefs that clutter our thinking. Just like an old family car that rusts away in the yard, useless mental junk muddles the mind and never leaves the landscape. The lawn can grow up around the car and partially hide the eyesore. But, you can see it from the street and you still know it’s there. Likewise with mental junk; it can be partially hidden but others often recognize it. Some examples of mental junk that I hear are: “I’m not smart. I can’t do it. I’m not pretty”. This negative self talk bothers me more than all the lawn junk in the County combined. The destructive nature of negative thoughts can’t be over stated. Why? Because your thoughts affect the way you feel. The way you feel affects your actions. And, your actions drive the results you get in life. Your thoughts are the single most important factor in living the life you want. Like the front yard junk, some of this negative thinking is multi-generational mental junk.

As a multi-generational example of mental lawn junk, I’ve heard, “I can’t go to college. Nobody in my family ever goes to college.” This young person, even though he’s got the intelligence and financial resources to attend college, will not go to college to better his station in life. What you believe, you will get. The junk in this young man’s head destines him to life of labor free from choices, in the family tradition.

So, instead of using your mind as your personal landfill by putting that worthless junk in your mental front yard, toss out those negative thoughts about yourself. Get them off the property and away from you. You are a special person. Beware of letting negative self talk ruin your life. Keep your mental front lawn free from the debris of life.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Horses of Different Colors

By Julie Rahm

There are about 56 thousand Apache Indians in the United States. Apaches are a proud and noble people. Their culture is rich in tradition. For hundreds of years, they dominated the southwest. Now, Apaches live mainly in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Most Apaches don’t like to be called Apaches. Why? Because our western culture mistakenly labels all of the Apachean people as Apaches. Really, there are about 28 distinct tribes of Apachean peoples. And, the modern generic term Apache generally refers to the largest six or seven tribes. For example, it is impolite to refer to Mescaleros as Apaches. Mescaleros will correct you if you refer to them as generic Apaches. More familiar are the Navajos who are Apachean, but definitely not Apaches.

My husband, John, says Apaches, when required, rode their horses until the horses dropped dead from exhaustion. Then, these same Apaches ate their dead horses! This is probably not true. But, John uses the story to describe an employee consuming management style. John says “Apache Managers” ride their employees until they die, then eat them, then complain about how bad they tasted. That’s John’s definition of Apache management! If you’re working for an Apache manager, you can surely relate to the description.

I also see John’s definition of Apache management in relationships. I have a client whose ex-wife was an Apache spouse. When the two were married, she rode my client until he had nothing left to give. He was her man servant and became exhausted. The relationship ended and she “ate him” by taking most of the possessions and leaving him with severe alimony. When I see her, she complains about him, the relationship and the divorce settlement; in effect “how bad he tasted”. There are plenty of other examples where the husband is the Apache. Apache husbands stand by, idle, while the wife becomes exhausted by the kids, household responsibilities and her full-time job.

In addition, horses come in different flavors. John lovingly refers to me a thoroughbred. He says I’m good at the mile but not good at plowing fields. I’m high spirited and require great care. Don’t try to plow a field with your prize thoroughbred. And, don’t take your prize farm horse to the race track. Know who you have in the stable. Enjoy each other strengths. And, help each other with the weaknesses.

So, my mindset message this week is simple. Examine your relationships at home and at work. Is the horse you’re riding slowing down? Don’t be an Apache who rides their mate or employees into exhaustion. The horse you’re riding needs rest, care and feeding.

Lastly, I apologize to the Apacheans. I think John is wrong. I’ll bet they never ate their horses.

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