Honor in Business

I am and have been for some years a pretty avid commuter cyclist. New York City is a great place for cyclists but it also can be dangerous. Since I work remotely the ability to get around the city is paramount; I find the best way to do this is on my own two wheels, generally.

But there are challenges; like everyone else on the streets of NYC.

I live uptown in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem. Whether I head north or south there are always going to be pedestrians and fellow cyclists and competitive cyclists and delivery cyclists and busses and garbage trucks and cars. Lots and lots of cars. But for most of NYC, just like there are prescribed travel lanes on the left and the right side for automobiles, so too are there bike lanes throughout a large part of the five boroughs. These bike lanes come betwixt generally the parked cars which sit next to the curb and the travel lane for vehicular traffic. Sometimes the bike lanes are even found between the parked cars and the curb which further insulates you from traffic.

Which, for me, as a cyclist, is great. This means that I can travel freely along with my fellow cyclists in the correct direction for traffic, unencumbered by the noise and distractions around me.  Unless one of others on the road decides to dishonor this agreement.

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Where is a cyclist supposed to go?

Like cars who decide to idle where they should not be.

Or taxis or livery drivers who are dropping off or picking up, oblivious to what’s around them.

Or garbage or delivery trucks who are just doing their jobs, but still are blocking a free travel zone.

Or anxious pedestrians who are trying to minimize the time spent crossing the street when the lights change.

Or even fellow cyclists who decide that they will come directly at you without regard for the flow of traffic or the arrows pointed on the road itself.

As a cyclist in New York I am something of the lowest common denominator in this equation. Police and emergency vehicles appear to rule the roost followed closely by other vehicular traffic. Pedestrians always have the right of way, so even though they are smallest in size they are greatest in number. Cyclists get something of a bad rap as we are neither motorized vehicle nor individual pedestrian. Cars honk at us, people wave their arms at us if we pass too close, yet we are always the ones who need to cede if challenged.

I got to thinking about this the other day while I was out on my bike and I realized the parallels in business. It’s important to act honorably. If you are providing goods or services to someone they should always be the highest quality available. If you become aware of a customer getting short shrift it’s important to speak up; it reflects poorly on you if you don’t. If you have made a commitment to another you need to see this through till the completion of your agreement; no one respects someone who doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain.

We are not a perfect species; we all have our own foibles. And yes there are even times when a car pulled over into the bike lane may have a perfectly understandable reason for being there. But if we all try to do what’s right by one another; on the roads of business, on the cycling pathways of New York City and on the roads of life, we all will be much better for it.

The Long Road

There are so many people out there who have achieved enormous success, yet still feel empty. There are so many others who have a dream, but no compass. There are others still who feel as though they could be doing something so much more fulfilling, but still fill their lives with errant noise. Then there are those who go to bed at night feeling satisfied. They have an undertaking they appreciate, they have a charted objective on their radar, they have a plan in place to get there, and they move every day with intent towards that direction.

So what kind of person are you? img_1205

One of the biggest challenges I’ve found in my encounters with individuals is that they haven’t seen the forest for the trees. Friends and casual acquaintances get so focused in on the minutiae of their day to day that they don’t care to see all the potential which lies before them. I have been guilty of this myself; chances are we all have. Obsession over detail can be a good thing; focusing in on redundant triviality can be all-consuming.

Or there’s the issue of being stressed out by comparing our current situation to an ideal time in our past. We can’t go backwards, we can only move ahead. Idealization of our past is easy, it’s familiar, it’s what we knew. Even if, in reality, the past wasn’t as great as we remember it was.

So what do we do about all of this?

One thing I am always trying to be better about is seeing the bigger picture and not letting minor blockades define me. Most of the banal things we obsess over can and will be overcome, worked through or negotiated around. We all have challenges we need to deal with every day. That’s part of life. But taking a bigger picture, longer-view is essential to moving forward.

And you’re never going to reach the destination on that long road if you don’t know where you’re headed. So beat back distractions, define your objective, use a reliable guide, carry with you only what you need, and seek counsel from sources who will give you plain-speak when you ask it of them. img_1008

Use What You’ve Got

One of the maddening things I constantly see in this world around me is misappropriated talent. There are so many people with so many innate talents who don’t use them to their fullest.

My mother came from a big family. When I was growing up my aunts on my mothers side were some of the most amazing people I knew. Her younger sisters; twins; were these two waif like beautiful hippie girls who would always sing acapella at family functions. Even in my younger days I could have imagined buying their albums and just listening to their sweet sweet harmonies over and over again. Still, decades later, these two aunts have yet to lay down tracks for their debut album.

One of my good friends from high school math class was a dead-on impersonator and humorist. She was so funny and could impersonate anybody with a larger than life bawdiness which was hilarious. I could have seen her going onto a career as an amazing comedian. This was also almost twenty years ago. I still see her from time to time. She’s married now with two (or three) kids. I love her still. Love her husband. But her work at a corporate desk job is not allowing her to unleash the amazingly humorous voice (she still has) on the world.

Whether it’s supremely talented musicians who are spending their days working the genius counter, fixing your iPhones or amazingly talented artists who use their intricate skills on their former landlords walls, everyone has talents.

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Don’t let the red lights in front of you get in the way of your dreams; pave your own roads!

Everyone has talents so why isn’t everyone using them?

Even for myself, this truism holds. My wife has told me countless times how great it would be for me to write a great opus. Like “The Great Gatsby” or “The Grapes of Wrath.” I am humbled that anyone thinks anything that I have to say would be on par with these masterworks – But that’s part of the problem isn’t it?

We are always our own harshest critics. We are always our own worst enemies. We are usually the biggest obstacle standing in the way of doing this or trying that. Why don’t we allow that tiger spirit from inside of us to break free so that we can all go after our dreams?

The truth is there are always a variety of reasons why we don’t do certain things. Whether it’s family obligations or different life choices or simply lack of motivation there  are so many people with such talent who could be doing so much more.

You see it all around you too; especially on the streets of New York City. Kids shucking candy or bottled water on the street corner, awe-inspired train-stop-length dance routines happening inches from your face on the subway, young people hustling pickup basketball, rhythmic drum circles happening on the bottoms of plastic buckets; all of these are people with talent and expression making the attempt to break on through.

What have you done for yourself lately? If you have a talent that’s just been idling in the back of your mind somewhere, it’s time to revisit it. If you have been putting something off and waiting for a better time to execute this plan, stop delaying! Now is the time, wherever you are right now is the place.

If you’ll excuse me I have to go mark up my next book outline.