How I Survived Being Legless On Thanksgiving

Legless On ThanksgivingWe just got the bird in the oven. Should be on the table by 6. I was going to barbecue it this year, but the friend who was lending me his Weber could only find the important parts. “What are the unimportant parts?” I asked. “The legs,” he calmly says. “Uh, no thanks. We’ll use the oven. I’m not going legless again on Thanksgiving.”

Barbecuing The Bird

I used to barbeque the bird every year. It’s a great way to go. Nice smokey flavor, frees up the oven for marshmallow yams, and you don’t risk burning down your house with a deep fryer. 1400 homes a year burn down each Thanksgiving, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Barbecuing your bird is much safer than deep frying.

The key to it is banking your coals properly, and running shishes through the bird. Being Armenian, I always have sturdy shishes in the house, though they are usually for roasting lamb Shish Kebab.

But I found that by running three  shishes through the bird, they would support its weight in the barbecue. Plus they give you an added advantage.

You Get To Flip The Bird

This is the main advantage. To keep all the juices from running out of the top half, you flip the bird over halfway through. This keeps it nice and juicy while you’re locking in great smokey flavor with some hickory chips down in the fire.

So a few years back, right when the coals were ready, disaster strikes. I’m holding the shished bird, about to cradle it gently onto the fire, when one of the three barbecue legs flops over. Holy Crap! Luckily I’m able to yell for help and keep the bird and the coals from crashing all over the patio.

Improvisation Skills At Work

The strength of a Manic Impressive is not in the planning stage. We can hold a vision pretty well, but sometimes the details are better left to more cognitive types. But we are masters of improv.

So while my wife jumped in the car to acquire a roasting pan, I set about improvising a way to keep the barbecue alive. I got out a mallet and knocked the remaining legs off. A few bricks later, we had a workable, legless barbecue, albeit a few feet shorter than its original form.

Legless On Thanksgiving

So that’s how it came to pass that I roasted the bird on a legless barbecue. As you can see from the picture above, there was a lot of squatting involved, but the bird was delicious, and my brother-in-law got a great story to tell his friends.

And that’s why I took a pass on my friend’s legless Weber. Because I have literally been there and done that already. This year we’re keeping it simple, and trying to keep the chaos out of the kitchen.

Instead, we’ll try to keep the chaos at bay at the dining room table when the inevitable discussion on politics breaks out. We plan to use Saturday Night Live’s brilliant Thanks, Adele skit when politics come up. We’ll have it cued up and ready to go. I suggest you do too.

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

 

5 Things You Should Do Right Now

Right Now!

It’s that time of year. The days are shorter, the weather’s turning, and the holidays are rushing up at us with all their gluttony and overspending. You’ve only got a week before it all starts to go down, so get ready to do these things right now.

5 Things You Should Do Right Now

Our bodies naturally start to prepare for winter when the light changes and the temperature drops. The urge to carbo-load before winter is ages old. But we don’t need to store fat since we’re not going to hibernate. So we have to fight the natural urge to bulk up.

Some of these things have to do with your goals, some have to do with the season, and some have to do with timing and human nature.

But if you take a big deep breath and commit to doing these 5 things this week, right now, you’ll set yourself up for a great end of year, and a faster, stronger start to 2018.

1) Start Your Diet

You know the diet you start every year after you’ve stuffed yourself silly and resorted to elastic waistbands? That was me every single year. January 1 was always my heaviest day of the year.

But now I start that diet before the holidays. Seems crazy, but if I allow myself plenty of cheat days to account for Thanksgiving and all the ChrismaKwanzaHanukka events, I can stick to a diet plan during the holidays. Then I don’t end up so damned fat in January.

According to a new study by Cornell University, it takes the average person a full five months to lose the weight they gain over the holiday binge-eating season.

So eat clean this week and you can afford to indulge a bit on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Then go light the next four weeks, and allow cheat days for your holiday parties and that week of sloth at the end of December.

Lay off the sugar, fat, sodium and starchy carbs between your events. Then maybe you’ll just put on a couple pounds now, and be down to your fighting weight by Valentine’s Day instead of Easter.

2) Plan Your Exercise

Get it on the schedule. Don’t give up and give in right now. This is the time for a big burst of exercise.

Bust your butt in the gym, on the bike trail, or in the yoga studio. If you’ve been flirting with joining a gym or starting an exercise class, do it right now. Better to be the newbie in the gym in November than the newbie in the gym in January. Everybody mocks them.

Don’t let that be you. Set up your new exercise plan, hire that trainer, and start getting used to those new exercises. You’ll have a routine you can easily return to in January if you get it going right now.

3) Schedule Out Your Doctor Appointments

Check the balance on your Flexible Spending Account and get on the phone. End of year appointments fill up fast, so book your doctor, physical therapy, and lab work appointments while there’s still time.

If there are any things to get looked at, schedule it now before your new deductibles start in January. And don’t forget to have your molars checked by your dentist, and your moles checked by your dermatologist.

While you’re at it, get your car in for a checkup too. Get those weird noised checked out, change out your wiper blades, splash some RainEx onto your windshield, and top off the antifreeze before ski season starts.

4) Get Your Sleep

There will be lots of rushing around and plenty of travel ahead. We Manics like to burn the candle at both ends and the middle, so start pacing yourself now. Get your sleep in before the big rush.

The number one reason for drunkenness and lampshade dancing at office parties is lack of good sleep. People who are sleep deprived make bad life decisions. So before you’re tempted with alcohol and impromptu karaoke, get your ass to bed. You’re gonna need it.

5) Commit To The 3rd Annual Resolution Invitational Right Now!

Don’t think about it. Just pull out your calendar and block out the morning of December 31st, 2017. Yes, I know, that’s the morning of New Year’s Eve. But my accountability partners and I are going to deliver a workshop that will give you even more reason to celebrate and dance the night away.

Join us in person or online, and we’ll help you review your wins and losses from 2017, develop your Dreamboard for 2018, and set up the accounting system that will ensure you meet your goals.

Just respond with a comment below and you’re in!

It’s About Time To Forget Politics Again

Politics and Special Prosecutor MuellerThis time last year we were all obsessing over the presidential election.  I was so wrapped up in it that I had to forget about politics for a while and focus on my Magnificent Obsession.

I did pretty well for a while, but suddenly I’m back in that headspace, obsessing about things beyond my control. I’m lifting my nose off the grindstone and wallowing in politics again. Bad Manic Impressive!

Can You Blame Me?

There is a lot of fascinating stuff going on in politics right now. We’re debating how to prevent a nuclear war with N. Korea, how to cut taxes, and whether Tuesday’s election results indicate a wave of political change is coming.

But most fascinating to me is the special prosecutor situation and all the testimony going on to prove whether or not our new administration was in cahoots with the Russians.

This is fascinating stuff for people in a democracy. We get to see our constitution in action. And it’s very, very real. People are being threatened with long jail sentences, and we’re nowhere near a resolution. There will be shoes dropping all over the place in the coming weeks.

American History In Action

Back in 1875, President Ulysses Grant appointed the first special prosecutor to investigate the Whiskey Ring Scandal. Helluva scandal name right there.

Since then we’ve seen special prosecutors investigate Democrats and Republicans alike. Clinton for Whitewater and the  Lewinski scandal, Regan for the Iran-Contra Affair, and Nixon for Watergate.

All have been riveting, amazing political theater.

This new one with Trump could be even bigger than Watergate, where a few bumbling burglars brought down a presidency. Trump’s scandal involves a hostile foreign power that allegedly manipulated an American presidential election. Fascinating!

And this one’s got even more lurid gossipy potential because it involves the president’s son, daughter, and son-in-law.  And now, Russian hookers. Real juicy stuff.

No matter your political affiliation, there will always be juicy political scandals to obsess over.

Nothing But Distraction

But as juicy as it might be, it’s nothing but a distraction for us creative types. Yes, it involves our democracy at the highest and deepest levels, but it has nothing to do with us individually.

We’re not testifying before a Senate committee or to a government investigator. We’re not being dogged by cable news journalists to explain ourselves. And none of us are facing jail time or losing our jobs over any of this.

Sure, we should be involved to advocate for our rights, but at this point in the proceedings, we’re just consumers of information. Not subjects of inquiry.

So as much as it pains me to admit it, I need to stop obsessing over this stuff and get back to work.

The Magnificent Obsession

This is what we need to be focused on. That one amazing thing that will take our lives to the next level. That career move, that business plan, that invention we need to take onto Shark Tank and get funded by egotistical billionaires.

We need to focus on that brilliant project we were meant to bring to life. That idea we have in us that’s dying to get out and live in the world. That goal that will help us achieve our potential, and make the lives of the people around us better.

And this is the time of year when we need to set the wheels in motion on it. While life starts to slow a bit for the holidays. When the weather forces us indoors, and we have time to plan.

So start thinking about your Magnificent Obsession, if you’re not already elbows deep in it.  Figure out what you were built to do on this planet and start making some plans. Because there will be lots of distractions ahead, and you can’t afford to let another year slip by.

Encourage Me To Forget Politics And Turn Off My TV

So when you see me, don’t take the bait on the latest political gossip. If I start ranting about Mueller, Manafort, or the latest guy,  Keith Shiller, who was hauled in to testify about those Russian hookers Trump allegedly entertained in Moscow, please tell me to shut the hell up about politics. Tell me to turn off my TV and get back to work.

When Being Stubborn Is A Good Thing

When Stubborn Is Good

Stubbornness has long been one of my endearing qualities. As a kid, I was a champion at resisting authority and excelled at digging in my heels. It got me in a fair amount of trouble, but sometimes being stubborn was a good thing.

When Stubborn Is Good

I learned from a master. My grandmother was well known for her stubbornness. Like the time in the hospital when the night nurse came around to collect her dentures to be cleaned. Grandma refused. Uh-uh, no way, she was not cooperating.

Finally, the exasperated nurse reached in and grabbed Grandma’s teeth.  But they wouldn’t come out. Even Grandma’s teeth were stubborn. Actually, they were real, and since the nurse refused to believe that an 80-year-old woman could have all her natural teeth, Grandma bit her to settle the matter.

She bit her real good, too.

So to stand up for yourself, to demonstrate your commitment, or to hold on to your body parts, being stubborn is good.

Only we don’t use the word stubborn when it’s good. We use words like persistent, determined, or resolute.

When It’s Bad

But when others think we’re being unreasonable, they’ll ignore our steadfast, unyielding discipline, and label it stubbornness. Like the time I refused to stop my unorthodox plan to propose to my wife.

I couldn’t just take a knee, offer a ring and ask her to marry me. I had to be clever. I had to do something memorable.

So I sent her a beautiful floral arrangement. But not from me. From “Will.”  Then I was going to send one the next day from “Hugh”, then one the day after that from “Mary”, and a final one at the end of the week from “Me.”

Only, my execution was flawed. I misplaced the ring, spent a week searching for it, then sent the second bouquet a week late. That would have been a good time to revise the plan. But nooo, not me. I had to be resolute, steadfast, and determined.

Also stubborn, stupid, and nearly arrested.

My wife thought she was being stalked by a weirdo. So she called the cops. The cops called the florist, then they called me, and I had some ‘splaining to do. Meanwhile, all those expensive flowers went in the trash.

Is It Time To Let Go?

So now and then we need to ask ourselves if we’re being reasonable. Yeah, it’s subjective. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we may find those folks have a point now and then. Sometimes we just need to let go.

And that’s where I am right now. I’ve been posting something here every Thursday for 95 weeks in a row. But sometimes I think the only reason I keep doing it is out of sheer stubbornness. I don’t want to end the streak. I don’t want to be a quitter.  But I’m also not writing with the same purpose or energy as I was before.

It shows in the stats. My audience is no longer growing, perhaps because I’m no longer growing as a writer. At least it doesn’t feel like it right now. I think I’m posting every Thursday out of sheer stubbornness.

Your Thoughts

What do you think? Am I being stubborn in a good way, persisting at a creative effort and continuing what I started? Or am I being unreasonable? Am I digging in my heels because I’m stuck?

I’d like to hear what you think. Maybe I’m just being an insecure artiste. Maybe I just need to shut up and write. But what do you think? Has it gone stale? Is it time to rethink this thing? Is my stubbornness good or bad?

Perhaps it’s the crash from Halloween’s sugar rush, but I can’t help but think it’s time for a change. Maybe I should try something else for a while…

 

How To Use Halloween To Empower Your Life

Jack O Lantern

It only comes around once a year and we think it’s for the kids. But it’s for you too, and no, I’m not joking. Because if you think about it, Halloween is a great tool to empower your life.

I know you think it’s all about groveling at your neighbor’s porch for free candy. That, and lugging around those orange Jack O’Lantern shaped buckets. But it can be far more than that if you break it down.

What’s Halloween Really About?

It’s about performing. A short little performance repeated over and over throughout the night. You wear a costume, perform a little theater, and create an illusion that you’re something you’re not. You attempt to surprise and delight your neighbors.

Yes, the bar is set really low. All you have to do is show up, in any excuse for a costume, and utter the magic words: Trick Or Treat! Then, unless you’ve done something unseemly or inappropriate, you get paid. Right on the spot. No questions asked.

Halloween Is About Getting Paid For Performing

That’s what Halloween really is. A chance to get out there and perform. For payment. In the form of tasty little high fructose laden treats. That you get to take home and savor.

Kind of like any other payment for services rendered.

Therefore, it’s useful to think of Halloween as a chance to improve your performance for pay on every other day of your life.

Be Something You’re Not

Halloween empowers us to become something we’re not. One night a year, we get to pretend to be anything we want. This is a powerful act. Because deep down, we all want this in some way or another. To be different than we are – stronger, smarter, sexier, thinner – we all yearn to be something we currently are not.

So, on every other day, just like you do on Halloween, dress the part and act like the person you want to become. Don’t just wish it, be it. Put on the costume of the successful person you want to be.

Don’t head to the gym in floppy sweats. Throw on that muscle shirt or squeeze into those Lycra tights. It doesn’t matter that your muffin top has a muffin top, or that you have to put on an extra pair of Spanx just to get into those tights. None of that matters.

If you walk around in the clothes of a fit person, you will start to think and feel like a fit person. Then you will start to act like one. Leave the workout clothes on when you get home, and you’ll eat like a fit person too.

Pretend to be that to which you aspire, and soon enough you will be.

Put On A Show

Realize that whenever you enter a room or make a phone call, you’re about to perform. Just like when you’re on your neighbor’s porch on Halloween. It’s showtime, so rock the stage.

Project your charisma with every personal encounter. Be original, unique, thought-provoking, or even plain old provoking. The better the show, the more candy you get.

Give everyone your best performance. Think it through in advance, mentally rehearse it, then treat that encounter like a performance you’re getting paid for.

Because it is. And you are. Just in a little less direct a way as on Halloween night.

Oh, and put some style into those voicemail messages. Make that person rush to call you back because your message is so compelling and your tone so engaging.

If you treat every interaction as a performance, you will attract more and better into your life.

Raise The Bar

The bar is low for Halloween because it wouldn’t be cool to deny kids candy when their costumes are lame. But you don’t need to lower your performance to where the bar is set.

Let’s face it, kids with killer costumes get more candy. Even when we want to be fair to all the kids, we can’t help but give a little more to the kids who go above and beyond to surprise and delight us.

The same is true for adults who go above and beyond. They get rewarded in lots of ways – raises, promotions, new opportunities. bigger discounts and better-looking dates.

So realize that you’re on stage at all times. Whenever there are people (or security cameras) around, you are performing for an audience. Then consider whether you should play down to the bar, or raise it. Just because other people go through the motions, it doesn’t mean you should too. There’s lots of candy at stake here.

Knock on that door, take a little step back, and a big deep breath. Then when that door opens, dazzle them with your show. And if their Treat isn’t up to the quality of your performance, take your act to the next door. You can always come later with a Trick…

 

 

 

 

 

Why You Need To Master The Snappy Comeback

Autumn makes me sentimental. But not for the usual reasons. Sure, I love pumpkins and raking leaves as much as the next Hallmark dad. But the reason I love Fall is that it’s the time of year I executed my best, most historic, snappy comeback.

We Manic Impressives are skilled at wordplay. It’s what helps us influence, persuade, and charm the people we need to deal with. We know the power of cleverness and making people laugh. We’ve been training all our lives, first as class clowns, then as full-blown smartasses, to deliver that devastating line with precision timing.

As clever as we are with words, though, we celebrate our quick-witted wins because of all the times we fail.  How many times have you thought of the perfect response for a situation well after the fact? It happens to us all.

So when we score a snappy comeback, it’s something to celebrate. And when we pull off a great one, it’s something to remember. Like the one I delivered in the Fall of 2003.

Snappy Comeback Earns Me Free, Top Shelf Booze

I was at the bar at the Irvine Marriott to order a celebratory drink. The bartender acknowledged me but got pulled away momentarily to answer the phone. It took just a few seconds, but when he turned back to serve me, a woman stepped up, and though I was clearly there before her, she called out her drink order.

The bartender was a pro. He politely told her he’d get to her as soon as he finished serving me. The woman seemed miffed. Then she turned to face me, and rather brazenly, eyed me up and down.

Her eyes landed on the plastic hospital band around my wrist. She nodded toward it and again, quite brazenly, looked me right in the eye and said, “Hey buddy, you really think you ought to be drinking right now?”

These are the moments we agonize over after they happen. The times when we fail, in the moment, to take the pitch left out over the plate, and slam it right into the bleachers. We think of the most clever, funny, and biting things to say after our chance has passed.

Most of the time, out of surprise, politeness or misplaced deference, I too, fumble my chance at greatness. My chance to put someone in their place, with elegance and panache. But not this time.

I followed her eyes to my wrist, and as if I hadn’t noticed her rudeness, I raised my wrist up with a huge proud smile and declared,

“Yes, I do. My son was born today! I absolutely should be drinking right now.” 

The color drained from the lady’s face and she told the bartender to put my drink on her tab.  I replied sweetly, “Why thank you, that’s so kind of you”, turned to the bartender, quickly jerked my pointed finger from the bottom shelf brandy to the top shelf Courvoisier, and said,  “I’ll have that one!”

The bartender, with a knowing smile, poured me the greatest drink I’ve had in my entire life. But not because of what was in the glass.

Snappy Comeback Earns Me A Wife

It was also at this time of year that someone delivered their greatest snappy comeback to me. Back when I had abs and a full head of luxurious hair,  I showed up for my appointment with my hair stylist and saw a woman in my seat. I playfully blurted out, “Hey lady, you’re sitting in my chair!”

She turned her big blue eyes on me and parried with, “It ain’t your chair yet, buddy!”

We’ve been married over 25 years now.

Celebrate Fall With A Snappy Comeback

So please, do me a favor. Ignore your TV for a bit, with its nasty politics and depressing natural disasters. Take some time to focus on delivering the perfect zinger to the next person who serves you up the perfect opportunity.

No more ‘I shoulda said’ excuses after the fact. Be ready for your moment, be quick on your feet, and knock it out of the park.

It can do wonders for your happiness, your self-esteem, and your love life.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Prepare For The Unthinkable

The unthinkable is happening right now to thousands of people just 35 miles north of me. 22 separate wildfires are raging out of control across Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties. Utter devastation that can’t be stopped, and couldn’t have been predicted.

So far 31 people have lost their lives, 400 more are missing, 3500 homes and businesses have burnt to the ground, and 50,000 households are without power. Thousands of people had to evacuate, and none of the 22 fires have been contained.

Though my home and family are safe, the air outside is thick with smoke. A smelly reminder that this kind of disaster could be visited upon us too, at any moment, and without warning.

So rather than wallow in other people’s misery, I’m turning off the news and taking time now to prepare for when disaster hits my neighborhood. We Manics can’t afford to procrastinate on this.

Getting The Hell Out Of Dodge In A Hurry

Whether it’s a hurricane, an earthquake, a wildfire or a flood, a natural disaster can force you to evacuate your home at a moment’s notice. Where will you go? What will you take? How will you stay in contact with family and friends when 77 cell towers in your area get knocked out by a fire? Here are a few suggestions.

The Family Emergency Communication Plan

On any given weekday, most family members are separated by dozens of miles between home, work or school. Without an emergency communication plan, you’re likely to be cut off from each other without a way to know if everyone’s safe. This can be terrifying, as my friend Wakane learned in 2011.

She was at her home in Sendai, Japan, when an earthquake triggered a massive tsunami.  Her husband was at work in another city, and her kids were at two different schools in different parts of town.

Wakane was frantic. She couldn’t reach anyone by phone, the streets were impassable and the trains weren’t running. She had no way of getting to her kids or knowing if her husband was safe.

It took two days to get word on everyone, and three days to reunite them all. Three terrifying days for Wakane, full of the worst kind of worry – that the unthinkable had happened to her family.

This same scenario is playing out right now in California.

How To Stay In Touch

So step one is to have a plan in place. Choose an out-of-town family member to leave messages with, or use the Red Cross Safe And Well List to get the word out. Instruct all family members to report their whereabouts with the same method.

Then whenever you see a disaster on the news, quiz your kids and spouse on how you’ll all stay in contact in an emergency.

Know that if cell service is disrupted, you may be able to use a laptop and connect through email. If you’ve never used your internet provider’s remote login service, now’s the time to set it up.

If you haven’t given up your landline yet, you can record an outgoing message to family and friends on your answering machine. You can also leave or retrieve messages remotely, and use this as your method of staying in touch. It’s old school fogey style, but as long as your house is still standing it can work.

Evacuation Plan

When the shit goes down, you better have a clue of where you’re going and what you’re taking. If you’re scrambling to line up a place to stay, use the Red Cross real-time map for listings of emergency shelters open in your area. Your county will probably have an emergency operations hotline you can call as well.

You’ll also want to check the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s ( NOAA) All Hazards Radio Network. They broadcast 24/7 evacuation and emergency service info on the VHF band, but it’s not something you can pick up on a regular radio.

Every county in the country has a designated station, so find your station, get a portable weather radio now, and tune it in advance to your station. Most come with a hand crank so you don’t need batteries and can charge your cell phone with it too.

The Go Bag

Like smart drug dealers, you need to plan ahead to bail in a hurry. Pack a backpack with clothes, cash, water, energy bars, and a few days of meds and stash it in your trunk now. You’ll have basic resources if you’re caught away from home when the unthinkable happens. While you’re at it, toss in a portable cell phone charger too.

The Priceless Carload

Most everything in your home can be replaced. But know the priceless few things that can’t, and be prepared to pack them in the car in under 5 minutes. For most people, that means rounding up the pets, photo albums, small heirlooms, and medicine you can’t readily replace.

Let everything else burn, and get your insurance company to buy you new stuff. But take ten minutes right now to go through your home and video all your possessions. Open every closet and drawer, and narrate what you see. Pay special attention to jewelry, antiques, and electronics. Doing this now can be the difference between being made whole or being hosed if you ever have to file a claim.

But don’t forget about your data. Besides your photo albums and family movies, your computer files could be your most precious items to recover.

If you’re a geezer still using AOL, you might not be using cloud storage for all your important documents. Now’s the time. Don’t compound a disaster by losing all your data when your computer melts down. Get your teenager to show you how to keep your computer files safe in cloud storage at Dropbox, Google, Apple, or one of these cloud storage providers.

Surviving The Unthinkable

Overall, the Red Cross is one of the best resources for surviving the unthinkable. They’ll help you prepare for, endure, and recover from a disaster. Check out their tips on preparing for emergencies, then call your insurance agent and make sure your coverage is up to date.

And since you can only prepare for, not prevent, a natural disaster, you’d better start building up your karma now. Give as much support as you can today, so when it’s your turn to face the unthinkable, there’ll be plenty of support for you. Here’s where I’m donating because 100% of the money raised goes directly to fire victims.

Stay safe, and get ready. Because the unthinkable could just as easily have happened to you…

Are You Blind To The Big Picture?

The Pull and The Big Picture
Photo by Stijn Swinnen on Unsplash

After two, 3-day conventions in a row, where I played a hearty role, I’m sitting back down with my to-do list. Nothing feels inspiring or urgent, and I’m in a bit of a personal low. Seems I’ve become blind to the Big Picture and I’m struggling a bit to work my way out of it.

Sure, it’s natural to have a letdown after so much action. But where’s my fire for my big goals? Why am I not charging out there and attacking? What the hell’s wrong with me?

If you’ve ever experienced this sort of low, maybe you know what I’m going through. I’ve lost the forest and I’m just staring at a bunch of trees.

Time To Get Back On Track

It’s inevitable at times to get bogged down in the details of our lives and lose sight of the big picture. Or worse, to start feeling that our sights are set on things too big or unattainable. Add in a little financial pressure and it’s easy to start hedging on ourselves.

But that won’t solve the inner crisis that’s brewing. There are only two things that will. The Pull and the Push. The thing that attracts us to something, and the thing that gets us moving in that direction.

Desire

This is the Pull. The force that gets us out of bed, off the couch, and into the world to earn what we desire. It needs to burn hot inside of us, to keep us working towards our goals. We need to want something bad enough to struggle through the rejection and the obstacles.

Without a strong sense of desire, we are apt to wander and putter our time away. Buried in the details (damn trees), doing the mundane tasks, because we should.

But “should” is not enough. Doing what we “should” do is not motivating for long, if at all. So we need to keep the desire stoked for the Pull to work. Constant, daily reminders of why we want something.

Action

This is the Push. By taking action, we move forward. Especially if we do the right things, the things that will lead to what we desire.

We Manic Impressives sometimes bog down when we’re not actively involved in doing.  But we also don’t get much satisfaction from just crossing things off a to-do list. We need to see where each task leads to something bigger – more accolades, more freedom,  more fun.

Line Of Sight

This is what we call it in Leadership training. The ability for everyone in an organization to see how each task leads to the overall success of the group’s goals.

When people can’t see how their daily actions add up to bigger things for the group, they become complacent. They go through the motions. They provide lousy service. They go home at night less committed to the cause than when they started the day.

They lose their desire.

The Big Picture

Whether you’re leading a huge organization, a team, a family or just yourself, you’ve got to have that Big Picture in front of you at all times. You’ve got to know why organizing your paperwork and reducing your clutter leads to the things you desire. You’ve got to know why exercise and eating right makes you happier, not just thinner.

So if you’re like me, and tend to lose sight now and then, do something to keep that Big Picture in constant view. Make your Dreamboard and post it right above your computer. Write out your goal statements and affirmations and tape them to your bathroom mirror. Get your family on board to nag you in the best possible way.

Remind yourself every single day of what you desire, so you will be pulled toward the right actions and away from the wrong ones. Get that Big Picture in front of your face right now so you have your Line of Sight and the reasons why you should check things off your list.

Now please excuse me while I gaze at my Dreamboard and remind myself why I want those wonderful things in my life. I’ve got to go work on my Pull…

 

It’s The 4th Quarter – Time For Your Big Push

Still Time In 2017 For Your Big PushVacations are over, the kids are back in school, and Fall officially started today. So dust off your 2017 Dreamboard and review your progress to date. It’s time to start your big push.

Goal Power

We set our goals so we continue to push, even when we’d rather cozy up on the couch and watch football. We’re three-quarters of the way through the year, but now comes the most important part.

Take a look at what you hoped to accomplish when you were singing Auld Lang Syne and swilling champagne last December 31st. Sure, you were full of optimistic hubris and threw down some lofty goals.

And yes, you’ve probably had some setbacks this year, and maybe you’ve forgotten the bravado that caused you to declare all those wonderful milestones for yourself. If you’re like me, you’ve probably met some of your goals, but you’re also probably lagging far behind on some others.

But none of that matters if you get it together for your big push.

What Matters and What Doesn’t

As we learned from those damned Patriots in the last Superbowl, the score at the beginning of your 4th quarter doesn’t much matter. Only the score at the end counts.

The Pats trailed the Falcons by 25 during the 3rd quarter and were behind  28-9 when the 4th quarter started. But none of that mattered in the end. The Patriots scored 25 unanswered points and won the game 34-28 in overtime.

Damn those Patriots! They didn’t give up or give in, though they had 25 good reasons to quit. They just put their collective heads down and ground out the greatest comeback in Superbowl history.

Focus On What’s Left To Accomplish

Like the Superbowl champs, you need to focus on what’s left to do. No sense beating yourself up over what you haven’t done or how far behind you may feel. Nothing’s been decided yet.

So get out your Dreamboard and your calendar. It’s time to schedule some hustle. What’s left to do? What’s it going to take to get there? If you break your remaining goals down to the task level, what exactly do you still need to do?

Make a list of activities you need to complete to reach your goals. Then start placing them on your calendar. This is the key. If it can be scheduled, it can be done. And if you have each task down to the date and time you will work on it, you are halfway there.

Don’t let your demons psyche you out. Like those Falcon fans at the Superbowl, they’ll say you’re too far behind and the game is over. They’ll encourage you to give up and lose gracefully, to take life easy and start your Christmas shopping early. But they are full of beer and don’t know what they’re talking about. They think you can’t put your head down and grind it out. They think you’re weak.

Trust me on this. You’re not weak, and there is still plenty of time on the clock.

Your Big Push

You’ve got 8 solid weeks between now and Thanksgiving week. Then 3 more weeks before the holidays heat up in December. That’s 77 days to make it happen. Plenty of time to mount your big push and come up big by year’s end.

Pretend you’re the Patriots (damn them!) and you don’t care what the score is now. Pretend you are making the greatest comeback ever. Do that now, and in a few weeks, you’ll have enough points on the board to start believing it’s gonna happen. Then put your head down and push all the way until December 31st. It will be worth it.

Stop Being Your Own Worst Critic

Worst CriticI gave my very first keynote last month and big thanks to all of you who came and cheered me on. I got it all on video, and though you’d think I’d be anxious to view the tape, it took me a month to get myself to watch it. Why? Because I am my own worst critic.

Though I’ve logged over 20,000 hours of speaking and performing, this time felt different. This was my own material, performed for the first time, so I had a lot at stake. I was prepared, the audience was receptive, and overall it went pretty well. I even got a dozen folks to give testimonials on camera at the end of the night.

But still, I procrastinated a solid month before I could force myself to watch the performance. Because I knew, inevitably, there would be moments that would make me cringe.

The Disease of Perfectionism

Everyone does this to some extent, but we Manic Impressives tend to outdo most folks when it comes to perfectionism. We know we’re capable of great things, so seeing ourselves being less than perfect is hard to take.

Reasonable people don’t expect perfection the first time out. And we creatives know that performing in front of an audience is an iterative process. We get better each time out by learning from mistakes and striving for better. But it’s still tough to view our mistakes, no matter how much good stuff there is in between.

We become our own worst critic.

I’ve seen perfectionism destroy people. Like my friend Josh, a brilliant guitarist and singer. He would obsess over the tiniest flaws in his performances, and drive himself nuts. He couldn’t live up to his own impossibly high standards. In the end, he quit performing altogether. It was a shame.

Your Own Worst Critic

Many of us are overly harsh when critiquing our performances. Have you ever done this to yourself?  You overlook the good things you do and dwell on the negative. The missed lines, the mispronunciations, the flubs, the glitches, and the miscues.

It’s natural to want to do better. But many of us are too critical of ourselves. We need to be as gentle with ourselves as we are with our friends. Or our kids.

Otherwise, getting back out on stage becomes too difficult. And even if we don’t realize it, we can subconsciously avoid opportunities to shine. Or worse, when we are performing, we focus so much on past mistakes, that we drive ourselves to commit the same mistakes when we try again.

Olympic Failure

Like speed skater Dan Jansen in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Dan was the world champion and gold medal favorite when he lined up for the 500-meter race. But to the shock of everyone, he fell in the first turn and did not place.

Four days later in the 1000 meter race, Dan was leading the pack in world record time. But with just one lap to go, he fell in the exact same place on the ice where he’d fallen in the 500-meter race.

I remember seeing this as it happened  – it was heartbreaking. Dan had psyched himself out. He obsessed over his earlier mistake to the point where he couldn’t avoid making that same mistake again. He was his own worst critic and it cost him dearly.

Getting Over Yourself

So to balance your need to be critical with your need to feel good about yourself, I suggest you take the following approach.

Know that no matter what you do, some of your audience won’t like it. You’ll remind them of their 8th grade bully or their condescending mother in law. You can’t do anything about their bias, so don’t worry about them.

A percentage of your audience will love you no matter what you do. You’ll remind them of themselves or who they want to become, and they’ll rave about your performance just because you’re you. You can’t count on their objectivity, so take their adulation with a grain of salt.

Focus on the rest. The ones who are impartial enough to be honest. Value their feedback, and look for ways to improve in the areas they point out.

If you can’t get enough feedback from them, hire a coach. Someone honest enough to be direct and give specific feedback to help you improve. And knowledgeable enough to validate what you do well and encourage you to continue.

If you outsource this, you won’t have to be your own worst critic.

Practicing What I Preach

So in the spirit of killing my perfectionism, here is a link to the video of the maiden voyage of “Do You Know Who You’re Dealing With?”  Consider it a rough draft, and enjoy the flubs and glitches.

I welcome your honest feedback, so don’t hold back. And don’t worry about hurting my feelings. I did that to myself already…