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Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Hedgehog & The Sweet Spot. Finding Your Unique Place In This World.

Have you ever been doing something so long you just do it because that's what you do?


It's like you just walk through the motions in life, trying each new thing that comes along, never really finding... traction. Your engine is running, but your tires are just spinning. You aren't going anywhere.

It's like you are busier and busier but you accomplish less and less.

What you need to do is find your inner Hedgehog!

Once upon a time, there was a hedgehog and a fox. The hedgehog was not smarter than the fox, faster than the fox, more talented than the fox or craftier than the fox. But the hedgehog did have one thing he was good at. It was that one thing that saved his life over and over and eventually led him to outlast and out perform the fox.
Read on to find out what you can learn from Little H, the Hedgehog, about success and simplicity.


Attribution: Hedgehog II by Kalle Gustafsson; With Ken Coleman Quote Added "You find your sweet spot by finding the intersection of your greatest strength and your greatest passion."

The Story Of Two Competitors: A Fox and A Hedgehog


There once was a little Hedgehog who's name was Little H. One day the Hedgehog wandered along the path to find his next meal. Out from in front of him, seemingly out of no-where, a fox jumps into the path. Foxes' teeth are glaring at him.

Fox obviously intends to make Little H his next meal.

Little H curls up into a ball, and pokes out his spines. The fox lunges and gets poked by one of Little H's spines and yelps! Fox runs away.

The next day Little H is roaming along the path and the Fox jumps out from behind Little H. Little H rolls into a ball and Fox lunges, get's poked, and runs away.

Over the next few days Fox tried to take Little H through various surprise attacks, different angles, different times of day, he tries sneaking up on him slowly. No matter what Fox tried, Little H rolled into a spiky ball.

Fox learned after the first few times that once he got into that ball he would not want to pursue. Little H continued to plod along and Fox eventually gave up in search for an easier meal.
Little H had learned to stay in his sweet spot and he found great success.
*(Story Adapted/Paraphrased from: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't (Affiliate Link), Jim Collins

Have You Found Your Sweet Spot?


Sometimes it seems like you are trying out so many ideas that you never gain traction on any of them. I have been experiencing that some with the soft launch of this blog (and my other online pursuits). That's part of the reason I gave myself all of 2014 to just write, experiment, and write... to find my voice.

In his video Ken Coleman referred to "The Sweet Spot".

"You find your sweet spot by finding the intersection of your greatest strength and your greatest passion." Tweet That

That reminded me of Jim Collins classic work: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't (Affiliate Link). In this book, Jim talks about "The Hedgehog Concept".

The idea is that the hedgehog does just one thing, and he does that thing REALLY well. The Fox can try to adapt, change, try new things, all to subvert his competition, try out 100 new tricks and cheats and hacks, but in the end it's the Hedgehog that wins, not the Fox.
(* While searching for my blog photo for this post, I even saw someone who had totally missed the point of the analogy and reversed the lesson.)

Why? Why does Hedgehog Win?

The Hedgehog wins because he does one thing, and he does it really well. I think that's what Ken Coleman is unpacking for us here in a different way. When you find that one thing you are most gifted to do in the area you are most passionate about, you find real resonance in life!

Just like the glass in this video (Click Here) when you find the frequency you ought to be operating at the confines of your life will shatter and you will be caged no more.

Jim Collins uses this concept to show how and why businesses who found their key guiding principle find better success.

On his website Jim explains: "The Hedgehog Concept"

"You’ll know that you’re getting closer to your Hedgehog Concept when you align three intersecting circles that represent three pivotal questions:
  • What can we be the best in the world at? (And equally important—what can we not be the best at?)
  • What is the economic denominator that best drives our economic engine (profit or cash flow per “x”)?
  • And what are our core people deeply passionate about?
Answer those three questions honestly, facing the brutal facts without blinking, and you’ll begin to see your Hedgehog Concept emerge."
As individuals then for our own lives we must find our greatest strength and greatest passion.

As I do I will get closer to the "Why am I here on earth?" type answers and I'll find that true note that resonates throughout my whole life.
So too, you must discover that thing that makes you who you are.

What does it mean to be "Best In The World?" 


It means that you are doing what you are uniquely gifted to do. Nobody does it quite the way you do it. It doesn't mean that you are better at it than everyone else in the world. It means of all the things you do, this is what you are best at! Best in YOUR world.

I like what Michael Hyatt said about this. Why should you write a book? He said that there may be 1,000's of other people who have already written about your topic. But only you have your experiences and your voice. There may be people who will resonate with you and not with those others, or will find you and wouldn't have found them.

You need to write that book, publish that art, work on that job, do that thing because only you do it the way you do it.

Sometimes in sales they call this your: "Unique Value Proposition". What makes you better or different?

Lesson to Learn:
Find your greatest passion and your greatest strength and focus on that for the rest of your life. Hone it, get closer and closer to it, get better at it, define it better. That is one key to amazing results!

This Weeks Resource:
And now I leave you with 3 questions:

  • What is the one thing that either you know you are most skilled at?
  • What is the one thing that you are most passionate about? 
  • Where do you think those might intersect? 
To Respond: Leave a comment on this post to answer all three questions



See Also:

Darrell Wolfe, Topos Consultant


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Saturday, March 22, 2014

How One Penny Cost Me More Than It Was Worth! A Lesson In Simple Solutions To Complicated Problems.

If you don't deal with a small problem, it can create bigger ones! 

I had one little penny cause me more trouble than it was worth... LITERALLY!

In this article you will find out what the problem was, how I fixed it, and how you can be inspired to find a simple solution to your life's complicated problems too.


A Penny With Electrical Damage; from being inside of a 2001 Honda odyssey CD Player; www.DarrellWolfe.Com
Attribution: Darrell G. Wolfe www.DarrellWolfe.Com




A Short Story, Pun Intended:


So I bought a 2001 Honda Odyssey and the radio was out because the fuse was blown. It had 230,000 miles and it was in good condition otherwise. I figured the fuse just blew because it was out there sitting for awhile. Didn't think much of it, put a new fuse in. The radio worked again, all was well.

Or so I thought...

Then, over the last year, the weirdest things would happen with fuses. Several fuses, four specific ones, would blow at different times and for no apparent reason. They all seemed to be unrelated.

All would be fine for days, weeks, months, and then another would blow, unexpectedly. This last week I had three fuses all next to each other keep blowing out.

I found some articles earlier this year from help forum posts online talking about this common theme of "Radio Fuses" blowing in Honda Minivans. Like this one: Click Here.

Many indicated that Honda minivans, being owned by families with small kids, are notorious for having loose coins being placed into the CD slot by those small kids.

I thought to myself... "No, it couldn't be that simple".

I took it apart months ago, didn't hear anything jiggling, put it back together.

But, now my lights won't work and that's dangerous at night and it's my only car. The light fuse keeps blowing. Even putting a new fuse in blows before I get it in all the way.

Odd...

So now after a year of wondering I finally took pieces of my car apart looking for bare wire, maybe something in a door area got the wires bent? Nothing. More looking. Nothing.

I'm still having issues and I thought "let me look at that radio again since so many say that was their problem."

Sure enough. I hand the CD player to my wife and she pops the lid and out drops a Penny.

AMAZING! 
Who are these children of the world putting coins into CD players? 

One little penny caused all these problems. I went though +/- $50 in fuses in the last year, over one penny!

I put everything back together and that's been two days. The radio works again and all is well. The car ever RUNS smoother!

I also learned that another type of fuse (called a thermal cut off) inside the "Transistor Assembly" for the air conditioner blew (I tested it). Turns out I can replace that piece by soldering a new one for MUCH less than buying a whole new assembly.

It probably blew because of the Penny Too!

So the engine that was running rough is fixed, my fuses are all fixed, the air conditioner will be fixed shortly... all because of ONE PENNY!

Penny For Your Thoughts - Where Is Your Short?

So here are the thoughts I've been left with.


  • What other things in my spiritual, mental, emotional life are causing shorts?
  • What pesky little things am I allowing to clog up my life, steal my time and/or joy, and cause other "seemingly unrelated" things to short out?
  • Am I allowing bitterness at an uncomfortable situation to short circuit my home/family life?
  • Am I allowing my past to prevent me from pursuing my future?
  • Am I allowing feelings of inadequacy to prevent me from giving my all to this very blog, or delay posting because I don't feel it will be great? 



"Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards..." Song of Solomon 2:15


I had a mentor, Cliff, back in California tell me that he used to be asked into departments of businesses that weren't running well. The last half of his entire career was turning failing departments and whole business around and making them profitable. His boss realized that Cliff just had this knack for finding the problem and fixing it in record time.

He told me that:

No Problem, of any size, has a complicated solution. It's always a failure of the basics.
Tweet That! 

So... what basics are you missing today?



This Weeks Resource:

Here is a book you could take a look at to find simple solutions to complicated problems. It's a study of businesses, but I found great personal insight in it for running a life. I saw a friendly security guard reading it the other day, I thought that this is a great resource for you too!


Over five years, Jim Collins and his research team have analyzed the histories of 28 companies, discovering why some companies make the leap and others don't. The findings include:

  • Level 5 Leadership: A surprising style, required for greatness.
  • The Hedgehog Concept: Finding your three circles, to transcend the curse of competence.
  • A Culture of Discipline: The alchemy of great results.
  • Technology Accelerators: How good-to-great companies think differently about technology.
  • The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Why those who do radical restructuring fail to make the leap.

I now leave YOU with this thought too...

What Is The Penny In Your Life?

To Respond: Leave a comment on this post


______________________________________________


By Darrell Wolfe


Please Share on your favorite social media site!

Connect

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Facebook DarrellGWolfe
Twitter @DarrellWolfe
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    Disclaimers:

    FOR MY FULL DISCLAIMER: See my "Start Here About" page. Click Here

    Information here is As-Is. These are the opinions of a fellow traveler and seeker of truth. I am not a doctor, lawyer, licensed financial advisor, tax preparer, etc, etc... I'm just one guy, sharing what he's learned. As such, the information may be as true or faulty as the guy on the buss stop giving you directions. If you need accurate information I encourage you to seek the help of a professional in your field. 

    * I do make money from this blog. 1 Tim 5:18 says the worker is worthy of his wages. I do earn affiliate commissions or freebies from some of the products I discuss at various points on this blog. Regardless I only suggest things that have personally helped me, or someone I know. If you click on an "Affiliate Link" and you buy something I'll get a cut. Thanks for your support! 

    I am a conservative Christian. I write from a bible-centric point of view. I welcome people from other points of view to jump into the conversation. If you don't like bible-centric writing: I encourage you not to read my posts.... Unless you want to learn something new. 

    * In all you do: Live Long and Prosper, with GOOD SUCCESS! 


    Thank you, Darrell Wolfe

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    Sunday, March 2, 2014

    Four Life Lessons from Writing Fiction for Dummies


    Writing Fiction For Dummies

    Why most fiction authors never get published or make it to the end of their first draft, and some lessons you can learn from that, even if you are not a writer. 

    Writing Fiction For Dummies

    This is an Affiliate Review: Writing Fiction For Dummies

    Why My Writing Sucked:


    You plod along with this constant imagination. You are seeing things in weird ways nobody else sees. You have have these stories that just won't go away. You have to write them down. You start with the movie playing inside your head and you write. You write furiously...

    Then somewhere along the way you lost the inspiration to write, but you push ahead anyway. You figure all writers must go through this, so you plod along. Somewhere along that path you lost the picture in your heart and started writing what you thought would be a logical next step. You took the leap from heart to head and lost the heart of the story.

    It became linear, boring, bland.

    You don't even like reading it.

    So you gave up. Maybe that was days, weeks, maybe even years ago. 

    That is my story. Until I started writing more on my blogs and doing more consistent non-fiction writing. That I can do. In fact, that I can do and it seems to come painlessly. I write from what I know and it flows. It's not perfect, it's getting better. I'm learning about SEO and little things to make it more professional. But non fiction works easy for me now. 

    I discuss banking 50 calls a day for a major financial institution. In fact, I've processed more than 96,000 phone calls regarding banking and finance. So I can write on banking without hardly thinking about it. It flows out of me like a memory, because it's nearly auto pilot in my mouth on a daily basis.

    But I didn't start there. I started not knowing anything about banking. I came to work for the bank to learn about money and how to handle. What I teach now so effortlessly I did not know in 2005 when I was living with my wife and child in my van.

    How how did I learn it? Practice. One conversation, one article, one situation I had to dig in to find the answer to through research, one at a time. I've now taken more than 96,000 phone calls for the call center and spent an additional 1.5 years in the branch. That's why I know what I know.

    The other reason I know what I know is because I wanted to know. I spent breaks reading internal news feeds and reading through policy sites. I picked up books and blogs on the topic of money. There are people who have worked here for five years that knew less than I did in my first five months. I was motivated to know more, so I pushed and learned.

    How does this relate to Fiction Writing? It correlates exactly! 

    I never grew as a writer because I:
    1. Didn't write
    2. Didn't push to learn more about writing.
    So the solution is to do what I wasn't doing.


    Write More


    It's that simple. If you want to know something about something; go learn about it, and then put into practice everything you learn. If you find a new technique about how to make the perfect sentence, go try a bunch of those sentences in your fiction journal.

    Now my fiction journal is AuthorFun.Blogspot.Com. I find blogging the easiest way to keep notes. Some of my journals are private but not this one. I WANT people to read that one and critique and learn. I want them to grow as writers and help me grow as a writer too!


    Learn More


    Well, I started that journey to writing more. I'm writing semi-daily. I haven't been as perfect about my schedule there, but I'm writing more this month than I did in the last few years combined, so that's progress.

    I needed to learn more. So I picked up: Writing Fiction For Dummies (Affiliate Link) by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy. GREAT book! It really broke down the craft of writing in a way I hadn't realized existed. It honestly never occurred to me that if a Guitarist or Painter needs to study their craft to get better, so should a writer.

    I know the reason I don't play guitar as well as I could, even though I've played since 1993, is because I play what I know VERY well, but I don't know what I don't know. I stopped learning more so I only play to the level of my learning.


    You can't just practice, you have to learn more and put new skills into your practice! Tweet That!


    If you want to develop your craft as a fiction writer I would definitely start by reading Writing Fiction For Dummies (Affiliate Link). I read three books so far this year on writing fiction and this is the only one of the three I'd actually buy. 

    Not only am I going to buy it, I'm going to keep it handy and pull it out every time I get stuck on one of the many topics they covered. I'm going to keep it as a guide or handbook! It's that good!


    Four Life Lessons, from learning about fiction writing.


    1. Take Action. Learn Your Craft


    You can't just assume that you are going to be great at something because you have a passion or talent for it. People often say that Michael Jordan was rejected from his high school basketball team. But instead of giving up, he practiced more than anyone else. That practice led to him becoming one of the best of all time. 

    It's not just practice though. If you practice the wrong things you will ingrain bad habits. And if you only practice what you know, you'll only get better at what you know. You have to try new things to get better at the craft as a whole. 

    Study the greats, learn from others, get feedback. Put into practice everything you can regarding the passion you have. If you are wanting to be a photographer, then don't just take more pictures. Take better pictures. Try new angles, new lenses, new settings. Read, Read, Read, Read... Read more about your craft. Find publications or blogs on your topic. 


    2. Create a Powerful Emotional Experience

    If you want to be successful in any real endeavor in life. You will need to be able to craft powerful emotional experiences. People don't buy the iPhone because it was the first or the best, even though it was the first and with some debate may be the best. 

    They buy it because it Apple, under Steve Jobs, knew how to create a powerful emotional experience. The very packaging speaks to fine lines, and high class. It's a status symbol.

    I ran a tire shop for several years and heard often how badly put together Jaguars were from a mechanics perspective. But they create an emotional response in the buyer that overrides other "Facts". 

    If you are doing anything worth while. Starting a Church, Business, Blog, or just answering the phone for a company, or ringing up groceries... Whether you are the cart pusher or CEO... If you will make a point to create powerful positive emotional experiences for your clients they will come back because of you. 


    3. Stories have structures



    If you want to write a flowery description of an event that occurred, it could make great non fiction writing. If you want to write fiction you must introduce structure. Stories have a begging, middle, end, plot, and purpose (story line). There is a mission to accomplish.

    I can't believe I never saw it before. Every movie or TV show I watch now; I see these structures in the story. Even watching a simple sitcom, I see these structures running through it. Actually knowing what I know in this book has helped me to appreciate Movies and TV more, and watching those has helped me understand what is going in in the written form too. 

    Life has structures too. Look for the patterns that God has frequently shaped your life with. When you see a pattern start to emerge listen for God's voice in it. If you are missing the structure, the pattern, the cadence, the rhythm... it may because you went off script and you need to return to His path. 


    4. Story Goal



    About 1/4 into a story, be it a 20 minute sitcom or 3 hour movie, you will see a set up for "The Story Goal". The story goal is the thing your character(s) must accomplish in that story. Some major event or tragedy interrupted their life and caused them to pursue this goal to it's bitter end. During the next sections, 2/4 and 3/4, of the story you will see two major set backs (at least) and more commitment from the characters to keep up, with temptation to quit. The last part, 4/4, of the story the character is "all in" and must complete the story. The ending may be good or bad. But the story goal will not be unanswered (unless it's going into a two parter!) 

    Our lives are never so simple. And yet... I feel as though this does play out in our lives. That series of events in senior year of high school that seemed all consuming then, are but a memory now. My story goal changed. You see. In the movie the character existed before you came in and (usually) lives after you end. They keep going. The story, although captivating for a time, isn't meant to go on and on. 

    I feel like out lives are lived as a novel series. Each book is a portion of our lives, each chapter plays out. Maybe all of High School was one book, with four parts. For me, I think my last two years was one book. 

    Learn to recognize the ebbs and flows of your life. When a story goal is ending, another will be soon to follow. 



    In Review:

    So watch for your Story Goal (it will change from time to time), look for patterns and structure in the way God communicates with you, and remember to fully engage, create powerful emotional experiences for those around you, and in doing so, for yourself. If you have a desire to do or be something. Take action. Don't just wait for it, learn about your craft and put it into practice. 

      What patterns do you see in your life? 

      How can you create positive powerful emotional experiences for the people around you? 


      * If you are a writer, or just interested in behind the scenes type information. I suggest you buy this book. If you click my affiliate link I will get a commission from that sale from Amazon. I thank you for your support. Writing Fiction For Dummies (Affiliate Link)

      ______________________________________________


      By Darrell Wolfe


      Please Share on your favorite social media site!

      Connect

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      Facebook DarrellGWolfe
      Twitter @DarrellWolfe
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        Disclaimers:

        FOR MY FULL DISCLAIMER: See my "Start Here About" page. Click Here

        Information here is As-Is. These are the opinions of a fellow traveler and seeker of truth. I am not a doctor, lawyer, licensed financial advisor, tax preparer, etc, etc... I'm just one guy, sharing what he's learned. As such, the information may be as true or faulty as the guy on the buss stop giving you directions. If you need accurate information I encourage you to seek the help of a professional in your field. 

        * I do make money from this blog. 1 Tim 5:18 says the worker is worthy of his wages. I do earn affiliate commissions or freebies from some of the products I discuss at various points on this blog. Regardless I only suggest things that have personally helped me, or someone I know. If you click on an "Affiliate Link" and you buy something I'll get a cut. Thanks for your support! 

        I am a conservative Christian. I write from a bible-centric point of view. I welcome people from other points of view to jump into the conversation. If you don't like bible-centric writing: I encourage you not to read my posts.... Unless you want to learn something new. 

        * In all you do: Live Long and Prosper, with GOOD SUCCESS! 


        Thank you, Darrell Wolfe



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