Nonsense At Work

Posts in category Goals

#940: It is safer to stretch slightly higher at goals further out

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accuracyMy son made me watch Viking movies. The gory fight scenes reminded me of something that I learned as a kid, but have failed to act on as an adult.

No, not the fighting, but the aiming higher.

Vikings liked close-up ax combat, but Anglo-Saxons preferred to shoot arrows from a safe distance. Here’s the bit that I forgot, even though kiddie-me played with a bow and arrows. Archers don’t aim at the target. They aim above it. The further away, the higher they aim; the further away, the more they stretch the bow.

Silly me. I have been aiming too low to hit my far-out goals. And when frustrated, I have chosen targets too close to make an impact.

From now on, I think I’ll play it safe. I’ll aim slightly higher at goals further out, even if it means a bit more stretching. Else my up-close goals will be axed again.


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.

© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#899: It is better to think in terms of dead-time than deadline

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dont-stopSo, the Speaker of the House resigned. I don’t blame him. He might be the speaker, but he never gets a word in. I have the same problem at home. But then, I have teenagers.

Mr. Boehner has promised to get a lot done in his final month wielding the wooden hammer thingy. I have made similar threats at home wielding a big piece of wood.

And yet, Mr. Boehner will succeed. Not because of his hammer, but because of his end of time. Many of us perform better facing a deadline, but he is facing dead time.

Setting deadlines to up performance is one thing; knowing that we have dead time looming is a different pressure. A deadline makes you focus on the things yet undone; dead time makes you focus on what matters enough to be done.

It is better to think in terms of dead-time than deadline.


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.
© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#892: Step smartly – obstacles are mere lines in the sand or paint on your path

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TwoBoysLineinsandAs kids we used to draw a line in the sand and say, “Step over this line and I’ll biff you.” If the other kid was bigger and dared to put his foot over the line, then we simply drew a new line and said firmly, “Step over this line and I’ll bop you.”

Sooner or later we had to biff up or back down. We had to make our stand in the sand.

Newspaper columnist Ralph Whitlock once wrote of a squirrel confronted by the yellow line painted on a road. Two mornings in a row the squirrel approached the line, hesitated, turned back and disappeared up a tree. On the third morning the same routine, except that this time he backed away, charged and launched himself over the line.

Yes, indeed, obstacles are often of our own making or interpretation, mere lines in the sand or paint on your path.


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.
© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#884: Why makes your to-do list done

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character-at-workMonday is coming (again and again) and you have much to do. Where to begin! With a to-do list. What’s nice about a to-do list? Checking items off the list.

So, what should be the first item on your list? To make a to-do list, of course. This way you start the day with a rush of pleasure as you check off the first item.

Here’s what I don’t like about to-do lists. What, what, what. No mention of why. Surely, it’s not only what you do. It’s also why you do it. Why forms your attitude, your mind-set, to what you do.

The word ‘check’ means ‘to hold back’. Is that what you want from your list? For real results, create a surge list instead. Begin your ‘what’s to be done’ with ‘why’ to create ‘wow’.  This will turn your check list into a surge list and your to-dos into done.


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.

© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#881: When stretch goals stretch the truth

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Stretch-goals-from-topAnother week, another company caught misrepresenting financial results. So much for learning from the previous financial meltdown, all of them.

This time the blame falls squarely on senior management. Oh, sorry, that was the case last time as well.

A company in the recent news blamed its profit fudge on unrealistic performance targets. The mere employees who had to do all the work did not dare disagree with their superior superiors. Yet, their jobs were on the line. And so they did the next best thing. They lied. Sorry, they “carried out inappropriate accounting practices to meet targets in line with the wishes of their superiors.”

Every kid knows that if you pull an elastic band beyond its stretch ability, it breaks. It is a truth that many senior executives conveniently forget. And so they continue to set so-called stretch goals that break employees.

And the bank.


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.

© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#872: Overcome your fears by dreaming divine dreams

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Divine-dreamsHere’s nonsense at work – dreaming big dreams trigger big fears. Don’t let your fears stop you. Overcome your fears by having divine dreams.

Here’s a simple way to have divine dreams and to overcome dream fears. Breathe deeply.

To ‘divine’ means ‘to discover through inspiration.’ Inspiration is a sudden, brilliant, original idea. The funny thing is that inspiration is also the act of breathing in. What happens when you are afraid? You hold your breath. Well, don’t. You cannot be inspired if you’re afraid to inspire.

Most of the time you breathe on auto pilot. You become aware of breathing only when you stop. Don’t do the same to your dreams. Be aware of them. Give them air. Inspire and be inspired.

Remember, if a few good people had not been willing to dream big, the USA would not exist today.


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.
© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#870: Don’t stop your to-stop list

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dont-stopI like Fleetwood Mac except when they don’t stop.

We are mostly lazy and yet we create long to-do lists of things to do (especially when it comes to achieving goals we optimistically set ourselves).

I have a new strategy. It’s called Stop. Instead of a list of to-dos, I have a list of “to stop.” As a dreamer not a doer, I’m already halfway done.

You want examples? Don’t list things to do to lose weight; you need only one action step – “stop.” Stop eating so much. Want to be fitter? Stop sitting so much. Want to be nicer? Stop behaving badly.

Fleetwood Mac had a big hit with “Don’t Stop.” I aim to be a personal hit with “stop,” but it’s not that easy. You see, our culture is based on giving credit for doing something good, not for stop doing something bad.


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.
© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#825: My responsible resolution: I will be responsible for me

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responsible-for-meSanta has been and gone and still more gifts arrive in the mail. Or did all your on-line gifts arrive in time?

If they did not arrive in time, whose fault was it? If you are anything like the odd people who grace the tabloids, then it is the seller’s fault, the shipper’s fault, the weather’s fault, the government’s fault or your mother-in-law’s fault.

Actually, it’s unfair to blame the sellers and even the shippers. Consider this headline from a recent New York Times: “Crunch Time for FedEx and UPS as Last-Minute Holiday Shipping Ramps Up.” Last minute?!

Yes, you could blame the weather and the government, but I don’t know about your mother-in-law. Here’s what I do know. It would be truly unfair if in this new year you don’t blame yourself when things go wrong.

So here’s my hope for the New Year. Let’s all set at least one lofty resolution for 2015, namely “I will be responsible for me.”


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.
© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#797: Give goals the laser treatment

social-disharmonyBelieve it or not, there’s still enough time left in the year for you to achieve a few of your goals and resolutions. But only if you give them the laser treatment.

What is a laser? It is a thingy that boosts a beam of light. The more the light is boosted, the sharper and more powerful the laser. A torch is different. The more powerful the torch, the wider and weaker its beam.

If you act like a torch, you will see too many options and none very clearly, making it difficult to decide what to do. Don’t forget that making a decision really means reducing your options to one. And to see the right one, you need to focus your light.

This is why achieving your goal depends more on your ability to say no than to say yes. So, when you are running out of time, it’s time to make like a laser.

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You can listen here to the radio version of Give goals the laser treatment (10 most recent radio files)

© 2014 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#780: Fear of failing loudly

speedingPlanet Earth’s most famous cycle race is rolling again and I miss my trusted, rusted bicycle. I learned quickly how to ride a bicycle because I had no training wheels. I learned quickly because I learned not to be afraid of falling.

I don’t see many kids riding bicycles today, never mind falling down. This worries me because kids do need to learn to overcome their fear of falling.

Did you know that we are born with only two natural fears? The fear of falling is one. All other fears are learned, mainly through our ability to imagine negative outcomes.

I did learn two things about falling off a bicycle. Every time it scared me less and every time I got better at getting up.

By the way, our other natural fear is the fear of loud noises. Like someone shouting ‘don’t fail!’ Which is why so many of us struggle to succeed.

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You can listen here to the radio version of Fear of failing loudly (10 most recent radio files)

© 2014 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

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