No One Does Anything for YOUR Reasons

I’d love to be more influential. I’ve read a lot about it, but I can’t seem to figure it out. I’m not the kind of person who oozes charisma. I don’t think I look the part, nor am I much of a smooth talker or extroverted life-of-the-party type. If I’m honest, I’m pretty dorky.

So why do I get asked to lead new projects? Why have people turned to me to orchestrate change? To run trainings? To grow sales? Why do I end up in positions of authority despite being the least-knowledgable (and never the smartest) person in the room?

Read More

Learning is Destructive

Often, we think of learning as a purely additive experience. For example, if I read an article about parrot fish living on the Great Barrier Reef, when I previously didn’t know a thing about sea life off the coast of Australia, I gain something. It adds to my collection of facts, like a new piece of furniture in a room.

The same might go for some new fruit in the grocery store, a new app on my phone, or a handy new way to say “thank you” to a friend in Turkish. Life’s lessons, however, are rarely so simple. They aren’t like adding furniture to a room; they’re like moving walls and replacing doorways. To rebuild the room, something’s gotta feel the business end of a sledgehammer.

Read More

Do you want to make the change or keep the belief? (Part 1)

Let’s say you want to be a runner. You want the health benefits that come with it: losing weight, looking good at the beach, lowering your blood pressure, having more energy, thinking more clearly, etc.

But you don’t start. Or you do start every now and then, but never follow through on a consistent basis. Why not? You say you want to be a runner! Do you? Then why don’t you run?!

The last time I took a run seriously was a half marathon in 2013. (Nearly five years ago.) Prior to that, I had quit running around 2006, while in the best running shape of my life. I told myself I didn’t feel like it anymore.

Read More

Who are You Becoming Today?

It’s a simple question.

You’re becoming someone a little more every day. Who is it? If we are the sum of our actions, the things we do create who we are. So what’s the story of your actions?

Who are you becoming? Write it in your task list. Let it guide you one choice at a time.

Forget about what you did. Most of all, forget about what you didn’t do. Ugh. So noisy. And not helpful. You don’t want to fight those emotional battles.

The choices you make define who you are: the outputs (the actions you took), not the outcomes (the results of those actions– and the emotions that follow those results!) Every now and then, you do have control over outcomes, but less often than you think. What you always have is control of your choices– how you choose to engage with and react to the world.

Read More

To Have Focus is to Begin Again… and Again and Again

Always beginning.

I understand: You focus so you can finish. But focus is hard. We aren’t built for perpetual laser focus that blocks out the world and shines a spotlight on the one vexing problem we want go deep on for hours at a time. It’s physiological.

We’re built to make quick judgements and move on. Attention is expensive and in the world of our ancestors, it could cost dearly. It’s expensive in that your brain is the most energy-intensive organ in your body, consuming half of the sugar your body uses in a day. And not just any of the dozens of sugars our bodies use– only glucose, which it must pull from the bloodstream. Think a lot and your blood sugar drops.

Read More

Mind Games

You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

–Marcus Aurelius

I’m often reminded of the wisdom we all possess when talking with kids, including my daughter. She was troubled by how often another girl in her class was awarded “Outstanding Owl” by her teacher. It’s the highest honor a student can achieve in a given day and, let me tell you, they covet each and every “O-O” bestowed upon them.

But Ella didn’t think the other girl deserved all the recognition. And she thought the teacher was overlooking her. It wasn’t fair. It made her angry with the other student, even her teacher.

Read More

If You Have to Hack the Holidays, You’re Doing It Wrong

Lifehacks are great. We all want faster/cheaper/easier/smarter ways of doing things. I can appreciate a good hack here and there.

Sometimes, however, we want to implement those hacks for their own sake. And that’s stupid. It is. Shut up. It’s stupid. I’m seeing too many e-newsletter and blog article subject lines that cater to and reinforce the harmful idea that you can “win Thanksgiving” and some shit.

Win your next feature release. Crush your workout. Balance your damn checkbook like a boss. Awesome.

Read More

Frozen Yogurt?! Don’t WASTE my time!

This is one of my favorite quotes ever. It sums up my feelings of owning your choices about as clearly as anything could.

Several years ago, a student in a training I was running relayed a story about one of his colleagues walking up to the soft serve dispenser in the company cafeteria. She was after a satisfying treat to wrap up her lunch break, and apparently was less than enthusiastic about what she found.

“Frozen yogurt?! Don’t WASTE my time!”

Frozen yogurt to me (and clearly others, like that disgruntled cafeteria diner), is a half-measure. It’s pretend ice cream. There’s no point. If you’re going to half-ass a solution and pretend it’s the real thing, better to skip it altogether.

Read More

An Experiment: Listen Better Immediately

I’ve got listening skillz. If I really concentrate, exercise self-control and call on my training of long ago when I was a counselor for troubled kids… or my consultative sales training after that… or my dog behavioral therapist training after that…

OK. I should have listening skillz. Because I was really good at all of those things.

But I don’t employ my skillz nearly as often or as well as I should. It doesn’t come naturally to me. Maybe because I’m a middle child of five. Who knows. Doesn’t matter.

Read More

On Starting Again…

Wow. Didn’t expect that to happen.

Alight. If I’m really honest. I kinda did expect it: I haven’t published to my blog in six full months.

Granted, I went on vacation, started a business (this), and pieced together some freelance and consulting work that chewed up more hours than I expected. But here’s the thing: those are stupid excuses. Writing is good for me. So is exercise (which I’ve barely done). It’s necessary to tend to those needs.

There’s a certain rhythm to a day, a week, a month and a year that, taken together, tell a story. My story has been that I’m out of balance and, in the long run, something will fall apart because of it. Our bodies, minds, businesses and relationships are all little interdependent ecosystems. When we sacrifice the health of one for the sake of the other, despite our best “effort,” we limit our capacity to do and be more.

Read More