Posts tagged: passion

Be Weak Like Water (Or Is That Strong Like Water?)

Nothing in the world is softer or weaker than water and yet for attacking things that are firm and hard, nothing is so effectual.” Tao Tê Ching
Are you soft or hard? Ask people who know you. Ideally, we find a way to be both. This is the ideal of yin and yang; sweet and sour.
As a young, ambitious employee… I would charge around… spouting ideas, giving my opinion in a very “hard” way. I didn’t mean to be annoying or a smart aleck.. I just thought the world needed changing and I was just the person to do it. Sandpaper does eventually wear down the surface… but it’s not the easy way.
Think about the power of water. Think about the Grand Canyon.. (have you ever been there… it’s amazing). Water created this magnificent sculpture. The steady, slow pressure of water creates miracles.
Have a goal? Are you bullying your way there or are you slowly, deliberately applying the appropriate pressure. Guess which one helps you win the war, not just the battle.

Photo credit: Magnified by Nature Scott Robinson

Find Your “Zone of Genius”


Do you think you are an interesting person?

In her book, How to Be More Interesting in 10 Steps Jessica Hagy shows us direct ways to enhance our “interestingness” (my word). Here’s my suggestion. Get a piece of paper… rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 (with 1 being no way and 10 being — I’m already doing that every day!) — how comfortable are you with each of these?

1) Talking to strangers

2) Exposing yourself to ridicule, risk and wild ideas

3) Learning an entirely new skill; especially one that interests but intimidates you

4) Embracing your inner weirdness

5) Ignoring the “scolds”

How’d you do?  If you scored above 50, you’re on your way. Below 50? What are you waiting for ? There’s a saying, “when the student is ready, the teacher appears — but you have to be looking! In my experience the teacher is already available – I just haven’t been paying attention.

– Don’t hide your quirks; they are what make you interesting!

–Don’t let the ‘shoulds’ get in your way? When others will criticize you, be prepared. Don’t listen. They’re projecting their fear onto you. Push it back to them.

So this relates to your “Zone of Genius” – a term coined by author Gay Hendricks. Here’s how she describes it:

“Your Zone of Genius is the combination of your innate talent and your greatest passion. Innate talent, for this purpose, is how–not what–you do what you do. Your greatest passion is the activity that you could do for countless hours with unending fulfillment.Finding your zone of genius can be tricky. We’re all blind to many of our own true strengths and weaknesses, so it often helps to find an objective, supportive person to help. Knowing your Zone of Genius also makes you caring, humble, and brave.”

The ‘teacher’ can be anyone… your child, spouse, co-worker, an old friend, a complete stranger. You just need to let go and ask for help. It will be there. Go!

Photo credit: RiÃ?©Kââ??¢


Are You a Risk-Taking, Risk-Tolerant or Risk-Averse Person?

Most of us would agree that surfing can be a dangerous sport, yet lots of people — all over the world– surf. Why? The reasons are complex but the psychology boils down to — how much risk are we willing to take in our daily life? Some of it is related to our personality and upbringing, some of it is our drive and competitive spirit.  To learn more about our own risk acceptance or aversion –  answer the following question:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how willing are you to take risks?

– If your first thought is to ask questions like.. under what circumstances… then count yourself in the 1-5 bracket.

– If you immediately thought… yeah, I’m willing to take a risk… but not a stupid one; then count yourself in the 6-8 bracket.

– If you helicopter ski or big wave surf… then count yourself in the 9-10′s.

Understanding your risk profile is important because as you go through life’s up and downs, you may need to either increase or decrease the level of risk you’re taking depending on the situation.

In a difficult economy, more risk is required. We see more women and 20 something’s starting businesses than ever before. Is this because women today are better risk takers than previous generations? I don’t think so. I think it’s because the times require us to be inventive.

Many people are doom and gloom about the economy and I will grant you, there are many issues to be concerned about. I would also suggest that, as Americans, we rise to the challenges in surprising and wonderful ways.

Are you taking appropriate risks for the circumstances of your life? If not, check out, “It’s Takes Guts to Start A Company,” from Fast Company magazine.  I particularly like these 2 quotes,

  • “Guts-driven entrepreneurs aren’t fearless; they just know how to cope with, and maybe even thrive in, uncomfortable environments”
  • “The guts to endure lets us recognize that failure is not an option but rather a reality”

Look deep into your risk portfolio. Are you taking the right risks? If not, what are you going to do about it?

Photo credit: mikebaird Father and son surf lesson

Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants – The War is Over

At work, the war between the kids (20 somethings) and the old people (50 somethings) is over. The kids have won.

For those of you who think this isn’t true, let’s consider the facts.

– The workplace is officially  BYOD – Bring Your Own Device… in a short 5 years the IT department has gone from “we don’t support that” to “we’ll help you get your job done on whatever device you need.”

– Bye bye Blackberry– 5 years ago, in “Corporate America” — the Blackberry was  the go-to device. Their market share has fallen from 41% to 10%.  A person no longer needs a big corporation’s network and device to be mobile & productive.

– Letting technology do what it does best is a win/win. When we can use technology to remove distance barriers between people…e.g.  online learning, online petitionsFacebook and collaborative tools like Google docs, dropbox and flickr– we substantially improve productivity and outcomes.

However, we need to keep pushing on the very important HUMAN side of the equation. The things machines can’t do (and likely never will) are the keys to making this new digital, “cyberspacy” world work for all of us.

These include:

- Empathy, Passion, Listening, Respect, Courage.

Listen to Marc Presnsky (who first talked about digital natives and immigrants in 2003) talk about the responsibility of educators in using technology. We can all learn from this.

Photo credit: familymwr -eye of the holder

10 Steps to A Happy Life

These steps are based on my years of experience of doing it wrong; so I have it on excellent authority… my own happiness… that if you follow these steps … you may not be ecstatic..but you will be in a a better place.

1.  Sit quietly for 5 minutes a day

2.  Stop whining (you live in the wealthiest country in the world)

3.  Stop gossiping (including judging other in our own minds or out loud)

4.  Be grateful (write down 5 things you’re grateful for 2x a day, no repeats for 30 days)

5.  Learn new stuff – especially stuff that is hard

6. Find someone to help (outside your family)

7.  Shut up and listen (for a change)

8. Exercise your body and willpower daily

9. Walk tall, smile, be gracious

10.   Be grateful — this is really the key to everything.

At the most difficult time of my life, I kept a gratitude diary. Once a day I wrote down 5 things I was grateful for…and I couldn’t repeat anything. After 3 months I had incorporated gratitude into my daily thinking. That was nearly 20 years ago and I still reflect on all my gifts everyday.

Those tremendously sad years gave me the one thing I needed most – a way to enjoy every day – no matter what is happening around me. The idea and accompanying serenity are yours for the taking.

Photo credit: Partners in Community Development

Under the Influence

Choices, do you have too many or not enough?

People without food, homes, jobs, health. self-respect, family, etc.  don’t have many choices. Most of us have a ton of choices (like the cereal aisle – 100 kinds of cereal – really?)

We’re so invested in our comfort and conformity that we literally say… we have no choice but to… work a job we hate, stay in relationships with people who harm us, believe things that make us hate other people.

Here’s a little inspiration by Liz Strauss. I don’t know Liz except for her twitter posts. but I really loved this.

Be a treasure.
Start a quest. Create and conspire.
Be a mentor, a leader, a teacher. Inspire.
Be a beginner, a learner, an adventurer. Aspire.
Shine at being you.
Shine because being brilliant is what you do.
Do it because YOU have decided you’re living up to being a treasure.

Influence yourself.

Be irresistible.
– ME “Liz” Strauss

Do you understand that you are a treasure? Do you know how much you can influence the world? Start with yourself. If you’re not sure where to begin– try being quiet; the answers will come to you– I promise.

Photo credit: Nightgaunt Graphics

Balance Yourself Not Your “Work/Life”










When I was a young mother (back in the last century), there was a lot of talk about work/life balance and how “women” needed to work harder to ‘find’ it. The only thing I needed to find was a few hours sleep and someone else to plan dinner and drive the kids all over the place.

It’s better today because both men and women are looking to balance their responsibilities and my observation is that they are doing a fine job. Their bosses and workaholic colleagues might disagree but the truth is, they understand that it’s about balancing themselves — not their work/life. They only have one life and work, family, play, learning are all part of it.

If you look at the younger generation and think they don’t get it… take a look in the mirror. My friend Hannah Morgan (Career Sherpa) was telling me about “helicopter” parents. These parents who think it’s perfectly ok to go to a career fair with their college senior! A College CAREER FAIR!

My kids would barely let me review their college applications never mind go with them to a job interview. Michael Jackson wrote these great lyrics from The Man In The Mirror—”Take A Look At Yourself, And Make A Change”. Yes, please.

Photo credit: Believe in you

Be Bold and Great Forces Will Assist You

Each of us has something important to do in this life.

I believe that with all my heart.

When I say important, I don’t mean big… I mean significant. These are 2 very different things. The cool part is that each of us gets to find it. No one else can tell us what it is.

Some of us will find it and rise to the occasion and many of us will recognize it but will let fear or judgement keep us from it.

We can learn a lot about living today from,  the Top 5 Regrets of Dying People.

1) Be true to yourself. This in itself is an act of courage.

2) Don’t work so much. (Millenials already get this and we Baby Boomers criticize them for it instead of understanding their point.)

3) Express your feelings. I know it’s hard, but there are substantial rewards for saying things that you feel deeply.

4) Stay in touch with friends.

5) Give yourself permission to be happy. Even though the pain of changing seems to outweigh whatever we fear we’re facing, we continue to do the same things over and over. Be brave and be happy.

If you don’t know what is holding you back, talk to someone. Reason things out. Avoid gossip and criticism. These are just ways to hide from yourself.

Truly great people don’t think less of themselves… they think of themselves less.

Photo credit: One step at a time

Who’s Your Customer? It’s Not Who You Think…

A lot is written about discovering who your customer is and how to find them. A new blog post by Seth Godin, titled, “Who is Your Customer?” sheds light on this in a whole new way.

Instead of thinking about customers as a group of people, think about the one, two or three people who are most important and pay attention to them.

For example, Godin asserts that Apple employees had one customer only, Steve Jobs. Nike’s customers are not the people who buy their shoes but the athletes who endorse them.

I’m not sure I agree with Mr. Godin; but I do like the idea of shifting our thinking. Whether we are in a job search or looking to put some sparkle back into our lives, the idea of thinking about who we are trying to get to support us is a great exercise.

If I want to sell a book of fiction, maybe my customer is a publisher. In a way, this is like the viral sales funnel. In the “old” way of selling, we broadcast messages to lots of people. The ‘new’ way (social) of selling/marketing is to get to the key influencers and then ‘attract’ them to help you spread the word.

If we always do what we always did, we’ll always get what we always got… but the rules have changed and we have to find a way to change too.

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Viral funnel credit: Socialsteve’s blog

Shopping for a New Boss

About 15 years into my career I figured out that WHO I worked for was as important as what I was doing for work. So when it came to looking for a new job, my search became about looking for a great person to work for.

This may sound crazy; particularly in this tight job market. It takes a lot of confidence (and some money in the bank) to alter our perception of how to find a new job by figuring out who we want to learn from.

My approach was pretty simple. I looked for great places to work; places that were growing and had a focus on customers and building trust. During the interview process, I would pay close attention to the person I would work for. I asked a lot of questions and thought about:

- Would I learn from this person? Do they have skills I want?

- Are they happy and growing in their work?

In an interesting blog post called, “Get Hired, No Resume, No Interview, No Joke,” the author suggests that you “go to good managers you’d like to work for.” Talk to them, understand their issues and see how you might fit into their organization. I’m not suggesting that you abandon networking or applying for work. But author Corcodilos’ suggestion that we pick  “three companies or managers you really, really want to work for because they are shining lights in their industry.”

Like any good sales effort, you may pick 3 and find out that 2 won’t work. So pick two more. If you are not sure how to identify these excellent managers? Ask other people! They will tell you. But you won’t find out unless you ask.

It always worked out for me. I learned a great deal and respected the people I worked for.  It may not be easy but I can assure you it is very worthwhile. Happy shopping!

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