FOCUS: Live Your Passion!

Selected Life Lesson
Always be passionate about what you want to pursue. Always think you can never give up.
-Taylor B’s Life Lesson from Haven, Kansas

Richard’s Thoughts…
Having and living a life full of passion is a wonderful thing. But how many of you and your friends actually execute on your passions on a day-to-day basis? I recently re-launched my website because I am doubling-down on my own passions. I am working to make it happen.

Are you? Better yet: What are your passions? Do you know? And if you do know, are you doing anything about them?

You see, passions are great. But if they are just sitting up on the shelf collecting dust, what good are they? They become a box of dusty baseball cards that are depreciating in value. Perhaps today is the day to double-down on your passion. Dust off the box and get moving!

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Mental Health Days

Working in one of the entrepreneurial capitals of the world, I have kept my finger on the pulse of the trends not only in the types of business being created, but also the business management behind them. One of the many perks being given out today is an idea around no vacation policy. It is definitely an interesting concept and I have met people on both sides of the fence of this discussion.

In fact, I recently wrote about how my generation appears to be obsessed with being overworked.

For example, if you take a day off of work because you have a physical ailment, that’s not going to raise any eyebrows. But if you take a day off to deal with stress and emotional issues, people view that differently and some may even accuse you of slacking off and being weak.

A few weeks ago I chose to work from home. I wasn’t feeling well. I could have taken a day off, but I wanted to push through. In the end, it all worked out, but I needed the “mental health day.” We work hard. Me especially. My tombstone will probably read: “Worked himself to death – but he sure had fun!” I suppose that is better than it saying: “Was born, smiled a few times and now he sleeps.”

I don’t wish to make light of death, but I am here on this Earth to live. To thrive. To make a difference. And that is what I intend to do.

My goal when this year began was to “Build Something.” I didn’t know what the “something” was and I am still clarifying it, but I’m getting there. This will be a journey we go on together.

That’s why mental health days are so important in this day and in this time. You need the time to think. To clear your head. To relax all the muscles in your body. That is where clarity comes. And then life can begin.

(flickr image via niemster)

FOCUS: Be Thankful!

Selected Life Lesson
Be thankful for today because tomorrow may never come.
-S.R.’s Life Lesson from Central City, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
I have been thinking a lot lately about life and the loss that comes with it. This is certainly not an uplifting topic to spend my time on day in and day out, but through my reflections, I have learned a lot about myself and what I want.

We all know life is hard. It is painful. But it can also be the most beautiful thing in the world. Just like last week’s life lesson was about sharing your love, this week’s is about living completely.

How can you do that? Only you can know. But my recommendation is to find what you are passionate about, and do it. Find who you love, and live it out loud. And find what makes you smile and make that a part of your everyday life.

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Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

I am happy to say that I am no longer someone who hasn’t read Harper Lee’s
To Kill a Mockingbird. I can now talk to my former English teacher without shame. Of course, I’m sure she has another book for me to read, but I finished this assignment!

While it may have taken me 28 years to pick this one up, I’m glad I did. It’s been on my list for awhile and perhaps it was a good idea to wait. I say that because when I was speaking recently with a friend about it, she responded that she should probably read it again as she has grown a lot since the last time she read it. I didn’t understand that at the time, but now that I have finished it, I do.

The book, if you haven’t read it, it very well written. The writing is superb. It kept me, a mind wanderer, focused on the characters. It included great foreshadowing and while I wasn’t around in the 1930s in the South, it felt like I was there. It felt like I was living with Jem and Scout and Atticus.

“[...] librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the twentieth century.” While I don’t agree with that statement, I am glad I read this.

The book showed how three people can not only have a certain image of the world they live in, but also have an image of each other and over the course of time, the events in their lives change who they are. Or perhaps, it helps them become who they were meant to be.

I can’t say for sure and I have never been one to interpret literature properly, but I do believe that Lee created a world of change. Of growth. A situation where bad things happen and through the experience of life in the South, Jem, Atticus, Boo and Scout all become new, and perhaps better people.

To Kill a Mockingbird is definitely a classic and I will always recommend it, if for no other reason then you can identify with someone in this book. Try it. Sit in the courtroom while every waits with baited breath … you’ll feel the tension and yourself changing right along with the characters.

FOCUS: Love Unconditionally!

Selected Life Lesson
It’s important to show love and compassion.
-Paula W’s Life Lesson from Fenton, Missouri

Richard’s Thoughts…
Happy (early) Valentine’s Day! Whether you are celebrating with your significant other in the coming days, the lesson this week centers on love as an idea. That’s really all it is.

When you care about someone, friends, siblings, co-workers, competitors, and strangers,
there can be a sense of love and compassion. We can create relationships that are win-win,
both in life and in business.

We can all strive, each and every day to show love, to share love, to give love and to express compassion, be compassionate and live compassionately. To me, that is what Valentine’s Day is all about. Share and spread love and compassion.

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Why the hell is my generation bent on killing themselves? Seriously … who drank this Kool-Aid?

Don’t get me wrong. I am all in favor of busting my ass and making dreams happen, but I recently had a conversation with someone about a client of theirs. She was explaining that she would have a tough time enjoying the fruits of the labor because she works and is at the office until ten or eleven every night. (That is after going in at nine in the morning, at the latest.)

And it got me wondering … why? Seriously … why? What is the end goal?

I am not against hard work. In fact, I work my ass off, but why? That is at best, a 12-hour day and at worst, a 14-hour day. Every day. For five days a week. Plus more on the weekends. And I ask again: For what?

I believe it is one thing if you are building your own business, or you are a lawyer with a big case coming up, or a doctor who works in the ER and has 12-hour shifts four days a week. But this person is doing this each and every week. Non-stop.

There is more to life than work. You have to play. You have to read. You have to relax. And you have to take care of yourself. If you don’t, not only will you burn-out, you’re not going to be producing much work anyway.

So, why is this happening?

Is it a result of an employer asking too much? Bad time management skills? A combination of both?

My guess is that it is a combination of both. I’m not the world’s best at time management, but I know I don’t need to work 12-hour days to get my work done. Not only is that not sustainable, it is not healthy.

No matter how passionate you are, there is good hustle and there is bad hustle.

Which one are you?

FOCUS: Laugh!

Selected Life Lesson
Whatever happens in your day,
you can always find something to laugh about if you look hard enough.
-Jennifer S’ Life Lesson from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
By the time you open this message, we will know what the prognosticator of all prognosticators Puxatony Phil had to say about the upcoming spring. This day always reminds me of the Bill Murray movie in the name of his funny holiday, Groundhog’s Day.

We all have funny and sometimes tears-streaming-down-your-face funny events happen throughout the day, but rarely do we allow ourselves the joy of experiencing those moments. We stifle the laughter because we’re in public or with friends who may not enjoy laughing in the moment.

But life needs laughter. Our day-to-day lives need laughter. If you feel a laugh coming, let it come out. You will be glad you did!

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FOCUS: Emotions!

Selected Life Lesson
There is always emotional equilibrium to life; the sadder you are now, the happier you’ll get in the future and vice-verse.
-Jugwei S’ Life Lesson from Des Moines, Iowa

Richard’s Thoughts…
Life is just one big roller coaster, isn’t it? Birthdays (and the new year) are always great times to be introspective and since today is my birthday, I thought that is what this week’s life lesson should focus on. Much has happened in my life in the last 365 days. For starters I moved to New York City and then I tried out to be a US Open ball-person.

This year has given me some pretty darn high highs. But also some pretty low lows. And that is where Jugwei’s lesson comes in. Life is a magnificently created roller coaster that we get to ride. But with that, comes a major choice. Are you going to keep your eyes closed, or open them and experience each and every moment that comes along? Sure, it is okay to grip tightly sometimes, but I encourage you to throw your hands up into the air and enjoy the journey too!

So, that is my lesson on this, my 28th birthday. Life is going to bring you the brightest skies but it is going to deliver, sometimes at your own fault, the darkest of storms. But experience it. Take it on and you will be better for having lived through the valleys to enjoy the mountains that await.

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Ten Works Things I Can Do

As I reflect on the year that was 2011, I have been thinking a lot about 2012 and what I want and what I want to give. We all have a work/professional life and we all have a personal life. Oftentimes these two lives get merged together, but I believe it is important to have parts of you that just belong to one and some that just belong to the other.

It is in that thinking that I have created this two-part series. Today’s list is ten work things I can do.

  1. Write
  2. Design
  3. Motivate
  4. Create and deliver presentations
  5. Train
  6. Coach
  7. Advise
  8. Plan
  9. Develop systems
  10. Take and produce photos and video graphics

This list was actually quite difficult to come up with. It was hard thinking about the things I do on a day-to-day basis and summarizing them in a word or two. What can you do for work?