Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Not Holding On

One of the dangers of resisting change is that we risk becoming sad caricatures of ourselves. When we do not allow ourselves to change while the world changes around us, we become antiques.

If we hang onto the looks and dreams of last decade we do not give ourselves the opportunity to grow, to live, to be who we can be today.

The past has shaped us but we can only be effective in the now.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Loss and Gain

Giving up control can be hard. For the last year I have been in charge of my own schedule. Now I have a new job. I have had to give up control of my schedule.

This is hard.

There was a certain freedom in unemployment. I could set my own schedule and I could work on the projects I wanted to work on.

The money will be nice. It will help fund the dreams I have been dreaming for the last year. But I find myself mourning the loss of freedom.

Monday, August 29, 2011

What's the Lesson of the Wishing Well?

I was sitting in a park with a fountain the other day and watched as a father gave his young sons coins to throw in the water. This started me thinking about what was being taught here.

The lesson might be that following a dream costs something. It might be that it's a lesson that teaches that doing what we want takes time and money and effort.

Does it teach that having dreams and goals is more valuable then money?
That money only works when it is used?

What do you think? What is the lesson of the wishing well?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ask the Right Questions

Problem solving does not begin with finding the answers. It begins with knowing the right questions to ask.

Asking the correct questions allows us to define not only the problem but the results we actually want. With this knowledge we can work toward solutions that are not just adequate but productive.

The right questions start out general and slowly become more specific.

The most important questions are: “What is the problem?” and “What is the outcome I am looking for?”

These questions help us to define where we are and where we want to be. As we answer them we can start to ask more specific questions about how to find a path between the two. The process of bridging this gap needs to be creative both in the sense of thinking creatively and also in the sense of not being destructive.

When it comes time to solve problems, tensions can be high and we can be stressed out. The problem solving process should not be about assigning blame, other than as needed to find solutions.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Let us take today to create hope. Hope is a powerful force we can harness to build confidence, to motivate ourselves and to guide us from the darkness.

Hope is more then just the wish that something will happen. It is the strength to push forward, it is the fuel that can make things change. Hope comes from believing that things will get better and knowing we can be part of the change.

Hope starts with a dream, an idea of what we want. At this point it is just a distant star. A far away thing. This sort of hope is just a distraction, a fleeting moment of maybe. To sustain hope and make it an effective force we need to plan and set goals to realize that dream.

A prisoner who sits by the window of his cell staring over the fence at freedom has longing, not hope. The prisoner who works with his lawyer each day and plans his defense has hope.

Create hope. Stop longing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oak Leaf Updates

So as school starts up again so does the Oak Leaf. This semester I do not have the weight of being the editor. It is time to give some one else a chance to learn.

This semester I have been tasked with helping guide our paper through the treacherous waters of multimedia and with having a web first focus.

While we have had a web presence in the past and dabbled in multimedia, these have been our second stringers. Now as times change, we are having to change as well. For me this is a good thing. I have the opportunity to try new things and play with how we deliver information.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Great Quote

I would like to share with you one of the most inspiring reasons for doing something I have ever heard. The quote comes from Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter in an interview with the New York Times. However, I just ran into it for the first time while reading through a story about founding the Daily Dot on Media Twits.

Carter was asked his reasons for editing Vanity Fair and he responded, "One is to create great journalism. Two is to have fun. And three is to make some money."

This is exactly what I am looking for in life, to do great things, make money and have fun doing it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

We all Deserve to be Remembered

Several months ago a young skateboarder died at an intersection I pass by every day on my way to school. Since his death there has been a constant outpouring of remembrance on that corner. Chalk art, signs, letters from his aunt. This was this morning's offering.
While I did not know the young man, I have found I feel a certain connection to him through these gifts and tributes left to him. In addition, there is something here that makes me feel hopeful.

These mementos say clearly this person was loved. This is proof that people care for each other and that we are all special and worthy of celebration. We must remember this not just when people are gone, but while they are in our lives. We also must honor our own selves as worthy of celebration and love.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Weekend Challenge: Dream

This weekend my challenge to you is to take the fetters off and let your dreams run wild.

Let yourself go and see were it takes you. If money was not an issue, what would you be doing? If time was not a concern, what would you work on? When you were young and idealistic, what were you going to do?

Once the dreaming is done sort out the dreams with a shred of feasibility and start looking at what separates you from turning the dream into a goal.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


When we feel the time to change is imminent but we cannot find the energy or motivation to initiate the change it can be helpful to have a booster. One powerful booster we can use is moments of transition.

Moments of transition can be things like birthdays, new jobs or moving to a new home. As I write this another powerful transitional moment is creeping up on me, the end of summer, and with it the return to school.

This semester I come back to the Oak Leaf as the accomplished veteran and have the task of mentoring the new folks and supporting the new editors in chief. I also have to be ready to apply myself to my studies and continue working towards transferring to a university.

So now it is a good time to take stock and think about what I should be changing next.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bravery in the Face of Opportunity

If we are going to get the most out of the opportunities that present themselves we have to be brave enough to claim them. This means we have to set aside unreasonable doubts, any feelings that we do not deserve what we are getting and be willing to take a chance.

When we are brave enough to take the opportunities that present to us, we then must be willing to work them to the best of our ability. We need to ask the questions we need to ask and put in the hours needed to get the job done.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Teacher and Student

Yesterday I was involved in a discussion on Google+ discussing a rather shortsighted review published in Forbes. While the tone of the of the discussion was about how the author had gotten things wrong, some people's only contribution to the conversation was to call the man an idiot.

I found this to be counterproductive. The cure for a lack of knowledge is not to label it and walk away. Instead we should be prepared to teach and to educate. At the same time we cannot approach the interaction as from the unshakable assumption that we are right. For all we know, we may be the idiot.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ignorance is a Resource

When we need advice we tend to look for an expert in an area. We look for someone who has been there. The same is true when people come to us for advice. We tend to demure when we do not feel qualified to give an answer.

Experts are a good place to start, but it can also be productive to talk to those who are ignorant, especially when we have some level of skill in the area we are struggling with. The advantage of talking to the ignorant is they are not aware of the field's presumed limitations.

While a person ignorant in the area we are working may not be able to teach us a new skill, they may help us question the limits we assume are stopping us. They also bring fresh eyes and a new point of view.

Searching out the experts will help us learn how everyone else is doing something. Talking to the ignorant can help us find our own way.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekend Challenge

Here is a weekend challenge for everyone.

Yesterday I talked a bit about goals and how they should support each other. This weekend come up with three goals that produce different results but utilize the same skill set. Alternately you could come up with three goals that support different aspects of the same desire.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Goals and Roads

Active, rational changes in our lives cannot be accomplished without a clear idea of what we want our life to be.

While this understanding of what we want comes from soul searching, day dreaming and finding our passion, none of these activities creates a road map for us to actually make change happen. To create this road map we need to set goals.

Our goals should not be created in a vacuum. Looking at the road map analogy each road by itself is not that important. What makes a road useful is how it connects to other roads. Goals work the same way building, crisscrossing and strengthening each other.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Quick Thoughts

There is a problem with choice. It can paralyze us and stop us from moving forward. When we are presented with a number of acceptable options, we have to stop and evaluate each one to find the one that is “best.” However, when we are faced with only one viable option the choice is simple, succeed or fail.

To react quickly to change we have to understand what it is we want, we have to know what the acceptable choices are and be willing to walk away quickly from the things we do not need or want.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Let Me Get Political for a Moment

Fred Hicks designs role playing games, some very good RPG's at that. Yesterday on Google+ he chose to post a magazine article he found interesting. Because this article was somewhat politically charged and he did not want to play host to the ensuing debate on his post, he disabled comments.

He then proceeded to a second post that explained how he could not handle the stress these debates cause him. I often talk here about compromises and the importance of it. It is important not just on a personal level but also on a national level. We have to learn to get along and stop treating politics as theater.

Below is a response I made to Fred’s post.

I have to start by saying this post by +Fred Hicks makes me sad. Not because he has a"liberal-ish, hippy-dippy side," but because it highlights our failure as a nation to be able to talk about the problems we face without it becoming a fight.

This is not a condemnation of your not wanting comments on your posting, but it is a condemnation of those who feel the only way to talk is to attack. Democracy works when we can share our ideas and work towards a generally agreeable solution to our shared problems.

Compromise and the real work of governance do not come from finding fault and placing blame for problems. We need to remember that our allegiance should be to our neighbors, our friends and our families and by extension to our nation and our planet. Instead we give our allegiance to politicians, ideologies and political parties.

The result is that by turning what should be a discussion into a fight we remove people who care and who think but who also feel too much from the conversation. In loosing the voice of the compassionate from the conversation we lose the voice that can bring both sides together, we lose the guide who can help us find the middle ground.

In short we just lose.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: lazy meter

Over the weekend I started using a new (read yet another) on line todo list tool. This one is much simpler then some of the other ones I have played with over the years. Lazy Meter simply shows you the things you want to get done today and lets you cross them off the list as you finish them or push them to another day.

The interface is clean and intuitive. The buttons are styled like a media player with the familiar play, pause and stop buttons as the major controls. Clicking the play button takes you to your to-do list for today. Pause is upcoming events and stop is for unscheduled items.

The real advantage of Lazy Meter is the play bar at the top of the screen. This tracks how many tasks you have completed so far, shown in green, and how many you have paused, turning part of the bar orange. After only a few days of using it I find the motivation to keep the bar a solid green is quite a good incentive for not procrastinating on a task I have assigned myself.

To-do lists should do more then organize our productivity they should motivate our work. This one does both.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Weekend Challenge

Time for another weekend challenge.

I just had a conversation with a friend of mine about the problems that money caused or could cure. I took the position that the problem is not money or the lack of money but rather the inability for people to be satisfied with what they have.

We are regularly programmed to want. Commercials do it all the time. Our bodies pitch in with signals to eat, sleep and all those other necessities. It is no wonder that we are predisposed to focus on what we want rather then what we have.

The challenge for this week end is be aware of how many things you have, what you want and what needs you have that are not being met.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Something I Have Noticed

I have found recently that one of the biggest impacts on my mood is whether or not I am working. Being self employed this means having an article to write that I know I will receive payment for. Even if the story is not going to run for a week or so, knowing it is there is a huge relief.

At the heart of this reaction is a sense of self worth that comes from having work, and knowing that other people value what I am producing. Being self employed the product I create is very closely tied with my sense of self.

This is both a good and a bad thing.

While not having work can have a detrimental effect on my mood, the connection between what I write and my identity drives me to be a better writer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Thought for the Day

Here is a simple thought for the day.

The process of personal change is inevitable. All we can control is whether we direct the change or are directed by it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Being Thorough

Follow through, it is almost as important as starting for getting a job done. Once we begin a project or take on a responsibility we have to make sure we do the work from beginning to end.

This also leaves out things like half assing a project and saying it is good enough. Anything we agree to do we need to understand we are not just responsible for getting it done, we have to get it done well and on time.

Having good follow through requires a few things. The first is not to overburden ourselves with too much to do. Knowing our limits is important. Second we have to be aware of the tasks associated with what we have agreed to do. We have to be aware of all the steps, make sure they are accomplished and done well. Lastly we have to put effort into the entirety of the project not just the beginning.

All this boils down to one idea, be thorough.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Performance Review

When you work for someone else you receive progress reports and evaluations to track your performance on the job. These tools help your boss analyze your performance, find the things you need to improve on and determine if you deserve a raise.

In the rest of our lives we are our own boss but we have no metrics to evaluate our growth and performance in the job of living the way we want to. This lack of data leaves us with only a subjective idea of what we are accomplishing.

To create an objective idea of what we are achieving and where our effort is paying off we need a way to track our performance. This becomes even more important when we start working for ourselves.

I will be developing an Excel weekly performance review work sheet for myself. I should have it ready to share by next Monday.