Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What's a "Business Hour"?

             In the 21st Century, energy is more important than time.  At least, that’s what I argue in my courses and my book, Getting UP! Supercharging Your Energy.  As proof of that concept, I offer you the “business hour.”
            After a recent business trip, I contacted Hilton Hotels about a possible problem with my bill.  In response, I got an email that promised, “We take your feedback very seriously and will do everything possible to resolve your concerns in a satisfactory manner as quickly as possible.”
            And then, after that hype, they added, “Please allow us 72 business hours to resolve this matter for you.” 
            Here’s the BIG question: does that mean three 24-hour business days or does that mean nine 8-hour hour business days (or up to 13 “calendar” days)? 
            Of course, I asked them in a return email what they were talking about. No response yet…that will probably take 72 business hours, too.
            The truth is, we really don’t care how long your process takes; we just want it done.  Now.  That takes energy. In the 20th Century, you called somebody and they fixed the problem.   In the 21st Century, we get “time excuses.”
            Here’s an even more ludicrous example from the same trip.  I made the grievous error of buying a snack on a United Airlines flight.  The attendant swiped my card but…no receipt.  I was told I could get that online.
            Well, after ransacking the United website, no luck. So I sent an email to their euphemistically-named “Customer Care Team” asking how to find my receipt.  They promised, “we will address your email and respond back to you shortly.”
            They then explain that “shortly” is “generally within 10 to 14 business days.” 
            It takes the “Customer Care Team” more than two weeks to find their way around their own website?  Of course, we know how long it should take The Friendly Skies to answer my question: less than five minutes. 
            But that’s five minutes of human energy. And by United’s careful calculus, their energy is much more important than my time. 
            As we used to say in geometry class: QED.

Monday, September 5, 2016

What’s on the Other Side of “Tired”?

             “I’m too tired,” the young woman said.  
              Since she was part of a talented group of younger leaders (and about half my age), the statement stopped me.  I remembered my father’s persistent comment -- “When I was your age, I didn’t know what tired meant” -- but I didn’t say that.
            “When I’m tired,” I replied, “I usually go for a nice 30-mile bike ride.” 
            That drew some quizzical looks from the crowd.  Yet all of us have discovered that, at times, we can go from tried to energized…in a matter of seconds.  That’s because “tired” is often a choice. 
            We think we should be tired, perhaps after a long day.  Then a friend calls and we’re ready to play.  Long distance cyclists know that you can “change your mind” about being tired…and go on for many more miles “on the other side of tired.”
            Franciscan Richard Rohr says “Pain is the rent we pay for being human, some say; but suffering is usually optional.”  We all get tired; sometimes, we choose to shut down long before we need to do so.
            Not a bad concept for Labor Day.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The View from the 1%: Yield to My Horse

            Only a few days ago, only a few miles from this Baltimore County, Maryland sign*, a cyclist died in a collision with a pickup truck.  Because the rider was too dead to tell his story, the driver did: the biker lost control and crashed into his pickup.**               
           Unfortunately, he wasn’t the first rider killed or injured on these bucolic country roads. Seems like these pesky bicyclists are a real threat to horses -- and pickups.
            After more than four decades of riding back roads and passing many scores of horses, I can tell you exactly how many have “shied.”  Precisely zero.  None. Not one. Never happened.  The problem described on the sign is a rare -- far less than 1% -- occurrence.
            On the other hand, I have many times almost been run off the road by massive pickups pulling even bigger horse trailers. And I can tell you  how often I am passed much closer than the legally-mandated three feet on the very same roads in the sign. Many times.  On. Every. Single. Ride.  It’s a 99% problem.
            That doesn’t mean this sign is wrong.  It makes a good point.  One of the most stirring sights you can see from a bike is a gaggle of these horse persons sprinting across a field after a pack of hounds.  I not only yield;  I marvel at the beauty of the spectacle.
            I just wish drivers would remember this “share the road” stuff when they get down off their high horses…and into their Lincoln Navigators.

            *If you’re having trouble reading the sign, it says:
Please be careful when approaching horses
Because bikes are so quiet horses do not hear you coming.
When they do see you, they will shy, endangering their lives and
The lives of their riders. Please let the riders know you are there.
Give the horses a chance to cross the road.
Riders and horses have been hurt from cyclists
Particular problem areas have been at
Butler, Cold Bottom and Mantua Mill Rds.
Please enjoy these roads as much as we do and

            ** Funny: this is the same thing the driver of the truck that hit me a couple years back said.  Since I wasn’t dead, the police and the insurance company didn’t believe that lie.