Categories
Inspire Marketing

Impact or Reach: What Are You Seeking?

Water is a powerful force. Over time, a stream of water can carve a canyon through solid rock. A single drip from a leaky faucet can cost a homeowner hundreds of dollars in water bills.

Water will make an impact.

Words and Stories Can Impact

Whether you're a marketer, a social change agent, a rock band or a parent, you have a message you want to get in front of an audience.

Most of us want our audience to do something in response to the message.

We really want impact, more than reach.

In my own experience, though, most decision-makers start by focusing on reach.

They ask questions like what's the audience size, how many fans and followers on each social media channel, how many downloads…..as if the answers to those questions actually matter.

Few of us have both the reach AND impact of leaders like Richard Branson.

Anyone with enough money can buy reach.

Even in today's fractured media environment, if you have the financial resources you can buy reach in the form of traditional and “native” advertising. You can hire a major agency to develop and execute a promotional juggernaut to get media placements on television talk shows and cable news.

A savvy and well-financed promotional campaign can also help you conquer the blogosphere and social media channels. You can even buy social media followers.

But none of that chatter and noise has staying power.

Just because your message hits a channel with your large audience doesn't mean the audience hears it or pays attention. And that's not all…..

Even if your message momentarily resonates with the purchased audience, the effect will be ephemeral. When is the last time you intentionally set out to listen to a song by Nickleback or Creed?

We’re constantly bombarded with noise. We understand how hard it is to get attention.

In the marketing space, the communication objective is to find a way to get the attention of a desired audience. For most organizations, the objective is to get a message in front of the largest possible audience, as if the law of averages would somehow boost relevancy and attention.

I think that’s the wrong approach. I think the better way is to focus on impact and identify a small number of influencers who can help to share the message.

Floods begin with raindrops, avalanches start with snowflakes

That’s how Billy Ivey of BIG Communications made a splash through his #NapkinNotes. He shared humorous lunch bag notes to his kids that resonated with an audience of parents and soon-to-be-parents who then responded and shared with his own community.

Then Jon Acuff expanded the reach. Acuff is someone you might describe as an influencer among Christian parents with a sense of humor.

#NapkinNotes now has reach, but the initial focus was on impact. A dad writing notes to his kids.

I suspect Ivey’s kids will remember those notes long after Ivey’s career in marketing is history.

For brands, the lesson is clear:

Focus on impact and you’ll probably get the reach you desire.

Focus on reach and you’ll be chasing something that lies at the end of the ephemeral rainbow.

Impact, not reach.

 

Categories
Grow Inspire

The V in November is for Vision

This Musquee de Provence pumpkin that I grew last year is somewhat symbolic for me, as it represents many things I hold dear:

Healthy food, lifestyle, the beauty of nature in the Fall season, honeybees, homemade pumpkin pie, sustainable agriculture, the Thanksgiving holiday (my favorite)….

The pumpkin also evokes the Cinderella story.

I'm not in search of a handsome prince—although I will not object if the right one comes along—but I'm never content to settle for the status quo of a situation. Like Cinderella, I fulfill my duties but I am always open to finding new opportunities for growth and contribution.

The big difference between Cinderella and me is that I've never waited to be rescued by external forces. I've always worked to be proactive to grow, evolve and move forward in my life. Although I don't believe in magic, I do believe that when we have the right motivation and are open to the possibilities, that doors will open when, and as, we take action.

I tend to live my life in the present, rather than looking back often at past memories. It's hard to believe I'll turn 52 in a month. Seems like just a few months have passed since my 30th birthday.

For me, age has always been just a number. Just an arbitrary marker, nothing that has defined me. [I suppose one reason for that might be that I was always a year younger than everyone in my grade at school. That happens when you start first grade at age 5. When you're the youngest kid in your class, you try to play down your age.]

I have always enjoyed my birthdays and I've said repeatedly (and truthfully) that every year of my life has been better than the previous year. There isn't enough money in the world to convince me to return to my 20s or 30s or 40s.

I truly believe that every day, I am in the place and state I'm supposed to be in for whatever lesson I need to learn or experience I need to have to move forward in my life.

But I also like to think about the future and my path to getting there. So, as I approach my 52nd birthday in late November, it's time to embark on my annual visioning exercise.

Visioning

I always like to spend my birthday month envisioning where I'm going next, thinking about what I want to accomplish in the next year, what I've accomplished in the past year, and so on.

November is actually a great month for visioning. It's less frenzied than December, when I've always been busy with year-end legal deadlines or end-of-semester grading on top of holiday festivities.

My birthday falls either the week of Thanksgiving or the week after. I use the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to solidify my November visioning efforts and create a framework to use  in December when I start to really plan for the next year.

6 in 30

Related to my visioning activities, I have six priorities for the month of November.

Food

Continue to emphasize eating a wide variety of real food, prepared at home from scratch. Real food will always be a priority for me. Hippocrates said:

“Let thy food be thy medicine.”

Real food has been at the centerpiece of my lifestyle since childhood and I'm reaping the benefits at middle-age. None of the health problems that plague so many people these days.

Fitness

November priority is to ramp up my exercise and outdoor physical activity.

I slacked off way too much from August through October. 4 courses, 4 preps (2 or which are new or essentially new) has led me to push exercise off the agenda on far too many days. Even though I know how important exercise is to being efficient and at the top of my game when I'm pulled in many directions.

Running

For the past 5-7 years or so, I've made it a practice to run on my birthday for at least as many minutes as my age. Example: 49th birthday, run at least 49 minutes non-stop on my birthday. I've always met or exceeded that goal.

In 2014, that means I will run 52 minutes nonstop on my birthday. I'm not where I need to be to do that right now, so I have 4 weeks to prepare to achieve that milestone.

Future

Engage in my daily visioning practice to consider what's next in my life.

What do I want to do and be and accomplish over the next year? The next 5 years? Where do I want to go?

Professional Goals

Since I tendered my resignation letter to Samford on August 15, the door is open for many new adventures. I am open to exploring a variety of opportunities and it's time to start identifying what some of those opportunities may be.

November is when I focus on the future and the steps I need to take to get on that path.

Finish Strong

It's been a grueling semester at Samford with the teaching and service load I've had but I am determined to finish strong as we move into the final 4 weeks of the academic term.

I will deliver excellent learning experiences to the students in my classes.

Publish and Promote

I will proofread the final manuscript and layout for my ebook, 7 Days of Real Food. I will publish it and promote it. And I can use my Facebook promotion strategy and tactics as the basis for covering Facebook marketing in Social Media Practices class.

I'll also continue to write and publish daily blog posts on at least one of my websites.

And I will finish the first draft of my manuscript on the path to happiness. Ideally, I'll have it ready to publish in December.

Fun

The 6th priority for November is to have fun. I love the Fall season—the weather, the decorations, the food.

I love most of what I do each day, but I don't always take time to stop and think about that.

And I haven't been taking time to do things fun like just shuffling around in the leaves, taking in the colors, photographing the changing seasons, hiking, visiting with neighbors.

Time to Get To It!

Do you do anything special around your birthday to celebrate? Do have a visioning weekend or month like this?

I'd love to hear how you think about where you are in your life and what's coming next. Leave me a comment! I'd love to start a conversation about this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Grow

Reflections On 2013: Zoom, Vivace & Jazz

This past year has been an amazing time of growth and yet I’m not where I thought I’d be one year ago today. I’m farther along in some respects, way behind where I wanted to be in other respects. This post is an excerpt from a private reflection I wrote for my personal journal.

It was around this time last year when I started to consider the three words I would use to inspire me during 2013. Out of the blue, I settled on Zoom Vivace and Jazz.

Zoom Vivace Jazz

Zoom because of my intentions to make my childhood dream of a multimedia empire a reality. Not just something I played around with, but a real platform to tell stories and instigate change. And as a reminder to focus (zoom in) while keeping my eye on the big picture (zoom out).

Vivace because it’s about life, enthusiasm, energy.

Jazz to remind me to improvise, to interact with others and grow with them while pursuing my own creative vision.

These three words, with their multi-faced meanings, came to me so quickly and intuitively that I immediately knew they were the right words to inspire me and direct my actions in 2013.

January Through May 2013

In January and February I was on fire, thanks to the support from my Brave community.

January was especially productive because we have a Jan term that gave me greater flexibility in my schedule. Once classes resumed, I was extraordinarily busy with work, while simultaneously working on a book manuscript, participating in 20+ hours of webinar sessions for the Content Success Summit and other programs. I was learning how to develop webinars for my own business and working with a graphic designer on site upgrades for The Ben Franklin Follies.

In March I was focused on creating and giving conference presentations, for my own consulting business as well as academic research and poster presentations, doing several interviews for the Shine Springs Farm Shinecast.  I also had my classroom and administrative responsibilities.

Thanks to burning the candle at both ends, I got really sick for the first time in 12 years. Fortunately, the illness hit just as Spring Break got underway so I didn't have to miss any classes. Finally on Day 5 I had to succumb to antibiotics to beat it because I got worse each day, rather than better.

When I got back from giving my academic conference presentations in Denver in early April, my attention shifted fully to the classroom and finishing out the semester on a positive note.

Summer 2013

From late May through August I was immersed in my beekeeping and small organic farming enterprise. As much as I wanted to work on my writing and consulting business I had very little time to do so. Except for some work in late July, I spent the summer working on my farm venture.

Fall 2013

Fall 2013 was the second most difficult semester I've experienced as a college professor. Despite my best efforts and full attention to teaching and mentoring, I couldn't click with the students. I worked nonstop every day in my campus office, eating lunch at my desk every day, trying to find ways to inspire and motivate them but nothing seems to have worked. I don't know what happened. Well, I think I know but I won't go into it here.

Those misfires really left me deflated by November. I tried to inspire and motivate myself by returning to writing. Each  night when I got home, I'd have dinner and then sit down to write for an hour or three. Some nights were easier than others. But the process of writing helped me to remember and refocus on Zoom, Vivace and Jazz.

As Thanksgiving approached, I realized that I'd turned a corner from the despondence I felt over the lack of connection in the classroom. My vision was returning and my spirit was feeling restored. Writing can do that.

I also gave this faculty shoptalk the week before Thanksgiving. Although the class wasn't going as well as it had in the past, giving the talk about my vision for the course really helped to re-inspire me for the last few weeks of the semester.

I started writing this reflection on Zoom Vivace Jazz on Thanksgiving eve, which was also the night before my birthday. Although I continued to write regularly after that, I didn't publish any new blog posts for a while because I needed to finish out the semester, get the student work graded and guide them into the final exam period.

I feel very good about my efforts as a teacher in Fall 2013 and I am confident that, one day, the students will look back and realize what they gained from the experience. I wasn't perfect—I expected too much, I fear, probably gave too much work in one class and didn't provide the type of well-defined boundaries this particular group of students needed. As the teacher, I should have discovered that more quickly. Anyway, I learned a lot from the experience and I have already grown as a result.

A Revived Vivace Spirit

As the semester came to a close—and I was able to shift my attention back to my vision that I'd set out to achieve through the compass of Zoom Vivace and Jazz—I began to feel a sense of renewal, a new Vivace attitude.

So, although the outcomes for 2013 haven't fully-transpired as I'd intended back in January I've had many successes:

  • Established my apiary and became a beekeeper (even caught a swarm)
  • Gave two very well-received speaking engagements on social media marketing
  • Gave two very well-received academic conference presentations
  • Designed a comprehensive and re-usable poster on teaching social business
  • Well-received faculty shoptalk on teaching social business
  • Successful freelance writing work
  • Small but promising start in content marketing and social media consulting
  • Sold a decent volume of vegetables and produce from my organic farming venture
  • Maintained my health and fitness (even though I haven't been running)
  • Continued to focus on real food, prepared at home as the centerpiece of my diet
  • Continued my practice of ongoing professional development and learning
  • Taught 7 different courses and fulfilled my responsibilities to the best of my ability, including being on-campus, in my office at least 35 hours each week, as required.
  • Wrote thousands of words for my various websites
  • Published numerous episodes of my podcast, even though it's been on hiatus since June
  • Took time, from time to time, to revel in the wonders of nature, even when I wasn't at the farm
  • Practiced gratitude and offered blessings on others, especially when I felt annoyed or irritated
  • Spent more time interacting with others, especially my neighbors and strangers

So I could go on with the little things or go into more detail. But the main thing is to recognize the ways in which I've succeeded and grown.

Life is a journey, not a destination and Operation Forward Progress is going well and will continue into 2014.

Do you celebrate your successes? Do you track your personal growth? Do you use three words to guide your efforts?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you reflect on your own life. Please leave me a comment below. Let's talk!

 

Categories
Inspire

5 Recent TED Talks To Spark 2014

These 5 TEDx talks don't have the views as some of their more popular counterparts, probably because they've been released in the months since Fall 2012.

Each of these speakers offers specific tips and action steps for changing your life in positive ways.

The first three focus on selflessness and gratitude, while Priya Parker offers advice on overcoming fear and inertia to move forward in pursuit of a life where you thrive. Paul Wood shares guidance for breaking free of mental prisons. And I threw in a bonus video from Sean Aiken who reminds us to seek and find the thing that makes us feel alive.

Polly Young-Eisendrath TEDxMiddlebury

“Getting Free of Self-Importance is the Key to Happiness”

Dr. Polly Young-Eisendrath points out that “we are not the fixers or fashioners of our lives.” After defining self-importance and happiness, Dr. Young-Eisendrath talks about four of the self-conscious emotions (shame, guilt, envy and jealousy) that cause so many of us to choose self-importance over the spirit of oneness that yields the greatest happiness.

This TEDx talk is a great companion to those by Dr. Brene Brown.

Katia Sol TEDxMission

“The Transformative Power of Gratitude”

Dr. Katia Sol works with the Ecology of Leadership Program at the Regenerative Design Institute in California. The Ecology of Leadership Program asks:

What are the shifts that need to happen on an inner level that then will create the possibility for transformation on an outer level that we really want to see in our lives, in our communities and in our world.”

Katia shares these reasons about why gratitude is special:

It's an affirmation of life itself.

Turns our focus from the negative to the positive.

Opportunity for reframing — new lense on life.

Connects us to something greater than ourselves, cultivates a sense of wonder and awe.

[Tweet “Gratitude helps us recreate our communities from the inside out. Katia Sol”]

Jane Ransom TEDxChennai

“Discover The Three Keys of Gratitude to Unlock Your Happiest Life”

Jane Ransom also focuses on the power of the gratitude to transform our lives. Her work grows out of the science of neuroplasticity which centers on research that studies our capacity to reprogram our brains by changing what we focus on.

There's a minor audio glitch between approximately 12:25 until 14:15, but it's corrected. You can still hear Jane Ransom easily, but the audio level is much lower during that 2 minute interval.

[Tweet “”When you change yourself you change the world” – Jane Ransom”]

Priya Parker TEDxUHasselt

“How to Quit Your Life and Reboot”

Priya offers 7 techniques to help you overcome fear, quit your uninspired life and reboot. In her consulting and research work through her firm Thrive Labs, Priya has found that fear is the emotion that drives choices to remain in prestigious but unsatisfying professional careers.

The driving question Thrive Labs helps individuals and organizations to ask and answer is this:

What is the biggest need in the world that I might have the passion and capacity to address.

 

Paul Wood TEDxAuckland

“What's Your Prison?”

Prisons can be mental, as well as physical. Paul offers 5 steps to freedom.

Bonus Short Talk

Sean Aiken TEDxVancouver

“What Makes You Come Alive?”

Sean Aiken is well-known for his One-Week Job Project where he set out to work a different job each week for 52-weeks to find his passion. Although his approach isn't useful for most of us, his message about the work-consciousness revolution that's now underway is an important one.

Categories
Grow Inspire

Happy Life Manifesto: 19-30

Last week I introduced what I'm calling The Path to a Happy Life when I published the first draft of an introduction to the Happy Life Manifesto.

Then, two days ago, I published Theses 1 – 19.

Today, I give you Theses 19 – 30. I'm repeating Thesis 19, just to establish continuity.

19. Security is an illusion.

20.  Faith destroys fear.

21. Action is evidence of faith.

22. Action = effort.

23. You can only control the quality and quantity of your effort.

24. You cannot control how your efforts are received.

25. You cannot control anyone else.

26. You do not control the results.

27. Action requires energy.

28. Energy depends on health.

29. Health has physical and spiritual elements.

30. The quality of the food you eat directly shapes your health.

I'll be commenting more on these later.

Writing yesterday's post: Transcend & Transform on top of a super-busy week at work just knocked the wind out of me. But I'm committed to publishing a new, useful post every day this month. So I hope you find today's excerpt from the Happy Life Manifesto to be somewhat useful, even in skeleton form.

I'd love to hear from you. Do you identify with one of these tenets?  Why or why not?

 

Categories
Inspire

Never Stop Believing

I was going to title this post “Don't Stop Believing” but then I realized I'd compete in the search results for anyone looking for the Journey video. So I changed the title….

But the message is the same:

Hold on to your dream, your vision.

And take action to make it a reality.

No action. No results.

You can only control the action you take. But if you take action, the results will amaze you.

I can only speak from my experience, but every step you take in pursuit of the vision you believe in takes you one step closer. Doors open, curtains rise, light shine.

Believe.

And don't stop believing.

I have a confession: I was never much a fan of Journey back in the day, although I did have a perm in the late 70s, somewhat like the lead guitarist in this video.

But perhaps as a result of the nostalgic dotage of my “I think I”m eligible for AARP” years, I have begun to appreciate Journey.

Or maybe it's just nostalgia for those nights when I showed up at Solomon's Deli to hear ELI, a band that covered REO Speedwagon, STYX and Journey, rather than the Kinks and the Ramones.

There's a post-script below this video. And I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment and share YOUR vision!

Postscript:

When I was an 11-12-year-old I was a huge fan of three singers I called “the Johns:” Elton John, Olivia Newton-John and John Denver. Each of them had songs at the top of the charts during between 1973-1975.

One of Olivia Newton-John's songs around 1974 was “Don't Stop Believing.” I have the album. Still. Proof coming later, when I upload a photo of my LP. In the meantime, I'll close this post with her video and these lyrics:

“On those days that nobody wants to know you//
And all your smiles keep falling on stone-y ground//
Don't stop believing…
Bad days will hurry by.”

Categories
Grow Inspire

The Happy Life Manifesto: Theses 1-19

The Happy Life Manifesto has 95 theses, just like Martin Luther. Here are the first 19.

1. It starts with love.

2.  You must believe #1.

3. You are worthy of love and capable of receiving and giving love.

4. You must believe #3.

5. Each of us is here for a reason. We each have a purpose. I have a purpose. You have a purpose.

6. It takes effort.

7. You are either growing or not.

8. If you are not growing, you are shriveling.

9. Growth means something has changed.

10. Change is good. (See #9.)

11. Growth comes from doing something new or doing something in a different way.

12. Growth is a process not an outcome.

13.  Growth requires uncertainty.

14. Uncertainty is good. (See #13).

15.  Uncertainty triggers fear.

16. We fear the unknown.

17. Our brains respond to all fears as if they were life-threatening.

18. Very little uncertainty is life-threatening.

19. Security is an illusion.

I just remembered that I committed to publishing a new blog post every day this month. Today, I was dodging lemons again. So I decided to just publish the first 19 theses from the first draft of my Happy Life Manifesto, written in February 2013.

I'm not sure if I have any family kinship to Martin Luther, but I like to imagine I do. In any event, Martin Luther was an Instigator.

The first draft of my intro to the Happy Life Manifesto.

Props to the following who probably influenced me. This is a partial list. I am tired.

Jesus

Benjamin Franklin

Abraham Lincoln

Ghandi

Helen Keller

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Harper Lee, Atticus Finch & To Kill a Mockingbird

Mrs. Emma Peel See also: Martha Washington, Emma Peel & Ideas

Seth Godin

Kamal Ravikant

James Altucher

Srinivas Rao

 

Categories
Grow

Life Is Not A Spectator Sport

I used to be a hard-core college football fan. I would spend hours each week, reading detailed analyses of games, forecasts, recruiting. And then I spent the better part of one day each week watching games, sometimes in person, sometimes on TV.

I also enjoyed watching other sports. Winter snow skiing. Tennis. Figure Skating. Baseball. Sometimes I watched pro football—mainly the Packers, Patriots or Buffalo, if they were playing in the snow.

But college football was my big time-sink.

By 1994, I knew that writing and media content creation is a big part of who I am. I was getting up at 4 or 5 a.m. to work on a screenplay and starting to explore freelance writing, while continuing to practice law. But it was slow-going. I wanted faster progress. I felt like time was getting away from me.

One Sunday afternoon, after spending the entire day reading every article in two newspapers dissecting the previous day's college football games and watching recap shows on ESPN, I had a lightbulb moment.

I was not living life. I was reading about someone else's.

And so I stopped, cold-turkey.

I've never read another sports news story since then. Nothing. Nada. Even though my beloved Crimson Tide has experienced the best of times and and the worst of times in the nearly 20 years since then, I've never read about a game, a crisis, or a championship. I've seen the headlines and magazine cover photos, but I've never read the stories.

Around that same time I also stopped reading People, US Weekly and similar magazines.

The less media I consumed, the more I could create. And read. And do.

I finished my screenplay and sold a few freelance stories. I started a novel.

I ran every day. Went out to dinner with friends. Traveled more. Attended plays, in person, not mediated by a screen.

When the internet became a pervasive source for news and frivolity (as opposed to the static web pages of the mid 90s), I was tempted occasionally by the celebrity gossip stories that would appear with a title, a photo and a teaser. But I've mostly never clicked. Maybe 20 times in 10 years.

During those years, I spent time in forums, interacting with people and making new friends. I taught myself HTML and learned to build websites and published the content I created. I had a good run as a freelance writer, for a while.

For 3 years I had a cool website with a two main sections: One devoted to the Go-Go's and one devoted to The Avengers and Diana Rigg. You can see it via the Internet archive: tsmmedia.com. Some of it was more curated and celebrity-focused than I would have liked, but I was creating, rather than consuming. I didn't call it a blog because that term was not as ubiquitous as today. But I updated it my site nearly every day with photos, quotes and news that I found or that friends shared with me. I used iMovie to create Quicktime videos which I posted on my website. This was before YouTube.

To economize in the mid-2000s, I went without cable TV for a year or so. That broke me from network sitcoms and dramas. When I got TV again, I just watched news, documentaries and stuff like Food Network.

Then I moved into a neighborhood where DirectTV wasn't an option and I couldn't get Comcast to show up for an appointment, so I just went without TV for another year. And I discovered that I was much less anxious about the state of the economy in than I had been when I was constantly watching cable news.

A few years ago, I moved again and returned to DirecTV. I discovered that I no longer cared much anymore about watching TV. I tried. Kept the service going for 2 years. But it mostly served as background noise.

I'd filled the years without TV by reading and writing and running and hiking and growing things and cooking.

And getting reacquainted with myself.

In the years without TV, my mental clarity started to return and I really honed in on where I wanted to go with my life. I found that mindless television, even in the background, was a way to escape from my life, not design and live it.

Before I gave up cable TV the second time, I'd already stopped watching televised sports. That happened as a result of the transition from college sports and college sports media as something reasonably related to athletics to an industry driven mainly by ratings hype and profit opportunities. Nothing wrong with quality and profit, but today televised college sports is more of a Disney World spectacle or reality TV sideshow. I love the game and the strategy.

I prefer reality, not reality TV.

[Tweet “Choose reality, not reality TV.”]

Just over a year ago, I canceled DirecTV again. I've never missed it. I'd barely watched any TV in the previous year. So-called “news” on cable TV had turned into reality-TV with a political spin.

In the past few years without regular cable TV, I've reignited my passion for writing. I've explored my life's vision and purpose and charted the common themes.

Media is one of those common themes and media has always been a huge part of my life, but as a creator and engager, not a consumer.

I still watch movies, documentaries, YouTube. But not passively. Not to escape or daydream.

 I consume with purpose: I watch to learn, to be inspired, to improve a skill, to laugh.

Jackie Robinson once said:

Life is not a spectator sport.

Are you in the game?

Or just watching?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment below. Let's start a conversation about rising about a mere consumer culture into action and doing.

[Tweet “Life is not a spectator sport.”]

Categories
Grow Inspire

On Lemons, Instinct & Vision

It's been slightly less than 4 years since I was blind-sided. It knocked me for a loop. But just for a night.

I cried, called my brother, and then vented to a friend. And then picked myself up, dusted myself off, and started taking steps to take my life “to the next level.”

Among other action items that next day, I created my first WordPress blog. It wasn't my first website, but it did mark my first meaningful public web presence outside of YouTube since 2003. And that one step of delving into WordPress has led to many, many more little steps along the path.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

The trampoline effect took longer after I stared into the abyss after quitting what was supposed to be my dream job as a lawyer. Once I had the bar exam behind me, I faced the reality of figuring out what was next. I found a job. Two actually.

During those months after leaving that dream job, I fell into a state of emotional despair. I was employed, but living with my parents, making half the salary of the job I'd just quit.

Depression, albeit functional. Fast forward. I got better. The middle parts of all that = story for another day.

I ended up having a successful run as a lawyer, became a shareholder in my law firm and then spent a few years making a decent income as a freelance writer while I was graduate student.

Trust Your Instinct

Just over 5 years ago my instinct told me something was rotten in Denmark. [H/T: W. Shakespeare. Speaking metaphorically, of course, I love Denmark.]

My instinct was SO right.

See above re: Blind-sided.

Then again, maybe it's not fair to call it blind-sided if your instinct gives you advance notice that something is rotten in Denmark.

On the other hand, when one has never before personally encountered Machiavelli, one tends to discount the stench of guile. Even when it keeps reappearing.

When Life Gives You Lemons ….. Part XVIIII

XVIII is just hyperbole. I've had lots of lemons and also a lot of blessings in my life. Not complaining.

The rottenness from “Denmark” is one of those blessings. It's been a force driving me forward to keep growing, keep learning new skills and dreaming new dreams.

Occasionally, when the stench is particularly strong, I think of the Johnny Cash classic, “A Boy Named Sue.”

Today, it was a bit smelly.

Today, I'm again reminded I'm thankful for the circumstances that put “gravel in my gut and spit in my eye.”

Never Let Go of Your Vision

And take some action, every day, to make your vision a reality.

How do you handle unexpected setbacks? Any tips?

 

 

Categories
Discover

The Power of Purposeful Action

Do you ever experience the whole “why am I here” angst?

Do you wonder: What is my purpose?

Do you ask: Does anything I do really matter?

Color me guilty.

I spent most of my 20s and early 30s dealing with those questions. I found that journaling helped. A lot. I worked my way through Julie Cameron's The Artist Way*—twice. I have a banker's box full of spiral notebooks and journals filled with my musings and efforts at purposeful self-discovery.

As much as the journaling helped me connect-the-dots between my interests, talents, strengths and perceived goals, I've come to realize that actually taking action, even baby steps, has been more valuable in helping me discover where I'm going on this journey.

By actually doing something we can learn if we really are interested in it or reasonably good or at least capable of becoming good.

We Learn Through Action

In the same way that a lawyer becomes a lawyer through practice, a writer is a writer because she (or he) writes.

If you have a dream or an interest, it's ephemeral until you actually take steps to engage in it, to practice, to discover. You must take action.

Last year, Javacia Harris Bowser started the #BlogLikeCrazy project to encourage women bloggers to practice the craft of writing by writing and publishing a new blog post each day during the month of November. I didn't fully participate then, but when I saw her tweet about this year's #BlogLikeCrazy I decided I'd go all in.

At this point in my life, I already have a portfolio of published writing. I was a full-time freelance writer from 1999 – 2002 and wrote every day, on assignment, for real money during those years until the jobs started to dwindle in 2001 after the dot-com bubble burst and the economy slid into a recession.

My purpose in joining in #BlogLikeCrazy this year is to force myself to take daily action on a vision that has emerged over the past year. I'll be writing more about that in future posts.

For now, I'll just say that in 2012 I really dove into a new period of self-reflection and personal journaling to reevaluate my life up to that point. I had a big birthday in November 2012 and I wanted to seriously consider where I'd been in my life, the lessons I'd learned through taking action up to that point, and make sure I was on track for the second half of my life.

During that time, I could sense the direction, the vision, but I couldn't exactly see it.

One day, just over a year ago, I was out for a run and I'd been contemplating all these questions, framed around the need for specific direction. I'd been running for nearly an hour at that point and my brain was on auto-pilot. Suddenly, I received this message: “Stop thinking. Take action. The results will amaze you.”

Take Action. The Results Will Amaze You.

In the months since then, I've started to take steps toward this thing that was still ephemeral. And what's amazing is that with every baby step I took I gained more clarity about the purpose for this thing and how it relates to me and what I can offer. At this point, I can actually describe the foundation and the framework.

Later this month I have another birthday coming up. I'm giving myself a present:

Massive action to propel my vision into reality by the end of 2013.

Not completion, because this vision is something that will continue.

One aspect of my vision requires creation of a LOT of content: Blog posts, podcasts and video. That means I need to be writing at least one blog post every day, in addition to the other behind-the-scenes work that's involved.

#BlogLikeCrazy is the perfect trigger to ramp up my efforts from working a few hours each week on this vision to working a few hours every day.

Purposeful action in the direction of your dream is the best gift you can give yourself. You deserve it.

The world deserves the gift of your talent and your dream.

If you aren't sure of your purpose, take steps toward something that seems right and those steps will help to illuminate the path or reveal that you're on the wrong path.

You can't think or journal your way onto The Path. You must take purposeful action to find it.

What's your dream? Are you taking purposeful steps to make it a reality?

I'd love to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comment section below. We can do this thing together.

*Link to The Artist's Way is an Amazon affiliate link.