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Committed

unique-leaf1Are you committed to being unique?

Being different than everyone else is one of the hardest things to do.  We all want to be accepted.  We all want to fit in.  Nobody wants to be ridiculed, or pointed out as odd, or talked about behind their back.

Yet, in order to be remarkable, you have to be just that, remarked about.  People have to talk about you.  You have to stand out from the crowd.

We are taking a risk when we become unique.  We will either be the kind of unique that nobody wants to be like or follow, or we will be the kind of unique that everyone wants to be like and follow, but they just didn’t have the guts to do it first.

That’s called leadership.  You are leading them to a better place, a better way of existing, a way that helps them fulfill their potential.  And that is the key to figuring out what kinds of things you can do to be the good kind of unique rather than the bad kind of unique that nobody wants to be around.  Are you setting an example for excellence and improvement?

It is difficult.  That’s why true leadership is so scarce.  And it takes commitment.  Commitment to a purpose and a vision for the kind of unique person you want to be.

Scott Ginsberg “The Nametag Guy” is a great example.  He decided that wearing a nametag makes you a lot more approachable.  So he decided to wear a nametag every day.  Now he has gone 2,991 days in a row wearing a nametag.  And if someone rips it off, he always has a backup.  At one point he became truly committed and had his nametag tatooed on his chest.  Based on his approachability concept he has written 7 books and is a successful entreprenuer and speaker.  His Nametag TV is an excellent collection of short instructional videos about a variety of business concepts.  One night I had a Nametag TV marathon because they were so good.

So “stick yourself out there” and be committed to being unique, the kind of unique that others want to follow.

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DIY

At the risk of looking ignorant to most people, but taking the chance to bond with other friends or family who might be in the same ignorant boat with me, I wanted to say that I recently (a relative term) figured out what the acronym DIY stood for.  I’ve seen it around in all kinds of places, and maybe I had figured out its meaning before, but it hadn’t sunk in enough for me to know it off the top of my head without seeing it used in context.  (Don’t people know they’re supposed to spell out an acronym when it’s first used in a document?  It’s just courteous.)

Anyway, it’s such a common concept these days that I guess most people figure that most other people know what it means.  And I don’t know if that is necessarily the case.  So for you fellow ignorants out there, it stands for Do It Yourself.  And there are all kinds of websites and different applications out there that apply the DIY concept (such as http://www.diynetwork.com/ and http://www.diyweddinginvitation.com/).

But I would like to promote a particular one today.  It’s called the Personal MBA (PMBA) and it is a do it yourself education based on the best and latest business books.  And even though I actually have an official MBA, I signed up for this one this year because I believe in the concept, I always like to continually learn new things, and I’m doing it with a group of people who will make it a top notch experience.

booksHere’s the rub.  The program contains a list of 77 of the best business books (based on multiple valid sources) including classics and recent releases, and you set up your own reading schedule to read the books and have online discussions about them with others.  You don’t have to read all the books and you can create your own schedule, but it does help if you do it with a group so you can learn together and support each other throughout the program.  You also create projects where you apply the things you learn. 

Isn’t that what education is all about?  Do you really need to spend thousands of dollars for  a university experience?  And if you’re on your own time table and studying topics that you are really interested in, doesn’t that provide a better motivation to accomplish true learning?  That is the position of the PMBA Program.  You can read the manifesto here.

The group that I am studying with is so incredibly awesome that we already have some authors of the books and other experts lined up to teach us.  How can you get better than that?  And I think all it took was to ask.  This is the true power of DIY.  We have set up our own Master’s program with relevant cutting edge business topics, using no budget (the only cost to us is the price of the books), and with participants from around the world graduation-girlnetworking with each other and the great minds of the latest business trends.  Our specific program may not be universally recognized (yet) but when you see the outcome – our knowledge, ability, and skill, – and the course content and instructors, it should be recognized as a valuable education.

Our plan consists of 25 books, reading a book each week, implementing the concepts, and working on our ‘Big Idea’. 

The opportunities are endless.  Where can you apply the DIY concept in areas that you may not have considered possible before?  A small group of people is a powerful thing.

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Drips

drip-pic

One cool dynamic about blogs, if they’re done right, is that you’re not getting too much information at a time.  Each post only takes a few minutes or seconds to read and only contains one concept.  By itself, one post doesn’t really do much.

But if they keep coming,

every day,

 

over time,

 

they add up,

 

to a lot.

drip-640x48-cut

 

 

Like a drip of water, it doesn’t mean much, but a few drips combined together can make a trickle,which is more noticeable. 

trickle-640x48-cut

A bunch of trickles together create a flood.flood-640x48-cut

 

 A flood is something that is powerful and can change anything in its path.

Yet it’s made of the same thing as a drip.

You can make small changes in your life, or in the world,

that when done consistently,

over time,

 

can make a HUGE impact.

 

This was the idea that some of my friends wanted to spread, so they started a movement called

www.dripit.org 

Check it out.  And be a drip.  Create a flood.

flood

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Horton Hears a What?

Deep, true concepts can come from anywhere if you are looking for them.

One hit me with impact recently as I watched the latest “Horton Hears a Who” movie.  If you’ve seen the movie or are familiar with the story you know that the overall message is not a subtle one, it is the entire premise of the whole story, and I think the message is faith.

Sure, there are other messages you can draw from the story, like trust, friendship, love, family, etc.  But I think the main message is faith – believing in something that may seem unreasonable, has no apparent tangible proof, but that you know is true.  And sticking to that faith at all costs and against strong opposition.

This is a beautiful message.  What do you have faith in about yourself, your potential, or what is possible?  And how can you increase that faith through your actions until more tangible proof is revealed, or your vision is realized?

It is also important to encourage and help nurture the faith of others.  Allow them to reach their goals, desires, and potential even if their faith is not the same as yours.  Faith is such a source of power and motivation that I think it is more beneficial for us to encourage the concept of faith than to tear down others because their beliefs may be different than ours.

This message is powerfully portrayed in the story of “Horton Hears a Who“.  (At least it was for me.)

Watch or read it on a different level, and see if you can apply it in your life in a way that increases your faith and helps you to increase the faith of others.

"A person is a person, no matter how small."
"A person is a person, no matter how small."
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Do You Want to Learn?

Humility
Humility

Do you really want to learn something? 

Then the first step is to realize that you don’t know everything. That might be easy and obvious at an overall, general level, but let’s take it down to a specific level.  It means that you might not know what to do in a certain situation.  It means that you may not be right, that your way is not the only way.

That, my friend, is humility.

Many see this virtue as a weakness, void of power, but tell me who has true power with the people around them, a know-it-all who tells everyone what to do and has all the answers, or someone who is willing to listen to others and is open to being influenced, or in other words, learning something?  Who do people want to be around and will gladly assist or follow?

Humility will gather willing followers, and thus true power.

Can we say “I don’t understand” and really mean it, in a way that says we want to understand?  In other words, can we admit that we don’t know everything?  

When we can take that first step, only then can we begin to learn.

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Do the Impossible (or at least consider it can be done first.)

Origami penny“It can’t be done!”    “Impossible!”   “Forget it!”

Have you heard these words before?  Maybe you hear it more from your own mind than from others.  That’s my case anyway.  And it takes some real mental strength to shun those thoughts and throw them in the garbage. 

It means that whenever I’m struggling with something I want to do or change, and I get the depressing feeling that it is too hard or too wide a chasm to cross, I have to remind myself, “Am I an open minded optimist, problem solver, wise deep thinker or not?”  If I get to choose the kind of person I want to be, then I’d better choose it in the very instance of my thoughts.  And if I’m going to believe in and live up to the truth that my father taught me and that I constantly tell my kids – that we are in control of our feelings – then I’d better change my perspective on the matter and feel something different than ‘impossible’.

Many times this concept is applied to big, difficult goals, like this woman who went a whole year without processed sugar.  She should be commended and respected as a human, especially in this day of ubiquitous sugar.  So yes, we should go do these kinds of things. 

But I’d like you to also consider applying this concept for those common, everyday things.  When do you get frustrated?  Those are times you are having an ‘impossible’ thought.  Can’t get your kid to go to bed, or brush their teeth, can’t find the Tuperware lid to match the bowl you want, can’t get that stripped screw out, can’t get your spouse to change their behavior?  Why are you frustrated?  Because it is impossible.

You can be at peace.  Just change your thoughts, consider it can be done, and find a way.

Build an origami with hundreds of folds as big as a penny.

Talk about frustrating! 

“Impossible!”

Or is it?

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Day 2

Okay, maybe I don’t need to post something every day.  That might be too much reading for both of you. 

But I’m on a roll now, 2 days in a row.  Might as well keep it up as long as I can.  Besides, I need the practice.

In regards to change or improvement, sometimes we feel like this picture – we’re in soft mud.  And if we stand still, like the sign, the same thing will happen to us…

…we’ll get overtaken by the status quo.

Are you stuck in the status quo?
Are you stuck in the status quo?

Keep moving… standing still is dangerous.

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Make it a Happy New Year!

Of course resolutions should be done whenever you feel the need, but I guess the new year is the one point in time each year when it is universally accepted that everyone should be making some kind of resolution to do something they want to do but haven’t done yet.  The fact that is it such a widely accepted phenomenon and whole markets and industries are built upon it means that there is a common wide gap between most people’s actual behavior and how they would like to behave.

That gap creates progress.

If no one ever sought improvement, however it is defined, then no progress would be made – as individuals, as families, as societies.  The first step is recognizing the gap and attempting to close it.  And that should be an ongoing endeavor for everyone.  But since it can be difficult, and we need constant reminders, we might as well take advantage of this time of the year when “everybody is doing it.”  It can be like a group effort where we are all supporting each other to keep our resolutions, because in the end, if everyone gets a little better, the world might get a little better.  And that is progress.

So in order to help the world progress, my 2009 New Year’s Resolution is to write in my blog every day.

Then yours can be to read it every day.  And maybe, just maybe, we can help each other make other small differences in our lives which cause progress.  Progress in ourselves, our families, our communities, and due to the wide global reach of the internet, progress around the world. 

Who says it can’t happen?

It’s your choice.

Do something difficult.
Do something difficult.
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Start a Movement

dripWhat’s a movement?

It’s an idea that you think is either crazy or awesome. 

If you think it’s crazy, or something you wouldn’t dare be a part of, then you’re not.  You’re not part of the movement.  That’s okay. Not everyone is part of every movement.  They can happen without you.

If you think the idea is awesome, then you’re in, you’ve signed up.  It’s something that you are excited about ‘moving’ forward so you tell all your friends about it. Or maybe you just tell those who you think might be interested.  You try to spread the idea, because the more people who are in, or who help the cause, will mean that the cause or the idea will have a larger impact.

So why not start a movement?  Did I mention anywhere how many people are required to start a movement? Or how many people it takes before the movement has accomplished it’s goal?

If you have an idea, and you only need 3 more people to do something to accomplish your goal, then you start a movement to make something happen.  The idea moved from you to 3 others, achieved a goal, and is done.  A successful movement.

That, my friend, is a ‘micromovement.’ 

And you probably create them all day long.  So if it’s that easy to start a movement, maybe you ought to do it more often.

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Is there too much to learn?

I was going to tell you about one presentation on a site called slideshare.net , a place where people can share their presentation slides, but being curious, I found a whole bunch more that looked interesting, so I spent all my time watching cutting edge presentations instead of posting a blog entry.

But I couldn’t quit without accomplishing my goal – to add a new post no matter what.  So here it is. And here are the presentations you should checkout on www.slideshare.net . (NEWSFLASH: Power Point bullets are out, cool pictures are in.)  Check these out and change the way you give your next presentation.

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us  by Seth Godin.  It’s really helpful to have the notes for this one (which means you need to create a slideshare account – easy, email and password)

Brain Rules: What all presenters need to know

Sample slides by Garr Reynolds

These are only 3 examples, but as you’ll see, they’ll suggest a bunch of related presentations, that if you’re curious, could keep you going for a long time.

Have fun and keep learning!

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Low Cost of Failure

An interesting concept I learned from Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody” is how the internet now enables a ‘publish first, filter later’ mentality.  Which means that most people are launching new ideas, business models, websites, etc. all the time even though many of them never really take off.  But it’s kind of okay if they don’t work because it didn’t really cost anything to launch them in the first place.

In the olden days (a couple of years ago) you had to have everything exactly right before you launched a new initiative, or wrote a book, or created a video because you had some significant transaction costs associated with producing something.  So companies and individuals had limited opportunities for implementing changes based on funding.  But now, with low transaction costs, you can produce practically anything from your home office.

So that’s what people are doing.  And if it doesn’t work, big deal, I can produce something again tomorrow.  And whatever I produced that didn’t work, it just sits out there on the internet getting filtered by search engines.  There are millions of items out there that have probably never been seen by anyone. (Like this blog.)

This low cost of failure allows people and corporations to try more things and new ideas without the risk of sunk costs.  With no risk, the only thing stopping you is your belief that you can do it.

So believe, and produce.  Eventually, one of your ideas is going to be wildly successful.

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Shared Experience

hike

The best way to build tight relationships is to share a stressful experience or accomplish a great feat together.  Then what can you do with tight relationships? 

Just about anything.

So just don’t talk about teamwork.  Lead a team to make something happen, then you’ll have a great team.  Great – meaning you’ll have built a foundation of tight relationships that enables the team to do the impossible.

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Help!

I walked through the wildwood, and what did I see
But a unicorn with his horn stuck in a tree,
Cryin’, “Someone please help me before it’s too late.”
I hollered, “I’ll free you.” He hollered back, “Wait-
How much will it hurt? How long will it take?
Are you sure that my horn will not scratch, bend, or break?
How hard will you pull? How much must I pay?
Must you do it right now or is Wednesday okay?
Have you done this before? Do you have the right tools?
Have you graduated from horn-savin’ school?
Will I owe you a favor? And what will it be?
Do you promise that you will not damage the tree?
Should I close my eyes? Should I sit down or stand?
Do you have insurance? Have you washed your hands?
And after you free me – tell me what then?
Can you guarantee I won’t get stuck again?
Tell me when. Tell me how.
Tell me why. Tell me where…”

I guess that he’s still sittin’ there.

By Shel Silverstein

Smart people can think of a lot of details and ramifications of certain actions, which is probably why we need them (the smart people).  But sometimes too much thinking about the bad things that haven’t happened yet can stop the good things from happening.  We call it, “analysis paralysis” a disease most prominent in engineers.

So if you want “Help” from the good ideas that are in the people all around you, then don’t be like the unicorn… who’s still sittin’ there.

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Somethin’ New

They say, “Come up with somethin’ new
And everyone will buy it.”
So I came up with a paper umbrella,
But no one was willing to try it.

And then I came up with reusable gum.
It seemed such a pity to waste it.
Then I came up with some mustard ice cream.
Nobody bothered to taste it.
So now I’ve invented a plug-bottom boat.
It’s just what you need, there’s no doubt,
‘Cause if any water should ever splash in,
Just pull the plug – it’ll all run out.

 

By Shel Silverstein

We probably get a chuckle from some people’s ideas in the same way we might laugh about the ones in this poem. But a good leader will let others run with them and learn for themselves whether the idea is good or not.  If it doesn’t work, they’ll know soon enough.  

 

Leadership is about surfacing the internal motivation and drive from individuals, and the quickest way to squash that drive and loyalty is to say, “that won’t work.” 

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Change Agent

The other day I heard a presentation on How to Be a Change Agent.  It was good material on how to lead and champion changes so that they are effective and stick. A lot of the content was from “Managing Transitions” by William Bridges and we learned the difference between ‘transition’ and ‘change’.

One exercise that was particularly powerful for me was a personal change that the presenter asked us to implement in order for us to really experience change and gain an understanding of what people are going through when someone causes a change to their normal processes.

He told us to switch the contents of our pockets.  Put the stuff in your right hand pocket into your left hand pocket and vice versa.  For those who didn’t have pockets (or stuff in them) he asked them to switch their watch to the other wrist.  Then he said that we have to try and keep it in this new place for one week.

It seemed very trivial, but I played along, and right away I began to experience the annoyance of the change.  I always keep my keys and phone in one pocket and my wallet in the other.  After I switched, it kept driving me crazy.  But I recognized the purpose and tried to learn from the experience.

It was eye opening because every time I was inconvenienced, only because it was against my routine, I realized how people might feel about a change that was imposed on them where they don’t really see the benefit over the old way they used to do things.

This was true experiential learning for me.  We’ll see if I can keep it up for a week.

You should try it.