I Have A Dream

I Have A DreamDr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. To live in a country where all men were treated as equals. A country where his children would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. “I have a dream”, he said, to over 200,000 people on the mall in Washington DC in 1963.

Dreams Into Reality

America has come a long way since 1963. I like to think that Dr. King would be excited and proud of how much progress we’ve made. How African-Americans have prospered since those early days of the Civil Rights Movement. How our government, in time, came to protect the rights of all Americans.

Yes, we have a lot of work still to do. The Black Lives Matter movement is evidence of that. There are places in America where fear breeds hatred and discrimination, and black men are still not safe. Places where all men are not created equal.

The Weekend

But we do have cause to celebrate. Because there has been great progress. So much so, that we elected an African-American man to two terms as our nation’s president.

Now we’re coming up on a long weekend. A national holiday in honor of Dr. King. A holiday that came about because of the sacrifice of a man who fought tirelessly to fight injustice.

A man named Stevie Wonder.

Stevie Wonder?

That’s right. If it weren’t for Stevie Wonder we may not be celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. For 18 years after King’s death, the white establishment fought all efforts to create a national holiday to honor him.

Senator Jesse Helms led the opposition, claiming King  was not important enough, that he was a Marxist and associated with Communists. Helms thought King was not worthy of honor because he opposed the Vietnam war.

So in 1980, Stevie Wonder released the record “Happy Birthday” with lyrics that called out the opposition.

I just never understood
How a man who died for good
Could not have a day that would
Be set aside for his recognition

It galvanized public support and the following year Stevie hosted the Rally for Peace press conference. He helped collect over 6 million signatures on a petition to Congress, the largest petition in favor of any issue in U.S. history.

Congress passed the holiday into law with 90 Congressmen still voting against. It took effect in 1986, yet it wasn’t until 2000 that all 50 states made it official, thanks to South Carolina, the final holdout.

37 years after King died, we finally got a national holiday in his honor. All due to the passion and perseverance of Stevie Wonder.

I Have A Dream

I have a dream too. That we will all continue Dr. King’s work. That we will be vigilant in our defense of the rights of all Americans. That in spite of whatever may come with this new administration, we will all stick together and continue the fight for equality, decency, and hope.

Because hope is what drives progress. And Dr. King delivered hope. In the most glorious and inspiring piece of oratory the world has ever heard. 

And I hope that we Americans will work together and make our country exactly what Dr. King dreamt we could.

 

Why It’s Good To Be A Wannabe

WannabeHappy New Year! I hope you had a joyous holiday and are ready for 2017. I’m off to a flying start, thanks to the folks who joined me for the 2nd Annual Resolution Invitational. These folks demonstrated why it’s good to be a Wannabe.

I’m a Wannabe. I wannabe more than I am today. That’s why I gathered like-minded people to help me plan my future.

I assembled a great team – Don, Terry, Ed, Robert, Peter and Nicole. We gathered around my dining room table (five in person, two online) and together we celebrated 2016. All our struggles and all our wins. It was a powerful exercise.

Powerful because we tend to forget most of what happens to us each year. When we reflect on our success despite all the adversity we face, it gives us the strength to wannabe more than we are today.

The Science Behind It

Then we studied the behavioral science of setting and accomplishing goals. How Self-Efficacy (your belief in your ability), an Inner Locus of Control (believing you control your outcomes), and the Hope Theory (that we’re not on a doomed planet hurtling toward the sun) are the critical qualities we need to succeed.

Yes, there is a scientific path to your dreams. And a surprising amount of it has to do with belief. What we believe about the world, what we believe about ourselves, what we believe is possible.

Benjamin Hardy, a blogger I follow, posted a brilliant article on this last week. I couldn’t not use it for our Resolution Invitational, and I highly recommend it for you at home.

The Vision

Next we closed our eyes, let our minds wander, and thought about the awesome things we want in our lives this year. We tried to see, in our mind’s eye, us doing and having the things we desire.

Visualization is a powerful tool for us Wannabes. It programs our subconscious (our higher selves, third eye, Godhead, thingamabob, whatever you want to call it) to move toward our desires.

Seeing is believing, but this is seeing without your eyes. Seeing with your mind and your heart. This is how you go from Wannabe to BE.

Because if you can see it, you can believe it, then you can feel it.

And if you can feel it, you can definitely do it. Then you will BE it.

The Mechanics Of It

There are many little actions you need to perform over a period of time to achieve a goal. So you break down your goals to little daily behaviors. Create a list of 8-10 behaviors that will get you to your goals over time.

So if you want to lose weight, you list the specific diet and exercise behaviors you need each day. Like x amount of water, and x minutes of y type of exercise. You also list negative behaviors you don’t want to perform – like bingeing on sugar or Nacho Cheese Doritos.

Then you rate yourself on each behavior, every single day, right before you go to bed. Shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes.

You ask yourself, “Did I do this today?” If ‘yes’ you score one point for that behavior. If ‘no’, you get a zero and have to ask yourself why. Did I forget, did I try but fail, or did I not care enough to make the effort?

After a while you’ll build some momentum around this. Your brain will remind you throughout the day that you still need to do something to earn a point. I know this sounds nuts, but it totally works, and this is where it gets exciting.

From Wannabe to Been There Am That 

The mere act of measuring your daily behavior will cause your behavior to improve. When you score yourself each day you’ll get better results, feel good about yourself, and start having more fun.

Because you’ll be on your way from Wannabe to Already Am.

I start off each year with this scorecard and update it every night. When I score well I feel good and encourage myself to keep it up. When I end up with zeros, I don’t beat myself up. I revisit the goal and ask myself whether or not I really want it.

If I still believe that goal is worth pursuing, I look at how I’ve broken down the behaviors.  Maybe something needs to be tweaked. I re-evaluate and adjust as I go.

And Maybe Next Year…

So far I’ve scored 9 out of 10 points each day this year. I’ve already lost a few pounds and I’m feeling strong, committed, and on purpose. This Manic Impressive system for goal achievement has done wonders for this disorganized, undisciplined Wannabe.

If you’re serious about your goals this year, I’ll help you develop a daily scorecard for yourself. Just write ‘Scorecard’ in the comments section and I’ll hook you up.

And maybe you’ll get a seat at my dining room table December 31, 2017, in person or online, for the 3rd Annual Resolution Invitational. You can set yourself up for a fantastic 2018 and join our growing team of Wannabes

How to Be Consistent – No Matter What

No Matter WhatThere are only two things I’ve been able to do consistently up until this year: eat sugar and watch television. Manic Impressives are not consistent creatures by nature. We have bursts of activity fueled by imagination, then periods of downtime. But to achieve our dreams, we must learn how to be consistent, no matter what.

We need to build the skills that plodders, people who work from routine and do a little bit each day toward a goal, come by naturally. We are leapers (not lepers, dummy, LEAPERS) and tend to work in bursts, when we are at the top of our manic cycles.

Why We Need To Be Consistent

It’s easy to work with great enthusiasm and energy when we are in the manic phase. Things are easy when we’re inspired or excited. But we still need to perform when these conditions aren’t at play.

We Manics often get distracted from our main purpose. Shiny things and new ideas throw us off track. But this leads to sporadic efforts, which usually means lots of things started and not many finished.

This year I did things differently. I managed to do a little each week because I set a specific goal with regular deadlines. I know, I know, we hate deadlines. We like unfettered freedom to do things our own special way. But without deadlines we end up puttering.

So this year I made a commitment to post to this blog every week. Every Thursday by midnight. This kept me focused and got me to work even when I didn’t feel like it.

51 weeks in a row I fulfilled this promise to myself. If you’re reading this it means I made it to 52. All because of one little phrase:

No Matter What. 

The Secret

That’s the secret right there. I made an agreement with myself to post every week No Matter What.  Those three little words kept me true to my word.

I worked when I didn’t feel like it. When it wasn’t convenient and things came up, I still got my writing done. When I was tired, uninspired, frustrated and distracted, those three little words kept me going. Even when it seemed I wasn’t getting anywhere and the doubt and despair were creeping up on me, I performed.

Because those words left me no choice and no room for excuses. I had to do my work no matter what.

Goal Setting

This Saturday when I sit down with my team to set my goals for 2017, I will use these words again. I will set my sights, make a commitment to myself, and tell the world what I am going to do. I will break it down into daily tasks with weekly deadlines, and I will seal the deal by saying what I will do, no matter what.

So as you look to this coming year, I ask you to do the same. Pick the most important thing and commit to doing it no matter what. Don’t give yourself an out, don’t allow yourself extra time or excuses.

Pick a behavior you’re going to perform consistently. Pick a starting point (I like January 1) and don’t worry about your results. Just make the commitment and then say it one time along with me…

No Matter What!

 

The Best Christmas Present Ever

Best Christmas Present EverIt’s crunch time for you Christmas shoppers. Just two days left to get the perfect gift for that special someone on your list.  I hope you do as well as my grandmother did when I was 14. Because that was the year she gave me the best Christmas present ever.

The Backstory

It started out as more of a protest than a Christmas present. Grandma came to our house for dinner in February with one of her famous cakes. She baked it from scratch as she always did, without that cheatin Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines mix. Grandma was a purist and took pride in her desserts.

After dinner she started to dish it out and was shocked when I declined a piece. To her horror I announced that I had given up dessert for Lent, a practice encouraged by my Sunday School teacher to earn brownie points in Heaven.

I tried to convince her that it was my own decision, but she was having none of that. She was convinced there was a conspiracy at play. Another attempt by my overly strict parents to to deny us both the pleasure of her baking.

While the rest of the family enjoyed her cake, Grandma sat in stony silence. What kind of family would do such a thing to a child? I was clearly the victim of the worst type of parental abuse. Continue reading The Best Christmas Present Ever

Time To Count Your Blessings

Count Your BlessingsA major tragedy hit the Bay Area last Friday night. A fire broke out in a warehouse with 36 people trapped inside. Known as the Ghost Ship, this building was home to a collective of young artists and musicians who’d built a community to support the arts. Sadly, this was a preventable tragedy and there will be plenty of blame to go around. But while this community mourns its loss, it’s time for you to count your blessings.

Major events like this cause us to check ourselves, and be grateful that we aren’t the folks suffering the loss. But the idea to count your blessings has far-reaching benefits beyond the momentary display of empathy for others.

Successful people make a practice of looking back each year to acknowledge where they’ve done well. They feel gratitude and give thanks. But they don’t do this because they’re touchy-feely types trying to game their way into Heaven.  They do it because when you count your blessings, you receive more blessings.

What?

Yeah, that’s right. The more grateful you are, the more you’ll have to be grateful for. There are two ways to see this:

1) The more you focus on the good things in your life, the more good things you’ll see. This will put your mind in receive mode for good ideas and opportunities.  Next thing you know you’re coming up with all kinds of good ideas, and your confidence and positivity will attract people to you. They will tell you YES.

2) Sometimes we get so focused on what we’re not achieving, we get down on ourselves. We don’t see what’s right with things, and while we’re bemoaning our poor fortune, good fortune passes us by. Because when a pissy attitude leaks out, it will repel people from you. They will tell you NO.

It’s Like That Febreze Commercial

Continue reading Time To Count Your Blessings

Start Planning 2017 Now

Start Planning 2017 Now!No I’m not out of my mind. Yes, like you, I hate that stores display Halloween gear in September, Thanksgiving stuff before Halloween, and Christmas crap before Thanksgiving. Hate it. But I’m not trying to rush things here, so please hear me out. Before you start heading headlong into that final dash towards the holidays, it is time to start planning 2017 now.

You know how it goes. Your best intentions end in a flurry of last-minute impulse buying, sappy holiday movies, and binge-eating sugary baked goods. That’s all okay.

You deserve all that. A nice celebration with family and friends and a break from work. But to get the New Year started like a sprinter out the gate, you need to do your planning and goal setting now.

The next three weeks will be hectic, but it’s important to schedule time to slow down and review the past year. What went well. What you accomplished. What you struggled through. What you learned.

This is a crucial process to your success next year. So we’re going to start now by giving 2016 it’s due. Continue reading Start Planning 2017 Now

You Don’t Know Squat About Squanto

Squanto
The First Thanksgiving

You know the story they told you in Kindergarten about the  First Thanksgiving? The Pilgrims were thankful they survived their first year in America so they threw a big party. They invited as their guest of honor a helpful Native American named Squanto. He taught them how to grow their crops and they all lived happily ever after. Aside from this, I’m guessing you don’t know squat about Squanto.

This story isn’t a complete a bunch of hooey, but there’s a whole lot they left out.

The Real Story

Squanto was a real person, but that wasn’t his real name. His name was Tisquantum and he was a member of the Pawtuxet tribe that lived in the area for 10,000 years before the white folks arrived.

Typical American white people, the Pilgrims couldn’t pronounce his name correctly and called him Squanto instead. He was a hero for helping them survive the winter, but he was a far more complex and shady guy than they led us to believe in Kindergarten.

Squanto did teach the Pilgrims to tap trees for sap, to plant Indian Corn, and to use fish to fertilize their crops. This, according to Wikipedia, is what he looked like: Continue reading You Don’t Know Squat About Squanto

Listen To Your Smarter Inner Voice

Your Smarter Inner Voice and Eliminate the Weed of Self DoubtTwice in one day it happened. Two unrelated situations where I should have stopped, but that little voice said “Go!” So I went. And both times good things came to me. Yeah, they were minor things, but each time I followed the voice I was rewarded. If you listen to your smarter inner voice, you’ll be rewarded too.

The First Time

I’d had a great visit with a friend who lives on a gated street. The next day I realized I’d left my reading glasses on a bench in his front yard. I was headed to a rehearsal where I really needed those glasses. But he wasn’t answering his phone and that gate wouldn’t open itself for me.

Common sense said forget it, get by without the specs. We’ll deal. But my smarter inner voice piped up and said “Go Anyway.” I did and damned if that gate wasn’t wide open. I hesitated, surprised by my luck, and as it started to close I punched it and drove through.

Glasses found.

The Second Time

Later that night my wife and I  went to see Arrival at a theater with those new recliner seats. But once in line at the box office we saw the bad news on the sign. The 7:05 show was sold out. My wife started searching for another movie.

I was second in line and about to step out when the voice piped up again and said,  “Stay And Ask.” I did, and the cashier found two seats together for us. We slipped in, claimed our seats and reclined.

Movie seen. Continue reading Listen To Your Smarter Inner Voice

Time To Forget Politics And Find Your Magnificent Obsession

Magnificent ObsessionIt’s over. The longest and nastiest presidential election in American history. We’ve all been in a state of anxiety caused by our unhealthy obsession with Trump vs Clinton. But now you know who your next president will be, which party will  control the Senate, and that it’s legal to smoke pot in California. So it’s time for you to stop obsessing over politics and develop a Magnificent Obsession.

What is a Magnificent Obsession?

Google the phrase Magnificent Obsession and you’ll find a bunch of Jesus quotes, a book by Lloyd C. Douglas, a cheesy film made from the book, and some nonsense about waking up everyday at 5 in the morning spouting affirmations.

That’s all great, but I’m not talking about any of that.

I’m talking about an extreme focus on something that’s important to you. Something you’re passionate about that you want to manifest in the world. It’s that thing inside you that wants to leap out and change your life and the world.

You may be afraid or embarrassed to commit to it. But it’s what your deepest, darkest desires say you were put on this earth to do.

It’s time for you to obsess over that thing. Continue reading Time To Forget Politics And Find Your Magnificent Obsession