Transformations

What will you give up?

“Would you like to apply for a Home Depot credit card”?

“Errr…no. I am ok”.

“Why not? Every time you buy something at Home Depot you will get a 5% discount”.

“Oh! I see. That is ok though. I am not a big fan of credit cards”.

“No one is. But everyone loves to save money. You got to give up something to gain something”.

If it were not for a celestial event, what else would have manifested this philosophical muse to appear in the form of a billing clerk to lighten my otherwise dreary hardware buying experience?

What woke me from my shopping slumber was the last statement that the guy so innocuously slipped in probably more as a matter of fact than intentionally.

Whatever was his intention, it certainly drove me to think of another related event. Last year our son, Kevin, was applying to colleges for his undergraduate degree. A key part of the selection process was the essays each university expected him to write to prove his worldview on topics that they provided. One in particular, is still green in mind. That being, “Describe an event in your life that transformed you from a child into the young adult you are today”.

Needless to say Kevin chose his first shaving experience as that event. According to him it was a truly decisive moment that in one fell swoop took him from a happy go lucky child to a phantom adult within the time it took to remove his ‘unruly peach fuzz’ as he called it. He went on to describe the spell it cast on him and the areas of his life that would no longer be the same and the decorum he was now expected to maintain in social circles. On and on and on.

Seemingly innocent incidents that dump a truckload of wisdom in the shortest time possible. What else would I call that?

What am I willing to give up to gain something? In my very first few jobs, I gave up all my otherwise free time to put in sixteen hour days for years on end.

Marriage brought in some interesting experiences. Fatherhood certainly called for giving up some of life’s little pleasures. The TV remote was certainly one of them. Having to watch one hundred reruns of Barney was certainly something I had to put up. Or more like give up brain stimulating antics from Seinfeld for the intellectual manna called Barney.

At each stage, life calls for giving up something, to gain something. And it was up to me to do in a way that it brought positivity and light to the life I lived at that point in time and ones that were going to follow. When I watched the Barney reruns, I bonded with my son so much that we are now friends and have a wavelength that matches enviously well. Losing the remote control battle pales in comparison to the joy of friendship that I now enjoy with my son.

Question of the day is this. What will you give up to gain something? The answer could be as diverse as the stage of life you are in. If it is sacrificing an hour of TV a day to attain the two-books-a-month-goal, then it is absolutely worth it. If giving up the extra coffee every day could save you fifty calories and potential threat of diabetes double ok for that as well.

What will you give up?

Innovation

This used to be a head turner. And in many cases it still is. Companies use it ad nauseam. Most vision speeches start with it. Call to action messages almost always make it the center stage. Its like you do it or you go nowhere.

What’s wrong with it? Nothing, other than the overuse and abuse of the term “Innovation” and its various derivatives.

To me though, what is wrong with innovation is not innovation itself. It is the association of innovation with a corporation or a business. Why should innovation be the sole forte of a business? What literary license do corporations have that gives them ownership of the word and the glowing after effects of actually innovating something? Thankfully no one business owns the rights to innovation. Thank goodness for that.

More simply, why can’t we individuals innovate ourselves? Leaving the 0.0000001% of the population who are already at their innovated best, the rest of the us have a constant need to innovate ourselves and serve the purpose that we have been called to serve.

It was a shocker for me to associate the word to my own self. After all, didn’t I get where I go to simply by doing that? Or, what more academic somersaults can i perform to catapult my life into stratosphere.

My first act was to be comfortable with the need for innovation in my own life and most certainly outside the corporate context. In the process of gaining increased familiarity with the concept of innovation in my personal life – I realized two areas where I could apply it generously.

  1. Questioning the existential imperative – the very essence of what I am doing with my life. Is the life I am leading now, the one that I was born to lead? Or how do I apply “innovation” to my life and find my purpose and align my life with that?
  2. Confronting the practical realities of life – as in – what “innovation” can I apply to everyday activities that I perform? If the act of innovation can help me rethink and redo an otherwise mundane task, increase efficiency or reduce cost/time or improve quality then my life gets that much better leaving room for more – yes – innovation.

Getting used to applying an otherwise corporate-y concept to my very own personal life took a some effort. But once in, the benefits are worth the effort tenfold. Hands down.

What did you innovate today?