Danger. Danger

This is the end of the line for most folks. This is where the cart goes off the track.

Despite the most heartfelt resolutions, despite whatever the best intentions might have been, most folks give up on their New Year’s promises to themselves… right about now.

Not because they didn’t mean what they said.

Not because they didn’t want to change… because they did.

Not because they don’t have dreams for a better life… because they do.

But because life gets in the way.

I know. I was a single dad for a dozen years raising three young boys. I would get up (too late) in the morning, run around getting dressed, getting the kids up, finding the lost socks, and the lost homework, making the lunches, packing the lunches, unpacking and re-packing the back-packs, running the kids to school, tearing off to my office, arriving (too) late to gather up my files, speeding off to court, tying my tie in the rearview mirror and balancing the coffee in my lap (and spilling it), getting the call from daycare to come back because the kid had a 103º fever or head lice or both, scheduling parent-teacher meetings in between client calls, rushing off to soccer practice, making dinner, mitigating the fights, helping with the homework, returning emails and phone calls, and falling into bed exhausted and depleted… only to wake up the next day and do it all over again.

I know.

But change can happen. (I know this too.) What you really, really want in your heart matters. Your hopes and dreams and aspirations matter. They are the call of your Spirit, the Divine within you, to live your best life; to share those gifts that are yours and yours alone to share with the world in the most perfect way possible.

And it’s not too late. (It’s never too late.) Yes, January may be over. But the canvas of this New Year still awaits you.

Here’s what’s true: All you need to do is apply a very basic success principle, one of the easiest of all success principles. Take tiny, tiny steps.

  • At just 1 pound a week, you’ll still lose more than 40 pounds this year
  • At just 1 page a day, you’ll have well over 300 pages for your book
  • At just 1 watercolor a week, you could mount an entire show
  • One job application a day is 30 in a month
  • One extra sales conversation every single day might double your sales

Take that tiny step today. Just for today. And then do it again. And again the next day. Small steps magnified by time leading to magnificent results.

But today, just think about this day. And take just one tiny step forward.

Remember, races are run one stride at a time; businesses built one product at a time, one customer at a time, one sale at a time; mountains are climbed one step at a time; novels written one sentence at a time; symphonies written one measure at a time; and cathedrals built over generations one stone at a time.

Go back to the beginning of the year, and remember why it was that you wanted to set out on your path. Reclaim that grand vision of that perfect life that is yours.

In every moment of danger, there is also opportunity.

Opportunity still waits for you.


This is an encore of a piece first published on January 30, 2014.

What’s Your Secret Recipe?

Brené Brown, in her beautiful book The Gifts of Imperfection, has a wonderful exercise: List your “ingredients for joy and meaning,” she instructs.

It’s a powerful exercise because, for most of us, the ingredients are pretty simple; and they don’t cost very much. For me, they’re a long gentle run along the coast, feeling the wind on my face on a mountaintop, having the time to read a good book, sitting on my porch looking out at the sea, or sharing a simple meal and a glass of wine with my wife, my best bud, Ann.

But, for some reason, many of us lose track of our ingredients. Instead we race around looking for new and exciting places to go, and the latest shiny toys to buy. (Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel, and I really like nice toys.) We plan grand things for the year ahead and often end up exhausted and depleted. (Do you remember that last vacation that you had to go back to work to rest up from?) And we wonder why we’re missing out on joy and meaning.

We focus single-mindedly on the destination (as success driven folks tend to do); and neglect the journey. We get lost in the doing rather than the being.

Maybe Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz had it right. Maybe our heart’s desires aren’t so far away after all.

Maybe joy and meaning are here. Right in front of us.

As we live into this year ahead, it might be worthwhile to remember the ingredients. Our ingredients.

Make It Happen

It was already late in the day when I called. So I made the request gingerly.

“I know it’s last minute, but might we have Table 13? It’s our favorite table.”

Now, at most restaurants, the response would be, “We can’t promise that,” or, “We’ll see what we can do.”

But not at this one.

Daryl, the manager on duty at a local wine bar said, “I will make that happen.”

Indeed, when we arrived at 6:00 pm, Daryl greeted us by name; and our table – our favorite one – was waiting for us.

I will make that happen. 

In a culture of waffling and equivocation, ass-covering and risk aversion, who says that?

The statement connotes purposefulness and power, confidence and certainty.

When I heard those words, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction and security. Someone was actually taking responsibility. Someone was a leader. Someone was in charge. Someone was taking care of it. Someone was taking care of me.

I was being served.

Customers, clients, and loved ones want to feel that way.

What will you make happen today?

Your Heart’s Desire

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

How are you today?

I hope you’ve woken up rested, refreshed and satisfied after your holiday celebrations.

But if, instead, you’re feeling dazed and depleted and maybe a little bit empty, you are not alone.

The holidays are a huge source of stress; a seemingly never-ending torrent of buying and wrapping and eating and drinking and binging and networking and connecting and partying; with concomitant unceasing demands and obligations and expectations.

Likely you’ve spent the last several weeks (or months!) hustling around fulfilling everyone else’s wants. Tending to the needs of others.

Maybe you think you’re done.

Except that you’re not.

It’s today. Another day. And while you can, perhaps, distract yourself for a little while longer, ringing in the New Year, the day is coming soon when you will face the expanse – or the abyss – of the year ahead.

So today’s question is not about all those other folks you’ve been attending to. It’s about you.

What do you want?

What do you really want?

Not what you think you should want; or what you think you’re expected to want. Not what your father wanted; or what you’re mother thought would be right. Not what your partner or boyfriend or girlfriend or neighbors want. Not what your clients want. Not what some well-intentioned teacher or guidance counselor wanted for you.

Rather, what is it you want ? For yourself? Right here? Right now?

The folks who read this blog are, by their very nature, givers. The challenge for givers is receiving. The challenge for givers is getting quiet enough to listen to the still small voice that speaks to us of our heart’s desires. The challenge for givers is giving to ourselves what it is we really, really want.

Because, we presume that what we want is bad. Or selfish. Or self-centered.

Or more frequently, we forget what we wanted. We become numb to our heart’s desire.

So on the threshold of a new year, I have a challenge for you: Set aside some time just for you; and spend some time asking yourself (and perhaps journaling about) these questions:

  • If I could make my life any way I wanted it, what would my ‘perfect’ day look like? My ‘perfect’ week? What time would I get up? What would I wear? Who would I spend my time with? What work would I do? What projects would I pursue? What travels would I take? What would my ‘perfect’ life look like?
  • If this were my very last year on earth, what would I do? Would I stay in the same relationship; would I keep the same job; would I hang out with the same people; would I go the same places; would I do things the way I’m doing them right now?
  • If money were no object, if I won the $30 million dollar Powerball, what would I do? After I bought all the toys I wanted, where would I go; who would I go with; where would I spend my time; what experiences would I want to create; what legacy would I want to leave?

Because here’s what’s true: Those whispers that are in our hearts, those dreams that we have, those projects we want to create, those places we want to go, the empires we want to build, the impact we want to make… they’re not random musings; they’re not accidents. They are the call of our Spirit, the Divine within us, showing us – telling us – the way.

So think. Write. Draw. Free flow. Tear down the boundaries. No limitations. Let your imagination run wild.

And then get busy. Because, that’s what you want. That’s what you really want.

That’s your heart’s desire.

What Your GPS Can Teach You

Don’t you love your car’s GPS?

When you hop into your car for a trip to an unfamiliar destination, you plug in the address that your nav system converts to GPS coordinates. You start your car, pull out of the driveway, and follow the directions that the nice lady narrates.

With few exceptions, you end up exactly at your destination.

Why? Because you plugged in the address!

Now, you could have winged it. You could have headed more or less in the direction you wanted to go; stopping from time to time asking for directions; or not; getting lost; getting frustrated; getting into arguments with your passenger who is “supposed” to be looking at the map; wasting fuel; losing precious hours; and usually ending up in a fairly un-resourceful state when (and if) you finally get to where you thought you wanted to go.

But who wants to wing it when you’ve got something as fab as a GPS?

Except, that’s the way that many of us start out the New Year

Only 45% of folks make resolutions; only 8% reach their goals.

Most of us don’t think about any destination. Most of us never bother to lock in the coordinates.

We wing it. We wander. We get frustrated. We get lost. We lose heart. And another year passes us by.

This year could be different.

Choosing a destination… an exact destination… is a really good place to start.

It could be a business destination like a sales goal or it might be a personal destination like a weight loss goal. But the clearer you are – the more specific you are – about the destination the better. (As in, you’re more likely to get to San Francisco if you say you’re going to San Francisco as opposed to saying you’re going “out West.”)

Now, like any trip you’ll want to consider a few other things. One of those things is whether your destination (your goal) is reasonable under the circumstances. If you’re starting out from Boston, is it reasonable to say that you’re going to drive to San Francisco in two days? Probably not. If you’re starting in Reno, that’s another matter.

If you want to make a million dollars in 2015, bravo. But if you’ve never made more than seventy-five grand in any given year, the distance may be way too much.

You want your destination to be a reasonable one. Because if it’s not, it’s a setup for disappointment and failure.

One of the cool things about a GPS is that it usually doesn’t lie. It gives you a really clear idea about how many miles you have to travel, and how long it’s going to take you. You want to know these things about your trip. So that you’ve allotted enough time; and resources; so that you have enough food and fuel.

You can also see your progress toward your destination on your GPS. It ticks down the miles; and ticks down the time. You can measure how you’re doing at every moment along the journey.

You want this information for your business and your personal goals as well. You want to know how long it will take you, what you’re going to need along the way; you want to be able to measure your progress; and you want to be able to see the miles and the time tick by, lest you lose heart.

Another awesome feature about this GPS thing is that it tells you when you’re off course. And it “recalculates” to enable you to get back on course.

Most of the time when we’re driving along and we take a wrong turn, we don’t abandon the trip and go home. We listen to the GPS, and we get back on course again. Would that the same could be said for our business and our life goals. So often we take a wrong turn, throw up our hands and quit. How much better would it be to simply “recalculate” and keep on going!

There is one final thing that’s pretty essential. All this GPS theory is interesting. But if all we’re doing is playing with the machine in our driveways, it’s purely academic.

We actually need to start the car, pull out of the driveway, and get going.

Action. Steady movement toward our destination – toward our goals – is where the rubber really meets the road.

When we keep on going, no matter how frequently we get lost, how often a governor closes a bridge, or how horrific the traffic is, we’ll get to our destination.

So as you sit here on the threshold of this New Year, choose an exciting destination, dial in the coordinates. And get going.


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