Category Archives: Manic Mutterings

The Lost Art of the April Fools’ Prank

April FoolNext to Halloween, I’ve always found April Fools’ Day to be the most delightful celebration. To pull a good, clean April Fools prank that doesn’t hurt anyone is high art. These days, a high, lost art.

So if I give you some ideas will you help me on this? Will you go out there and bring some fun to your little corner of the world? Manic Impressives everywhere are counting on you.

Shave Something

Self-deprecating pranks never hurt anyone else. If you do something goofy and get people laughing at you, you’ll be their hero for the day. And if we need more of anything in the world right now, it’s heroes.

So try doing something unexpected this April Fools’ Day. Shave something off. If you’re a dude, don’t be conventional. Don’t shave off your beard. Shave off half your beard. Continue reading The Lost Art of the April Fools’ Prank

If You Want to Work Hard, You Need to Play Hard

Play HardHere we are, one week shy of the end of the first quarter. How are you doing on your goals?  Still going great guns? A few dips here and there?  Any answer is okay at this point, as long as you’re still at it and working hard. Oh, that’s the bell, time for recess. Cuz after you Work Hard, it’s time to Play Hard.

Recess is important for school kids. It’s the reason they can sit still and work hard all day, five days a week. They need the break and the fun to so they can keep at it. The harder they play, the harder they can study.

Recess is just as important for us adults. Maybe even more important. We adults have so many responsibilities beyond work, that we sometimes go from task to task without recess. This is not good for anyone.

I Deserve It

I’ve made great progress on some of my goals for the quarter, and I’ve struggled with others. But regardless of my results, I need and deserve a recess.

So it was with great planning and precision that I took my recess last week. Okay, at about 9 Wednesday  morning I threw a bunch of stuff in the car and took off. Sometimes the best play is spontaneous.

While you were slogging through your hump day, I took off and hit the slopes. Hard. I bombed down the hill as hard and as long as I could. I needed to play hard.

You Need To Play Hard

We Manic Impressives need to play hard so we can work hard. Other types of people can work hard for the sake of working hard. But us creative types need our recess to recharge and remember why we’re working to be more than we are.

The notion of Work Ethic, the idea that people should be conditioned to keep their noses to the grindstone and never stop, is a good guiding principle for some. But it doesn’t work for me.

Now thanks to Forbes, I have the science to show I’m on the right track. Work Hard Play Hard is a lifestyle that works for playful folk that are passionate about doing good work.

The Science Behind Play Hard

Professor Lonnie Aarssen did a study that showed “a strong correlation between attraction to accomplishment and attraction to leisure.” The key factor was “mortality salience.” The more a person accepts they’re going to die one day, the more motivated they are to succeed in life.

An interesting note was the role of religion. Forbes concluded that religious people are less likely to Work Hard Play Hard. Perhaps that was because the study was of 1400 Canadian college students. Or perhaps it’s that going to church is bad for your fun life.

Either way, if you want to knock it out of the park, you need to remember that you’re playing a game.

Schedule It!

So make your Play Hard as important as your Work Hard. Set your goals, check your progress each day, and win or lose, schedule your play. It’s as important as your work.

Take a look at your progress for this quarter. Pat yourself on the back for your wins. Acknowledge your failings and vow to do better. Then get out there and have some fun. Play Hard!

And thanks for going to work last Wednesday so I could drive to Tahoe without traffic and ski without waiting in a single lift line. I really appreciate it.

Now it’s your turn.

Out Of Gas

\Out of Gas

Tell you a little story I will, and then I have an admission to make. I’ve been struggling a bit this week, and it reminded me of the time, one of many, when I ran out of gas.

My wife and I were driving back to the Bay Area from Fresno. Just my girlfriend back then, I’d taken her to meet some family.

She drove us in her fancy Cadillac Seville on the way down, so being a gentleman, I offered to drive on the way back. She accepted, handed me the keys, and off we went.

Here’s where we learned something important about ourselves. Since she wasn’t driving, my wife didn’t bother to tell me we were low on gas. She figured I’d check it myself. Since it wasn’t my car, I didn’t bother checking the gas gauge, since I figured she would have told me.

Both of us figured very, very wrong. Continue reading Out Of Gas

Work Already Performed

Work Already PerformedMartin Eden, a retired sailor, lived in Oakland, California in the early 1900’s. Despite his lack of education and working class roots, Martin was determined to become a published author. He was also determined to marry Ruth, a beautiful and highly educated woman from a wealthy family.

Martin proposes and Ruth accepts. But Ruth puts off the wedding until Martin becomes successful enough to win her family’s acceptance. He works hard, submits manuscripts, gets rejected by publishers, but eventually, he gets a book deal.

Then Martin blows up, makes a fortune off his books, and becomes a celebrated member of the artistic class.

Unfortunately, his success came a little too late for Ruth. Though he already submitted the manuscripts that would make him rich and famous, she loses patience with his progress, and after two years Ruth breaks the engagement. Continue reading Work Already Performed

How Procrastination Leads To A Life Of Crime

ProcrastinationI recently got to thinking of all the stupid, awkward and even dangerous situations my Manic Impressive behavior has gotten me into over the years. This was a long thinking session. As many embarrassing and regrettable chapters of my life flashed by, I noticed a theme.  All these incidents were caused or triggered by Procrastination.

Like the time I knocked off a dry cleaner.

Back in the mid ’80’s, when I’d elevated Procrastination to an art form, I spent three months convincing the good folks at Xerox that I would make a great addition to their sales staff.

They had a dress code. Suit and tie everyday, no exceptions.  So I’d gone out, bought a whole new wardrobe, and took everything to the dry cleaners at the mall. Gotta look good for the first day.

Being a master of Procrastination, I of course waited to the last minute for all this.  So the night before my first day of the new job I’m heading back to the cleaners to pick up my clothes. Due to good planning, I walked in a whole ten minutes before closing.

Only the lights were off and the closed sign was lit. The door wasn’t locked, but when I walked in the girl said she was closed. I responded that it was ten minutes to closing and I had to have my clothes for my first day on the job. She said she couldn’t help me and turned away.

That’s when I looked over and saw my clothes on the overhead rack. Continue reading How Procrastination Leads To A Life Of Crime

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. Continue reading Why It’s Good To Be A Wannabe

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

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

Why A Moral Victory Can Be Better Than A Win

wipeoutIt’s raining in California and that means only one thing – ski season is on its way. And it was on a ski slope where I earned a moral victory and learned that losing can be better than winning.

I was living in Tahoe when my friend Pat asked if I was going to the ski instructor tryouts. Still snowplowing down slopes, I’d never considered it. But she convinced me that they weren’t looking for great skiers, they were looking for great instructors. If you were good at teaching they would teach you the skiing part. Okay, I’m in!

So there we were with 30 other wannabe ski instructors when Don, the head of the ski school at Sierra Ski Ranch, assembled us at the foot of the mountain. It was early November, there was little snow on the ground and the lifts weren’t running.

I should have known something bad was about to happen. Continue reading Why A Moral Victory Can Be Better Than A Win

Why You Should Be Like Christopher Columbus

cc At the tender age of 17, Marco Polo, intrepid Italian adventurer and backyard swimming pool icon, left Italy and traveled with his father and uncle throughout the Orient.  After an epic 24-year journey he returned home with exotic treasures and amazing tales of adventure.

200 hundred years later, inspired by Marco’s adventures, another young Italian set out on a quest for fame and fortune in the Orient. Or as they called it at the time, the East Indies.

To finance his project, he approached the kings of England, France, Portugal and Spain, and got blown off by them all. They thought his calculations were way off and his plan wouldn’t work.

And for good reason, because Christopher Columbus was a nut. Instead of taking the direct route, sailing up the Mediterranean, hanging a right through the Suez Canal and bang, there you are, Chris figured he’d go West to travel East and sail all the way around the globe to get there.

On one hand, he was embracing the idea that the world was not flat. He got the possibilities of a round planet. On the other hand,  his calculations turned out to be off by about 17,000 miles. Oops!

Somehow he got a third chance in the Spanish Court.  And somehow, whether it was all the practice from his earlier pitches or that Queen Isabella just liked the cut of his jib, Columbus got King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to greenlight his project.

So on August 2nd of 1492, Columbus sailed west from Spain with his three ships, the Nina, the Pinta and his flagship the Santa Maria.

Sure enough, on October 12 , 524 years ago yesterday, Columbus did it. He landed on an island in the East Indies just off the coast of China, and declared all he surveyed to be under the domain of the King and Queen of Spain.

At least that’s what he thought he’d done. Continue reading Why You Should Be Like Christopher Columbus