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  • How often do you do the small tasks?

    Today is June 20 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you do the small tasks?” One of the most utilized approaches to navigate the chaos of any business is to start at the very bottom and work one job after another rising from one level to the next. Unfortunately, many young professionals, with or without a college degree, believe they deserve to start at the middle, or for some, even higher. This happens with those who go right to graduate school from undergraduate. Armed with a Master’s degree in hand many graduates believe they have earned the corner office. But with little or no work experience, they have missed out on understanding the small tasks, the nuances, and the culture involved with getting work done at the lowest of levels. Can you start at the bottom and work your way up? Not only should you, it is a preferred strategy so you can understand all aspects of your business and industry. Here are seven examples: Mary Barra of General Motors: At age 18, she started on the assembly line at General Motors, checking fender panels and inspecting hoods. Now, she’s the Chairman (since January 4, 2016) and Chief Executive Officer (since January 15, 2014) of General Motors. Robert A. Iger: started as a weatherman on a local ABC news station. Today, he is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Walt Disney Company. Doug McMillon of Walmart: loaded trucks at a Wal-Mart distribution center as a teenager. Now, he’s the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Walmart Inc. Alex Gorsky of Johnsons & Johnson: In 1988, he started as a sales representative at Janssen Pharmaceutica, a Johnsons & Johnson subsidiary. Today, he is Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson & Johnson. Michael Corbat of Citigroup: He started in the sales department at Salomon Brothers, which merged with Citigroup a few years later. Now, he’s the current chief executive (CEO) of Citigroup. Abigail Johnson of Fidelity: Even though her father was the longtime CEO of Fidelity, she started at the bottom as a telephone operator, answering phones at Fidelity, and today, she is the president and chief executive officer of Fidelity Investments (FMR), the $2.46 trillion-in-assets firm. Greg Garland of Phillips 66: In 1980, he started as a project engineer for the Plastics Technical Center at Phillips 66. Today, he is the chairman and CEO. As of August 19, 2019, reported by https://ceoworld.biz Howard Putnam, Ronald E. Daly, and Melissa McCarthy understand the value of doing the small tasks. Howard Putnam became a baggage handler at Capital Airlines at 17 years of age. According to Putnam "At 19, I decided I wanted to be president of an airline. So I adopted a 'What do you need me to do?' mentality. Work a double shift. Train someone. Transfer me to another department or city. I will do it. My wife, Krista (a former flight attendant), and I were willing to sacrifice to make it happen. We were and still are a team after 60 years of marriage." Putnam’s mentality, approach, and sacrifice allowed him to complete one small tasks after another and move into one responsibility after another. Eventually, he would go to and finish his career as CEO, Southwest Airlines (1978-1981) and then CEO, Braniff International Airways (1981-1983). The goal he set at 19 years-of-age became a reality due to his dedication to doing whatever was necessary. Ronald E. Daly started as a proofreader at RR Donnelley at 17 years of age and finished his career as CEO of Océ-USA Holding (2002-2004). According to Daly "In 38 years at RR Donnelley, I went from apprentice proofreader to president of its largest unit, Print Solutions, a $3.7 billion business. The number-one thing I learned is you have to market yourself like a product and differentiate yourself. I got my education—an associate degree, undergrad degree in business and MBA—as a differentiator. I was a proofreader for four years, starting at $1.92 an hour. It was boring, so I applied for production coordinator and got it—the first African-American in that job. Few managers were educated (they were craftsmen), so I saw an opportunity.” A few years later, when he was 32 a manager job opened up in a money-losing unit. Not to be deterred, Daly applied for and got the job. Withing two years the unit became profitable by applying a root cause analysis he learned in college. According to Daly “A few years later, I was a long shot to be general manager at a Pennsylvania plant, but I dazzled the senior VP in the interview and got the job. In 20 months, I made radical changes. I always stayed on the cutting edge of management. I'm a risk taker, and I don't mind taking on tough assignments." Like Putnam, Daly did whatever was necessary to go from proofreader to CEO during his career. Actor Melissa McCarthy sat down with Howard Stern in 2014 to explain how she almost quit pursuing acting roles just days before her big break came as a cast member on the long-running drama Gilmore Girls (2000-2007). She had always planned to quit if she was not a working actor by age 30. "It ran for seven years it was the first time like I could say I was an actress," McCarthy said. Her cousin Jennie McCarthy was already a star and afforded Melissa the opportunity to work on the crew for her TV and film projects before her big break came. "That was my first job in the business," Melissa said in the interview. "I actually learned a lot from that... It was incredibly nice because that's what I wanted, I was like, 'I don't know anything about this. I don't know how any of it works.' I'd only been in theater. And that job literally, every single time I do something today, it's made me better." As (what some people consider a lowly) production assistant, Melissa found herself multi-tasking each day, she was responsible for, "Everything. You did the garbage, you cleaned up, you did craft service, you'd do every single thing, I dropped the film at night. I was the first one there and the last one to leave and its - like, I wish everybody that went into the business had to do that." And therein lies the key. If you want to get to the top of whatever business you are in, how do you expect to get there if you have no idea what the foundation looks like? How often do you do the small tasks? Do you avoid the small tasks because you think you are better than those doing them? If you have more experience have you caught yourself telling someone “Well I don’t do that anymore since I moved up?” How do you treat those who do the small things?

  • How often are you aware of your karma?

    Today is June 19 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often are you aware of your karma?” This reflection will help you better understand one of the most misused, misunderstood, and misplaced words the West has borrowed from the East – karma. In short, karma is not what you probably think it is. Those who navigate the chaos and practice the art of living well often remind themselves of the original definition of karma in order to translate their dreams into reality. As Buddha said, “you harm yourself as dust thrown against the wind comes back to the thrower.” This one sentence provides an excellent clue as to the actual meaning of karma. Dating back thousands of years in the East, karma has been bastardized in the West to involve cause and effect. For example, if someone robs a bank and the police fail to catch them that day, the incorrect interpretation of karma as practiced by those in the West, would then apply the “well eventually karma is going to catch up to them and they will get caught.” The slang version is often applied as well and is often said as “karma is a bitch,” or “karma and payback are a bitch, they will get their day.” This is not how karma works. Actually, if you are waiting for karma to ‘get back at someone’ for what they did to you, that could well last a lifetime, but it also may distract you from navigating the chaos and practicing the art of living well. In short, sometimes, you have no one to blame but yourself. Such a realization only stems from a high degree of self-awareness. To better understand the proper Eastern definition of karma, let us go back to the etymology of the word. The meaning derived from the Sanskrit for karma means action, work, or deed. The term also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principle of karma, wherein intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect): good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and happier rebirths, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and bad rebirths. The West has interpreted this cause-and-effect component of karma’s definition to mean: “you get what you deserve?” Unfortunately, the West has chosen to rely on two inappropriate, incorrect, and misleading aspects of karma’s definition: “bad makes bad” and because of that, “we have no control of our destinies.” Herein lies the critical component of today’s reflection, karma has nothing to do with fate where the universe sits in judgement of good or bad behavior and randomly hands out punishments or rewards. Karma is an internal power that we create, for good or bad. Karma is our action. We have the control over our karma. As Lachlan Brown noted “When we say, ‘that’s karma,’ when a bad thing happens to us, we are giving up our internal power. We are giving up our ability to change things. It’s because of this false view that we desire to transform karma into a sort of cash machine based on our ethical and spiritual behavior. However, if we can let go of this understanding of happiness, we can see that all we need is to live deeply in the present moment with mindfulness and discover our true nature. Karma is simply energy. It’s our intentional thoughts and actions. The energy we generate now and in the future will affect us. It has nothing to do with reward or punishment. Karma is unbiased and it’s ours to control.” To delve into the nuance of karma even further, here are the 12 Laws of Karma to consider: The Great Law: whatever we put into the universe will come back to us. The Law of Creation: life does not happen by itself; we need to make it happen. The Law of Humility: one must accept something in order to change it. The Law of Growth: when we change ourselves, our lives change to. The Law of Responsibility: we must take responsibility for what is in our lives. The Law of Connection: the past, present, and future are all connected. The Law of Focus: we cannot think of two different things at the same time. The Law of Giving and Hospitality: our behaviors should match our thoughts and actions. The Law of Here and Now: we cannot be present if we are looking backward. The Law of Change: history repeats itself until we learn from it and change our path. The Law of Patience and Reward: the most valuable rewards require persistence. The Law of Significance and Inspiration: rewards are a result of the energy and effort we put into it. How often do you subscribe to the Western definition of karma? Have you ever hoped karma would “get someone” for what they did to you? How often do you take responsibility for all of your actions and realize karma is within your control? How often you practice each of the 12 laws of karma? Which law or laws would you like to practice more often in the upcoming days or weeks?

  • How often do you leverage rest?

    Today is June 18 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you leverage rest?” It is difficult to understand but resting along the path of navigating the chaos is an effective strategy. In their 2017 book Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success, authors Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness emphasized the need for rest, especially for athletes and devised the equation Stress + Rest = Growth. Stulberg and Magness acknowledged it is “as simple and as hard as that. As an athlete, if you want to improve something—your 100-meter time, say, or your deadlift PR—you’ve got to apply a challenge, some sort of stressor and then follow it with a period of rest and recovery. Too much stress without enough rest and you get injury, illness, and burnout. Not enough stress plus too much rest and you get complacency, boredom, and stagnation.” They based their equation off research conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine, the country’s premier body on the application of fitness science, that officially endorsed training in this manner to increase size and strength. Meanwhile, a 2015 study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology found that best endurance athletes in the world all have one thing in common: they oscillate between periods of stress and rest. This equation of Stress + Rest = Growth can be found elsewhere and applied to other aspects of life, notably work. Researcher Alex Soojung-Kim Pang published his results in a March 2017 article entitled “Darwin Was a Slacker and You Should Be Too” in which he declares “Many famous scientists have something in common—they didn’t work long hours. In fact, some of the greatest geniuses ‘worked’ only four hours a day.” How is that possible? How can the world’s greatest minds only work a few hours each day? Well the short answer is they rested. Specifically, the scientists rested in-between bouts of creative transformation, generally operating in bursts of productivity lasting between 90 to 120 minutes. Implicitly they recognized what science now demonstrates—that the body as information system always rebuilds and renews. As you travel down the path of navigating the chaos, remember, human ‘downtime’ is not like the ‘rest’ of a car or a computer. In human downtime, the body is continually learning, especially when asleep. Rest is not only necessary for life and survival, but for the creative capacities that will power knowledge industries of the future. Biological intelligence can do more than make individuals smarter; it can enhance the performance of communities and societies. Darwin split his day into morning and evening work, doing about four hours total. G.H. Hardy, one of the greatest mathematicians of the twentieth century and author of a celebrated autobiography worked in a four-hour stint in the morning, but with breaks. The great novelist Anthony Trollope wrote his 2500 words a day between 5:30 and 8:30 a.m. before rushing off to help run the British Postal Service; to him we also owe a version of the post box. According to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang “scientists who spent 25 hours in the workplace were no more productive than those who spent five. The 60-plus-hour-a-week researchers were the least productive of all. The best students generally followed a pattern of practicing hardest and longest in the morning, taking a nap in the afternoon, and then having a second practice.” In other words, Stress + Rest = Growth. Poet Maya Angelou wrote “Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” How often do you use rest as a catalyst in the pursuit of your dreams? Are you so obsessed with translating your dreams into reality that you never stop to rest? If so, why do you think that is? Do you find it acceptable that those who navigate the chaos actually include rest as part of their routine? Do you feel a need to deny yourself rest because you want to, either consciously, or subconsciously, punish yourself?

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