I Saw What I Valued

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“Hey – I’ve got a job for you!”

Do you cringe every time you hear that question? Somehow you know the job isn’t glamorous. You’re not getting your name up in lights for doing it. And you’re certainly not making a million dollars.

Are you already wishing your boss would get someone else?

OK – let’s flip the story. What if you’re the one asking, like convincing your kids to rake leaves in the yard or your partner to wash out the dinner pots and pans? What would you say if they asked you to get someone else?

We’re talking about the Good that can happen from maturity in the September series, Welcome To Adulting. An important part of adulting is understanding that there’s a lot on the continuum of life – some things are a peach, others are a pit, but there are many, many good things in the middle.

This is what Soul Bosses are about – integration. Meaningful moments can happen when you’re in the middle of yoga class or out in nature. But they don’t have to wait until after hours – they can also happen when you strike up an elevator conversation with a stranger or laugh at yourself. The key is to stitch all those times together.

Caleb Smith thought he’d help out when his parents purchased an older home six years ago. It was hard to call it “remodeled”; it was more like remuddled. He recalled, “With an older house, you can see the effect of previous owners making little mistakes along the way.”

“Little mistakes” was putting it mildly. Caleb and his stepfather spent hours making things right. They’ve fixed sagging floor joists, converted a decaying outbuilding to a one-room guest cabin, and cleaned up all the problems in between.

Caleb took the first step toward turning all that effort into a career when he applied for the “Work Ethic” scholarship from the mikeroweWORKS Foundation. Caleb says, “I am accustomed to hard work, and when I looked at the [SWEAT] pledge, I saw all the things I valued and that were important in life, but I had never known how to word them.”

What made the Skill & Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo pledge so natural for Caleb? The fact it included things he already did like, “I believe any job can be done with passion and enthusiasm” and “I believe I am the product of my choices – not my circumstances.”

That kind of starting place is an important difference between adults and kids. Children only see the task at hand, and well, sometimes that task isn’t so fun. Grown-ups see the big picture as well as the little stuff. They understand that big changes, like a remodeled house, are actually the result of thousands of small, smart decisions. That kind of vision is exactly what a potential business owner like a general contractor needs.

This week, challenge yourself to embrace the SWEAT pledge with an outlook like Caleb. Where you start could make all the difference in where you land. And don’t forget pledge #7 – “cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is.” That’s advanced adulting!

Good Find Friday: The Hannah Swensen Mysteries

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Hurricanes. Wildfires. Crazy politics. Are you ready for a break?

I’ve got just the thing for you.

WARNING: Chick lit ahead.

I took a couple of Hannah Swensen mysteries with me on my recent trip to Berlin, and I’m hooked. Hannah lives in the small town of Lake Eden, Minnesota. When she’s not running her bakery, she’s running around town solving the latest murder. (So much for small town safety!)

Joanne Fluke’s writing is perfect for the long nights ahead. Her books are entertaining without being gory or salacious. In fact, the only thing that might scare you is how much sugar Hannah uses in her recipes. Yes – there are actual baking recipes included. But that’s part of the appeal!

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has adopted the Hannah Swensen series as “Murder, She Baked,” but make sure you add one of Fluke’s books to your Fall book bag. You’ll be charmed.

Enjoy!

 

 

Time To Get Serious

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Are you resisting the start of the school year? Are you hanging on to the last sunny days and long nights of Summer?

You’re not alone. The mood shifts in the Fall. What happens?

It’s time to get serious.

That can be a hard thing in our society. There’s even a joke about it – “adulting,” as in, “I don’t want to adult today.” People laugh about hanging out in blanket forts and being mad they have to wear pants.

But have we gone too far? In the September series, Welcome to Adulting, we’ll look at all the Good that can come from being a grown-up.

First things first: it’s cool to be a kid. You don’t have to worry about paying a mortgage. Or making dinner. Or spending 8 hours with a boss you don’t like.

However, here’s the surprising part. Being an adult can be fun. I mean really, really fun. Why? A lot of reasons like:

  • Kids hope that adults agree with their priorities. But usually the grocery store cart is filled with vegetables, not candy bars.
  • Kids are dependent on adults to do things for their benefit, like take them places. If Mom or Dad aren’t going your way, you’re walking to the library, not getting a ride.
  • Kids often try to convince adults to do whatever they are interested in. Yet most parents don’t have the time or inclination to spend every school holiday at Disneyland.

Hmm… When you put it that way, staying a kid doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

This was a truth Chris Rock found out the hard way. As he entered high school, his crew changed. They weren’t exactly a rough crowd; they just weren’t every parent’s dream.

His Mom made a casual comment or two which he let go in one ear and out the other. All that mattered to teen-age Chris was having fun.

You can imagine the look on his face when she sat him down for a heart-to-heart. Her perspective was simple – the choices he was made today created his tomorrows. That meant his choices needed to change. Immediately.

No more asking or joking about his friends. Her directive was clear: Stop hanging out with those guys who sit on the front stoop. You’re going places. They’re not.

Rock quietly acquiesced, even though he disagreed.

Fast forward to five years later. Rock was now a movie star and stand-up comic. In a private town car on the way home from a job, he asked the driver to take him through his old neighborhood, just for kicks.

Guess who was sitting on the front stoop of his childhood apartment building? The same group of guys! Just like Mama said!

This week, decide that you’re a grown-up. What’s more, decide that you’re going to love it. Because adults get to make conscious, independent choices. They know what to invest in; they’re not hanging out on the front porch, hoping their hopes and dreams show up on their block.

That’s real freedom.

Good Find Friday: 6 Ways To Perfect Your Morning Routine

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New month, new season! Does your morning schedule need a reboot?

The most important thing you can do is be realistic with what can actually happen, then architect for the rest. Forget the idea that you’re going to get up at 5 AM, do all your laundry, write an amazing book and have a hot breakfast waiting for your family. If that was your jam, you’d already be doing it!

Here are 6 ideas to get your morning going:

Keep an eye on the big picture. Use your monthly Fall calendar to create activity placeholders (Monday/Wednesday/Friday for exercise, Tuesday/Thursday for reading or meditation, Friday for sleeping in or breakfast out). Make “Write it down, make it happen” your mantra!

Create a home for things. My life shifted when I made my garage a version of my kitchen. I had a handyman put peg board on the walls, and now the lawn gear goes into its home after each use. Likewise, putting away book bags, coats and the mail away is easy if they have a home. Start with a simple project like this homework caddy. It will get your kids’ supplies cleaned off the kitchen room table every night.

Plan for tomorrow. If you’re like me, it’s all over once I hit the couch. (See you later, good intentions!) Before I relax, I empty trash out of my tote and re-load it for the next day. If planning for tomorrow as soon as you walk in is tough, make it part of your pre-bedtime routine.

Build in 10 minutes extra. Emergencies happen. Your alarm doesn’t go off. You get toothpaste on your shirt. (Maybe that’s just me.) The point is that rushing can throw your whole day off. Make grace part of your start.

Keep customization to a minimum. I eat the same breakfast on work days, then mix it up on the weekend. Different breakfasts for everyone, especially if you’re the one doing the cooking, take time. Make your weekdays as simple and automatic as you can.

Time shifting makes a no guilt zone. You didn’t throw in that load of laundry or unload the dishwasher? Have no fear – they’re not going anywhere! Don’t put yourself down for what you didn’t get done, just time shift it to the evening or the next morning.

Give yourself the gift of a positive, relaxed start. And always remember – it’s a good day to have a good day!

Enjoy!

Manage The Molehill

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Sage advice from a marketing consultant popped up on my Twitter feed.

“Stop doing dumb shit.”

Nice tone!

OK, maybe he meant he had finally learned to stop making bad decisions.

On the other hand, we all have to with dumb stuff from time to time. That’s just part of life.

We’ve gone back to basics in the August series, Traveling Light. Everyone comes up against external barriers. However, whether you muscle through those barriers or find a way to take it easy is up to you.

That means managing the molehill so it never becomes a mountain that’s the boss of you. Keeping a 5 minute thing just 5 minutes before you move on. That’s mindfulness.

At work, you make a first cut, and you make it stick. You send what isn’t yours in another direction, but it’s the right direction. That’s more than creating an efficient process – it’s leadership.

You don’t just forward mail. You take 2 minutes to tee up the issue. That’s a kind and considerate hand-off to the person affected.

Then you dive into what’s left on your plate with your whole heart. That’s working with commitment.

So what do we need to stop doing? Complaining so much that people work around us. Cherry picking what we like to do and what we don’t. Then using passive aggressive tactics to push what we want to avoid onto others.

Those choices put, and keep us in, struggle. And there’s a big difference between thoughtful delegation and mindless dumping.

In August, we’ve met people who reaped the rewards of knowing what is essential.

  1. In “No Master Plan”, we saw how Barbara Corcoran built a real estate empire. Being persistent – taking it 50 feet at a time – was vital to building her business.
  2. Fumio Susaki said good-bye to a stack of things he was desperately trying to manage in “Your House of Success”. Cutting back on his stuff had a funny silver lining; his relationships improved at the same time. When he gained clarity, he understood what possessions to keep and what habits and expectations to let go.
  3. Ken Burns showed how to find and share your passion with enthusiasm in “Forever Curious”. He fills his days with passion about his subjects. That means he’s too busy creating emotional, engaging films to spend time tweeting every 10 minutes.
  4. In Out of My Lane, we met a man who had a grand vision of being a best-selling author, even though he hated to write. His life opened up when he skipped past spending hours alone in a room trying to grind out a bestseller. His critical learning was that ease happens when you work within your gifting.

Roadblocks happen for everyone, but when we have constant tension, we’re out of alignment. That’s the time to step back and ask, “What is really essential here?”

It’s the last week of the Summer – the perfect moment to take time off, put up your feet and be at ease. Make your life so easy, so automatic, that you cut through small stuff quickly. From here on out, travel light.

Good Find Friday: Cook Up A Storm

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Are you ready for an old-fashioned good guy vs. bad guy picture? Maybe with a little Top Chef thrown in?

Check out “Cook Up A Storm.”

“Cook Up a Storm” is a charming picture about two Chinese chefs. One is a Cantonese street cook with lots of heart and experience. His rival is a French-trained, Michelin chef. They go head-to-head at an international culinary competition against the God of Cookery.

This fun, feel-good movie will keep you rooting for your favorite chef until the end credits. It’s also family friendly – no parental warnings necessary.

Enjoy!

Out Of My Lane

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A friend of mine has an incredible garden. When I asked her how she does it, she said casually, “Oh, I spend about 2 hours every night out here.”

Unlike me.

Another friend is an amazing baker. I couldn’t wait to get her special bread recipe.

Until I learned about proofing – where you let the dough sit and rise, and then do it all over again. The whole process? About 24 hours from starting the dough until eating the bread.

I suddenly remembered why I go to the French bakery!

Both friends taught me something important: Everything of value requires some effort. Dedication is an essential, and that’s why we’re talking about it in the August series, Traveling Light. However, there’s a difference between effort and struggle.

Effort is, “I dig this! I’m willing to see it through.”

Struggle is, “I have to stick with this, even though I dread it.”

If you’ve lost enthusiasm for some of your 2017 intentions, there may be a reason. You could be trying to work outside your natural gifting, as I was doing. Life got easier once I admitted that I’m a happy cookie baker who weeds only when I have to. Trying to be a master gardener or Top Chef would make me miserable.

This is what happened for a friend of author Sandra Anne Taylor. He had a vivid picture of himself as an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He saw his future in technicolor – royalties rolling in, his face on the cover of a stack of books to be signed, and, of course, his incredible interview with Oprah Winfrey.

There was only one thing in his way…

He wasn’t writing. Not, “not writing at the moment.” He never, ever wrote.

When Taylor pointed out his obvious problem, he brushed her off. C’mon – writing was only part of the landscape!

That was true, but she reminded him about the hours, weeks and months she spent on every project. Alone time, editing and polishing a draft in front of her computer screen.

Hmm… that sounded heavy and tedious. Definitely the opposite of traveling light.

His situation brightened when he decided to change lanes. As someone who loved connecting, becoming a book publicist was a natural. He was constantly on the go with authors – booking radio shows, lining up print interviews, and organizing bookstore appearances. It was a perfect fit.

Are you wondering if you’ve gotten yourself into a place you may not belong? This week, take a simple test: Take a break. For 7 whole days, do nothing.

If you can’t wait to get back to your intention, you’ll know that you’re in the right lane. You’re just in a part of the journey that requires some effort.

Procrastination is instant feedback. Like the book publicist, you could be struggling because you need to refine your direction.

Don’t let a need for results make you crazy. Fulfillment and happiness? Those are results worth having.

Good Find Friday: Before You Give Up

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Opinion alone doesn’t change the world. The actions you choose to take can.

You can challenge yourself to be different. Innovative. Groundbreaking.

And most of all? Original.

When you’re a Soul Boss, you don’t let well intentioned, but limited beliefs, of others weigh you down. That’s traveling light!

We’re getting ready for the last chapter of 2017. Set aside some time to dream about what’s next.

Enjoy!

 

Forever Curious

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Filmmaker Ken Burns never set out to have a shelf full of awards. The catalyst for every project was the same.

Curiosity.

The August series, Traveling Light, is reflecting on the essentials. Curiosity is vital to whatever we do. It’s the spark plug of life.

Think of something that you do really well. You probably started small. Something caught your eye. You wanted to learn more. One thing led to another. Before you knew it, you were spending more and more time with whatever caught your imagination.

That’s what happened for Ken Burns. You could say he’s a fan of his subjects, whether he’s profiling baseball, jazz, a historical figure, or the National Parks. OK, maybe more than a fan; he’s so intensely engaged that some might argue he’s a little obsessive. But that’s what passion is about – being forever curious.

The act of creating – finding just the right mix of archival documents, period music and still photographs, and placing them with meticulous care – is equally important as the finished product. Others might see a pile of dusty antiques, but to Burns, they are vibrantly alive.

Here’s how he describes the process:

I can look at a still photograph of building the Brooklyn Bridge and hear the workers hammering, the seagulls in the East River, the steam compressors hauling up big blocks of stone. You take an old photograph and you realize it has a past, it has a future…

That’s the DNA for everything I’ve done for the past 35 years. That attempt to look at a photograph and see time. To hear movement and sound…to create what the auteurs called “mise en scene”. I wanted to be one of those auteurs when I was growing up…

Now in his 60s, Burns is busier than ever…and he loves it. He says, “I enjoy total creative control right now. Nobody tells me to make it longer, shorter, better, sexier, more violent, whatever.”

Immersing himself in new subjects means finding fresh material – stories that are touching, funny, poignant, and always personal. That kind of enthusiasm has fueled his career. Fan favorite and winner of over 40 awards, “The Civil War”, continues to air on PBS decades after its debut.

What isn’t on his horizon? Shooting Summer blockbusters that are high on violence and low on plot. Or spending hours trying to crank up social media followers. Those activities simply don’t fit into the category of “Interesting.”

Are the goals you’re chasing this year wearing you out, leaving you feeling uninspired? There’s an easy way to get a second wind: replace apathy with curiosity.

When you find something that sparks your heart and mind, small details aren’t a nuisance; they’re fascinating. You become so engaged that you lose any urgency to jump to the end. Your shoulders relax. You breathe a little deeper. You crave finding pockets of spare time.

When those things happen, you’re experiencing joy. And when you emanate joy, you’re traveling light.

Good Find Friday: 3 Steps To Managing Your Fall Calendar

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Are you sketching out your Fall schedule?

Yeah – you’re going to need the BIG calendar for that!

Whether you’re the family CEO or just managing your own planner, these three tips will save you from being over-scheduled:

Check the “why”. There are plenty of good reasons to sign up for activities.

What isn’t a good reason? Signing up because you did last year. You’re just trying to be nice. You don’t feel like you have a good reason not to.

When you keep going for those reasons, chances are that you’ll fade out midstream. And when you do, you could say good-bye to your reputation as well as the participation fees. Double ouch!

If “yes” comes before “no” in your vocabulary, try friendly turn-downs like, “I wish you a lot of success with your program, but I have other commitments,” “Our family isn’t able to participate right now. Please give this spot to someone on your waiting list,” or “Thank you for thinking of me. I am not able to commit to the program requirements, but I’m confident you will make it a success. Good luck!”

Use a monthly calendar. A monthly view takes you from discrete, day at a time decisions to the big picture (literally!).

Martial arts class doesn’t sound like a big deal…until you realize it’s one of three nightly or after-school commitments or that you’re driving kids in different directions.

Add in travel time, and plan for contingencies. Make travel time to and from the activity part of your calendar. Give yourself a cushion for unpredictable weather plus meal times. Beef jerky before band practice is a snack, not dinner!

Once you’re done, put your new schedule in an easy-to-find place. Say good-bye to someone shouting out, “Where’s _____ tonight?” Momof6.com has a suggested list of electronic and printed versions in “10 best family calendars for 2017“.

Organizer Julie Morgenstern says, “If your list is too long, you’re going to feel defeated, because what you do accomplish is just a drop in the bucket. Once your list is conquerable, you will feel empowered instead of overwhelmed.”

Here’s to fun activities and relaxed, happy participants. Be the confident boss of your calendar, Soul Bosses!