Fall Down Seven Times. Bleed A Bit.

Fall down seven times, get up eight.   – Japanese Proverb

Abe’s been in the news quite a bit lately. Spielberg’s movie about his presidency will likely win all sorts of awards. And there have been countless articles about his management and leadership style.

I think it’s Lincoln tenacity that captivates me most; his willingness to keep on keepin’ on, even in the face of catastrophic failures: employment failures, business failures, election losses, the death of his sister, the death of his son. He fought depression; grappled with a divided nation; stood by an unpopular cause; and was witness to defeat after bloody defeat in battle.

And still he kept on going. images

I love knowing that the legendary Michael Jordon didn’t make his varsity basketball team in high school when he first tried out. He wasn’t good enough. Over the course of his career, he missed more 9000 shots; he lost more than 300 games.

And still he kept on going.

Edison’s tenacity is almost cliché: 10,000 failures on the road to success.

Thank god he kept on going.

This past week, my friend Lonnie Dupre, a renowned and indefatigable polar explorer, was spit off Denali (Mt. McKinley). Raising money for environmental advocacy, he was hoping to become the first ever to reach North America’s highest summit in the dark of winter by himself. Battling arctic darkness, ferocious winds, and temperatures so low that flesh freezes in an instant, he’s gone back there three times to pursue his goal.

And he’s kept on going.

Benjamin Bloom, a professor at the University of Chicago studied 120 exceptional artists, athletes and scholars looking for the common denominator of mastery and greatness. It turned out not to be intelligence or family background.  It turned out that there was only one common characteristic: extraordinary drive, the willingness to keep on going even in the face of setback and insurmountable odds.

All of us will face loss and defeat along the way. All of us will fail.

No one escapes.

As I tell Ann when we’re running trails: You will fall and you will bleed.

It’s what happens next that matters most.




Sexy. Not.

I had the absolute worst run ever last weekend.

It wasn’t very long; it wasn’t very cold. It was the same damn course we always run.

But I was slow; it was painful; I never loosened up. And when I was finished, I felt as if someone had beaten me with a 2 x 4.

The next run might be painful too. Or not. Who knows?

It doesn’t really matter.

Because here’s the scoop: At the end of the day, there is only one core principle of success.

Doing the work.

We coaches love to have fancy templates for goal setting, and mind maps and vision boards… and all sorts of stuff that helps folks get clear and excited and juiced up about where they’re going. And juiced up and excited is good. But the bloom comes off the rose pretty fast.

I looked around the gym on Friday. Most of the newbies had disappeared. Right on time.

Few folks who even bother to resolve make it beyond the 1st of February.

Because doing the work is hard. And it just ain’t sexy.

Of course the “why” is important. But if you’re crystal clear about your “why;” why it is you want to bother; why it is that the result really matters; why it is that you really care; then you’ll stay the course.

Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

So claim your “why.” Know it well. And then shut up and do the work.

George Leonard who wrote that great old book Mastery using the metaphor of Akido practice said that the only thing that really mattered on the road to mastery was showing up on the mat.

Julia Cameron, author of the Artists Way, said that a writer’s only obligation was to show up on the page and write.

Nike™ in its venerable campaign would say, “Just do it.”

  • Run the miles
  • Lift the weights
  • Follow the plan: the eating plan, the financial plan, the weight-loss plan.

Discipline’s a dirty word. So call it practice. Or whatever.

Just show up and do the work.

Because that’s the only way it will get done.

Sexy. Not.



Blind Spot

I love my Subaru Outback. This is the fourth one I’ve had.

It’s fuel efficient, comfortable, and roomy; it’s great over rough terrain. It’s reliable in the snow and cold. And for all of our crazy outdoor activities, there couldn’t be a better vehicle.

Except that it has a blind spot.

Left hand side. Behind the driver’s seat. You could hide a panel van in it. And on more than one occasion, a van or two has hidden there.

Of course, I’ve learned to deal with it.

I  pay particular attention to that blind spot.

A good thing to do: pay attention to the blind spots.

You see, we all have them: Places where things don’t work quite as well as others; places that could use some improvement; places that, if they are ignored, could result in incidents and accidents.

If you look at the major areas of your life,

  • Career/business
  • Finance
  • Relationships
  • Health and Fitness
  • Spiritual/Emotional
  • Community Contribution; and
  • Celebration

you’ll undoubtedly latch onto one or two in which you excel.

We like those places; those places where we find our ‘wins;’ where we feel valued for our expertise; where we consistently feel at the top of our game. And because we like those places, we tend to spend a lot of time there.

And if you glance down the list again, you’ll land on one or two areas that could use some work, that tend to trip you up.

Blind spots.

One of my blind spots tends to be ‘Celebration.’ As an (over) achiever, I’m prone to ‘ticking off’ accomplishments, and moving on… not really stopping to appreciate, acknowledge or celebrate the attainment of the goal.

No matter where you are on your journey, you’ll find one… a blind spot.

Oprah, one of the wealthiest, most successful women on the planet, has a bind spot: her health and fitness; her weight has been an albatross for years.

No one escapes.

And here’s the truth: it’s easy to ignore our blind spots. It doesn’t feel good to turn the light on those places that need some care. (It’s much more fun to spend our time on where we rock and roll.) But when we do, even for just a bit, we can up our game – improve our lives – immensely.

And avoid the panel van.

What will you work on this week?


photo 5






I don’t know: Maybe it’s the tree that’s the real problem.


Buried Treasure

I talk a lot about the F* word.

In fact, it’s one of my very favorite words.


But my F* word, it seems, isn’t always fun or fanciful for folks to hear about.

In fact, I frequently find that discussions of fun can make folks downright frantic – fretful and frenetic!

Case in point: I had finished speaking to a professional association and was in the back of the room signing books. A man approached. He was in his mid-forties; a bit overweight; still dressed in his jacket and tie at 8:00 in the evening. He was pale and wide-eyed… and nearly breathless.

“I have a serious problem with what you just said,” he nearly yelled.

In a moment of panic, my mind raced back over the keynote I had just delivered, scanning it for what might have been upsetting, unsettling, unnerving, controversial.

While I certainly have the capacity to cross the line from time to time, I couldn’t think of a damn thing.

What seems to be the problem?” I asked.

Now, even more wide-eyed, and even more breathless, he blurted: “I can’t remember what’s fun.”

And – seriously – I thought he was going to cry.

The theme of my talk had been the importance of nurturing ourselves; of re-creating ourselves; of re-capturing a grand and exciting vision for our lives. I had ended it with a call to arms of sorts: “Reclaim the fun, reclaim the laughter, reclaim the joy.” (Kinda mainstream stuff I had – erroneously – thought.)

But this man couldn’t remember the fun; he couldn’t remember what once brought him joy.

And in that moment he had confronted an abyss that can overtake even those of us most vigilant.

Buried as he was (and as so many of us are) in the responsibilities of his work, his marriage, his children, the bills , the boss, the clients, the cholesterol, the mortgage, the tuitions, the parents, the in-laws,  the blood pressure, the e-mails, the voice-mails, the text messages, the in-box, the out box, the lawn, the snow plowing, the never-ending demands and expectations that are the fabric of our lives… .

He had forgotten. What was fun. And he had freaked!

Luckily, it’s not hard to find the fun.  I took him aside to the corner of the room. And quietly connected:

  • What were your extracurricular activities in high school?
  • What did you love to do in college?
  • What makes you laugh?
  • If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
  • If you could buy any magazine on the shelf, what would it be?
  • If money and time were no object, what would you do?

He smiled.  There was a glimmer. He could remember.

No, recovering what was fun, what once rung your bell is not difficult. The challenge, it seems, is to go out and do it again.

To give to yourself the “luxury” of joy.

I have a dear friend who always admonishes: Never forget the fun-factor.

Fun is fundamental to our wholeness.

Without the fun, we lose our horizons.

This week: make it a point to do something – for yourself – just for fun.











This, we refer to as Type II Fun: Fun in retrospect!






A new year. Filled with opportunity; filled with possibility.

What will it be for you?

What will you do?

Where will you go?

How will you share your gifts?

How will you change the world?

You get to choose.

  • Will you choose health and fitness?
  • Will you choose work that deeply satisfies?
  • Will you choose a relationship that nourishes and enriches?
  • Will you choose to serve and share?
  • Will you choose to learn and grow?

Or will it be the same old same old?

Most folks who make such resolutions – and frankly only a few brave souls even bother – abandon the effort by the end of January (that’s right, by the end of this month). That’s because their “why” isn’t big enough; their drive not strong enough; their discipline not honed enough; their vision not clear enough.

And then one day ends up being just like the next; this new year just like the last. Same old shit different day. Dull, and bland and vanilla.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can create a masterpiece. You can choose to make your life extraordinary. You can design a life lived on your own terms, rich and full and satisfying: A purpose-driven life.

Do It Yourself is not easy; it’s not simple. The DIY path is steep and winding.  There are obstacles and dangers; fears and frustrations; and failure along the way.

And it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. Those that take on the project of life design know that the road ahead will be filled with challenge, that they will need good mentors and coaches, that they will need to avoid the naysayers, that they will need to surround themselves with folks who will affirm their effort and support the journey.

But, damn, it’s a whole lot more interesting – and fun; a whole lot more textured and satisfying – filled with wonder and awe – than vanilla.

To live out loud; to push beyond your comfort zone; to explore the impossible; to live with intention and purpose, with passion and possibility, with vision and hope; to live a life designed and co-created; to share with the world the gifts that are yours alone to share; to serve at the highest level possible; to lead the way for others: That is your call.  That is the obligation that each of us has in the world.

And if you take on this challenge, if you live from that place of authenticity and vibrancy, then a year from now, you will look back and say, “Wow, what a ride this has been.”

Step up. This is your year.








If you’d like support along your chosen path, schedule a complimentary breakthrough strategy session today! Email me at: walt@walthampton.com