Rethinking Life


Below you will find today’s Monday Morning Meeting talk I will give at TIMC.

Today I would like to talk to you about courage.

It’s tempting to think that courage is something others have or something that happens only when something big takes place. The fact is, courage is simple. More often than not, courage are small things you can do each day.

  • Courage is stepping out of your comfort zone,
  • Courage is stepping into the arena,
  • Courage is the willingness to shuffle the cards and rock the boat,
  • Courage is the willingness to put others before you,
  • Courage is staring at the impossible and laughing,
  • Courage is standing by your promises,
  • Courage is approaching every situation with honor and respect,
  • Courage is the willingness to give it another go after being broken, beat and scarred,
  • Courage is seeing opportunity where others see the impossible,
  • Courage is the willingness to take on a challenge,
  • Courage is, to paraphrase Wayne Gretzky, to take the shot.

It’s really easy to doubt, criticize and “be a realist.” It’s easy because it lets us off the hook. We think – obviously, the odds are against me, so “no need to even imagine the failure that effort will bring.”

Better to just move along and lower my expectations.

It’s a way to hide.

So really then, courage is the the willingness to be vulnerable and flawed. To put yourself on the hook and realize that although all the odds are against me, I will try and if I fail at least…at the very least I can say I tried.

Have a great week!

(Photo credit: knezeves)

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This is actually one of the first messages I gave at a TIMC Monday Morning Meeting.

This week I want to talk to you about making it rain. We often see rain as a bad thing, a downer, a hindrance. But without rain there is no life. So truth is, we need to find ways to make it rain.

In the same way, at work there are gray rainy moments. There’s too much to do, not enough time, mixed messages, difficult targets. Like the rain, we can look at this at get angry, get discouraged, get bent out of shape. Or we can look at it as a way to grow, as a way to learn, share knowledge and best practices. We can find ways to educate our peers and even our bosses. So next time you see rain, tell yourself, I can sit here and complain, wait for it to pass until the sun comes out again or I can make it rain and take the opportunity to grow and SHOW there is another way – you have permission to make bigger things happen.

So this week..set out to make it rain. Don’t just complain. As Mahatma Ghandi said,

“be the change you wish to see in the world…”

So this week I encourage you to be the change you want to see at work, in your department, in your relationships.

Have a great week!

(Photo Credit: Cuba Gallery)

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Here is (a slightly modified version of) today’s Monday Morning Meeting that I’m in charge of at TIMC.

Good morning! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Today I would like to talk about goalkeepers. As some of you know last week I was invited to attend The Art of Marketing conference so I brought my team with me. What I really like about that conference is that the lessons hit and stick for a long time…

By far one of the least impressive speakers was Marc Ecko – founder of Ecko UNLTD street gear who’s come to know a great deal of success.

He was the least impressive until the message sunk in. Here’s a quote of his I found in Inc. magazine that reflects the gist of his talk:

‘[W]hen you refuse to be labeled, you’ll start playing by your own rules. You’ll measure yourself by your own standards, not the gatekeepers’ standards. You can define the terms of your [personal] brand, your creations, and your success. You can be an artist without being a starving artist. You can sell without selling out. But first, you need to create an authentic personal brand that transcends the gatekeepers (the critics, the haters) who want to put a label on you, and which gets right to the goalkeepers. The goalkeepers are the only judges who matter.’

We all have labels put on us. Some that we might be more familiar with here are “sales,” “assistant,” “marketing,” “HR,” “boss,” “chief.” Those labels are meant to encourage you to act a certain way, expect certain rewards, believe certain things. But the truth is, they don’t matter. They don’t matter because they were created by gatekeepers to serve their purpose.

What truly matters is not the labels applied by the gatekeepers, but the brand the goalkeepers look up to. The gatekeepers want to box you in, but the goalkeepers… They are the ones who believe what you do and who refer new client; ‘they’re the folks who buy and have cash in their wallets.’ They matter. Because without them were all just starving artists.

So yes, objectives are important, but remember they’re someone else’s standards. They matter to the gatekeepers. What would happen if you set your own goals? Goals that transcended the gatekeepers. What if you worried about those that truly matter? How would you act? What would you do? What would you accomplish?

Have a great week everyone!

(Photo Credit: Mark Crossfield)

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A little while ago, I was put in charge of the Monday morning meetings at TIMC. Here are this week’s opening remarks:

Today I would like to talk to you about scar tissue.

Henry Rollins once said:

“Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength and move on.”

We all face difficult situations at times: disappointments, setbacks, challenges. Sometimes people talk behind our backs, we get placed in overwhelming situations, we’re doubted. Sometimes the critics are so loud that when you’re the one in the arena it feels like it isn’t worth it. It all hurts and leaves scars.

But you see, the critics don’t understand what Henry Rollins figured out. All the rumors, the criticisms, the let downs… they think they’re wounding us and hurting our chances to step up, but in fact, they’re making us stronger. They’re giving us scar tissue: the strongest tissue you can have. In effect, they’re making us bulletproof.

So for those of us who chose not to be a passive spectator, but to step into the arena, while it’s tempting to ask:

Why me?
Why did I have to go through that?
There was a better way I’m sure.

Truth is, you have very little impact on decisions and actions that happen around you, but you do control how you react. So when you get slighted, when unfairness happens, when “the shit hits the fan” as the expression goes, you can either get all bent out of shape, complain, get upset, rewrite the past in your mind or you can accept that it’s made you stronger, that you have something more than you had before, that this adversity has given you more than it has taken away.

Like a grain that needs to be in the mud and dirt to grow, we need to go through mud to grow, become stronger and achieve great things.

So to the critics and those who let down, I say, bring it on! You’re only making me stronger…

Have a great week!

(Photo credit: Bryan Oblivion)

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LinkedIn recently reminded me that I’ve been writing here at [] for five years now. It is by far the longest professional endeavor I’ve ever undertaken. I say professional because this site has indirectly and directly contributed to my career.

It has indirectly gotten consulting contracts with Microsoft Canada and the United Nations and a few other smaller gigs as well. It indirectly helped me get my last position as a Digital Strategist and I knew it directly contributed to my current position at TIMC when the President showed up to the interview with my latest posts in hand.

It’s a professional endeavor, but at its core, it’s personal. Some of the greatest feedback I’ve gotten is “your posts have helped me get over the death of my husband” and “I love reading your stuff, this is a big professional transition time in my life and your site is right on.”

Raise your voice Although touching I think the greatest personal opportunity comes from having a microphone: an outlet to raise my voice, to take a stand, to reflect on my beliefs and to challenge myself.

I sometimes get asked how I get my inspiration and the answer to that is practice. The more I write, the more I have to say. Seth Godin says (and I’m paraphrasing):

there is no such thing as writer’s block – you never hear of speaker’s block because there’s always something to say. Writing is just another medium.

It hasn’t always been pretty (my first post was a promotion for a friend’s project), but on this 5 year anniversary I am grateful to have this forum that pushes me to speak up and raise my voice.

I’m also grateful that you are here, taking the time to read, reply and share. And what I wish for you today is that you take your own stand and raise your voice. It doesn’t have to be on your site, it can be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Google+, Instagram or whatever (as long as you understand the trade offs). Just take the opportunity that’s available.

Now, more than ever we need individuals who raise their voice. Believe me, it makes all the difference.

(Photo Credit: Ernest Duffoo)

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There are two relationships with failure possible. There is dislike and their is fear. You can either like or dislike failure and you can either be fearful or not of failure. One last point, you have a mix of both relationships.

That means there are 4 possible relationships to failure possible:
– You can dislike failure and be fearful of it, or
– You can like failure and be fearful of it, or
– You can like failure and not be afraid of it, and finally
– You can dislike failure and not be afraid of it.

The ones in that last bunch are the ones that boldly swim up current, see opportunity where no other does and push when no one else wants to. They embrace risk, but at the same time they guard against it. For ever risk they take, they find a way to mitigate it. Sir Richard Branson negotiated a deal when he started Virgin Airlines that he could return the planes if the company failed – guards against failure, but isn’t afraid of it.

The other relationships, I think, are merely ways to avoid doing something bold and worth noticing.

(Photo credit: Dimitris Papazimouris)

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It’s tempting to alter your product, your services, your project to what you believe people want. It’s tempting to listen to the critics and the committee.

“Let’s make sure this will please everyone so let’s add in everyone’s comments.”

Truth is, whatever you put out there, whatever your personality, whatever project you ship, some will love it, some will hate it and most won’t care. Of course it isn’t fun to be criticized, thrown under the bus and shamed, but that’s the price of delivering.

And isn’t that what’s liberating at the same time? If you know you can’t please everyone, might as well show up as you, with your product. If people are going to love, they’d better love who you really are. If people are going to hate, might as well hate something worth defending.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek to grow and improve, it merely means you should aim for honest. Bland and boring may sound safe, but the end result is the same so better be something you can be proud of.

(Photo credit: carlosbezz)

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By definition the future is uncertain. There are more predictable futures and less predictable ones, but certain ones don’t exist. We try hard to predict. We look at past performance, credentials, university degrees, seniority and so on. All noble attempts to make the future certain, but all fail at some point or the other.

On the other hand, looking backwards almost guarantees we live there, like a hermit, isolated from the rest. Living tomorrow often means keeping up with the Jones’s, delusions and missing the track. If that’s what you are after, then by all means live there, the former offers small possibilities of continuity and the latter, illusive monster rewards.

Some operate well with this uncertainty, others not. Neither matters. What’s important is today, where it’s happening – present moment awareness if you will. That often gets lost. It’s much safer to live elsewhere…in the plan or in “the good old days,” two moments that don’t really exist.

So sure look to tomorrow and remember yesterday. No need to get trapped by there, see what that means today, in the next 5 minutes.

Go make something important, today.

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Over time, photo negatives fade and soon the image is lost. That made images scarce and rare. Something precious that you’d put in an album. Of course today, pictures are abundant and plentiful. You can snap a thousand pictures without afterthought. In fact this digitization has driven the cost of amateur photography down to zero.

Like with photography, our world has gone from a world of scarcity to one of abundance. The cost of trying something is close to nothing. Yet we insist on pretending nothing has changed, that what we have is scarce and precious.

Take out your phone and take a picture, write an article, start something. Change the world.

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The thing about abundance is that it’s precisely that – plentiful, always available, never done. It’s easy to take abundance for granted, assume it will always be there. We might even realize it’s there and think it doesn’t matter.

But what happens when the abundance becomes scarce? What happens when the resources aren’t there, when the access and information leaves?

If it’s not until it’s gone that we miss it, will it be too late? Will we ever get it back?

The question then is, is it worth risking?

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