A Life Lesson from a Songbird

April 17, 2014


While walking this morning, I was really taken by the birds and their cacophony of songs.  They were loud and insistent, offering a symphony of sound on an otherwise very quiet morning.  Their chirps, tweets, and twitters were the only thing you could hear.  I looked up and saw a small sparrow on a power line.  He lifted his head up and warbled out a throaty, clear, insistent sound that was absolutely amazing.  I couldn’t believe this gigantic sound was coming out of this small bird.  With total abandon, he lifted his voice out into the world, and it carried on the clear morning air.

Lately, I have been struggling with my confidence.  I didn’t feel worthy of my successes.  I beat myself up.  I felt that I needed more education, more experience, more knowledge.  I felt like a fraud.  Sometimes, people in the construction industry reject this work with emotional intelligence, and I always blamed myself for their rejection.  If I had explained it better, or put it to them in a different way, they would be on board.  It was always my fault, and I was always second guessing myself.

And then a revelation came to me.  That songbird just sang.  He didn’t worry if people liked his song or not.  He didn’t wonder if he could do it differently to satisfy more people.  He didn’t second guess his song and change it because of me or anyone else.  He did what God put him here to do, and he did it with a massive amount of joy and energy.  He poured himself into his song, put it out to the world, and let the world decide.  Thank you, Mr. Songbird.  From now on, that’s what I will strive to do.  I am going to do what God put me here on earth to do and do it with as much passion and energy as possible and let the world decide.


Emotional Intelligence: The Most Common Misconception for Contractors and Engineers

April 11, 2014


I teach emotional intelligence to technical people, mostly contractors and engineers.  And the most common misconception is the basic definition of emotional intelligence.  Most folks in construction think that it is about being nice.  Superintendents are afraid that I am trying to turn them into wimps.  They argue that they NEED to be really tough and a bit of  jerk to actually get anything done.  The following link illustrates this misconception:

Construction workers on Emotional Intelligence

As funny as this video is, this misconception about emotional intelligence simply isn’t true.  Emotional intelligence is about identifying and managing emotions in yourself and others for the best outcomes.  This recognition and management of emotions is vital to your own personal health and well-being.  It helps to manage stress.  It is also vital for effective management of people.  The two basic things we learn right off the bat is that emotions are contagious and emotions create energy and can affect outcomes.

Bear Bryant, the University of Alabama football coach put it this way:  “Some kids need a kick in the pants.  Some kids need a pat on the back.  Sometimes the same kid needs both.  I know which thing to do to which kid at which time.”  That’s a great definition of emotional intelligence. So don’t dismiss it because of the name.  This is powerful stuff that changes people’s lives and company cultures.  I see it happen every day.

So don’t be held back by the term “emotional intelligence”.  Dig into it a bit and see for yourself.  The reason it isn’t going away is that every single day neuroscience is verifying what we intuitively know to be true.  So emotional intelligence isn’t touchy-feely; it isn’t about singing Kumbaya or group hugs.  It’s neuroscience and physics.  It’s about energy and how your brain works.  If you are still skeptical, here is a great video:



Things My Dog Taught Me: Continually Improve and Innovate

April 3, 2014

joss 5-2-05 005This is my 101st post.  Wow.  That’s a lot of blogging.

When our dog’s back hips started going, we were very concerned.  My wife’s father had MS, and he had a contraption called wally walkers.  It was a simple device, an elastic strap that went over his shoulders and clipped to the front of his shoes.  It gave him just enough lift to be able to lift his feet and walk on his own.

So we thought about how we could apply this to our dog, Joss.  We bought some dog shoes, took some old suspenders and hooked the suspenders to the front of her dog shoes.  It was miraculous!  Without these walkers, she dragged her back legs behind her.  With the suspenders hooked up, she walked just fine.  This enabled her to walk unassisted for months.

When there is a problem, it calls for innovation.  And innovation is about taking an idea or a concept in one area and apply it to another.

When Joss could no longer walk with her wally walkers, we had another problem.  Of course, Andrea’s dad ended up in a wheelchair.  So we looked into dog wheelchairs and found one.  Joss was just fine with this setup.  See the photo above.  She thrived in her wheelchair, took walks, ate, did her business, and loved her life.  From the time Joss developed hip problems to her death, we innovated and allowed her to have good quality of life until the end.  This was a span of around five years.  That’s five more years of enjoying our beloved pet because we chose to innovate instead of giving in.

So when you have a problem, there is always a solution.  It just takes a little thought and innovation.

How to Live a Longer, Healthier Life

March 27, 2014

old person healthyJust read a great book called The Blue Zones.  The book is about lessons from people who have lived long lives.  Here are the basics:

Move naturally:  Bring movement into your life. This doesn’t have to be iron man triathlons or marathons.  I’m talking about walking.  Make it a point to move every single day.  Check out this video called 23-1/2 hours:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F5Sly9JQao

Know your purpose:  I recently talked to a woman at my mom’s assisted living place who was 102 years old.  She was still extremely sharp.  When I asked her the secret to such a long, healthy life, she said she always had a purpose.  She devoted herself to teaching and education.

Kick back:  You must learn to relax.  Recent studies on meditation revealed that this act of initiating the relaxation response actually changes the expression of your genes and increases the length of your gene’s telomeres. What this means is the even if you have a genetic predisposition to diseases like cancer or diabetes, you can change the expression of those genes and prevent that disease.  And it all starts with relaxation.

Eat less: Most folks eat around 2,500 to 3,000 calories per day.  These folks who live a long time eat around 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day.  Just be mindful of watch you eat.  I’m on weight watchers now and it forces me to rethink what I eat.  I’ve almost cut out snacking because it just costs me too much.

Eat less meat:  I was a vegetarian for a dozen years.  Although I’m back to eating meat, I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.  And with weight watchers, all fruits and vegetables are zero points!

Drink in moderation:  There are studies showing that alcohol in moderation is good for you.  The key word here is moderation.  Excessive drinking is harmful.

Have faith:  Belief in a higher power is a big key to emotional resilience and reduction of stress.  When you decide that you are just along for the ride, you can enjoy life more.

Power of love:  Love is essential for your emotional, physical, and mental well-being.  It’s no accident that married people live longer.  Cultivate love in your life.  Forgive those loved ones that may have wronged you in some way and re-establish that love relationship.

Stay social:  Many studies back this up.  People with good social networks live longer, healthier lives.  Creating and cultivating those networks takes a lot of time and energy, but it is well worth it.  Don’t wait until you retire to establish these networks.

So there you have it.  Very simple (but sometimes not easy) ways to increase your lifespan and health.

Meditation Part 5: Guided Meditation Helps Seattle to Win the Superbowl

March 20, 2014

This is the last blog for now on meditation.  See the past blogs for other types of meditation. There are many types of meditation.  Golf can be meditative. Walking, swimming, or music can be very meditative.  You have to find what works for you.  Here is another meditation.  It’s called a guided meditation.  It takes you through a progressive relaxation followed by a visualization.  Remember the Seattle Seahawks?  They used meditation and visualization to help them win the Superbowl.  You can use it to create powerful changes in your life.  There are thousands of guided meditations out there.  Find out what works for you.  Please don’t do this while you are driving.

Guided meditation:

Here is the story on the Seahawks:


meditation seahawks

News from CONEXPO

March 17, 2014

Brent Darnell:

Great article on apps for construction!

Originally posted on Construction App Guru:

I was lucky enough to attend both the AGC of America Annual Convention and CONEXPO events recently. I spoke at the AGC event about the uses for mobile technology on construction projects. I specifically focused on my top 5 apps that my company uses daily on construction processes. You can view a couple of clips of my presentation at..


One day during the convention I was able to break away and check out the CONEXPO. I was amazed to see so many amazing product demos, training classes, and equipment in one place. A few the big take aways for me were several new apps such as…

Fieldlens App: This was one of the standouts for me. Doug Chamber the CEO and co-Founder did a Google Glass demo with this app that was amazing. This is an innovative mobile device solution for tracking job site issues through management system. This platform…

View original 358 more words

Things My Dog Taught Me: Forgive the Little Things (And They Are All Little Things)

March 13, 2014

Forgiveness is a tricky thing.  You don’t want to be taken advantage of.  You don’t want people to walk all over you.  So the tendency is to hold onto things.  Hold that grudge.  That person was WRONG!  They should not have treated me that way!  All of these arguments may be true.  But what are the consequences of this attitude?  Does this attitude make your life better?

In Eastern philosophies, the concept of anger toward someone else is addressed in many different ways.  One of my favorite sayings is, “Being angry at someone else is like taking poison and hoping that they will die.”  That anger, that resentment, that storm of negative emotions only hurts one person.  You.  It rarely hurts the other person.  Many times, they don’t know or understand your attitude toward them.  

Dogs have this down pretty well.  They don’t hold grudges.  They don’t hold onto anger.  If you have a negative reaction to your dog because they have chewed up your great American novel, the next time you enter your house, they are right there with their tail wagging, acting as if you had been gone for a month.  They aren’t plotting against you.  They don’t wait until you apologize or make amends before they love you again.  They just forgive.

Forgiveness isn’t easy sometimes.  But the rewards for forgiveness are immense.  It makes you a healthier person.   It makes your relationships better.  If there is someone in your life that you are having trouble forgiving, contact them now and make it right.  Lift that weight of anger off of your shoulders and forgive.  You’ll be glad you did.


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