Posts tagged: passion

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

The Creative Journey… What About the Money?

“Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.” Hugh MacLeod

This post is dedicated to my daughter, Jenna aka Jenna Marbles, the YouTuber. (If you know a girl between the ages of 13 and 20, they probably know her.)  Here’s a  NY Times article about her.

Jenna has always been a free spirit who found a way to cope with ‘regular’ life. She made some videos in high school, but she wasn’t a ‘theater kid’ and never had aspirations of ‘fame’ that I know of. So when her video, “How to Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking” (warning language) got 5 million views in its first week, you could say she ‘stumbled’ into making videos for a living.

The fact that she single handedly writes, films, stars in, edits and uploads a new video every week (and has for 4+ year) is amazing. SHE HAS NEVER MISSED A WEEK — that’s 215 video in 215 weeks! 1.5 Billion views. Many people think what she does is easy. Try producing original content every week for 215 weeks. But there’s a story beyond that, that’s even more impressive (besides how much she cares about the people who support her.)

She understands who she is and what she wants. In the quote above, MacLeod talks about how money influences art. Jenna wants creative control and isn’t willing to let the bullshit run her life.

I am immensely proud of her for that.

Black & White & You All Over

Some people say that the world is falling apart. Some say it’s never been better.

What do you say?

No really, what do you say? Everyday… do you reflect the “getting better” or the “falling apart”? The truth often shows itself in subtle ways.

Yesterday I was at the dog park. I asked one of the people I often see there, what she’d been up to? She said she’d been on vacation at a nearby lake . I said, “Well you had beautiful weather.”  She replied, “Well, it was a little chilly somedays, not as hot as we wanted.”

Really, I thought? You got to go on vacation. and. you. say. that?

We live in a world of labels. Your politics are this, mine are that. Your  religion is this, mine is that (or worse, I don’t have one). You come from this country, I come from that.

Information overload has made it easier to be polarized. What can we do? Sometimes it’s in our nature to be a negative Nelly. If you’re a curmudgeon then fine; you’re off the hook. But I’ll bet you’re not. I’ll bet you want to be happier.

Just for today, try not to think in black and white. Try the grey. Maybe the person who cut you off in traffic has a sick child. Maybe the person at work who drives you crazy is lonely. You don’t have fix any of these things;  just adjust your attitude.

If you think, I could never be a democrat, a catholic, a republican, a Jew and on and on… Think about why not. The truth is, we are more alike than different. Let their peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Photo credit:  Flying Twigs

 

Creating Work You Love (Sounds Scary or Ridiculous)

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Why am I an entrepreneur? “We’ve made the decision to let you go,” my boss said over the telephone.  I was shocked and upset.That was, the first time.

The second time I was let go, not so much. By the third time I said to myself, “Never again.” I am not going to put myself in a position where how I earn my living is dictated by someone else’s priorities.

I learned to work hard when I was young and frankly, since I’m a Baby Boomer, being a workaholic is normal and I always wanted my own business. I remember more than one person saying to me, you can’t start a company (you girl, you), what could you possibly do? As angry as I was at them, I used the anger to motivate me.

Assessing the possibilities I had a bunch of skills, foreign languages, marketing, healthcare, blah, blah, blah. They didn’t really fit together into a solid plan for earning a living being an entrepreneur. So I devised a three pronged strategy for creating income.

1) Teaching

2) Speaking and workshops

3) Consulting

Getting started I met with a lot of people and talked about my idea. Some nodded, “Hmmmm, I could see them thinking, she’ll never make this work.”  Some tried to discourage me, “Get a job,” and a few encouraged me, “You can do it!”

I can report that 5 years in, I am doing better than I ever hoped. It isn’t what I expected and that’s not only good, it’s fun.

You can do it too.  So if you are wondering where your next job is going to come from… I will ask you this; what will it take for you to say, “Enough. I’m gonna try something different?  I can guarantee you will learn more in 1 year on your own path than you will in 5 years working for someone else. If, at any point,  you decide to go work for someone else, you’ll be even more valuable to that employer. You will be a better problem solver, see the big picture and actually empathize more with your boss in a different way.

But I can’t…. I have responsibilities   The first time I co-founded a start up I was the single mother of 2 kids, 14 and 12 with no family to help me. That start up only lasted 2 years, thanks to 9/11, but I learned so much and my actions showed my children how to go for what they want and to not be afraid.

Just Do It. Join millions of others who are finding a way to create meaningful, interesting work.

Photo credit: You Can Do It

Nothing is Certain, But Everything is Possible

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Do you remember stories that were told in your family? In my family, my grandfather used to tell, “Billy the Mountain Goat” stories. Now I was too young to remember any of them but for those who heard and know them, they are treasures.

In this article, “The Storyteller of Marrakech,” the author tells us about the 1,000 year old tradition of story tellers in the public square. The tradition had been dying out due to noise, traffic and the general “busy”ness of modern life. The story has a happy ending (a new home for the story tellers and young people coming to hear them and learn).

But it got me thinking about stories.

In my family there are stories about my kids when they were little. I shared them with them as they got older. Then I shared them with their friends and ‘significant others’/ spouses and now they are having children; so I look forward to sharing them with the next generation. This is an easy tradition and one we all likely follow.

But what about all those stories that are part of our religion, heritage, ethnicity, tradition, neighborhood, town, city, country? Do we work to keep them alive? Do we share the stories that mean the most to us with others? Most importantly, embedded in those stories are the guideposts, pillars, mile markers of our shared journey. If we let them die, we miss giving our children the one thing that might just help them through the dreaded darkness.

Today I ask you to reach out to one person and tell one story. Any story. And remember the power of a story to change a life. So as the Moroccan storyteller says, “Nothing is certain, but everything is possible.”

Photo credit: Think More: A Novel Concept

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”

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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