why so much effort
for such little gain?
~ Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry
why so much effort
for such little gain?
~ Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry
When I was getting ready to graduate from college in 1957, I was fed up and ready to drop from exhaustion, but still my mind kept telling me, “Hurry, hurry, hurry.” I felt I had to do something, go on to the next step, whatever it was — career, graduate school, as long as it was important. This is an American disease.
~ Florence King
Photography: Thank you Carol @ Radiating Blossom
…The most impressive students I had over my 30 years of university teaching were those I encountered when I first began, in the early 1970s, who almost all turned out to have been put through Catholic schools, during a time when priests and nuns still taught and Catholic education hadn’t become indistinguishable from secular education. Many of these kids resented what they felt was the excessive constraint, with an element of fear added, of their education. Most failed to realize that it was this very constraint—and maybe a touch of the fear, too—that forced them to learn Latin, to acquire and understand grammar, to pick up the rudiments of arguing well, that had made them as smart as they were…
..So often in my literature classes students told me what they “felt” about a novel, or a particular character in a novel. I tried, ever so gently, to tell them that no one cared what they felt; the trick was to discover not one’s feelings but what the author had put into the book, its moral weight and its resultant power. In essay courses, many of these same students turned in papers upon which I wished to—but did not—write: “D-, Too much love in the home.” I knew where they came by their sense of their own deep significance and that this sense was utterly false to any conceivable reality. Despite what their parents had been telling them from the very outset of their lives, they were not significant. Significance has to be earned, and it is earned only through achievement. Besides, one of the first things that people who really are significant seem to know is that, in the grander scheme, they are themselves really quite insignificant.
~ Joseph Epstein, A Literary Education and Other Essays
Thank you Michael Wade for your recommendation of Epstein’s new book: A Literary Education and Other Essays. I’m half way through and loving it. Joseph Epstein, 77, was born in Chicago. He is an essayist, short story writer, and editor. In 2003, he was awarded a National Humanities Medal by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
If you’re working in the kitchen of Anthony Bourdain, legendary chef and famed television personality, you don’t dare so much to boil hot water without attending to a ritual called: mise-en-place.
What is the first thing YOU do when you arrive at your desk?
What 20 word question can you ask yourself to distinguish between tasks that simply feel urgent from those that are truly important?
Find the answers here: How to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day
What a player. What a Man. What an inspiration. RIP Tony Gwynn.
“We can find peace or anxiety everywhere…The single most important move is acceptance. There is no need – on top of everything else – to be anxious that we are anxious. The mood is no sign that our lives have gone wrong, merely that we are alive. We should be more careful when pursuing things we imagine will spare us anxiety. We can pursue them by all means, but for other reasons than fantasies of calm – and with a little less vigour and a little more skepticism…We must suffer alone. But we can at least hold out our arms to our similarly tortured, fractured, and above all else, anxious neighbours, as if to say, in the kindest way possible: ‘I know…’”
Originally posted on Ophelia's Fiction Blog:
From Alain de Botton’s Philosopher’s Mail.
“Travel, Beauty, Status and Love: the four great contemporary ideals around which our fantasies of calm collect and which taken together are responsible for the lion’s share of the frenzied activities of the modern economy: its airports, long-haul jets and resort hotels; its overheated property markets, furniture companies and unscrupulous building contractors; its networking events, status-driven media and competitive business deals; its bewitching actors, soaring love songs and busy divorce lawyers.
Yet despite the promises and the passion expended in the pursuit of these goals, none of them will work. There will be anxiety at the beach, in the pristine home, after the sale of the company, and in the arms of anyone we will ever seduce, however often we try. Anxiety is our fundamental state for well-founded reasons: Because we are intensely vulnerable physical beings, a complicated network of fragile…
View original 78 more words
A 2012 share titled “Do What You Love” garnered more likes (393) and more views (8,396) than any other post on this blog. My thinking has evolved (you were naive!) since that time with a subsequent share titled: Do What You Love? Wrong! and this NY Times article by Professor Gordon Marino titled Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love’:
…But is “do what you love” wisdom or malarkey?
…the “do what you love” ethos so ubiquitous in our culture is in fact elitist because it degrades work that is not done from love. It also ignores the idea that work itself possesses an inherent value, and most importantly, severs the traditional connection between work, talent and duty.
…My father didn’t do what he loved. He labored at a job he detested so that he could send his children to college. Was he just unenlightened and mistaken to put the well-being of others above his own personal interests? It might be argued that his idea of self-fulfillment was taking care of his family, but again, like so many other less than fortunate ones, he hated his work but gritted his teeth and did it well.
…Our desires should not be the ultimate arbiters of vocation. Sometimes we should do what we hate, or what most needs doing, and do it as best we can.
Read full article: Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love’
Image Source: daiquiri-kisses (modified)
“The paradox of Wu-Wei arises…”
The phone rings. I glance at my watch. 5:20 p.m.
We have a problem. We need your help.
Just one time, one time, it would be nice to get a different script at the end of the day. Dreamworks ~ The phone rings: “Hey DK, great news….”
My periscope is up and scanning the horizon. (Is the house burning or is it a pan on the stove that’s on fire? Fur is up.)
The interrogation commences.
Start from the beginning.
What options have you explored?
Did you check this? What about that?
Did you ask this? Did you ask that?
The team has done a thorough job in assessing the situation. (House is not burning. But it’s a large pan on the stove that’s smoldering.)
The anxiety is climbing. (Is that fear I’m smelling?)
The team, sensing a dead-end, is feeling out my receptivity for an exception approval. Meanwhile, I’m winding up the next series of questions and readying the cannon to fire:
If tomorrow wasn’t promised,
what would you give for today?
Forget everything else.
Forget everything else.
Forget there was any sun light left,
what would you spend today thinking about?
We get one opportunity in life.
One chance in life to do whatever you are going to do.
To lay your foundation.
Whatever legacy you are going to leave,
Leave your legacy.
And its found through your effort.
Wins and losses come a dime dozen,
But effort, nobody can judge effort.
Because effort is between you and you.
Effort doesn’t have anything to do with anybody else.
Because every day is a new day.
Every moment is a new moment.
So now you’ve got to go out and show them
that I’m a a different creature, now,
then I was five minutes ago.
Because I’m pissed off for greatness.
Because if you aren’t pissed off for greatness,
that means You are ok with being mediocre.
And no man in here is OK with being mediocre…
SMWI*= Saturday Morning Work-out Inspiration
“In her new book THRIVE, Arianna Huffington takes a long hard look at how we define success and what it costs us: our health, our relationships, our peace of mind. We measure ourselves by action and production, competition and power: the more, the more, the more, the better. Sleep? Overrated. Stress? A fact of life. Besides, that’s what vices are for: addiction, like depression, is on the rise, as we fight constant burnout and struggle to cope.
It’s go, go, go and do, do, do. Every conversation I had seemed to eventually come around to the same dilemmas we are all facing – the stress of overbusyness, overworking, overconnecting on social media, and underconnecting with ourselves and each other. The space, the gaps, the pauses, the silence – those things that allow us to regenerate and recharge – had all but disappeared in my own life and in the lives of so many I knew.
We’re not cut out for this.
We weren’t made for this.
~ Justine Musk, The Art of Redefining Success (+ Why We Need to)
I couldn’t get comfortable. It was a straight back chair. I’m infused with a dull, throbbing haze. The prior evening included two cocktails, a late night dinner and four hours of sleep short of requirements for base level performance. A modest change in daily routine – having a disproportionate impact on operating equilibrium.
I’m sitting. Sort of. Restless. The metal bars on the seat back are leaving tracks, the comfort of r-bar. Rough, cold steel on skin. I’m twisting. Trying to find a comfort zone. Those seated behind me zig when I zag. I cross my leg one way. Then pull it back and scissor it over the other. I sit upright. I slouch. I throw my right arm over the back of the chair. Then the left. And then go through the cycle again.
I glance around. The room is fidgeting.
He walks onto the stage. He sits in a panel chair. He takes a drink of water. And waits for the interviewer’s first question.
He’s wildly successful.
A Horatio Alger story. He grew up in a family with modest means. His Father worked in government service. His Mother at home with the children.
The room is quiet. Locked-in.
His energy fills the room. His mind is whirring.
He shares his view and insights on a wide swath of territory. Domestic policy. Economy. Government. Immigration. Social issues. Philanthropy. The Arts. Conservation. His Love of Country.
And without breaking stride, he injects self-deprecating experiences.
We’re in his web.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: I’m 6x years old. My Father passed away about this age. When you are 50, you believe you have another half to go. When you turn 60, there’s a keen realization that 2/3rd’s is gone. A shift from a ‘lot to go’ to ‘what’s left’. I don’t know when…when my mind or body will no longer permit me to keep up the pace. But I have a lot that I want do…a lot I need to accomplish.
He pauses. Reflects. And continues. (The wildly successful man continues…)
A: What I really worry about is getting “that call” at night on one of our children. He shakes his head. Let’s set that aside. I worry about my children growing up with appropriate balance, with the appropriate values, given that they have been surrounded by great wealth. That is why I plan to give most of it away. At the end of the day, I want my children to be happy.
That is all that matters.
That is all that matters to me.
Forbes: How Successful People Stay Calm:
TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. If you’ve followed my work, you’ve read some startling research summaries that explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health. The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress. As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.
While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when faced with stress, what follows are ten of the best. Some of these strategies may seem obvious, but the real challenge lies in recognizing when you need to use them and having the wherewithal to actually do so in spite of your stress.
- They appreciate what they have
- They avoid asking “what if”
- They stay positive
- They disconnect
- They limit their caffeine intake
- They sleep
- They squash negative self-talk
- They re-frame their perspective
- They breathe
- They use their support-system
Read full article @ Forbes: How Successful People Stay Calm
Thank you Tarique
“The strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success. The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control….
It’s odd to think of people feeling simultaneously superior and insecure. Yet it’s precisely this unstable combination that generates drive: a chip on the shoulder, a goading need to prove oneself. Add impulse control — the ability to resist temptation — and the result is people who systematically sacrifice present gratification in pursuit of future attainment.
But this success comes at a price. Each of the three traits has its own pathologies. Impulse control can undercut the ability to experience beauty, tranquillity and spontaneous joy. Insecure people feel like they’re never good enough…A superiority complex can be even more invidious. Group supremacy claims have been a source of oppression, war and genocide throughout history.”
~ Amy Chua & Jed Rubenfeld, What Drives Success?
Read entire article in NY Times: What Drives Success? Worthy…
“What is it about upward mobility that undermines the health of these young Americans? In our studies, most participants are the first in their families to attend college. They feel tremendous internal pressure to succeed, so as to ensure their parents’ sacrifices have been worthwhile…Some young people respond to the pressure by doubling down on character strengths that have served them well, cultivating an even more determined persistence to succeed. This strategy, however, can backfire when it comes to health. Behaving diligently all of the time leaves people feeling exhausted and sapped of willpower. Worn out from having their noses to the grindstone all the time, they may let their health fall by the wayside, neglecting sleep and exercise, and like many of us, overindulging in comfort foods.”
~ Gregory E. Miller & Edith Chen, Can Upward Mobility Cost You Your Health?
I used to think I knew everything. I was a “smart person” who “got things done,” and because of that, the higher I climbed, the more I could look down and scoff at what seemed silly or simple, even religion. But I realized something as I drove home that night: that I am neither better nor smarter, only luckier. And I should be ashamed of thinking I knew everything, because you can know the whole world and still feel lost in it. So many people are in pain-no matter how smart or accomplished – they cry, they yearn, they hurt. But instead of looking down on things, they look up, which is where I should have been looking, too. Because when the world quiets to the sound of your own breathing, we all want the same things: comfort, love, and a peaceful heart.
― Mitch Albom
Mitch Albom, 55, was born in Passaic, New Jersey. He is an American best-selling author of the blockbuster bestsellers Tuesdays With Morrie, The Five People You Meet In Heaven and For One More Day. His books have sold over 35 million copies worldwide. He was an acclaimed sports journalist at the Detroit Free Press and he is a frequent participant on the ESPN Sports Reporters. Albom has also achieved success as a screenwriter, dramatist, radio broadcaster and musician.
He grew up in a small, middle-class neighborhood from which most people never left. Mitch was once quoted as saying that his parents were very supportive, and always used to say, “Don’t expect your life to finish here. There’s a big world out there. Go out and see it.” Albom once mentioned that now his parents say, “Great. All our kids went and saw the world and now no one comes home to have dinner on Sundays.”
“I had a teacher who once called his students ‘idiots’ when they screwed up…he made us rehearse until our fingers almost bled. He corrected our wayward hands and arms by poking at us with a pencil. Today, he’d be fired. But when he died a few years ago, he was celebrated: Forty years’ worth of former students flew back to my New Jersey hometown from every corner of the country…I was stunned by the outpouring for the gruff old teacher…Some were musicians, but most had distinguished themselves in other fields…What did Mr. K do right?…Comparing Mr. K’s methods to the latest findings in fields from music to math to medicine leads to a single, startling conclusion:
It’s time to revive old-fashioned education.
Not just traditional but old fashioned in the sense that so many of us knew as kids, with strict discipline and unyielding demands. Because here’s the thing: It works…and the following eight principles – a manifesto if you will, a battle cry inspired by my old teacher and buttressed by new research – explain why:
“The outcome of my days is always the same; an infinite desire for what one never gets; a void one cannot fill; an utter yearning to produce in all ways, to battle as much as possible against time that drags us along, and the distractions that throw a veil over our soul.”
~ Eugene Delacroix, “The Journal of Eugene Delacroix”
WOULD CHARACTERISTICS OF SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE DESCRIBED THIS WAY?
OR THIS WAY? (See below)
“…It turns out that when we decide how we feel about someone, we are making not one judgment, but two. The criteria that count are what we call “strength” and “warmth.” Strength is a person’s capacity to make things happen with abilities and force of will. When people project strength, they command our respect. Warmth is the sense that a person shares our feelings, interests, and view of the world. When people project warmth, we like and support them…”
“…While each of us exhibit both strong and warm qualities, the authors found through various studies and research that we often fail to utilize the right amounts of each. This is because, although both strength and warmth are positive traits, they can become negative if not balanced for and catered to your specific situation. Awareness is key. Strength and warmth are controllable traits we use in every interaction we have—via our tone of voice, the words we use, how we stand and walk, what we wear, and even how we cut our hair…”
Read more @ 800ceoread
Find this book @ Amazon
I watched from a distance. A short, feisty, scrappy, spit-fire. A Chihuahua.
Place of Birth: The Bronx. With accompanying accent.
Deep skills. A reputation for getting things done, but doing so and leaving a large wake. She didn’t tolerate fools gladly. She was quick to show up colleagues. Result: A bulls-eye on her back.
It was January, 2011. It was a 12-minute interview. I told her that the job was hers sans the wake creation. I would have zero tolerance for air turbulence. I created enough of my own.
I went on to give her the pre-game disclosure. And motivational speech:
You’re playing on the A team now. Out of junior varsity.
We use proper English in our memos and letters.
No slang. Or whatever that is coming out of your mouth.
I need to show up at the right airport. At the right meeting. On time. All the time.
No crying when your feelings get hurt. You want a hug, get a dog.
I had better not find HR in my office on any antics.
You won’t keep up. Just accept it. [Read more...]
Source: Carl Richards
Byron Wien grew up in Chicago during the Depression. “He was orphaned at 14 and overcame a difficult childhood to attend Harvard undergrad and business school. He recently turned 80, and in response to a request from a conference organizer moments before he was supposed to speak, Wien committed to paper some ideas which surely contributed to his success, but more important, they are lessons that shaped such a rich and remarkable life.” Here are a few excerpts:
Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. And by doing it, they’re proven right. Because, I think there’s something inside of you—and inside of all of us—when we see something and we think, ‘I think I can do it, I think I can do it. But I’m afraid to.’ Bridging that gap, doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that—THAT is what life is. And I think you might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s special. And if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself. Now you know. A mystery is solved. So, I think you should just give it a try. Just inch yourself out of that back line. Step into life. Courage. Risks. Yes. Go. Now.”
— Amy Poehler
Amy Meredith Poehler, 41, is an American actress, comedian, voice artist, producer and writer. Raised in Burlington, Massachusetts, she graduated from Boston College in 1993 and moved to Chicago, Illinois, to study improv at The Second City and ImprovOlympic. Poehler was a cast member on the NBC television show Saturday Night Live (SNL) from 2001 to 2009. In 2004, she became the co-anchor of the Weekend Updatesketch along with her friend and colleague Tina Fey. Poehler’s work on SNL earned her two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Since 2009, she stars as Leslie Knope in the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, for which she has been nominated for three Emmys forOutstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, two Golden Globe Awards, and one Screen Actors Guild Award. (Source: wiki)
+ Saturday. Sunday morning.
On. Always On.
Not sustainable he says.
It’s been sustained.
OK. Maybe Not.
But, I’m in fine company.
Edison. Rogoff. Lombardi. Waters. King.
Who? What? Need more.
New leadership books pour over the dam each day claiming to share a secret sauce. A cow rhythmically chewing and regurgitating its cud. But far less effective. It largely comes down to these eight lines from James Autry. Period.
In every office
you hear the threads
of love and joy and fear and guilt,
the cries for celebration and reassurance,
and somehow you know that connecting those threads
is what you are supposed to do
and business takes care of itself.
~ James A. Autry
Source: 800CEORead – Bring Your Emotional Self to Work. The words above were written by James A. Autry and are included in Love and Profit: The Art of Caring Leadership (p.32). And all of this reminds me of the John Maxwell quote: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Image Credit: Cory Smith – Ix.com
I read this NY Times article a week ago: Is Giving The Secret to Getting Ahead. And synchronicity has been working it’s magic ever since. I’m seeing giving everywhere. Yesterday alone with three examples: My post and One Good Deed. Entering a bone chilling cabin, a flight attendant see an elderly woman shivering and gives her a cardigan. Last night a quote by Sam Levenson: “Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.”
Adam Grant, 31, is the youngest-tenured and highest rated professor at Wharton. He has published more papers in his field than colleagues who have won lifetime-acheivement awards. He is the author of a new book titled “Give and Take – A Revolutionary Approach to Success” which will be released later this month. The man lives his personal and professional life as a GIVER. (Miraculously so.) The story (long) is worth the time to understand what he does and why he does it. Grant’s research divides us into three categories: [Read more...]
Thank you SwissMiss via Three Potato Four
“I can also be stubborn,” he went on. “I’m an idealist. I used to say to Sidney, ‘Pop, your movies are always about people fighting against something, the system or corruption,’ and he said, ‘That’s what life is about.’ I loved that. I’m fighting complacency. Most people think good enough is good enough. I go to the theater a lot, and communion doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s indescribable.” He met my eye. “I don’t come from anywhere, man, but I am always on the search for excellence.”
~ Bobby Cannavale, Actor
Robert M. “Bobby” Cannavale (43) “is an American actor known for his leading role as Bobby Caffey in the first two seasons of the television series Third Watch. He also had a recurring role on the comedy series Will & Grace as Officer Vince D’Angelo, Will’s long-term boyfriend. He portrayed Gyp Rosetti on the third season of the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire. Bobby Cannavale was born in Union City, New Jersey, to an Italian American father and a Cuban mother, and grew up in Margate, Florida. He was raised Catholic and attended St. Michael’s Catholic School, where he participated in a number of extracurricular activities, including being an altar boy and member of the chorus. When he was eight, Cannavale secured the plum role of the lisping boy, Winthrop, in his school’s production of The Music Man, and later as a gangster in Guys and Dolls, which cemented his love for performing. Cannavale’s parents divorced when he was 13 and his mother moved the family to Puerto Rico. After two years in Latin America, they settled in Margate. Cannavale returned to New Jersey after barely eking out a high school diploma in the late 1980s, in order to be closer to New York to launch his acting career. Cannavale began his acting career in the theater – with no acting training.”
“I remember reading a review that Pauline Kael wrote about some director’s big epic, and she said: Now, look, it might seem unfair to judge a talented man more harshly when he tries to do something big than a less talented person who’s doing something easier. But when you try big things, you take big risks, and if you’re trying to do something that is maybe above you and you can’t quite pull off, then whereas before we only saw your gifts, now we see your failings.
I’ve always been pushing that envelope. I want to risk hitting my head on the ceiling of my talent. I want to really test it out and say: O.K., you’re not that good. You just reached the level here. I don’t ever want to fail, but I want to risk failure every time out of the gate.”
~ Quentin Tarantino
“Quentin Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1963. In junior high he attended drama classes and he actually dropped out of High School at age 15 to attend acting classes full-time at the James Best theater company. After he left the acting school he became an employee at the Video Archives, a now-defunct movie rental store in Manhattan. It was there that he began to truly think about and discuss cinema as he worked with customers to find the best movie for them. He actually credits that store as providing the inspiration for him to become a director by saying that ‘When people ask me if I went to film school, I tell them, ‘no, I went to films.’ Tarantino is the famed director of classics ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Kill Bill’ and ‘Inglorious Basterds.'” (Source: ID Poster)
Yet, another remarkable post from Brainpickings titled 9 Rules for Success where Maria Popova shares excerpts from an essay by British novelist Amelia E. Barr (1831-1919). Barr, despite a devastating loss of her husband and three of their six children to yellow fever in 1867, went on to become a dedicated and diligent writer, eventually reaching critical success at the age of fifty-two. I’d encourage you to read the entire post at this link as it is that good. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:
1) Men and women succeed because they take pains to succeed. Industry and patience are almost genius; and successful people are often more distinguished for resolution and perseverance than for unusual gifts. They make determination and unity of purpose supply the place of ability.
2) Success is the reward of those who “spurn delights and live laborious days.” We learn to do things by doing them. One of the great secrets of success is “pegging away.” No disappointment must discourage, and a run back must often be allowed, in order to take a longer leap forward.
5) We have been told, for centuries, to watch for opportunities, and to strike while the iron is hot. Very good; but I think better of Oliver Cromwell’s amendment — “make the iron hot by striking it.” [Read more...]
“All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a man has taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Six days back at work…after a two week vacation.
Tension. Decompression. Recharge. Ramp-up. Escalation. Full engagement. Tension.
Full loop restored.
And, cycle time is compressing year over year.
Meetings. Emails. 2013 Planning. Events. Phone calls. Problems. Opportunities. Running. Faster.
In a momentary gap in my schedule…a mental image of this photo flickers by…a photo tripped into during the recharging phase of vacation. Image darts in and out for days. Pulling me back to a time when life was simpler. When picking sweet, juicy Bing cherries and filling the bucket was the task of the day.
I am here on purpose... [Read more...]
We’re back to work after a wonderful two week siesta with the family. No travel. No stress. Just watching movies, eating and napping sprinkled with a well intentioned but woefully under-executed exercise regimen. Time to shift gears to work-mode. A post I came across during my vacation by Eric Barker @ “Barking Up The Wrong Tree” reminded me of an earlier conversation with a bright (very), ivy league educated, younger colleague. He posed these following questions:
You have achieved modest success in your career, what key learnings can you share? (Modest? Do I ooze underachievement?)
I’m sure you have made mistakes along the way? Would you mind sharing? (Why not start with the wins? Is it that obvious that this captain has weathered too many rough seas?)
Have you made repeated mistakes in the same area and why? (Cringing. How does he know? Do all ex-collegiate hockey players have a reputation of diving into the same scrum and looking for trouble?)
What tips would you share with someone just starting their career? (In contrast to me, that is, one who is just finishing or finished?)
The path to excellence. Study the best in the field. Develop lifelong habits. Continuously revise and improve. (Kaizen.) Practice. Have a critical eye with your own work. Be sure to focus on the process as it is as important as the output. Pursue your field of passion despite the views of your critics. There are no shortcuts to excellence – it takes incredible focus and effort. Same old, same old? Yes. It worked for Matisse. And it will work for you and me.
Henri Matisse (1869-1954), along with Picasso and Duchamp, was regarded as one of three artists who helped define art and sculpture in the 20th century. There is a Matisse show on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until March 17th, 2013. There is an exceptional review of the show in wsj.com titled The Relentless Reviser. Below I share excerpts from the review that are applicable to many of us in our fields: [Read more...]
“I’ve seen people waiting, watching and hoping someone else would step up, take ownership and make things happen. I’ve seen people stuck in blame-gear while others are doing the work and solving the problems. And I’ve seen people hesitating while others are committing. No surprise these were the same people complaining in my office when others received bigger increases, better assignments, or more interesting projects. But, people who are winning at working become the someone else that others are waiting for. They step up and do something. They know when to act, and they feel better about themselves when they do. That’s because action feels better than inaction and commitment feels better than non-commitment. Both build your self-esteem. Here’s the bottom-line: you can’t be winning at working if you’re waiting for someone else to be the someone you could be. In my way of thinking, winning at working means you commit to offering the best you there is. Sometimes that means you have to dig a little deeper for your courage or push yourself outside your comfort zone. But it’s like Shakespeare said, “Nothing comes from doing nothing.”
~ Nan Russell
Bryce Courtenay died yesterday. He was the author of one of my favorite books: The Power of One. The Guardian writes the following about Courtenay: He was born into poverty in South Africa and studied journalism in London. He started writing late in life after a 30-year career in advertising. He was known for his dedication to work and prolific output, often writing for 12 hours a day and usually producing one new book at year. This short < 1 minute clip was produced by Courtenay a few days ago before he died. Take a moment and watch…it is inspiring and moving.
And here are two of my favorite passages from “The Power of One“: [Read more...]
If there were one guiding principle that encapsulated all pragmatic optimists, it would simply be: “judge your worth not by what you own, but by what you create”…In my travels documenting and working with a number of these individuals I’ve observed number of core principles they all seem to share, and they’re principles any of us can adopt:
“Do not believe those who try to persuade you that composition is only a cold exercise of the intellect. The only music capable of moving and touching us is that which flows from the depths of a composer’s soul when he is stirred by inspiration. There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest does not always respond to the first invitation. We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.
A few days ago I told you I was working every day without any real inspiration. Had I given way to my disinclination, undoubtedly I should have drifted into a long period of idleness. But my patience and faith did not fail me, and to-day I felt that inexplicable glow of inspiration of which I told you; thanks to which I know beforehand that whatever I write to-day will have power to make an impression, and to touch the hearts of those who hear it. I hope you will not think I am indulging in self-laudation, if I tell you that I very seldom suffer from this disinclination to work. I believe the reason for this is that I am naturally patient. I have learnt to master myself, and I am glad I have not followed in the steps of some of my Russian colleagues, who have no self-confidence and are so impatient that at the least difficulty they are ready to throw up the sponge. This is why, in spite of great gifts, they accomplish so little, and that in an amateur way.”
Source: Brainpickings. Tchaikovsky, the legendary composer, wrote this in a letter to his benefactress, Nadezhda von Meck, dated March 17th, 1878. It can be found in the 1905 volumeThe Life & Letters of Pete Ilich Tchaikovsky.
It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig. Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me…So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.
- Aldous Huxley, Island
“…New research this month finds that the more time someone spends sitting, the shorter and less robust his or her life may be. The findings were sobering: Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. By comparison, smoking a single cigarette reduces life expectancy by about 11 minutes. Looking more broadly, they concluded that an adult who spends an average of six hours a day watching TV over the course of a lifetime can expect to live 4.8 years fewer than a person who does not watch TV. Those results hold true even for people who exercise regularly. It appears a person who does a lot of exercise but watches six hours of TV every night might have a similar mortality risk as someone who does not exercise and watches no TV…” [Read more...]
“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Source: Writers Write
I’ve been slacking on the “Lead” part of “Lead.Learn.Live.” I’ve been distracted with “Premium” Hot Chocolate, Grilled Cheese sandwiches and painted pumpkins inspired by Jackson Pollock. Here’s one of two leadership primers to kick off the coming week.
The Harvard Business Review authors of Does Management Really Work? conducted research over a 10-year period involving thousands of organizations to determine whether companies adhere to three practices that are considered essential elements of good management. Before we get to the 3 basic elements, two of the key findings of this research were:
1) Many organizations throughout the world are very badly managed…
2) Effective Management execution on the basic practices is strongly correlated with better results
Take a pause before hitting the “read more” link. (I’ve already done it…so play along.) What exactly are these 3 essential management practices?