Chasing Your Dreams

One of the characteristics of the 80 million members of Generation Y is that they are dreamers.  They exist to pursue their dreams whether it be at work, at home or in a civic way.

This is good.  It’s inspirational. 

When we’re kids we think anything is possible.  Adults call it being altruistic and somehow time, work and experience dampens that youthful gift most of us didn’t even know we had.

Then we get older and learn to be more mature, more responsible – in essence, more like an adult.

This is also good.

But both youthful dreaming and adult responsibility together is even better.

So, it’s up to us to see what we need to add to the mix to achieve that all-important 50/50 ratio.

Usually, it is being more childlike. 

We need more wonder, more discovery, more fun which comes by allowing ourselves to be “young”.   And if you think this actual youth has an advantage, that would be wrong.  The advantage goes to those with youthful behavior no matter what their age.

You’re saying, could there be anyone on this earth who is half childlike and half mature adult?

The Dali Lama – revered for both characteristics whose enviable comportment makes us believe that it may be possible to be half kid and half adult.

Life is too short to let Mr. Burns ruin our happiness at work.

Or to outsource our childlike wonder to a world that can sap our zest for living.

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  • Was I ever lucky!  My mom was a kid all the time, laughing, energetic, planning for fun, trips, tennis matches, parties and nights in San Francisco.  My childhood was one huge carnival where nothing was impossible.  Yet, when I needed her advice she was calm, attentive and grounded and always made me think and figure things out for myself.  Her zest for living only faded in the last few months of her life 15 years’ dark journey into Alzheimer’s.  What a lucky girl was I!  I miss her every moment of every day.

How to be More Productive

Relax.  Don’t double down and amp up the effort.

Tony Schwartz, author of Be Excellent At Anything and author of a recent article in the Sunday New York Times warns us that we may not want to believe it but research shows naps and vacations lead to more and better output.  

It’s called strategic renewal and you’re going to be hearing more about it because, face it, we’re all too stressed!

Short afternoon naps.  Daytime workouts.  More sleep.  More time away from the office.  More vacations (Americans left an average of 9.2 vacation days unused in 2012).

Who does Schwartz think we work for – Google?

But jobs performance, more productivity and improved health are the solid evidence that backs up his claim.

More, bigger and faster is out. 

And believe it or not 50% of us plan to work on vacation, a third of us eat lunch at our desk while we continue to work and employers push this unsustainable work ethic that actually costs American companies some $63 billion a year according to a recent Harvard study.

  • When a Stanford researcher got male basketball players to sleep 10 hours a night, free-throw and three point performance increased by 9%.
  • When night shift air traffic controllers were asked to take a 40-minute nap mid-shift, their performance was better on tests that measured vigilance and reaction time.
  • 60-90 minute naps actually improved memory.

Our bodies speak.  They tell us too much Starbucks.  Too much stress.  Too much digital.  And yet we don’t listen.

Schwartz says it best:

“When we’re renewing, we’re truly renewing, so when we’re working, we can really work”.

I’ve got to work on this one, how about you?

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  • In theory this is great idea and I totally agree – but it only works if you are one of the fortunate ones to have an actual decent paying full-time 40 hour a week job.
    How about those of us who are stuck with the dilemma of either working 29 (1 PT job) and being broke or 58 (2 PT job) hours a week to make a living because nobody in this industry wants to hire full-time.
    When you work 58 hours a week, you don’t have time to step away.  You don’t have time to take an hour for lunch or to decompress or get 8 or even 6 hours of sleep per night.
    Vacation?  If I don’t work, I don’t get paid.  Even if I do take a short trip, I’m still working remotely in order to try to salvage my hours.
    Holidays?  HA!  I work almost every holiday! 
    Weekends? HA!  Work those too as needed.
    Seeing advice like this pop up in my mail as I head to another 10-14 hour work day after the fifth consecutive night of four hours of sleep is absolutely enraging.

How To Cure a Bruised Ego

The world’s top golfer, Rory McIlroy abruptly walked off the course during the recent Honda Classic.

He had enough of the bad round he was playing after only nine holes.  Maybe it was the new clubs.  Maybe the pressure of being 23 and number one at the same time.

Off he went, ignoring the long held code of golf that states a player finishes his or her round unless they have a persuasive reason for withdrawing.  And even then they must report it to the commissioner.

Golf isn’t the only place where a bruised ego gets in the way.

It happens to us – our families, at work.  Sometimes we have to deal with bruised egos of others and sometimes it’s our own.

Some players – arguably the majority in any given tournament – are playing for nothing.  They qualified to continue on but they can’t possibly win.

They are just playing for pride and to set a good example for others.

And therein lies the answer to how to cure a bruised ego.

Set it aside.

Get yourself under control.

Persevere for pride and to set a good example for others.

I always remind my bruised ego that knowing how to lose is practice for knowing how to win.

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The One Sentence That Changes Lives

My best friend was fond of saying, “Be the fine person you are”.

What a great thing to say to someone.

One line fits all because all of us need to be reminded that although we are fallible, we are also good people.  Little else needs to be said. 

Here are ways to make someone’s day if not life, by saying; “Be the fine person you are”:           

  • Forget the sermons, tell it to a child or teenager.
  • Instead of “I’m sorry” when someone is sharing their tough times, pick them up and inspire them with these 6 words.
  • Adapt it for work as a sincere form of encouragement:  “Be the fine worker you are”.  If you back it up with an example of why they are a fine worker, it is even more powerful.

And don’t forget the best use of “Be the fine person you are”. 

Tell it to yourself several times a day.

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Anxiety Attacks

Recent news reports highlighted that Generation Y, the next generation and the digital generation was proclaimed the most stressed generation.

No wonder anxiety attacks (or panic attacks) are on the rise.

It’s complicated and doctors and psychologists deal with undue anxiety in their patients all the time.

But in addition to medical remedies and changes in behavior, there is another way to look at anxiety that might be helpful.

Anxiety attacks happen when people care too much.

When they want to be perfect. 

Or want to please at home, in relationships or on the job.

Anxiety plagues people who care too much – a punishment for being too good that they don’t deserve.

So, just attempting to see anxiety in a different light can shed new light on what can be so debilitating to people of all generations.

If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t put yourself through the suffering that afflicts the anxious.  

So go ahead – care too much – starting with you.

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath” – Amit Ray

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True Friends

Friendship may have been downgraded in the digital age what with “friending” people on Facebook and connecting to others using social media. 

There is nothing wrong with that, but the term friend should be reserved for someone who is there for you as you are for them.

A true two-way street.

A win-win between two people.

True friends are people who know when they are needed by others who bring joy and happiness into the lives of the people they care about most.  There is no possession on this earth – no car, no house, no bank account – more valuable than a true friend.

As a recent episode of the HBO Original Series “Girls” was playing out with the credits, “Open The Door” written and performed by Judy Collins was featured.

The words that hit home were:

“I’d like to be as good a friend to you as you are to me.”

When two people feel this way, they are true friends.

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Breaking a Dry Spell

Athletes have them – a time when they can’t seem to get a hit, score a goal or contribute positively to their team no matter what they do.

Actors have them – they might have been all the rage once and now they can’t seem to get a good part.

Singers can be one hit wonders or they can come back again and again and stoke their careers even over the span of different generations.

We all have dry spells.

When a hockey player can’t seem to score a goal through skill or luck, it is usually because they are getting so concerned that they grip their stick too tightly.  The same is true in others sports where trying too hard does not reap results.

Trying too hard to overcome adversity extends the dry spells in life that frustrate and confound us.

So, a few remedies:

  • Let go and lift the burden (get the monkey off your back)
  • Focus on doing what you do well without concern for results (in other words, focus on playing your game the best you can) with no distractions.
  • Lower expectations with the knowledge that dry spells eventually pass but they pass sooner when we lift the burden of bearing down too much.

“My motto was always to keep swinging.  Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging” – Hank Aaron

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Working At Home Or Virtually – What’s Best?

When Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer recently ordered employees back to their offices and announced her intention to crackdown on working from home, it was the shot fired ‘round the world.


Because so many people telecommute and do it so well.  But even ex-employees of Yahoo! came out to defend Mayer who took only two weeks off for her recent maternity leave.

Mayer says you have to physically go to work to collaborate better while telecommuters insist that with all the digital tools that exist, they can communicate just fine from home and save on commuting costs and day care to boot.

Who is right?

When I put the question to Morley Winograd, author of Millennial Momentum about the emerging Generation Y he put it in perspective: 

“The solution that she should be shooting for, but maybe can’t afford, is to make the workplace such a great place to be that people show up on their own rather than telecommuting. That’s what Google has done with its Googleplex campus that they are about to spend millions more to make even more attractive. For Google the place is so great that they had to adopt a rule for first year workers LIMITING the time they spend on campus.” 

So as usual, we tend get lost in the din of the discussion.

To change people’s behavior, give them the burning desire to do that which you want them to do.

And that advice applies to all of us in our personal and business lives as well.

Light their fire rather than burn down the house.

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When Not To Forgive

Never.  Always forgive.

When not to forget.


Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting and some people may be dysfunctionally liberated by your forgiveness and attempt to continue the hurt.

Forgive anyway.

But don’t forget.

And don’t allow the person you are forgiving to push your boundaries.

The main benefit to forgiving others is not for them.  It’s for us.  Forgiving is a freeing thing. 

Think about the animosity and vitriol that engulfs families, friends and associates because we are more interested in continuing to hurt ourselves than to let it go.

We forgive former presidents (Nixon and Clinton).

We forgive athletes (Tiger Woods and soon, Lance Armstrong).

We forgive drug addicts, entertainers and other people in the public space but don’t know personally.  Forgiveness is a human trait.

So forgive freely.  It’s a freeing thing that when healthy boundaries are enforced it allows us to get back to living with positive energy.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you” –

Lewis B. Smedes

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4 Ways To Increase Happiness By 50%

A recent USA Today story researched the happiest states in the union based on a study from mathematicians at the University of Vermont. 

They used Twitter real time posts to gauge how people were feeling looking for words like “wine” and “food” to determine that Napa, CA is the happiest city in the country.  And Beaumont, TX was dead last of 373 cities because of a lot of swearing and, as the article points out, “a shortage of ‘awesome’ and ‘amazing’”.

Hawaii is the happiest state according to this Twitter word analysis and Louisiana the last due to “an abundant use of profanity”.  Researchers did not read the tweets for context. 

Of course, you don’t need a research study to tell you unhappy people live everywhere and so do happy ones. 

A more important study shows that people who have less – like the citizens of the Fiji Islands – are happier than the more stressed and wealthy residents of major cities.

So, how can anyone anywhere increase their happiness by 50% now – today

  1. Find at least one thing to be grateful for every hour.
  2. Don’t postpone or talk yourself out of anything joyful that happens for any reason large or, more importantly, small.
  3. At least once a day, make it about someone else not about us.
  4. Be mindful of trying to live in the moment.  Experts say even trying and failing to live in the now makes us happier.

“Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it” — Jacques Prévert

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