So, the other day I was hit by a car...

So, I was riding my bike on the sidewalk, because people like to yell at bicyclists. There was this car looking to pull out of a parking lot into traffic. Normally, cars will be as close to the road as possible. This guy was at least five feet back. He saw an opening in traffic right as I crossed in front of him. A split second after he hit the gas, he hit me... Or the back tire of my bike. My left knee was wrenched as my bike spun out from under me and I hit the ground. I feel very lucky that he hit my bike and not me. At this point in time, the law is on his side, since I am not allowed on the sidewalk. Had he stopped, I would've received a citation and been responsible for the damage to his car. Instead, after hitting a human being with his car, he decided to commit a felony and speed off, post haste. Flee the scene of the crime even. I've wondered since then if he knew whether he had killed me or not. He was gone before I tried to get up. I wonder if the lingering thought of vehicular manslaughter runs through his head at night. The impact was so loud that the cars across the street waiting at the red light rolled down their windows and someone shouted, "are you ok!?" I said, "NO!" Then the light turned green and they all drove off. I wonder, as they told the story later that day if it occurred to them that they left me laying there in the sidewalk unable to walk. "Cory," you ask (or I pretend you do to move this along), "why weren't you in the road where you should've been?" That's a great question. Sometime earlier a teenage girl doing her makeup while driving hit me while I sat at a red light. When I looked behind me the terrified girl behind the wheel threw her hands in the air grasping a compact and a makeup brush and mouthed, "I'm so sorry!" Since then I've had many drivers yell at me telling me to get off the road and into some dank dungeon where I belong. The honking, daily near misses and shaking angry fists built up until I took to the sidewalks. There are no bike paths in this town. So now, a few days later as I'm hunched over a cane and shuffling along like an octogenarian, I'm thinking about how much I'm going to enjoy getting yelled at again. It's safer in the street. This time I'm strapping flashing red LEDs all over my bike and I'll be lit up like a Christmas tree rolling down the middle of the lane. As an interesting point of law (at least in idaho), a bicycle is considered a full vehicle on the road. I have all of the rights of all the cars and trucks. I won't apologize if you have to change lanes to go around me. Drivers do this for slower cars and often don't give it a second thought. Let's share the road and be civil to each other. And for heaven's sake, if you hit someone with you're car, stop and see if they're ok.

Label Failing as Experimenting

I believe the secret is to stop labeling mistakes and failures as such and start experimenting. When you experiment, you're on an exploration. You don't know what you'll find. You're exploring a concept or an idea. It's fluid. It changes. It's not wrong or right because it's not done. You may have to go back a step or two. You may have to start over. You haven't failed, you've found a route that doesn't go where you want it to. A quick story will illustrate this.A father and son are lost in the woods and come to a fork in the road. Not knowing which one to take, they say a quick prayer and feel like they should take the left road. As night begins to fall, they quickly realized that the left road is not the correct path. As the head back to the fork to get on the right road, the son asks his father, "why did God send us down the wrong road?" His father responded, "So that we knew for sure that it was wrong. Now we can forget about it and focus on the right road." So stop beating yourself up about failing and learn from your experiments.

You're not an imposter, neither am I

Do you ever feel like everyone around you is totally competent and you've fooled them into thinking you are too? You may have imposter syndrome, a lot of highly educated professionals do. The irony is while your thinking that you're faking it and everyone around you knows what they're doing, everyone around you is thinking the same thing!

People with this type of thinking, "attribute their successes to luck or other factors beyond their control, while attributing the successes of their peers to skill," says Valerie Young. In other words, we dismiss our accomplishments as happy little accidents whilst assuming that everyone else is in total control. Minor failures, even ones caused by outside sources, tend to become further proof that we're completely under qualified for our jobs. As I've mentioned in another post, I just finished reading, "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon. While many things jumped out at me in this book, one thing in particular hit me like a ton of bricks: many people suffer from imposter syndrome. Apparently, there are a lot of people out there that feel like I have at times: totally in over their heads. I don't always feel like this, but when I do, the thought often hits me that the only thing I'm actually good at is convincing people that I'm good at something (without actually being good at anything.) While I'm sure this isn't true, it's still a difficult thought to grapple with. While my self-diagnosed imposter syndrome seems to be cyclical, it is hindering nonetheless. I have avoided applying for jobs I've wanted all because I decided that I wasn't worthy to even apply. This is a rather new development for me, since I've been unqualified for every major job I've had and been totally confident that I'd be able to figure it out. Each time, I've done more than that and excelled. I'm not sure why this recent development of doubt has crept in. It could be that because I now have mouths to feed I'm more cautious or it could be a natural response to success. As if, somehow deep down, I'm either scared or afraid of success. The following quote comes to mind (often misquoted as being said by Nelson Mandela)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others

- Marianne Williamson

King George vs. George Washington: Stable Management

I wrote this post years ago on another blog. I'd thought I'd dig it up and stick it here. A common phrase I've been using this last year is, "Its the difference between King George and George Washington."

I'm not going to go into a history discussion or a psychological profile of either of these guys... the difference when it comes to business is a written constitution. A set of rules of engagement that everyone has access to. Whereas under a king, the rule of law is the King's mood and subject to change at any time. Click below to read the difference.

[EXPAND Click to Read, "The King's Mood"]

The King's Mood

Under a King's rule, his subjects have no idea what they could be jailed for that day. They have to wake up every morning in an environment of constant uncertainty. It creates an environment of fear; people running around avoiding punishment rather than working hard to produce or improve. Subjects have no way of knowing a clear path to bettering their situation. They must guess on what path to take to succeed. One day they may do a thing and get rewarded, on a different day the same action could lead to punishment... its all contingent on the mood of the management King.

Managing a Business by "The King's Mood"

An employee needs to know his boundaries. He needs to know what the company policies are. Working in an office with no clear path to advance in pay or position gives uncertainty. Saying things to your employees like, "We'll take care of you when we finally catch that pie in the sky the company starts to do better," or "Don't worry, just put in your time and everything will work out," doesn't cut it.

These are vague and don't offer any security or any clear path of progression. How is one to act if there is no consistent guidelines? If someone goes to there boss and asks, "How much do we charge our customers for Widget A?" and her boss tells her, "um... $15... yeah, 15 sounds good." Then later is scolded for selling a second Widget A for $15 because her boss changed his mind without letting anyone know. The manager has now created his own nightmare. Now this employee will no longer think on her own. She will ask her boss EVERY time this question comes up. She will tell her coworkers to do the same. There is no consistency in the office. Most people in this office would eventually get frustrated enough to leave in search for a more stable working environment. Now, I'm not saying that bosses shouldn't be able to change prices or change policy... I'm saying that there should be a KNOWN procedure to do so. I'll get to this in the "Written Constitution" section.

Another issue with the manager's-mood-is-law is that the manager can never be wrong. That may sound good to you, but trust me, its very bad. Think of the best basketball players in the game. The most skilled basketball players in the world have instincts with the game that most people aren't even aware of and most players only dream of... and yet they all still have a coach. They all still have referees with a whistle and a rule book. Micheal Jordan could be put on the bench by his coach or Kareem could be given a technical foul by a ref. Even the greatest have accountability to someone and to a set of rules. A man who is not accountable to anything or anyone will begin to degrade. No one is that good. [/EXPAND]

[EXPAND Click to read, "A Written Constitution"]

A Written Constitution

Now George Washington worked under a written constitution. He could be wrong. People could read and know the laws and know when and if he broke them. The citizens of the country knew with a certainty, no matter how the president felt that morning, what the laws where. This didn't mean that the law couldn't be changed, but there was a system and steps to change the law. It had to be thought out, decided on, and then written down. Every citizen has the opportunity to know when and how the law changes. The citizens knowing that the laws are fair and stable, now can know the rules of the engagement and can see paths to success. They can know the systems and how they change.

Managing a Business by "A Written Constitution"

A business needs a price sheet and a procedures manual. A business with more than one person needs to foster an environment of stability within the office to allow for movement in the marketplace. When employees aren't worried about what mood their boss is in, then they are more likely to be able to focus on innovating and progressing in their job. If they know that there is consistency, then they can have confidence in their choices, thus freeing up their boss from being the bottle neck of the information flow.

If they know what skills or quotas to meet to progress then they will look at their occupation as a career rather than a job. This doesn't mean that the company is stagnant. I suggested to one business owner to have a procedures manual and if he wanted to change his mind and shred all the copies and print new manuals, so be it. It would be better than the Law-Of-Mood that was prevailing. There would be a procedure in place, when the boss shreds the copies and hands out new ones, then the rules have changed. Everyone would know the rules had changed. If the boss broke the rules, he could still be held accountable by his own manual. Stability, consistency and logic breed an office full of innovation, confidence and progress.

There are two reasons that a small company stays small. The first is that the management chooses to stay small as the most profitable option. The second is the company that tries to grow but is stopped by an owner who keeps trying to be the machine and not the machine operator. He bottlenecks all decision making at his desk with employees lining up outside his door. He handles all the "important" clients himself, but without enough time to do so. He changes his mind constantly with his mood and perpetuates the problem of people waiting in line outside his office. Eventually he burns out his good employees and is left with the people who can't leave for other work. He has a small company and longs for a big one. A price sheet and a procedures manual with a little delegation would be a great start. [/EXPAND]