Backwards and Inside Out

man person street shoes
Photo by Gratisography on

I was getting dressed one morning recently and as I pulled my shirt over my head, I realized that not only did I have it on wrong side out, but backwards too. After chuckling to myself, I had an unsettling thought. What if that sets the tone for the rest of my day?

Have you ever had that kind of day when everything you do is either backward or inside out? Yeah, me too. Here’s how I choose to handle those days.

  1. Hit the reset button. When things are going wrong in your day/week/month, it is okay to take a breather from whatever is causing the stress. Take a walk, listen to your favorite music, go to a movie, read a book. By spending some down time doing things you enjoy, you can turn that bad day feeling around.
  2. Laugh at yourself. The inside out backwards shirt incident is worthy of a little chuckle. And so are many other slip ups during the day if you take the right attitude about them.  Next time one of those annoying blunders threatens to disrupt your day, laugh it off.
  3. Learn from it. Are there missteps that you can fix if you start paying more attention? I recently tripped on an irregular surface along a sidewalk I walk often. Total face plant, cracked rib and all. Now when I walk on that route, I pay very close attention during that section. I may still be a klutz, but I won’t fall THERE again!
  4. Stop Fretting.  As author Wendell Barry says, “All right, every day ain’t going to be the best day of your life, don’t worry about that.”

And I say learn, reset, laugh it off, and move on.

Stretch yourself!


S   T   R   E   T   C   H 

Albert Einstein is famous for thinking about the world around him in new and mind-expanding ways.  How he stretched his own knowledge – and thus the world’s – is legendary. 

We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.                                                                             -Albert Einstein

And boy, oh boy, did Albert Einstein solve problems!

Obviously few of us have the wisdom of Einstein. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t be more like Einstein in our thinking. When we are honest with ourselves we know that the things we did in the past will not continue to work in the future.  “Acting like Einstein” is always striving to reach the next level of performance.

A very practical example can be found within our schools. If a teacher continues to teach a child the letter ‘A’ over and over, that child will know a lot about ‘A’. But beyond that no real progress will be made. She must move to the next letter of the alphabet, to words, to numbers, to simple and then more complicated concepts, and so on.  Right?

Just as the child reaches new levels of performance over time, so must the teacher. It is like that in leadership, too.  How you lead a new employee is completely different from how you should be leading your top performers. If you don’t move to a new level of leadership performance your employees will suffer and so will your organization.

What’s your next level?

My guess is that you are generally happy with how far you’ve come in your development as a person – spouse – parent – employee – leader – citizen – volunteer – caregiver.

And now it is time to ask yourself: Are you working from the same place that got you to this point? Or are you stretching yourself?

You may be super-strong. But if you lift the same weights in the gym over time, your muscles will adapt and you’ll stop seeing progress. It’s the same at work.  If you continue with time-worn practices and processes in your profession, you will eventually stop seeing progress. Your competitors will be advancing, so you will actually begin to see things deteriorate if you continue doing things like you always have, comparatively speaking.  It is no coincidence that customers continue to expect more of each and every company. They expect us to make it to the next level, and the next, and the next.

Unfortunately, your  next level  doesn’t magically show up one day. It requires stretching – pushing past your previous limits.

Ponder these questions:

  • Are you satisfied with your impact in your own spheres of influence?
  • What needs reviewing/quitting/starting/revising?
  • Where would you like to be headed next with your work?
  • What do you need to do to get there?  Or need from others?
  • What’s step #1?

Let’s make this the summer to S  T  R  E  T  C  H  !

Pollyanna or Eeyore?

How’s your attitude today?

Olympic Medalist and cancer survivor Scott Hamilton talks about attitude this way: “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” His words run so true in my experience. Anytime I have failed at something, or lost my passion, it has been because I have lapsed into a bad attitude.  Same with you?

You may call me a Pollyanna, but I have decided to keep my attitude positive in life, work, family.  (Well, to be honest, I do not and never will have a good attitude about gridlock traffic, but otherwise, I am pretty positive.)

Throughout our lives we have many experiences that have the potential of shaping our attitudes – toward the positive or the negative. Family, health, money, education, and much more.  It is up to us to decide whether these external factors will influence us positively or negatively.

Henry Ford believed that attitude was essential to success. One of my favorite quotes of his is, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right.” When you have a positive attitude about a task, you are less likely to spend your time complaining, blaming, or wishing things were different. Instead, you are focused on doing whatever is needed to accomplish your task.

A positive attitude is contagious, too, isn’t it? I love being around positive people and find energy from their positive presence.  I bet you do, too.  And boy do I hate being around negative people.  It makes me feel heavy, sluggish, lacking energy. Just thinking about those cartoon characters, Eeyore or Sad Sack, makes me tend to slump just a little.

Another inventor, Thomas Edison, had a great attitude about failure, commenting that he now knew one more substance that wouldn’t work in his light bulb. He viewed failure as a step forward! And we should too. When our co-workers, friends, family experience a set back, we need to be there with the positive spin to help them keep that “I can do this” attitude. What if you don’t keep a positive attitude in your work? How many of your efforts will fail because you don’t respond positively to the inevitable challenges?

So I leave you with this question to ponder: When you think about your own attitude, is it helping you or is it holding you back?