Archive for February, 2010


Written by mitch. Posted in Uncategorized

I was sitting at my desk in my office at the shop a couple of hours ago starring at the little red knobs on the file cabinet drawers. That was just about all I was capable of at that particular moment.
Trying to figure out where the time had gone seemed pointless: it was gone. And, that is saying a lot since I started working on today more than an hour earlier than usual, and usual is lot earlier than most folks start their days.
I went to bed early enough, and slept well for the few hours I slept… But, I found myself stretching to get a decent view of the clock on my wife’s night table just so I could figure out how much rest I could still get in if – and, that turned out to be a mighty big ‘if’ – I could just fall back to sleep. The problem was I couldn’t.
In reality, the problem really wasn’t falling back to sleep: the problem was the million and one things – the million and one, really bizarre and odd things, that play across the screen stretched across the inside of your eyelids when your eyes are closed and you are trying to fool yourself into believing you really can fall back to sleep!
I don’t know about you, but I think about the strangest stuff imaginable! And, there is no rhyme or reason to it; is there?
I go from thinking about what I want to do with the outside of the building at work, to designing a new customer satisfaction survey mirror hanger; from the skill sets I will need to look for in our next new-hire, to getting ready for the speaking engagement I have in Pittsburgh at the end of next week; from what to do about the ‘bump steer’ I’m suddenly experiencing in my car, to the book I just finished…
There is this raging river of thoughts and ideas running through my head leading to an Angel’s Falls drop: but, instead of forming some kind of an idea ‘pool’ at the bottom and then gently flowing off, these thoughts and ideas start bouncing around like a thousand SuperBalls dropped from the roof of the Empire State Building.
They bounce high… They bounce hard… They bounce in just about every conceivable direction! And, some of them are pretty damned scary!
The only thing that saved me this morning was that book I just finished. It helped me understand where, at least, some of this internal dialogue was coming from and the sinister nature of its intent.
The book was Linchpin, by Seth Godin. And, if you haven’t read it, you need to!
No, I don’t care what your interests are – this is a critically important book, regardless.
It’s about human nature and the nature of being human, as much as anything else. And, aside from the fact that it is beautifully written, it helped me understand and confront a demon I’ve been battling for most of my life – that little voice inside your head narrating the images moving across that screen inside your head I was just talking about.
Its formal name is Amygdala, but Godin refers to it simply as the “Lizard Brain.” The amygdale is our ‘first’ brain: our prehistoric, pre-evolutionary brain. Its concerns are more basic than basic: food, sex, fight and flight. It’s the self-talk that isn’t just satisfied to scream out for you to be careful – it is the voice inside your head that will not allow you to take any risk at all!
Before reading Linchpin I didn’t know what the voice was, nor did I understand what mischief it is always up to. After, Linchpin: I understand enough about what it is and what it’s up to, to challenge it!
I’m sure I’ll be writing about both this book, and another Godin book, Tribes, over the next few weeks. After all, they are all I can think about when I’m not thinking about all this other weird stuff!
In the meantime, I think I’ll lie down, close my eyes and try not to think about anything, for at least for a little while!

A Difficult Day…

Written by mitch. Posted in Uncategorized

Today was a difficult day… Actually, it wasn’t today… as in: Sunday the 21st. Today was a difficult day as in: Thursday, February 17th – that’s when I started writing this and the fact that it took four days to get it down on paper might suggest just how difficult it was!
Not for any special reason. Just, because…
It started out that way, and once begun, I guess there was just no way to effectively turn things around. Another day of re-acting, rather than acting. 
I’m not a big fan of days that begin this way. They result in far too much philosophical reflection as far as I’m concerned. And, realistically, I would rather be “doing” than “thinking” anyway!
There was no indication I would be sailing with the “Tidy Bowl Man” when I awoke this morning. In fact, I felt pretty good. So good, I decided to dine out for breakfast and a turkey sausage and egg soufflé at Panera sounded absolutely wonderful. Those of you who might be following this blog already know that eating breakfast out was a family ritual for more than thirty-eight years. It was the best way my father could find to keep the family in our family business, and it worked. However, since I’m the only Schneider at Schneider’s Automotive these days, dining out has lost a lot of its significance and consequently, its appeal.
Instead of anxiously looking forward to the sense of community breakfast provided first thing each morning, I find myself eating out when being alone and reflecting on the last few days or planning for the next seems somehow necessary or more important than working out or sleeping in.
This morning was one of those “reflective” mornings… At least, it did until I found someone from the original breakfast club sitting down at my booth.
Please don’t misunderstand! I like this person. I really do! I just didn’t want company THIS particular morning and things just naturally seemed to go to hell from there. She can be a bit negative at times: Why am I doing this? I hate it! I want to retire… NOW!
That kind of negativity can be contagious and this morning, I caught it!
After arriving at work there were problems with suppliers, customers, equipment and technicians… just about my whole universe when you think about it. Even one of the dogs was limping when I got in: an open sore on his right front paw which meant an unscheduled trip to the Vet.
There was a time when me at the nexus of all of these things coming together would have been more than enough send me into the bathroom for a serious attempt to drown myself in the toilet, but the way things were going I was pretty sure it would just back up, and…
I think you get the visual.
That being said, I’m not the same person I was a number of years ago when my reaction would have been less than mature, or adult, or even appropriate.
Now, I just try to back up a little and reflect… Reflect on what just happened… Reflect on why it may have happened… Reflect on the role I may have played in causing it to happen… You get the idea.
Instead of internalizing everything, I try to back away at least a little and process it all with an: “Isn’t that fascinating…” Or, two. You would be surprised how much of a difference not taking these kinds of problems personally can really make on your day, especially when they seem to be occurring minute-by-minute and with frightening regularity.
What makes it all worse is being a professional technician by trade. I’ve spent my life ‘fixing’ stuff and problems like these fall into the “This needs fixing NOW!” bucket. The only problem is that not everything in the bucket can be fixed right now… As a matter of fact, not all the broken things you are likely to encounter can be fixed at all; At least, not by you!
You see, if it wasn’t ‘yours’ to break, it isn’t likely you’re going to be able to ‘fix’ it: I mean, really fix it! You may find a work around or two, but “Fixed?” I don’t think so! The people who broke it are going to have to fix it – and, that’s only fair.
And, the minute you begin to realize that a day that started out to be difficult can get a whole lot easier… And, it did!