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Being a father to four children under the age of five, I read a lot of children’s books.  On occasion, I find myself reading the story of the Little Engine that could.  The kids like it because the version that we have is written by a British author, so the choice of words is sometimes different than what you would get with an American author.  I rather enjoy this as it gives me the opportunity to exercise my British accent (albeit it very poor) and the kids teeter on thinking it is funny or annoying, but all in all it is good times.

The moral of the story is very interesting.  It touches on the notion of setting goals and achieving milestones.  At the beginning of the story you get the sense that it is going to be doom and gloom for the the stranded engine and all of the candy and toys aboard.  As each engine passes by, another rejection is handed down to the engine.  Finally, the little engine passes by the broken down train,and in a move of desperation, the broken down train begs the little switch engine to help pull the rest of the cars over the hill and to the village on the other side.

The little engine is floored.  He realizes that the task he has been asked to perform is next to impossible.  Instead of folding up the tents and packing it in, he decided to give it a go.  He set his goal to be getting the candy and toys up and over that hill and delivered to the children in the village below.  Realizing that what he has signed up for is a lofty goal, he sets out on his missions.  Along the way, he sets milestones to achieve, and as he achieves them he realizes that he is much closer to achieving his goal.  I think I can, I think I can, and before you know it he has achieved his goal.

The story is simple, but the lesson learned from it is invaluable.  Often times in life we set goals, but we do not take the time to figure out what our milestones are so we can ensure that we are on track to achieve said goal(s).  It is virtually impossible to achieve a goal if you have no form of measurement on your progress.  This seems to be so simple, yet more times than not we set down the path of creating goals and come up short in the end.  Take for example the phenomenon that occurs every new year.  Countless thousands of people set the goal for the coming year to be to loose weight and get in shape.  Great goal, but no milestones set to achieve the goal.  How much weight do you want to loose, where do you want to be in one month, three months, six months.  Without these milestones the likelihood of you every acheiving your goals is next to zero.  The only thing you are going to achieve is less money in your banking account and more weight around your midsection.  So what are you waiting for, get milestone setting 😉

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Time ticks by minute by minute, then hour by hour, then day by day and before you know it, a year (or maybe more) has passed.  Where doe the time go?  You can never get those moments back, and examining moment by moment they do not see like anything more than that, just a moment.  However, looking at them in sum total, you realize you have lost something substantial, something you can never get back.  So then, why do we let time slip through our hands? Are we just to busy to see it happening, or are we aware of it, but are afraid to do something about it?

There have been several moments in my life where I have stopped and thought, now where did the time go?  Whether it be the case that I made plans with a friend months ago to get together and lo and behold it is six months later and we still have not gotten together or I have arrived at home only to wonder where the time went on the drive home.  Nonetheless, something caused me to suspend my notion of time is precious and I lost something that I will never get back.

I am currently experiencing a major change in my life.  It is something that I knew was coming, but when I found out about the change, I knew I had time before it actually happened.  Instead of cherishing the time I had between finding out and the event actually happening, I spent it in bouts of anger, frustration, confusion.  The list goes on and on.  The time for the change to happen is upon me, and it is a cause for concern.  Not because what is going to happen, but concern for the fact that I did not make the most of the time leading up to it.  I had the opportunity to do things that I had perhaps wanted to do, but just did not know when the right time was.  I could have spent the time enjoying the company of family.  Instead, I let the time slip through my hands.  Now the time has come that I must say goodbye, yet there are things that I wish I would have said, things that I should have done, but I did not.  I did not pay attention to the time, and did not respect it as precious.

The lesson has been learned, I shall cheerish the time that I have, becuase I do not want to look back again and say where did it go, I wish I would have done this or that.  I do not want to wait until it is too late to realize all that could have been.  There is no better time than right now to do what it is you wanted to do, say what it is that you wanted to say.  Because before you know it, you too will be asking yourself where did the time go?

We all are feeling the strains of the economy on our everyday lives.  Some are feeling it more than others, but nonetheless unless you are living in a cabin up in the woods, it is impacting you.  Businesses are no different.  Both big and small are feeling the strains, and today I witnessed both the positive effect and negative effect the economy is having on a small company.

Today I needed to take my car in to get the yearly state inspection.  Like every other time I need something done with my car, I headed down to the local Goodyear shop.  While I was there, another guy came in and also needed some work done.  He was going to wait with his daughter while they worked on his car.  He asked the guy behind the corner if there was a place close by to get some breakfast.  The guy had a great suggestion, but it was not withing.  Without hesitation, the second thing out of his mouth was an offer to take the guy and his daughter there.  At first, I did not think much of it, after all they have a shuttle service to take you home if you do not want to wait for your car.  But this was slightly different, they were offering to take that extra step, to go the extra distance to make sure their customer was taking care of.  Was this just an example of the guy behind the counter being nice?  I do not doubt he was being nice, I know him from doing business with them and I know him to be nice.  I think that without consciously recognizing that what he was doing was going the extra mile, I think it was an example of how companies are doing whatever they can to please and hang on to every customer they have.  In these times, they cannot afford to loose any customers, no matter how big or small.  I think the guy behind the counter’s actions were a positive example of how the strains of the economy are affecting businesses.

It was my turn, the work on my car was finished (so I thought) and I would be on my way.  Come to find out I was wrong, I needed new brakes.  It was a hit I was not expecting, but it was not too much, so I bit the bullet and asked them to take care of it.  Later in the morning, I get a call from someone else from Hogan and Sons, I can only guess it was a “sales” guy.  He was giving me the full court press on getting additional work done on my car.  Although he said I did not have to have it done, he was strongly suggesting it as it would be something that I would need to do in the near future.  I gave him my reason as to why I wanted to forgo and he kept on pressing.  When he finally realized that I was not budging, he gave up and told me when I could pick up my car.

Again, feeling the constrains of the economy, businesses are doing whatever they can to generate more revenue.  However in this case, I am not so sure he was being as effective as he could have been.  His tact was all wrong.  Nonetheless, they have to do what they have to do.

So what are you doing to go that extra mile and how are you generating new revenue streams for you company?

No, I am not trying to fix you, rather it is how I am currently feeling as it pertains to blogging (although maybe this post is telling me that it will fix me, who knows).  It has been two years since I ventured into the unknown and took up blogging.  I came out with such a vengeance, I had it all figured out, I was going to take the blogging world by storm.  I had the absolute best laid plans.  Then reality set in.

I started off wanting to blog about the internet industry, startups and the like and offer up my take and spin on it all.  As a matter of fact, that is pretty much all I blogged about in the beginning.  I began to realize that I was part of a cast of thousands writing about the same things.  I would scan the headlines of Mashable, Techmeme, TechCrunch, etc to find the latest post about some new hot company and I would rush off and check it out.  Spend 10 minutes feeling my way around and then off to blog about it.  The problem with that was two fold, for one there were thousands of others (see comment above) doing the exact same thing.  What could I offer that they did not?  Secondly, how could 10 minutes of product trial / investigation translate into anything meaningful to anyone who happened across my blog for a read?  It took me a little longer than I would have wanted to to realize this, but once I did, I transformed my posts into something different.

I began blogging about leadership, management and overall business practices.  A large part of my fuel for these postings came from the shortcomings I had experienced in my past jobs and shortcomings I was currently observing in the place that I was working (If you have been following this blog at all, or you know me, you know which place I am talking about).  That place was never short of bad management, inadequate leaders and people in positions that had no business being there.  It definitely provided an almost infinite amount of material for me to blog about.  However, after awhile, I found myself circling back to similar subject matters, the things that repeatedly were bothering me.  It got old for me as I am sure it got old for those that read this blog.  It was time for a change for my blogging, not to mention a time for change in my career.  I moved on to a much happier place (where I am currently) and everything was good.

Enter the third phase of my blogging, I began to write more about personal experiences, parenting, friendship, etc.  This is where I began to notice that the frequency of my blogging was declining.  Why was that?  Was I just much happier and had less to gripe about?  Was it that I was too busy with work to spend time blogging?  Had I just run out of things to say (I do not think this is the case, I do not think I would ever run out of things to say, I do love to talk/write).  Without realizing it, I believe I became a victim of the first two.

I started out blogging believing that it would be something that I did forever.  Now it seems like I am stuck in reverse, instead of moving forward.  I want to continue to write, if for no other reason, it is a good exercise in getting my thoughts down in writing.  I am fearful that I will continue in reverse and before I know it, months will go by without me posting.  I need to figure out what it is I need to kick this back in to gear and move forward.  Suggestions are more than welcomed, so please, bring them on.