How to make great choices when you have many options.

My wife Dawn and I have started scheduling our dental cleanings at the same time. It’s a cute couple quirk I have enjoyed. Yesterday was our big day for getting scraped, polished and flossed as a couple.

When we pulled into the dentist’s office there was one open parking spot. So I took it. It was the easiest decision I made all week. Because it was the only option available. It seems we have a very popular dentist. Or they have a very small parking lot.

But this morning I drove to the airport to catch a very early flight, and the parking structure was practically empty. Which reminded me of something Dawn said to me early in our relationship.

The hardest place to park is in an empty parking lot. 

-Dawn Albrecht

The statement sounds moronic. But it’s highly insightful. 

If every parking spot is open you have to think more than you do when there is only one spot. And you probably have not predetermined your empty parking lot decision-making process. Which means that when you arrive at an empty lot you have to make a decision on the spot.

That decision could involve simply taking the closest space to the entrance. But there are often 2 or more highly coveted close spaces. Plus, many times when you park you are not going to one specific entrance. Like when you park at a park. Which is totally meta.

There are a host of other factors to consider.

  • Is there shade I should consider on a hot and sunny day?
  • Will I be going in one door and out another?
  • Do I have multiple places to visit while in this parking lot?
  • Should I consider staying away from shopping carts?
  • What space makes it easiest to drive away? 
  • Where do I want to be when the parking lot fills up?
  • Does it look like Joni Mitchell or Counting Crows were here before they paved paradise?

These are the branches on the decision tree that suddenly sprout when you arrive at the naked parking lot.

But who cares?  It’s just a parking lot. There is no real way to get this decision wrong, Long Duk Dong.

However…

The parking lot is an analogy for your life.

When you only have one option in life you take what you are given. The decision is simple. Because it is a nondecision.

But when all of the options are available, how do you choose?

  • How do you decide where you will live when you could live anywhere?
  • How do you decide which career path to take when you could do anything?
  • How do you decide where to go to school when you could study anywhere?
  • How do you decide where to invest your money?
  • How do you decide what to eat?
  • How do you decide what clothes to wear?
  • How do you decide if you should add a silly final bullet to a list of serious bullets?

How Do You Decide?

You need to develop your own decision-making criteria. Your criteria should be based on your values, philosophies and beliefs. Developing your personal criteria for decisions large and small helps you make better decisions faster in every area of your life.

It is highly valuable to consider what influences your decisions. What are your core beliefs? What are your priorities? And which factors are simply non-factors to you?

Consider the following exercise related to the empty parking lot.

Rank the following factors when deciding where to park:

  1. Speed to my destination
  2. Exercise opportunity
  3. Ease of exit
  4. Isolation from dings
  5. Access to my car
  6. Most privacy for making out

Once you know which of these are most important you can make better choices faster, pussycat.

Your decision-making criteria apply to the parking lot and your bigger life decisions. Establishing and prioritizing your values before you encounter challenging choices related to drugs, sex and stealing help you make better decisions. Knowing your priorities related to your career, investing, family, relationships, health and religion will enable you to make big decisions faster too.

  1. What is the most important factor that will drive your decisions?
  2. What is the second most important?
  3. What is third?

When you take the time to consider these questions and answer them before you pull into the empty parking lot, or make a more important life decision, the answers become easy and obvious.

Key Takeaway

Know what is most important to you. Consider your decision-making hierarchy before you need it. It enables you to make great choices when you have all of the options. And remember, you always have options.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The source of inspiration I didn’t expect to find at a rock concert.

On Saturday night I went to a massive concert in Boston. I saw the legendary rock groups including Joan Jett, Poison, Motley Crue and Def Leppard in what was called The 2022 Stadium Tour. Or what I would have called The Soundtrack Of My High School Weightroom Tour.

Despite the fact that all of the members of all of the bands I saw were in their late 50s or 60s (and Mick Mars of the Crue was in his 70s), they all rocked. But there was one senior rocker who impressed more than all the others.

Rick Allen

Rick Allen, the drummer for Def Leppard not only rocked, rocked never stopped, he looked like he was having the time of his life. In fact, Rick and Poison’s lead singer, Brett Michaels, both looked as if they were having more fun than the fans at Fenway Park. Which is wicked hahd to do.

But what makes Rick Allen almost unbelievable is that he is a rock n’ roll drummer with only one arm. To be clear, he started off with a full set of arms. In fact, he and his 2 arms celebrated their 16th birthday by playing drums for Def Leppard while opening for AC/DC. I think I celebrated my 16th birthday by eating dinner with my family at Friendly’s in West Lebanon, New Hampshire.

On New Year’s Eve 1984, Allen crashed his Corvette, severing his left arm. Doctors reattached the arm but then later detached it because of infection.

But the show must go on. And Rick was determined to go on with it. So he designed an electronic drum kit that he could play with his feet to create the sounds he would have made with his right arm. Less than 2 years later Allen was back drumming for Def Leppard at the Monsters of Rock music festival.

When I saw Rick Allen on Saturday night with my high school friends Dan Richards and James Colligan we couldn’t believe how hard he rocked. He plays what looks like a normal acoustic drum set, augmented by the electronic foot pedals.

Rock n’ Roll is alive and well in Boston.

The 2 things that stand out about watching Rick play are that he has no left arm and that he plays the drums barefoot. The bluegrass look appears out of place amongst the glam boots and platform shoes of a big hair rock concert. But I dug it.

Besides tickling my eardrums with his foot drums for 90 minutes at Fenway Park, Rick Allen also provided a massive dose of inspiration. Because when you see a one-armed drummer rocking a packed stadium with a smile on his face you realize that with the right mindset there is practically no setback you can’t overcome.

What I have experienced through losing my arm, I wouldn’t change. The human spirit is so strong.

-Rick Allen

Key Takeaway

You can handle whatever you are facing. When a wave of adversity rolls into your life you can either let it take you under or you can surf it. You can use that adversity to drive you forward and take you further and faster than you could have gone without it. Setbacks set you up for greater success, but with a better story and a stronger sense of all that you are really capable of. Adversity is a gift. Use it to your advantage. And just keep rocking.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

To create more opportunities first become great at what you do best.

Friday night my family and I had dinner in Las Vegas. It was the last night of our southwestern adventure, and we didn’t really plan our last meal. At least not the way Jesus did.

Through a strange confluence of forces, including a rare desert thunderstorm that created flash floods in Vegas, we ended up eating at Buddy V’s Ristorante. I realized once we reached the restaurant that it was named after Buddy Valastro.

Shortly after we sat down to eat I spotted Buddy V himself walking into the restaurant. A few minutes later Buddy stopped by our table to say hi, check on our experience, and thank us for coming to the restaurant that night. (I refrained from saying that I loved him in Elf.)

Buddy then greeted the table next to us. The family at that table asked if they could take a picture with Buddy. Which tipped off our kids that this guy was a celebrity. So they asked us why he was famous.

Dawn and I explained that Buddy V owned Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Fun Fact: Dawn lived in Hoboken right after graduating from college as she worked at Lifetime, Television For Women, in New York City.)

We told our kids that Buddy was so good at making cakes that he got his own show on TLC called Cake Boss. He has now starred on 5 other TV shows. He owns 18 bakeries. And he is currently launching other restaurants.

After explaining this to our kids, I said that the real lesson from Buddy V was that if you want to create a lot of opportunities for yourself you should first become really great at something. And that something could be anything.

Buddy V was so good at making cakes that the world took notice and wanted to see and know more about him and his work. His personality made him interesting to a broad crowd and the opportunities just keep coming.

But it all started because he became great at his craft.

And maybe because he has a sweet accent.

Key Takeaway

Become really great at what you do. Expertise opens doors to new opportunities. It offers you career capital. Which leads to social capital. And financial capital. Keep practicing and improving your skills and you will become sought after. And when you are sought after everything changes.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best lessons I have learned from the universe, check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

How deeply do you think?

Great ideas come from time spent thinking.

One of the best ways to think is to write.

Writing is like mining for ideas.

But with less black lung disease.

And more Carpal tunnel syndrome.

Every line you write digs deeper into a vein of thought.

The more you write, the digger you deep.

The digger you deep, the more you discover.

If you force yourself to sit down and write for an hour or 2 or 3 you will discover new thoughts and ideas that you had never considered before.

The pencil is your pick.

The pen is your shovel.

The keyboard is your drill.

Write to find new ideas.

Mine deep.

The more you write the more you will reach.

There are deeply buried gems waiting for you to discover.

But the only way to unearth them is with your writing utensils.

Scratch with each stroke.

Tap and type and claw toward those ideas.

Don’t stop short.

Get to the gold.

Discover the diamonds.

Mine for the motherlode.

The clues on the surface give you a starting point.

But the treasure is always deep below the surface.

Well below the obvious.

So write and find it.

Write fast and furiously. (Like Vin Diesel)

Write slow and smart.

Get to the spot where each word feels hard.

And important

And real.

And new

Go as deep

and

far

as

you

can

think

to

go.

A sign of things to come.

Last night I was walking after enjoying dinner with my family.

As I walked along a busy promenade packed with pedestrians I noticed a mural that said The Best Is Yet To Come.

The message grabbed my attention as if it had been painted there specifically for me. (Although I rank just low enough on the narcissism spectrum to realize it probably was not.)

The sign served as a reminder that there are even better days, opportunities, successes, and feelings ahead.

But it also reminded me that we see what we look for.

And perhaps most comforting, it reminded me that I can still read 2,3 and 4-letter words.

Key Takeaway

Look for good news. Look for optimism. Look for positivity. And you will surely find it.

How is your personal steering mechanism?

Last night I was mowing my lawn with my John Deere lawn tractor. When I was halfway through mowing my 1.6-acre lawn the steering failed. Which is not a great thing to happen when mowing a lawn. Because typically there is a lot of turning involved if you want to stay out of the ditch, the trees, the flower beds and the local newspaper.

A quick inspection revealed that the pinion gear at the south end of the steering stem was stripped. (No, I did not throw dollar bills at it.)

The gear was no longer engaging with the steering sector which translates the steering wheel’s inputs to the front tires.

I went online and ordered the replacement parts and watched a YouTube video on the replacement process. Because I attend YTTC (YouTube Technical College).

The parts will arrive tomorrow, and I expect to be back in the steering business shortly.

But when you lose the ability to steer a vehicle it makes you think about the universal importance of steering. It makes you think about your own direction and goals. It makes you think about your own ability to avoid ditches, trees and fire hydrants.

Question

How is your personal steering? Are you following the path of your choosing? Are you avoiding the things you know you should avoid? Are you heading towards your goals? Are you exercising your own power of self-control?

Your personal steering is critical to your:

  • Health
  • Fitness
  • Finances
  • Career
  • Relationships
  • Self Esteem
  • Mental Wellbeing
  • Time Management
  • Your ability to not eat a whole can of Pringles in one sitting.

Key Takeaway

Your personal steering mechanism is critical to achieving your life goals. It helps you avoid obstacles. It prevents you from driving off of cliffs. It brings you back on course when you drift. And it ensures that the power of your personal engine is directed where it is most useful. If your life feels off course, check your steering system. That includes your decision-making, discipline and willpower. They are crucial to making it to the finish line in one piece.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons the universe has shared with me check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The important career lesson my daughter learned from her summer job.

My 16-year-old daughter Ava has a new job this summer. She is a cashier at our local Piggly Wiggly grocery store. The store name sounds both deliciously made-up and midwestern. Ava doesn’t know it yet, but it will also provide her with a fun talking point for all future job interviews.

Like any eager Dad, I like to talk to Ava about her job and what she is learning about life, business, and pigs. In my head, I imagine that our talks will be an important part of her success story. Like Robert Kiyosaki’s childhood talks that inspired the book Rich Dad. Poor Dad. In reality, she’s probably going to write a book called Nosey Dad. Annoying Dad.

Ava really enjoys her job at The Pig. The store is central to our community and she gets to see people she knows all day long. When she gets home from work I like to greet her with questions like, How was work? And, How was the paper-to-plastic ratio today? And, What are the Bosleys having for dinner tonight?

The Bigger Lesson

Last night I asked My-favorite-child to share the greatest lesson she has learned from her job so far. So she did. And the answer was far better than I was expecting. Which is why I am writing about it now. Here’s her answer.

What’s the greatest lesson you have learned from your job so far?

I’ve learned that a good job is not so much about the actual work you do as much as it is about who you are doing it with.

I expect that in your actual career the kind of work probably matters more. But the key to happiness at work is to surround yourself with people you enjoy spending your time with.

The wrong people can make you miserable, even if you enjoy what you are doing.

But the right people can help you enjoy what you are doing, even if you are not crazy about the work itself. And even if it’s not your dream job.

Being surrounded by the right people will help you do your job better than when you are around miserable people. Because when you are around happy people who take pride in their work, you will want to too.

Happy people rub off on each other, and lead to better customer service.

I’ve now learned that both good and bad atmospheres build on themselves. But in opposite directions.

Last summer my work environment was terrible, all the way from the top managers to the lowest levels of the staff. It was a hard place to work. And toxic.

But this summer, the work environment is so positive and enjoyable that the positive relationships between coworkers keep building, and then spill over to positively impact the customers’ experience.

-Ava Albrecht (16)
My deep-thinking cashier.

Key Takeaway

A good job is less about the work you do and more about who you do it with. Find work you like to do, and people whom you enjoy spending time with. And you will win at life. And work.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons the universe has shared with me, check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Why you should declare your lifespan today.

You are a lean, mean, scheduling machine.

When you have both a destination and an arrival time, you can easily figure out when you need to leave to get to the destination on time.

When you have work to do and a deadline to meet, you know how to complete the work on time.

It’s simple.

The amount of work to be done, and the time allotted, determine the pace. (But not the Picante sauce.)

Pace = Effort / Time

This is the basic computation we do every day to accomplish everything.

It determines how much time we allot to commute to work.

It determines how much time we need to run an errand. Or exercise. Or make whoopee.

When you know the task to complete and the time that task requires you know your start time and your pace.

Life Goals

But when you apply this innate ability to schedule and complete activities to your life goals there is a problem.

Because you don’t know the deadline.

So you don’t know how much time you have to complete the task.

Which means that you can’t determine your start time.

And you can’t determine your pace.

As a result, there is no sense of urgency.

Even to your biggest, most important goals.

The Fix

But there is a simple fix.

Declare your lifespan.

Determine the age that you will die, or no longer be capable of performing the task or achieving your goals.

This exercise helps you live more effectively.

Determine if you will have 100 years or 80 or 60 or 40 or 25.

A declared lifespan provides the proper motivation.

Equally important, it provides the math your brain needs to figure out how to get from point A to point B on time.

It makes your life-goals urgent. Like Foreigner.

Then you can get to work. And achieve your goals within the time you have left.

The deadline is the only way to make the required pace tangible. (Which I always think sounds like the ability to turn into a tangerine.)

It’s Go Time

Set your own death timer and you will find yourself moving faster.

My assumed death provided the timeline I needed to launch my own business.

My assumed death motivated me to write and publish a book.

My assumed death is driving my financial savings, investing and spending.

My assumed death is driving my travel plans.

My false deadlines are making life manageable, goals achievable and days productive. Which makes false deadlines far more attractive than false eyelashes. (What’s up with those thangs?)

Key Takeaway

Declare how much time you have left. It will provide the missing data you need in order to schedule and pace the rest of your life. It will motivate you. And it will enable you to achieve your dreams. It is one of the greatest gifts you will ever give yourself. Because the best way to spend your time is knowing that you are quickly running out of it.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons the universe has shared with me, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

I met a man who loves my all-time least favorite job.

Yesterday a window washer came into my office to wash my windows. I found the experience fascinating. Not because I had never seen someone wash office windows before. But because I have.

My summer job before my freshman and sophomore years in high school was working at the office complex where my dad worked in Vermont. I was on the grounds crew. Actually, I was the grounds crew. (It was just me and ol’ ground.) I also helped with construction as they built and remodeled buildings. I painted and did other odd jobs. The odder the better.

But on days when it rained, Frank Gilman, the owner of the office complex, sent me inside to wash windows.

I hated that job.

In fact, if we were sitting around a dinner table, bar or campfire and we started swapping stories about the worst jobs we have ever had, mine would be washing windows. And mind you, I have shoveled manure and picked rocks out of fields all day long.

The last time I was asked to wash windows I washed a couple and then said I wasn’t feeling well so that I could go home. I wasn’t exactly lying. Because I was really sick of washing windows.

But the man in my office washing windows clearly enjoyed his work. He was experiencing no pain from all those panes. I’m no doctor, but he didn’t look the least bit sick of washing all those windows.

Realizing that I could learn something from this man, I asked him how long he had been washin’ dem windows.

He proudly replied, ’30 years!’

Wow!

30 frickin years!

What struck me about his response was that it contained the enthusiasm that I would offer if someone asked me how long I have worked in advertising.

Yet this man had made an entire career out of my least favorite job of all time.

But I didn’t tell him he was wrong. And that his job was horrible. Or that I would have rather spent the past 30 years in the Gulag than firing Windex and dragging squeegee.

Instead, I sought understanding. I asked him what he liked best about his job.

He smiled and replied, ‘The views.’

Key Takeaway

We are all wired differently. We see, experience and enjoy the world differently. Your views and opinions are your own. They are not universal. There are other humans with very different ideas and ideals than you. And there is far more value in learning from others whose experiences and choices are different than yours than in telling others how wrong they are for being different. Step back and see the big picture. It offers quite a view.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons the universe has taught me, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The greatest adapter in the world is already in your home.

Humans continuously innovate. We are always looking for better, faster smarter ways to do everything. And we keep finding it. (Which makes it odd that Bono still hasn’t found what he’s looking for.)

As a result of progress and innovation, our technology and infrastructure systems keep evolving. And to make our old stuff work with the new stuff we need adapters. In fact, there is a huge market for adapters.

But humans are the ultimate adapters. We are equipped with both hardware and software that enables us to adapt to our constantly changing environment. Darwin, Jesus, and David Bowie all knew it.

As your conditions change, always remember that you were built to adapt. You can handle whatever comes next. It is true at work, at school, at home and everywhere else you plug in. Just look at what happened as a result of the pandemic. We didn’t fall apart. We simply adapted to the new set of rules. It’s what we do.

Key Takeaway

Change is constant. Progress is inevitable. With each new wave of change there will be a new you, ready for whatever comes your way. You are not just built to survive, but to thrive. As a human, you are the greatest adapter the planet has ever known. So no matter what tomorrow brings, you will be ready to buh-ring it too.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

For more of the best life lessons the universe is trying got share with you, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.