Category Archives: Passion

Three things a manager needs to coach

Three things a manager needs to coach: Establish expectationsContinually coachCreate accountability Establish expectations According to Gallup, employees whose manager involves them in setting goals is four times more likely to be engaged. But only 30% of employees ever get this opportunity. Continually coach Employees are three times more likely to be engaged if they get daily feedback than annual feedback. Create accountability Metrics are needed. Learn more: Strong Management – Strengths based training for managers to help their people be at their best. (data from It’s the Manager book by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter) 

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Five steps to building a strengths-based culture

According to Gallup, there are five steps to building a strengths-based culture.  Start with the CEO or it doesn’t work.Require every employee to discover their strengths.Build an internal network of strengths coaches.Integrate strengths into performance management.Transform your learning programs. Here are some notes on each of these. Start with the CEO or it doesn’t work. People watch what their leaders do and say. And there’s a finely honed BS detector. In team building sessions if I see the leader isn’t engaged and involved, I know the team is going to struggle – during the activity and beyond. Require every employee to discover their strengths. Using StrengthsFinder or MBTI gives everyone on a team a common language to talk about unique abilities. Build an internal network of strengths coaches. Who are your strengths champions in the organization? How can they coach your high potentials? Integrate strengths into performance management. Mangers need to know their own strengths and use them. Then they need to know their people’s strengths and unlock them. Transform your learning programs. Get rid of any learning programs that don’t focus on strengths. Strengths are your rocket fuel. Learn more: Strong Management –  Strengths based training for managers to help their people be at their best. (data from It’s the Manager book by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter) 

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What happens if you ask for happiness?

“If you ask the grail for happiness, that demand precludes happiness. But if you serve the grail properly, you will find that what happens and happiness are the same thing.” – Robert Johnson The grail mythology says we are on a life quest for something precious, something unique, something just out of sight…yet in plain sight. We just don’t have the eyes for it yet. Many of us choose pleasure, some form of happiness as an unspoken grail.  If you demand happiness? That’s a sure way of being unhappy. As William Blake wrote, “it is right it should be so, man was made for joy and woe.” What if you don’t struggle against what happens in life, that mixture of joy and woe? Johnson says we will find happiness in what happens. The war is over. Blake agreed, “joy and woe are woven fine, a clothing for the soul divine.”

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How much time does the average person spend on social media?

Q: How much time does the average person spend on social media? A: Two hours “If I only had all the time back that I wasted on Facebook!” It’s a common lament. If you had all your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter time back…what would you do instead?  The best time to ‘do what you would do instead’ was when you first joined.  The second best time is today.

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Forky from Toy Story 4 and Albert Camus on your life’s purpose

“A person’s life purpose is nothing more than to rediscover, through the detours of art, or love, or passionate work, those one or two images in the presence of which his heart first opened.”–       Albert Camus ArtLovePassionate work These are Camus’ three – the ways to rediscover those precious things that you saw and felt when your heart first opened. Of the three, I’m guessing that love is what first opened your young heart. It could have been love for another person, love for the natural world, anything.  A child often doesn’t discriminate what it first loves – witness Bonnie’s love for Forky in Toy Story 4. Her art also became her love – a plastic spork. What matters to us? How to thread that narrow path once again and taste what we first glimpsed? Camus offers solid advice here. The three ‘detours’ lead to what can’t be found on any map. Today and all life long, the three detours are ready to lead us back home.

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Ursula K. Le Guin on power, knowledge and choice

“As a man’s real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do.” –   Ursula Le Guin When we’re young, the way is wide open. We don’t have power or knowledge. By the time we hit middle age, many doors previously open are now closed. We can mourn that loss. It’s human to do so and need to. Also true, but not noticed as much is the power and knowledge we’ve gathered by being alive and awake closed many of those doors. Cul-de-sacs and dead ends drop away as we get wiser. Eventually? There’s no choice at all. We just do what we must – the narrow path of our passion.

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Bernard Malamud on what first drafts are for

“First drafts are for learning what your novel or story is about. Revision is working with that knowledge to enlarge and enhance an idea, to re-form it. D.H. Lawrence, for instance, did seven or eight drafts ofThe Rainbow. The first draft of a book is the most uncertain—where you need guts, the ability to accept the imperfect until it is better. Revision is one of the true pleasures of writing. ‘The men and things of today are wont to lie fairer and truer in tomorrow’s memory,’ Thoreau said.” – Bernard Malamud After the first step of a project or fulfilling a passion, there’s a pause. And you either go on or you don’t. You either persist or you don’t. You need two things to begin: gutsand the ability to accept the imperfect until it is better. The imperfect is where play lives. Failure is the only option here. After you’ve begun, you either keep going…or you don’t. Continuing after the first initial burst of inspiration can be a slog – joyless persistence.  Or not.  Malamud obviously loved the rewriting process. He called revision “one of the true pleasures of writing”.I believe him. He only published eight novels. He wrotenine novels – he burned the manuscript of his first book in 1948. His first published novel came out four years later – it’s called The Natural. You may have seen the Robert Redford movie adaptation. Passion sparks. Play welcomes the imperfect. And the joy that can be found in persistencelets us “enlarge and enhance an idea, to re-form it.” That certainly sounds like true pleasure.

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What to do if you’re not a genius (and what to do if you are)

The Pulitzer-prize winning writer Bernard Malamud, in an interview in The Paris Review, had some advice for writers. This advice applies to all of us. First, for those of us who are non-geniuses. He said, “if you’re not a genius, imitate the daring.” This is pretty specific. Artists of all kinds – painters, musicians, writers, etc. – are routinely advised to imitate the great artists in their field. Ironically, this imitation, when fully learned, provides the technical skills and foundation for real originality. Malamud goes further. Don’t just imitate the great ones. Imitate the daring. Daring is what is required. Leaps into the unknown are not for the faint of heart. And leaps into the unknown are the only actions that can move your life closer to what you dream of.  I’m endlessly inspired by people that are daring. They might be musicians or other types of artists, or they more likely are living a quixotic life. When in doubt, us non-geniuses could use more daring. But what if you are a genius? Malamud has different advice for you. “Assert yourself, in art and humanity.” No need to imitate anyone or anything. Just assert yourself and your passion. Don’t hide any longer. That is of course its own form of daring. Assert yourself in your craft and your work. And assert yourself in your everyday life, your interactions at home, in the shop, everywhere.  There you have it – two bits of advice for everyone – geniuses and non-geniuses alike. Although I suspect we all have parts of us in each category. So we might as well follow both pieces of advice.   “…if you’re not a genius, imitate the daring. If you are a genius, assert yourself, in art and humanity.” – Bernard Malamud, Paris Review interview

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Tolstoy shows us the difference between being civilized and a savage (hint: it’s not what you think)

“Why, of course,” objected Stepan Arkadyevitch. “But that’s just the aim of civilization—to make everything a source of enjoyment.”  “Well, if that’s its aim, I’d rather be a savage.” – Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina We can see from this little quote how the dark side of civilization betrays itself and betrays us. We’re all trying to enjoy everything.  What if that’s not the true aim? What if the hedonic treadmill that chasing after the pleasures plops us on isn’t the point? The Buddhists pinpoint that all suffering comes from trying to make everything a source of enjoyment. What if the peak moments in our life aren’t ‘pleasant’?  What if we’re at our best when we’re downright uncomfortable, a little scared even?  And we welcome that experience in, become good friends with it? How might that revolutionize how we move through this precious life? What if we stop trying to make everything a source of enjoyment and get a little more wild, a little more savage?

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Leo Tolstoy gives us the universal solution to all questions

“There was no solution, but that universal solution which life gives to all questions, even the most complex and insoluble. That answer is: one must live in the needs of the day—that is, forget oneself.” – Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina Tolstoy shows us the antidote to the misery that accompanies what David Hinton calls ‘the relentless industry of self’. There are two parts.  First, live in the needs of the day. What is this day calling from us? This is a different question than asking ‘what can I get done today’ or ‘how can I have fun today’ or ‘how can I get away from what’s troubling me’.  Second, forget oneself. One day alone is larger than our little ego could ever be. Forget yourself. Forget your plans, your worries, how you’re perceived, if you’re making the right moves or not. Passion helps with this – we can get lost in flow. And purpose helps with this – do what we do today for someone else’s benefit, not our own.

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