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Be the Squeaky Wheel

In an overly communicative society, boldness is often the key to notoriety, wealth, and even acclaim

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Throughout history people have stepped into the limelight at critical junctures and become immortalized for it.

* Moses told the Egyptian pharaoh, “Let my people go.”

* Jesus told an unruly crowd, “Let he that lives without sin cast the first stone.”

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* Martin Luther nailed his 99 reforms to the door of the Catholic church knowing this would set off a landslide of controversy.

* George Washington confessed to his father that he did in fact chop down the cherry tree, saying, “I cannot tell a lie,” …not really, but that’s the myth.

* Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech but equally of note, endured jail, hosing down, and discrimination for what he believed.

You probably tend to admire those who adopt broad sweeping causes related to freedom, truth, or human rights. It seems as if bold, positive, decisive action has often served as the catalyst for followers to take up the lead. Such action can become a turning point that historians dutifully record.

Genius in Boldness

The German philosopher Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe once said, “Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” In an overly communicative society, boldness is often the key to notoriety, wealth, and even acclaim.

While there might be 8, 12, 15, or several dozen female singers with the range, voice quality, and talent equal to or exceeding that of Katy Perry, she is among the few who captures the headlines.

Andre Agassi might not have been the most talented player on the pro tennis circuit, but  during his playing days he was the one that most people could recall most easily. Beyond the arenas of sports and entertainment being the squeaky wheel has impacted other social arenas.

A particular inventor still owns the record for holding the largest number of U.S. patents. He is the widely celebrated inventor of the phonograph. He is commonly regarded as the inventor of the light bulb although he merely improved on it and, most important, made it commercially available for the masses.

He also made dozens of improvements to other existing products. Can you name him? Undoubtedly, you can since he’s Thomas Edison.

So Many Before Him

Thomas Edison was not the original inventor of electric light. He improved upon a principle that others had already discovered. In 1802 Sir Humphrey Davy produced an arch light. He was followed in 1844 by Jean Foucault who made an arch light strong enough to illuminate the Plaza de la Concorde in Paris.

By 1860 Sir Joseph William Swan devised a crude light bulb and eighteen years later demonstrated a successful carbon filament lamp at New Castle, England. This was ten months before Edison invented the light bulb.

A second inventor of equal brilliance and contribution to society revolutionized the automobile industry. He’s credited with having ushered in a new era of ignition systems, vehicle performance, and vehicle safety. He patented a painting process that prolonged the life of cars by reducing the incidents of rust.

With four hundred million vehicles in America alone and more than a billion throughout the world, surely you can name this hallowed inventor. Right?

Okay, here’s a huge clue: He also became a philanthropist and to this day his name is part of one of the foremost cancer research and treatment facilities in the world which he help found. Who is he?

Give up?

He is Thomas Kettering for whom the Sloan-Kettering Institute is partially named. Why does virtually everyone know the name of Edison, and nearly no one knows the name of Kettering?

Perhaps Edison’s inventions were more consumer-oriented or impacted more people more quickly back then. One hundred years ago, everyone was likely to turn on a light switch, but not everyone owned a car.

Consummate Squeaker

Edison, as it turns out, relentlessly promoted himself. He constantly talked to the press and gave interviews. He always issued pithy quotes. He went out of his way to grandstand. He often bragged that he got by on very little sleep per night, a claim later proved to be untrue.

Edison was always looking for opportunities in which to get into the news, and equally important offered product and service contributions of lasting impact.

Kettering was not a meek or mild lab scientist. He was a strong leader within the organizations he formed. He also gained the reputation as someone with quick wit who could both give and take a joke.

Yet, unless some dramatic, Oscar winning movie about Kettering appears in the future, it’s unlikely that his name will ever be as widely known as Edison’s.

So it is in many arenas of life.

Two performers, alike in major respects, with a similar array of accomplishments, might have different experiences in terms of what they earn, how they are perceived, and how they are remembered.

Think about those whom are the most visible to the public. Are these people hesitant to voice their views, or are they both seen and heard?

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Life

Too Tired for Your Own Good

The realization that you are fatigued is the first step to resolution

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It’s Sunday. Go back to bed and then return to this article!

Based on what you do an average day, it is understandable that sometimes you feel very tired, but when is the tired feeling that you have bordering on danger? Many signs exist, among them these:

    1. Your fatigue is prolonged. Getting several nights of extra sleep in a row or sleeping for an entire weekend doesn’t seem to put a dent in your feeling of fatigue. Perhaps worse, you feel as if you “will never catch up.”
    2. You experience indigestion or lack of appetite. You normally look forward to meals, but when highly fatigued, you have trouble getting them down. Maybe, you’re eating less.
    3. Loss of sex drive. This isn’t as obvious a sign as you might think. Loss of your libido usually takes place a little bit at a time, such that you don’t notice what’s going on. Your partner probably will, though.
    4. You begin to experience trouble getting to sleep, if not outright insomnia. During the night, you find yourself waking more often or tossing back and forth, and then to exacerbate the situation, you spend the rest of the night worrying that you’re not getting good sleep.
    5. You feel tired in the morning even after getting a full night’s sleep. Realistically, there’s no reason for this. If by 9:30 or 10:00 in the morning, you can hardly keep your head up, it’s time to take heed.
    6. Your ability to focus on the task at hand is diminished. Your powers of concentration are not what they have been in the past. Generally, this is not due to your aging.
    7. You feel that you’re no longer in control. In many ways, this is the most insidious of the signs. You doze at highly inopportune moments, such as in an important meeting, or when driving.

Not Enough Sleep, but Otherwise Functional

Here’s a second list of indicators showing that you’re not getting enough sleep, but perhaps you’re not at the danger level:

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  • Your eyes are red.
  • You’re not mentally sharp.
  • You avoid tasks that involve adding up numbers.
  • You find yourself daydreaming often.
  • In situations with others you simply go through the motions.
  • You don’t want to handle any phone calls if you can help it.
  • You watch the clock frequently throughout the day, hoping it will go by more quickly.

Before I learned how to keep my stress level in check, I used to look forward to going to the dentist. When I got to the dentist’s chair, and they tilted the seat back, it was one of the few times during the day where I actually reclined and had relatively little to do. If there wasn’t to be any drilling or serious poking during the session, such as a routine visit or cleaning, in some cases I became so relaxed that I didn’t want to leave. For me, that was an indication that I was highly fatigued.

You probably have your own personal corollaries to this. The realization that you are fatigued is the first step to increasing your efficiency and defeating the problem.  A life of constant exhaustion, no matter what else you accomplish, is not a desirable situation. No one, however, is coming to bail you out.

The road back from exhaustion starts with self-awareness, then resolve, then action. Will today be that day?

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Life

Work-life Balance and the Five-Mega-Realities

Work-life balance is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home life with needed leisure

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In the 1st edition of my book Breathing Space which appeared in 1990, I discussed five major trends – what I called mega-realities – that influenced every aspect of our being, and from which no one was immune. Briefly, these five mega-realities include:

* an expanding volume of knowledge
* mass media growth and electronic addiction
* the paper trail culture
* an over-abundance of choices
* population growth.

Knowledge – In one way or another, everyone fears being under-informed. The enormous volume of new knowledge broadcasted and published in every field exceeds our ability to keep pace. More words are published and broadcast in a day than you could ingest during your lifetime. America leads the world in sheer volume of information generated and disseminated.

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The impasse of this over-information era is that the time necessary to learn the rules for effective living now exceeds your lifetime. This is why management books so often miss the mark: they list dozens — if not hundreds — of rules, when you are already grappling with more rules than you can handle.

Mass Media – The effect of the mass media on our lives continues unchecked. More than four out of five American households own DVD players. In 1972, three major television networks dominated television – ABC, NBC and CBS. Now, there are more than 500 full-power independent television stations. Many cable TV subscribers receive up to 200 channels that offer more than 72,000 shows per month.

With its sensationalized trivia, the mass media glut obscures fundamental issues that do merit concern, such as preserving the environment or feeding the poor.

Paper Trails – Like having too much data and eyewitness reports, having too much paper to deal with makes you feel overwhelmed and overworked. Americans today are consuming three times as much paper as ten years ago. There are two basic reasons why society spews so much paper:

* We have the lowest postal rates in the world.
* We have the widest base of paper-generating technologies.

The typical executive receives more than 200 pieces of unsolicited mail each month – about 12 pieces daily. The average family receives more than 100 catalogs that they did not request, on top of those they did request.

An Overabundance of Choices – Having choices is a blessing of the free market economy, but it’s overwhelming, increases time expenditure, and is a mounting form of exhaustion. More than 1,260 varieties of shampoo are on the market. More than 2,000 skin-care products are for sale. An excess of 75 different types of exercise shoes are available, each with scores of variations in style, function, and features.

Population – From the beginning of creation to 1,850 AD, world population grew to one billion. It grew to two billion by 1930, and is now approaching eight billion. Every three years, nearly 250,000,000 people are added to the planet.

Each day, world population (births minus deaths) increases by more than 265,000 people. Geometric growth in human population permeates and dominates every aspect of our earth, its resources, the environment, and all living things.

The Quest for Work-life Balance

Against this backdrop, the quest for work-life balance is more vital than ever. Predictably, a preponderance of speakers, trainers, authors, journalists, and others whose professions entail regular communication with the masses, proclaim the virtues of achieving and maintaining work-life balance.

However, a glaring question arises. What, exactly, is work-life balance? Compared to the legions of instances in which the term is cited, surprisingly little has been written in articles and books about what the concept actually entails.

During my 33 years in pursuit of understanding why the pace of society has sped up, what the impact has been on the typical individual, and how each of us can forge our own sense and experience of breathing space throughout our lives, I have honed and refined the tenets of what I consider work-life balance.

What Exactly is Work-life Balance ?

For several years now, those who apparently have no idea what work-life balance is and have virtually never experienced it are proclaiming that it is passe — in favor of work-life harmony or work-life integration.

The truth is, these terms all mean approximately the same things. You can split hairs anyway you want, and I suppose that’s a good way to differentiate a program if you’re seeking to offer one to clients, but the reality is work-life balance is the overarching issue of our time that all career professionals strive to achieve.

Work-life balance is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home life with sufficient leisure. It is attaining focus and awareness, despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for your time and attention.

Work-life balance entails having some breathing space for yourself each day; feeling a sense of accomplishment, while not being consumed by work; and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. It is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within 24-hour days, seven-day weeks, and however many years you have left.

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