Interview with God

Will this be the Year? For You?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Mary Oliver

Is this the year for your new life? The year you push yourself out and over the edge of your comfort zone.

Why can't this be the time? 

The challenge is in every moment and the time is always now. James Baldwin

This can be the time to make your dent in the universe. To go into our garages and build the new mousetrap. To build the new you. 
 
One that expresses who YOU are. Don't confuse this with your FB, Instagram postings, or even your resume, where you look more like wanna-bes than the real YOU. 

The recipe is pretty straight forward. You take you with all of the expectations of others removed, add a big heaping tablespoon of courage, add extra chutzpah and then a pinch of regrets to taste and voila you get the real you.

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.  Seneca 49 AD

I have shared the following with thousands of people to remind them in a few minutes how precious life is.

What surprises you most about human kind?

“That they get bored with childhood, they rush to grow up, and then long to be children again.”
“That they lose their health to make money… and then lose their money to restore their health.”
"That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live in neither the present nor the future.”
“That they live as if they will never die… and die as though they had never lived.”

What are some of life’s lessons you want your children to learn?
“To learn they cannot make anyone love them. All they can do is let themselves be loved.”
“To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds, and it can take many years to heal them.”
“To learn that a rich person is not who has the most, but is one who needs the least.”
“To learn that there are people who love them dearly, but simply do not yet know how to express or show their feelings.”
“To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it differently.”
“To learn that it is not enough that they forgive one another, but they must also forgive themselves.”

(Excerpted from Interview with God.net)

How much time we waste. How our priorities are often upside down. How the most precious things we want get pushed into the attic and buried in our "hope chests". Hope Chest

We have to do the best with what we got and then do more!
  
I live completely in the present, released from the prison of the past with its haunting memories and vain regrets, released from the prison of the future with its tantalizing hopes and tormenting fears. All the enormous capacities formerly trapped in past and future flow to me here and now. Eknath Easwaran
 
Schedule little windows of time when you will develop your plans and yourself. Time to be focused and unfocused. Nothing will happen if you do not do this! What you need is inspiration. Which can come in a moment, any time, taking a shower, doing the dishes, taking a walk, meditating, reading. Fill your life with more stimulation, different voices, sources, points of view. Change it up. Shake it up. Find things that resonate with you that quicken your heart beat and put a lump in your throat. Then take notes and follow them.
 
You can work with the usual suspects, but find the new and different, that's connected to what we want, like or dream about. Meet with different people every week or month. Get disciplined about stretching your network. Use the existing connections to bridge to new tribes. Worlds that understand your unanswered questions, your "crazy" dreams and your insecurities and doubts. Tribes that will mentor you.
 
Still perplexed? Do you believe that every human is an infinite set of possibilities? Are you human?
My life experiences have shown me how people stop digging when they hit a few rocks. They stop peeling the onion when the tears start. They move away from the edge of the cliff when they see the rocks far below.
 
Get a jackhammer. Put on some goggles. Learn to para-glide.

Listen to what Alec Baldwin says:

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee "Alec Baldwin" 

I frequently worry that being productive is the surest way to lull ourselves into a trance of passivity and busyness the greatest distraction from living, as we coast through our lives day after day, showing up for our obligations but being absent from our selves, mistaking the doing for the being. Maria Popova

What I want for you is the delight that comes from doing what you want. Becoming you. Not merely the achievement of the financial or employment goals or even familial expectations. Yes do them. But make small, medium and large spaces for you. For when your passion bucket overflows everyone around you will get some. Whether you like it or not you infect others with your smile of delight, your glow of goodness, and your engaging enthusiasm for life. 

And when you are not yourself, when you are not smiling, and your passion bucket is empty--you also impact others, just very differently. 

Ripples flow from your life force either way.

So is 2016 the year of becoming you? Let's go!

To be and not to be, that is the answer. D. E. Harding

Happy New Year! Thanks for reading. 

 


In Giving and Living--Later is Probably Never

Most people I meet think that the life down the road will always be better.  We subscribe to this strange belief that we have infinite time. That the future is when we will focus on what is important, personal, and enjoyable. I guess we think life is like a great multi-course meal. We start off with drinks and some finger food and then you dig into the real food and end up with something really sweet at the end. We know this is not true. All phases of life should be guided by what we want and who you are. Fully contributing our talent and abilities to improving the campsite for the next campers. Whatever that means to you!

At HuffPost we've made theThird Metric -- redefining success beyond money and power to include well-being, wisdom and our ability to wonder and to give -- a key editorial focus. But while it's not hard to live a Third Metric life, it's very easy not to. It's easy to let ourselves get consumed by our work. It's easy to use work to let ourselves forget the things and the people that truly sustain us. It's easy to let technology wrap us in a perpetually harried, stressed-out existence. It's easy, in effect, to miss our lives even while we're living them. Until we're no longer living them. Arianna Huffington 

Life is short. And when you account for life's curve balls, your kids, parenting your parents, and your own health--it is a lot shorter than you think. We all have close friends who died young--who had "untimely" deaths. Do we really know how much time we have?

Just read a tweet from Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square fame:

Jack Dorsey ‏@jack   4:49 PM - 3 Dec 13

I probably have 18,000 more sunsets in my life. One of them is happening now. 

 
I think the spirit of this tweet is wonderful. Time is fleeting and we have limited time and sunsets. I used to count the Sundays left before my kids went to college. Jack assume he will live to 85 in calculating the 18000. He also assumes he will watch all of them. Let's say he only sees one a week  that reduces it to 2471. And once a month would leave only 600. This all assumes he sees and lives for 48 more years. I hope he does. But let's switch sunsets to hugs with your kids? Or one on one time with your mom. Or golf with your Dad. I did not realize that last February was going to be the last time I played golf with my father. I seriously thought I had dozens left. No more.  Golfers
 
"Next time, let's do that." There is no next time. Even if you do cross those coordinates again you will be different, the place will be different, the experience will be different. 

Carpe Diem. 

But the real point is, when we say "later" we mean "never". Because stuff happens.

One of my greatest pet peeves (I have a few:) is when people tell me that they have no time to "give", "volunteer", or "do what I want" because they are so busy. Busy being busy? They have amazing plans for later. --When they are less busy, retired or win the lottery :)

Doing later, being later and/or giving later makes no sense if you believe that our time is limited. 

Steve Davis of PATH: First, avoid the ‘I’m-going-to-give-back-later [to society]‘ trap. I find it offensive. I hope people haven’t spent the first part of their lives just taking. So the first advice is: Think about this as an integrated model. Don’t wait to get involved in your community and to get involved in the world--because you are working.

Second point, if you are in a place where you’re ready to make a really deeper transition to actually moving toward this work in mid-career, the first thing you should do is make sure that you spend some time volunteering, engaging, figuring out where your passion is. Because, at the end of the day, this is work, a lot of work — hard, complex work — and you don’t get rewarded as much; you get different kinds of rewards. It is important to tie to a passion or a skill because that’s what’s going to drive you forward.

The third, to the younger folks in their 20s, I would say remember that we are in a world where cross-sectoral work is vital. We need people who not only have good intentions about the government or public or nonprofit or private sector, we also need people who’ve actually experienced working in more than one sector because you have to come in to bust some myths about the way people behave. You have to come in understanding incentives and intentions. This could actually create great careers.

Let's stop saying what we will do later. Let's make plans to do and be things now and tomorrow. As I say to anyone who will listen, Live your legacy! 

Will your regret be "Needed to spend more time at the office"? "Wish I would have had more stuff?" Really? How many sunsets or hugs do you have left?

Later probably means never. 

Today is a great day to start doing what you know needs to be done--to help yourself and to help others. To strengthen your network and to mentor others. 

Thanks for reading. John


Pre-death Networking

Sorry for the morbid title. A dear friend and I were bemoaning our advanced age and talking about our life goals. He declared, "I guess we are lucky to be in the "pre-death" stage of our lives!" Never heard that phrase. Of course it is true. While we are alive we are not dead. :) But some of us are so obsessed with death, we don't live. We "plan" for the end of our lives, our retirement, "the good days to come", "when the kids are.........". We procrastinate gratification, even our dreams, and the care and feeding of our relationships because of the practical choices we have to make, at least that's what we tell ourselves. 

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. Mark Twain

Regrettably I attend a lot more funerals these days. I must tell you some of them are for "old people" who lived long and glorious lives. But many of them are for people whose lives were cut "short". People in their 20's, 30's, 40's, and 50's. These are different types of services from the memorials for octogenarians+. We all know there is no guarantee for length of life. That life and death happen. Regardless of the age of the deceased, the survivors always say the same thing, "I thought we had more time...." Now

One of the awful consequences of the procrastination lifestyle is it never gets easier. Time goes faster and "later" is harder to catch up with. The path to hell is paved with good intentions. And when the going gets tough, many people never get going. 

Here are the top 5 things that Bronnie Ware, a hospice nurse, heard from her dying patients. I have included a portion of her observations:

1. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. 

2. I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. 

3. I wish I had let myself be happier. This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. 

4. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result. 

5. I wish I’d lived a life true to my dreams instead of what others had expected of me.  This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. 

By the way, these are things I hear from living people of all ages. Many things happen to people well before their deathbeds that give them pause. Some are liberated and change. They come to the realization that life is very short and that their priorities need to be reset before its too late. That connecting with their own souls, connecting with their loved ones, and connecting others with their dreams and wishes is much more important now. Some remain imprisoned to habits, their comfort and never change. 

Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt and dance like no one is watching. Randall Leighton

The point here is we have to make these connections pre-death. I envy those of you who believe in reincarnation and an infinite life where you can postpone and resolve your relationships in a different life form. I believe that you get one chance to be good and do good. And that chance matters to the choices and trajectories of others. Yes, it impacts you too, but your legacy will always be your example and your relationships.

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.  Dr Seuss

That's why we talk about the lifestyle of networking, of connecting and strengthening your relationships. This is the time. Right now. If you wait for the "right" time, it may never come. Sorry to inform you that your plans and expectations are not taken seriously by Mother Nature. 

Say what you mean and do what you were meant to do. I think we would all agree we are in pre-death. We may disagree on how much time we have. I contend it is far less than you think. As for me, when my time comes and pre-death is over, I plan to have no regrets and sleep soundly.

Thanks for reading. John

 


Turn Regrets Into Resolutions

We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.  T. S. Eliot

We can not start a new year and just hope that it will be different. We have to know it for the first time. We have to think about where we are and where we came from. Who we are and who we want to be. We must own our actions, inactions and our reactions. We must take responsibility for all of our achievements both regretted and celebrated. All are worthy of our attention to gain insight into what we need to do.

A big mistake is to forget the things you regret from the previous year. We all all want to avoid regrets, but stuff happens or didn't happen. So as we make our annual promises to excercise more and eat less, let's also take a quick inventory of what we regretted from 2011. Regrets are opportunities for reflection and enlightenment.  Tattoo-Regret

Regrets are sins of commission and omission. They are an essential component of our humanity. If we do not have the emotional and intellectual capacity to think about what we did or did not do, then we are socio-paths with no compass. We regret because we feel.  To regret is human.

The most helpful way to experience regret is to feel it deeply, get over it quickly and move on and use it to push you to new behaviors that are going to be helpful.       Dr. Neal Roese, Northwestern University

Always fascinated by people in job interviews who have no regrets, no failures, no weaknesses. It's not as suspicious, as it is telling of an emptiness. Our lives are filled with the good and the regretted. The only way we can improve is to be aware of our shortcomings ans our regrets. Awareness is always the first step. 

In a meta-analysis of many regret studies conducted by Neal Roese of Northwestern, here's what he found we regret most:

Roese2005_Fig1

These studies were biased towards younger persons and students. Earlier this year, Roese surveyed adults from across the country and got these results

Sources_of_regret
Romance, marriage and life partners topped the list, followed by family relationships and then education and career again.

What will I do differently in 2012 to push these regrets off my list? We know that doing the exact same thing you did last year is insufficient to address these areas of your life. Whichever you feel are important to you, need to go on the top of your 2012 resolutions list.

Relationships, education and career will always dominate your list. Relationships take great effort and time as they evolve and can not be neglected. Same for education and career. The world is changing and so must you, to stay fresh and sharp. These areas require your constant attention to continuously sustain them and improve. Ignore them at your peril. These regrets can turn into tumors if you give up. There are many sources of regret that have to be forgotten. Buyer's remorse, for example, is not worth your time--move on! And as you can see, financial decisions are not as important. But your primary human romantic and familial relationships are key to your life satisfaction. As well as your life's work and career.

Here's the intangible. Regrets of omission and inaction may be the most daunting because you do not know what those choices would have triggered. We know that each action generates a cascade of events and actions that can change your life. So hesitate less and go for it more. Take a chance. Feel the fear and be more decisive. Be first to connect and reconnect with people you care about or don't know yet. Mentor others. "Next time" rarely happens. Let life take you to uncharted waters and new territories. The only thing you may lose ----is a regret!

We need to learn to love the flawed imperfect things we create and forgive ourselves for creating them.  Regret does not remind us that we did badly, it reminds us that we know we can do better. --Kathryn Shulz

Happy New Year and thanks for reading. John


A Sampling of New Year's Inspirations and Tools

For what it’s worth, it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit... start whenever you want... you can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that stop you. I hope you feel things that you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.

  Benjamin Button's letter to his daughter.

Any time you set new goals, reflect on your path, or make new plans to reach your own potential is a good time. If you like new year's then make the most of it. I have included a few things that I review each year to get me focused on what I want for the next year and beyond (like this Benjamin Button quote). I have learned that most goals won't fit neatly into a 12 month time frame. I try not to focus on the transactional and push myself to consider the transformational. The typical and somewhat trivial new years resolutions can be pretty selfish--Lose weight, eat better, exercise more, get my finances in order, read more.....These are your goals if you want to live longer and be more successful. These "goals" are important but are so basic to life. Don't get me wrong, take care of yourself, stop smoking, get your fiscal and physical act together. But seriously, you know these things. Just do it.

If we spend a little less time contemplating our abs and more time planning our futures, we would all be better off. You won't be surprised when I tell you it will always be the relationships that define your life. Relationships you nurture, repair, develop, and engage will define your success and your happiness. Connect with people you care about. Be mentored and mentor others. Develop new relationships around your goals and passions. Tiny advances here are not enough. You need to make big strides, huge compromises, and extra efforts to strengthen your relationships into mutually beneficial ones. You have to take the lead if you want something to happen.

A good friend of mine was telling me about her 84 year-old dad who I guess is starting to lose his senses and whits everyday. He lives 3000 miles from here so she doesn't see him very often. In fact she told me it has been more than 6 months and she could not make the time over the holidays. I let her have it. "You gotta get out there and see him", I urged her. "You have to see him when he recognizes you and he can tell you his stories." She actually was a little offended by my tone. She told me she was going to get him Skype so they could see and talk more. Time and money seem like a small price to pay to see your dad in person. For me, I live by, "No Regrets!"

Here's my popular one-page goal setting sheet called the SWiVEL (Download SWIVEL_new_2009). Strengthen What I Value Enjoy and Love. Spend some quiet time to develop your answers. Feel free to change it. Writing your goals makes a big difference.

Here is my final device for focus--the UCLA System:

Urgency--A sense that time is valuable and fleeting gives you an inner drive to accomplish things. How do we create a continuous sense of urgency without the stress?

Community--Connecting to strengthen a sense of belonging and community around you. How will you connect or reconnect with people that you can help?

Learning--Education is cranial oxygen. You need to learn new things. What will I learn this year? What will you learn or even master this year? 

Action--Nothing matters unless you do something. Take steps to move your agenda. Crawl, walk then leap!

My ever present question always precedes any process: What do you want? 

That answer will guide your vision for the next year. While we all need to lose weight, tighten our abs, get our finances in order, and spend more time with family--we also need to envision what we want in our lives. Not sure where you thought you'd be in 2011 but the next year will go by quickly too. No time like the present to pursue your dreams in addition to renewing our promises to look and feel better.

So there you have it. Benjamin Button, Interview with God, SWiVEL, and the UCLA System. Hopefully something here gets you to quit your membership in the procrastination club and focus on advancing your goals and relationships. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and into a grand world of who you can be.

Here's to an extraordinary 2011! Thanks for reading. John

 


We begin again to renew our network of commitments

 

Every new year I share this thought. Back in 1999 I found a website called Interviewwithgod.net. The host claimed that God visited him and answered all of his questions. This posting left an indelible impression on me.

What suprises you most about humankind?  God allegedly replied:

  • That they get bored with childhood and rush to grow up, then long to be children again.
  • That they lose their health to make money, and then lose their money to restore their health.
  • That they think anxiously about the future such that they forget the present and live neither in the present or the future.
  • That they live as if they will never die and die as if they have never lived.

Lanikai steps

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow when a new life begins for me, as it does each day, as it does it each day.--Stanley Kunitz

When we sense a beginning, we tend to get more focused. A chance to start over and do better. We push the magical reset button to get a do-over. As long as you do not get caught in the vicious cycle of the same old resolutions that are so familiar that they become meaningless. You know the ones--"I need to exercise more." "I need to eat more healthful food." "I need to spend more time with my family." Lily Tomlin said, "I gained and lost the same 10 pounds so many times, my cellulite has dejavu!" According to the University of Scranton, making new year's resolutions increases your chances of accomplishing a positive change by a factor of 10! However, without specific goals, dates, times, and metrics, only 1 out of 5 keep their resolutions. So prevent your annual vows from becoming the broken record sounds of insincerity. But you knew that!

I will avoid all of the overused metaphors and analogies that depict the year past. You've heard them all, WEATHERING THE STORM, BEEN A ROLLER COASTER, OR NAVIGATING THE ROUGH SEAS. This year will not be a CAKE WALK by any stretch. Still a lot of challenges remain in the economy. Even though it feels more comfortable. Comfortable, the most dangerous place to be in the world. Don't let your guard down. Don't even let a sliver of complacency enter your mind. This has to be a time when you increase your resolve to continue your journey to strengthen your position in your life. Or to make new huge strides towards a new destination. You can start with baby steps if you increase your momentum with each step. This somewhat quieter time is when you make your move. Small and fleeting competitive advantage to move right now. Don't put off what you have to and need to do.

Here's a few thoughts to shape your new year's strategy:J0443793

  1. Make this a defining year and time. How will you remember this year? When you look back upon it, what made it unique and meaningful?
  2. Don't define your goals by what you do NOT want. Follow your heart and your head. Envision  the way you want your life to be. Not a default position based on what you want to avoid.
  3. Don't be the smartest member of your network. Assess your network. If you are the biggest fish in your pond, then move into a great lake, your network is not helping you. You are helping everyone else. Upgrade your network to challenge you and push you. Break out of the groups that hold you back. Your network has to inspire you and breed success.
  4. Schedule your mentoring physical.Get an appointment with your mentor(s). Renew your openness to confront a truthful and trusted evaluation. Test out your new goals to get constructive criticism. If you need one, get on your horse and find a great mentor.
  5. Reward yourself.What can you weave into your calendar that you will look forward to? Is there a special trip? A favorite activity or hobby that can interrupt your hard work with delight?
  6. Meet up. Beyond your transactional postings on FB, reach out and engage those you care about in serious exchanges about their goals and your aspirations. Arrange, dare I say, face to face conversations. Figure out how you can assist them achieve their new year's resolutions. It will make you and your network stronger.
  7. Conjure up the child within. Let down your guard a little. Beckon the creativity and genius that resides inside. Let it out. Take some risks and most of all have fun!

To accomplish these goals or any goals for 2010, the experts say dumb things like lower your expectations and be realistic. If you want to settle for what happens or accept the status quo, then be my guest. I say, get inspired. Renew your passion for the things that matter to you. Then you will see something that might surprise you -- a glimpse of who you really are and were meant to be.

2010 could be just another year that comes and goes and we will ask where it went. You and your cellulite will have been there before. Or it can be an extraordinary chapter in your life that is filled with chances and changes. You choose.

I wish you a prosperous and fulfilling year. Thanks for reading. John


2009--Okay I am going to get serious!

Happy New Year to all! I truly wish you and your families a year of resilience and fulfillment. There are many sources of optimism for our future. Regrettably, I have to agree with the experts that things may not get much worse, but they are also not going to get better soon. As I have discussed these many weeks, there are many opportunities amidst the recession and the challenges.  In fact there is more latitude to make changes in times like these. So don't procrastinate, make this the time to advance your agenda, your ideas, and your dreams. Probably a time to adopt the mentoring and networking lifestyle :) Don't fall victim to the "Let's see how things go" or "I think I'll wait until......" No better time then NOW to make it happen! 

Check out this slideshow. I discovered it more than 10 years ago. I have shared it with every group I have led or addressed. Regardless of your religious views the message is profound and forces you to pause and reflect on what is important. 

Interview with God

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: godinterviewphilosophy)
A few additional thoughts to help you jump start your plans for 2009. 
  1. Write it down. Try out my new and improved  SWIVEL (Strengthen What I Value, Enjoy and Love)vision and planning tool. Download SWIVEL new 2009 Writing down your goals and ideas dramatically increases your commitment and therefore your follow-through. Even if you do not like this form, please write down your goals or your new year's resolutions. 
  2. How's my network doing? Conduct an assessment of your inner circle, your kitchen cabinet, your closest and dearest confidantes. Are any of these folks holding you back to where you want to go?  Does this group have the experiences and background to push you forward? Think about how you can enhance this group to add new perspective and energy to your journey. If this is the board of directors of your career, what changes, if any, should you make? 
  3. Who's my mentor? Getting good counsel in times like these is invaluable. Don't think of your next job as much as your goals and vision for yourself. What I mean is, your mentor(s) will give you an objective view on your plans and your thinking. Mentors can give your great advice on a job but may provide important insight regarding your career path. My mentors have pushed me out of my comfort zone so many times, I do not know the boundaries of the box anymore.:) Reconnect with your mentor(s) sooner than later. Maybe share your SWIVEL with them. Schedule your annual reality check up now!
  4. Connect and Reconnect. Make a list of people you want to see and get off the couch and go see them. Go to every opportunity to meet new people and experience new things. You need stimuli to see new opportunities, to try on new visions of yourself, to break bad habits/routines, to get inspired, and to earn how others see the world. If you are hesitating, this is a good primer on networking  I hate networking...  Jan 2 was the 25th anniversary of the day I sat next to this mysterious dark haired woman in row 21 on United Airlines. I was on my way to Hawaii for a vacation and she was returning home from Colorado. We started a conversation and we have been married for more than 23 years! Meeting people and good conversations can lead you places that may surprise you.
Where will you be in 2010? This is the time to think about that question. These are extraordinary times. If you are not motivated to get serious, then you have been either in a coma or highly medicated. :) If you make this a lifestyle choice, something you think about all of the time, then your transition will seem effortless. Take little steps everyday. Like the old saying, "By the inch it's a cinch, by the yard can be very hard." Make this a year to remember. Thanks for reading. John