Friday, March 30, 2012

Feed the Bulls

By Julie Rahm


My husband, John, says “sometimes you gotta feed the bull.” One day, I finally asked him to explain himself. Here’s the story. John grew up next to a farm. It was a very rural area and a long walk to the school bus stop. (“Uphill both ways and through the waist-deep, year-round snow.”) The short cut to the bus stop was through one of the pastures. In this pasture was a heard of Black Angus cattle. The patriarch of the heard was a huge bull. At one and one-half tons, this bull was very intimidating. It frightened both adults and children alike. This bull had a loud snort and foamed at the mouth. It stomped and kicked up dirt in an unmistakable life threatening display. The bulls eyes blazed with mean black hatred. This bull even smelled bad. He was a nasty animal. Taking the short cut to the bus stop through this pasture was certain suicide. No one dared near this animal. In fact, with this beast in mind the fence was electrified. So one day John, age 10, was feeding the other Angus some carrots through the electric fence. The bull came over to investigate. John tossed a carrot over the fence. The bull gobbled the carrot right down. John followed with another. Soon, the bull was eating carrots right out of John’s hand. Unbeknownst to his mother, after a few days and a few bags of carrots, John was able to work himself inside the fence. It was only a matter of time before John could short cut through the pasture to the bus stop. The fee for passage was carrots. On school days, the bull followed John through the pasture, eating carrots along the way. It was sight to behold… John, weight of 60-pounds, bull trailing, weight of 2,500-pounds. When John’s parents first witnessed this event, their first inclination was to get the rifle and then call an ambulance! John’s parents really never got comfortable with the short cut, even with a bag of carrots. As a bonus, John received instant status among his playmates when he demonstrated his ability to touch the bull. The bull and John really never became friends. It is not the nature of a bull to become friendly. However, as long as John had carrots, the bull was docile.

So goes the metaphor of feeding the bull. Feed the bull and be permitted to shortcut through the pasture. Who is the bull in your life? Is it your boss, your spouse or a repairman? What do have to feed your bull to get your way? Some of your metaphorical carrots might be a difficult compliment or simple acknowledgement. Children have an uncanny knack for feeding their parents carrots to get their way. So, my last mention is to be aware who’s feeding you carrots and trying to shortcut through your pasture!

Visit my websites at http://www.americasmindsetmechanic.com/ and http://www.militarykidsspeak.com/.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Relational Libration

By Julie Rahm


The next full moon will be on the sixth of April. Did you know, only one half of the moon faces the earth? This is due to tidal locking. The gravitational force between the earth and moon has stopped the moon’s rotation. The moon does not rotate like the earth. Now, due to tidal locking, we only see one-half of the moon. The same side of the moon always faces the earth. Tidal locking is like a couple moving around on a dance floor with one always facing the other. One dancer only sees the front half of the other. However, this one-half story is not entirely exact. Even though the moon doesn’t rotate like the earth, we still see more than half. In fact, we get to see almost 60% of the moon! How can this be? The answer is libration. Libration is the slow rocking of the moon as seen from earth allowing an observer to see slightly different halves of the moon at different times. In short, the moon wobbles! To further peel this onion, there are three types of lunar libration. There is lunar libration in longitude and latitude and, diurnal libration. Yes, the moon wobbles in three different ways because of three different reasons. Now you know!

Initially, my husband John was confusing libration with libation. John, being no stranger to beer, commented that if libration was rocking back and forth, libation could cause wobbling libration. But, that is not what astronomers had in mind when they discovered the phenomenon. It is fascinating to discover that we can see almost 60% of the moon that always faces us. The moon and earth certainly have an interesting relationship. Our personal relationships also have a measure of wobbling libration.

Couples face each other as they happily dance their way through their lives. Husbands and wives are attentive to one another just as the moon faces, and is attentive to, the earth. Days and years pass by. But occasionally, a life changing event will affect the relationship and cause a wobble. The event could be small or large. But, it will have enough impact to cause wobbling libration in the relationship. It could be a death in the family, divorce, hurricane, unemployment or a thousand other things. My point is, the significant event causes personal wobbling or libration. Now, we can observe more of the individual than usual. Instead of the sunlit side that always faces us; we can see some of the unlit, unseen side. Challenges provide the wobble in our relationships allowing us to learn more about our significant others. Important is the realization that challenges provide additional exposure of our personalities. If you are facing a challenge, what other insight are you exposing to your significant other? Is it constructive or destructive?

If you would like some help with your personal librations, visit my website at www.AmericasMindsetMechanic.com. Download my latest Kindle book, Military Kids Speak at Amazon.com.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Essence of Commitment

By Julie Rahm


My husband, John has decided to get back in shape. He is in pretty good shape already. However, since he retired from the Marines, he has put on some pounds. But, he carries it well. Anyway, John’s decision to get in better shape has spawned ongoing conversations about commitment. These commitment conversations have been very spirited as John and I hold differing opinions. Of course, John is completely wrong on this point. And, since this is my column, I will elaborate as to why my definition works better than his. And, yes, I know I am not advancing our relationship!

John contends that commitment works on a sliding scale. John says one can be totally committed to a cause or only partially committed. And, John attributes most failures to “not enough” commitment. John argues that commitment is like fuel in a gas tank. If a car runs out of fuel and falls short of the intended destination, it didn’t have enough fuel in the tank. Likewise, if individuals fall short of their goals, they didn’t have enough commitment in their metaphorical gas tank. John argues; they had enough fuel or commitment to start the journey, but not enough to reach the goal. In John’s mind, commitment is linear. It can be measured, from a little to a lot.

Of course, this philosophy of measured commitment is totally wrong. Commitment is not linear or graduated. Commitment is binary. One is either committed or not. It is a simple as that. Failure to achieve a goal is not due to “not enough” commitment. Failure is attributed to not being committed at all. Individuals who are committed make appropriate choices and achieve their goals. Individuals who are not committed make poor choices and fall short. Commitment is like a light switch. The switch is either on and committed, or off and not committed.

As an example, if politicians advertise they are committed to preventing the implementation of ferry tolls and the ferry tolls are implemented, then the politicians were not committed, period, end of discussion. Either the politicians are, or the politicians are not. Despite what they tell us, I predict we will discover our elected officials were not committed when the moratorium expires. Anyway…

As another example, marriages fail because there is no commitment. They do not fail because there is “not enough” commitment. The statement, “She was not committed enough” is incorrect. More exactly stated, “She was not committed”. Individuals are either committed in their relationships or they are not. As a pre-marriage example, one of my girlfriends contends she is committed enough to be engaged but not enough to be married. Frankly, she is not in a committed relationship, period.

I also point to the Oakland Raiders football team and their motto “Commitment to Excellence”. Their motto is not “have a lot” of commitment to excellence! The Raiders are committed, period.

So, join John and me in our spirited debate over the essence of commitment by commenting at www.AmericasMindsetMechanic.com.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Eyes of March

By Julie Rahm


It is not the “eyes” of March. It is the “ides” of March. Our daughter, at age ten, did not have an appreciation for Latin. It was a cute mistake; and she is probably mortified reading about it!

You see, ides comes from the Latin word "Idus" and means "half division". Ides was used in the Roman calendar indicating the approximate day that was in the middle of the month. Of course, the term “Ides of March” is best known as the date on which Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C. Caesar was stabbed (23 times) to death in the Roman Senate by a group of conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus. The group included 60 other co-conspirators.

A prophet had foreseen that Caesar would be harmed not later than the Ides of March. On his way to the Theater of Pompey (where he would be assassinated), Caesar met that prophet and joked, "The ides of March have come", meaning to say that the prophecy had not been fulfilled, to which the prophet replied "Ay, Caesar; but not gone.” This meeting is famously dramatized in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned by the prophet to "beware the Ides of March." Now you know!

Julius Caesar did not expect the unexpected. Even when warned, he did not expect the assassination. But, let me not confuse you. “Expect the unexpected” is so cliché. I’m not even sure what to do when someone tells me “expect the unexpected”. Instead, as America’s Mindset Mechanic, I advocate expect the expected! Set reasonable goals for yourself and expect to achieve them. Goal setting is a cornerstone of most personal coaching programs. Derive some attainable goals for yourself. My husband John says, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you.” So, develop some vision for yourself. Where or how do you want to be next year, in five years or in ten years? John and I posted our goals on our refrigerator door. In plain sight everyday is a good way to keep focused on want you want to achieve. The key is commitment. You must be committed to your goals like the turkey is committed to Thanksgiving! The “how” will become apparent once you totally commit.

Set your path for success. Along the way, check your progress. Are your decisions consistent with your goals? Be flexible in the “how”. Goals are written in concrete. The “how” is written in Jello. Also, your inner beliefs must be consistent with your goals. For example, do you believe you deserve what you want to achieve? Or, do you believe all wealthy people are dishonest or “filthy rich”? If so, you will probably never be wealthy. Your inner beliefs will derail your plans.

For more insight into goal setting or to get a sample of my personal coaching, visit my web site at www.AmericasMindsetMechanic.com. Get my latest e-book, Handle Everything from Amazon.com!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Electric Eyes

By Julie Rahm

Months before hurricane Irene arrived in Pamlico County, our electric garage door opener flat out quit. The plastic gear a top the motor was worn beyond replacement. It was a Sears Craftsman. I confess. I took this wonderful machine for granted. I paid it no compliments or mind. It gave years of faithful service until the plastic gear had nothing left to give. So my husband, John, replaced it with the exact same Sears model. This made the removal and replacement very easy. John replaced the unit so quickly, I didn’t even miss it. But, unbeknownst to me, John did not replace the sensor eyes. These electric eyes guard against inadvertent closings on objects in the path of the door. The sensor eyes are a safety feature located at the bottom of the door tracks. The door will not close if the invisible light beam between the sensors is broken. The old sensors were working just fine. So, John kept the new sensors as spares and stored them high and dry above the garage.

Along comes hurricane Irene. We had three feet of water in our garage. The garage door sensors were completely trashed. No sensor beam connectivity required us (me because John usually drives) to override the safety feature by physically holding the button down to close the garage door. My “doorman” role annoyed me. But, I kept remembering how fortunate we are to still have a house and garage after hurricane Irene. Others in the county are not so blessed. So, I persevered as the button pusher/holder down. I didn’t whine. This was a minor inconvenience.

Forward now six months after hurricane Irene. The Daytona 500 is postponed and John has the afternoon off. I discover him in the garage wiring in the newly revealed sensors. It took John twenty minutes to remove the old sensors and install the new ones. I asked, “Did you order these on line?” John, replied, “No, these are the new ones I never installed. I left the old ones in and kept these as spares.” I tried not to get angry. But, I couldn’t help myself and replied, “You mean I’ve been holding down this button for six months when you could have fixed this in twenty minutes!” Needless to say, John took up residence in the doghouse for a small amount of time. But, then I thought – “There it is.” Often in life we live with minor annoyances that could be resolved quickly. It could be a misunderstanding during a conversation. Or, a misperception that was never intended.

So, my message this week is to fix some small things in your life that cause you annoyance. Invest some time in yourself. Identify three small things in your life that need fixing. Then go after them one by one. By the time you read my column next week, you’ll have a happier mindset. Thank you, John, for fixing the garage door opener. Visit me at http://www.americasmindsetmechanic.com/ and http://www.militarykidsspeak.com/.
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