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I am a fourth generation, forty-sixy year veteran of the automotive aftermarket: an ASE Certified Master Technician, Service Consultant and Approved Automotive Manager. I grew up in this business with a passion for all things mechanical, particularly those things relating to performance. That passion grew to include all aspects of management, leadership and personal development with a special focus on every day shop operations which resulted in an eight-volume series on automotive shop management published by Cengage Learning and Thomson Publishing. I have been a trade journalist writing to the aftermarket for almost thirty years, devoting my professional life to improving both the image and experience of everyone struggling to succeed in the service industry and I've worked diligently to improve communication and increase understanding between all segments of my industry. This site and everything on it is both an extension and a continuation of those efforts

Perspective and the Pink Bunny…

Written by mitch. Posted in Aftermarket, Blog, General Community, Personal, Uncategorized

When you’ve been involved in a life-long struggle, it’s hard to reach back and point a finger at where it all started. I know, I can’t, regardless of how hard I’ve tried.

It’s even harder when you have somehow managed to tame the beast that torments you sufficiently to prove yourself at least marginally functional. Harder still, when you manage to accomplish more than might have otherwise dreamed possible.

This is especially true when the monster is nothing more than a Pink Bunny!   

That’s right! A Pink Bunny  (OK! So, it’s more RED than Pink… You’ve got to work with what you’ve got!) that over a lifetime has proven itself nothing more than an attractive nuisance, and yet still remains irresistable!

If I was somehow able to go back in time and dredge up the old, hard cover, black and white composition notebooks and scrap papers that would reach from floor to ceiling, you would see traces of the Bunny everywhere!

Not on the pages themselves! There were never any portraits of the rabbit anywhere… The wretched little creature was much too fast and far to elusive to capture on paper! But, I’m sure that was never its intent. The Bunny’s intent was distraction: to have you look away, if only for a second. To entice your mind to wander away from the task at hand! And, throughout my educational Odyssey, that little bunny managed to do that by having me render everything from Navy Corsairs to Starfighters!

All I can say is that it’s a good thing – No! A great thing! Star Wars was released long after I was finished with school or there would be a room somewhere filled with doodles of R2-D2, X-Fighters and the Millenial Falcom!   

The truth is, that little rodent rejoiced in the stacks of Report Cards my parents had to cope with, whose Comments always began with: “Mitchell has difficulty concentrating and as a result has not worked up to his potential! It would be good if we could find a way to keep him focused and on track!”

When I started working on cars, I was forced to focus: to concentrate on an entirely different plane. What I was doing did not come naturally. It required a foundation of theory that I just didn’t have and as a result I had to lay that foundation myself, layer by layer, at every class, seminar and clinic I could find and attend. Because, the information was important to me – important to our family’s economic survival – I had to pay attention: a level of attention, I had never been willing to commit to before.

A level of commitment that forced me to ignore the Pink Bunny, even when it would sneak up, kiss me on the cheek and point to something wonderful, just outside my reach, frolicking in the world just outside my window! Something to chase, but never catch!

Something to pursue, but never acquire!

Looking back, the misery of remaining focused when all you wanted was to run free – to follow the Bunny anywhere it might wander: down any Rabbit Hole – was profound! And, yet, the same level of concentration and focus I was finally able to develop in order to become a Master Technician, were the same skills and abilities that helped me create countless seminars and workshops, thousands of monthly columns, an eight-volume Automotive Management series and an almost completed management allegory manuscript!

That doesn’t mean the Rabbit has ceased taunting me!

He’s here, sitting alongside me every day… Sitting alongside me right now, in fact!

It’s fluffy little paw pressing the Return key, opening stacks of meaningless emails and following page after page of attractive, but useless web addresses! And, it’s following the Bunny’s lead that can destroy your agenda, plan or To-Do list.

And, while I haven’t been successful when it comes to ignoring the Pink Bunny altogether,I have learned to trick the little beast into leaving me alone for at least a few moments! Long enough to stay on point… Long enough to finish at least a chunk of whatever it is I’m working on…

How? One simple word, “Later…”

I can still see the Bunny! I can still hear it! I’m still enthralled by it! And, perhaps, now, more than ever, I still want to follow it! But, when I see the Bunny waving at me, pointing the way to a long, entertaining, albeit, fruitless and foolish journey, I resist the urge to follow, wave back and say, “Not now, my friend!

I’m tied up at the moment… Can we get together a bit later!

I’ll be sure to follow you then, and when I do, we are sure to have a lot more fun together… What do you say?”

The Bunny generally says, OK! Then, wanders off, and without much of a memory, rarely returns – At least, not with the same attractive nuisance it was peddling on the previous visit! And, as a result, “Later!” has become the most effective tool, my most powerful weapon, in the war I’m constantly waging against the Pink Bunny’s unrelenting assault!

Dancing With the LIZARD…

Written by mitch. Posted in Blog, General Community, Personal, Uncategorized

Seth Godin calls it ‘the Lizard.’

Steven Pressfield refers to it as ‘the Resistance.’

I haven’t come up with a clever nickname for that annoying monologue that keeps running in my head… The one constantly trying to convince me that I shouldn’t… Or, can’t… Or, couldn’t… Or, won’t!

The one that rejoices in crushing my ambition by continually undermining my self-confidence, with taunts of: You are sure to fail… You will certainly hurt yourself… Everyone will laugh… Why would you even want to… And, my personal favorite:

What makes you think you will succeed when and where everyone else – everyone smarter, stronger and infinitely more intelligent – has failed!

Have you heard that still, small voice whispering to your conscious mind from safe within the confines of your subconscious? Have you been formally introduced?

However you choose to identify it: whether you call it the Lizard or the Resistance or anything else you think might be appropriate, it’s hard to coax the little bastard out in to the open so you can confront him. She’s a lot more comfortable in the dark: infinitely more secure when he can poke at you from the icey blackness of your worst nightmares.

The problem is impunity! She likes it… It suits him… She’s used to the dark. Most comfortable when unchallenged!

Over the years, my relationship with the Lizard has been contentious at best, completely debilitating at its worst!

I don’t keep score… I’m not sure I ever have… But, until very recently I’m sure the wretched little beast was ahead on points. But, with the help of Seth Godin and the altMBA Program, I’m certain that is no longer the case. In fact, I’m convinced I have developed the tools necessary to at least break even when it comes to conquering my worst fears!

What I’ve learned is simple enough – a lesson I should have been able to take from the Mindfullness Movement or from Zen – And, that is to embrace the Fear: to accept it, appreciate it for what it is. What I learned was to recognize the immutable fact that engaging the Lizard in battle: in direct confrontation, will more than likely result in defeat!

The Resistance has no interest in logic or reason! The Fear has no language skills, nor does it have an interest in developing any! The Lizard is real! It is primal and has learned its craft well after millenia of perfect practice!

There is no real chance of defeating her! There can’t be… You exist in the Frontal Cortex and he owns the dark, hidden and obscure convolutions of the Amygdala!

To over come the Fear… To defeat the Resistance and subdue the Lizard… The only chance you have is to accept her, embrace him, acknowledge its existence and then dance with her! That’s right! Walk directly up to the Lizard, bow, extend your hand, pull him close, embrace her and then follow the music of your head and your heart…

What you cannot do… What you must not do… Is allow The Beast to lead! What you must guard against with every ounce of strength, every fiber in your body, is allowing Fear to dictate the terms, conditions, nature or tempo of the dance!

Lead and the Dance is yours… Lead and the Resistance will have no other alternative than to follow…

And, yes, this explanation… This admonition… Was written as much for me as it was for you!