Do You Suffer From VCS?

Headaches? Hypertension? Loss of appetite? Sexual atrophy? Anxiety? Sadness? Frustration? Erectile dysfunction?

You may be suffering from VCS.  Yes, Vacuum Cleaner Syndrome.

You know when you have VCS when you’re in a situation and suddenly realize that “it just sucks.”

No need to ask your doctor about it. Most of them are clueless.

Usually, there’s no explanation for VCS.

Sometimes things, or entire days, just suck.

I learned this lesson long ago as a distance runner. I’d go out for a 10 mile run and feel great. Two days later, I’d go out for a 5 mile trot, and it would suck. A day later, it would all flow again.

No rhyme. No reason. Just as quickly as it came on, VCS would dissipate.

But I seem to need to remind myself of this lesson over and over again: every occurrence of VCS is not an emergency, it’s not a disaster.

Last week, I hit a road block in my writing. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t write my way through. I began to tell myself that I was a horrible writer, that everything that I had ever written was terrible, that I would never write anything worthwhile ever again, that I would be devoid of inspiration forever more.

The next morning, I finished the chapter in about 10 minutes.

It was just VCS.

Who knows why certain efforts suck. The legendary Jim Rohn would have said that they’re simply a mystery of the mind. They just are.

Here’s the scoop. Our only job is to show up. Every day. No matter what. Just show up.

George Leonard once wrote, “The master is the one who stays on the path day after day, year after year. The master is one who is willing to try and fail, and try again, for as long as he or she lives.”

We cannot wait for the muse. We cannot wait for inspiration. We cannot wait for the day that we “feel” like exercising, running, writing, painting or doing what needs to be done. We just need to do it. Whether it sucks or not.

When we show up every day and do the work, even when it sucks, remarkable things happen. Books get written, art gets made, careers take off, relationships are deepened.

We don’t see it when our faces are in it. Some days,  all that we can see is that it sucks. But when we gaze back over a horizon of time, we can see that, just by the act of showing up, we have created a masterpiece.

So next time you suffer from VCS, consider FAI: forgetaboutit. Tomorrow will be better.

Bread Crumbs

Are you excited to get up in the morning?  Do you bolt out of bed, ready to greet the day with joy and expectation? If not, you may be off course.

Steve Jobs, Apple’s billionaire founder, says this:  “Each morning I look in the mirror and ask myself this question: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer is no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

We are called to live with purpose and passion and possibility.  We are called to live with joy.  These are the greatest gifts we can give to the world. These are the greatest gifts we can give to one another.

We can only live these gifts, we can only live with this intensity, when we live our dreams.

Time is not kind when it comes to dreams. Life gets in the way. We lose sight of what is really important to us; what really matters. And before we know it, the sands have run through the glass.

Sometimes during a presentation or keynote, when I’m talking about how essential it is to follow our dreams, how necessary it is to be true to our passions, I’m met with blank stares. Folks can’t remember.

Long ago, we knew what sparked our imaginations, quickened our hearts, left us breathless with excitement.  But then there were responsibilities, jobs to do, bills to pay, children to raise, houses to clean, yards to rake. Other commitments.

And we forget.

So how do we remember?

Ask yourself these questions:

What rocks your world?

What are you passionate about?

What jazzes you?  What excites you?

What did you once love? What did you once dream of doing?

What makes time stand still? Where do you lose yourself?

What’s fun for you?

What would you do no matter what?

If money weren’t an issue, how would you spend your day?

The answers to these questions will lead you back to your dreams.

And then it’s time to act.

When Directions Fail You

Sometimes we think that asking for help makes us look weak.  It doesn’t.

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As mavericks, messengers and audacious creators, our journeys can be challenging. Go ahead and ask for help. And lend a helping hand.

Lord of the Flies

The prisons we create are our own. We are both the jailers and the jailed.

I am the Lord of the Flies.

Don’t get excited.  It’s not a good thing.

Transformational leader John Assaraf tells this story:  One summer day, he passed by a window and saw a fly buzzing against the glass.  A short time later, he saw the fly still buzzing against the glass.  When he returned a few hours later, the sound was gone. He looked down on the sill and saw dozens of dead flies.

What was remarkable, he noted, was that a short distance away, there was an open window.

How often I am that fly: butting up against the same obstacle, over and over again; failing to see the possibilities of another way.

I so resonate with that old definition of insanity: doing the same futile thing again and again, expecting a different result.

This is certainly true in climbing. Sometimes in the mountains when the way seems so much harder than described, it means I’m “off route.”  If I were simply to retreat a bit, to get back on the route, then the climbing would become easier.  But often I have just muscled on, convinced that my way was the way. Failing to see the other way.

It’s true in most of life as well: Work problems, client challenges, kid issues, relational stuff, home improvement projects, and artistic endeavors.  The solutions are often nearer than near if we but open our minds (and our hearts) to the possibilities.

Working recently with a remarkably talented creative team, I spent several hours brainstorming new ideas for an exciting new project I’m working on.  So linear am I in my thinking, so accustomed am I to the “necessity” of being “right,” that I literally had to give myself permission to simply toss random ideas into the universe.  How exhilarating it became to explore the possibilities, to discover new ways.  And how much more vibrant the project became!

I love the phrase: think outside the box.  But consider this: what if there is no box?

I often envy my wonderful friends Sasha, Kit and Doreen who are so gifted with such keen intuitions and the sensitivity to read energies.  Their ability “to see” is remarkable. It is so easy for me to get wrapped up, tied up, in my own “rational” head. Dan Quayle might have said: what a waste it is to have a mind.

Remember the safety pitch on the airplane?  The attendants tell you about the exits.  And then they remind you that the nearest one may be just behind you.  Now that’s a concept!

To turn around.

To let go. To explore.

To risk being wrong.

To be open to a new right.

The possibilities are endless.  The open windows are everywhere.

My dear friend JT DeBolt in his superb new book Flight Plan To Success says: Fly High. Fly Fast. Fly Far.

This presumes we find the open window.

It’s not good to end up on the sill.

How are you at being open to all the possibilities in your life? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.


You can be anything you want to be, if only you believe with sufficient conviction and act in accordance with your faith; for whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.

— Napoleon Hill

I went to Alcatraz. To visit. Not to stay.

I could feel the lingering energy of the place: the isolation, the loneliness, the anguish; fragments of violence and remorse.

I could imagine the hopelessness, the discouragement, the despair felt by those who were imprisoned there. As I looked across the Bay, I could sense what it must have been like to look out on such beauty, vibrancy, and vitality, and yet to be shut off and locked away.

Perhaps I could imagine it because I do it to myself.

Do you know how they train a baby elephant not to wander? They drive a stake in the ground and tether its leg with a short length of rope. As the elephant grows, its mass becomes such that it could easily pull the stake from the ground.  But the elephant presumes that it’s still stuck. It never tries to break free.

Too often, we are elephants.

Brian Tracy, author of Create Your Own Future, writes, “Your greatest limits are not external. They are internal within your thinking. They are contained in your personal self-limiting beliefs. These beliefs act as brakes on your potential.  These are beliefs that cause you to sell yourself short, and to settle for far less than you are truly capable of.”

Early on in life we are told what we can and cannot do.  Early on we are taught what to expect, what to believe, what to think we can achieve. We get “domesticated.” (Not good to be wild!)

Early on we get tied to a stake. We put ourselves in prison.

The quest – the Journey – is to break free.

What we are capable of is: anything.  There is no barrier to what is possible. Whatever we dream or imagine, we can achieve.

Michelangelo imagined the David. Edison the light bulb. Bannister the four minute mile. Disney imagined the Magic Kingdom. Jim Carrey his multi-million dollar career. Realities in their minds long before they “existed” in the world. (Or did they always exist?)

“Imagination is everything,” said Einstein. “It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

Edison wrote, “If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

“Thoughts become things,” writes Mike Dooley. “Choose the good ones.”  Choose the ones that will make you soar. Choose the ones that build cathedrals and bring peace. Choose the ones that make art and write poems and build Internet empires. Choose the ones that make manifest your wildest hopes and dreams.

In the new techno-thriller Limitless, the writer Eddie Morra played by Bradley Cooper discovers an “illicit” pill that, in an instant, releases the full potential of his mind; a pill that allows him to access all of his intelligence, his energy, his drive; a pill that allows everything to become possible. With it, he discovers a power beyond anything he could ever have imagined.

What if we were capable of anything? What if we were limitless?

What if anything were possible?

We need no pill.

It is.