Fish, Science, and Why You May Not Be Comfortable


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Surfing the internet is a crazy thing.  One minute you are doing a google search on the newest smart phone, the next minute you find yourself down a rabbit trail of cat videos and Pinterest projects.

That’s where I found myself recently when I randomly came across an article on why freshwater fish can’t live in saltwater.

On surface level, I found the question a silly one.  I mean, the reason is in the classification of the fish, right? FRESHWATER fish.

But the inner kid inside me said, “Yeah, but why can’t they?”

So imagine my surprise when 10 minutes, and multiple clicks and rabbit trails later, I realized the article applied to more than just fish.

You see, apparently there are 2 types of fish.  There are stenohaline fish (fish that can only live in either saltwater or freshwater) and euryhaline fish (fish that can adapt to both environments). [Actually it’s much more complicated than this, but I don’t want to lose you this early. For more details, go here.]

You also have to understand osmosis for this to make sense. [Again, hang in there with me… I promise we’re headed someplace interesting].

Wikipedia says osmosis is a process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one, thus equalizing the concentrations on each side of the membrane.

Um, what?

For the purpose of our discussion, the solvent (salt) passes between salty and less salty water, until both solutions are equally salty.
Back to our fish story…

In both categories of fish, the saline (salt) mixture in their bodies determines where they would thrive.  Saltwater fish have a higher saline concentration than fresh water fish, but still lower than the seawater around them, so they absorb salt from the water to equal things out (and are comfortable in high saline environments- the ocean). Freshwater fish have lower saline concentrations than saltwater fish, but more than the freshwater around them, so they absorb water to equal things out (and so they are comfortable in freshwater environments- rivers, lakes, and goldfish bowls).

Do I see a hand raised in the back of the classroom?  Yes, kid with the magnifying glass and the ant farm… what’s your question?

“What would happen if you put a freshwater fish in the ocean?”

Great question.  Well, the salt in the sea water would begin dehydrating the fish by osmosis, and quickly its internal organs would begin to fail.

“So it would turn into fish jerky?”

Well, yes, I guess so… although that’s a bit graphic…

“And what would happen to a saltwater fish placed in a freshwater lake?”

Well, so that fish’s body has a higher salt concentration than the water, so it would begin absorbing water into its cells through osmosis, causing it to bloat up, and theoretically burst.


[Wait, when did that kid get in this story?  I thought it was just us talking… can someone show him outside before he sets that desk on fire?]

So I’m reading this and something inside me clicks.  This is not just a science-sy article on fish.

This is a description of how each of us interact with our environments. Our friends.  Our families.  And for many of us, our work.

Many of us can relate to times in our lives when we feel like a freshwater fish in saltwater, slowly being shrunk one molecule at a time, until we feel like a dried out husk of ourselves.

And just as many can relate to being a saltwater fish placed in freshwater, feeling like we’re absorbing everything around us, flooded with more than we can handle.

“But you said there was another type of fish.  A Yuri-Haleen fish…”

Um, yes, a euryhaline fish.  These are ones that have the ability to adapt to a wider range of salinities (salt water concentrations) by osmoregulating… a fancy word for that transfer of salt and water to keep things equal.  But even these fish need time to adapt, loitering in their new environment long enough for their body to make the switch.

I believe these fish are like those people we all know who can be plopped into new environments, and with a little bit of time to acclimate, they seem to thrive, regardless of how different that environment was to the last one they were in.

But like fish species, I believe the number of these people as a percentage of the population is small, but they do exist.

“So what am I supposed to do with all this?  I mean, why should I care?”

I think it is important for each of us to know what type of environments we are comfortable in, and to pay close attention to times where we feel like- I’m sorry- a fish out of water.  If we feel like the environment we are in is slowly drying us out, or it’s overwhelming us with more than we can handle, it’s good to reassess whether that’s the environment for us.

And if were one of those special people who can adapt across multiple environments, we need to understand that while there will be stress, providing some time to get settled will allow us to feel comfortable there.  But that time takes patience, so don’t lose hope along the way.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a a curious kid I need to relocate away from that bunsen burner…

Why I Camp On Thanksgiving Night


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Twas the night before Thanksgiving

and all time is spent

preparing for tomorrow

when we sleep in our tent.

During the week of Thanksgiving I’m invariably asked what our family plans are.  Like many, we get together with our family for a HUGE Thanksgiving luncheon with 50 of our kin, eating too much good food, and playing a little Turkey Day football to burn off a few of those calories.  But we’ve ended the Thanksgiving holiday with an overnight camping trip along the river for as long as many can remember.

It began casually enough as a chance to camp on a beautiful Thanksgiving evening.  My brother and I liked to camp, and we had the perfect spot laid out along the river where by grandfather had farm land.  We camped along the level space near his old boat launch and listened to the water ripple by as we sat around the blazing campfire until we were tired enough to go to bed.

Nearly a year later we “re-upped” to do it again… and so a tradition was born.  Soon we had other cousins and kids joining us to see what all the talk was about.  And while each person may come for different reasons, each leaves with a smile on their face.

So what have we learned from all these years of camping the night of Thanksgiving?  Here’s a quick summary:

  • Every year brings different weather.  50 degree temps will allow you to be awed by all the beauty God created.  20 degree temps will remind you quickly about the blessing of a warm bed, blankets, and a roof to sleep under.
  • Cows are sneakier than you think.  They can creep up on you with the silent approach of a deadly ninja.  And shining your flashlight into the open eyes of 15-20 of them will likely make you scream like a girl.
  • There is something about sitting around a campfire under a sky full of stars that both humbles and amazes you.  The sounds and smells of nature weave an wonderful tapestry for us to crave and experience.
  • When you tell Sasquatch stories around a campfire until 11pm any sound within 30 yards will spook you.  If a passing beaver on the river slaps his tail near your camp, you’ve got a 90% chance of convincing all the kids that he’s just jumped in for a swim.
  • Nothing puts a damper on camping in a tent more than a strong wind and a pouring rain.  No wait… actually, 2am food poisoning from Thanksgiving leftovers trumps both of those.
  • Sure, warming your feet around the fire is preferable to cold toes.  But buying new shoes because you melted the soles off your tennis shoes may be taking it too far.
  • There are 3 types of people.  People who don’t camp.  Fair weather campers who hang in there until it gets rough.  And idiots who stick it out when ice is forming on the inside of the tent.
  • Do we take a break for Black Thursday/Friday shopping? Um…. No.
  • What’s the best way to end a night of camping?  Breakfast at a local diner with the whole gang.  Then a nice warm shower at home.

And the last thing I’ve learned?  The only experience better than your last Thanksgiving campout… is your next one.

The 3 Reasons Your Job Sucks More Than It Should

When I talk to people about their jobs, I’ll occasionally have someone tell me that they hate it, or in more direct terms, that “it sucks.”  That sounds pretty harsh, but many of us have been there at one point or time in our lives.

And don’t get me wrong… I’m sure there are jobs out there that aren’t very pleasant (Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs” comes to mind), but I also think we have a big impact on how we perceive it.  So here are 3 reasons your job may “suck” more than it should.

  1. You rely on your job to give your life purpose.  Don’t get me wrong, some of you may feel God has placed you in a job that is perfect for you.  But it’s not the work that gives you purpose; it’s the purpose that allows you to love your work.  Many people feel like they aren’t doing something that taps into their true purpose, and I remind them that there are 168 hours in a week.  We work for 40+ hours, we sleep (hopefully) for 50+ hours… that still leaves plenty of hours (60+) that allow you to pursue, drive, and deliver purpose in your life.  These are the hours that you’ll focus on in 50 years anyway, so why ignore them now?  It’s ok if you don’t “love” your job; just make sure you don’t quit pursuing the things you love and provide purpose to your life.
  2. You’ve never truly defined why you do what you do. Many of us work because we feel we have to, both for monetary and cultural norm reasons.  I know this because I’ve heard people say (including me) “I wouldn’t work if I didn’t have to.”  But few of us actually define what we want to get out of the work we do.  I had a friend who told me he works so he can support his family and because he likes to feel useful.  To him, the job is a means to an end.  Work = Taking care of my family + Feeling Useful. There are many jobs out there he would have been willing to do if they met those two requirements, but if one was missing, that job would fall into the “suck” category pretty quick.  Other people would write the equation as Work = Changing the World + Helping People.  How would you write your equation? Please share in the comments below.
  3. You take yourself, and your work, too seriously. Don’t hear what I’m not saying— I want my brain surgeon to be highly skilled and on his game if, and when, I need him.  But most of us aren’t brain surgeons.  We’re assistants, clerks, specialists, and managers.  That doesn’t mean our work isn’t important, but when we take things too seriously we start to think the world revolves around our role and we lose focus on the big picture.  So you forgot to put a cover on your TPS report… the sun will still rise tomorrow and the zombie apocalypse has been averted for yet one more day.  Learn from your mistake and move on.  And if possible, laugh at yourself.  Somewhere there is someone in a much bigger predicament, with much larger problems, that would love to be in the minor situation like yours.  Smile often, laugh more, and keep things in perspective.

Have other ideas on how to improve the way you look at your work?  Share them in the comments below.  I look forward to hearing them.

Have you seen some of my reflections on returning to corporate work?  You can find them here.line2





Joel vs. The Question

It’s been exactly 2 months since I started back to corporate life, and every day has brought an interesting mix of nostalgia and new lessons.

One of the most interesting phenomena I’ve encountered is “the question”… or at least that’s what I call it.

“So… how is it going?”

It’s often accompanied by an eyebrow raise or a slight raise of the shoulders, but no matter how it comes it always strikes me as funny.

My typical answer doesn’t change much.

“I’m good… lots to learn… settling in… too busy too really think about it… [etc.]”

And that’s when it usually gets extra funny…

“So… it’s going good then???”

At first this annoyed me a little, almost like they didn’t believe what I was saying, but I realized that maybe they were interpreting my lack of detail or passionate fervor for a “fake” response.

This was even more evident when I recently told a colleague (whom I had worked with in my prior stint) that “I like my job, I just don’t enjoy it.”  They made the face you’d expect from someone taking a sip of their OJ only to find it was replaced with grapefruit juice.

My point is this…  I like my job.  I’m pretty good at it.  The tasks are ones I feel comfortable with and confident I can deliver.  My coworkers are good to work with and generally are good at their jobs too.  These things are all good.

As a friend said, “No worries… I plan to show up tomorrow.”

That said, I enjoy spending time with family, exploring God’s creation in nature, tinkering and creating things, and travelling to places I’ve never been.  I enjoy good conversations, laughter, well-made movies, and good food.  And I enjoy attempting things that may not, should not, or plausibly couldn’t work without pushing the boundaries of comfort.  Things like building a vermicomposting sifter out of a Neptune washer (worked), starting a faith-based service organization (working), opening a coworking facility in a town of 10,000 (working), helping to build a windmill in Kenya (worked), or navigating a flat bottom boat down the drought-ridden Des Moines River for a COMPLETE STRANGER making a documentary (done did).

What I’m saying is I don’t need my job to be my life’s passion.  I can like what I’m doing there, do it well, and still want to go home at 5pm to do the things I enjoy.

I can be a tentmaker AND an evangelist, or a corporate trainer AND an entrepreneur.  And if someday God brings me an opportunity to both like what I’m doing AND enjoy it, you can probably bet I’ll be interested.

But until then…

“I’m good.”






Change Could Kill You… Or Set You Free To Fly


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As a child growing up in the country, I often ran across various caterpillars creeping among the plants that grew up along the borders of our our farm.  Fuzzy, multi-colored, or freakishly bizarre, they all fascinated me.  And if I was feeling especially intrigued, I would gather them up with a handful of the weed they were occupying and drop them into an ice cream bucket for further, long-term study.

While other kids got excited about watching them work themselves into a cocoon and emerge a butterfly or moth, that wasn’t where my main interest came from.  Don’t get me wrong, that definitely was an amazing mystery of life to watch unfold, but there was another question I was trying to answer by examining the creatures in my buckets.

Why don’t they all come out the other side changed?  And more specifically, why do some that enter the bucket never change at all?


You see, in the simple mind of a child there were only a few paths that the caterpillar could follow once placed in the bucket:

  1. Eat, weave a cocoon, emerge a butterfly/moth, and fly away.
  2. Eat, weave a cocoon, emerge a butterfly/moth, but die before ever flying.
  3. Eat, weave a cocoon, but die within the cocoon, never to emerge.
  4. Curl up and die.

And the question that was eating at me then… that eats at me still… is what determined which path the caterpillar would ultimately complete?

To me they all looked the same, were given the same chance at survival, and kept in the same environment. What made one emerge changed and beautiful while another curled up to die at the bottom of the container.

The same phenomenon happens with each of us when we’re presented with changes in our lives.  Some of us embrace it, preparing for the change ahead and settle into the remolding process, hoping to come out the other side better than we entered.  Others start the process, but give up before we can see the fruit of our efforts.  But the ones that pain me the most are those who give up before they even begin.

Chances are you are either coming out of a cocoon period in your life, or you may be facing the near-term prospect of one.  Which path will you choose?  What will you learn along the way?

Have you seen some of my reflections on my most recent cocoon?  You can find them here.line2





An Open Letter From Future You



Dear Me:

Greetings from the future!  I’m sure you have a lot of questions for me (us?) on how things turned out.  I’m not sure how much I should tell you; I’ve seen a few too many time travel movies to believe there wouldn’t be some consequences to spoiling the wait for you.  That said, please know that in general:

  1. Some things are better than you could even imagine, but some things are worse.  Progress through time doesn’t necessarily mean progress toward perfection.  There are many things I wouldn’t trade for the world, but quite a few others I’d love to have back.  I guess that’s life, regardless of when you are living it.
  2. That thing you think is a big deal right now… I won’t always be.  It seems big now because it’s right in front of you, but with time and perspective it starts to shrink and fade into the distance.  That doesn’t mean I’m minimizing the impact it’s having on you, but just realize that this too shall pass.
  3. You are going to win some and lose some.  Surprisingly some of the losses did more to form your future success than the wins.  I know it’s hard to believe that now, but you’ll relish what you learned from those failures.  They forced you to grow and get stronger.

Although I can’t tell you much more on how things turned out, I am providing you some insight into the things that will help prepare you for what’s ahead.

  • Don’t stop yourself from learning something completely new just because you are comfortable.  Those things you think you shouldn’t have to learn because you’ve already put in your time… those things are more important than you realize.  You can either tackle them now or learn them later when they become a barrier to you moving forward.
  • That thing that you are scared of doing… it’s holding you back.  I know that you see it as a risk and something to avoid.  Even worse, you may be holding back from doing it because you think you might just fail at it the first time.  It’s ok.  We’ve been here before…remember? And we conquered it.  We took the training wheels off and rode down the sidewalk on our own.  We jumped into the deep water and doggy paddled back to the edge.  We entered the onramp and merged onto the freeway.  We didn’t want to at first… and we may not have got it right the first time… but we did it and we moved on.  You’ve got to trust me (us)…when in doubt, refer to #3 above.
  • Count your blessings daily.  I know it’s hard to see them sometime through all the challenges you face, but they are there, and they always outnumber the curses.  Get used to finding them like a needle in a haystack and remind yourself of them often.  Speak them out loud whenever you have a chance.  You’ll soon find that there are more than you can verbalize and your problems will seem pretty small in comparison. That’s perspective… and it’s the most valuable gift  I can give you from the future, and in the present.

So that’s it for now.  I hope this helps.


Future You

<PS> I don’t care what the futurists are saying… spandex unitards will NEVER be in style. Stick to jeans and khakis.


Think I missed something that would have been included in a letter from Future You?  Drop me a comment and share your future wisdom.

Have you seen some of my reflections on returning to corporate work?  You can find them here.line2





Reflections from A Corporate Rebounder: Week 4



I’m almost a month into this new assignment, and although I’m trying to walk a different path than my first stint, there are definitely things I find myself falling back into even though I know I shouldn’t.  I’d like to share some of the things I have caught myself on in hopes to do a better job of navigating them in the future.

  1. Running from one thing to another.  This was my life during my first career in corporate.    Running from meeting to meeting, or from project to project, with little to no time in between.  I actually found myself cutting off conversations to run to another one that I was already late for.  This caused a level of stress and relentless pace that was just unhealthy.  Four weeks into Corporate 2.0 and I’ve seen myself slip into this mostly to mirror the environment that others around me operate in.  So recently I took some time at the end of my work day to build calendar space in daily to collect my thoughts, work on my own items, and slow down a bit.
  2. RunningThe expanding working day.  When you first come into a role it’s normal to spend more time trying to learn and get everything figured out.  This sometimes leads to coming in a little early or leaving a little late.  But if you aren’t careful you start finding yourself there at 7pm while you tell your family to “start supper without me”.  This is even sadder when you consider I’ve been counseled on this before.  When I was still a very young man one of my managers found me working through a scheduled break and sat me down.  He told me that every day has a rhythm… they start, break, and end for a reason… and that people should follow the same rhythm. He then told me, “You can work your whole life, and die, and there will still be more work to do.”  His point… there will always be more things you could do, but not all of them have to happen today.clock
  3. I am not the work that I do.  The first thing strangers ask you when they meet you is “what do you  do?”  So it’s very easy to fall into the trap of deriving your value from the role or work that you do.  Whether it’s the credit we get (or don’t get), respect, awards, accolades, or performance bonuses, it’s easy to base our perceived value on how others view us.  But at the end of the day you are still you regardless of whether those things happen.  That doesn’t mean you don’t work hard and deliver your best, but the external “stuff” doesn’t change who you are.  Be you first, then do your job.Business Card
  4. Remove All Risk.  In our work we often try to define all the unknowns, dig in further, and turn them into known quantities.  This is especially true when we’re on the hook for something big, but it also is apparent in the little things we do.  Unknowns are seen as risks; the known are seen assets.  But when confronted with the new and unknown we often find that nailing down all the question marks is impossible.  In lieu of allowing these risks to remain undefined, we decide to stay where we are and stick with the known and the “done before”.  But some of the greatest finds, the greatest adventures, began with a step into the unknown.  We shouldn’t fear and destroy it; we should poke into it, understanding that mistakes and failures are opportunities to learn and grow.  Risk little, gain little.remove-risk
  5. Just because they provide free coffee doesn’t mean you have to drink it.  I became a coffee drinker after I left the corporate environment in 2009.  During that time most of my coffee drinking was done in coffee shops and restaurants, and usually confined to a few cups a day.  Now that I am back behind a desk in corporate, I’ve become fast friends with the commercial coffee pot 30 feet from my desk, where coffee is always hot, always present, and always free.  It wasn’t until week 2 that I realized that I was drinking 8+ cups a day… putting me in a continual caffeine buzz.  It’s hard to maintain a healthy pace (see item #1) and a defined workday (item #2) when fueled by unlimited amounts of coffee.  I’ve since pulled back a bit on my consumption to level off around 6… we’ll see how I hold up.Coffee

I’ll likely wait another 30 days before posting another update on what I’m learning, but I’d still like to learn from you and your work experiences.  So…

  1. I’d love your thoughts on what I’ve written via comments below.  Agree?  Great, tell me why.  Disagree? Excellent, share your different view.  Trying to sell me SEO? Don’t bother, just click here and save us both time.
  2. Share your own “top lessons” reflections so I can learn from you.  The more discussion, the more we learn together.

Until next time…

Did you miss my Week 3 Reflections?  You can find them here.line2





Reflections from A Corporate Rebounder: Week 3


We’ve had some great discussion related to what it means to go about this thing called “work”, especially as it pertains to working in a corporate environment.  While many of the things I’ve been sharing fit well in a corporate context, others are pretty universal to any workplace, large or small.  Here’s a few that I think apply no matter where you work:

  1. Use every day as an opportunity to learn something AND teach something.  Even if it is just one small thing.  Something you didn’t know before and will help make your job a little easier.  Or something that you know how to do that will make a co-worker’s job a whole lot easier.  Instead of judging your day solely on what you “got done”, judge it on whether you learned and taught.  Teach_Learn
  2. If you drink coffee, learn to make coffee.  First the literal.  No one likes to find an empty pot and always be the one making coffee.  So if you drink it, take the 45 seconds to make new for everyone else.  But more generally… don’t just be a “consumer”, be a “producer” too.  Everybody knows someone who only operates in consume mode.  They drain their environment but never try to recharge it.  They tear down but never build up.  And they look at every situation as an opportunity to get, not give.  Don’t be that guy. emptycoffeepot
  3. It’s more fun to be a pirate than join the navy.  No disrespect meant to our servicemen, but there is something about feeling like you are calling your own shots even if your duties don’t change much.  To make this work, though, you have to take ownership of your work.  Whether you own your own businesses or work for a large mega-corporation, find that one thing about your job you get passionate about, then make it your own.  Do it like no one else does knowing that your efforts help both your company, and your engagement. Wearing an eyepatch is optional.bigstockphoto_pirate_flag_877869_610x458
  4. To work for a great company you have to help make it great every day.  Great companies are never made, they are always in the process of being made(or made better).  Great should always be seen as future tense, not present tense, because as soon as you stop pushing for great you are already on the decline toward average.  And it’s definitely not something that can be earned in the past and then enjoyed by the present team. So if you feel like you are working for a company who falls short of great stop and ask yourself, “what have I done to make it greater?” good_to_great
  5. Be a secret +1-er.  In the midst of work, there are always things that drive you nuts.  Small process improvements that need to be made.  Content that needs to be refreshed. A conference room that needs tidied up.  What stops you from doing it?  Sometimes it’s busyness, but often it is just easier to complain about it than make it happen.  So pick one thing every week that you can improve by one notch and see how it changes your environment.  By doing it in secret you may not get the kudos you might deserve, but you’ll be able to watch from the sidelines to see how it impacts other people.+1

I’ll continue to keep updating these as long as folks find them helpful, but I’m also looking to learn from you.  That said…

  1. I’d love your thoughts on what I’ve written via comments below.  Agree?  Great, tell me why.  Disagree? Excellent, share your different view.  Trying to sell me SEO? Don’t bother, just click here and save us both time.
  2. Share your own “top lessons” reflections so I can learn from you.  The more discussion, the more we learn together.

Until next time…

Did you miss my Week 2 Reflections?  You can find them here.line2

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Reflections from A Corporate Rebounder: Week 2



After a fair amount of feedback from those who read my first “Reflections” post, I’ve decided to share my lessons learned from week 2.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Meetings can be value-add or non-value add, but that depends on you.  I remember going to meetings in my first go-around in corporate and complaining about a) how useless they were, b) how many of them there were, and c) how much they got in the way of real work.  This time around I realize that I was as much of the problem as the meetings.  If you don’t go to a meeting with a clear agenda of what you need to get out of it, you’ll always feel like it is a waste. If you are not sure of that answer, ask the meeting organizer why they want you there. And if you are the one scheduling it, make sure you have a game plan for what you need to accomplish, state it clearly, then get people back to work.  Everyone will be the happier! Need some help prepping?  Check this out for ideas.boring-meeting
  2. 60 minutes of work at your desk ≠ 60 minutes of work.  If this 60 minutes comes before 8 am or after 5 pm, it’s likely equal to 90-120 minutes of work between 8a-5p due to the number of interruptions and “multi-tasking” we try to do.  If you have things you need to get done, coming a bit early or staying a bit late can yield quick productivity gains.  Not able to do either, consider going to a coworking space where you can get away from your usual work distractions.clock
  3. 60 minutes of activity at your desk ≠ 60 minutes of work.  Think this is a repeat?  Read it again more carefully.  More specifically, we spend a lot of time “doing” stuff at our desk that is considered work of the “busy” variety.  Pushing emails from here or there, moving paper around from stack to stack, or “researching” items on the interwebs.  But many of these things don’t actually get the “to-do’s” in our job descriptions done.  Feeling unproductive? Try eliminating many of the above off your list or limiting the time you do them to certain parts of the day.  Want to really go to the next level?  Check out the Pomodora technique.220px-Il_pomodoro
  4. Declutter your space to free yourself up.  I mentioned last week that I have chosen to keep my workspace as spartan as possible to allow for ease of moving between departments and workspaces.  It has a second benefit.  The less “junk” I have, the move physical and mental space I have for creating.  For example, if you have more than 3 pens in your desk, you have 2+ more than you’ll ever use at one time.  2 staplers… why?  Unless you are preparing to work through the zombie apocalypse, hording supplies won’t do you much good and just adds more clutter to your life.  I hope to stay clutter free, but I also plan to clean out my drawers on the last Friday of every month to keep from accumulating more than I need to efficiently work.   Need some help getting started?  Check this out for some great ideas.ku-xlarge
  5. Give yourself a break.  It’s a good idea to schedule in a few short breaks in your day to make sure you take a breath, stretch your legs, or generally refresh your mind.  If you work in an environment where meetings are a way of life, that may actually mean scheduling them into your calendar so others can’t  steal all of your time.  You’ll be surprised at how much 15 minutes can make a difference, especially if you get out of your chair and get a change of scenery.  Feeling especially drained?  Take a break and wash your hands in the bathroom sink.  It’s sounds crazy, but there is something, both mental and  physical, that happens when you do that resets your body for another round of work.  Try it and see if it works for you!clean hands white sink v_SM

I’m considering making this a weekly, or bi-weekly ritual if you feel it is of value.  But that will be determined on 2 variables… both of which you control.

  1. I’d love your thoughts on what I’ve written via comments below.  Agree?  Great, tell me why.  Disagree? Excellent, share your different view.  Trying to sell me SEO? Don’t bother, just click here and save us both time.
  2. Share your own “top lessons” reflections so I can learn from you.  The more discussion, the more we learn together.

Did you miss my Week 1 Reflections?  You can find them here.

Until next time…

Reflections from A Corporate Rebounder: Week 1



For those of you that saw my last post regarding my return to corporate life, you may be interested in how my first week went.  Instead of giving you all the boring details, I thought I’d provide my “Top 5 Lessons” I learned after 5 short days back.

Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. In 4.5 years away from corporate life, a lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same.  I played “catch up” for the first few days on technology and processes.  It’s amazing how much being one version removed from what you were used to when you left can throw you off.  That said, I have to believe that compared to a new employee who has never been there before, I have a leg up.  I feel like I know at least 70% of the people I see in the hallways, and at the end of the day, people are what get things done.  I only wish they were in the same job they were in when I left so I knew which one of them to talk to when I need help!OfficeSpace_111
  2. It’s easy to get pulled into the overwhelmingly fast pace of a big organization.  Big organizations have a lot going on, and each of those projects has its own gravitational pull.  If you aren’t careful you can get sucked into that orbit and lose focus on what you are supposed to be doing.  Knowing that from the beginning has allowed me to keep my distance while still observing this “solar system” from afar.office_space
  3. You can have just as much impact as an individual contributor as you can as a manager.  I’ve done both, and both have impact.  The key is framing your role in regards to what impact you can have for the good of the many regardless of the scope of your role.  The more you can focus on this the easier it is to push toward a bigger purpose instead of getting buried in isolated minutia. header-office
  4. Cubes are not life giving, connections are.  For this reason I have chosen to keep my workspace as spartan as possible to allow for nomadic roaming and satellite locations across multiple departments. Going in with a coworking and collaboration mindset keeps things fresh and much more focused on opportunities to learn from
  5. You are the job you create for yourself.  If you allow the words on a job description determine “what” you do, at least in terms of activities and responsibilities, you can quickly lose sight of the purpose of role itself.  That doesn’t mean you ignore the job description, but you need to dig deeper into your role by talking to people you serve to truly determine what you can do to assist them.  But more importantly, you need to get to the “why”.  Why do those you are serving find what you do important.  And next, why do you get excited about delivering that value to them?  Then build the way you do your job, your personal delivery system, around creating that value.


I’m considering providing somewhat regular updates out here on my return to corporate life to help me reflect on what I’m learning.  But that will be determined on 2 variables… both of which you control.

  1. I’d love your thoughts on what I’ve written via comments below.  Agree?  Great, tell me why.  Disagree? Excellent, share your different view.  Trying to sell me SEO? Don’t bother, just click here and save us both time.
  2. Share your own “top lessons” reflections so I can learn from you.  The more discussion, the more we learn together.

Until next time…