Archive for the ‘No More Mondays’ Category

My life is a puzzle box

August 5, 2010

This week I met with a former pastor who gave me this description of his current situation:  “My life is a puzzle box – all the pieces are there but the picture on the front has been torn off.  I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like.”

His income has gone up dramatically in the last couple of years allowing him to tithe more than his entire income seven years ago.

But financial success does not remove the questions about proper direction.  Faster, bigger and more are sometimes just that – faster, bigger and more.  Ultimately we want to see that picture of our life – a completed whole.

If I try to do something noble, humanitarian or Godly that has nothing to do with who I really am, I may look good to others and to myself for a period of time.  But the fact that I am not being authentic will eventually have consequences.  I may end up doing more damage than if I had not attempted this particular area of “success.”  Trappist monk Thomas Merton addressed this when he said, “There is in all visible things….a hidden wholeness.”

We’re all looking for that completed picture on the front of our puzzle box – our “hidden wholeness.”  Don’t be content until yours comes into view.

Advertisements

Do you have any “bad” ideas?

July 31, 2010

I just got a question from a podcast listener.  Brad from California asks:  “Dan, I hear you share about all your good ideas.  Do you ever have a bad idea?”

I had to pick myself up off the floor after laughing so hard.  Do I ever have a bad idea – oh yeah.  About 10 times a day.  And you know why?  I don’t know of any way to get to the good ideas without going through a whole lot of bad ones.  If you are waiting to share or experiment with an idea until you have a perfect one, chances are strong that 10 years from now you’ll still be waiting.

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” — Albert Einstein

Most people are afraid of good or bad ideas.  Good ideas require change and that’s intimidating.  Bad ideas make us look foolish or stupid, or waste time and money.

But take a look around you.  Anyone who is doing something great had a lot of bad ideas to get to where they are today.  I don’t know of any exceptions.   If you haven’t “failed” recently or had a bad idea, success will likely elude you as well.

Yes, I have bad ideas – lots of them.  I’ve failed with writing ideas, seminar ideas, product ideas, and employee ideas.   Perhaps I should track them for a time period.  I suspect my ratio is about 15 bad ideas for every 1 that has real potential.

My advice:  Welcome your “bad” ideas.  They are your friends.  Treat them with the love and respect they deserve.

“Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.” – Emile Chartier


Just ask the horse

July 26, 2010

I heard a story about a man riding a horse at breakneck speed.  It appears he’s going someplace very important.  A man standing along the roadside shouts, “Where are you going?”  To which the rider yells back, “I don’t know.   Ask the horse.”

This seems to be essentially the story I’m hearing from lots of people today.  They’re riding the horse of circumstances, their habits or other people’s expectations.  If that describes you, it’s time to grab the reins and move your life in the direction of where you really want to go.

One of the defining moments of my life occurred when I was about 13 years old.  The direction of my life was pretty clear.  My dad was a farmer – and expected me to help him and to eventually take over the family farm.  I acknowledged that because of my circumstances and the family I was born into, farming would in fact be my future.

Then I somehow got a copy of the little 33.3 rpm recording of Earl Nightingale called The Strangest Secret.  The central message was this – We become what we think about.  That opened a door to a whole new world of possibilities for me that has never been closed.

What are you thinking about?  If your mind is controlled by the bad economy, the recession, the unemployment, the unfairness of the company, the hurt of a past relationship, or the limitations of your formal education, your “horse” will be taking you toward scarcity, misery, and unhappiness.

Honestly, I still enjoy many things about farm life, and love the pleasures of living in the country on our little farm today.  But what I saw as limitations are gone.  And yes, that’s really my tractor – a 1937 Allis Chalmers B.

Where is your thinking taking you?  Is some wild horse of circumstances misdirecting you, or are you moving exactly in the direction of your dreams?

Click here to watch a 3 minute video of The Strangest Secret.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things…..and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Phil 4: 8-9 KJV)

Homeless yes – stupid no

July 23, 2010

I’ve been chuckling about this story for a couple of days now.   Still not sure quite how to frame it.

Last weekend a 29-yr-old homeless guy in Penryn, CA broke into a bar that had gone out of business.  He bought a six-pack of beer across the street, got into the vacant bar, put up an “Open” sign and began serving customers.  With that initial six-pack income being reinvested he was open for four days before the police got wind of what was happening. But at that point he had over $1300 in cash and merchandise.

Placer County sheriffs arrested Travis Lloyd Kevie on charges of burglary and selling alcohol without a license.  He had been serving about 30 customers a day the Sheriff’s Department said. 

There has been global attention on this story.  The small town residents say there has been so much publicity the bar could reopen successfully now.  The owner is more amazed than upset.

I think I see a movie and a book deal in the wings.   Check out the video linked above.

So what do you think?  Should this homeless dude be locked up for being a criminal?  Or would you give him an opportunity because of his ingenuity and boldness?  What could he have done to engage his creativity without doing something illegal?  What do you think he’ll be doing in the near future?

Angry Thursdays?

July 23, 2010

A new study that tracked key words in tweets indicates that people are angriest on Thursdays. Researchers from Northeastern and Harvard ran tweets from the last three years against a word list to plot the country’s happiness and angriest times throughout the week.

So why would people be angry on Thursdays?  Here are some of my guesses.  On Mondays people are still feeling okay because of just having the weekend off.  By Wednesday they realize the week is already half gone.  On Friday they know they are almost home free.  But on Thursday they are just ticked off to have to be at work.

Okay – the underlying premise is that people don’t like the idea of working at all.  Who are these people who are still trudging off to work each day that they hate?  Why haven’t they joined the ranks of those of us who have found – or created – work that is meaningful, fulfilling, purposeful and profitable?

Oh and apparently I should have called my last book No More Thursdays.

So what are you doing to make Thursdays a great day?

Honoring my wife and killing myself

July 7, 2010

Here’s a question with a common theme:

“Dan, I have a successful side business built around a weekly podcast I’ve been running now, part time for the past 5 years. Successful meaning it fills a need, has a large, loyal following and it generates a good supplemental income.  I’m miserable at my full time job- not only is it an hour and a half commute, 50+ hours a week taken away from my family, odd working hours and the salary not being competitive I’m physically drained and not mentally or physically healthy.  I’m thinking of going full time internet business because when I put 100% of myself into it –  I come alive, the business financially comes even more alive and I’m able to balance my life out.

The problem is my wife is not supportive of the idea. She feels safer with the weekly paycheck and the health benefits. I feel as though I’m honoring my wife but suffering inside and cheating my kids of a Dad during the best years of their lives.”

Let’s just deal with three major issues here:

  1. The job is “safer and more secure.”  In today’s workplace that is probably not true at all.  No job is secure.  And if you are miserable, you are likely beginning to sabotage your position there.   You simply cannot do well in a job where you are miserable, physically drained and unhealthy mentally.   Your chances of success are greatly enhanced in doing work where you “come alive.”
  2. With your current state of misery your feelings of “honoring” your wife will certainly turn to resentment – sooner than later.
  3. The fact that your wife wants you to continue in something where you are miserable and killing yourself raises some real red flags about your relationship.  Sit down with a coach or counselor and present the facts as you have here.  Get some outside advice about your best options.

My wife, Joanne, would have been very content if I had just gotten a regular job with a paycheck when we first married – or anytime since then.  But she laughs in thinking about me having a “real” job.  She knows how I am wired for change and innovation and she supports that in me even though there has been little “security” through the years.  “Honoring” one another in marriage means embracing how God has uniquely gifted each of us – and trusting that passion and joy will release more success than obligation.

Confused and Stunned – awesome!

July 2, 2010

Is now a time to try something new – perhaps something you’ve never done before?  Or should you sit out the “recession” and wait until “things get better.”

“The times when everyone is confused and stunned can present an enormous opportunity because no one’s really doing anything,” says Dell Computer founder Michael Dell.  “I think this is the time when the seeds of really successful new businesses will be created.”

Designer Kenneth Cole says, “When things are going well, people want to do what’s working and more of it.  It’s only in difficult times that people are open to creative alternatives.”

Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, points out that some of the greatest businesses were built in recessionary times.  “Money is easy to find in boom times, which leads to far too many businesses getting out of the gate that don’t deserve to be started.  When money is scarce, better ideas face less competition and better execution can lead to greater success.”

Whether it’s changing career paths or starting your own business, there’s never been a more opportune time than today.  July 1st marks the beginning of the second half of 2010.  And what better time to claim your “independence” than on July 4th.  Recognize you are in the driver’s seat, break ties with the mother country if necessary and begin your personal revolution. And remember, “things” get better when you get better.

Business is up and down – that’s good

June 29, 2010

Pat Cuartero was a Merrill Lynch analyst.  But as he says – he discovered a higher purpose – getting more people in New York City to play with yo-yos.  He funded his startup with $8,000 on credit cards and netted $32,000 in the first five months.  It was enough to persuade him to leave his “real job” and develop his passion for yo-yos.

Instead of just selling yo-yos, Pat developed YoYoNation – a robust community of enthusiasts.  There are blogs, forums, contests, and yes, you must register to be part of the community before you can buy a yo-yo.

He’s projecting $1.6 million in sales by the end of this year.  You can get cases, string, bearings, t-shirts and other gear once you’re part of the community.  You can start with the standard Duncan Butterfly Yo-Yo for $2.99 or step up to the handmade Oxy Ti titanium model for $549.99.

Anyone remember Tiddlywinks or the Slinky?  Probably just waiting for a champion to come along.

What’s your passion and what are you doing to develop it?

Poverty or Simplicity?

June 28, 2010

The current “recession” or economic downturn has prompted many people to enjoy a healthier, greener, ecologically responsible, and simpler lifestyle.  So what is the difference between poverty and simplicity?

If I’m angry that I can’t afford a new Ferrari I may feel that I’ve been doomed to poverty.  However, if I enjoy the classic lines and character of a 20-year old sports car that I can easily afford, then it appears I have chosen simplicity.  If I “can’t afford” to eat at Ruth’s Chris I may begrudge the government’s tax and economic policies.  If Joanne and I invite some friends over for a potluck dinner where our contribution comes from our neighbor’s left-over cucumbers and tomatoes, our peace of mind may originate from our choice for simplicity.

John Robbins turned down his family’s Baskin-Robbins ice cream fortune in order to “live a far more simple and earth-friendly life.” He and his wife built a tiny one-room log cabin on an island off the coast of British Columbia, where they grow most of their own food.  John says, “This isn’t about deprivation.  It’s about choice and self-determination.”

The dictionary defines “poverty” as – “The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.”  The definition of simplicity is – “the absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament, etc.”

Could it be that whether we live in “poverty” or “simplicity” is primarily a choice of how we view our situation?  Simplicity has many rewards that go beyond saving money.    Among those may be the experience of living well.

One of my favorite authors, Henry David Thoreau once said: “For my greatest skill has been to want but little.” In Walden he expands on his choice to live simply:  “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…”

If you’re in challenging financial times, don’t miss the opportunity to suck out all the marrow of life.  When good times return you are likely to find that your giving goes to 20 or 30% while your simplicity remains the same.

Reverse Telecommuting

June 27, 2010

There are so many new words being birthed by the changing workplace.  Words like “googling” as a verb, electronic immigrants, prairie dogging, ohnosecond, blamestorming, seagull manager, chainsaw consultant, flight risk, assmosis, uninstalled, and cube farm.

We all understand the term “telecommuting” – when you have work from the office to complete at home.  How about the opposite of that – “reverse telecommuting.”  This is the commonplace practice of bringing personal work to the office. It’s no secret a whole lot of time is spent with employees paying personal bills, making personal phone calls, making flight arrangements, medical and social appointments, reading online newspapers, updating FaceBook, and texting family members – all on company time.

Arguably, some of these can only be handled during normal work hours, but how much is acceptable?  According to a recent survey by Salary.com, the average worker admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time.  Yes, companies assume a certain amount of wasted time when they determine employee pay.  However, the survey indicates employees are wasting about twice as much time as their employers expect.  Estimates are that employers are spending $769 billion per year on salaries for which real work was expected, but not actually performed.

Would you be willing to be paid for results only, rather than for time spent in the office?  Would that increase or decrease your compensation?