Category: personal development

Embrace the Mess – A Key to Innovation

Babies on BORSCHT

Do you embrace the mess?

If you want to hear someone interesting talk about problem solving like an artist, thinking like an artist; here is designer Marc Ecko sharing his thoughts on embrace the mess. He believes that the wealth that matters can’t be really be counted. Think about it. He also recommends that each of us be an “un-label.” When you have truly found yourself,  people are not sure how to describe the essence of “you.” They only know that you are true to yourself and encourage others to do so too.

What’s good about the mess?

It’s rare that innovation/learning/joy comes from a completely planned event. It’s the goof ups, the unexpected changes, the learning how to…, that often produces the good stuff. Are you afraid of the mess?

Try finger painting, with food from your refrigerator (not a lot, just a little). Hang around little kids, watch them experiment. What can we learn from them?

When you have a problem to solve, following all the rules, doing the same thing over and over, talking to the same people for advice and then expecting a breakthrough, doesn’t make sense. For today, I give you permission to do the messy thing. Let me know how it goes.

Photo credit: messy baby photographer

Momentum: Do You Need to Go Backward to Go Forward?

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If you are familiar with the street/graffiti artist Bansky you are lucky. He is a social commentator and whether you agree with him or not, he does rattle the brain which, afterall, is the job of a social critic.

After being anonymous for his entire career… his graffiti would just ‘appear’ places when the sun came up… he was finally ‘caught’ by British police. I think the time, energy and money spent chasing him was a complete waste. When he took his art to the streets of New York City in 2013, 31 Days of Banksy… the city was enthralled with his work.

In the first image above, we see him combine the simplest of images (arrow) with the power of words…to inspire us.

We live in a complicated world so it seems to me that arresting a guy for thoughtful graffiti just doesn’t make sense. I don’t care what his name is. I don’t care where he lives. I only care that he is free to do what he is called to do.

 

Here’s my motherly advice to each of you:

When you think you’re going backward, you are are likely paving the path forward in unexpected ways.

Free Banksy or jail us all. Keep art alive.

The Art and Joy of Self Reliance

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” Emerson

When we’re kids, we think we’re cool and you know what… we are.

Then we “learn” how to fit in. We lose our uniqueness.

What happens?

The process of becoming a grown up can be brutal. We try to fit in with groups because we feel lost and alone. We think people don’t understand us but the truth is, we don’t understand ourselves.

The good news about being ‘grown’ up is that we, hopefully, come to know ourselves enough to learn to trust and believe in ourselves. To stand on our own, to earn our way.

Do you still look to others for approval? Or do you look in the mirror and think.. yeah. I’m ok. Just the way I am.  Fitting in can feel good but it feels even better to know who we are and believe in ourselves no matter what other people think. Care about ‘them’ less and your uniqueness more. After all, in the end, you’re all you’ve got.

Image credit: Homemade Spidey Costume

The Irreverent Resume

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Yes to irreverent, NO to  idiotic.

When I saw this article, “Resume Blasphemy” I thought, how great! I love this idea.

Instead of listing… where you went to school and worked… the author suggests you write how you would do the job including:

  • “A clear picture of the business of the employer you want to work for.
  • Proof of your understanding of the problems and challenges the employer faces.
  • A plan describing how you would do the work the employer needs done.
  • An estimate of what/how much you think you could add to the bottom line.”

Imagine you are the hiring manager and instead of skimming boring resumes, you get to read through descriptions of various approaches to the advertised job. This is at the heart of behavioral interviews but it goes farther because it requires the applicant to do all the work.

My suggestion… whether you send the irreverent resume or not… write it! Imagine how prepared you will be for that interview.

Photo Credit: How to…

Confront Your Shark

In the article, “10 Navy Seal Life Lessons You Can Use Everyday,” Navy Seal Admiral W. H. McRaven shows us how to train like a seal. One of the 10 lessons is to “confront your daily shark.” Wow, really. I don’t want to. That’s why it’s a shark; it’s big, dangerous, mysterious, overwhelming.

In truth, some sharks are overwhelming. But many sharks are sharks – only to us. To others they are simply bosses, bullies, relatives – whoever intimidates and makes us feel smaller than we are.

I can’t tell you what you to do, but I can tell you what I did. I went through a bad, awful, terrible divorce. Specifics aside, I can tell you there were many times when I felt I couldn’t keep going. I wanted to give up and give in. I had grownup with alcoholic parents, was always taking care of other people (mom, little brother, chronically ill older sister) and I had a poor sense of myself as a strong, confident person. So when this ‘challenge’ arose in my life, I was more than shaken to my (already shaky) core.

Here’s what I did:

1) Got a physical and communicated regularly with my doctor

2) Exercised regularly

3) Talked and talked and talked.. thank you to everyone who listened

4) Tried to have fun whenever I could (I wasn’t great at this to begin with and … still not good at it)

5) Worked to change the “tapes” playing in my head that told me, I couldn’t, shouldn’t, wasn’t strong enough, smart enough, etc.

6) I focused on ‘the prize’ – what I wanted as an end result

7) Listened to inspirational (rock n roll songs) like:

Already Gone – Eagles

So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key

You Gotta Be -Des’ree
You gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm
 What are your favorites inspirational songs? Share them and what you’ve done to ‘confront your shark.” Go get ‘em!

Photo Credit: 3D Shark Will Ellis

Are You Part of the “Other Backward Class”?

I found this homeless man with his dog, he was ever so gentle and loving with man's best friend. Chris told me his dog, Brandy, was all he had in the world. His last dog was taken away from him by the police because he did not have tags or a ...

I read an article about the unexpected death of an Indian politician named, Gopinath Mundie. Mr. Mundie had risen to prominence from, what in India is known as, a low-caste grouping called the “Other Backward Classes.” When I read this, I almost cried. Can you imagine growing up in a country where you, your family and friends are referred to by this derogatory term?

I am not judging the Indian people, their culture or their politics (in fact, we could learn a lesson from them in democracy… if you haven’t seen this Daily Show segment on voter turn out… check it out.)

I am simply asking you to think about your life in America. We have a long way to go in many, many aspects of our young country’s democracy and fairness to our citizens. There are many problems. But one thing we don’t have are Backward Classes. Of course, we have ‘classes’ that ‘we’ consider ‘less than’ – so we all have a lot of work to do on understanding, kindness, sharing, fairness, etc.

Related to this… I hear many people complaining about our economy, but I see the restaurants are full. People complain about fuel prices, but we still drive everywhere. We worry about climate change, yet we leave our lights on, use drive-throughs and in general don’t pay much attention to our individual contribution to the problem.

I’m not blaming anyone… I have many improvements to make in my own life. For today, I am asking you to think about how lucky you are that you live in a country (with all its flaws) where education is universal and opportunities are abundant. The chance to live a life that most people on the planet would give everything to have a chance to experience. So the next time your dry cleaning isn’t ready on time or the grocery store is out of your favorite ice cream, will you stop and be grateful for the abundance that being born American has given you?

P.S. One other item of interest about Mr. Mundie… “His home district of Beed is infamous for female foeticide (where they find out if a fetus is a girl or a boy and then abort it if it is a girl) and given that he has three daughters and no son, he was often hailed as an example for others to follow. One of his daughters, Pankaja Munde-Palve, is a member of the Maharashtra state assembly.” Mr. Mundie.. you will be missed but your legacy lives on.

Photo credit: His Entire World: Homeless Man  Beverly and Pack

Starting a Business… Founders Reflect

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As some of you know I am expanding the focus of this blog to include the start up experience.

According to this article in Fortune, the #1 reason founders think their company failed (by a big margin) is that there was no market need.

I am 30+ years in business, many of them working with start ups  and this problem is widespread in start ups. The good news is that the people who tried, learned. The bad news is that a lot of effort goes in to creating a company or a product. With some discipline, this problem can be eliminated.

I have seen so many “technology-push” solutions… i.e. “oh we’ve got this great widget, it’s so cool. Everyone will want one.” But then (shock), everyone doesn’t want one.

I have spent years sizing markets (especially for new categories/products), understanding customer needs and developing “go-to market strategies.” There are experienced people to help you determine the size of and how to approach the market. Please ask. Here’s a local resource and a national one.

Image credit: Fortune

Feel Sorry For the Ferrari Driver

When you see someone driving a Ferrari, are you envious or do you feel sorry for him/her? Do you wonder, what do they, “do for a living” or do you think, ” that poor schlub really needs attention”?

Feel sorry for them? What are you talking about? They have money, probably a big house, lots of friends…

But the truth is that money doesn’t necessarily translate into happiness.

In a meritocracy (a society in which hard work, energy and skills are valued above other qualities), people thrive regardless of where and to whom they were born.  Those who give less and don’t try, end up at the bottom. Of course, this type of society doesn’t exist in the ‘modern world but we can adjust our attitude about effort and ‘success.’

We now view failure as something personal. We don’t see failure as a learning process.

I highly recommend this wonderful TED talk (15 minutes well spent) A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success.

We think we know what success means, but do we?

Are You Learning as Fast as the World is Changing?

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Do you think the world is changing too fast?

Yeah, so do a lot of people. But the question is, are you learning as fast at the world is changing? In order to cope with the world, we need to figure out how to keep up.

There are a lot of interpretations of ‘how to keep up’. I don’t have a prescription. I only know my own way.

In an article titled, “The Best Leaders are Insatiable Learners,” the Harvard Business Review author points out that according to John Gardner most of us are simply bored silly.

Can you relate? When I worked at my ‘corporate’ jobs, I have to admit, I was; at least part of the time, bored. For me, working with start ups, having my own company and being a freelancer has set me free.  If I am bored, it’s my own doing; not because of my work.

Some of the jobs where I made the most money, I’ve also been so bored I could scream like the boy in the picture.

The antidote to ‘boredom’ is learning. An insatiable desire and earnest effort to be exposed to the unfamiliar. Whether it be thoughts, ideas, foods, people, places, notions, experiences, etc.. The goal is to figure out a way to get that ‘exposure’ in a way that fits with our stage in life. If I’m young, this might be easy. If I’m 80, this might be more difficult. But the goal is the same.

My way is to: read, read, read; hang around people who are excited by their work and life; LISTEN to those people; try to do things I don’t know how to do – just for practice. A conscious effort to learn new things is, I think, keeping me young.

Find your way and instead of complaining about how fast the world is changing, you can enjoy, adapt and contribute to the change.

Photo credit: Scream and shout   madanys

Why We Work?

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<p>Operating a hand drill at North American Aviation, Inc., [a] woman is working in the control surface department assembling a section of the leading edge for the horizontal stabilizer of a plane, Inglewood, Calif....

The Buddhist point of view is that work has 3 purposes, to:

  1. give a man a chance to utilize and develop his faculties
  2. enable him to overcome his ego-centeredness by joining with other people in a common task
  3. bring forth needed goods and services

To simplify, we work to:

  1. Develop our unique skills (Do you know what these are? Do you work to develop them?)
  2. Think about other people (get over ourselves) (Many people say they do but… WOW it’s still all about them.)
  3. Make/provide stuff of value to others  (This one is the easiest)
  4. There is an obvious #4. The reason most of us would say we work… to make money to live.

Just for today, When you are working, how about thinking about 1-2 instead of 3-4?  In the photo, the woman probably had never used a drill before the war. Then suddenly, she had to become proficient for a greater good. What ways does your work help you develop your unique gifts and help others instead of yourself?

Photo credit: Operating a Hand Drill   Library of Congress