LIFE: A GRACEFUL SPRINT OR A GRIMY SCRAMBLE?

A couple weeks ago I took part in our company’s annual 5K run. It’s the 4th year I’ve participated which is quite impressive considering I don’t like to run – at all! This explains why I was completely content to walk most of the 3.1 miles.

Someone once tried to explain to me how running is a metaphor for life. Something about only really competing against yourself, pushing to continue when you just want to stop, and the sense of accomplishment at the finish line. Not going to lie, the metaphor just didn’t sink in. Life isn’t a well groomed path where the only real obstacles are based on your own physical and mental toughness – at least not my life.

Dirty_Dash_muddyshoes_2014Last Saturday I had the chance to run another 5K with my wife and several friends. This was a different sort of race called The Dirty Dash. Participants can choose the 3.5 or 5.5 mile version (we wimped out and opted for the shorter run). The race began by running (by that I mean stumbling, slipping and sliding) up a muddy embankment with water spraying overhead. There were no smooth paths here; instead we encountered dusty, grimy and swamping trails. Obstacles are placed throughout the race including stacked hay bales to climb over, murky pools where you sink two feet deep into sucking sludge, slimy mud walls often only scalable with the help of someone on top, and a 200 foot waterslide where you get hosed down right before being jettisoned into another hazel colored pond of soot and soil.

It’s physically and mentally exhausting. It’s oddly therapeutic. It’s a blast!

No one gets through the race unscathed, scratches and scrapes are common. To say participants get dirty is an understatement. Mud cakes your shoes and clothes, weighs you down, and saps your energy with every step. It clumps in your hair, smudges your face, and obscures your vision. The occasional water break is a welcomed respite as much to quench your thirst as to be used to clean your face and hands.

Some of the obstacles feel impossible to conquer. You get through by laughing, or crying or grunting. You overcome the challenges with the help of your friends and teammates. Often you get a boost from a total stranger. In return, you turn back and lend a hand to the random guy or girl behind you as they struggle to make the climb.

You don’t always clear a hurdle on the first try, so you step back, take a deep breath and try again. Sometimes when you see an obstacle on the horizon you smile and say “bring it on!” Other times you see an obstacle and exasperatedly exclaim “You’ve got to be kidding me.” You leap over some hurdles with ease as others struggle to do the same. Then you find yourself clawing, fighting and crawling along while other people sail past.

Dirty_Dash_2014Finishing the race is great, but it’s not really the point. The joy comes in the journey, in the doing, in the accomplishing, in the overcoming. It comes through the experiences and comradery discovered along the way. It seems to me that life feels far less like a marathon sprint and far more like a dirty dash.

Running the Dirty Dash was on my 2014 Bucket List. Good job me!

5 Productive Tips

5_small__7310883864Today’s business environment is a continuous flow of high stress and high demands. Working professionals are constantly bombarded with new tasks, assignments, projects, and deadlines.

Staying busy is easy, staying productive is a challenge.

Here are 5 Tips to help you be more Productive Right Now!

  1. Stop reading articles about productivity and start doing something. Anything! Seriously, stop reading this article and go get something accomplished. Pick one thing you need to get done today and do it. Don’t stop to check email, don’t pay attention to app notifications, LinkedIn request, or Facebook messages, focus on the task at hand and give it 100% of your time and attention for at least 90 minutes. Ready… Go!
  2. Reread Tip #1 because obviously it didn’t sink in.
  3. Really, you’re still reading this!?
  4. I’m completely baffled that you’ve arrived at Tip #4. This shows a total disregard for Tip #1. Yes, this article could have just said “1 Tip to Productivity” but nobody reads an article with just a single tip. Nonetheless, the list really only has 1 tip, 2-5 are meaningless.
  5. And yet, you read on. My only conclusion is that your productivity is at such a high level that you’ve accomplished all you wanted to today and now are merely reading articles in search of a tidbit of wisdom or perhaps and splash of humor to brighten your day. In that case, hopefully these tips provided a dash of both.

That’s it. There is no more value in continuing to read this article. In fact, I’ve got a massive list of things to accomplish today as I’ve exhausted my knowledge of productivity. Therefore I will stop writing about working and actually get back to work. Oh, that would have been a good Tip #2 “Stop writing about Productivity and Start Doing”. Wish I’d have thought of that ten minutes ago.

 

photo via

The 10th Annual Utah Brazilian Festival

The 10th Annual Utah Brazilian Festival is in 2 weeks – come join the fun! #free #utah #food #Brazil http://ow.ly/AD9oU

What Lies Beyond

SP trafficMy heart was racing, every pulse thumping through my entire body. Muscles in my arms, shoulders and legs all sore from the tension. Fingers stiff, white-knuckled from my death grip on the steering wheel. Another turn ahead, I crank the wheel to make the sharp turn, tires screeching, accelerating through the turn to keep ahead of the cars battling me for position. A near collision; brake, down shift, avoid being hit. Then shift again, accelerate, continue soaring down the stretch of asphalt. Head is throbbing, headache increasing with each kilometer of ground I cover. Almost there, the finish is in sight; one last swerve to avoid another car, then hard right and finally… stopped. Whew! I did it. I survived. No, not a Formula-One or Indy race, but an adrenaline fueled drive through the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

For someone who grew up driving in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains, this type of traffic is unheard of. Yes I’ve driven in large metropolitan cities like L.A. and Atlanta and have experienced grid-lock and traffic jams. However, this is Brazil. The narrow windy cobblestone roads wreak havoc on both car and driver. It’s not stalled traffic; it’s hectic, chaotic movement. Nerve-racking aggressive driving that feels more like a fight for survival than a mere commute. The multitude of three-lane roundabouts becomes five or six mingled lanes based on the time of day and numbers of cars that wedge themselves onto the road. Buses have the right-of-way because they’re bigger and will run you off the road if you don’t yield. Stop signs lining the streets are irrelevant. Red traffic lights are observed and obeyed, well at least until dark, then slow down long enough to flash your brights, honk and accelerate as to not get robbed when stopping, all while hoping you don’t get t-boned from a crossing vehicle. The people of Rio de Janeiro, the Cariocas, have become accustomed to this feverish traffic and slender, congested streets that snake through concrete edifices.

So why subject yourself to this? When driving it’s difficult to see anything but the cars, taxis and buses, and the looming shadows cast by the adjacent buildings. These objects distract your attention and block your view from seeing the beauty of this city and surrounding landscapes. It’s the proverbial problem of not seeing the forest through the trees.

The secret is to get out or get above it all. Rio II 20140806_150428

Turning onto Avenida Atlântica the buildings dissipate in the background and spectacular views of the iconic Copacabana Beach are seen. Continuing down this large avenue and eventually turning onto Avenida Vieira Souto the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon come into view. Miles and miles of white sand, palm trees and deep blue waters stretch as far as the eye can see.

As if the majestic beauty of the beaches wasn’t enough the lush green mountainside of Sugarloaf, Pão de Açucar, lines the north-east skyline. While north of the Copacabana boardwalk and neighboring beaches, Corcovado rises over 2,300 feet above sea level. The landmark peaks sits amidst the Tijuca forest, elevating the 125 foot Cristo Redentor, Christ the Redeemer, statue which overlooks Brazil most renowned city.

PaoDeAcucar II 20140805_140253The top peaks of Sugarloaf can be reached by cable car, the Corcovado by its designated train or tour vans. Views from the high vantage points are breathtaking!

The life of Rio’s 6.3 Million inhabitants is challenging. The people work hard while facing innumerable economic and political challenges in South America’s largest country.

There is a lesson to be learned from these Cariocas. They understand it’s not about daily grind, the congestion, and the turmoil life throws at you. It’s about the magnificence, the beauty and joy that can be found when you look up and look past what’s right in front of you.

Super Perspective

Ice Cave IIIt was cold and damp. No vibrant colors to brighten the rooms just a dull wash of white and gray. It was massive and spacious and utterly empty. No family or friends to be found; located thousands of miles away from any sign of civilization. An eerie complete and utter silence prevailed. Although not a captive, he was absolutely alone in this, his cave of isolation.

But… he called it A Fortress of Solitude! His glorious, magnificent structure. Brilliant. Rejuvenating. Inspiring.

And as young children we wished we could fly, high and far to our own similar fortress.

A powerful example of super strength and power, and perspective.

True Man of Steel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit 1

Photo credit 2

No More Reign for Spain

Soccer Abstract_32Almost every human being in the world is acutely aware and keenly focused on the 2014 FIFA World Cup, well everyone outside of the United States. The 31-day, 32 team soccer tournament, this time hosted in Brazil, is the largest sporting event on the planet.

Coming into the competition returning 2010 Champions Spain was ranked #1 in the world. The Spain squad has been on a terror of winning the past several years raking up an impression collection of championships.

An overflowing trophy case, pre-tournament hype and vast amount of talent on the field are great, but it still comes down to wins and losses, and with 2 of 3 matches already in the books, Spain has been eliminated after two straight tournament loses. The first lose was suffered at the hands of the Dutch (5-1) a repeat match of the 2010 championship game. If this wasn’t bad enough, Spain tuned around and was dealt a devastating blow, losing 2-0 to Chile in a David-vs-Goliath type effort.

No one can deny the greatness of the Spanish squad over the past five years, but great lessons can be drawn from their abrupt and fatal demise.

Some pressure is good… some.

Other than possibly the host country Brazil, no one came into the World Cup with as much pressure to win as Spain. Pressure to succeed is good when it fuels passion and creates focused energy. Teams can become galvanized create a strong bond, extreme pressure and scrutiny can quickly cause a team to buckle under the pressure. Spain collapsed.

Hard Work still matters

Chile is not the most talented squad in the World Cup. The Chilean team came into the tournament generously ranked 14th in the world, a far cry from Spain’s #1 ranking. Chile’s 2-0 win over Spain was the result of 90 grueling minutes of hard work. Every Chilean player ran harder, fought more and out worked their Spanish counter parts. What they lacked in skill and talent they made up for in effort.

Sweat the Little Stuff

Soccer is a series of small seemingly insignificant actions that eventually can lead to a big play. A thrown-in, a pass, a deflection, a sprint forward, a quick cut back. Each single movement or act appears trivial. However, the collection of these actions equates to an entire game and when executed expertly creates a fluid, free flowing game – “jogo bonito”. Spain was constantly looking for the big play, but struggled with basic game dynamics; their passes were off, players weren’t getting back defensively, communication amongst players seemed to be nonexistent. A complete game was not able to be accomplished due to the lack of focus on the small stuff.

Fight for the Big Play           

No one enjoys watching a zero to zero game. (And in the business world a tie equals a loss). The purpose of the small stuff is to lead up to something huge, an awe inspiring moment. When all the minor components come together you should find yourself in that unique position to make a spectacular big play. Against Spain the Netherlands did so 5 times; Chile did it too, scoring twice. In contrast powerhouse Brazil controlled much of the game against Mexico, but couldn’t finish the big play, ending their match with a 0 – 0 draw. All the hard work and little stuff will only be worth it if you take the risk and make the big play happen. Sure it’s about the journey, but the finish is crucial.

“Great moments are born from great opportunities” – Herb Brooks

That’s Why You Play the Game

Switching sports, what if the Soviet Union had continued their dominance beating the US and winning the 1980 Olympic gold medal for hockey at Lake Placid? What if the New Zealand All Blacks had throttled the South African rugby team again in the 1995 Rugby World Championship match?

No one would have made a movie about that.

The movie Miracle and the movie Invictus harold the efforts of teams that came together and won despite all odds. People love sports because the outcome is unknown until it actually happens.

The script for life is also being written on a minute by minute, and day by day basis. Life is an adventure, a game waiting to be play and an outcome waiting discovered. Spain’s outcome for the 2014 World Cup was far different than the expected, while Chile’s possibly far better than they could have hoped.

Summer is Here

SUP in UtahWhen you live in a state like Utah the arrival for summer is especially exciting since we barely get three good months of warm, sunny weather. The long hours of summer sunlight mean extra time to spend outside with friends and family or even just time for yourself. It’s a great opportunity to reenergize the mind, body and soul. And all while disconnecting from electronics (yup, put the smartphone down for a few hours).

Here’s a few things I’d like to do this summer:

  1. Get a drink of water right from the hose
  2. Eat watermelon and spit out the seeds (not easy to find one with seeds anymore)
  3. Buy fresh corn on the cob from a farmers market or street side vendor
  4. Go camping (it’s on my 2014 bucketlist)
  5. Go hiking (also on bucketlist)
  6. Throw a Frisbee in the park
  7. Drink a cold root beer from a chilled bottle
  8. Have a water balloon fight (outside of course)
  9. Spend a day at a lake or at the beach (try Standup Paddleboarding)
  10. Go to the drive-in movies

 

Most of these activities are free or relatively inexpensive to do.

What activities do you look forward to or plan to do this summer?

Don’t Blow Away the Competition

explosion_001Today I got a random email stating:

I can help your company blow away the competition and get more customers. If you want a free sample, email or call me…

I literally laughed out loud when I read it.

If I order a free sample I’m expecting an army tank or rocket launcher to be delivered to the office. “Blow my competition away”, seriously? Maybe they sell super high-powered office fans – at least that would be relevant to their email language.

It’s quite embarrassing to the guy who added his name to email signature.

My takeaways from the email:

  1. Think before sending emails filled with cartoon language and overinflated promises.
  2. Never respond to lame emails, it only encourages people further.

A bit of humor and a good laugh was the perfect start to my day, so I thank the email sender for that.

Enjoy the journey!

 

Doug Jentzsch

Opportunity of a Lifetime

University_hospitalIIEarlier this week the University Hospital in Salt Lake City Utah live tweeted during several kidney transplant surgeries. Not the actual surgeons themselves, but social media personnel from the hospital. Local news station KSL interviewed Surgical Director Dr. Campsen about this decision and the experience.

Watch that brief interview HERE.

This story caught my attention for two reasons. One, I know Dr. Campsen, or at least I met him several times a week over a two month period. The reason I’d met him so frequently is the second, and main reason I paid attention to this story.

In February of this year, my mother arrived at that same hospital and was diagnosed with Autoimmune Hepatitis. Essentially, her immune system was attacking her liver causing acute liver failure and subsequent kidney failure. The onset of the disease was sudden, the level of the illness extreme, her situation dire.

Upon arrival at the University Hospital the medical staff calculated her life expectancy at two weeks, unless a liver transplant was performed. The qualifications for getting listed on the lengthy transplant waitlist were extensive and time consuming. Her critical situation however placed her as one of the top candidates for transplant in the region.

Miraculously, ten days after arrival at the hospital, a healthy, matching liver became available. Dr. Campsen along with Dr. Kim, Surgical Director of Liver Transplants, and an army of highly skilled medical professionals performed the liver transplant. A complete success!

The road to recovery is a long one. However, three months later my mom is in full recovery mode, finally returning to her home a couple weeks ago.

In two days she will turn 65 year old; a birthday we weren’t sure she would reach. The transplant team, especially the two surgeons are true miracle workers.

The unsung hero and true giver of life is the organ donor. This unknown individual, through an absolute act of selflessness, saved a life; a decision that I, my siblings, other family members and countless friends will feel forever grateful and indebted.

The University of Utah Hospital is using social media to create awareness for organ donors. This blog post is a way through my simple sphere of influence to do the same.

Becoming an organ donor is an opportunity to save someone else’s life.

- Doug

 

Learn more about becoming a donor HERE.

Thoughts Shared with Partnership Marketing

Recently I was asked to talk with our Partnership Marketing Division and share some thoughts on how to achieve success at our company. I believe these tips can apply to most anyone at any company.

Be a Consumer.

Hopefully the product or service your company offers is something you’re a fan of. Therefore, you should be a consumer of the product or service where possible. At Access, we offer card-linked rewards to bank cardholders and we built local, regional and national discount programs. The more I use these deals and discounts, the better I do my job. I think like the customer because I use the program like our customers do.

Be Willing to do the Hard Stuff.

Every job has difficult “stuff” to do. People willing to dig in, get their hands dirty and do the hard stuff, are perceived to be more valuable to the company. Often I’ve noticed that the hard stuff usually becomes the easy stuff, once a few people (with the right work ethic and attitude) begin working on it.

Keep Learning.

Increasing your knowledge and skills every chance you get. This may be through a college degree and formal education. It may be through seminars and conventions. Daily articles, blog posts, webinars are great resources. Audiobook, ebooks and good old-fashion paperback books are excellent for increasing knowledge. Who knows, you might even be able to convenience your manager to buy the book for you.

Here are a few books I recommend:

 

Regardless of role, title or responsibilities you’ll be happier and more successful if you treat your work like a Career (not just a job) even if you’re not going to do it for the rest of your life.

Doug Jentzsch

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