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  September 9, 2016
Coloring Outside the Lines...


There is something that happens in our bodies when we put in the hours.  Confidence appears, fear lifts, and we have a sense of empowerment. One day the process becomes easy and natural, and you’ll wonder why it was so hard at first.

                                  ~ Daniela Woolf
                                     The Encaustic Studio


"So what time do you think you might be home tonight?" my wife Susan asked me before I left the house this morning.

"I’m not sure... I guess it depends on when I actually start the blog... if I can start it early enough... I could be home for dinner", I replied as I started for the door.

This is a little game that we both play on Thursday mornings...

She knows only too well that she’ll get a text message somewhere around 6pm telling her to plan on eating dinner without me.

Although I might say that I’ll start writing early, rarely will I actually start writing any time before 7pm... which ultimately means, I won’t actually get home to some time after midnight.

In fact, I truly believe that if I didn’t place an artificial hard deadline... Friday morning at 8:30am... I would certainly continue to procrastinate forever. 

Although I’ve completed nearly 400 blog posts over the past 7 ½ years... the hardest part each week is not the writing... it’s the starting...

...it’s the new idea or an old idea presented in a new way.

Yesterday I had lunch with my friend Bryan.

While at lunch, he told me how much he enjoyed reading the blog and how it has inspired him so much that he was also thinking of writing something each week to his own constituency.

He asked me for some pointers before he started.

After thinking about it for a short while... I offered him three pieces of advice...

  1. Start immediately... don’t wait until some great inspiration hits you... don’t wait until you create the right template, research all the e-mail services, or hone your mailing list so it’s perfect... just begin... and keep going... 
  2. Create a "can’t miss" deadline that you must hit each day, week, month or quarter. Once this constraint is established... never miss it... no matter what!  You’ll have time to refine your ideas next time... but now is the time to finish and ship your work.
  3. Finally, don’t try to please all of the people all of the time with your thoughts, facts, and opinions... some people will like what you say one time and think that you have completely missed the mark the following time. Don’t take it personally when people "opt-out"... they lead busy lives and get hundreds (if not  thousands) of e-mails each week... they still like you even if they’ve chosen not to read what you write.

Bryan thanked me for the words of wisdom and vowed that he’ll one day soon draft his first blog...

I truly hope he does.

Creating something from nothing is incredibly hard work... because there is no real starting or ending points.

Currently there is a growing popularity for adult coloring books... these coloring books are much like the ones we used as kids, but the pictures are a lot more complex. Wax crayons have given way to colored pencils and pens.

There are no right or wrong color schemes... it’s easy work... just follow one simple rule... color within the lines.

Imagine the increased difficulty, if there were no lines... just a blank piece of paper...

Drawing a basic picture of something seems like it would be a simple task (perhaps not quite as simple as coloring within the lines... but close).

When I personally interview candidates for a possible position at OptiFuse, I will frequently ask the applicant to draw me a picture of something... anything!!

More often than not, I quickly find myself looking back at a blank stare.

They will just stare at the blank page... then after some time they will look up at me and ask, "What do you want me to draw?"

"Anything you want", is my reply.

What once was a poised and comfortable conversation has turned very tense and painful... almost as though I had asked them to remove their clothing before me.

After some time... they will finally begin to draw... repeatedly looking up at me to gauge my reaction as to what they are drawing.

Finally, they sheepishly hand me back the piece of paper.

In almost EVERY case... I get back an elementary drawing of a house...

I’m not sure why... but this is what I get... along with a long-winded explanation as to how they could do better if they knew what I was looking for.

As mentioned in the blog a few weeks ago, I do a lot of mentoring with local college kids.

During one of the mentoring sessions, I will try to conduct a mock interview with my mentee and then give them feedback as to better prepare themselves for future interviews with real employers.

I explain to them that the worst response that a potential hire can tell me (other than they like "working with people") is that they are quick learners and will do anything I tell them to do.

I go on to explain that I don’t want to hire people who sit around waiting for me to tell them what to do... I want to hire people who look around and see what needs to be done and then does it.

The problem is that most people have been indoctrinated since they started school to sit down, shut-up, and do as they are told. 

Oh...and there will be a standardized test on Thursday and everyone needs to learn the information by then...

During the industrial age of the last century, this same mindset prevailed... whereas a worker was expected to keep their heads down and just do their jobs.

Don’t question authority... don’t offer opinions on how to do something better, cheaper or faster... don’t try to upset the status quo.

Employees waited to be told what to do and how to do it.

Today we live in the age of information and automation...

Jobs once reserved for obedient employees are now being replaced with robots and computers who can complete the repetitive work faster, cheaper, and better than humans.

So what work is left?

The hard work...

...the work that involves observing, thinking and creating.

This work often involves taking risks... doing something different... coloring outside the lines...

...because frankly, there aren’t any lines to begin with.

Thank you for your continued support of OptiFuse where we try our best to find new ways of doing old things.

Jim Kalb Jim Kalb


Email -  jimk@optifuse.com
Website - www.optifuse.com
Twitter - @OptiFuse

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