Advanced search for life’s big decisions

From Greg Mckeown’s excellent book, Essentialism:

“Applying tougher criteria to life’s big decisions allows us to better tap into our brain’s sophisticated search engine. Think of it as the difference between conducting a Google search for “good restaurant in New York City” and “best slice of pizza in downtown Brooklyn.” If we search for “a good career opportunity,” our brain will serve up scores of pages to explore and work through. Instead, why not conduct an advanced search and ask three questions: “What am I deeply passionate about?” and “What taps my talent?” and “What meets a significant need in the world?” Naturally there won’t be as many pages to view, but that is the point of the exercise. We aren’t looking for a plethora of good things to do. We are looking for the one where we can make our absolutely highest point of contribution.”

I need to remember to continually eliminate the good to hone in more clearly on the better. And then keep going, editing and discarding even those better options until I get to the best.

Be precise with your questions. Get specific, as detailed as possible, to find the best possible answer.

Bill Murray: More fun, more better

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Image credit replaceface via Scott Schiller

Here’s a bucket list item: randomly encounter Bill Murray and engage in spontaneous wackiness. Stories abound about Bill Murray sightings and the delightfully funny escapades that often ensue.

This Rolling Stone article highlights some great moments in random fun with Bill Murray.

On the job fun:

Murray’s St. Vincent co-star Melissa McCarthy confides, “Bill literally throws banana peels in front of people.” I assume she’s using “literally” to mean “metaphorically,” as many people do, but it turns out to be true: Once during a break in filming when the lights were getting reset, Murray tossed banana peels in the paths of passing crew members. “Not to make them slip,” McCarthy clarifies, “but for the look on their face when they’re like, ‘Is that really a banana peel in front of me?'”

Fun with kids:

Murray transforms even the most mundane interactions into opportunities for improvisational comedy. Peter Chatzky, a financial-software developer from Briarcliff Manor, New York, remembers being on vacation at a hotel in Naples, Florida, when his grade-school kids spotted Murray having a drink poolside and asked him for autographs. Murray gruffly offered to inscribe their forearms but ended up writing on a couple of napkins instead. Jake, a skinny kid, got “Maybe lose a little weight, bud,” signed “Jim Belushi.” Julia got “Looking good, princess. Call me,” signed “Rob Lowe.”

Murray has realized that it’s when he’s having fun that he is most truly himself and able to offer his best:

Like all of Murray’s best film work, it originates in his stress-free mentality. “Someone told me some secrets early on about living,” Murray tells a crowd of Canadian film fans celebrating “Bill Murray Day” that same weekend. “You can do the very best you can when you’re very, very relaxed.” He says that’s why he got into acting: “I realized the more fun I had, the better I did.”

I need to be reminded regularly to not take life so seriously. A guy like Murray is probably constantly asking himself, “What’s funny about this situation?” or “How can I have fun with this?”

My primary work is about providing experiences, and fun has to be a big part of it. Not scripted or programmed fun, but the kind that flows naturally out of the moment. I’ve got to keep reminding myself to actively model spontaneous fun and allow my team to relax and make some moments worth talking about for the people we serve. Break the pattern. Do the unexpected. But don’t try too hard.

My best presentations stand out in my memory for the fun I had connecting with the audience. When I deviate from the plan and say or do something unexpected or get the audience to laugh, usually at me. Walking into a moment with the attitude, “Let’s have some fun here” can make everything better, whether it’s a job interview or a first date or a presentation or even a Monday morning in your cubicle in a soulless, downtrodden workplace.

And reading this about Bill Murray is a good reminder to have more fun with my family, to be silly and spontaneous more often with my wife and kids. Now that we are back in a daily school and work routine, it’s easy to sleepwalk my way through each morning and evening, checking off the tasks. But it only takes a few moments of being truly awake to add real juice to your days and make them more meaningful and more fun.

And waking up, when sleeping is the norm, seems to be Murray’s ultimate aim, for himself and for those he encounters:

Another essential Murray principle: Wear your wisdom lightly, so insights arrive as punch lines. When pressed about his interactions with the public, he admits that the encounters are, to a certain extent, “selfish.” Murray shifts his weight on the couch and explains, “My hope, always, is that it’s going to wake me up. I’m only connected for seconds, minutes a day, sometimes. And suddenly, you go, ‘Holy cow, I’ve been asleep for two days. I’ve been doing things, but I’m just out.’ If I see someone who’s out cold on their feet, I’m going to try to wake that person up. It’s what I’d want someone to do for me. Wake me the hell up and come back to the planet.”

Just start

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“JUST DO IT” is a compellingly catchy slogan, but it’s a bit overwhelming and slightly frightening for some of us.

“Really? I don’t think I can do it. So, I just won’t even try.”

But, just starting, that’s not so risky or intimidating.

Just attempt one push-up. Just take a short, easy walk. Just start writing something, even just a sentence, that you don’t have to share with anyone if you don’t want to. Just say “Hello” to that person. Just try that new habit for a week or two and see what happens. Just begin that hard thing you don’t feel confident about or eager to do.

Don’t even think about the entirety of the project or the goal. Most goals are arbitrary anyway. And imagining the steps down the road can take your focus off the one step right in front of you now. And that step is not so hard.

Thinking about starting is not the same as starting. Don’t worry about being perfect or getting it just right. The audacity of beginning something that could end up being awesome might give you enough oomph to get over the hump of meh.

Meh is a good place to begin, actually. You can trick yourself by saying, “Let me start with this awful, unimpressive, tentative first step or first draft.” Intend to be mediocre if you have to to take the pressure off. And then you can’t help but get better if you keep going.

But you can’t keep going if you don’t get going.

Just start.

 

Taming the easily distracted brain: Focus, then wander

M.G. Siegler linked to this Daniel Levitin NYT article from last summer about the way the brain works.

The article explains that our brains have two basic operating modes: a focus mode that gets things done and a wandering or daydreaming mode that allows for neural resets and fosters creative breakthroughs. Both modes are necessary, and both are being challenged as never before with the information overload most of us experience every day.

The author recommends dedicating chunks of time, 30 minutes to an hour, say, to focus on a project without distraction. And build in breaks between focused time to allow the mind to wander, to daydream. Here is Levitin’s advice:

“If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods. Your social networking should be done during a designated time, not as constant interruptions to your day.

Email, too, should be done at designated times. An email that you know is sitting there, unread, may sap attentional resources as your brain keeps thinking about it, distracting you from what you’re doing. What might be in it? Who’s it from? Is it good news or bad news? It’s better to leave your email program off than to hear that constant ping and know that you’re ignoring messages.

Increasing creativity will happen naturally as we tame the multitasking and immerse ourselves in a single task for sustained periods of, say, 30 to 50 minutes. Several studies have shown that a walk in nature or listening to music can trigger the mind-wandering mode. This acts as a neural reset button, and provides much needed perspective on what you’re doing.”

Turn off any unnecessary pings on your devices. I’ve known people whose phones audibly alert them every time an email arrives. Insane. This article has prompted me to turn off email notifications on my phone’s lock screen and even to disable the badge noting the number of unread emails on the app icon.

Twitter and email and messaging apps should serve my needs. They don’t need to control me and make me jump at every new input. What if I responded to email just once each day? What if the only apps open on my Mac were the ones I was actively using?

This is hard to do. It’s so tempting to keep checking to see if anything new has appeared in any of my many internet collection buckets. But even blocking off 30 minutes to work with focus, without distraction, on something important can lead not only to a more productive work life, but to a saner, calmer life as well. Close the door if you can. Put on headphones. Shield yourself from pings and alerts.

And go take a walk. Get outside. Wander the halls. Change your perspective regularly for a reset before going back into focus mode. Experiment for yourself and see what works best for you.

Find a rhythm that nature, and your neural wiring, expects and seems most conducive for productivity and creativity and peace of mind. Focus. Wander. Focus. Wander.

Got it? Okay. Going on a walk. Right. Now.

What not to do

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What can I eliminate from my life to enlarge my life? I’m more aware of the clutter around me at the end of all the holiday excess than at any other time of year, and I need to use this season to propel me to hone in on the essentials.

I’ve already stopped some monthly services that were automatically billing my credit card but that just were not so useful any longer. I am going to take stock of the physical things that take up space around me but offer little value in return. If I don’t need it or love it, let it go.

What about my routines, most of which are unexamined? What is sapping energy from me or diverting me from more important priorities?

What about my work? What do I do that doesn’t add value? What can I cut that will free up resources for what’s truly essential?

What can I say “No” to that will make space for a more meaningful “Yes”?

Little by little obligations and habits and things accrue and impede or completely divert us from what we really want to do or be. Like how a controlled burn in a forest clears out the brush and makes room for new life, a regular, conscious purge of the inessential in my life can spark new possibilities or simply a return to first things.

 

 

Laura Hillenbrand on using obstacles as fuel

I enjoyed this feature in the New York Times by Wil S. Hylton on author Laura Hillenbrand, who has written two great books, Seabiscuit and Unbroken. Hillenbrand suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and is mostly homebound with intense episodes of vertigo. She cannot travel to do research or interview her subjects, but she’s turned what seem like obstacles into advantages.

This portion of the article is about Hillenbrand’s research for her book about World War II hero, Louie Zamperini:

“I thought it was actually an advantage to be unable to go to Louie,” she said. Because neither of them had to dress for the interviews and they were in their own homes, their long phone calls enjoyed a warmth and comfort that might otherwise be missing. She could pose the deeply personal questions that even her father had trouble answering. “I would ask a lot of questions about his emotional state,” she said. “ ’What did you feel right in this moment? Were you frightened?’ ” The distance also allowed Hillenbrand to visualize Zamperini in the time period of the book. “He became a 17-year-old runner for me, or a 26-year-old bombardier,” she said. “I wasn’t looking at an old man.”

She goes through periods where her vertigo makes it impossible to read, so she turned to audiobooks and found an advantage:

“It has taught me a lot more about the importance of the rhythm of language,” she said. “Good writing has a musical quality to it, a mathematical quality, a balance and a rhythm. You can feel that much better when it’s read aloud.”

She could easily have given up on trying audacious writing projects. She had a pretty solid excuse. But, instead, she used what should have been disadvantages to produce remarkable work.

And, then, there’s this from near the end of the piece:

“I feel so fully alive when I’m really into a story,” she said. “I feel like all my faculties are engaged, and this is where I’m meant to be. It’s probably what a racehorse feels like when it runs. This is what it’s meant to do, what its body is meant to do.” She paused. “This is what my mind is meant to do.”

To find work, or even a hobby, that produces this kind of flow should be everyone’s aim. When are you most “fully alive”, and what are the circumstances that make you feel like all your faculties are “engaged”? What is your mind meant to do?

Perfectionism is dangerous

David Foster Wallace:

“You know the whole thing about perfectionism – perfectionism is very dangerous, because of course if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything. Because doing anything results in … It’s actually kind of tragic because it means you sacrifice how gorgeous and perfect it is in your head for what it really is.”

The perfect is the enemy of the good. Aiming for perfection is worthwhile, but you can’t be paralyzed by the reality that you will likely never reach the ideal you envision.

Just starting is an accomplishment. Don’t wait for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs. Most people never beat the resistance that keeps good ideas as ideas only.

But you’ve got to finish, too. It’s hard to draw the line. When is something good enough? At some point, as reasonably close to your ideal as you can get, you’ve just got to ship. Get your art out the door.

The world is in need of more beauty and insight and kindness. Have the courage to take action in spite of the pain falling short of your ideal will cause you.

Three weeks left in 2014: Incremental change you can believe in

december-31stThere are only three weeks left in 2014. (By the way, I say “twenty-fourteen”. You? It’s saving just a single syllable, I know, but it feels less unwieldy than saying “two-thousand-fourteen”. And no one ever said “Let’s party like it’s one-thousand-nine-hundred-ninety-nine”.)

I’ve been counting down to the end of the year in an attempt to finish strong, to end the year with momentum rather than in a carb-fueled haze of regret. I’ve been grooving some new habits into my daily routine and building my days around them. I wake up and check my Habit List app first thing and know I’ve got to check off those habits I’ve chosen for the day. And it’s been a success so far. I’ve transformed my mornings by rising early and meditating daily. (This habit is the one that has the potential for the greatest impact over the long term. I’m starting to get what a game-changer meditation can be.) I’m walking at least a mile every day. I’ve stuck to my push-ups routine. And here I am posting every day.

Granted, this is over a fairly short period of time. But as the new year approaches, I’m now excited about the possibility of building habits and routines to stick with over an entire year and seeing where that gets me. I can see the power of just plugging away at a habit or a simple routine without worrying about some distant, possibly arbitrary, goal. And then I imagine looking up months from now and being surprised at the transformation.

Doing a small thing consistently over a long period of time can lead to a big change in a way that trying to cram big things into a short time never will.

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Showing my work: Mind map for the win

In the regular attempt to show my work and be transparent about the imperfect and messy nature of creation, here’s a peek into my planning for our new staff kickoff this weekend.

We will spend four hours on Sunday brainwashing our new staff about our mission and values and the way we do our work. And we will begin getting to know each other and begin building a sense of community. I’ve done this kind of event many times, and it’s one of my favorite things to do every year.

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I went to the big whiteboard in my office (the bigger the whiteboard the more room for possibilities, right?) to draft out the agenda and got stuck right away. I know in general what we’re going to do, but I was trying to assign start times to each part of the agenda. So, I just stared blankly for a while. Then, I remembered that a linear approach regularly stymies me, and I erased what I had and started over with a mind map. Mind maps allow you to ditch lists and hierarchies and let ideas flow more freely, unconstrained by any external sense of order.

Once I started over on my agenda by mind-mapping it first, the ideas came quickly and easily, and possibilities I hadn’t considered before suddenly appeared. And once the ideas were all out there and easy to visualize, I could then begin putting the ideas into some order.

If you’re stuck planning a project or an event or a night out, even, try mind-mapping it. Go crazy, with no restraints on the ideas. This method can help you see connections and possibilities that a conventional outline or list might never lead you to.

 

Sam Smith: Do it for the love

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I spent the last two weeks interviewing college students for openings on our staff. My colleague regularly asks students in the interviews what music they’re listening to now. It sparks some good discussions, but it also enlightens me about the current music scene. Otherwise, I’m pretty oblivious to new music.

Every year after interview season I go get some of the music the students recommend. This year, Sam Smith was the most mentioned name. One student described him as the male version of Adele. That sold me. I’m not a streaming service fan (yet) because I just don’t need that much music in my life, so I went to iTunes and downloaded Sam Smith’s album, In The Lonely Hour. And it’s really good. He’s got a powerful, soulful voice for such a young guy.

The first track, though, Money On My Mind, has this line: “I don’t have money on my mind. I do it for the love.”

Intrinsic rewards for the win. Put your focus on the thing itself and honing and fine-tuning it for your delight. Don’t be distracted by any potential extrinsic reward.

We don’t make movies to make money. We make money so we can make more movies. –Walt Disney

Find those things you do just for the love, not for the money or the recognition. Even if you can’t make a living from the things you do for love, do them anyway. Make them hobbies and side-hustles. Your best work comes from that place, and it’s the path to a more authentic, more alive kind of life.

 

 

Six weeks left in 2014: 4th-graders showing the way

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I’ve been invited to speak to my daughter’s 4th-grade-class this morning. One of her teachers reads this site and was inspired by my countdown of the remaining weeks in the year. She’s been talking with her students about finishing strong this year and having them come up with some goals and habits for themselves.

Fourth-graders are not my typical audience, except for my daughter who hears me way too much. (I think she still thinks I’m pretty cool for now, though. Don’t know how much longer that will last.) Maybe there’s not too much difference between college students and 4th-graders. Both groups seem to have an eager, appealing, puppy-like quality about them that gets hidden by some of them in the early teen years. And both 10-year-olds and 20-year-olds seem open to new possibilities in a way that people my age rarely are.

I’ll be curious to hear what goals these 9- and 10-year-olds have come up with for the last few weeks of the year. I’ve not got any prepared presentation or slides to show. I plan to hear what’s on their minds and talk through the process of creating routines and building habits to craft their lives into becoming who they want to be.

And I’m drafting this in order to help me think through what exactly I want to say. I’ve been stuck trying to think of how to approach these kids, and the best way I know of getting unstuck is to just write, to get moving in some direction even if it’s a wrong one.

I want to leave their classroom today with these kids having a clearer understanding of their own power to shape their lives and some strategies to take action right away. And I hope we have some fun talking about possibilities and new ideas and how to be more awesome.

I’ll report back on how it goes and what these kids are dreaming of to finish the year strong. Counting today there are only 43 days left in 2014. Let’s make these last six weeks the best weeks of the year.

Thoughts on job interviews and college students

It’s interview season at my work. Last week we interviewed almost 300 college students who applied to work as campus tour guides. We conducted group interviews with six applicants at a time being interviewed by a four-person committee. I was in every interview and wouldn’t have it any other way.

This week I’m interviewing the 39 finalists we selected from last week’s group interviews. These are individual, half-hour interviews.

It’s the two most important weeks of the year for my work. It takes a lot of time to go through these interviews, but there’s nothing more crucial to our culture and our mission. The students we select to serve on our staff almost completely determine our organization’s culture as well as the quality of the work we do. Our logistics and process and web site cannot make up for a mediocre interaction with our people. The experience is our product.

Hire for attitude, and train for skill. I would rather have a team member with no experience and a thin resume than one short on kindness and sincerity and charisma. And charisma is a thing. There’s an intangible likeability quality that jumps out with some interviews. It’s confidence, but not too much. It’s charm, but not forced. It’s interestingness, but not so much or so different that it’s distracting or seeming to be contrived.

Years ago I interviewed Craig to be a student orientation leader. Before his interview I reviewed his application, and the only activity on it was intramural basketball. This guy didn’t have the usual list of college accomplishments and organizations, so I wasn’t expecting much. But he shined in his interview. He was confident and kind and funny and showed that he had the kind of charisma that would make him a great fit. We hired him, and he was terrific in his job.

I admire all the students who have the courage to apply and give it a go and show up for an interview. For many it’s the first interview experience of their lives. We are doing a service by giving them the opportunity to have this experience, and I’m happy to spend two weeks listening.

Occasionally, an applicant will ask, “What are you looking for in a candidate?” And it’s not a particular resume item or demographic check box. We are looking for people who have genuine enthusiasm and a commitment to our calling and kindness and the eagerness to connect with prospective students and to possibly infect them with the same feelings they now have for higher education and its potential to transform their lives.

Charisma is caring deeply and having the courage to wholeheartedly express what it is you care about.

Charisma is caring deeply and having the courage to wholeheartedly express what it is you care about. I don’t think it’s a matter of having it or not having it. Everyone has it, somewhere within. And we let it out with varying degrees of frequency and intensity.

The best interviewees are the ones who walk in with the intent to connect without too much regard for the outcome, without being attached to the stakes. If you can go into an interview with the sole goal of having a great conversation with your fellow humans, where you listen and understand and express what’s most meaningful to you, you will be a success whether you’re hired or not. If you walk in too caught up in getting the thing, you will be less than your best self. The attachment will restrict and confine you.

You can’t control what other people do, whether they like you or want to hire you. Get those thoughts out of your head. Focus only on what you can control: your attitude, your body language, your enthusiasm for you what you care about.

Don’t be afraid to shine. Why not unleash your charisma?

As I am sitting through this final week of interviews, I am delighting in great conversations with young people who are interesting and passionate and kind. I get to watch as some of them come alive as they may never have before. I get to learn from watching 19- and 20-year-olds in the spotlight. It’s a good gig.

Make a fool of yourself

“Compulsive avoidance of embarrassment is a form of suicide.” –Colin Miller

Austin Kleon shared this quote in his excellent, short book, Show Your Work!

To risk being vulnerable takes courage, and there’s no guarantee of success to reward your courage. In fact, failure and disappointment are more likely than success when you attempt hard things and open yourself to disapproval and even ridicule.

But not much good will come from the safety and caution of avoiding embarrassment. Keep flinching and you risk dousing the creative fire inside you.

I’m too proud of how cool I am, or appear to be. Throw off your coolness. Make a fool of yourself if you have to to bring out your best self and your best work.

And cheer for and stand up for those with the guts to risk embarrassment in their attempt to be or do something excellent.

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Peaking at 80

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I’ve been telling students recently they should make decisions with the intent to peak at 60. The long game will reward you.

I chose 60 because it seemed distant enough for a college student to imagine the long arc of a career. As a 50-year-old myself, though, 60 is shockingly close now and not much of a long game for me.

Then I came across a post from Kottke who linked to this excellent New York Times feature on masters in their field who are still doing great work into their 80s and beyond.

Here’s Tony Bennett:

“Here I am at 88, and I still feel like I have an awful lot to learn, today and tomorrow and the next day and the next day. About my craft. About how to become a better artist. About coming up with creative ideas.”

There are profiles of people from a variety of professions, and the recurring theme is a discontent that propels constant growth and a relentless commitment to learning and improving.

Don’t ever arrive. Keep striving.

“The tree of knowledge and the fountain of youth are one and the same.” –Lewis Lapham

Only nine weeks left to make 2014 awesome

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It’s Wednesday. As of today there are only nine weeks left in 2014, one week down in my ten week countdown to make 2014 more awesome.

What will you have to show for this year? How do you want to finish? Schedule some time for a meeting with yourself on New Year’s Eve to assess the year, to review what was great about 2014 and what could have been better. Really, go put this on your calendar now. I just added it to mine. (By the way, I use Fantastical, a killer calendar app for Mac and iOS. So good.)

I’m imagining Wednesday, December 31. There will be football on TV and a family gathering that night probably. But that morning will most likely be a quiet time to get away and reflect on the year and on these last ten weeks especially. I’m hoping I’m stronger (I’m one week closer in the hundred pushups challenge) and a bit smarter (my book reading plan is slow go for now, though). I plan to have written something I’m proud of, and I’m counting on having even better relationships with the people I love.

What can you do to finish well? What actions can you take this week that will create momentum for the habits and routines you want to build. Systems trump goals, and these final weeks can give you a good foundation to build systems that will endure and that can truly transform your life over time.

Nine weeks is plenty of time to make remarkable progress on something you truly care about. Don’t wait till there are only eight weeks left to get started on finishing strong in 2014.

Start. Now.

Claim your place on the internet

Everyone should claim their place on the internet. Go grab the URL of your choice for just a few bucks a year and own your online identity.* Why not? We are living in the future! The internet offers the chance to express and connect in a way humans have never been able to before. Don’t sit this out.

Of course, I think everyone should write. Even if you create a site that no one other than your mom ever visits, it’s worthwhile for your own benefit to have a platform to build your ideas and share your creations. The attempt to create something, to express yourself, will help you see and understand in ways that just thinking passively never can. And posting something publicly, that anyone in the world might come across, will focus your attention more finely and compel you to hone and craft your ideas with more care. Kind of like how you clean your house so much better when you’re expecting company, writing something with the awareness that others might read it will lead to clearer thinking and better work.

Writing something with the awareness that others might read it will lead to clearer thinking and better work.

Young people, especially, who are just getting started on their careers, should be expected to have a thoughtful online presence. To heck with your resume, show me what you’ve done. If you want to go into marketing or advertising, for example, wouldn’t it be more impressive to show a prospective employer your blog filled with posts analyzing marketing and advertising instead of just your grades in classes. If you’re passionate about public health, why not chronicle what you’re learning about health policy. If you’re an artist, make and share your art.

The college students I work with are getting it. From a design student to a mass media student to a fashion merchandising student, they know that they should go ahead and start acting like and creating like they are who they want to be. Sarah, the fashion merchandising student, was in a college class I spoke to a few weeks ago. After my talk she came up and told me she’d been wanting to create a web site about her interest in fashion. The next week, she sent me a link to her new site, and it’s terrific. And it’s going to help her figure out what she really cares about and what’s worth sharing and how to express her ideas more effectively. And when she’s pursuing career opportunities she will have a tangible body of work to share, not just a resume. Or maybe her web site will become a career. It happens.

Write the internet you want to read.

But don’t see your online presence just as a means to an end, as a sort of obligatory extended resume. The best stuff on the internet is created as an end in itself, for fundamental reasons rather than instrumental reasons. Write the internet you want to read. Craft and share work that delights you intrinsically without any expectation of a payoff and see if you don’t make better work than if you were trying to get some extrinsic reward.

You don’t need permission to do work you find meaningful, nor do you have to wait till you’ve earned a degree to get busy getting better at what you want to do. Even if no one pays you for it, ever, go make something and share it with the world.

 

*I use WordPress.com and pay them each year for my custom domain name. It’s a hassle-free, low-maintenance option that I’ve been happy with.

The question to awaken possibility

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What if you asked “What if …?” like it was your job?

What if you put no limits on the answers?

What if you asked this about your work, your relationships, your dreams for who you want to become?

What if asking this became a habit, a part of your weekly, or daily, routine?

What if you become known for your embrace of possibility?

What if you helped awaken possibility in others?

What if you actually did something to make even a handful of those possibilities become reality?

Showing my work: FAB 4

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Showing my work helps remind me what a rewardingly messy process creation is. An audience typically only sees the well honed final creation, but it’s worthwhile to share openly the process that creates the product. I take heart when I see an artist show the rough drafts and discarded wrong steps.

I’m remixing a presentation for tonight. I’m speaking to a group of college freshmen and sharing wisdom I’ve learned from a career working with campus superstars. I’ve got a handful of ideas and stories I rely on for these kinds of talks, but this morning I decided to scrap a version of the talk I’ve used recently and rethink the structure and design.

I turned my chair around, away from the computer, and took some markers to the jumbo scratch pad on my desk. I mapped out the most important ideas and rearranged the flow before turning back around and designing the slides in Keynote.

It helps to change tools and switch from digital to analog to jump start a fresh approach. And it’s worthwhile to take something you’ve got down pat and jumble it up and start over. New possibilities appear that otherwise would have been hidden behind old, safe patterns.

 

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Be the CEO of your life

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You may not be anyone’s boss. You might have a whole corporate ladder of bosses above you. But you are your own boss whether you’re self-employed or not.

You might just have only a puny little cubicle from which to stake your claim on great work. But make the most of where you are. Fully inhabit that cubicle like it’s the corner executive suite. Be awesome right there.

Own your job. Master your roles. Work like a boss. Be the CEO of your life.