How to write my favorite word the way I do it.

Do you have a favorite word to write? I do. I have written a library’s worth of words in my lifetime. But for fun and flair, there is one word that beats them all by a cursive mile.

Attitude

Here’s how to write it the way I do.

  1. Grab your favorite pen.
  2. Prepare to write in your flowiest cursive.
  3. Draw a looping lowercase ‘a’ like you are circling the key point on the page.
  4. Let each of the next letters flow like you are sketching a roller coaster.
  5. After you finish the ‘e’, cross all three of the ‘t’s with one stroke. Do it as if you were crossing the most important task off your to-do list.
  6. Dot the ‘i’ like you are an orchestra conductor hitting the final note in the final song of the final concert of your career.
  7. Look at the word you have just written and realize that it means everything in life.
  8. Write the word again and again and again, until the ink in your pen runs dry.

IMG_9821IMG_9822IMG_9823IMG_9824IMG_9825IMG_9826

Advertisements

Why envy can be your most powerful force for good.

Most people will tell you that envy is bad. They will say you should be happy with what you have. But don’t believe them. Envy is one of the most powerfully positive forces on Earth. Envy reveals what we truly enjoy, what we really want, and who we want to be like. This is nothing to feel bad about. Baby, you were born this way.

Using envy for good starts with recognizing it as a powerful, natural, innate draw within you. Don’t try to quiet that voice. Tune in to it. Understand it. Learn what envy can teach you. Envy is like a gravitational force pulling you towards your own happiness. Or at least towards a great pair of pants.

Definition (from the great online dictionary)

Envy (noun): a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.

Envy (verb): desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to someone else.

1697799

 

Interview Your Envy

Envy offers insights to feelings that are hard to articulate.

  • Do you envy the person who doesn’t have to travel for work? Or the person who does?
  • Do you envy your friend who has dinner with his or her family every night?
  • Do you envy the entrepreneur? Or the volunteer? Or the activist?
  • Do you envy the rich and famous?
  • Do you envy the simple and anonymous?

Your envy is trying to lead you on your true path. Don’t protest too much.

My Envy

I have found myself attracted to, and envious of all kinds of random things throughout my life. But instead of feeling bad about it, or trying to turn the feelings off, I have tuned in, and recognized the things I truly want to have, do or be. And those things I once envied have contributed greatly to my own happiness.

Here is a quick list or random things I have envied:

  • A pair of well-worn work boots
  • High schoolers who could lift a lot of weights
  • Entrepreneurs
  • People who have canoes.
  • People who vacation on islands
  • Mountain climbers
  • People who don’t follow popular opinion
  • People who have great blogs
  • Volunteers

These things that I once envied have now contributed greatly to my own happiness. My feelings were not negative. They were motivating.

Today, my work boots (and my flip-flops) are my favorite shoes to wear. I began lifting weights my freshman year in high school and have found it to be the absolute best thing for my mental health. I launched my own business, The Weaponry, almost two years ago, and I am eager to get to work each day. I own a beautiful 17-foot canoe, and a couple of kayaks, which bring me and my family great joy. I have had wonderful vacations on islands with my wife and kids, where we felt as if we had escaped the real world together. I’ve climbed many a mountain, and felt the rewards of accomplishment. I am confident in my unpopular ways. I’m working on the blog thing. But I still have a nagging feeling that I don’t volunteer enough, and envy those who do.

Key Takeaway

Don’t feel bad about your lust for those shoes, that job or the epic vacation. Don’t think you don’t measure up because you haven’t started your own business, created a charitable foundation or bought a second home. If you really want those things, add them to your list. Then create a plan to make them yours, and get to work.  That’s what I do. And someday I expect to have them all.

Now that I have shared, is there something you have envied that you have used as motivation?  Please share it in the comments section. I’d like to think I am not the only one.

 

 

Life lesson in London.

The Dinner

A few years ago my wife and I went to London. We went without our three kids, which made it feel like we were playing hooky on a global scale. On the second night of our trip we had a world-class dinner experience at The Ritz.

Afterwards we strolled down Piccadilly, hand in hand. It was a wonderful July night. We were excited to be in one of the world’s greatest cities. We were adventurously far from home. And we had just finished a meal that we would talk about for the rest of our days.  Life was good.

The Show

Then something even more interesting happened. There, in that date-night glow, we witnessed a show that no one in the world saw except us. It was a one-man, one-act play.  The script had 5 words.

The stage was on the landing in front of a shop on Piccadilly. A homeless man was making his bed for the night. He was just steps off of the very busy street, outside, exposed to the world, and the elements, with no privacy. Like a zoo animal on display.

As he went about his routine of preparing his bed for the night he said:

Life is hard. No complaints.

I will never forget that. In those five words this man summed up a simple truth about life. And how he chose to respond. He clearly understood that life is a challenging game. He accepted the challenge. Even on the days when it seemed as if he was losing.

Inspiration comes in many forms.  That night I was inspired by a homeless man who faced a reality more challenging than most of us will ever face, without complaint.

On this Monday, as you head back to work, back to school and back to your own challenges, I remind you that, yes, life can be hard. But how you choose to respond to it is entirely up to you. And it is your response that makes all the difference.

Why lying is so good for you.

I used to think I was an honest person. I can only think of one promise that I’ve made and not kept, since 8th grade. On the night I graduated from high school I promised my friend Simon Phillips that I would sign his yearbook. And I still haven’t done it. A few years ago I reached out to Simon through Facebook to apologize and to try to complete my obligation. Apparently he forgot all about my unkept promise. I have not.

But smack dab in the middle of what I had considered to be a very honest life I realized two shocking truths:

1. I tell lies all the time.

2. I have no idea how smack and dab came to qualify the middle of something.

The lies I’m talking about are not little white lies. Not exaggerations of something mostly true. They are complete and utter falsifications and fabrications. Big league lies.

My string of outlandish lies goes back to high school. I can remember saying that I was the boys high school state record holder in the discus. I first told this lie when I was a scrawny freshman who had only thrown the discus in one meet. And in that one meet my best throw was 60 feet shy of the state record! I was a liar. Yes, I was a liar. And my pants were certainly on fire.

The lies continued in college. After a couple of rough semesters academically my GPA indicated that I was a terrible college student. But I lied and said that I was a great college student who got great grades and made the Dean’s list. All lies.

Once I started my career in advertising the lies just kept coming. Before I even landed a job I started telling outlandish lies about my accomplishments, accolades and income. I was a one man lie-athon.

But a funny thing happened after I told all those lies.

They started coming true.

Sure enough, in the last track meet of my senior year I broke the state high school discus record by 3 feet.

In college, I followed up a couple of terrible academic semesters with 7 straight semesters that included making the Dean’s List, being named an Academic All-Big Ten athlete, achieving a GPA of at least 3.5 every semester and graduating with a GPA of 3.88 within my psychology and journalism majors.

In my advertising career the lies keep coming true too. I lied when as a young writer I said I could help attract fun clients to the agency  where I worked. Then I helped the agency pick up Ski-Doo snowmobiles, Sea•Doo watercraft, Evinrude outboard motors, as well as CanAm ATVs and the Spyder Roadster

Building on that success I then joined a relatively unknown regional agency and lied about how we were going to work with some of the world’s best brands. And over the next few years we won business with Nike, Coke, UPS, Nationwide, Chick-fil-a and Wells Fargo.

The truth is, you need to lie to achieve great things. You have to believe the unbelievable to achieve the unachievable. (That’s some Jessie Jackson-worthy rhyming, right!?!)

Whether you call it lying or living into your dreams or positive thinking or envisioning or auto suggestion, this powerful tool is about lying to yourself so convincingly that you make the lie a reality. Which is exactly what I am doing on my quest to create the perfect agency. I believe it can be done. And I believe I’m the right person to do it. Which is a huge, and completely unsubstantiated lie.

I don’t know of any other way to make great things happen but to tell myself they will, even when there is no basis for it in reality. So I encourage you to try lying to yourself today. If you don’t feel great, say you do. If you haven’t achieved great things, say you have. Say it often. Every morning and every night, in the mirror. Lie to yourself.  Lie until you don’t even realize what the truth is anymore. And then make it all come true.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a yearbook to sign.

 

The first step to make your team work.

Organizations are messy. Because they are made of humans. And humans are unpredictable animals. If you work in a business that trades in creativity, like I do, you deal with even more interesting dynamics. One of the challenges of professional creativity is that it tries to combine professionalism with non-traditional thinking and behaviors.  These can make for strange bedfellows. (Why do we say bedfellows?  Why couldn’t it be umbrellafellows? Or picnicblanketfellows? Or pewfellows?)

Sometimes teamwork is magical.  Other times it is, well, not magical.

Because when humans are involved things go wrong. In fact, there are things that go wrong in organizations every day.  It is not the avoidance of mistakes that makes a company great. It is how we respond to those mistakes that determines the health and strength of the organization and its culture.

I have discovered a very simple guiding principle that helps organizations thrive, even when things go wrong. It’s The Assumption of Positive Intent. It requires that everyone on the team assumes that the actions, choices, statements and decisions of others were made with positive intentions.

It comes down to believing that your teammates are good people who mean well. Even when their intentions aren’t clearly understood.

At the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, the Assumption of Positive Intent is core to our culture. This simple assumption has a number of positive effects.  First, it makes us all see each other as good people. It makes me feel better to feel like I am surrounded by good people who want to do good things. High morals and ethical standards are important. We should believe in each other and support one another until we have irrefutable proof that we should not.

The next benefit of the Assumption of Positive Intent is that it encourages people to take action. Make a move, make an impact, make a difference. We’ll support you. We won’t crucify you if it doesn’t work out perfectly. Because we assume you want to make great things happen. Even if an attempt fails. So go ahead, introduce New Coke. Have Kendall Jenner hand a cop a Pepsi. Or stick your chocolate in my peanut butter.  One of those things will work.

The word assumption often has a negative connotation in business and other performance-oriented environments. Because it indicates that we make judgements or decide without knowing. We’ve all heard the saying that when you assume you makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.  While that is a clever word play, the statement fails to recognize an important reality.  When you assume positive intent, you give people the benefit of the doubt. You presume the good. You believe in the best or most optimistic scenario.  And when you believe in good, you believe in people. This builds a culture of trust.

A Simple 5-Step Formula.

When you encounter an action that you don’t understand try these 5 simple steps:

  1. Assume positive intent
  2. Talk about the issue with the person or people involved.
  3. Make it clear that you assume they meant well and seek a better understanding.
  4. Listen for understanding
  5. Play back what you heard.

I believe in people. I think we all want to be part of a great team  The best way to set our teams up for the greatest success it to minimize the stress on the relationships between teammates. If we assume positive intent at all times, we will get the best out of each other. We will enjoy the attempts. Even when they #fail.