Light Up the Night

Have you ever noticed that December, so filled with the busiest days in the year, also happens to have the shortest days in the entire year? From summer onward, night slowly creeps up earlier and earlier each evening so that by the time we get to the solstice on roughly December 21, we face the shortest day of the year.

With those short days come long lists of errands to keep up with the hustle and bustle of the holidays and, if you are like me, you run out of daylight long before everything is completed. However, after the busy days draw to a close, those long nights are ripe for lingering around a table with friends and a second helping of dessert. And those cold winter mornings are the ideal time to put out food for the little birds that never seem to stop fluttering with joy. If you hang up holiday lights this time of year, consider this: you are not just hanging them up for yourself, but for everyone who is driving by on a dark evening and suddenly feels a bit of cheer at the sight of twinkling warmth.

Countless donation drives kick off in December with constant requests for contributions, but this month also makes for the perfect time to place a note of gratitude directly into the hands of someone you genuinely appreciate and tell them, with nothing held back, how they change your life for the better. No matter how much or how little time you have, give of yourself and light up the night.

The point is that we can choose how to perceive that short day in December just as we choose how to perceive the other 364 days in the year. The darkest day could not exist without the presence of light. Thank you for being a source of light in my life, and for being someone who can light up the night.

I’m sending back love and light with this letter, and hope you find joy in every day this December!

Cheers!

Gino Pezzani

Improve Your Self-Discipline

Success in any endeavor is a matter of self-discipline. If you can’t stay focused on your goals, you’ll never achieve them. The Ladders website shares this list of tips for improving your self-discipline:

• Start on Monday. Begin working on your goals on the first day of the week. Researchers say this can help you follow through.

• Write down the reasons behind your goals. Positive affirmations can solidify your goals in your mind and help you stay focused.

• Visualize the benefits. Think about what you’ll gain as you work toward your goals and eventually achieve them. They’ll become more real in your mind and help you work past obstacles.

• Plan for temptation. You’ll sometimes want to abandon your goals, or at least set them aside. Think about how you can respond—“If I want to quit early, I’ll work 10 more minutes before making a final decision.”

• Combine needs and wants. For example, if you have to go to a networking event, concentrate on meeting old friends as much as on making new contacts. Or plan a reward once you’ve completed a particular step toward your goal.

• Don’t make snap decisions. A quick decision can easily lead you down the wrong path. Teach yourself to analyze information and consider your options before going ahead on a new move.

You’re Mine, Molecule!

A solar-powered device that soaks up water from the air could provide relief in waterstarved regions, according to an article on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The device is a metal-organic framework (MOF), a crystalline net that can extract water vapor out of the air—even in a desert— and then release it as liquid water. It’s the brainchild of Jordanian-born Omar Yaghi, now a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley. He and his colleagues created their first MOF in 1995, and tens of thousands have been produced since.

The MOFs are made of metal atoms that work like hubs in a Tinkertoy set. The atoms are connected in a porous network held together by organic linkers, creating containers that trap molecular particles. Using different metals and linkers, scientists can tailor the structure to capture molecules like water and carbon dioxide.

Early versions were expensive and degraded quickly, but Yaghi’s team has managed to create a more robust model that promises commercial applications. A recent market report predicted that sales of MOFs for detecting and storing gases will grow to $410 million annually over the next five years, up from $70 million in 2019.

The Clever Canine

A dog was on safari with his humans. One afternoon, he started chasing after a butterfly near the camp and suddenly found himself deep within
the wilderness. He saw a leopard approaching him
from the grass.

“Oh boy, guess I’m gonna have to show this cat who’s boss,” thought the dog as he plopped down next to a pile of bones. He reached for the largest
bone and began to chew on it.

The leopard hid in the tall grass and waited for just the right moment to pounce on the canine, yet the dog continued chewing on the bone as the leopard slowly inched closer.

When the dog heard the movement of the grass, he said loudly, “Mmm, mmm. That was one tasty leopard. I think I’ll eat another one.”

The leopard froze in his tracks. He figured he was no match for this vicious dog and retreated to safety. But there was a monkey seated in a nearby tree. He’d seen everything and impishly decided to tell the leopard what had really happened.

The dog realized that something was amiss when he saw the monkey chasing after the leopard. (After all, monkeys don’t usually chase leopards.) But the clever dog decided to outsmart both the leopard and the mischievous monkey.

When the monkey informed the leopard of what had happened, the leopard grew angry. “No one makes a fool of me,” the leopard growled. “Come, my little friend! Let’s show that dog who’s running things around here!”

The leopard ran back through the tall grass with the monkey on his back. “Here we go,” the dog thought to himself as he relaxed and chewed on the bones.

He could feel the big cat watching him from the grass. From the corner of his eye, he could see the monkey scampering toward a nearby tree— this was the moment to make his move.

“What has that monkey done with my dinner?” howled the dog. “I sent him to fetch me another leopard a half hour ago and he’s still not back!”

Empowerment

You can “empower” an employee to carry out a task, but whose fault is it if he or she fails? Managers and employees share equal responsibility for making empowerment successful. Here’s what each of you has to do:

Employees:
  • Show your interest. If you feel ready to take on more responsibility, discuss available opportunities with your boss. You’ll be able to clarify what kinds of decisions you can be empowered to make and when you should seek advice from your manager.
  • Suggest a trial. Convince your leader of your abilities by offering to handle one or two responsibilities on a trial basis. This will let the boss see what you’ve got and give you the freedom you crave.
  • Understand your leader’s needs. Remember that your boss may have to justify your decisions and actions to other people. A surprise could make your boss look bad.
Managers:
  • Analyze your attitude. How important is control to you? Pay attention to what you delegate and what you handle on your own. Are you allowing your workers to develop their skills, or preventing them from moving forward?
  • Explain your priorities. Explain to employees why you need to perform certain tasks by yourself. Be sure your reasons have a solid business foundation beneath them.
  • Practice. Look for opportunities to delegate tasks whenever you can. Make sure you’re empowering people to do meaningful work, not just unpleasant jobs you want to avoid. It will get easier over time.