Float, Float On

Suspended in a warm pool of water, I float in the pitch black. There is no sound, just a loud, overpowering silence. I am falling, slowly, but steadily. I spin around in a whirlpool and wonder when I will be sucked down the drain. When my toe touches something solid. I remember for a moment where I am and what is happening. Then I drift off into the darkness and begin to fall once again.

I first became interested in flotation tanks years ago watching William Hurt lose his mind in Altered States. He played a doctor who would ingest huge amounts of drugs, seeking transcendence in a sensory deprivation tank. It was a fantastic movie and the thought of floating in suspended animation had great appeal to my teenage mind.

Decades later I began to meditate and explore the idea of altered consciousness, but without drugs. Once again the isolation tank called my name. I researched places and prices, but never took the leap. I may have slipped a few hints and my wonderful fiancée scored me a newbie two float package for my birthday at the Aspire Center for Health + Wellness.

Their site claims the following benefits from flotation.

1 Magnesium promotes muscle relaxation and improves overall sleep quality.

2 Researcbh shows that floating improves Theta wave activation, key for better relaxation and deep meditation.

3 It is scientifically proven to improve short term and chronic pain conditions.

4 The brain becomes more right side dominant without senses, which promotes creativity.

float-tanks

Lady In Bikini Not Included

Without hesitation I booked my first appointment. They offer two different flotation tanks, Oasis or Tranquility. Opting for Tranqulity, I inspected the massive white and blue pod dominating the room. The technician gave me the lowdown, showing me the light switch in the tub as well as the button to open and close the hatch. She gave me earplugs that I would need when  I got in the pod. She set the timer for 66 minutes and left the room. I ditched my clothes, rinsed off and entered the murky warm water.

So here I am bare ass naked settling into a body temperature pool of water loaded with 1000 pounds of epsom salt. This allows the body to float on the surface. I laid back, popped in the earplugs, shut off the lights and closed the lid.

My first impression was of the complete blackness and absolute silence. It was very peaceful and I waited for the magic to happen. For the first trick my neck and shoulders ached. The air was stuffy and the salt water leaked past the earplugs. For a few interminable minutes I had buyer’s remorse. The discomfort was acute and made more so by the isolation. Once I settled in I began to lose track of time. 10 minutes? 20 minutes? At a point time became irrelevant. My body felt heavy beyond belief as if gravity had doubled or tripled. I pushed my hands down slowly and could feel the water rise. Moving just a finger seemed to create a tiny tidal wave in my secret pod world.

Expecting the ultimate meditation opportunity, I tried to relax and focus on my breath. Instead of the usual calm my brain exploded with an overload of disconnected, insane thoughts. A wild cacophony of random sounds, colors and images rocketed through my head. I tried a few times to hush the tornado between my ears, but meditation wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t stop the raging flow of my mind. I teetered between awareness and a vague dreamlike state. None of it made sense.

At one point I imagined that the world was ending and here I was floating butt naked in a pool of dirty salt water. Disaster was all around me, but I was tucked away in my hidden bunker. I would emerge to the smoking ruins of civilization covered in a rime of epsom salts and flecks of other people’s skin and hair.

Then the lights came back on. My 66 minutes were up. Was it already over? The pod automatically opened. Had I done that by accident?  I felt groggy and heavy. Could I even use my muscles? I staggered up and grabbed a towel, stumbling over to the shower with pod water pouring all over the floor. It wasn’t until I was dressed and had some fresh water to drink that I began to feel normal. The rest of my day was very mellow and my energy level hovered somewhere between sluggish and slow.

Float 2 took place one week later. This time I chose Oasis, a rectangular tank that’s bigger and a bit more old school. Since I’d had time to process the previous float, week 2 was less a revelation. I was already a pro and I slipped off my clothes, took a quick shower and slid into the body temperature water, closing the lid and waited for the lights to go down. Once inside I laid back and bounced like a buoy from side to side until the water settled.

Let’s talk about that water. First of all it has a slightly pungent odor, not offensive, but with a certain staleness, perhaps a hint of dirty gym socks. It is slick and slightly slimy. This time I thought a lot more about all the naked bodies that have floated in that same briny tub. While the idea of so many nether parts soaking in the ooze is gross, the 1000 pounds of epsom salt does kill everything in its path.

To avoid the stiffness and discomfort in my neck and shoulders the float technician suggested I use the inflatable neck pillow this time around. While the pillow relieved the muscle tension it created a bit of a disconnect from the water. I wasn’t completely immersed. My ears were above water and I could hear the sounds of the building.

However I was much more relaxed, my mind considerably calmer and more focused. Meditation almost happened, but I couldn’t quite get there. My brain wasn’t ricocheting in a dozen different directions, but sensory deprivation only served to amplify the white noise in my skull to fill the void. I was much more aware of time passing. The hour slowly drifted by on a river of random thoughts, never entering the sleepy, dreamy state I achieved the week before. When the lights came on I calmly stepped out, refreshed and alert.

I’ve checked this off my bucket list, but wonder if I will do it again. With two floats under my belt I realize it wasn’t what I expected. I had envisioned a William Hurt Altered States style mind altering transformation. Instead I had a synapse exploding confused first float followed by a calm and relaxing second float. Both hours in the pod offered a chance to competely disconnect from time and the world for an hour, leaving me relaxed and kind of dopey for the rest of the day. I am curious how the experience would evolve if I floated regularly.

Hmm, it’s not cheap and I have a birthday coming up. Hint, hint.

Publisher’s Block or My Inertia?

inertia

September 24th was the last time I published a post on this blog. I had ambitious plans to get at least two more posts up by the end of the month. Instead, I stopped publishing. It’s not writer’s block. I’ve done plenty of writing. As a matter of fact it’s added up to more than fifty thousand words in the nearly three months since. There are at least twenty pieces worthy of posting. But I stopped publishing and I am not sure why.

Could I call it publisher’s block? I just can’t seem to press publish. More than anything it is publisher’s inertia. I have discovered that for just about anything I do inertia plays a big role. If I am exercising every day, I will keep exercising every day until something bigger stops me. The same goes for writing, meditating, organizing, journaling, etc.

So it happened with publishing. I was clipping along at a pace of one or two pieces per week and it seemed so easy. Until it wasn’t.

It’s not that I can’t publish, I am simply not publishing. There were a few days at the end of September that got interrupted by various things and my forward motion stopped. The trick for me is how to use inertia for good. Like most of us I am driven by habit. When I am moving forward and inertia is in my favor it is easy to write, meditate, set goals, exercise, publish and more. It is simply something I do.

How do I turn it around so I can take all my unpublished posts and set them free?

If I have learned anything this year it is all about setting goals and acting on them. I have discovered the best way for me is writing goals down on paper first. Yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. Then I review and update those goals at least a few times a week. Yes, I have used just about every ToDo app out there, but they are tools to use once I have set the goals and tasks down on paper. From there I can use Wunderlist, ToDoist or Clear. They are great, but the regular act of writing and reviewing is what keeps my goals fresh, top of mind and actionable.

 

spark-notebook

I kept a Spark Notebook with all my goals this year. It was only a six month notebook and once I hit the end of June my goals and focus for the year softened. At this point I’ve been counting down the days until my 2016 Spark Notebook arrives in the mail.

This weekend the mail brought good things. My new 12 month notebook is here! It’s time to get the pen out and set some goals. I’ve got some publishing to do and I need inertia on my side.

That Time I Wrote 100,000 Words @750words At A Time

750 words history

I hit a major milestone last week. Since February I’ve written more than 100,000 words. Let’s put that into perspective. According to Amazon’s Text Stats, the median length for all books is about 64,000 words. I have written enough to fill one novel and am halfway through a second. While I doubt many of my words are novel-worthy, I know there are a handful of great ideas buried in all the debris. More importantly, I’ve developed as a writer and found a discipline that has eluded me for years.

I’ve always liked to think of myself as a writer. Witty, pithy, insightful, sure, but with NOTHING to show for it. Like many would-be writers I talked about writing, i thought about writing, I bought moleskins, notebooks, dictation programs, apps, but the result was always the same. Nothing! Maybe a half a page here, a blog post there, but mostly an empty page and a mindful of half baked ideas.

So one big goal for 2015 was to write more. For the last few years I set up alerts, systems, and tricks to get me writing more. Some things worked and others not so much. I managed to write once or maybe twice a week at best, but my natural inertia kicked in and I would find reasons not to write. I needed something drastic. Actually I needed two things. First, make the time and second, make it a daily habit.

To accomplish the first I waged war on my own busyness. I reduced my information and social media diets considerably. I found ways to eliminate digital distractions. And I put down my damn phone. I was able to write three or four times a week, but I still wanted more. I wanted to write every single day.

Then I found the solution, 750words.com. I wrote about it here a few months back, but with 100,000 later I need to shout about it a little more. I started In February, committing to write 750 words every day. AND, I wrote every single day. After fighting my own procrastination and laziness it was astonishing. Writing is hard work. Churning out words takes discipline and at first much of what I wrote was terrible. Too personal. Too mundane. Too repetitive. But at a certain point I got a rhythm. Pieces started to flow together. It may not be great, but some of it was worthy of posting on my blog, worthy of sharing and worthy of asking for feedback.

Some days I start with a rough idea. Others I already have a full post sketched out in my mind. Sometimes I just start writing and it begins to take shape. The ideas coalesce and 750 words later I am done. What is really critical is the discipline that has come with the act of writing. Initially it took sacrifice just to get my ass in the chair. Then it took work to write. Now it takes effort not to write. Whether I have anything to say or not isn’t important, it’s the ritual of sitting down, writing the first words and pushing through to the end. That’s the real moral to the story. Action. Writing. Results. Repeat.

750 words badges

It has been a total of 137 almost consecutive days of writing. I had a 118 day streak and then I spent a Saturday carpooling kids, cleaning the basement, mowing the lawn, running 6 miles and falling asleep at 9:30. When I woke up the next morning I knew something was horribly wrong. What was different about the night before? Then, it hit me. I didn’t write. I had fallen off the wagon, but I jumped right back on. It’s been another nineteen days and counting.

In the end, it’s not about success or failure, There are no awards or benchmarks apart from an occasional milepost that reminds me I have stuck to my resolution. My goal is not to make a living as a writer. It’s about a daily act, a simple ritual. Laptop in hand. Butt in chair. Four fingers and an occasional thumb typing away. The thoughts are mine. The words are mine. The discipline is a gift that I hope keeps on giving 750 words at a time.

Killing Busyness – Doing Less To Accomplish More

information overload

Focus has been a key goal and resolution for me in 2015. For years I danced on the deadly edge of complete digital distraction. It became increasingly clear I needed to take a few steps back. My meme driven life was destroying my concentration and preventing me from getting things done.

A couple of years back i wrote about the absolute joy I took in information overload. I dove into the internet every day and would barely come up for air. Likening the experience to “swallowing the ocean” I extolled the virtues of infinite choice and endless possibility. There was just too much great stuff to ignore. My insatiable curiosity combined with some serious FOMO had me staring at screens from the moment I woke up until just before I closed my eyes at night.

But then something happened.

With 30 tabs open, music playing on my laptop while I watched video on my phone, simultaneously looking through notes on my iPad, I realized maybe I had a problem. No focus. No focus whatsoever. Distraction was king and my waking life was ruled by beeps, buzzes and alerts leading me from one app to another, from website to video, from game to text to Twitter to Instagram to Facebook. My focus was fractured, my productivity likely suffering and my enjoyment of the real things in life had diminished.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with newsletters, blogs, apps, social, games and never ending clickbait. My goal wasn’t to go cold turkey, but to spend more time doing and less time consuming. Multitasking to one task at a time. I simply wanted (and needed) to draw the line somewhere. I needed to go on a information diet. But how?

First of all, I hit unsubscribe on dozens of daily and weekly email newsletters. I expunged as many apps from my phone as I could bear. I cut my RSS feeds in half. I stopped saving countless articles to read later. I’ve limited myself to only five tabs open at a time. Delete. Delete. Delete.

Then, I made a point of putting down my phone, often leaving it in another room at home. I stopped taking it with me to meetings at work. If I have it I will always look at it. It beckons and teases me and I am no stronger than the kids in the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment. Better for me to leave it in my bag or out of reach than tempt fate.

So what happened next?

Suddenly I had time, not oceans of time, but time. That all-consuming busyness I had used as a shield for years began to dissipate. I paid attention. I listened. Where I once filled every second of available time with checking emails, opening Facebook or ripping through my Instagram feed, I began to have wonderful moments of silence and clarity. How nice to think about nothing for a change.

And here is just a short list of other things that started happening.
– Rich, undistracted conversations
– Deeper focus at work and home
– My daily to-do list gets crushed early
– More time to read real books
– Written over 100,000 words in four and a half months
– Exercising four to five days a week

The funny thing is I don’t think I’ve missed much of anything important online. While I thought I would regret letting go of those email newsletters, apps and all the other distractions, I’ve never looked back. I’ve still got plenty of great stuff to sift through every day, plus I have much better focus and the gift of time. By doing less I actually accomplish mush more. And I keep three things in mind whenever I’m online. Unfollow, unsubscribe, delete.

Something I Did Thirty One Years Ago Changed My Life Forever

Thirty one years ago I got in the passenger seat of my mom’s car. We got on I-5 and headed south. It was an end and it was a beginning.

It was the end of my half decade rollercoaster ride of drugs and alcohol. I had guzzled, snorted and inhaled my way through too many car wrecks, fights and near-death experiences. I was overdrawn, undereducated and out of options. I wanted out and the drugs weren’t working any longer. The only way out was a massive u-turn.

We were heading to SWARF in Vancouver, Washington. It was an alcohol and drug treatment center two and a half hours away. It was a long, depressing ride. My life as I knew it was over. My mom and I listened to Elton John’s Greatest Hits and I cried sporadically. Rain spattered the windshield and the clouds kept the sun at bay.

I had actually given up a few days before. Hoping to get into treatment through public assistance, I turned to my parents when I found out the wait was at least three months. It was a terrifying phone call to make, but both my mom and stepdad had immediately said yes. We will help you get into treatment.

It had been years since I had traveled much further south than Chehalis and the second half of the trip was new territory. The farms and timberlands eventually gave way to the strip malls and overpasses of Vancouver’s northern suburbs. As the clouds broke and a feeble sun poked through the midday clouds, we pulled into the VA hospital campus where the center was located. A couple dozen one story barracks-style buildings cluttered a large plot of land just east of the interstate.

A peach pie had been the real catalyst. Yes, pastry as an impetus for change. I had smoked the last resins I scraped from my pipe and walked with a headachy high to the Safeway. I had just a few dollars for food and it was early June. There would be no money until July.

No food. No drugs. No job.

As a consolation to my shitty mood I wanted something sweet. I saw some store brand fruit pies on the reduced price rack. These were imitation peach-flavored Hostess Fruit Pies and I bought 3 for 19 cents each. I dragged my tiny haul of food back to my apartment. I threw the bag down on the couch and reached for a pie. WIthout benefit of light in my dark living room I ripped open the package and stuffed the pastry into my mouth.

Mold. Covered in mold. Not just traces, but a forest of heavy, grotesque mold.

I gagged, leaped up and spit the nasty half-chewed dessert into the sink. I gargled with water and retched. I brushed my teeth and gargled again. Then I cried. Not a sentimental, woe is me cry, but a deep guttural I am done cry. That’s when I knew I wanted to go to treatment.

My mom dropped me off in front and I asked her to wait a minute to make sure everything was ok. After stepping inside they said just grab your bag and you are good to go. I hugged my mom goodbye and saw her drive off into the early afternoon.

I had been trying to stop since I started. From the first time I got really drunk as a tween I knew I couldn’t handle it. So I was torn for years. Drink. Drug. Stop. Drink. Drug. Drink. Drug. Stop. Drink. Drug. Drink. Drug. Can’t stop.

Admission was straightforward. They gave me the rules and told me what my daily schedule would be. They were used to people being forced there by the court. I was an exception. I wanted to be there. I put my things away and came back to meet with my counselor. Pouring out my heart I watched her listen attentively and knew she understood just how special I really was.

Actually I had quit drinking about 15 months earlier. A few weeks later I temporarily quit drugs, too. However, the lure of getting high was too strong and I smoked pot right after school got out for the summer. For the next year I spent most of my time trapped in my head. Pot, speed, cocaine, acid, mushrooms, even freebase. I wasn’t crashing cars and getting my ass kicked but I was imprisoned in a depressing spiral of drug use. I lost a ton of weight, flunked out of school and wound up financially broke and spiritually broken.

After I told my story she sat quietly and wrote some notes. A few moments later she told me I really needed to focus on patience and tolerance. Wow, just like that she had given me such pithy advice based on just how different and special I was. Patience and tolerance. I wore that like an invisible crown and went out to meet the other people there for treatment.

It was fun at first. I loved the first few times I got high. Beer made me feel so damn good. I could talk. I could laugh. I wasn’t afraid. I was somebody. I was special. But then it was harder to get back to the beginning. My solution was more drinks and harder drugs. Pretty soon I wanted the momentary oblivion that only large amounts of drugs and alcohol could bring. I could annihilate the person I was and be the person I wanted to be. But it never worked that way.

We sat at a table. Four or five young guys all in treatment. Most had been pushed. I had jumped. We talked about drugs, music, drinking, college, girls. Then we talked about our meeting with the counselor. I proudly dropped that my special goals were patience and tolerance. One guy snorted, me too. Another laugh, me too. Yep, all of us. Patience and tolerance. We were all really special.

That was thirty one years ago today. I know three of the others that day didn’t make it much past treatment. Somehow I got lucky. I didn’t drink. I didn’t get high. I am not really special, but I am a little more patient and a little more tolerant.

750 Words About 750 Words

I made a 2015 resolution to write more. “Write more” has been a vague goal for the past few years. I wrote more in 2014 than I had in years past, but it still wasn’t enough. I wanted to write every day. I needed to make a commitment and take action.

I started the year by signing up for One Month’s 30 Day Writing Challenge. Every day for the month of January they sent me a writing prompt. The prompts were great and I started writing, every other day. And sometimes every third day. By the end of January I had written about 13 times. Still not enough.

I kept at it and whittled the list of remaining prompts down, but I needed more motivation. I wasn’t reaching my goal. One of the resources listed on One Month was 750 Words. I clicked and found myself challenged to write 750 words a day, every single day. Ok, I can do this. Sign me up now.

I started mid-February and my first order of business was to crush the remaining One Month prompts. I could write about anything I want. There were no rules. Just 750 words.

It’s been 57 days since I started and I haven’t missed a day yet. I’ve written poems, fiction, non-fiction, jokes, scripts, mantras and more. I don’t plan it. I just sit and write. It has been cathartic to spew three pages of my random ruminations every single day. It clears out my head to allow me to process my thoughts and focus on what is important.

Another goal for this year was increased focus. To get there I needed to simplify. I reduced my insatiable need for media input, unsubscribed from countless newsletters, slashed my RSS feeds and took a few steps back from several social media platforms. I couldn’t write if I was always reading. Over the last several weeks I have barely watched TV. My time has been focused on writing and reading real books.

Initially I hoped to use my 750 words to blog more, but I found that most of my writing was often about making sense of my day. Most days it is just a work in progress and not worth publication. It is my workshop. I can hammer out ideas and get to the essence of what’s happening. Somewhere in each of those 750 word entries, however, there is a solid future blog post.

For March I committed to writing every single day. I made it. Thirty one days. 24,000 words.

What did I learn?

Writing is hard. Good writing can be painstaking. There are a lot of ideas that sound amazing until you try to write them down. What seems so groundbreaking in your head seems pretty trite on paper. It requires focus, planning and a bit of inspiration.

Writing is work. The words don’t always flow, but you must keep going. Sit down. Pen in hand. Ass in chair. Words on paper. The point is to write. Don’t stop. Don’t check email. Don’t check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or text messages. Keep writing. It will take shape. Words will come.

Writing is liberating. I have written out dark memories, deep fears and painful thoughts. Once on paper they just aren’t very scary. As a matter of fact they seem minor and insignificant. I put them down on paper and the process allowed me to let them go.

Writing is scary. It seems so simple, but once you start pouring your heart into it the work gets tough. I wrote about some personal things and changed to third person just so I could be more honest about what happened. I could write it about someone as if it were else but not myself.

I have published three pieces of fiction on my blog. This is a first for me. The pieces were fun to write and vaguely fun to read so I published them. Big risk, but I got some good feedback. Or maybe kind feedback. It doesn’t matter. I did it and I am proud of it.

I will never be a gifted writer. I am a solid, persuasive writer. Occasionally I get lucky and write something above my weight class. Real writing is a gift. You don’t see it often. But when you do it is breathtaking. That is not my ability.

I will keep writing. 750 words a day, every day. And I will focus on publishing more. One day I may prove myself wrong. Maybe I do have a gift. I just need to keep writing until I get there.

 

100 Rides on CitiBike

kids citibike

My future CitiBikers

Last week I jumped on a CitiBike for the 100th time. Since I got my key in late June I have pedaled all over lower Manhattan, trekked to Brooklyn, yelled at cabbies, narrowly avoided pedestrians, saved a ton of money on subway and cab fare and seen our city from a brand new perspective.

My first ride in June took me from 14th Street up to 31st. Climbing on that bike for the first time and joining the riders all heading north on Sixth Avenue was a glorious adventure. The early summer sun felt invigorating as I maneuvered the heavy frame around cabs and delivery trucks. Although the ride lasted less than ten minutes and was barely a mile, it felt like a mini-epic.

My 100th ride started on 14th and took me to the Port Authority. I was rushing to meet my girlfriend who was just about to have a baby.  I jetted across town and up Eighth Avenue, easily beating a subway ride and probably besting a cab. And that ride, too, felt like a mini-epic.

One thing remains true after 100 rides. Using a bike to get around Manhattan is a great way to travel.

And a few random observations…

  • Traffic is not as hideous and formidable as one would think.
  • There are plenty of cyclists on the streets and the majority are not on CitiBikes.
  • Cabbies, pedestrians, drivers and cyclists are all idiots, it just depends on your mode of travel which ones are the idiots at that moment.
  • There aren’t enough bikes at rush hour, but they are working hard to fix that.
  • CitiBike has saved me a ton of money and is generally super convenient.
  • The bikes aren’t indestructible, but damn close. I hit a pothole that would have left me lying in the street with a broken collarbone and bent rim on a regular bike. On a Citibike I pounded right through it.
  • The big lesson is be patient and share the road. We are all traffic and we will all get to where we need to go.
  • AND you do NOT want to be this guy!

And let’s play point/counterpoint…

The bike lanes SUCK. Like any public space in the city, everyone thinks it belongs to them. The lanes set aside for cyclists are crowded with pedestrians, delivery trucks, street meat vendors and cabs. Don’t even think about enjoying a ride along Eighth Avenue during rush hour. It has become its own circle in Dante’s Hell. Keep your eyes open and take your time.

The bike lanes are AWESOME. I can’t believe the city set aside space just for bikes. First, Broadway, Eighth and Ninth Avenues have terrific standalone lanes. They are much safer than riding in traffic. The lanes on Sixth and Second are a bit more treacherous, but manageable. Plus, the lanes will take you all over the city in relative safety.

The CitiBike app SUCKS. The app alleges it has real-time stats on bike availability…and it is almost never right. They still can’t account for broken bikes. Nothing like showing up at a station promising bikes and find none or a bunch of broken ones.

Citibike app

Wow! 15 bikes waiting for me

no bikes citibike fail

Yes! One broken bike and 14 invisible ones

The CitiBike app is AWESOME. Want to know where the nearest station is located? It’s got you covered. Need the best route across town or out to Brooklyn? Another clutch feature is letting you know how many open stalls there are. Nothing worse than arriving at your destination and every stall is filled. The app will map it for you. I use this app almost every day.

For me Citibike has been a huge boost to my day-to-day routine. I get places faster, earlier and cheaper. It’s a blast to be fully engaged in the world around me while whizzing up or down the avenues. It even counts as exercise on super busy days. Every time I have the pedals beneath my feet I get that same glorious thrill I had with my first ride. Citibike may have plenty of haters, but it makes NYC an even better place. Get out there and take a ride.

Had a Baby, Be Back Soon

So the latest addition decided to show up early. He is a tiny, but feisty little man. I will be back, but have a diaper to change. See you soon.

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The Power of Great Management

There seem to be endless books and articles praising leadership as a virtue and vilifying management as a vice, that somehow mere management is beneath the lofty status of the great leader. Often portrayed as unforgiving, solitary geniuses who demand excellence and punish mediocrity, leaders can’t be bothered with the day-to-day minutiae of running an organization. They are busy singlehandedly building a brave new world while managers are cruel and stupid thugs hobbling us with layers of process and pointless bureaucracy. Leaders lead and managers block the way.

While those stereotypes make for captivating copy, great leadership requires great management. The only thing wrong with management is BAD management.

Company politics so often create an environment that encourages and rewards poor oversight. Suck up, punch down and never stick your neck out. This style of supervision breeds apathy, resentment and lowered productivity. It’s why people leave and organizations limp along. How can we change that?

Excellent managers provide leadership with a series of simple daily actions so teams can GET SHIT DONE.

  • Set goals
  • Make decisions
  • Give clear direction
  • Offer immediate feedback
  • Solve problems

And don’t overlook the awesome power of face time with your team. What we spend so much time trying to accomplish through endless meetings, email, phone calls, IM and conference calls can often be solved instantly and effectively with a few minutes of face-to-face. It takes time, but a lap around the office can be good for you, good for morale and great for the team.

in the end great management provides leadership, so lead from the front, not from behind. Clear the road ahead so your staff can be excellent every day. It’s harder and everything hits you first, but your results will always be better.  What do you think?

 

PSFK Goes Home to the Future

It seems oddly fitting that I am writing about the home of tomorrow from a home of the past. Roughly 50 miles from PSFK’s Future of Home Living Experience, I am spending a few nights in a tent pondering the home of the future as well as the massive transformations that have shaped the home of the present. The 100 degree temperature, soupy humidity and bloodthirsty mosquitoes have me yearning (possibly begging) for the basics we take for granted – windows, indoor plumbing, air conditioning and electricity.

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PSFK has taken on the challenge of defining the trends in furniture, gadgets, electronics, apps and design that will shape and define The Future of Home Living. In an airy 5,000 square foot space at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 15th Street in New York, PSFK has created an interactive exhibit showcasing dozens of remarkable products and experiences.

I had an opportunity to attend a preview walk though in the space. While they were still putting the final touches on the exhibit (which opens on Monday 7/23 and runs through Friday 8/16), the space is bright, open and inviting. It is loosely divided into areas dedicated to each part of an apartment or house. Living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and more, showcasing the interconnected, environmentally friendly, super-convenient house of the future. PSFK’s founder Piers Fawkes and Director of Consulting Scott Lachut gave an energetic in-depth tour and thoughtfully answered questions about the gleaming products on display.

The three broad themes running throughout the exhibit are Adaptive, On-Demand and Equilibrium.

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The Thin Bike solves bike storage for the apartment dweller

Adaptive focuses on customizable solutions for multiple uses in small spaces. The Thin Bike, Peg Furniture System and ZIG Sofa are three examples of products that can work in tighter living spaces providing maximum flexibility.

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WunWun crowdsources personal tasks and odd jobs

On-Demand centers on the networked home and the ability to outsource chores and errands. GetUpArt Service, WunWun and Hello Fresh Delivery are ultra-convenient services that maximize leisure time.

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Aquafarm brings fish and fresh herbs to your countertop

Equilibrium is all about balance in a chaotic world. The Dezibel Floor Screen, Aquafarm and HAPIfork are all products that help us lead a quieter, more environmentally-friendly and healthier life.

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Oru Kayak folds up for the urban kayaker

From the hydroponic plant system in the window to the folding kayak and wireless/3D everything, the exhibit only disappoints in its focus on gadgets rather than the big-picture thinking for which PSFK is known. Their report on The Future of Work was revelatory. It showed how we will communicate, collaborate and innovate in the future. PSFK provided not only a blueprint for the the workspace of the future, but a clear road map for how we will get there.

I wanted the same depth and immersive thought applied to the hows and whys of home living in the future. What will be the transformative technologies and forces that redefine our living spaces? However, the Future of Home Living Experience is still a fascinating look at some incredible technology and services that will make our lives better, healthier and more balanced.

If you are interested you can sign up for the exhibit here. And please, let me know what you think.