The most gratifying purchase you can make and You can’t fool a 2 year-old

Today I learned:

1. The most gratifying purchase you can make…is a new belt one size smaller than your previous one.

2. You can’t fool at 2 year-old: About a month ago our daughter lost her prized stuffed bear at Costco. For 2 1/2 years it had been at her side for about 23 hours a day so this development was relatively problematic.

We immediately went into problem solving mode and within about 2 hours we were out $60, spent on 3 potential replacements. None exact, and each with some flaw that we were well aware of, but it was the best we could do. By bedtime she was somewhat satisfied.

I just didn’t feel right about it all though.

I understand the attachment kids have to these sorts of things. I actually still have the stuffed dog I had as a baby. I can’t even stand dogs now so it is about the only one dog I ever loved. And no, it is not immediately at my disposal. I don’t sleep with it, or keep it on my desk at work. It is in a box at my parents house. But, I know it is there, and there is something oddly comforting about that.

To solve the problem I looked to eBay.  The 21st century version of the “replacement hamster from the Pet Store.”  An exact replica was on it way, and another $30 was out the door. We even told her the people at Costco would mail the original bear to us if they found it, to buy some time.

Fast forward two weeks, and we found the original bear in the camera bag.

It was never lost.

When “eBay bear” showed up we noticed it looked a bit too new. Despite this, we tried to rotate it in to see if we could pass it off.

She was having none of “clean bear” and wouldn’t even let it in her bed.  She banished it to the toy box. It distressed her so much that we had to secretly switch in the original when she wasn’t looking.

Not wanting to let the issue die, my wife has spent the last 2 weeks staining “clean bear” with Ketchup, rubbing it with dirt from the garden and distressing the fabric. She even left it in the mud for almost a week. It looks like crap. We thought it was a pretty good match.

Last night we tried to switch it into the rotation again, sneaking it into bed with her in the middle of the night. At 2am this morning we awoke to a screaming 2 year-old sitting up in the the pitch dark yelling “it’s not right.”

You can’t fool a 2 year-old.

Is the Messenger killing us? Plus, Anchoring your Calendar

Today I learned:

1. The Messenger might be killing us: I was watching the news last night and eventually just had to turn it off.  I get it. The world sucks. It’s a dangerous place.

Or is it?

Watching another round of updates on the calamity in the world made me wonder why we see so few stories about the good things in life. With a bit of exploring, today I learned Karl Aquino from the Sauder School of Business at UBC – where I completed my MBA – completed some research on this and found that instead of freaking us all out the media could actually make the world a better place just by reporting good news.

The funny thing is that this is intuitive.  The Power of Positive Thinking. The Secret. The Leader Who Had No Title. All books that in one way or another subscribe to the general idea you can be a better person, and lead a more fulfilling life just by filling your mind with positive thoughts and adopting an optimistic, forward-looking perspective. It is not a stretch then to suggest that if we were all working together, helping fill each others minds with positive thoughts, then we might all be better off.  The media could certainly help with an initiative like that.

Yes, I know. I am living in a dream world.

Feel good stories don’t sell.

Or do they?

Imagine an hour of news without drugs, murder, accidents or the nightly Hollywood train wreck.  An hour where Mike McCardell gets the lead.  That’s an hour I would look forward too.  That would have also kept me tuned in last night, lending a couple more eyeballs to the commercials that are funding the broadcast.

2. Anchoring: One more lesson from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. (I am finished the book now, so I promise I will stop!)

A new addition to my weekly calendar: Anchoring. As in taking the time to “anchor” into my week the most important things in life – kids, family, personal and physical development, fun – the things that don’t get booked and that we assume will occur spontaneously or we will just fit in.

The concept works for me, because I spent the 28 months of my part-time MBA  program meticulously scheduling every moment of my day, just to fit everything in. I have gotten away from it recently, only really scheduling personal activities that seemed important like haircuts, doctor visits, and days off . A subtle shift in what I deem as important, and therefore what I book into my week, should make this new activity helpful and in turn make the behaviour stick.

Watch Re-sizing and A Wake-up Call Courtesy of Robin Sharma

Today I learned:

1. When you lose enough weight you need to adjust your watch strap:  This realization is motivating but also oddly disconcerting when it dawns on you that your wrists where once in a state that could actually be slimmed down.  Well, at least one part of my body is ready for the summer beach season!

2. 6am Wake-up call from Robin Sharma:  My wake-up call this morning wasn’t exactly courtesy of Robin Sharma, but it was inspired by him.  After yesterday’s post about a take-away from The Who Sold His Ferrari, I spent the evening consuming the book. Inspired and energized by the message I woke up at 6am to continue reading and ride the exercise bike before work. As I was cooling down from a 30 minute ride, just about ready to start the rest of my day, I read the page photographed below:

When you are looking for signs in life they are easy to find. Similarly, if you want to make excuses, they are easy to make.

In this case, I could not have found a better or more timely sign. As a result, today I learned very early on in the morning that I had started the day off on the right foot, and I am quite certain it will help me find the motivation to start tomorrow the same way.

Unexpected emotion and Emotion unexpected

Today I learned:

1. Unexpected Emotion: If you had asked me 5 years ago what emotion I would experience when walking out of the house in the morning accompanied by a tiny witch in gumboots and a two-legged horse wearing a pirate hat and Dora shoes, I would have assumed it would be embarrassment. Today I learned instead that emotion is acceptance, accompanied by a sort of muted expectation that the day can only improve from there.

2. Emotion unexpected: With pending ACL surgery I have spent the last few days researching what to expect in the recovery period immediately following the procedure. I have been talking to friends that have gone through the same thing, chatting up doctors and scouring the web. At this point I find just about any source acceptable, from the anecdotal to the scientific, and the most concerning thing to me is the variety of answers I am given, even from credible resources.

It is not the likelihood of success that bothers me – I would not proceed if I wasn’t completely confident in both the surgeon’s ability to do his job, and my ability to commit to the rigours of months of rehab.

What bothers me is the inability make concrete plans in my personal and professional life.

Despite having a desk job I have been told the time I will need off work could range anywhere from 2 days (by a close friend) to 4-6 weeks (by a surgeon). In the weeks following the operation I have pre-planned personal events including two Canuck’s games, a Wine Tasting, and a family wedding. Now I don’t know if I will be able to attend any of them.

Family vacation at Easter? Not sure how mobile I will be.

Annual summer golf trip? I damn well hope so.

Essentially I am entering a period of somewhere up to a month where planning work meetings/commitments is tough and up to about 6 months where planning anything fun is risky.

The result? A range of emotions.

  • Happiness – “Finally, surgery after a frustrating 4.5 month wait.”
  • Anger – “I really dislike the inability to safely plan and commit.”
  • Appreciation – “I now understanding of how important it is to keep fit and healthy.”
  • Indecision – “I hate giving family and work non-committal answers to fair questions.”
  • Hope – “I really want to be rehab’d in time for that golf trip!”
  • Freedom – “I know what I can do now, so a spur of the moment family vacation has been booked.”

Surgery and Rehab? No problem. I go that. It’s the unknown that is getting to me. When you are a planner, the thing that bugs you more than anything is an empty calendar.