Thought for the Day: While innovative thinking is a much discussed, rare, valuable and sought after skill these days, sometimes thinking INSIDE the box can be the hardest thing to do.
My advice would be that before you go spending valuable time, energy, money and resources dreaming up some BIG idea and glorifying the need for “new, creative, crazy and innovative” make sure you first have a solid grasp of the “old, tried and true, reliable and predictable.” Chances are you haven’t even scratched the suface of what is right in your very own backyard.
What underutilized or untapped resources do you have hiding in the closet or right under your nose?
Who do you already know that you can ask to help you?
What can you do to make what you already have, even better?
I’d be willing to bet that you have way more options than you think.
New isn’t necessarily better. Sometimes the best new ideas are the old ones that are just reanalyzed and better thought through.
I hold in my hand a Military Challenge Coin that belonged to my father. It was given to him by the man who is featured on the coin, Sgt. Chuck Taliano, who was a drill instructor made famous by the “We don’t promise you a rose garden.” Marine Corps recruiting posters printed during the 1970s and 1980s.
Mr Taliano served together with my father in the Marine Corps and was one of the very few men my father truly called his friend. Both he and my father passed away this past year.
Challenge coins are usually given to service members to commemorate special occasions both public and private, and as a sign of good luck.
I carry this coin in my pocket as a small reminder of my father and all the good things he taught me. It serves as a symbol of strength, hard work, the challenges that i face, of the promises I must keep, of the goals I must achieve, of the decisions I must make, and the ones I should never make.
There is a great quote by Zig Ziglar that says:
“People say that motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
I think it is important for everyone to have some sort of daily reminder. Something to keep you in check and on track. Something powerful and personal and symbolic that not only motivates you, but helps you motivate others to do the same.
What serves as your reminder? What helps to keep you on track on a regular basis?
Let’s take a minute to think about plans. What exactly are they and why are they important?
The wiki says that: “A plan is typically any diagram or list of steps with timing and resources, used to achieve an objective. A method to reaching your goals.”
When building a house, you have to have a plan. You can’t just start digging and hammering nails and expect to just come up with something.
In business school they teach you about writing business plans because if you don’t have one, you might have a hard time making any money, which is the point of a business after all.
So what about life? If you want to get to where you want to go in life, you will also need a plan. How else will you reach your ultimate goals and fulfill your dreams? You do have goals and dreams right?
So why is it that so many people go though life without making any plans?
The main focus of my job right now is Information Architecture for software development. This means I draw plans that focus on how a piece of software is supposed to work, look, behave, interact, etc. Needless to say, it irked me a little when I came to the shocking realization that, while I make plans all day for my job, I didn’t actually have much of a solid plan for my life.
So, over the new year I decided to sit down and make some lists and plans for myself and my family and our future. The result was a basic, one year plan and then an extended 20 year plan. (I wrote this post in January, but to be honest, after I made my plans, i was so motivated and busy following them, i forgot to post this, so here it is…)
List 1 – 3 Words
List one is made up of 3 simple words I used to orient myself and stay focused on my key goals over the next year. (I got the idea from Chris Brogan)
My 3 words for 2011 are: Streamline, Ship and Share
This year is all about cut, trim, hack, slash and burn. This year I am stepping off the hamster wheel, and focusing on building oil wells and planting the seeds. I am managing my time more effectively and efficiently, removing obstacles, completing projects and streamlining anything possible to allow me to reach my 20 year goals set up in list 2.
Basically, if it doesn’t serve the 20 year plan, it’s outta there:
Slicing away all of the unnecessary
Focus on only learning things that will increase my efficiency and effectiveness
Ignoring and unfollowing LOTS of distracting social things and activity that don’t provide real value
Less email checking
Less random web surfing
Making the best use of time: time boxes, lists and schedules, practice
Throw out junk and organize, both physically and emotionally
Focus on the important and revenue generating
Focus on what I am good at and what I LIKE doing
Focus on the positive and less bitching (i really need to work on this one)
Increase investment momentum and build on my exit strategy
Complete unfinished projects
Launch work related projects
(I need to work on this part)
Build on ways to Influence others and share their ideas
Focus on ways to help people
Build my influence in the process
List 2 – The 20 Year Plan
The 20 year plan is broken down into chunks of 2, 5, 10 and 20 year milestones.
These are both personal and professional plans and I shared these with my wife so that we can stay in alignment. Basically a list of everything I want to achieve in a 20 year time period and a realistic assessment of when I can expect to do so.
We all have big plans, dreams and goals we want for ourselves. At least we SHOULD. Let me tell you, once you break down all of them into a 20 year plan, it forces both a scary and exciting kind of immediacy to your life. It gives you perspective on why and what you need to do to fill the gaps between connecting all of those dots of your life goals.
What are your 3 words for 2011? What are your plans? Do you have any?
Have you made any long term goals for yourself?
If not, you had better make the decision to do it now. The clock is ticking. tick… tick… tick… Think i’m kidding? Try it. You’ll see.
As I sit here on the train with my laptop open, contemplating writing a blog post about my new year’s resolutions and what those would actually be, I slowly became aware of this older woman in the opposite seat staring at me, with a very intense, curious, thoughtful kind of look on her face.
Now, she didn’t appear to be a psycho or stoned on antidepressants or anything, so it wasn’t like a crazy sort of stare. She was well dressed in business attire, was holding an expensive looking leather briefcase, and seemed well off, professional and intelligent enough.
She seemed somehow familiar, as if I have seen her before or maybe she just resembled someone I know. Not sure, but regardless, she was obviously fascinated with what I was doing, which, to be honest, pretty much amounted to just spacing off, looking out the window thinking, and dripping coffee on my shirt
So what was the deal?
As I fought to restrain my first impulse to fire back a look of, “So what the hell are you staring at, weirdo?” and to make up a better explanation than maybe I just forgot to wipe the toothpaste from the sides of my mouth again and looked like an idiot, (i do that sometimes…) instead, a strange, elaborate alternate (MUCH more rational) explanation started to form in my mind.
What if: this woman was actually a time traveler from the future? What if she was actually some sort of tourist who liked to go back in time and witness, in person, historical world changing events?
What if: at this very moment in time, I was on the verge of an idea that would drastically change mankind? The very first spark, a lightbulb moment of an idea that would influence world peace or some massive change for good that would permanently change history for the better? What if that was why she was here?
What if: instead of some amazing, positive idea, I was on the verge of making the worst mistake of my life? Something that would negatively impact my life and the lives of my family, friends or the world?
What if: this person was a future relative? What if she were actually my 2 year old daughter, now all grown up, or her children, or children’s children just wanting to see for themselves what made Daddy, or Great Grandpa think up this crazy, amazing or stupid idea?
What if: that time was NOW and instead of me sitting here, it was actually YOU, and YOU were on the verge of making a very important decision that would dramatically effect your life for better. Or worse…
What would that idea or decision be?
What decision was right at the tip of your mind right this very second, but you weren’t aware of it because maybe you weren’t paying attention?
I bet that something IS right at the tip of your mind right now. You just need some motivation and the decision to act on it.
I know what mine is. That’s why this woman sitting across from me made such a strange impression. Call it synchronicity, call it a hunch, but I somehow knew it was more than that. I’ll tell you more about that soon.
For now though, just keep in mind that inspiration comes at the strangest times. Sometimes as a storybook moment with clouds parting, sunbeams, trumpets and angels singing with fireworks going off, and sometimes, we’re just sitting there on the toilet, picking our noses and humming Lady GaGa.
It would definitely be worth traveling back in time to witness some of these events, wouldn’t it? I bet we would be surprised at what that moment actually looked like. Like a random apple falling from a tree, or an “I have a dream” or just a simple “hmmm…”
I don’t know what my point is with all of this, other than I just wanted to share and give you some food for thought,
Think about it and let me know. (and by the way, don’t forget to wipe the toothpaste from the sides of your mouth…)
Send me an email or make a comment on this post. I would love to hear from you.
No, i’m not talking about basic, every day crap like to get out of bed, to mow the lawn, to go get a coffee or to get off the toilet or whatever… I mean a real decision?
Maybe even a “life changing” decision?
The dictionary defines the word decision as:
– a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration
– a formal judgment
It comes from the Latin word decidere: de – ‘off’ + caedere – ‘ to cut.’
This means that a decision is the final word, a commitment. It’s a done deal and there is no turning back. A declaration of the imminent. An “it will be because I say it will be and I want it more than anything and there will be no other alternative” declaration.
It kind of brings the word into a whole new perspective doesn’t it?
So again, when was the last time you made one? Have you ever really made one? Or do you just let things get decided for you?
I bet you’ve made some bad decisions? Sure, we’ve all made plenty of those, but what about an intentional good decision?
Are there things in your life that you would like to change? Maybe you want to quit smoking or drinking or doing drugs, or lose weight or better your financial situation? Maybe you want to become more involved with the community, or plant a tree or better your relationship with a loved one, or quit wasting your life away in front of the TV, or learn something new or to help out another person in need? Maybe to just be a better person, whatever that means to you?
Well, these things require decisions.
Everyone has things they would “like to” do or to change in their lives, but so many of us ultimately don’t change them because we don’t put forth the effort to make a decision to change them.
It’s not that we can’t, it’s just that we don’t. Or maybe we really just don’t want to.
Change doesn’t happen with just thoughts or good intentions. Change means that you make a decision and hold to your convictions. Not a maybe. A decision. Period.
I would like to propose that today, you make a decision that will positively effect your life for the better. A good decision. A life changing decision. A brave decision.
It could be large or small, but regardless of what it is, just make a decision and stick to it. After all, if you don’t stick to it, its not really a decision after all, is it?
Better yet, why stop there? I think that once you finally do make “that” decision (and you all know which one i’m talking about, because everyone has some sort of “that” decision to make in some shape or form) I think you’ll start to find that you will be making even more decisions. Imagine that? Being more decisive? Wouldn’t that be a great decision?
I would even propose you make a public declaration of your decision, either out loud to your friends or family, or via your social network of choice. Hell, why not just spray paint it on your garage door? What better way to secure the outcome of your decision than to be held publicly accountable if you fail to follow through? Just a little motivator. An insurance policy towards something better.
Lets make today, May 21th, a day of global decision making. Decisions to better our lives no matter how small and hold ourselves accountable for them. What do you have to lose? Accept for maybe something that would change your life?
Speaking of decisions, today in 1927, Charles Lindbergh landed in Europe after he made the decision to climb into a tin can full of fuel and began what was to be the world’s first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. That was a life changing decision.
How did he do it and end up making history? I don’t know… he just decided to i guess.
Feel free to post your decisions as a comment on this blog if you’d like. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.