Category Archives: PERSONAL GROWTH

BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

10 alternatives to thinking outside the box

I am sick and tired of people saying that it is time to think outside the damn box. So, instead of fussing about it, I came up with ten alternatives. Here they are:

1. Step on the box. And move to a higher level. Use the box to get to where you really want to go…

2. Paint the box. Give it a new look. Sometimes the box just needs a fresh, new feel. Nothing has really changed internally, but doesn’t a freshly-painted house look brand new?

3. Poke the box. [h/t Seth] Just read the book. Right now.

4. Crush the box. Flatten the old, tired way. Start fresh. A flat box serves a purpose too. Plus, you can probably rebuild it if you wanted – or needed to.

5. Shred the box. Sometimes you’ve just got to begin again. And complete destruction is the only course. Damn the torpedos. (But don’t worry, if all else fails, someone will construct another box.

6. Hack the box. Sometimes boxes can be used for something other than storing stuff. Repurpose. Retool. Innovate. Open your mind to new possibilities. Come on, don’t be afraid. The people you are worried about aren’t really paying attention. Do it.

7. Rewire the box. Sometimes the box works quite well, and just needs to be rewired. This brings things (ideas) up to code, gives you a fresh start, and gives you confidence to move forward.

8. Deliver the box. Sometimes, you need different opinions, a different viewpoint, and fresh look. Give the box to someone else. Maybe they will do something that matters with it.

9. Bury the box. Sometimes, you just need to let it go. Put it away. Forget about it. Bury it. Move on. Because someday, someone will unbury it, and find wonder in the box.

10. Kick the box. When I was a kid, I loved taking boxes and simply destroying them. Kicking them, crushing them, clubbing them with sticks. I guess it was therapeutic to vent some energy. Sometimes, we just need to do this to begin again, to feel better, and feel alive. So go. Kick it, now. In the end, it is still a box. But you are different.

What are your other ideas? Please share!

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CONTRIBUTORS, PERSONAL GROWTH, SIMPLE LIVING

Why are you always in a rush?

I am tired of always being in a damn hurry. Tired of rushing through things. Hurrying up, and being stressed, trying to quickly get to the next thing I have to do.

Simply put, we are always in a rush. And I am here to declare: our goal in life should be to no longer be in a rush.

Now, as I write this, I think about two single mothers I know, each with three kids. They might read this and tell me I am full of it. “Dream on buddy,” they might say. But even so, I think it’s even more important for them to think about how they can be less rushed.

And of course, life happens, and sometimes we will be rushed. Sometimes it cannot be helped.

But the simple goal is to be completely focused on the current task that you are working on, without feeling pressure about doing something else/the next thing. Whether that is a work project, cooking a meal, taking the dog for a walk. Whatever.

In fact, that’s a good example of what I am talking about: Walking the dog.

Walking the mutt should be a very pleasant experience: Quality time alone with your pet; movement and exercise for both of you; a chance to get some fresh air; a break from the realities of the busy, fast world around you. This time should be fun; relaxed; enjoyable!

But for most of us, it’s stressful. “I don’t really have time for this,” you might think to yourself, “I have to get back to that thing I was working on.” And that’s when you get a little frustrated that Fido is taking too long to make a poop.

(And then, if you are like me, you feel totally guilty that you get frustrated).

What a shame.

So, stop doing it. Build a life structure that prevents you from always being in a rush: Do less work, say yes to fewer things, stop overscheduling yourself, build in more cushion time on the calendar…however this has to look/and work for you.

Now, quite obviously, the key to all this is honing your ability to prioritize.

Many have written of this before, but here it is again: A task list of twenty items per day will NEVER get done. So, what you should do instead is pick five of those tasks, and focus on those instead. ONLY THOSE FIVE THINGS.

But, pick the five most important tasks that advance your important goals. Leave the other fifteen for down the road. They aren’t nearly as important, and life will go on without them.

And don’t pick the five easiest tasks, just to feel good about completing something, and checking them off the list.

That gets you nowhere.

Instead, spend the day focusing on those five tasks. You won’t be in quite the same “rush mentality” if you have only five things to think about, rather than feeling the panic and pressure of knocking off all twenty tasks.

This is a big mindset shift, yes. Trust me, one I am still learning myself. This will also require serious discipline.

You have to want this. You have to be really tired of always being in that rush, in that panic, in that state of guilt that you aren’t getting everything done, and always feeling the clock running your ass down.

Hit the brakes and stop rushing through life. You’ll actually end up LIVING more.

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BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, PERSONAL GROWTH

Finding Your Entrepreneurial Geek Pack

Growing up as a pre-teen in the 70’s and as a teenager in the 80’s, I watched Star Trek reruns, watched Star Wars a hundred times, read science fiction, learned to code Basic on my Atari 1200XL and played Dungeons and Dragons.

I was a girl geek. And yet (I think) I was still popular in school. I don’t remember feeling alienated or an outsider. Maybe because I hung out with a lot of other geeks (band nerds mostly) and we declared ourselves to be cool.

It didn’t hurt that I was also an athlete and a good student so I was friends with or at least got along with the “sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads …” etc.

Still, in my heart of hearts, I knew I was a geek and I was willing to own it.

It takes some courage as a teenage girl to be willing to be different.

Not Cool is Now Cool

It’s completely annoying that today, being a geek is totally cool. When you can buy a t-shirt with a schematic of the Enterprise on it, you know it’s mainstream.

“But isn’t that what all you nerds, dweebs, and geeks WANTED?” cry the former cheerleaders and quarterbacks, “To be mainstream, to be popular, to be like everyone else?”

Nope. We sure didn’t.

Lynn Anderson released the song “I was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” in 1970. Oh, Lynn, do I feel you.

Now that Star Wars buffs, computer programmers, and gaming is mainstream, I have to resist the urge to shout “I was a GEEK when geeking wasn’t cool!” every time I see Chris Hardwick’s face.

Are you with me? Do you look at “kids these days” and want to tell them how you got beat up because you hung out in the computer lab at lunchtime playing “Oregon Trail” or posting on a BBS?

It was hard being a geek back in the day! And yet we did it.

Still, I wouldn’t have done it all on my own. I had friends to play D&D with, I was in the school band, and my favorite boy friend in school owned the first Apple any of us has seen and taught me DOS. So I wasn’t alone.

At the time, it really didn’t seem like what we were doing was a big deal. In retrospect, I see now how we didn’t really think of ourselves as outcasts.

We all had each other and in each other’s eyes we were all cool. And that’s what made all the difference.

Solopreneurs are the New Old Geeks

There are now more than 20 million “non-employer businesses” (that’s what the government calls solopreneurs) but even a few decades ago it was a weird and rare thing. If you were a consultant, people just considered it a euphemism for “unemployed.”

Now that I’ve recently re-entered that mileu myself, I’m realizing that it’s “back to the future.” We’re rapidly breaking into a time when it’s becoming cool to be an entrepreneur… IF you’re a millennial hacker programmer working in an old loft with exposed brickwork and exposed ducting in the ceiling (which is painted black) working off a plywood/pipe upcycled table.

If you’re a 40-something solopreneur working on something completely unsexy like accounting, insurance, HR, or non-social media marketing, you’re back to being an invisible geek of business as far as the “popular kids” are concerned.

You better find yourself a nerd-pack.

Maybe you can call it your tribe. Although that seems to be used more and more in a marketing connotation: a demographic who can relate to you and wants to consume your content. People who become what Kevin Kelly calls the “1000 True Fans.” Beth Ziesenis calls hers the “Nerd Herd” (of which I am a proud member).

I’m not talking about this. I’m saying you need to find peers who share your business obsessions. Who know who Kevin Kelly, and Seth Godin, and Michael Gerber, and Mari Smith are. People who are interested in talking about processes and systems and strategies with the same enthusiasm that football fans use when talking about rushing yards and completions.

I’ve used these groups personally for years to help me with big projects. I’ve always called them “mastermind groups.” Which in itself is apparently pretty nerdy. I thought it was a well-known term but I’ve been surprised at how few people know the term.

Although after reading an extensive and well-researched article about Napoleon Hill (the first trackable user of the term “mastermind”) establishing a solid case that he was more of a scam artist than a self-help guru, I think I might personally adopt “nerd-pack” or “geek gang.”

Whatever you want to call it, you need a small, focused group of people who make your (healthy) obsession with business, entrepreneurship, process, systems, and strategy feel NORMAL.

Do it now.

Find three or four people, set up a regular meeting time and space, and declare yourselves the center of business cool in your neighborhood.

Then you can go back to grumping about how you were a Doctor Who fan wearing a ridiculously long scarf long before bow ties became cool.

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CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, WELLNESS

Paying Ourselves the Biggest Commission Check

By Ashley Francis, Contributor and Owner, TURN Studio

Your alarm goes off. Maybe two, maybe five times depending on the type of person you are in the morning. Regardless of the amount of times it takes, you get up. You get presentable enough to make the person you are selling to think you cared enough to be there. You make your pitch, shake your customers hand in hopes you closed the deal, now off you go to grab a coffee. Another call or two and yes, it’s lunch time! You hurry and eat just to repeat the morning all over again in the afternoon. You are finally home, traffic was exhausting. Ah, the wine glass awaits you while the crock pot’s perfect timing strikes again, and you sit down with your slippers on to forget about the oh-so-stressful day. You binge watch the addicting tv show that you and your friends are texting about. Your eyes start to fade so you crawl in bed, only to repeat the day’s work all over again until Friday at five o’clock. Sounds borderline close to a typical day in the routine of a sales career, right?

We are habitual with looking the part, closing the deals, boasting our chests as we walk out of the meeting we crushed and let’s be honest, we barely prepped for it. We are great at being a boss and everyone knowing our name…because we are simply just that good. I feel you! What I don’t understand then, is why are we not habitual in an overall healthy lifestyle? Why are we more motivated by recognition and commission checks than by our own self health? The one thing we can control (by means of diet and exercise), yet most of us have no control.

Before I continue I think it is important you understand a bit about me. I am a successful sales representative who proved all the territories wrong and grew them to the top. I was genius at working smarter, not harder. Meaning, I worked less hours than the average American employee (which is 42 according to my google search) and made a significant amount more than the average American (google search again). I work out six days a week and I eat mostly healthy. I am a believer in spoiling myself with queso, wine, and tailgate food for sure, but in moderation! My point in sharing that with you is so I can gain a little credibility in this blog. You can be better than average, regardless of where you are today, and I hope we all want to be better than average.

I have worked for five different sales companies before finally giving in to my inner entrepreneurial spirit begging me to start my own company, which brings us to where I am today: Owner of TURN Indoor Cycling + Strength Studio. During my time with those five companies I worked with hundreds of different sales reps and thousands of customers, but one thing was consistent: the conversation around working out and eating healthy. Regardless of who the conversation was with, I always got asked: “How do you stay so fit? What do you eat? When do you work out? How do you have so much energy?” Inside I was thinking, “What do you mean, how? How do you not work out and eat healthy? How do you go more than a day, okay I will give you a few days, without some sort of physical activity?” Most of the time I would fight the urge to reply with that and instead, I would just say, “I make it a priority.”

Let’s circle back to the over-excused story above. We are all extremely busy, especially today. Over the years we as humans somehow have grown to multi-task better than ever before and the demands from companies have made us clock over sixty-hour work weeks. Whether the drive thru is all we have time for and even then, the four-car line is going to make us late, or the candy bar in the desk drawer screams our name and we have to eat it or our work just will not get done! I get it, I really do. But what I don’t get is why we accept it. I challenge you to take the next bit of this article to inspire you (if you are living the “too busy” life I have described) and become better than average.

Instead of living for your company, living for your boss, and living for the paycheck, I encourage you to live for you. Prioritize yourself over everything else. The benefit: an overall healthier personal and professional life. I understand you have a family and bills to pay, they will love you even more and your bills will still get paid. If you do not have a gym or a fitness routine, google will guide you or ask a friend or colleague where they enjoy working out. Find a community gym that welcomes you and motivates you to show up each day. Find a workout routine that you cannot wait to put on your workout gear for every day, maybe one that motivates you to go buy new workout gear! I challenge you to not give up if you don’t fall in love with prioritizing fitness right away. It ain’t easy falling in love, but once you do, the sweet spot is worth it. With time, your meetings now go without yawns and the meetings are more invigorating…your energy has increased! You feel stronger, you look more fit…your priorities are in the right place. Your mirror selfies make you smile, not sigh…commitment looks good on you. Okay you get the picture. I know this is not easy for most people. According to the CDC, 21.7% of adults over the age of 18 meet physical activity guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. Be better than average, prioritize you.

Living life as a sales representative we are constantly on the road and “wining and dining”. Nothing cute or scientific about this part: eat clean, eat consistently healthy, and your body, mind, and spirit will change. Your sleeping habits improve, your skin looks better, and your mind becomes sharper. Yep, all great traits to possess to help reach your quota and earn that rewarding commission check. Eating clean is hard, no doubt about it. We live in a world surrounded by temptation. If you aren’t currently eating healthy, the beginning of this era in your life will seem impossible. Just trust the process and stay committed to the meal plan just like you are committed to replying to your customers email, and over time eating healthy
becomes as easy as the email.

If you train yourself to prioritize your own self, the results are beyond worth it. Not only does the couch and whatever show you binge watch sound less important to you now, you crave the high of a good sweat or the smell of the city on your run. Instead of fast food, you find yourself meal prepping or asking the waiter to hold the butter. You prioritize your schedule around your healthy lifestyle. Now I get it, all this isn’t just as easy as it is me writing about it. You have the drive and the desire to be better than average at work, so why not have the same drive and desire to be better than average in life? Your company, your boss, your coworkers, and even your family will all crave your energy and positive buzz surrounding you. Just watch.

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HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, SIMPLE LIVING, WELLNESS

25 key things for you to do this year

1. Eat less.
2. Be more active.
3. Read more.
4. Listen intentionally.
5. Stretch more.
6. Slow down and breathe.
7. Criticize less.
8. Encourage more.
9. Buy less.
10. Donate more.
11. Stop multitasking.
12. Save more money.
13. Stop lying.
14. Communicate clearly what you believe in.
15. Trust more.
16. Write/journal more (even to yourself).
17. Make something.
18. Pay more attention to the world around you.
19. Stop judging.
20. Eliminate regret.
21. Take pride in everything.
22. Value what you have.
23. Prepare better.
24. Enjoy right now.
25. Smile more.

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HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

One Day at a Time: Winning the Battle of Life

Winning is Important

Why?

We want recognition. We want to feel accomplished. We want to be successful.

I hated playing Monopoly when I was younger. My brother was insanely competitive – he still is – and he won almost every game. I was torn and it made me mad,  and not because he won but rather, because I lost. Some of us are better at losing than others. I’m not one of those individuals.

Somehow, I think it is deeper than just not wanting to lose. Like most people, I want to be relevant and, well – winners are relevant. Winners win. Winners get to the finish line first. They walk away with trophies and awards. Their home-baked cookies are the best. They hear applause and approval often. They are happy, aren’t they? Are winners happier than those of us who merely strive but fail?

Who Doesn’t Want to Be Relevant?

It may seem simple. Isn’t that what we all want? Aren’t we all just looking for a smile or a cheer, a pat on the back, a “good job” or “atta boy”, a raise in pay? Is that relevance? Or is that acceptance?

Where does your State of Mind leave you?

I didn’t purchase my first scratch-off lottery ticket until I was 26 years old. I had gone to the mall with a friend on my lunch hour. I was a young mother of two at the time – money was always tight, but I had an extra buck in my pocket and thought, “what the heck?” That very first scratcher was $100 winner. I was shocked, surprised, but most of all – happy. I could afford diapers and maybe a Cinnabon with my little girls that week, our favorite treat!

A year or two earlier, I found myself in a pickle while practicing with my league softball team on an early Saturday morning. I could throw like mad – but my arm was a little wild. I was honing my ability in lengthy practices and found myself in a very good place: playing shortstop with a #1 team with a .822 personal batting average. Until the pickle.

Some guys were waiting to use the field and decided to challenge us “girls” to a quick pick-up game. We, of course, accepted the challenge. I hit a double to deep right and found myself rounding 2nd. Mistakenly, I thought there had been an overthrow, but really – the throw had been to 3rd base, and square in front of me stood a waiting, gnarling 3rd baseman, holding said ball. I screamed and turned, only to find the ball now at 2nd base. Turning again, my cleat caught and my body went one way, while my foot and lower leg stayed planted. A loud pop could be heard. That pop was the ACL in my right leg snapping in half.

I continued to play for several more years, but I lost my position, my batting average dropped, and eventually left the sport, devastated, after six knee surgeries.

Win or Lose

I could have continued to buy lottery tickets, hoping for another winner. I could have curled up in ball and never struck out again. But I didn’t do either. My battle continued, on different fields.

“Defeat is a state of mind. No one is ever really defeated until defeat has been accepted as reality.” – Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee never stopped kicking, never stopped fighting.

Life can Kick You in the Ass

And it often does.

But what are you going to do? Let it? Or dodge those kicks and punches? Just turn the other cheek?

If only it were that easy. Many mornings, I wish it were easy. But I have learned, you just keep going, you just keep moving forward, Victory does not come to those who stand still or those without impetus or drive.

Life’s Battles

Ive had my share, they don’t seem to ease up, so I can’t really afford to. My parents hung a framed copy of my father’s favorite poem in their bathroom – it was titled You Can. I read that damn thing every time I ventured into their private space. Over and over again, committing it to memory over the years. On many a morning, the last verse has gotten me out of bed.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster wo/man.
But sooner or later the wo/man who wins,
Is the man who thinks he can.

You Can

Some weeks, it’s just one day at a time. Some days, it’s just one step at a time. And some steps, it’s just one moment at a time. When all you can do is find the next moment, that is enough.

And sometimes, that’s all it takes.

HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH

Don’t Fear the Script, Rewrite It! – The Passionate Chase

Chasing Away the Script

We spend a great deal of our lives building confidence. Some days, weeks, or months, it doesn’t seem to matter how much experience I have or how many clever skills I have – I can easily get caught up in fear of failure or overwhelming expectations I set for myself. Many of us have a negative script that gets played over and over in our heads – that counts on us failing.

The two greatest fears I’ve had in my life have been falling and failing. Sadly, I am not one of those individuals lucky enough to have flying dreams – I have falling nightmares, though they have receded a bit. I did jump out of a perfectly good airplane a year ago and loved it. So, the falling wasn’t the problem, perhaps  it was more about the landing.

But failure has haunted my days.

What I Learned from Writing

I have spent the last 12 years writing about every part of my life, from earliest memories to latest catastrophes, very few subjects or experiences are off limits. From poetry, to microblogs, to lengthy blog series, to podcasts.

Writing is like giving birth for me. Hitting the wrong key or failing to save a document can lead to disaster or meltdown, and it has happened on numerous occasions.
The first several times, parts of me died with each loss.

But, I Tricked Myself

These were profound moments of loss for me, over time, I learned to tell myself that “It must not have been good enough – I can write that better.” The first time, it took a great deal of self-convincing, but I learned to find the truth in my words because I always produced better words or a more meaningful story.

A State of Mind

Napolean Hill, famed author, stated, “Failure is nature’s plan to prepare you for great responsibilities.” I have seen evidence of this in my own life. And often, all I need to do to get over any particular bump in my road of personal progress is to review my last failure.

  • Where did I land? Was it a crash landing?
  • When I got up, dusted myself off – what was it I learned?
  • When the dust around me cleared, what new experiences had I gained?
  • How did I grow, or can I grow more, as a result?

I do hate failing –

I hate miscalculating, missing a mark, or misjudging any circumstance. But I also know that a serious lesson was meant for me, so I best get to learning it. Even if all I learned was to get up –

If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win, but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

You Are Not Beaten

And neither am I – it’s just another chance, another opportunity to succeed.


**If you are interested in learning more about “the script,” follow Richard Wilkins on Facebook, he shares some interesting thoughts about this negative script and how we can overcome it. Warning: he uses colorful language, he just keeps it real. 

CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, PERSONAL GROWTH

What It Takes to Go “All Out” in Running and Life

The next time you see someone staggering across a marathon finish line, barely able to walk, or carried by fellow runners because their legs have buckled, don’t feel sorry for them.

Envy them.*

These are people who know what it feels like to give it their all.

So many of us say “I did my best” or “I gave it 100%” but did we truly? Could we have done better, worked harder?

When I first started running in races, I just wanted to survive. I usually went hard enough that I was sore for days but right after the finish, I always felt like I could have run faster .

As I trained more and got in better shape both cardiovascularly and in strength, I did keep getting faster. I still thought I was running as hard as I could, but soon after finishing, I’d lament “I could have run faster.”

If you’re a perfectionist, this is probably the story of your life. “I could have done better, worked harder, put in more time…”

You probably could have. I don’t think hardly any of us have ever reached that extreme, whether athletically or professionally, where we could honestly say “I absolutely went to the limit. That was the best I could possibly do. Any more and I would have collapsed/passed out/won an award.”

It’s a goal of mine to reach that limit at some point, both professional and athletically.

I’m not talking about damaging yourself. Or ruining your health or relationships by being a workaholic.

I’m talking about going so hard, going all out, that there’s no doubt in your mind that you could have done better or gone harder.

Instead of giving a good presentation, you present like a boss.

Instead of covering the basics, you work out every detail.

Instead of running fast, you go so hard that you cross the finish line with your last possible step.

I’m getting closer, but I want that life experience of knowing I gave it my absolute all.

Here’s what it’s going to take:

Practice

In running fast or long, half the battle is getting used to feeling bad. I realize this doesn’t make much of a positive impression on people who are considering running as a sport …

It takes repetition to make the discomfort if not more comfortable, at least tolerable. You learn to keep going, adjust to that feeling, and recover.

This very much applies to business and life. Physical discomfort is sometimes easier to push through than mental discomfort.

We’ve been training ourselves to divide our focus or jump to the next interesting thing. Giving it your all in a writing project, business plan, or marketing campaign often takes long, sustained bouts of thinking and creating which can literally feel painful!

It takes practice to push through that initial desire to stop and do something more interesting or less mentally taxing.

Perception

The first time I ran a sub 80-second 400 meter, I didn’t have a watch on and my Coach didn’t call out splits. I just ran. Like a wild woman!

Maybe I’d never run that fast before because I “knew” I couldn’t run that fast. I would glance at my watch and think I was running as fast as I could.

You KNOW that if you think you can’t do something, you’re usually right. Your perception of yourself is going to influence your outcome.

Don’t measure yourself by your self perception. Sometimes you’ve got run without feedback, without knowing where you are, or measuring against previous performance.

Physiology

Laziness is a survival trait. Understanding that is half the battle.

Your mom was right. Hard work (almost) never killed anyone (it’s the unrelieved stress).

We evolved to do just enough to the get the result we needed. If you were “homo habilis” and you were threatened by a bear, you ran or fought just enough to get to safety.

You didn’t run until you dropped from exhaustion if you didn’t need to. You’d be killed by the next threat that came along because you wouldn’t have the energy to escape that new threat.

Today, most people on this planet are fortunate enough that their daily routine doesn’t include life or death flight or fight situations. If you’ve planned your day or weekend right, you could go to exhaustion Monday through Friday or on a Saturday morning and be safe in assuming you could lounge on the couch the rest of the weekend.

That physiological injunction against going to exhaustion is still very much hard-wired into our brains.

You may run until your brain says you’re “tired” or even “exhausted” but you really aren’t. Your body literally tricks your brain into thinking you’re more tired than you are so you’ll quit or slow down long before you’re completely spent.

Knowing about this mechanism helps you understand the lies your body and brain are telling you.

Jens Voigt, professional cyclist, is famous for his saying “Shut up legs.” He should add “Shut up brain.”

Passion

Whether it’s athletic or professional, stretching yourself that hard is probably going to hurt. You’ll suffer on the path to get there.

You’ve gotta want it badly. If it’s not your passion, your desire, your obsession … you’re just not going to want to go past that “danger signals” point.

This means that going all out is probably going to be limited to just a few things in your life. Maybe only one thing.

Personally, running is one of those things for me. I’ve had a few experiences where I crossed a finish line and could barely lift my legs to get off the track…. And I loved it!

Not the burning pain of lactic acid. Or the searing lungs.

But the feeling that I absolutely put it all out there. Did my best. Laid it on the line. Gave it my all.

I want to feel that feeling again and again and again.

—–
*They’re fine. They’re usually just glycogen depleted and just need rest and carbs. Gonna hurt the next few days though!

Cover photo courtesy of Juan Esparza Loera.

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HUMANITY, PERSONAL GROWTH

He says, “It’s the Chance of a Lifetime” – The Passionate Chase

All My Experiences Have Brought Me Here

I’ve been involved with performing arts in one way or another since I was 3 years old. FYI: that’s 50 years ago, and I don’t mind saying it. I was raised in a home where regular church attendance was required and the church I grew up in allowed for 6-10 opportunities a year to perform or speak in front of a large congregation. By the time I had my first official stage play audition at the tender age of seven – there were no jitters, there was no nervousness. Being on stage felt completely natural to me and I even loved the long rehearsal hours that included staging and memorization, as well as the costume fittings, make-up techniques, and waiting in the wings.

My Favorite Place?

I think one of my favorite places in the world is “waiting in the wings” – it is also a place where nightmares loom if you’ve ever done any kind of performing. In my dreams or recurring nightmares, I have gotten caught in giant dusty curtains, forgotten my lines, missed entrance cues, and fallen off the stage while waiting in those precious wings.

My first lead was at the age of nine, when much to the chagrin of every boy who auditioned, I was cast as Rumplestiltskin in a summer drama class. With my buck teeth, short pixie haircut, sassy ‘tude, coupled with no fear, I would never be cast as the beautiful princess who could spin straw into gold. And I was glad. I felt powerful and I found a place where I was accepted for who I was and the crazy, rambunctious style of my tomboy self.

The Desire of a Child

Up until I was 12 years old, my presumed adult destination and desired occupation was “movie star” – however, being no great beauty, I soon learned that I needed to find alternate paths to success. I read, I studied, I learned to love science, I ignored math as much as I could, but still continued my antics on stage. I knew Hollywood would never come knocking on my door, but my “passion” was always close by.

For many years, I trod the boards. I loved the romantic notion that perhaps the same dust on the stage where I stood had also been at the feet of Shakespeare, Chekhov, Stella Adler, or Uta Hagen. I often walk the dark empty stage pre-performance and before any other actors arrive. It’s an old school attempt at an ancient network connection. This is not unusual – those who embrace the romance of theater have all done this. I am not alone.

Few experiences have caused me more pride or shame. One role saw me delivering a 10-minute monologue in the beginning of the first act, only to never grace the stage again – until the final curtain call. I love the roar of a crowd who had forgotten all about me. Truly satisfying.

The shame?

Not so much fun. I once assistant directed a production of the dark and delightful musical Sweeney Todd. In a small independent theater, you wear many hats – I also coordinated costumes, washing the blood out of many pieces after each of the 25+ performances. I was also the prop mistress, setting props and providing bread dough at each show. On top of all of that, I ran sound during every single production in the dingy hidden tech booth behind the last row of seats at the very back of the theater. I had a business trip a few days before opening night and while I was gone, new CDs replaced those I had practiced with and used in every previous rehearsal. Songs were combined so the numbering of each was off from the notations in my script. 9 minutes in, the music I played no longer matched what was being sung on stage. Knowing my cast was adept at anything, I cut the supportive music until I came to a place where I knew I could sync back up with the cast. For 12 minutes of the show, no accompanying music played to back the actors actions or vocals. I was devastated and sorrowful, but the cast? They were furious. Many of them threw their costumes at me and spewed foul language, stating they would never work with me again. I received dirty looks and I think a few actually spit on me every night for the next six weeks, not until the run of that particular theater production was complete. It was truly horrifying and what theater nightmares are made of.

But apparently, I am a glutton for punishment, because MANY productions followed – however, none brought me more pain than the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Live and Learn.

Where Experience Takes You

I’ve had an opportunity to use the skills learned on stage and in the wings in my professional presentations and speeches, the various podcasts I have produced, my 3-year stint on Top Recruiter as well as writing the content and moderating the docu-film, The Art of Recruiting, and a couple short films.

My friend, Walter DuRant and I played husband and wife sixteen years ago in a community theater production of Cheaper By The Dozen he contacted me last spring to play a role in a short film from a screenplay he had written called, “Just Another Meal“- a husband and wife meet to discuss their divorce in what turns out be anything but just another meal. We filmed in June, 2017 and the final edit was released this week. I loved every minute of filming in 95+ degree heat and interestingly enough. I can’t wait to do it again.

The Passionate Chase

Never stop following the passions of your youth or those you find along the way — they were and are planted in you for a reason. Don’t neglect them or forget to dust them off every once in a while. They are the slow fires that burn, they (re)ignite ideas and supercharge career momentum.

Imagine if every opportunity that came your way was viewed as a “chance of a lifetime.”
Just imagine.

*This first blog is the kick-off for my next series, “The Passionate Chase.”

Here’s the released version, which is being submitted to festivals.
Wish us luck!

PERSONAL GROWTH

The Super Power of Balance

“YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU BELIEVE. YOU HAVE GREATER POWERS THAN YOU KNOW.” –ANTIOPE, from Wonder Woman

A Million Different Directions

Many years ago, I was in a stage play called Run for Your Wife written by British playwright Ray Cooney, whose specialty is farce. The story centers around a cabbie named John who falls for two women, marries them both, and proceeds to create two separate lives for himself by setting up two households on the opposite sides of town. Moving from one zany scene to the next, John continually gets away with his double life. Of course, it all comes crashing down in the final scenes when the two wives unwittingly discover each other. Comedy at its finest.

Over the years, I have thought about this show as I have always juggled two or three jobs, plus academics or volunteering. When I first started recruiting, I was also a coach for girls’ sports at the local junior high, oh– and I also worked part-time as a dental assistant for a children’s specialty office. Three jobs and five classes at the local college – oh…, and dare I forget -> single mom to four wonderful children. About six months into this crazy schedule, my recruiting boss pulled me aside and asked me to quit my other jobs – he wanted my focus, he wanted me full-time, and was ready to compensate me for – as well as remove some of the crazy in my life.

I thought about it and became excited at the prospect of a simpler life. Little did I know that simple doesn’t always work for everyone. It doesn’t seem to for me. I have consistently had more than one job since I was in high school.  Old habits die hard.

I have received some great advice over the years – one such piece was to let go of some of the junk in my life, that my work / life balance could be just that – balanced.

Finding Balance

One of the most important things for me has been to recognize my worth and what I contribute to my organization and those around me. It occurred to me, just today, that this will be a lifelong process. It has always been difficult for me to back out of a situation where I think I could help, where I could coach colleagues or friends toward success, or – my greatest curse – being the mom, when I need to be a manager or leader. And while I am getting better at it, I have always had trouble saying no, mostly because I like saying yes. It just feels good to say yes.  And I like to help, I like to make life and work easier for someone else. But I have found joy in saying no, not to mention the power.

Weights & Measures

Personal weights & measures remind me that I am not Wonder Woman, even as much as I would like others to believe. No golden lasso or bullet-deflecting wristbands, I just got shot today and it hurt, apparently my reflexes were too slow for deflection. So what does that mean for me? Where do I go from there? Do I back down and cower in the corner? Not my style. I rise up and be the professional I know I am. I achieve balance once more.

I have a couple surfboards in my garage, along with some stand-up paddleboards. When I first got the paddleboard and tried it – I liked it right away! It required balance on my part, as well as core strength. My friends who were surfers, didn’t like it as much as surfing, because a wave propelling you removed the need for soooo much balance.

Each of us gets our balance from a different place. Sometimes, a massive wave about to crash on our heads is just what we need to move forward and stand up for the ride of our lives. And sometimes, you just need to be steady and paddle on.

“There is no decision that we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice.” – Simon Sinek

He’s right. I guess I’ll start with why.