"We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." - Thomas S. Monson 

NASA does more than just look at stars, in fact, a large portion of their mission is focused on the Earth. I should know after spending the better part of a decade working with the team at the Atmospheric Science Data Center headquartered at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. I spent a lot of time looking at satellite data that was focused on the Earth; so, when someone would ask me about a shuttle launch or something that was happening on the Mars Mission, I would smile and tell them I worked in Earth science and didn’t really know a lot about what was happening in space. That’s usually when I’d lose them, and I realized now I was missing a lot by not looking up sometimes. Let me explain.

Today, and more recently, I’ve been looking forward and upward–with you, my inner circle. Instead of trying to understand the beginnings of hurricanes and staring at the data about them, I’ve been trying to sort out the storms that I have on the inside, trying to find the reasons for inner turbulence, exploring my personal dataset.

My inner studies have taken me a while to bear fruit. It took me a long time to take responsibility for every aspect of my life; I wanted to blame others, to assign excuses to things, I wanted to make up reasons for my failures. All of which clouded my perspective on the problems in my life. There was a time that I didn’t see us all using the same sun, the same moon, the same winds, the same government, the same company policies. It was easy to blame the winds. It was convenient to blame everything but myself for my problems.

I feel in command today. In command of the USS Oostra, to be sure, my family is battened down and they have PFDs on. However, today, now, I understand and see things differently. I see now that we all have the same winds, and it’s up to me to decide how to use them. I’ve learned and am still learning from others who have been able to harness the proverbial winds of our world–I’m learning that with greater precision, mindfulness, and awareness–I can tune my sails and get me to my destinations faster and with ease. It feels good to be on the razor’s edge of success and failure; at least it’s me at the helm.

This command and my personal integrity have forced me to look harder at the Sun, Moon, and Stars. Not in a mystical or magical way; but in a physical, tangible way. Try to think about trying to get a boat out of a channel at low tide, you’re gonna get that keel stuck if you have one, the water’s depth is at it’s lowest. The smart sailor waits until high tide. The tides are controlled by the moon’s position and relative distance from the Earth. So, why wouldn’t we think about the other forces of nature when trying to manage our lives?

July 3rd – August 11th: The dog days of Summer

The “Dogs Days of Summer” have been defined by Dictionary.com as “A period marked by lethargy, inactivity, and indolence.” But why? Who decided this? The ancient philosophers and Greek poets associated the dog days with random and intense thunderstorms, heat, fever, and unrest–they had noticed that one of the brightest stars, Sirius, would also be rising and prominent in the heavens during this time. Since Sirius, the star primary to the Canis Major constellation is “rising” during this time, the dog days were born.

The constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog.

In 2011, the American Express Open Forum did a study on the decline in productivity during the summer months. This study found that there was a 20% decline in workplace productivity, a 19% drop in employee attendance, a 13% time increase in project completion, and lunchtimes increase 2.6 times the normal time. Even more shocking was that they found a 200% increase in shopping during working hours, and a 120% increase in employees searching for another job during the dog days. Wow.

Now that we know that the dog days are real, we can take action. Lean into this knowledge and into the dog days. Do this by understanding the wind. It’s a puff, barely blowing now… So if you find yourself in the dog days and you can’t get out, I suggest that you lean into the punch. Do the counterintuitive; instead of trying to work harder, take time off.

Yes! I said it. Be lazy and enjoy it. Don’t fight it. Plan a vacation during this time–some of you need it desperately. With a lot of us working MORE from home, we need to take even more time off. Check out this IPX work-study shows that during COVID 37% of us put our vacation plans on hold (amongst other things). My family did. We didn’t go to the beach cottage in RI last year; we postponed my birthday trip to DC where we stay at the Ritz Carlton and order room service for a weekend, we were going to visit my friend’s new home in London–all our plans down the drains. My son just asked me last week about the trips we didn’t do last year in the hope to rekindle those lost plans. I need to do this, and fast.

The other thing we can do is plan our playtimes. Make sure that we plan for times to rejuvenate. I’m a huge believer in taking time to specifically “make yourself young again.” This was reinforced after hearing a 75-year-old scouter on my trip to Raven Knob Scout Camp last week tell me that going to camp adds years to our lives. I also heard a former BSA climbing instructor tell me the same thing on the top of Pilot Mountain where we were setting up climbs and rappels for our certification course. Our playtime is just as important as our work time. We have to respect it the same way.

Let’s slow walk the Dog Days.

My business partner and I have a philosophy of taking things slowly when we know we are going to win. We “slow walk” on the fairway down to the 18th green as Tiger Woods did during his greatest times. Lots of things can happen on that walk, but if we just take the time to put one step in front of the other we will get there. The dog days are when we just hit a ball into a sand trap and have to take a detour to “the beach.” When we are on the beach, we should be on the beach! We need to stop thinking about the destination for a minute and just relax and deal with the situation.

I challenge you to make a plan to deal with your dog days today, and the future dog days. Make a plan to take time off and stick with it. When you’re there on the beach, BE ON THE BEACH. No phone calls, meetings, zooms, or whatever. I can already hear half of you saying, “I can’t do that! I’m busy! I have work to do!”, and yes that’s all fine and good. But, you can also make plans to deal with those things to give yourself a week, a day, or even just an afternoon. Use the time to shut down your work brain and turn on your rejuvenation brain.

For me, this is about personal integrity. If I don’t take time off to be with my family–I’m missing the point [deep breath].

Whether you believe it or not, the forces of nature are in full affect in our lives. They will have an effect on us no matter where we hide. It’s our responsibility to recognize the effects and plan to use them for our greatest advantage. I’ve started to begin new projects and initiatives under a new moon, and now I’m going to start to plan for downtimes and energy conservation during the dog days. I’m going to use them for maximum rejuvenation and healing. I believe this gives us a huge competitive advantage.

Remember, it’s not the wind. It’s the set of our sails.

I love you guys/gals! Have a great week. Make someone smile this week, especially yourself. Slow walk!

We are winning!

Featured Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash