Take a Chance

The next time you doubt yourself, I want you to think about someone else. There’s no question that your days are hard and you could use a break. Can’t we all? But when you’re having your worst day, I hope thinking about someone else inspires you to keep going.

grace-murray-hopper-demure

Take a short journey with me: Imagine being Grace Murray Hopper, born in 1906, the oldest of three children. Can you imagine a young girl living in the 1900s in New York City? Would you expect her to marry, stay home and raise the children? Or maybe she would work, most likely as a teacher or a nurse.  What are the odds that she would be not just a mathematician, but one of the leading computer scientists of the 20th century, a United States Navy Rear Admiral and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom? How many times do you think she heard the word the word ‘no’? How many times do you think she wondered if it could be done? How many times do you think she took a chance?

grace-murray-hopper-programmerMy dad brought me a couple of books when he visited last month, one of which was Computers: Their History, Present Applications, and Future by Shirley Thomas. Dad pointed out Grace Hopper’s role in computer programming, including her time at UNIVAC (now Unisys), where dad also worked. Among Ms Hopper’s accomplishments:

  • Attended Vassar despite being turned down the first time she applied.
  • Served in the WAVES (a branch of the US Naval Reserve), despite not meeting their physical requirements.
  • Developed the first compiler, despite no one believing it could be done, leading eventually to her work developing COBOL, the most ubiquitous business language to date.
  • Worked for the Department of Defense until she was 79, despite the mandatory retirement age of 60. (Congress had to approve her active duty status.)

Is it any wonder that she became known as Amazing Grace?

My favorite Amazing Grace quote is:

“The most important thing I’ve accomplished, other than building the compiler, is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, ‘Do you think we can do this?’ I say, “Try it.” And I back ’em up. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir ’em up at intervals so they don’t forget to take chances.”

The next time you feel overwhelmed, I hope you remember Rear Admiral Grace Hopper and all she accomplished. I hope you remember to take a chance.

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Smarter Faster Better

Good Morning, Happy Monday!

Are you ready for the week? Will you get everything done? I bet your answers are “Sure” and “Hopefully”. Every single one of us has studied something about our profession, whether it’s getting licensed, earning a certification in a technology or getting a college degree. Why? Because studying and practicing our craft makes us better at it. But what about your daily routine, do you study that? Do you examine how you structure your day and spend your time? Even if you’ve considered the what and the why, are you so anxious to get things done that you don’t focus on the how?

being-productive-quote

I’ve been reading Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg, a book on productivity and why some folks are more productive than others, in large part due to the choices we make. One of my favorite parts in the book talks about teaming, creative tension in groups and how to transform performance by focusing on how we treat and trust each other. If you want a condensed version of the lessons in the book, check out Freakonomics radio or listen to Marketplace Weekend’s coverage on the book and Mr. Duhigg. Both of these sites offer great podcasts overall, hope you enjoy them!

do-not-confuse-motion-and-progress

Have a great week!

Caryn

TNDO Baby

Whoot, we made it to Friday!

One of the hallmarks of our culture is perseverance. We see it in the games, too. Every athlete, win or lose, talks about their training commitment. In our house, this is known as TNDO (Take No Day Off), something our youngest son kept saying as he left team practice to hit the gym. Gotta admire the TNDO intensity. It’s about overcoming adversity and inertia to achieve your goals, athletic or otherwise. So, as we rise on Friday, probably a bit worn out and ready for a break, let’s dig deep for some more of the goodness I know is inside all of us. To get you moving, here’s a replay with a twist: Imagine Dragons covering I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles). Talk about perseverance, the lyrics and the artists covering them both have it. Imagine Dragons has been playing this song since they were a little local band in Nevada. Kinda sweet!

Oh, and you’re welcome for the earworm. <curtsy> 😀 Ta-da-da-da, Ta-da-da-da….

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While I started with TNDO….. I’ll add that everyone needs a break. Perseverance is great but constant high intensity isn’t sustainable. I hope y’all can take a break of some kind this weekend, to refresh and recharge.

See you Monday!

Caryn

Going for Gold

Wow, is it Wednesday already?! Happy Hump Day!

Have you been watching the games? No, I don’t mean the race for president, I mean the Rio games…. 😀

The Moir fam has been watching most of it and I’ve been enjoying the commercials (hubby is not a fan of commercials, so I’m holding the remote!). There are several ads for GE that are tickling my funny bone – anyone with a younger brother or sister should be able to relate to Ricky & Sarah in Sarah: Building Advanced, Robot-Like Machines – GE

Somewhere in Ricky’s brain is a creative genius just waiting to transform the world. 😉

MK uneven

In other Olympic news, are y’all proud of our teams? AT&T’s family won gold last night (go MADDIE!) as the women’s gymnastics team shows that ‘process before progress’ works. I’m also proud of two UC Berkeley swimmers (Ryan Murphy and Nathan Adrian), who’ve both won gold. Go Bears! Grrr-rrrr-rrrr-rah!

Bears swim

Have a great day, may you win a little gold!

Caryn

Process Before Progress

GM!

I’ve got a challenging morning so will keep it short with a great quote from a young author, Jason Reynolds. He was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday if you want to hear the whole interview.

Be not afraid of discomfort. If you can’t put yourself in a situation where you are uncomfortable then you will never grow. You will never change. You’ll never learn. And I think for me, the discomfort of drowning is what taught me to swim.

And furthermore, I think that for all the young people out there, the one thing that I learned that I still hold on to every day of my life as I work as an artist is that it’s always going to be process before progress. It takes work. It takes humility. It takes confidence. It takes agency and urgency. And it takes a little bit of luck sometimes, too.

go on as you never have

Doesn’t this fit with our culture of transformation?

If you watched last night’s Olympics, you saw Britain’s Adam Peaty set a world record and win the gold in the men’s 100m breaststroke. As a kid, Peaty was afraid of water; do you think he’s glad to have pushed past his discomfort?

May you find new ways to grow this week!

Caryn

Get Back on the Bike

Good morning!

Are you ready for Monday? It’s the last week of 2Q and the midpoint for 2016 – can you believe it??? The year is half over!!

We live and work at a fast pace; I’m sure you know about the pressure to keep up and also get it right, day in and day out. How do you balance the two – faster, faster, faster versus accuracy, rigor and sureness?

if we wait until we're ready

That wise sage, Lemony Snicket, said it well, “If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting the rest of our lives.” Isn’t that the truth? Taking too long to get something done is often the same as doing nothing. Yet, we often take more time, not less, to make decisions. Why is it so difficult to move faster? My bet is most folks would say the risk of not getting it right makes them cautious, sometimes overly so. Reality bites. Failing isn’t fun but it’s also completely normal because real life is full of failures and recoveries. If we only worry about the failures, we miss the opportunities, don’t we?

daring adventure HK

One way of taking the sting out of failures is to talk about them. By hiding them away, or hoping folks don’t see them, we make them bigger than they really are. Instead, how about we talk about our failures, big and small, and also what we learned from them? Let’s think about them just enough to put them in context and then put them aside.

I’ll get you started, here’s a random list of my failures:

  1. Didn’t make it into Stanford.
  2. Had to withdraw a tariff filing.
  3. Called someone by the wrong name on multiple conference calls.
  4. Didn’t pass an undergrad biology class.
  5. Fell off my bike. Repeatedly. While standing still. In front of a bunch of other riders, some of whom I worked with. Pfffft.

Now here’s that same list with the other half of the story:

  1. Graduated from UC Berkeley.
  2. Fixed the tariff and refiled it.
  3. Apologized.
  4. Took the class again and passed. Graduated summa cum laude from two graduate programs.
  5. Got back on the dang bike and pedaled.  Crossed the finish line of the Hotter Than Hell. Whoot!

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I’m ok with my failures. I’m even better with the other half of the story. How about you?Does thinking about your failures and putting them in perspective make it easier for you to take a risk? I hope so. I hope they inspire you to keep trying!

Have a great week, let’s wrap the month, the quarter, the first half of 2016 STRONG!

Caryn

How Bad Do You Want It?

One of my favorite books is Stephen King’s The Long Walk, which is the story of an endurance contest. This contest is best described as literally “last man standing” and is so popular that the 100 contestants are chosen by lottery. There is one winner and the other 99 aren’t just losers, they’re dead. (Before some of you close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears and start chanting, “nanananana”, I’m not giving the plot away by sharing it.) The point of telling you this is to talk about commitment. How committed do you have to be to outlast 99 other people in an endurance contest? How bad do you have to want it?

Speaking of commitment, our youngest son, Gus, has turned into a gym rat. I had worried he would be a couch potato all summer but he’s running around talking about TNDO, short for “There’s No Day Off”. Always athletic, he’s focused on putting some muscle onto his 6’2” frame before the next soccer season. Today, he played me the Eric Thomas success videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nw41UQU_J0A ) titled, “How Bad Do You Want It?”. It features a football player going through an impressive set of drills wearing a t-shirt with TNDO on the front and “How Bad Do You Want It?” on the back.

Think about what you do. How bad do you want it? How does it feel to go to work every day?  I know how my son looks when he stumbles in at bedtime, after his second daily visit to the gym. He’s sweaty, exhausted and glowing. (I know, don’t tell him I said so. So not cool of me.) I can tell he loves what he’s doing. I don’t have to remind him or nag him. He does it because he loves it. If you stumble in from work sweaty, exhausted and, well, not glowing, then what? This is one of my favorite topics when I mentor employees. I love helping them find the passion that will fuel the rest of their days, the work that they can’t not do. This is the work that will inspire total commitment.

One benefit of loving what you do is that your enthusiasm is contagious. People want to work around others who are successful and, even better, loving it. Not only are you at your best but you’re helping others be at their best, too. How awesome is that?

Although shorter, the player on the left manages to jump higher than his opponent. He’s so committed that he overcomes his disadvantage. My son, Gus, played with this young man for years and he was a joy to watch. He continues to play in another city and we miss him!