Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Workout - 8/30/10

Had a great Monday morning workout. Ran 25 minutes with Charly, with his new leash, which goes around my waist. Since his leash is now connected at my waist, I no longer have to hold his leash in my hand while I run. Good times! I liked the new leash, and so did he :-)

Then I did a 20 minute CrossFit workout, which kicked my ass. Did a variation of another workout, so I improvised. In 20 minutes, I had do as many rounds as possible of the following:

10 Push Press - with 75 lbs on the bar
10 Pull ups
10 box jumps

I finished 6 rounds within the 20 minutes, and then I collapsed. You would think I would be stronger by now, but at least there is satisfaction in just finishing a good workout.

Another week off to a good start.

Workout - 8/29/10

Sunday = Day off! Woo hoo! Since I had worked out 6 days in a row, I took Sunday off, and helped Mike start celebrating his birthday....!

We golfed early, had a birthday breakfast, then a nap, then swimming in the pool, and then a really nice pasta dinner - yummy! Watched a movie after dinner.

It was a totally mellow, calm, wonderful Sunday.

Total workout time for the week was around 6.5 hours. Pretty solid, and consistent. I'll take it.

Workout - 8/28/10

Yes, I really did workout on Saturday - I did a 90 minute bike ride. Started around 8:30 am - it was warm, but decent out, I was able to avoid the heat. Nice ride, nice morning.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Workout - 8/27/10

I REALLY did NOT want to workout today. Really I didn't.  It was my Friday off from work, so I used the morning to sleep in and read and laze around the house.

Finally at 11:00 am it was make or break time. Workout or no? It was already 90 degrees, so running was out. That meant CrossFit.

I picked an oldy but goody CrossFit workout - called "Fight Gone Bad." The CF workouts with names are particularly bad - this one is so named because by the end you will want to collapse on the ground, as if you'd just lost a bad fight.

3 rounds - you do each set for 1 minute, and you do as many reps as possible within that 1 minute:

Wall ball throws
Sumo deadlift high pulls (I did 55 lbs)
Box jumps (18" box)
Push press (I did 75 lbs)
Rowing machine (my watts averaged 135, 134, 142)
1 minute rest

(repeat for a total of 3 sets)

In the "real" CF gyms, you are supposed to keep track of your reps and total the final number - highest number is the best. But for me, when I work this hard, my brain stops working and I lose track of reps. Let's just say that I worked hard and collapsed at the end.

Total time was only about 20 minutes - but it was INTENSE. Here's the photo of my sweat mark on the mat when I finished.  Can you say "ready for the summer heat to be over"? Seriously, August must be the worst month in Arizona.

Workout - 8/26/10

Normally, I have a standing work meeting every Thursday morning, which required me to be in my office by about 7:15 am. Which means I don't workout those morning, since I have a 35 minute commute to work, that would cross the line into "WAY TOO EARLY" for exercise.

But this week, that meeting was cancelled! And since Mad Dog is used to walking Charly on Thursday mornings, I used my morning time to sneak in another bike ride. Yeah! 80 minute ride, up and down some hills.

Since we'd had a REAL monsoon the night before, the desert was clear and crisp and it was gorgeous out.  Yeah for Thursday bike rides!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Keep Calm & Carry On

I just read a great blog posting about this phrase "Keep Calm & Carry On." I had no idea that this was a war poster in England - you can see the graphic here:

In any case, Steven Pressfield has a terrific treatise on how this mantra can be an antidote to our creative resistance, insecurities and doubt. As he explains, both artists and entrepreneurs can expect to find sticking points - times when we get stuck and want to quit. All of these common sticking points are predictable and can be overcome with discipline.

I guess I need to work on my discipline. Because I am FAR too prone to getting stuck...

Workout - Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Morning workout was pretty nice - somewhat cooler after the rain we had last night.

30 minute run with Charly - today I did sprints - 6 fast intervals with rest inbetween

(Charly did great with all that sprinting)

25 minutes Crossfit: 4 rounds as fast as possible:

20 Kettlebell swings
10 pullups
10 pushups
run 200 yards

Time was 22:56

Overall, a good workout - lots of sweating. Once again, the rest of the day was downhill from there...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Workout - Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I actually got OUT OF BED at 5:05 this morning. Whew that is early!

Was on my bike outside by 5:30 am, and rode a good 70 minutes. Nice morning, not much traffic, did a hilly ride with some good tunes on the ipod.

Was a good start to the day, which just went downhill from there...

Monday, August 23, 2010


Awesome quote from The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss:

"Being busy is a form of laziness - lazy thinking and indiscriminate action."

"Lack of time is actually a lack of priorities."

(page 75)

This book is really going to change my life - I can already tell.

Productivity Issues

Newsflash: I spend too much time online being unproductive. As do most of us. I'm easily distracted and immensely curious, so I can spend hours browsing from site to site.

I'm doing 2 things to combat this.

(1) I have downloaded www.RescueTime.com to track where and how I spend all my computer time. It seems like a great free application, which will give me plenty of data about exactly how unproductive I am being. Great.

(2) I'm going back to making lists. Lists for the week and lists for the day. This keeps me focused on just those things that I need to get accomplished. I need more focus.

Bonus Points: for my upcoming San Diego escape vacation, I'm toying with the idea of not taking my macbook with me. 8 whole days without my laptop? That would be really hard, but maybe it will shift my focus. Because I'm realizing that while I'm taking IN a whole lot of information online, I'm spending much less time doing productive work that results in output.

Too much input = not enough output.

Herbert Simon (winner of nobel prize in economics) says this all better than me:

"What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it."

The short version of that quote = a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.

This describes so much of our modern world.... we have a poverty of attention.

Workout - Monday, August 23, 2010

Morning workout:

1.  30 minute run with Charly.  

2.  20 minute CrossFit workout.

CrossFit - 3 rounds of the following:

- 10 full cleans (75 lbs on bar)
- 10 wall ball throws with 16 pound ball
- run sprint (about a 2:00 interval in the neighborhood)

Workout was good - I was DRENCHED by the end.  Decided to break down and buy a runner's leash for Charly, so I can connect his leash to my waist instead of having to hold his leash while I run.  We'll see how the new leash works out. 

Workout - Sunday, August 22, 2010

No workout on Sunday. Second miss of the week. In my defense, I was up at 4:45 am to go golfing. And after golfing, I had a long "to do" list.  At some point in the afternoon I had to choose between nap or exercise. The nap won out. No regrets about that.

Total for the week was just about 7 hours of exercise. Not terrible but not outstanding. But a good start, and I won't complain.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Workout - Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saturday was rough - had so many opportunities to NOT workout.  But I did - I pushed through the excuses!  Did a 2 hour bike ride, all along the north side of Tucson.  Fair number of hill climbs, and since I didn't start until 10:00 am, it was HOT and HUMID.  Yucky.  But I had good tunes on the iPod and it was a nice day.  Also forgot sunscreen, so I got some sunburn on my shoulders.  

Yeah for weekend exercise. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Places

Several people have asked me recently which blogs I read. I read a lot, and I don't have them all bookmarked on the same computer - that would require some degree of organization that I don't currently demonstrate. That would also be the same degree of organization that I WISHED I demonstrated. Not enough hours in the day....

Instead, I'll share a few of my favorite blogs each week - this way you can check them out a few at a time.

Some of my favorite blogs involve very regular daily postings. As in posting every day or almost every day. Impressive. Two of these blogs are:

1000 Awesome Things: http://1000awesomethings.com/

TXS, A Thank You Note a Day: http://thxthxthx.com/

My favorite weekly blog is Post Secret - updated every Sunday:


I guess I could try to organize my blog links and finally get around to setting up an RSS reader. Jeez I feel lazy....

Workout - Friday - 8/20/10

Great workout this morning.

45 minute run with Charly.

CrossFit workout - 4 rounds as fast as possible:

20 box jumps

10 thrusters (70 lbs) (weight lifting move with olympic bar)

50 squats

Time was 21:05. I can feel my legs tonight - sore already.

Workout - Thurs - 8/19/10

No workout Thursday - went home sick from work and curled up in a ball on the couch and went to sleep after work.  I'm going to call these kinds of days, "Girl Days" and just leave it at that. 

Some days are just this way. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Workout - August 18, 2010

20 minute run with Charly, + 20 minute CrossFit workout.

CrossFit = 25 each of the following (as fast as possible):

Wall ball throws
Kettle bell swings
Weighted lunges
Box jumps

Time: 17:48

Then I did another 5 minutes of lifting.  Off to start the day....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Workout - August 17, 2010

Cycled for 80 minutes this morning before work - a fairly hilly ride.  Don't know my mileage, since my bike computer has been missing for the past year.  Don't know my heart rate, since I've stopped wearing my heart rate monitor.  I've become such a total slacker!

It was a beautiful sunny humid Tucson morning.  Good tunes on the ipod and a good start to the day.

Still on track to the weekly training plan....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Workout - August 16, 2010

45 minute run with Charly + CrossFit

CF Workout = 10 rounds for time:
10 heavy deadlifts (100 lbs)
10 pushups
10 box jumps

Time = 23:12

Sunday, August 15, 2010

2 awesome things

Awesome = having at least one day each week where you can turn off all the alarms and just sleep until you naturally wake up. That way, you can wake up whenever your body has had enough sleep. It's a natural way to catch up on lost sleep and replenish the body. No alarm clocks is just so wonderful.

Awesome = cold stella draft on a hot summer day. Just perfect.

Workout of the Day = None

It's day 1 of this new habit thing and I didn't exercise. I stink. At least I'm being honest. The truth is, we didn't get home until 4:00 and then we had to put back all the furniture (after having the house painted), I had to pick up Charly, unpack, do laundry and it was 104 degrees out. So I'm lame and I didn't workout. In order to atone for this, I just sat down and figured out my workouts for this entire week. Here is the plan:

Monday:          Run 45 minutes + CrossFit 30 minutes (5:30 am)
Tuesday:         Cycle 90 minutes (5:30 am)
Wednesday:   Run 30 minutes + CrossFit 30 minutes (5:30 am)
Thursday:        Spinning class at the gym 60 minutes (6:00 pm)
Friday:             Run 30 minutes + CrossFit 30 minutes (5:30 am)
Saturday:        Cycle 90 minutes (6:30 am)
Sunday:          rest day / golf

Total for all this is 7 hours. My triathlete friends will probably scoff at such a light schedule, but hey it is what it is. I typically start the week of well, but then as work gets busy and I get tired and the heat continues, it gets easier to hit snooze in the morning. But no more snooze! I'm going to be consistent and workout every day this week and I'm going to post all about it.

Here's to consistent habits!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Goals Versus Habits

"A goal creates achievement, celebration and good vibes on the day it is ticked off. A well tended habit creates consistent, incremental and exponential success over a lifetime."

- Peter Shallard


I have worked with people for many years to figure out their goals, and then work to accomplish those goals. And I have spent decades pursuing my own goals. What I've learned from all my experiences is that habits are far, far more important than goals. And our goals are truly MOST effective, when we use them as motivation to establish consistent HABITS. 

When I set myself a goal to do an Ironman triathlon, the fear of that ambitious goal caused me to get my butt out of bed and train every morning. For four entire years. During those four years, I tracked all my workouts, I totaled all my mileage and training hours and heart rate intervals. Yes, I spent a lot of time exercising/training, but I also spent a lot of additional time PLANNING my exercise, and setting up tools to establish consistent habits. When I crossed the finish line of my first Ironman, it was somewhat anti-climactic, primarily because I felt that I had already accomplished what I set out to do, way before I crossed the finish line. I had become healthy, fit, and strong, during those four years of training. Every morning that I got up out of bed to run or bike was a success for me. The goal almost became an after-thought, because it was the actual habits that had changed my life.

Goals are useful if they lead us to design and implement good habits. But habits are what actually create change in our life. Habits are what actually create and generate the life that we want.

Whenever I coach people, I try to work with them to establish habits that will establish consistent patterns in their life. Some people understand this and embrace this, while other people resist this. Many people understand this concept intellectually, but are not ready to actually commit to new habits. These are what I call FLAKY people. There are a LOT of flaky people in the world - people who like to talk about their goals, but are unwilling to establish good habits.  I'll have another entire post to share soon exploring this flakiness.

I don't want to be a flaky person. And I want to exercise more consistently for the rest of this year. Since I don't have an Ironman goal to motivate me, I need some other motivation and accountability. Therefore, I'm going to commit to post my daily exercise on this blog every day for the next 60 days. I'll post my workout after it is complete and if I miss/skip a workout, I'll post that too. This should keep me accountable to people other than myself. I'll consider this an experiment in public accountability.

My goal is to exercise 6 days a week, with a combination of cardio workouts and CrossFit workouts - at least 3 CrossFit workouts a week. My target will be 6 hours of exercise per week.

Of course I'm starting this commitment today, when I'm "on vacation" at a luxury resort, without any running shoes or exercise clothes. I did get a full body massage, which I'm going to categorize as preparation work, to get ready for more regular training. I heart massages.

So officially: no workout today *** since I don't consider golf to be exercise.

The habit experiment starts today.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Who Are Your Heroes?

I recently read an interesting blog post about ambition among writers. The gist of the posting is that idol worship / celebrity worship / hero worship actually disrespects the people being worshipped. Furthermore, worshipping others can be of way of denying our own strengths. The full posting can be found here:


His thesis is that icon worship is a form of creative resistance. When we endow others with exceptional powers/talents/skills, we avoid embracing those powers/talents/skills within ourself. And this is a form of creative resistance.
I absolutely believe this is true. I can think of many examples where people assign power/talent to someone other than themselves, as a way of avoiding self responsibility.

However, I also believe that there is a value in hero worship, if used in the right manner. When we really sit down and thoughtfully reflect, in order to figure out who our heroes are, we can identify those strengths/talents/skills we value, we desire, we want to be better at. Think of it this way - our heroes can be thought of as the people we want to be when we grow up. And if we know exactly who we want to be when we grow up, we are better equipped to become that person. I'm not talking about mimicing someone, I'm talking about being truly, incredibly authentic. I'm talking about being militantly true to our own talents and values.

I actually have a folder of bookmarks that I have labelled "heroes." Over the past few years, I have been compiling a list of links to people I respect for their professional and creative lives. Not necessarily their accomplishments, those are less important to me. I've been focused on the lifestyles, These are people who have established positive creative habits, people who have worked in diverse industries, people who have invented their own career path, people who have created new networks. By making a list of people I highly respect and am inspired by, I can analyze what they have in common and where their paths diverge. It's like having my own imaginary group of mentors.

When I have more time this week, I'll share that list of bookmarks. The caveat is that my list of heroes will be different than anyone else.

I believe that figuring out who we respect and knowing who inspires us, can provide a shining light to illuminate our own best path.

Do you know who your heroes are?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How Long to Trust?

Our new dog Charly - is a wonderful chocolate lab. He's about 3 years old and we're really proud of two things: we have successfully taught him not to jump up on the bed, and we have taught him to swim in the pool. Ok, so we bribed him with the swimming thing by using his favorite pink basketball as bait. But it worked, and he's now a great pool dog. Right now he's sound asleep, worn out from two different swim sessions today. You could say he is dog tired :-)

Charly was a rescue dog - he was rescued from Nogales, Arizona. He was in foster care for about a month before we adopted him, and he had suffered from several health issues. Ear infections, skin infections, you name it. He still has one cut in his ear that is 95% healed. Now he's also trying to recuperate from "Happy Tail Syndrome" - because he's wacked his tail so hard he's created two bleeding sores on the tip of his tail. Apparently this is common, but if we can't get it healed, we might have to amputate the tail. Oh, the perils of being a happy dog!

Anyway, the point of this background is that we don't know what Charly's life was like before us. We just know it was rough. He was scrawny and underweight when we got him, and his coat was really thin. Now he's a healthy weight and he's strong from twice a day walks. He's got a good life here, a great life really, and we love him.

However, sometimes when Mike goes to pet Charly, and he has his hand raised to do the petting, Charly will flinch and pull away. This drives Mike crazy, because he has never ever even come close to raising his hand against Charly. It also makes us sad. Because we can only assume that someone else did raise their hand against Charly, for why else would be flinch from us?

The thing I wonder, is not what happened to make Charly flinch, but how long will he need to live with us until he can learn to trust us completely? How long will it take him to unlearn the flinching? I don't need to know what happened to Charly - I can only assume bad things happened, but I want to generate trust with Charly. I want him to forget the bad stuff and learn to trust us, so he can relax.

How long will this take and is it a function of time alone? Or is there anything we can do to accelerate this process?

Of course, the corollary question is about people - and how long does it take people to relearn trust after they have been hurt? I'm not referring only to physical pain, but also emotional pain. I know a lot of people who have been hurt, or disappointed. And I wish there was some way to accelerate the trust process. I know there is no formula for this, and I'm not wishing for one. I'm just wishing I could do more to accelerate this process. It's hard to just be patient and wait. I'm an active person and I always want to know what I can do. Doing is easier than waiting.

As for Charly, I will just continue to love him, and continue to hug him. I'm not going anywhere, and I have plenty of love to share.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Every No Can Lead To Yes

There are some people in the world who have a hard time saying no to anything. We all know these people who overcommit, who say yes to everything and are always exhausted and stressed out. In coaching school we learned all about how saying no is an actual skill that can be learned. Saying no means to decline something, and declining can require strength, courage, and grace. Some people are afraid to say no, for different reasons. They might be afraid to disappoint someone, they might be afraid to miss out on something, they might be afraid to close the door on possibility.

Over the past few months, I've had two opportunities where I said no. These were job opportunities. I took my time thinking about each one before I said no, and during the decision phase, I realized that saying no to each opportunity was actually helping me to say yes, to something very different.

I think people are afraid to say no to options, because saying no can actually help you find your yes. Every no closes a fork in the road. As each of the forks in the road closes, it gets easier to see which fork remains open. In other words, saying no can give you clarity about you should be saying yes to. Saying no helps illuminate the alternate route. Saying no helps you focus on yes, and it gives you clearer vision. Saying no to option A can lead you to say yes to option B.

Therefore, we should all practice saying no more often. Because saying no can lead you to your next yes.

In addition to the recent job opportunities, I can think of three other times in my life when saying no helped me say yes.

1) When I left Honduras in 1999, I knew that I was saying no to living overseas any longer. I wasn't sure what would come next, but leaving Honduras was like shouting a big loud "no" to the universe. No more living overseas. Once I said no to Honduras, I was able to get busy figuring out what to say yes to. That departure from Honduras was one of the largest turning points in my life, and saying no to overseas led to the opening of many other doors.

2) When I left the teaching profession in the year 2000, I was saying no to many things. I was saying no to poverty, no to low teaching standards and standardized tests, no to frustration and disappointment. As much as I loved education, and still consider myself an educator, I was incredibly dissatisfied working in the public schools. Once I said no to the public schools, my career trajectory changed significantly. Now, 10 years later, I'm still an educator, just in the corporate setting. And saying no to the public schools was necessary for me to create an alternate path I could say to.

3) About five years ago, I said no to a certain career path. I had been offered a few job opportunities, which would have taken me into a new career. Every time someone talked to me about this specific type of job, I wanted to puke or poke nails in my eyeballs or run screaming away into the desert. Several people had confirmed my strong potential for this career path, yet it held absolutely no interest for me. It wasn't aligned with my natural interests and passions. I knew I was absolutely capable of doing the job, I knew I could be great at it. And I was certain that I would be miserable. So after saying no to two or three of those opportunities, I knew I had to find my yes. I had to find something that I DID want to pursue, something that I could excel at AND care about. So I did just that, I went and created my own yes at work.

The act of saying no can be a signal that you need to find your yes. The act of saying no can mean that you need to go create your next yes. In my life, saying no tells me that I need to go find my yes and if I can't find it I need to create it.

Since I've said no to two job opportunities during the past couple months, I've been busy figuring out my next yes. Figuring out my next yes is about more than just my job. It's about my whole lifestyle and my future path. This next fork in the road is going to be big, it's going to be important, and it's going to shape my life.

Despite the uncertainty of everything right now, I can take comfort from my past experiences. Every time I have said no to something, I have been led to a better yes. Every time I trusted myself and listened to myself, and followed my heart, it has led me somewhere positive.

No can lead to yes. Declining something that is wrong can lead to something that is right. Have faith, and practice saying no.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I am far too tired tonight to write a long post. So I'll keep it simple with a great song lyric from The Indigo Girls:

The greatest gift in life is to know love.

Bonus points to anyone who can name the song.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I have worked at a large corporation for the past 9 years and I have never really given much thought to the world of entrepreneurs. However, a few months ago I started paying more attention to the world of entrepreneurs. I subscribed to INC magazine, and I've been reading more books and profiles about them. It has been a huge realization for me to discover that this lifestyle is for many people an intentional choice about how to design their life. For many people, being an entrepreneur is more about designing their life than it is about designing their work. And as I gain more scars from the corporate world each month, I'm coming to appreciate the freedom and autonomy that entrepreneurs experience. The freedom they have could be worth the risks.

Here are a few quotes I read recently that struck me as insightful and eye opening.

"Being an entrepreneur can represent a means of exploring the world, one that is just as profound as religious inquiry or Greek philosophy or New Age introspection." - Tim O'Reilly

"Right now, I have this tool that I can use to make stuff happen. If I sold it, I'd just have money."    - Tim O'Reilly

"Above all, life entrepreneurship is an adventure. It doesn't just arise from need, but from desire --to be something more, to create something new, to explore beyond the usual boundaries. It's an appeal to all of us to become our best selves...
...the opportunities for challenge, contribution and fulfillment are there; we just have to grab them."       - Warren Bennis

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Joy Costs Pain

I HIGHLY recommend this book: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller.  Go read this book.  Rather than describe the story, the characters, the plot, I'll just share some of the best quotes.  Enjoy.

"A story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it."

"I've wondered though, if one of the reasons we fail to acknowledge the brilliance of life is because we don't want the responsibility inherent in the acknowledgement.  We don't want to be characters in a story because characters have to move and breathe and face conflict with courage.  And if life isn't remarkable, then we don't have to do any of that; we can be unwilling victims rather than grateful participants."

"Once you know what it takes to live a better story, you don't have a choice.  Not living a better story would be like deciding to die, deciding to walk around number until you die, and it's not natural to want to die." 

"Our interaction with each other, with the outside world, and with intangible elements such as time made us different people every season... people get stuck, thinking they are one kind of person, but they aren't... the human body essentially recreates itself every six months.  Nearly every cell of hair and skin and bone dies and another is directed to its former place... we were designed to live through something rather than to attain something, and the thing we were meant to live through was designed to change us.  The point of a story is the character arc, the change."  

"A character is what he does."  

"People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen.  But joy costs pain."  

"Robert McKee says humans naturally seek comfort and stability.  Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they won't enter into a story.  They have to get fired from their job or be forced to sign up for a marathon.  A ring has to be purchased.  A home has to be sold.  The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen."  

"The great stories go to those who don't give in to fear."

"It made me wonder if the reasons our lives seem so muddled is because we keep walking into scenes in which we, along with the people around us, have no clear idea what we want."

"The world needs for us to have courage.  The world needs for us to write something better."  

"The ambitions we have will become the stories we live.  If you want to know what a person's story is about, just ask them what they want.  If we don't want anything, we are living boring stories..."  

"You didn't think joy could change a person did you?  Joy is what you feel when the conflict is over.  But it's conflict that changes a person... you put your characters through hell.  You put them through hell.  That's the only way we change."  

"When something bad happens to you, you have two choices in how to deal with it.  You can either get bitter or better."

"I think this is when most people give up on their stories.  They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies.  But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought.  They can't see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward.  None of the trees behind them are getting smaller and none of the trees ahead are getting bigger.  They take it out on their spouses and they go looking for an easier story."

"The story of the forest is better than the story of the tree."  

"A good movie has memorable scenes, and so does a good life."  

"A good storyteller speaks something into nothing.  Where there is an absence of story, or perhaps a bad story, a good storyteller walks in and changes reality.  He doesn't critique the existing story, or lament about his boredom, like a critic.  He just tells something different and invites people into the story he is telling."

"The trip taught us that we were all neighbors, that my life is connected to everybody else's, that on person's story has the power to affect a million others."

"It's interesting that in the Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes, the only practical advice given about living a meaningful life is to find a job you like, enjoy your marriage and obey God. It's as though God is saying, Write a good story, take someone with you, and let me help."  

"It's a good calling then, to speak a better story.  How brightly a better story shines.  How easily the world looks to it in wonder.  How grateful we are to hear these stories, and how happy it makes us to repeat them."  

Monday, August 2, 2010

Important Questions

Over the past several years, I have discovered that asking good questions is an important, but scarce skill. Good questions can change the course of thinking, of action, of outcomes. Good questions dig beneath the surface, to discover what really matters in any situation.

I just finished graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, and every student at that school is given a copy of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I find it fitting that Ben Franklin was a skilled question asker.

According to Benjamin Franklin, "The noblest question in the world is, What good may I do in it?" 

Imagine if everyone woke up each day and asked themselves this question. Imagine if everyone had this mindset as they designed their days, their work, and their life.

What good may I do in the world today?

Ask yourself that question, and listen to the answer. Then go do that.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

It Is Time To Get Serious

Today is August 1, 2010. And it's time for me to get busy writing. Writing on a regular basis. Writing every day. It's really and truly time to get serious about writing. I'm finished moving in with Mike - the boxes are unpacked. Charly is settled into our life. I am finally finished with graduate school. I have my new laptop setup. Work is work, and it's not going anywhere.

More so than any other time in my life, my life is pretty settled. Therefore, I have no excuses for not writing. I have no more distractions, other than new ones that I could invent for myself. But I'm done with excuses and distractions. It's time to get serious about writing. Here's a list of reasons why it is time to get serious about writing.

1. Because I had a work friend die this year. He died suddenly and he died too early. He left two daughters and I'm still surprised every day when I remember he is not still alive.

2. Because I've had 3 friends this year struggle with cancer. All have had surgery or chemo or radiation or all of the above. Their journeys have been difficult and challenging, and their future is still unknown.

3. Because there are hundreds of troops overseas, separated for long periods of time from their families. They are living their lives aligned with their values and beliefs, even though it is lonely and hard and risky.

4. Because there are a lot of BAD movies and books and television shows out there, and I can do better than that.

5. Because I do not want to be a "lifer" at work, counting down the days until I'm eligible for retirement. To give into that mindset and that lifestyle would mean giving up on hope, giving up on passion, giving up on life, and giving into complacency.

6. Because when Charly has his face hanging out the car window, eyes and ears being blown back by the wind, and he is as happy as anyone I have ever seen, and I want to be that happy. So happy that my entire body is smiling.

7. Because whenever I see performers on stage, I know that I am supposed to be doing that too.

8. Because I'm ready to be free of the soul-draining corporate work life experience. I want to design my own work experience, where and when and with whom I work. I want to be passionate and inspired and authentic, on a regular basis.

9. Because all of my life, all the years of buying books - buying lots of books, reading lots of books, copying song lyrics and memorizing poems, listening to people and airport conversations, jotting random notes, journaling, observing friends and coworkers and strangers, and carrying a notebook on airplanes all over the world - all of that has been leading up to this next phase in my life. This next phase is about intentional creativity, about putting it all together to write.

10. Because people like Seth Godin, David Whyte, Ben Zanders, Steven Pressfield, Steve Pavlina, Jonah Lehrer, and Frank Warren inspire me. They have invented their own unique, creative lives, and they have demonstrated the freedom that is possible. They have broken through the resistance.

11. Because if I don't create my own path, no one else is going to lead me there. Only I can lead myself where I need to go now. Up until this point, I have taken what was offered me. Up until this point I have followed the easy path and have tried to be satisfied. But I know that I need to stay aligned with my true talents and strengths and no one else is going to do that but me.

12. Because I had a colleague resign unexpectedly this month. We have had very similar career paths, similar goals and frustrations. She quit with 2 weeks notice to work for herself and I was struck by incredible envy. I want the freedom that she is creating.

13. Because many of my friends are struggling with our own professional disappointments, and frustrations. There are many of us longing for a more fulfilling path. But if we don't create it for ourselves, no one is going to hand it to us. In order for us to create a supportive community, we each need to set an inspired example of what is possible. I can't recommend that they become more purposeful, unless I practice what I preach.

14. Because once upon a time, I was in a dojo in California, sweaty and tired and surrounded by strong strong leaders, and I was told by an invisible voice that my job is to tell stories that give people hope. So that is what I intend to do.

Here we go.