The Difference Between…

Good form, bad form. Not much difference.

– Grandmaster Jino Kim

In martial arts, the pursuit of perfection with the knowledge of its impossibility is something that Masters understand, and yet despite it, encourage the continued journey toward it.

It turns out that it doesn’t take much to reach that close-but-no-cigar space. What would’ve been a beautiful and near-perfect form can easily be ruined by something as small as a foot pointed with the wrong angle, a loosely held fist, or even a moment’s gaze in the wrong direction and that all it would take to be better are the “small things”.

Is it also not so with many other an endeavor we undertake?

In music, the difference between harmony and discord is but a half step.

When driving, the difference between staying in-lane and veering into another is but a few degrees on the steering wheel.

Computer code having an operator in the wrong direction can mean the difference between a program functioning correctly and having complete disaster.

Cutting mere millimeters beyond a set point in surgery can mean the difference between life and death.

A single decision can change the course of a life altogether.

Electing one direction over another can be the difference between doing business well or also doing it right.

A choice to do right or the wrong can be the thin grey space between good and evil.

I’m not making a case for perfectionism here, because that’s unhealthy and unrealistic. Instead, the case is one of awareness and intentionality in the pursuit of being just a little better than we are right now. The idea that if we acknowledge opportunities to traverse the space between bad and good, or even good and great, then we can a step in the right direction from being just okay to better.

Perhaps the journey doesn’t require us to always “go the extra mile”. Maybe all it asks of us is to go the extra inch…to be a little kinder, to be a little more thoughtful, to be only a little bit better to ourselves and the people around us in each moment.

Maybe that’s all that’s required for us to be the difference between…



For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.
– Lily Tomlin

Most people probably know this to stand for “Same $#!t, Different Day”.  (Or if you’re a nerd, you might remember it as “Single Sided, Double Density”, referring to the old floppy disks – remember those?)  Anyway, it does feel like that sometimes, doesn’t it?  Same ol’ things, day in and day out.  TV, Radio, Media, Politics, Work, Social, on and on and on…

To combat this, and get away from our fast-paced, busy lives every now and then for just a brief moment, my wife and I have a nice item on our seasonal to-do list to “share an offline day together”. We even make it a point to schedule it.

Here are the rules:

  1. No phones (unless it’s an emergency)
  2. No texting
  3. No emails
  4. No computers
  5. No internet
  6. No Social Media
  7. No news
  8. Unplug (yourself)
  9. Relax
  10. Be together

That’s it.

We are so busy these days and the world seems only to require a faster and faster pace.  All the more reason to unplug every now and then – and perhaps more frequently than every season!

So, I offer you a new meaning to S.S.D.D.:

Stop. Slow Down & Disconnect.

We all need it.

(Especially going into the Holidays).

Because Local…

Your favorite popular brands were once small businesses, too.

On this Small Business Saturday, don’t forget to check out the best your city has to offer.

Shop, eat, drink local. It’s great stuff and services by great people, close to home.

All the jazz about economy is nothing without starting at home first.

A Bad Day…

Everyone has bad days.

The good news is you (should) get another one tomorrow.

Until then, here are a few great ways to get back to par:

  1. Sleep. They say sleep is like hitting reset on your mind.
  2. Exercise. Nothing changes the chemistry in your mind and body like a great workout.
  3. Meditate. Clear your mind (I’ll admit, this one’s hard for me!) and mind your feelings (you know, like Master Obi-Wan says).
  4. Talk Right. Have an uplifting conversation with a close companion or bring forth positive cognitions.
  5. Do Right. Help someone. Make a small step toward a positive impact somewhere, anywhere.

Even the best of us can have bad days. Fix it. After all, we aren’t necessarily guaranteed a tomorrow.

Home Away from the Office…

Hello Peter what’s happening. I’m gonna need you to go ahead and come in tomorrow. So if you could be here at around….9 that’d be great.

Bill Lumbergh (Office Space, 1999)

I’ve worked in a large retail store, a small retail boutique shop, a huge cubicle farm, the edge of someone else’s desk, an open-air semi-walled cubicle farm, a count-my-tiles office, a collaborative space, at home, at clients’ offices, at coffee shops, and even in my car in the parking lot, stealing someone else’s WiFi.  Having served my fair share of professional (and sometimes not-so-professional) roles in the last several years, I’ve had experience working in all manner of places and spaces.

There is one type of space I had not tried until recently: coworking.  As a consultant, I’m typically at the client’s office, or wherever they need me to be.  Occasionally, I’ll have meetings at various places – typically coffee shops – and at other times, I’ll be working at home.  Each of these places, though, have their cons.

At the client/at the office.  This belongs to the client or the company.  Even if I work for them, this is their space.  I go where they want to put me (at my last job, I moved so many times, I lost count at 24).  I don’t get to complain or ask for anything special because I am there to do the work, not necessarily enjoy any office niceties.  When you’re at the office, you don’t always get to customize it and you’re often at the mercy of whoever is around you.  When you’re “at the office”, it’s not your space and you can’t necessarily hide when you need to get away and focus.

At the coffee shop.  I love my dual monitors or my ultra-widescreen.  I often have to have multiple things up at once to manage projects, write queries, track tasks, handle emails…you know, all that stuff.  My laptop is great, but it can get pretty unwieldy trying to work off a compact screen and a small keyboard.  At least I have my mouse (I don’t understand how the hell people can work without a mouse!).  There’s a thousand people around at coffee shops – sometimes the grumpy old men’s club will get really mad if you take their table with the good space, the outlet, and the spot where the WiFi is the best.  Depending on where you go, the coffee might be great, but the WiFi rarely is.  I like the buzz of coffee shops just fine, but you can’t always work from coffee shops – unless you’re a screenwriter or whatever those people who always seem to be there during the day do.

At home. Geez, working from home.  Again, WiFi is a problem.  Plus, there’s only a billion things you need to get done if you’re there.  The cats are all over you.  Look, working at home?  Only if you’ve got an awesome office and amazing internet – and no one else home.  I can’t even do this justice –  if you want to know about what it’s really like to work at home, read this article instead.  Working from home – only when you need to.

Anyway, my point here isn’t to dog on all the various places there are in the world to work – sometimes you need all of them in different circumstances.  But, every now and then, you need to get away and find a great space – a creative space, a collaborative space that is both comfortable and professional, but also as much your as it is others’.  Coworking might just be that answer.

I have a nice desk at the client’s office.  Because my consulting firm is virtual, we don’t have a home office – because we don’t need one!  I have a decent setup at home.  I like my coffee shop days, too.  But lately, I’ve been enjoying my own spot, a dedicated desk, at Haven Collective.  I have great WiFi.  There’s coffee.  I have a meeting room at my disposal for when I need it.  I get to collaborate and network with other professionals to kick around ideas or knowledge share.  It’s a neat, convenient space that isn’t necessarily something I need to call “the office” – and I get to get away from my team (sometimes you just need to).  It’s some mixture of the best parts of a collaborative suite and a coffee shop (but without the snarky old men’s coffee club).  It’s a space in between – and you know I love the whole “in between” theme…the coworking concept is catching quite a bit of steam across industries and it’s a perfect alternative to the office and my condo.

This is a real place and space that’s a home away from home…and the office.


Check out Haven Collective and get your own space, too, by visiting or calling 614-407-5323.  I’ll see you there. 

Man’s…and Woman’s Search for Meaning…

Simon Sinek says, “Start with Why.”

Most people will strive to do their best if directed properly. Most people want to do a good job.

We often hear about “Millenials being lazy” or “Gen X’ers don’t care”, or some variation thereto. All excuses. What we often forget is that beyond the paycheck, we want to have meaning to our work. We want to know that what we do makes a difference.

So…what do we do when that meaning isn’t clear? What do we do when we don’t know Why?

1. Dare to Ask. If it’s out there, someone knows. Go and discover it.

If no one knows,

2. Dare to Define it. If someone can’t articulate the importance, figure it out and share what you’ve come to understand. At least give it a shot.

If it’s still unclear,

3. Dare to Create It. If for no one else, find the meaning in what you’re doing for yourself. If it’s the case that it can’t be created from where you are, go find out where you can create it from scratch.

A good leader can articulate her story. She can tell you why you should follow her. She is able to paint the picture of not only Why, but How it is that you are a part of it.

We all want to ascribe meaning to what we do. If we strive to care just a little more, we can either Ask for it, Define it, or go and Create it ourselves.

What we do matters. What you do matters.

Through the Center…

Most everyone who practices a traditional Asian martial art remembers learning his or her first form, Basic Form 1.  It usually has some variations between styles, but typically created a basic “I” pattern.  As simple as it may seem from afar, the transitional motions, combined with the stances, steps, and technique can be quite difficult to learn at first.  The coordination required for the simplest movements is often much more than one might initially think. 

While working with a new white belt this evening, I discovered a new way to better explain how to remember which way to pivot for the turns.  Before, we might say “left hand do this” or “right hand do this”, “look left” or “back hand do that”.  I found that having the student remember to focus on the area as a whole and go through the center, it became much more natural to remember in which direction the next turn would be. Being aware of the whole area while focusing on the center. 

This might be a good lesson for just about any other area of life, too.  Be aware of the whole and focus on going through the center. 

The first cut you learn in sword is the center cut.

The part of the road on which you need to focus to drive is the center.

In meditation and yoga, it’s always about finding your center.

In business, the peripheral activities are nice-to-haves, but you have to find the primary goal, manage the critical path, and go through the center. 

There are likely many other, even better, examples. What are some of yours? Especially in a world that moves so quickly and is full of distractions and zig-zags, do we make it a point to focus on the center of our wide circle? 

How are you mindful of the whole and make it through to your center?