Are You Chicken Little or the Road Runner?

When I worked at a startup company years ago and things got stressful, my supervisor would wail, “We’re just set up to fail!” She cried real tears once, when it looked like we were going to miss delivering our McDonald’s Kids’ Meal prize on time.

The deadlines were tight and stringent. “We’re set up to fail!”

There was a bug in the system. “We’re set up to fail!”

The art department misunderstood the engineering department. “We’re set up to fail!”

In actuality, she meant, “I’m afraid we’re going to fail!”

In the end, the entire startup did fail. But our department never did, we simply met our goals with a lot of stress. The constant cry of the “sky is falling” unnerved the team. Projects that could have been accomplished with fun and enjoyment were, instead, completed in solemn urgency.

Isn’t this what many people do at work and life? Aren’t a lot of people motivated by fear? Fear of failure, fear of losing money, fear of losing face.

People can be motivated by fun and awe and still get it done.

 

 

 

The Light in Your Eyes

Our guide informs us about American history and politics, sprinkling jokes and anecdotes as the bus rolls from one museum to another.

He’s always smiling with a light in his eyes.

On Day One, he asked me how to pronounce my name. Ever since then, he has called me by name (voice booming with cheer) when he addresses me. 

He loves his job, you might surmise.

He loves his life.

Undoubtedly,  you’ve met someone like him. Always smiling,  never complaining. Joyful. 
It’s an attitude that pervades his life and affects every person he meets. The common cold… the flu and attitudes are all contagious.  

What are you spreading?


If You Build It, They Will Come

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Our daughter played in a symphonic concert tonight. She’s almost 14 and is very active in several orchestras at the moment. The symphonic group she played in tonight celebrated their 50th anniversary this year.  This group is a district group, including all the kids in the city who audition and make it. The kids then come to three different rehearsals of 2 hours each. They perform in the local Ikeda Theater for parents and friends. Admission is free.

Wayne Roederer started this program 50 years ago. He has conducted and started many programs and just retired two years ago. He conducted one of the groups and spoke to the parents, his voice breaking with emotion. “It was a joyous experience for me,” he said, “to work with your children. It was well worth missing Judge Judy for several days.”  We all laughed.

The kids played with pride. They moved to the music.

Afterwards, we spoke with him. We congratulated him and told him how we appreciate his work. He said that he has worked with children who grew up to be adults who started orchestra programs of their own and now those kids have grown and are starting programs…

What might appear to be his legacy at first glance: the kids he worked with directly…is much more than that. This man has literally influenced thousands of people.

One man. An idea. And many helpful hands, parent volunteers and eager students. That’s all it took.

You are one person. You have an idea. Start building it…people will help you.

 

 

Sunday Study

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I’m reading a synopsis of the book Unleash the Warrior Within. It’s written by a former Navy SEAL Michael “Mack” Machowicz. Obviously, he’s quite a self-disciplined, productive individual: host+ producer of Discovery Channel’s “Future Weapons”, author of Develop the Focus, Discipline, Confidence, and Courage You Need to Achieve Unlimited Goals and he possesses multiple black belts in martial arts.

One surprising piece of advice he gives (considering he’s a former Navy SEAL!): pursue your objective at 80%, not 100%. Why? Because you can’t give 100% long-term. You’ll burn out. This made me relieved because that is what I already do.

Yay! I’m not a slacker!

 

 

 

 

 

Can Work Be Joyful?

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“I don’t know what I’m passionate about! How do I find my passion?”

How about starting with a list of things you would do for free? Make a list. Don’t censor yourself.

You can also try to remember what you enjoyed doing when you were eight years old. Add those activities. Nothing is too silly.

I’d love to hear what you come up with. How can you incorporate this into your work?

Bank Your Account

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I’m a teacher with a limited income. (How’s that for redundant?)

I contribute to my retirement funds, pay my bills, pay for my daughters’ violins, symphony fees and lessons. After that, I don’t have much left. And I don’t feel like I can treat myself to a manicure or purse. I just put the little morsels in savings, paycheck after paycheck.

But I’ve been finding myself feeling a bit empty. Do you know how Stephen Covey says you need to be mindful of emotional bank accounts in your relationships? I believe this pertains to the relationship you have with yourself, as well.

I decided to invest in myself and I have not felt this good in a very long time. I’m taking a class. It’s not cheap. But I believe it will help me achieve a lot more than if I didn’t take it. I feel empowered. Invigorated. Optimistic.

It might take just a small visit to a cupcake shop. It might mean you check yourself into a local hotel for a night or two to have peace and quiet to work on your screenplay. Or maybe it’s time for you to pursue that degree you’ve always dreamed of. Only you know for sure what will make a deposit into your own emotional bank account. But do it. Do what it takes. It will not only raise your spirits, but it’ll raise the spirits of those you love and who love you.

Two days ago, a car was t-boned right in front of me. My daughter was with me, sitting in the front passenger seat. The car flipped and landed upside down just 8 feet from my car. When it was in the air, I thought it might land on us. It didn’t. I realized at that moment – life is really short and unpredictable. When you’re on your deathbed, will you have regrets? That would be the saddest thing of all. It’s up to you. What are you waiting for?