You are a verb.

I write, therefore I am

I know you may view yourself as a noun most of the time. I do. I am a man, a dad, a consultant, a physical therapist, an American, etc. But sometimes I need more than a noun—I need a kick in the pants, something that gets me moving.

I was listening to the replays from the NAMS 11 conference this morning, and Alex Mandossian was riffing on the idea that you are a verb. More specifically, he was encouraging people to pick one verb, and put it in the form, “I [verb], therefore I am.”

It’s not too scary, though, because you can change it. If you try one and you don’t like it or it doesn’t feel congruent, you can grow into it or pick a new one.

Today I write, therefore I am. I love writing. I love it mostly because I love thinking hard about things, and it’s rewarding to be able to think clearly enough to communicate them to others. And for me, writing has always been my favorite form of communication.

Which verb are you today? Pick one and try it on.

 

Getting SuperBetter with Thankfulness

Tonight I watched a fascinating Ted Talk by Jane McGonigal called “The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life.” I encourage you to spend some time watching (if you watch the whole thing you’ll spend less than 20 minutes). 

Jane McGonigal TED

During her presentation, McGonigal mentions the top 5 regrets of dying people I had mentioned in an earlier post. She then explained how gaming, and particularly her game SuperBetter, helped people create lives that minimize those regrets.

One of the core strategies of SuperBetter is emotional resilience, and thankfulness is a key component. During her talk McGonigal encourages people to text or tweet someone to express their appreciation.

You can tweet your gratitude, but I would encourage you to consider sharing your gratitude face to face. It’s not the only way, but perhaps it’s the best.

Who are you going to express your thankfulness to today? The brain chemistry says if you express your thankfulness every day, you will level up and live longer.

 

More Important than Startup Success?

I lost a friend today. Unexpectedly. I had just talked to him yesterday, and everything seemed good.

I recently read a blogpost about the top 5 regrets dying people have. I changed them from regrets to encouragements and wrote them on my bathroom mirror with Dry Erase markers.

5 EncouragementsThey are:

1. Have the courage to live a life true to yourself, not the life others expect of you.
2. Don’t work so hard.
3. Have the courage to express your feelings.
4. Stay in touch with your friends.
5. Let yourself be happy.

Entrepreneurship: Are You Willing to Work This Hard?

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” —Warren Tracy

It’s Saturday night. Your significant other is sitting on the couch next to you watching Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. You are supposed to be watching, too. And you are, sort of. roman-holiday

But you’re an entrepreneur, so you’re also reading Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup. And thinking about your lean canvas. And working on the presentation you’re doing Monday for a potential investor. Everyone likes Prezi, right?

If that’s you, you’re not alone. I’m doing the work, too—enjoying the present and betting on a brighter future.

“Success isn’t measured by money or power or social rank. Success is measured by your discipline and inner peace.” —Mike Ditka

Focus—Pick One Thing (And Do It Now)

I am in busy/distracted mode, and I am not proud of that. I like getting things done, I like finishing things. But right now my mind is going a million miles a minute in a million different directions. How about yours?

Here’s what I am going to do:

1. Quit Firefox.
2. Close all of my Chrome tabs except one.
3. Turn off my email notification pop up
4. Turn off the TV in the background
5. Put my iPhone face down so I can’t see the texts, the twitter push notifications, etc.

I don't always

Now I am going to spend the next 45 minutes making an actual difference in my life and business. I am going to do the hard work of focused thinking, which is always harder than being distracted. And because I can and will do this, I will win.

How about you?

 

How Watching “The Voice” Can Make You a Better Businessperson

Like the 13 million other folks who watched The Voice on Monday, I saw the unlikely return of Jake Worthington.

Jake Worthington, contestant on The Voice

Jake Worthington, contestant on The Voice

Jake auditioned on a previous season of The Voice, and things didn’t go well for him. This season, though, Adam, Blake and Shakira all wanted him. How did he make this happen? And what can we learn?

He stayed humble. People like confidence, but they don’t like cockiness. Jake could have swaggered on stage—sometimes people react to criticism by peacocking. Instead, Jake acted like a guy you’d like to have on your team, or maybe go to a ball game with. Either way, he stayed likeable, and that’s important—for contestants on The Voice, and for entrepreneurs.

He didn’t give up. Jake tried before. He failed. In front of all those celebrities, friends, family and 14 million other people. Ouch. Many of us would have given up at that point, gone back to living our ordinary lives and not risking failure again. Jake got back on that stage and laid his heart out there again—and got picked!

He listened to his critics. His first time on The Voice, the judges gave Jake some specific feedback and suggestions to improve. He didn’t get defensive. He didn’t argue, rationalize or justify his choices—he listened. Many of us don’t listen to our critics. We think we know better than our audience. We might nod politely, but we don’t like to listen to hard things. If you want to get picked, it’s important that you learn to listen to hard things.

He got better. He could have “listened” to the judges but still not worked to get better. That’s not Jake, though. He picked a better song, demonstrated better breath control, and judges clamored to have him join their team.

That’s enough about Jake. What about you?

What happens to you when you fail? How do you respond? Do you overcompensate by showing off, deny that there’s a problem, stop listening or stop trying? Try this instead: be like Jake. If you do, there’s a good chance you’ll get picked.

 

Stop Reading, Start Doing

Avalance

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This morning I am looking through my emails and I know I have a problem. I am oversubscribed. I love signing up for things. I love reading things. Lots of things. An avalanche of things.

The only problem is, I spend way too much time reading emails. Even skimming them takes time away from doing things that are more important.

My resolution today: unsubscribe from a handful of lists. Not the ones that bring real value, but the curiosities, the “someday I might find that useful but not today” emails that are clogging up my inbox and keeping me unfocused.

What about you? Do you need to unsubscribe, too? What will you do with the time and energy you can invest in something more meaningful?

 

Dealing with Disaster [Or What Feels Like Disaster]

Disaster

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This blog post might not have been. It seemed like it wasn’t going to happen. I was having a little crisis, a little disaster all my own this evening.

My computer has been freezing all night long.

All. Night. Long.

And frankly, I am not amused. My old PC used to freeze. I expected it. It was a PC. But my shiny Macbook Pro? This thing isn’t supposed to freeze. It never does.

Until it does.

And then what do I do? Do I remember my commitments and find a way? Or do I bail and blame technology?

Or what do you do when your biggest client, the one who never forgets to pay, forgets to pay?

What do you do when the webpage that never fails falls unexpectedly to oblivion (aka Google’s second page)?

There are times I just want to give up for the day. Or the night. Turn on Modern Family and pretend I have no problems. And sometimes I do. But more often?

More often I focus on the WHY—the big WHY that got me trying in the first place. And if I can remember the WHY, I can move forward. Find a new way to get my blog done. Find a new way to keep my cash flow steady. Find a new way to offer even more value from my web page so my web page crawls back onto Google’s front page.

It’s not easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it. But I’m not everyone, and you’re not everyone, either.

You’re an entrepreneur. You know your WHY. Remember, then face down that disaster.

And email me if you need to talk.