Category Archives: Persistence

What ‘no’ will get you to ‘yes’?

This is the 10-year anniversary of the newsletter. That’s 120 newsletters. This month I’ll post my 1,300th blog post. It’s something I’m very, very proud of – perhaps what I’m most proud of persisting at this past decade. And I’m grateful for you reading these words. If you weren’t here, I wouldn’t be either. This kind of persistence comes at a cost though. Something else had to be given up in order to write each word I wrote. Again and again I had to say no to something enticing or demanding or relaxing or meaningless enough to not have fear attached to it. There is something you want to do, isn’t there? There is something meaningful to you, something that will be helpful to others. Something that will make your world and the worlds you intersect with a better place. There’s lots of persistent work to be done to make that something to come into fruition. But now, what’s even more important? The seed of that something is going to need to some space to begin to grow. You’re going to need to say no to something else. Something is going to have to be left behind. The journey ahead is long, and you’re going to need to travel light. We have a fascination with the TV show Hoarders. How can people compulsively hold onto so many things that are no longer important? How, indeed? You and I? We’re also hoarders of something. What am I holding on to that is no longer important, no longer helpful to my work? What are you? What can you say no to that will clear the space to do the most important work you were meant to do this year and beyond? What ‘no’ will get you to ‘yes’ – to being the change you so want to see in the world?

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Quest Story: Around the World In Twenty Days – Savoring the Adventure

On March 1, 1999 Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones set off in a balloon from Switzerland in an attempt to become the first piloted balloon to fly around the world nonstop. Here is Piccard as he savors his adventure in this journal entry from the night before their triumphant landing in Egypt twenty days later. During the last night, I savor once more the intimate relationship that we have established with our planet. Shivering in the pilot’s seat, I have the feeling I have left the capsule to fly under the stars that have swallowed our balloon. I feel so privilege that I want to enjoy every second of this air world. During our three weeks of flight, protected by our high-tech cocoon, we have flown over millions of people suffering on this earth…Why are we so lucky? Very shortly after daybreak, [our balloon] will land in the Egyptian sand. Brian and I will be lifted away from the desert by helicopter, and we will immediately need to find words to satisfy the public’s curiosity. But right now, muffled in my down jacket, I let the cold bite of the night remind me that I have not yet landed, that I am still living one of the most beautiful moments of my life. The only way that I can make this instant last will be to share it with others. We have succeeded thanks to the winds of providence. May the winds of hope keep blowing around the world. (National Geographic, Sept. 1999: p44)

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What do you want to see in 2020?

In 1968, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke dreamed up the film and the book 2001: A Space Odyssey. George Orwell published his dystopian novel 1984 in 1949. It’s 2018. The next number with meaning is the year 2020. That is now about 100 weeks away. Numbers like these are tools to help us think bigger. What do you want to see 2020? What do you want to see clearly 100 weeks from now? The time to start on what you want is now. Today. There is no need to look back when you hit 2020 and wish you had worked on something else more important for the last two years. There is something in you, something about you that is unique to you. Some change you want to make and help the world with. What is it now? How will you be the change you want to see in the world when you can see clearly – 20/20?   Learn more: How to Lead Change -  Learn how to be an effective change leader and lead positive change that lasts.

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Strategic or Tactical?

There is a tension between thinking strategically and tactically. We tend to just live tactically. We humans don’t do well with tension and tend to just go to one side or the other. And the daily grind is where we usually go. It’s the path of least resistance. Carl Jung said the sign of a true adult is to be able to live in the tension of the two opposites. You have 100 weeks. What do you want to see 100 weeks now from now 2020? What’s your tension between now and then? Today is day one of not giving up. Today is the day to happily rest in the tension.

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What are your New Year’s Curiosities??

We’ve been making New Year’s resolutions all our lives. They usually don’t work out too well. 60% of those resolutions are toast by July. And they never end the way we wish they would. These intentions always end up differently. It’s hard to gather enthusiasm, isn’t it? Let’s try New Year’s curiosities instead. Curiosity recognizes that when we step forward, we step into the unknown. We don’t know the ending yet, we haven’t lived it. And curiosity keeps us in our frontal cortex, the smartest, wisest part of the brain. Here are some curiosities: What important projects will we finish this year? What projects won’t we finish? What will we begin? How much kindness will we give – to ourselves and anyone we meet along the way? How brave will we be with the hard, emotional work – the real work? How well and long will we sleep? What and who will inspire us? What and who will no longer inspire us? What change will we make in the world? How will we make things better? What is the path ahead like – 365 days of unknown – and where will we travel on it? What’s our quest this year?   What are your 2018 New Year’s curiosities?   Learn more:  40 Days to Change For Good - Don’t just manage change, lead it. Create a successful forty-day blueprint to lead a change that lasts.

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Quix Tip: Be generous and make it public.

  Everyone wants a change. Being part of a group that’s changing helps everyone reciprocally. You’re much more likely to persist in your change if you’ve told people. But the people you tell are helped even more. We do what those around us do. If everyone’s exercising, we think exercise is normal. If everyone around is on their phones, we think being on our phone is normal. If everyone around us is eating junk food, that’s the thing to do. We do what others do. It’d feel about as weird to have a beer in the workout room at the local Y as it would to do calisthenics in the local bar. If everyone’s working on positive change, of course you too are working on positive change. Be generous and help the people you care about by making your change public. List who might be on your support team to support you and help you stay accountable to your change. Reach out to all of them and tell them what you’re up to. Tell them your hopes, fears, triumphs, failures with the change. Thank them for helping you keep accountable, even if they don’t do anything. Ask them if there’s a change they want to make. If so, ask, “how can I help?” Support them. Feel gratitude for your change community you’re a part of. Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s charity-based team building activities: 40 Days to Change For Good- Don’t just manage change, lead it. Create a successful forty-day blueprint to lead a change that lasts. Change Quest - Time for you and your team to evolve quickly, whether you’re driving the change or the rest of the world is. How to Lead Change-  Learn how to be an effective change leader and lead positive change that lasts.

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Books to Support Your 40 Days To Change For Good

Books to Support Your 40 Days To Change For Good Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward by James O. Prochaska, John Norcross, and Carlo DiClemente [Still the most useful and easily applicable book on personal change I’ve found yet. Highly recommended.] Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own And Other People’s Minds (Leadership for the Common Good) by Howard Gardner [Great research as to what makes people change their minds, and what doesn’t work. This work is one of the cornerstones of Quixote Consulting’s change and influencing work. Be forewarned: It’s very dry and dense]  Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth [A well-researched, readable look at the positive psychology of persistence.] Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey [Endlessly inspiring and entertaining, here are 161 famous creative artists’ rituals – from Mozart to Einstein] The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity At Work by Teresa Amabile, Steven Kramer [Completely in a work context. Repeated small successes combined with meaningful work lead to happiness. Small failures at meaningful work lead to unhappiness. Meaningless work is a straight path to unhappiness.] Gandhi An Autobiography – The Story of My Experiments with the Truth by Mahatma Gandhi [Surprisingly, it’s a page-turner. A fascinating and inspiring account of a man dedicated to personal change and through that his country and beyond] The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr [The ‘Taking Action: The Power of Positive Rituals’ chapter is a very nuts and bolts look at rituals and incremental change.] What You Can Change . . . and What You Can’t: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement by Martin E. Seligman [Especially recommended for those of you who like to know what the research has to say. There’s no self-help ‘Seven steps to lose those pounds, be loved by everyone and transform your life in just 20 seconds a day!” silliness here, just what science has found can be changed and what can’t.] The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief by Francis Weller [Profoundly helpful and beautifully written, the title says it all. You’ll either know immediately it’s the book you need to read right now or you’re not ready for it…yet. Loss and sadness are either visiting you or they’re not. The chapter on ritual is from a spiritual/mythopoetic view.] The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg [Written from a journalistic viewpoint, it’s heavy on stories and light on actionable content. Three sections: individuals, organizations, societies] Leading Change by John P. Kotter [Exclusively aimed at change leaders in organizations, but the general principles are sound.] Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar [You’ll find a short section on rituals and negative (a ritual to NOT do something) rituals – which is an interesting concept]   Learn more about 40 Days to Change For Good here.

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Quix Tip: The Growing Orbit of Giving

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, “I live my life in growing orbits.” The first orbit starts with the self. The next orbit might be those small generosities, the daily giving you can do for those around you. What can you give to your co-workers, your family? What would they most appreciate? Your time? What’s the quality of your time – would they wish to see you relaxed, healthy and content and share that moment with you – then it may help you to give to yourself – whether it’s exercise, quiet time, time spent with friends and your community, whatever refreshes your batteries, in order to give what people would most like from you The next orbit may be to help strangers, people you don’t know, to find a way to make even that connection feel like home. Pema Chodron recommends starting with what’s easiest, then moving incrementally to what’s harder. Ideally giving is for both you and the world. If it’s just one of those, then you’re missing something valuable.

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The Journey To and From Home

“Sometimes it takes a journey to come home.” -Stephen Levine Life can pull us away from the ‘home’ inside ourselves. The daily grind tends to keep us on one static level – roughly chest-high and above. The increasing speed of deadlines and demands, news, technology, advertising, traffic all seem to conspire to keep us hurtling faster through a cluttered life. Journeys and vacations give us a way to cut through the increased complexity and speed, to slow down, enjoy simpler pleasures and reconnect with our internal home and source of energy and delight, what Yeats calls, “my deep heart’s core.” “Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.” -Henry David Thoreau  The next time you travel, either for vacation or work, you may wish to take the opportunity to travel lightly. Time away from a complex and often messy life is a wonderful opportunity to live more simply for a few days. This simplicity, this little oasis of emptiness, holds within it the promise of being ‘found’ again. Here is an opportunity to return to yourself, your truest desires, your playfulness, your quietness. This is definitely easier to begin when away from the office, the home, the clutter and clanging of everyday life. In fact, research has shown that you’re more effective at changing a bad habit if you change your external situation at the same time. “You and me Sunday driving, not arriving, spending someone’s hard earned pay…we’re on our way home.” – from Two of Us by the Beatles Simple, humble pleasures may be more likely to renew – quietly sitting and watching the waves as they break over the shoreline vs. paragliding then jet-skiing then going out to restaurant after restaurant then…you get the idea. Stripping your day down to what’s most important to you both invigorates and eases the heart. You may find yourself focusing more on connecting with your spouse, your kids, your health (going for a walk or a swim or stretching on the beach), your mind (reading a book, writing in a journal), your heart (watching those waves and breathing with them). On your journey to and from home you may find yourself revisiting both the bigger picture and the smaller. You may see with fresh eyes what few things are vital and enduring as well as what gifts are waiting to be opened right in this very moment. You may notice more connection with the others around you, more time to notice sweetness and a clearer focus on you (and not in the self-loathing way).  This giving yourself the best, allowing yourself to be at your best gives you a touchstone to refer to when you’re back at home and allows you to give your best to everyone whose lives you touch. And you may reintroduce a confidence that can come only when you are at the helm of your ship, when you are steering the course. And then you can say, just as Walt Whitman did, “Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me…henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing…strong and content I travel the open road.”

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Yoga Resources Part 3: Books and DVDs

Yoga Books Moving Toward Balance: 8 Weeks of Yoga With Rodney Yee by Rodney Yee with Nin Zolotow Ashtanga Yoga – The Practice Manual by David Swenson Yoga the Iyengar Way by Silva, Mira and Shyam Mehta Awakening the Spine by Vonda Scaravelli Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar Yoga DVDs  We recommend Rodney Yee DVDs. Look through this list and pick one or two that strike your fancy. They’re available at or his website We especially like Energy Balance Yoga, Intermediate Yoga, Yoga Burn, and the Hip-opening segment on the Advanced Yoga DVD. Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Beginners Yoga Burn DVD AM/PM Yoga DVD Back Care Yoga for Beginners DVD Intermediate Yoga DVD Power Yoga Strength and Flexibility Power Yoga Total body Workout DVD Power Yoga: Flexibility Yoga Conditioning for Athletes DVD Abs Yoga for Beginners DVD Strength Building Yoga DVD Power Yoga: Strength DVD Power Yoga: Stamina Back Care Yoga DVD Energy Balance Yoga DVD Family yoga DVD Advanced Yoga With Rodney Yee two-disc DVD set Sports Conditioning Mini Yoga Workouts DVD   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: Office Yoga – Learn simple techniques to stay productive at your desk or energize your off-site.

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