Category Archives: Purpose

“We meet life on life’s terms” David Milch on Alzheimers and the return of Deadwood

Peak TV fans know Deadwood as one of the greatest shows of the beginning of the current golden era. For three seasons writer and show-runner David Milch wrote ornately intricate beautiful dialogue and emotionally resonant stories. Then HBO canceled it.  Improbably, thirteen years later, HBO decided to bring everyone back for a Deadwood movie. And poignantly, at age 71 Milch now has Alzheimers. “As best I understand it, which is minimally, I have a deterioration in the organization of my brain,” he says. “And it’s progressive. And in some ways discouraging. In more than some ways — in every way I can think of.” He’s less of a fire-brand presence on set now, and does his writing in spurts when he’s at his best. For someone with such an incredibly brilliant mind, I would imagine this worsening condition is particularly cruelly devastating for him. How does David Milch look at his Alzheimers? “Certain complications were present throughout, and compounded as time progressed. I’m thankful to report my writing process has remained largely as it was. Each day is as it comes. We endeavor to meet life on life’s terms — not impose our ambitions on it, to be useful within the present moment.”  Wherever we are on our life’s journey a pause for each one of those last statements may help calm and re-orient us to what is most important, not just today’s demands. “Each day is as it comes.” “We endeavor to meet life on life’s terms — not impose our ambitions on it.” “To be useful within the present moment.” PS Emotional Intelligence Works is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research. Click here to start transforming your team.

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Darwin on change and Miami Beach (hint: it’s not survival of the fittest)

“According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.” – Leon C. Megginson The world keeps changing around us. It’s changing faster. And climate change also keeps changing faster. Darwin’s thesis can apply to us and how we live in the modern world. But it’ll also be part of a planet-wide experiment in sea-level change, temperature change, massive change none of us have big enough brains to let in. And as I’ve written recently our brains are not equipped with seeing ourselves in the future.  I’ve been doing a lot of work in Miami this year. Seeing how small the spit of sand known as Miami Beach is from the air makes it pretty clear it won’t be there fifty years from now. And the buying frenzy right at sea level is tremendous. And I’m betting it’s pretty hard to get a 30-year mortgage there right now as well.  The smartest people and the smartest animals aren’t the ones that are most likely to survive. And the strongest people and the strongest animals also aren’t. It’s the ones that will be best able to adapt and adjust to change.  “Nature does not make mistakes. Right and wrong are human categories.” – Frank Herbert Change Quest is now available virtually for web-based team development. Click here to start transforming your team.

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“Like archers aiming” – tweaking Aristotle on Purpose

“It concerns us to know the purposes we seek in life, for then, like archers aiming at a definite mark, we shall be more likely to attain what we want.” – Aristotle Stephen Covey calls this concept “beginning with the end in mind.” It’s a great concept but we rarely use it. We humans are notoriously bad at looking ahead. We’re terrible at saving for retirement, eating healthy food, exercising regularly, imagining what it will be like to be old, even sleeping enough. Jerry Seinfeld calls this phenomenon ‘night guy vs morning guy’.  And yet we want so many things for us and the beings we care about.  It may help to start smaller – little purpose pauses in the day. Little moments – imagine on your commute how you want to arrive, not just that you want to arrive. How do you want to feel after lunch, after your morning snack? After dinner? It may be too much to think about the next morning, but you can build up to it.  Imagine you’re an archer trying to hit that ‘definite mark’. The closer the target, the easier it’ll be to hit. PS Influencing Without Authority training is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research. Click here to start transforming your team.

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Jerry Seinfeld on Morning Guy vs. Night Guy

“I never get enough sleep. I stay up late at night, because I’m Night Guy. Night Guy wants to stay up late. ‘What about getting up after five hours sleep?’ Oh, that’s Morning Guy’s problem. That’s not my problem, I’m Night Guy. I stay up as late as I want. So you get up in the morning, the alarm [rings], you’re exhausted, groggy… Oh, I hate that Night Guy! See, Night Guy always screws Morning Guy. There’s nothing Morning Guy can do.” (Jerry Seinfeld from the opening monologue of Seinfeld Season 5 Episode 2 – The Glasses) This is funny…because it’s true. It’s how our brains are wired. “The future’s uncertain and the end is always near”, as The Doors’ Jim Morrison sang. Something may eat us tomorrow. Live today. Food may not be found tomorrow. Eat it tonight….preferably at 3 AM before finally turning off the TV and stumbling to bed This is why ‘scared straight’ programs that have inmates and ex-cons talk to kids are entertaining – who doesn’t love a good story? – but they don’t work. It’s why classic drivers ed movies like Highway of Agony and Red Highway also don’t work. And those stop-smoking scare tactic commercials also don’t work. And warnings on cigarette packs and beer cans don’t work. Along with ‘live for today’ hard-wired in us, we also can’t see ourselves in the future, and especially can’t link today’s actions with tomorrow’s regrets or pain.  When we try to imagine ourselves in the future, the same parts of our brain fire as when we’re thinking of someone else. We just can’t do it. One solution that has helped me is to think of what I do as an act of generosity towards Morning Guy. Or ‘Fifty year old guy’ or ‘summer guy’ or ‘senior citizen guy’. I’ve even written notes to myself as a little gift card for my future self. And I always appreciate Try it! Do something small and vaguely distasteful to prepare for something, write yourself a little note and stow it in what you’ve completed. I guarantee when you read it you’ll smile and be grateful for the little present. That positive blip of emotion is what you can build on for the big stuff. Morning Guy will thank you.

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Six Things to Say No That Will Make Your Next Meeting The Best One Yet

“I remember there were a couple of calls, but I ripped the phone out of the wall and threw it in the ravine.” – Daniel Lanois, producer of Peter Gabriel’s album So.  In both our Influencing Without Authority training and Speaking & Presentation Skills training teams learn how important focus is to get someone to be moved enough to change their mind.   Distractions need to be removed and ‘thrown in the ravine’.   In the next meeting you’re running make any of the following a rule. Each rule will help focus.  No phones No laptopsNo PowerpointNo handoutsNo chairsNo table Now try any of the above on your own. If some part of your day requires you to actually get something done, you need to focus. That means you rip out the distractions and throw them in the ravine.  PS: Influence Without Authority team development training is completely revamped. It’s shown proven results that lead to more effective influencing. Who do you want to influence? 

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“No phone calls” How Daniel Lanois produced Peter Gabriel’s masterpiece So

“Phone calls in the studio are the enemy of making good records. If you’re taking calls and trying to line up your next project, your mind isn’t going to be on the matter at hand. If I can give one piece of advice to anybody making music in the studio, it’s get rid of the phones. “ How did that play out in recording So? “We just kept going in the same location, in an old farmhouse that had a studio set up in a cattle barn. It was nice and private, and I liked that. It’s in the west country of England, a little village called Ashton, so there weren’t too many distractions. When I work, I don’t do anything else, so the less distractions the better.” “As I said earlier, I don’t take a bunch of phone calls or try to line up the next big thing. This was the opposite of cellphone times because we didn’t have cellphones then; you couldn’t even make a phone call out of the west country of England, so that was a plus. I remember there were a couple of calls, but I ripped the phone out of the wall and threw it in the ravine. [Laughs]” According to others in the studio, he actually did. Contrast that with what you see around you every day. The whole world is looking down. And think of all the great, lasting works of art created and deep thinking done lately. Just kidding! If you’re looking down, you can’t look up at the same time. Distraction is the enemy of focus. Distraction is also the enemy of boredom, something we have a collective phobia of.  Rip out your phone from your pocket or from in front of your eyeballs. Place it gently in the ravine. Now you can look up and get the work you want done…done. PS: Influence Without Authority team development training is completely revamped. It’s shown proven results that lead to more effective influencing. Who do you want to influence?

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“All the children on the record” Daniel Lanois on U2’s Unforgottable Fire

Producer Daniel Lanois first worked with U2 in 1984 for The Unforgettable Fire.  “It was a lot of traveling for me, and I got to work in a location outside of the average studio. We were in a castle, so I had to make that work. For me, it was the beginning of mobile recording and flying equipment around in cases. On a sheer physical level, it was a very new experience, doing something outside of a conventional studio.” “The band wanted to be in a location that had some life in it, a place that had a sense of history. We were treating it like a show, really. We set the whole studio up around the band rather than bringing the band to the studio. It’s a more renegade way of working, but I see it as bowing down to the music as opposed to bowing down to the studio. I think it was a milestone in that way.” This type of orientation shift is what is called for when we want to influencesomeone. We leave our comfort zone. We meet them where they live. That is what empathy is. We walk in their shoes. We put ‘the band’ in the center. Not the tools. Intuitive apps are like that. And lots of things – forms that need to be filled out for example – aren’t. If we’re asked to do something more mechanistically so a computer or a Simpsons-esque ‘drone in sector C’ unskilled worker can have an easier time of it, that isn’t an attempt to positively influence you.  And what about the title of this post? “I treated the song Pride just like all the other children on the record.” Each song a child, a living, breathing vulnerable thing that needs tending or care. Not a product. What if we looked at our work, no matter how mechanistic it appears, as our children? That email, that meeting. It may be maddening, and it may bring enough passion into something so dry that you could actually influence someone for the better today. Bonus: You can check out the video for the song here. PS: Influence Without Authority team development training is completely revamped. It’s shown proven results that lead to more effective influencing. Who do you want to influence?

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What does Google sell?

Google is the search engine we all use. But we don’t pay each time we search something, right? And they have a ton of other widely used services, all free – Maps, YouTube, News, Gmail, Contacts, Calendar, Translate…it  goes on and on. It’s all free. So what does Google sell? How do they make money? To answer that, let’s try a different question. Q: How much did Google earn from advertising in 2018? A: Over $32.6 billion (Source) So, what does Google sell? Google sells YOU. Your attention, your eyeballs, and your data. It’s been said that when a service is “free”, then the product is you. Google sells “you” to anyone who will pay. So, Google is in advertising primarily. The search thing is just a tool, like running a magazine.  This is a slightly roundabout way to invite you to question WHY you’re doing something, and what’s the reason you’re doing something a particular way. Why are you working? Why are you buying that brand of beer? Why are you choosing to spend money or save? Why are you watching TV or why are you choosing to exercise or play a board game with the family? The underlying purpose of Google is to make money advertising things. It’s not immediately apparent, but with just a few minutes of thinking about, it gets pretty clear. What’s your underlying purpose? Why are you being the ‘you’ that you are?

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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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Spring purpose is travelling to you

Spring moves north with each moment.  Spring is there, even though the calendar says it’s here. We’re here – or at least I’m here in New England. Spring is coming. It’s always helpful to remember where we are within a larger context. I was lucky enough to spend some time in spring already by being in a lower latitude earlier last month. That helps immensely with living in the long ‘mud season’ up north poised between snow and flowers.  Placing our daily challenges into part of something larger relieves tension. Where just a moment ago we were face up against a wall of frustration, purpose provides a more spacious open area to play in. It may be helpful for you to notice what kind of spring you’re experiencing today – in the natural world around you, internally, at work, with your loved ones. What new growth is growing and what feels like it’s stuck in permanent winter. And place that in a larger context of a season of great change, one with an inevitable happy ending.

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