Posts tagged: creativity

Embracing the Mess

blogged at <a href="http://www.johnmundell.com/2008/02/11/kids-in-restaurant/">www.johnmundell.com/2008/02/11/kids-in-restaurant/</a> blogged at <a href="http://www.harrowdrive.com/">www.harrowdrive.com/</a...

“Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” Elizabeth Gilbert

“Doggone It, People Like Me” Jack Handey

I spent a lot of my younger years thinking that I was crazy, a mess, not that bright… very negative self talk. It took me many years to realize that everyone is a ‘hot mess’. That being a gloppy, bumpy, goofy, awkward human means that I am alive. That I am taking risks, putting myself out there, getting my hands dirty.

And that’s how it should be.

Change Your Self-Talk

So if you think of yourself as a mess, you’re probably doing it right. Work on changing your negative self talk to something positive:

  • Lighten up
  • It’s all good
  • I am enough (I used this affirmation for years)
  • Other people feel as awkward as I do (believe me, 95% of people do)
  • Easy does it
  • How important is it?

These days, I say, “it’s all good” nearly every day. The things I used to spend hours worrying about either never happened or whatever DID happen, I never could have predicted or prepared for.  Sure there are lots of things that happen in the world that are not “all good”- e.g. war, abuse and hunger. Today, I work to figure out what can I do something about and then do it. The rest of my awkward, weird, silly, ridiculous, lazy, lame and ludicrous self… I give her a pass.

Image credit: Enjoying the cake  Hoyasmeg

Job at Google? No Thanks.

Google, The Holy Grail of Employers

A lot has been written about interviewing and working at Google. William Poundstone has a book. Here’s an article from the NY Times, and there are probably hundreds more. My question is, what do you give up when you work at a big (50k + employees) company? (I worked 17 years at Eastman Kodak, 120K employees.)

Free food, dry cleaning,  onsite child care, convenient transportation, gyms etc.  The free sushi may flow, in some offices you can bring your dog and when you tell people you work at Google, they say wow, good for you. The list of benefits is long and generous. Only a company with huge margins could afford to offer all these.

Do Perks and Prestige Kill Innovation?

But my question is, what can you really accomplish (vs. working at a smaller company)? I know first hand the benefit of all the training and rubbing elbows with really bright people. I also know how much inertia a large corporation generates. The very thing that builds the company, is what holds it back.

Besides search, where has Google, with all it’s billions, really innovated? (I’ll give them Google Earth/Maps). They have tried in vain to create a Face Book competitor (think of Google Friend Connect, Google Wave, Google +, etc.) They have spent years trying to crack the way ‘people’ connect… and they haven’t succeeded yet.

What About YouTube?

One could make a case for YouTube. It brings people together to share, but I would suggest that YouTube’s ‘socialness’  is purely technical.

There have been almost no improvement in the interaction/social aspects of YouTube. Commenting is just as linear and lame as it’s always been. There’s no way to see comments in the context of the where it might be relevant in the video. Every time they come out with an “upgrade”, I think oh, good, they’re finally going to improve the viewers experience. But no, the upgrades make things easier for YouTube.

Look, if you want to work at Google, great. I wish you well and I know you’ll meet lots of smart, interesting people. If you want to really use all parts of your brain and general capacity… then I hope you aim for a smaller company. Let me know how it’s going, wherever you work.

Photo Credit: William Poundstone

The Beauty of the Winter Garden

It’s Not Beautiful, It’s Dead

In the middle of winter, we think about the green of summer, the abundance of the garden, the color of the flowers and wish that things were different. We forget to look at the garden as beautiful. If we take a few minutes and look carefully, we’ll see many unexpected things. First, we’ll see more shades of white, black and gray than we thought possible. We’ll see the outline of things that are blocked by the leaves and greenery. We might notice the hardiness of the evergreen or the way grasses turn brown and yet still blow in the wind. But we must pay attention to see these things.

It’s Dead and It’s Beautiful

Just like in life, we might dismiss a person who doesn’t seem to ‘fit’ the way we think they should or we might miss the importance of kindness in everyday life. If kindness is the stem and roots, then it will be present no matter the season.  The joy of appreciating the winter garden is that it teaches us to appreciate our days in all their phases – happy, sad, structured, confusing, etc. . Think about how the winter garden shows us how to accept wherever we are and even find joy and beauty there.

Photo credit: Winter Garden  Ms. Lea

One Thing I Must Do Everyday

Everyday people tell me, you gotta try this. You’ll LOVE this. Watch this, wear this, smell this, read this, blah blah blah.

I don’t have to do anything except breathe. And you know, for a human being, I think I do a rather poor job of it. Check this out from the always wonderful Chris Brogan.

“I had a quick chat with the Universe. It was in a rush but it wanted me to share something important with you. ‘You would do well to breathe deeper. In general. Take deeper breaths. In fact,’ said the Universe, ‘did you know that learning how to master slow, deep, controlled breaths is one way to master anxiety, fear, frustration, and many more feelings and emotions?'”

For today, you and I don’t need to master anything. But what I can do is remember the joy and release from just breathing. So right now, wherever you are, stop everything.  Take a breath. Now take another. Just feel yourself breathing. Feels good doesn’t it? I’m trying to figure out a way to remind myself several times a day. Got any hints?

Chris Brogan quote is from his weekly newsletter that he sends out on Sunday. You can subscribe here.

Photo credit: ellephysio

You’re a Genius – Everyday

Why We Judge Others

Did you judge someone today? Maybe you’re not even aware of it. It’s a habit and way of thinking in modern society. Anytime we think we know what someone “should” do, we are judging. In the quote above, Einstein gives us an idea of how to check if we are being judgmental.

Judgement is a problem because it makes others feel “less than” and doesn’t give room for live and let live.

There is a difference between stating your position and putting someone else down. My aunt Dorothy (b. 1899 d. 1998) taught me by example that judging people is not only a waste of time, but also, doesn’t contribute to one’s overall well being. Here’s an example.

Don’t Try Harder, Try Different

Let’s talk about the rights of gay Americans. Whether you like it or believe it’s ‘natural’ is beside the point. Let’s talk about the right to carry a gun. Whether you like it or think its good for society is beside the point.

The point is to listen not judge. If I judge the person who is gay or who wants to carry a gun everywhere, then I miss the opportunity to grow, to see the world from someone else’s point of view. I miss the opportunity to keep an open mind, to learn, to change, to adjust. I just dig my heels in and build walls. I judge that fish by it’s ability to climb a tree. Not. relevant.

There Is No Grapefruit at the Hardware Store

You can’t get grapefruit at the hardware store. If I am always mad when I leave the hardware store (for it’s lack of ANY fruit) – whose fault is that?

The point is to find a balance between having an opinion/belief and being open minded enough to get along, go along and help make things better. The key word is compromise. Lighten up a little. Pay attention to when you “judge”. What are you afraid of that makes you dig your heels in?

Image credit: You’re a genius all the time.

Persistence + Love = Abundance

“Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.” Elon Musk

More Money = More Happiness?

I was listening to the radio this morning and heard a segment about happiness and wealth. Do you think that if you had more money that you’d be “happier?”

I submit that the happiest people are those who  (of those that have their basic needs met) have a reason to act. Something that they believe in and are willing to ‘persist’ for. That they believe in something so completely, that they are willing to keep going, even when forces work against them.

Keep Going

“You have to love something enough to persist. You have to persist enough to deepen your love. And then abundance is the natural outcome. Not just for you but for everyone. Since wealth comes to those who create wealth for others. James Altucher

Modern living is full of distractions. It’s easier to flit from thing to thing — to just try something new instead of trying to get better.  Improving takes a lot of effort.  It’s much easier to be ‘entertained’. This is why the addiction to our devices is so troubling. We no longer take the time to sit and daydream; we can just be ‘distracted.’ For today, try to put your phone down for 2 hours at a time. Set a timer if you need to.

Photo Credit: The Runner  Hamed Saber

Against the Wind

When I take my dog outside and it’s windy … she stops and puts her face directly into the wind, even if it’s cold outside. It’s like she’s thinking, this wind is awesome … life is good.

In Paul Simon’s song, “I Know What I Know,” he uses the phrase.. “who am I blow against the wind?”

I take the lyrics to mean… “if you say so.” If you think I’m rich, a loser, a genius, a nut job… who am I to try to change your mind? It implies a passive attitude toward life. For me, that takes a lot of energy. Of course, it takes energy to stand up, speak up and challenge also. Sometimes we are greeted with a sh*tstorm. Sometimes we are patted on the head. Sometimes we help make a difference.

Rocker Bob Seger sang a song called, “Against the Wind.” In the song, Seger seems to think that as a young man, he didn’t do what was expected of him… that he did what he wanted, whether other people liked it or not. Then he got old and stopped ‘running against the wind.”

I think that there are times to run with the wind and times to run against it. No one can tell us when to go with or against. I will suggest that if you always run with (too conforming) or run against (too “too”), then think about mixing it up a little.

I’ve always run against more than with and for me, it’s been good.

Do you run with or against the wind?

And Now For Something Completely Different…

Image result for comedians in cars getting coffee

In case you don’t recognize the photo, it’s comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Kevin Hart from Jerry’s digital series, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. If you aren’t familiar with his show, Jerry picks up different comedians from their homes and takes them for ride in a car that he’s selected specifically for them (presumably to go get coffee.)

One particular “single shot” (a short compilation of clips) called, “In and Out“, shows several comedians tryyyying to get out of the various cars that Jerry has brought for them to ride it. I’ve watched it several times and each time… I laugh out loud.

Since it’s summer and everyone just wants to relax and enjoy themselves…this blog is taking a break from the serious business of finding our way through life to yuk it up. If you’ve got something that made you laugh… please share with me! Happy summer.

Are You A ‘DTM’ – Difficult to Manage?

What Is a DTM?

I was one of those employees labeled as ‘difficult to manage.’ When I worked in corporate america, I wasn’t intimidated by anyone’s position in the company. I tended to say my ideas out loud, even when they weren’t solicited. I was comfortable organizing chaos and happy when working with a team to make progress where others didn’t see how it could be done. I haven’t changed; much.

In this article in the Harvard Business Review, “Improve Your Ability to Learn,I finally feel vindicated. Here’s how they describe such an employee (aka me).

“While talented, Alex had come to be known behind closed doors by the moniker “DTM” – difficult to manage. He marched to the beat of his own drummer, and he wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. He loved a challenge, and he was comfortable taking risks.”

Oh, Oh, Now What Do I Do?

The point of this article is that some DTM’s can be exemplary in their ability to learn, including the importance of “learning agility, a set of qualities and attributes that allow an individual to stay flexible, grow from mistakes, and rise to a diverse array of challenges.” It’s gratifying to know that my brashness and challenging personality were actually good things.

Here are some characteristics of DTM’s – we tend to be more extroverted, focused, original and resilient and less accommodating to slow progress and excuses. If you have these characteristics, try the following – look for stretch assignments, regularly seek real input and most of all, enhance your listening skills. As for me, I’m old… too late for me to get along like a nice girl.

Photo credit: Five tips

Learning to Walk

Rose looking happy

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – George S. Patton

Falling Down

Watch a child learning to walk. We let them fall down, over and over; they have lots of ways to get that toy.  They’ll crawl, knee-walk, butt-slide and many more ways we’d never consider. If we dictated when and how our child learned to walk, would that be better than letting them find their own way? No. Because they are learning more than just walking. They are learning to learn, to gain command over their muscles.

The older we are, the more we want to tell people what to do AND how to do it. We’re afraid they might not do it … “the way we want.” When was the last time you let the people around you (co-workers, family members, etc.) figure out the ‘how’ to get something done.

The Power of Letting Go

There is a place in the world for control freaks (think safety). But if General Patton was able to let soldiers find the “how” within the structure of the military, then surely we can let go of the “how” at work and at home.

People rise to the occasion if they understand  what they’re supposed to do and, whenever possible, WHY they need to do it.  Sometimes when people complain about having to much to do, it’s because they don’t know how to let go, ask for help, or see that there are many ways to solve a problem. Think about it.

Photo credit: Happily Learning to Walk  Delta Mike