Archives for category: exploring creativity

A post ago, I mentioned attending an online event with a  quite-famous, quite-affluent, highly successful thought leader. He has millions of books and programs sold. Retains millions of followers. Makes millions of dollars, keeping his family safe and supported — and spends millions of dollars serving others.
(A nice place to be, eh?)

At the end of this thought-leader’s four-day series (filled with power-hours presenting sizzling seminars), an attendee posed the pregnant question:

“What are the practices that got here, to where you where you are today?” 

His first answer — you remember it, right?

Read a book a month.
Story-book
(It’s too simple.)
To make learning and growing a priority.
To stack books on the tables of your mind —
Increasing ideas to the synthesis of higher understandings.
To gather words. Garnish ideas. Gain wisdom.

Because when we ponder words, we can use them as tools to imagineer —
When we turn over and speculate with new ideas, we can deduce new answers —
When we scrutinize and decide what to heed and embrace —
we grow.

question mark(What will you read today?)
_______________________________________________

Okay. Enough reiterating.
His second answer was as bland and powerful as the first:

Be consistent.

Let’s be truthful:
No-one  wants to hear that answer.
No one wants to acquiesce to the idea of plain-ol’ consistency.

Consistency is about saying it and doing it.
And doing it.
And doing it.
And doing it.

Why talk about this tiring word, consistency?
Two quick and powerful reasons.

number one
Consistency creates integrity.
Integrity in word and deed.
(What others understand and believe about us.)

Integrity includes taking ownership to think clearly and act responsibly.

Ouch.
We say we’re thinking clearly, but shutting out others’ ideas with a subtle brand of self-whispering narcissism (I’m right, you’re wrong) is all too rampant. Believing we’re being responsible, but simply plowing through our agenda without stepping back to thoroughly understand, regardless of our stake in the matter, is a deadly poison to success.

In the sun’s rise and fall, it’s all about saying what we’ll do and doing what we say. 

So very important.
(Never underestimate consistency’s power to display our integrity.)
______________________________________

numbersign-orangenumber two
Consistency creates production.
<<I’m talkin’ RESULTS.>>

(You DO want results, right?)

Creating a plan.
Scheduling the plan.
Working the plan.
And working it.
And working it.
And working it.

Lining up the stones for the step-by-step doing.
Not complaining.
Not giving excuses.
Not looking around at others and comparing.
Not becoming overwhelmed or distracted.

But simply picking up a stone of action and placing it in the spot.
And placing another.
And placing another.

It all adds up to capital R Results.

By the way, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked, how did you create almost 50 online courses in just a few years…

Anyway. You know the answer.
(It’s not a secret.)

Step by step.
A little bit each day.
Consistently working the plan.

A boring answer. But a highly effective one.
* Thup
coffeeMar42016

 

Two words
float, fly, and flit around,
overused:
“authenticity” and “passion.”

It’s a shame. Because their meaning and their expression in reality
is intensely, truly, most surely needed,
to be alive in the highest sense.

To be true, honest, and open in how we interact, with all that is in us. Our best effort. The open heart. No pretenses, no agendas.

Only moving in the honesty of our minds and soul-nature —
melted together to, without manipulation or self-levied protection,
putting ourselves out there…regardless of our endogenous fables and flaws.

Doing. For all to see. For all to embrace.
For all to take shots at.
(Ouch.)

Being authentic and passionate, honest and kind,
invites criticism.

(And it will come.)

Those who are truly brave are those who know the potential criticism and,
regardless of the fear of exposure, step into the unknown
with the gift of themselves riding on hope
that, somehow and someday,
those who need your love-gift most will open their palms,
letting their fingers relax and fall, to grasp, envelop, and own it.

And if they don’t. Well. That’s okay.
Because you did your part.

Writer, write.
Photographer, photograph.
Musician, play.
Dancer, dance.
Sculptor, sculpt.
Thinker, think.

Entrepreneur, create.

Regardless.
(I dare you.)

* Thup
coffeeApril9-15

This is the first in a series, “Don’t Do This” — posts aimed at helping you avoid bad writing habits, identify and steer clear of the pitfalls of poor writing, and become the writer-communicator that people want to follow.

It’s like a book online. Free. Bite sized, motivating, practical bits. I believe you’ll like it — because it’s all about what works, the how-to for an immediate increase in your writing effectiveness. 

This first post is an easy read, every bit worth its tad-bit-longer length. Subsequent series posts will be pointed, brief, direct — with a strong take-away to apply right then and there. So you become a sharper writer, right now.

Get every word in this first post, so that you’re in the know for what’s to come.
(It’s worth it.)

**************************************************

When we hear the words, don’t do this, we sit up and listen — because we know that something important is coming: knowledge with the palpating power to save us from heartache and pain.

Entrepreneur. CEO. Leader. Forward thinker…
Creative. Writer. Artist. Musician. Passionate expresser of life…
Above-average thinker who cares…

Because you matter — your passion, your ideas — and because you want to make a difference…this is for you.

To communicate effectively with words, the how-to skill must be in place. For no matter how much heart or passion we feel and exude — get this — without the vital how-to help that your writing needs, the heart of your communication will collapse.

Seriously. Your ideas, passions, and hopes go into cardiac arrest and threaten to die.

But they don’t have to. When it comes to effectively getting your ideas to others, there are external defibrillators (AEDs) that can save you from some heartache and pain. AEDs analyze the heart’s electrical activity and give life-saving electric shocks to the chest of a person who has collapsed from cardiac arrest. Even if your writing is in cardiac arrest (if you know it…or can admit it…or are willing to do something with it because you get it), the info here gives the life-saving shocks needed, to breathe and fully live.

Because deep down, you know that your words matter,
and because you have a message that people need
and a skill to share…

Read on.
__________________________

Fact 1: Every word you write has a purpose. You know this.

Making a list, writing an article or post, writing a book — each has a reason for its existence.

You know the adage:
* Know the target, know the direction to shoot the arrow.
(It applies here.)
* Know the purpose of your writing, and you’ll understand what kinds of words, phrases, tone, style, length of sentence (and other tools) to use.

Because purpose directs and informs everything we write. Everything.
(Really.)

Here’s the super-simple action I want you to do…
(Trust me on this one.)

Ask the questions:
Who’s going to read this, and why?
What does he or she expect?

In the entire piece.
On this particular page.
In this paragraph.
In this sentence.

And, yes, keep asking yourself the questions — while you’re smack-dab in the center of your click-press-pop-clack fingers on the keys or press-flow-move pen on the page.

(Any and every time you write.)

These questions should be soaring, swooping, circling in your brain above the target, like a mighty falcon with gleaming-sun-feather brilliance. The questions are ever present — ever casting shadows on the red-and-white circled target of your writing.

We want powerful writing — zinging and smacking into the target. So we’d better understand our writing’s purpose.
_________________________

Fact 2: Your writing has a goal: to express, to inform, or to persuade. 

Expression is just for you and me so, hey, we can put anything we want on the page. But information and persuasion, ah, now we’re in different territory. Information and persuasion are for others.

So. We’re stuck.

Because when we write for others, we have to do it their way. We have to follow the guidelines that meet the reader’s needs. If we don’t, then we end up with no one reading what we wrote. Ugh.

Hm. In order to satisfy the reader, we’d better understand the goal of each little scrap that we write.

Ask the questions:
What benefit is my reader looking for?
What does he/she want to feel and experience?
What do they want to know, to walk away with?
Am I giving the reader exactly what’s wanted?

In the entire piece.
On this particular page.
In this paragraph.
In this sentence.

We want satisfied readers — full of good feelings toward what we wrote, full of good memories and understandings that bring them back for more. So we’d better understand the goal of each little bit that we write.
_________________________

Fact 3: Engagement rules. Gone are the days of readers hanging around to read writing that doesn’t engage.

Most of us cringe at the volume of words bombarding our inbox, crowding into our web searches, bumping across our Facebook pages, and even ambling across the bottom of our television programs with the ad for the next-up program.

We’re way beyond information overload. We’re in information repel mode.

Engagement is critical.

Failure to follow the rules of engagement makes readers push away in disappointment, apathy, or even upset mode. Disappointed, apathetic, upset readers leave, let alone even begin to engage (as in, let’s click away in three seconds flat).

That simply won’t do.

Ask the questions:
Where are the repetitive words to axe and toss down the hill?
How can I change up words, to make the writing concise, pointed, powerful?
What am I doing in my writing that repels the reader?

In the entire piece.
On this particular page.
In this paragraph.
In this sentence.

We want readers to stay. So we’d better understand the rules of engagement for writing. (This series is all about helping you identify exactly what you’re doing…so stay with me.)
_______________________________

Fact 4: Rules of engagement are blood red critical. Writing lives or dies on the rules of engagement.

But we have a serious problem. We don’t know what we don’t know. (Ignorance is not bliss. It’s deadly.)

No lie: I believe that most bad writing is for lack of knowledge. Cluelessness. Not intentional, mind you — it’s simply the I-just-never-learned-this-stuff ignorance.

And without knowing it’s even happening, you’re sending the reader away apathetic or screaming.

Oy.

At the turn of the New Year, ask questions:
Am I keeping myself back by simply living in a closed-door mentality, a self-focus?
Am I willing to open myself up to learning?
Am I humble enough to listen?
Am I willing to be thirsty for understanding, so that I can move forward?

It’s time:
Get better at the craft of written communication.
Don’t mess up due to ignorance.

<<Make what you write matter.>>

Have nothing stand in the way of your clear, vibrating, resonating, connecting communication.

Be willing. Willing to cultivate an open, listening, seeking heart. Willing to listen. Willing to absorb.

Willing to work.

Next time, we’ll get practical. We’ll talk about how not to end your piece. (How to give your reader something to hold onto, a smooth stone in the hand — a promise. It’s good.)

See you then.
(I can’t wait.)

* Thup
coffeeDec26-14

Entrepreneurs need to know how to lead.
Creatives need to know how to lead.
(Okay, everyone needs to know how to lead.)

Seriously.
Leadership skills are critical.

(This is a longer post. Stick with it.
I believe you’ll find something here that you’ll like… and use.)
____________________________________________________

You might have heard it before: “To lead is to serve others.”

The phrase is true, but not entirely. You see, many in leadership have a heart, a desire, to lead in service … but they don’t really know how to make it happen.

The desire to lead isn’t enough. And position (simply being appointed to stand in the spot) isn’t enough.

(Leadership is so much more.)

I was part of an event today. The event was fairly big — with lots of excitement and fun. Yet, there was a dynamic of preparing for the event that struggled. (uugh. my heart felt it.)

Let me clarify.

The “end event” was a fabulous success. So much was accomplished! So many were helped! So much good happened! Brilliant! Woo-hoo! (I am completely honored to be part.)

But there’s something that could have happened — a dynamic and result — that could have made the final event even more brilliant. Some some of the lead-up to the event (having to do with leading volunteers) had struggles that simply didn’t need to happen.

And that breaks my heart. As in agh. I can’t sleep. (I take it as a sign of caring so deeply, so hey, Sleepless in Kalamazoo will endeavor to turn this into something positive.)

Did the job get done? Yes. But at times, I felt terrible — for both the leader and the people she endeavored to lead.

The leader simply didn’t know what she didn’t know.

(Again. It breaks my heart to see struggles.)

Some of you might not know: I was honored to teach leadership at the college level for many years.

It was a learning experience; each time I taught the course, I walked away feeling more humbled, more thirsty for understanding, and more in awe of the skills of truly great leaders.

Leadership secrets also invaded my growing up years. My dad worked with Warren Bennis, Ken Blanchard, and other leadership gurus breaking ground for much of what we understand in leadership theory and practice today.

(By the way, dinner conversations taught me more about leadership than any class could. Go Dad.)

But today, once again, I learned the critical truth of how important it is to know how to lead others effectively. 

At some point, you and I are going to lead. How will you and I do?
________________________________________________________

Read these 10 critical have-to’s of leadership. It will make you a better person, whether you lead one or many.
________________________________________________________

1. An effective leader physically mobilizes others. That means getting people organized to move and do.

“Mobilizing” sees the task at hand and parses out the job — knowing what tasks to attack first, second, and third…then doing it.

Mobilizing also means having an above-the-crowd view — able to assess the group’s needs before they happen.

Your mind whirrs and whizzes as to what could be — running the scenarios through in succession, playing them out far enough into their crazy possibilities.

Only then — after firing the brain into the future and back — do effective leaders choose the best actions.

By the way, if a person isn’t mobilized, he or she feels badly.

At best, the non-mobilized person sits around bored; at the worst, the non-mobilized person feels that their precious time was wasted. Ouch.

We want each person to feel valued — that he or she played an integral part in the success of the task. Mobilizing plays a key part in perceived value.

2. Effective leaders appoint others over sections of the task. Leadership happens in strata: layers of leaders.

You can’t do it alone. You shouldn’t do it alone. You shouldn’t even do most of it.

Sectioning off tasks with second-level leaders is critical. Train the person to do the task well. And then let the people on the second level go for it.

3. Effective leaders change direction quickly. Without blinking an eye, and without emotional attachment, leaders say, “That’s not working. Let’s go this way instead.”

And there’s no angst about it. We simply change. Every movement back on track is good.

Effective leaders don’t waste energy on what could have been; effective leaders are in the now — and feel good about it.

4. Effective leaders vigilantly keeps a finger on the pulse of the group, to be a support to whomever needs it. I’m not talking about micromanaging; I’m talking about knowing when to step in and guide, and then step out again.

Imagine six men moving a large beam together. A seventh man (the leader) walks alongside, vigilant and alert to the six men’s needs and motions. The leader trusts the six men to carry the beam. But if one of the six starts to falter, the alert leader moves in, gives support, and then, once the beam is righted, steps back out again.

That’s how a leader supports his team. Always there. Moving in when needed. And stepping out when the task is steady.

5. Effective leaders communicate. Clearly. And often.

Before the event, tell the people what will happen. Give details. During the event, tell them they’re doing a good job, and everything is on schedule and running smoothly. Give updates. If anything changes, communicate quickly and clearly. And when the job is complete, tell them what was accomplished.

Talk. And talk often.

Ask questions. Find out what’s working and what’s not.

And use a microphone, so you can talk to everyone at the same time. When you talk to everyone as a group, we experience the event together. We are a group. A team. One.

That builds an intangible: connection.

6. Effective leaders use enthusiasm. I don’t care if you’re not a boisterous person. Whether you consider yourself quiet or loud, your inner spark — your inner passion — needs to come through.

If your passion doesn’t come through, then maybe you’re not the right person for the position.

Find a way to communicate how great it is to be working together. Really.

7. Effective leaders smile. With their whole face, in their eyes, and with their bodies.

You have to reach out — to be vulnerable by risking others to see who you really are. That means showing joy in what you do.

The smile is the fastest way to connect between two people. Effective leaders connect.

8. Effective leaders thank their people. Specifically. Often. Up close — with sincerity, a look in the eye, and a pat on the back.

When the job’s done, it’s not enough to say to the group, “Okay, thanks! See you tomorrow!”

Effective leaders walk around to each person, making sure that the connection is made on a deeper level. Honestly. With deep gratitude.

Flippancy has no part in leadership.

9. Effective leaders are personal. They ask for your name — and use your name. They look you in the eye and remember something special about you. They ask you questions about your thoughts, your feelings, and your experiences.

Effective leaders are interested in the persons involved, not just the job at hand.

10. Effective leaders want to give their people an experience. Getting a job done is not the experience.

The experience is about building relationships and community.

Especially with volunteers, people work together for the connection. Connection only happens when all get involved, with side-by-side action AND heart-by-heart connection.

Leadership is learned. I believe with my whole being that the best way to raise up leaders is to mentor.

Side-by-side, the less experienced leaders work with the experienced — and both grow.

Only when we grow do we become leaders who truly make a mark — creating an experience and outcome greater than first imagined.

* Thup

Organization is not a dirty word. Some creatives think that to be organized, you have to put aside creativity. Not so, Joe. Creativity can thrive in the feng shui of an organized laptop home page, a table top, and room.

Most of us push aside organization to get to the “important stuff,” while the reality is, a bit of organization can mega multiply our “important stuff.”

(First-hand experience speaking, here. And I bet you know it, too.)

Before diving in, take two minutes to organize. Just two. Two minutes adds up fast … as do the results.

(Try it.)

* Thup
CoffeeNov28-14
PS. This is my workspace this morning,
after two minutes of organization.
Feels good, if I do say so, myself.
PPS. How about your space? (I dare you to try it.)
PPPS. Then be free to create and explore fresh ideas today.
* Thup

Take a breath.
(Really. Do it.)
(I will, too.)

Today is the deep breath, an in-between suspension of time
a day where you and I get to experience what’s most important in life.

It’s a time for out-of-body thinking.
The good kind of out-of-body experience.

To sidestep from the patterns and rules of the regular day
and to muse, meditate, reason, and reflect on
not just the four-wall realities around us
but also on the responses we’ve chosen for those realities.

Today, perhaps,
because it’s a pause from the crazy-schedule propelling us forward,
you and I can think in ways we don’t usually think.

Toss around ideas and concepts, play with notions.
Dream of, flirt with, and reckon with
those possibilities (what you’ve always wanted to do).

Maybe now is the time to do them.

Take that breath,
physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, relationally.
Rise above and look down.

(Change can be good.)

* Thup
coffeeNov27-14

Entrepreneur, you are a rare and significant breed. Few intimately know you,  and even fewer know what to do with you.

Your mind is on fire. All the time.

Ideas don’t simply follow you. They stalk, grasp, and struggle for your seconds, minutes, and hours.

Perceptions, concepts, connections, and intentions all tirelessly pursue — at times like baying hounds with frothing lips — and at times like children bounding with questions at your feet. Ideas and linear paths to answers dance and run away, pulling you along on a rope where you can’t let go. And as you’re pulled along, more ideas flicker, like running through a field in a dark night sky filled with fireflies in fascinating patterns that only you can see.

It’s exhilarating and sometimes tiring. But mostly it’s simply a fiery, frothing, bounding, dancing, breathtaking reality.

And in that reality, you are uncommon, unique. You know roomfuls of people. But who really knows you? You are the idea man, the idea woman, who gives to others. But who gives to you?

In the late hours when it’s black outside and a single light blushes in your dark room… when you look across the space and exist somewhere else, in the far away and intimate thought corners of your mind… what is it like?

Entrepreneur, you have critical needs. For understanding. For connection on a deeper level. For pulling back, taking a moment, and letting the orangish-red entrepreneurial fervor turn into a cool bluish-green moment of breath, appreciation, and quiescent satisfaction.

If I may be so bold…

Take care of yourself.
Take that time, today.
Life moves much too fast.
(Though your ideas are often your life breath, you a worth more than your ideas.)

* Thup

coffeeNov1-14

Sometimes it’s the little changes that count.
When we look at the same thing, but slightly differently,
we find new.

New perspective.
New ideas.
New possibilities.

One degree makes a difference.

In your work of art today, whether it be
with words
or paint
or a lens,
[[or your life]],

take a new look. Try a new approach.

If the first angle doesn’t work, no worries. There are an infinite number of ways to make it happen.

Even the slightest change — the slightest difference in perspective — can make your work [[and your life]] not only different…but better.

(Turn your perspective around. Good waits for you.)

* Thup

coffee8-sept20coffee1-sept20coffee12-sept20coffee3-sept20 coffee2-sept20 coffee5-sept20 coffee6-sept20 coffee7-sept20  coffeelast-sept20

At its base, art is about the complexity of life.

For example.
Sometimes, we as people are just not enough. We miss the mark of someone’s expectations. Always. At some point.
It’s the way it goes.

And when we’re not enough for someone.
They may ignore us.
They may turn on us.
(They may do both.)
Oh, people. So human. So flawed. So completely uugh sometimes.
(All of us.)

A few may extend grace. But that’s rare.
(unfortunately. so unfortunately. rare.)

Writers, in your story, your hero has to get to the place where he or she is not enough. He doesn’t meet expectations. He gives up.

In other words.
Nothing works.
Nothing matters.
(A moment of death.)

It’s the hero’s decisions at that point that make your story run its fingertip along the sand of humanity.

Story is complicated.
(So is life.)

Artists draw or paint it.
Photographers capture it.
Dancers express it.
Writers write it.

Perhaps that’s the way we, as a people, can deal.
As in understanding.
As in catharsis.
As in simply being human.
Through art. Creativity. Expression.

Humanity.

* Thup
coffeeJune21-14

Ever heard of “coffee snobs”?
(If you are one, you’re grinning. Uh-huh. Yup.)

Definition, please…
A coffee snob is someone who doesn’t just know and love good coffee; the snob knows and loves the best coffee — and doesn’t accept anything less.

We’ve studied coffee, tasted all kinds of coffees, and become spoiled on quality coffee.

By definition, a snob believes that his or her tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people. And for coffee lovers, it’s not belief; it’s truth. (*Caution: Coffee Snob Crossing. ha.)

So for those of us who adore coffee, “just any old coffee” will NOT do.

““““““““““““““`

Coffee snobs are the ones who drive across town
to get a cup of coffee at the “good” coffee place —
because no other coffee will do.

Coffee snobs not only know the difference between Sumatra, Guatemalan, and French Roast
(can there be anything more different?) —
we talk Indonesian, Yemen, and South American, too.

We use words like “espresso shots pulled,”
“berry, wine, and chocolate notes,” and
“intense, lime-like acidity.”
(And we get really excited about “single origin expresso.”)

And if someone offers us offee from McDonalds — oy!
Off with their heads!
(That’s not coffee. Get real.
It’s water with coffee-ish flavoring splashed in. duh.)

““““““““““““““““““““““““

Who, me? (Yes, you.)
Snobs exist everywhere. It’s too bad the word has a horrid connotation, because we’re really nice people (most of the time).

Now hang with me here, because there’s a point to this.
(You know me. There’s always a point.)

Snobs exist in all activities. Within all phases of activities.

For instance, 
there are pen snobs, too.
I know. I am one.
(Oh, yes. We can be many snobs all rolled into one.
Wow. That conjures up weirdness.)

Yesterday, when working together with a fabulous young author and her work, I couldn’t find the right pen. All had to stop, until I found it. All was not right with the world — until the correct pen rested between my fingers.

You see, particularly for those of us who adore writing, “just any old pen” will NOT do.

We have to have the pen that feels good in the hand.
With the perfect weight.
And the perfect tip.
And the most perfect movement across the paper.
(I know…there’s no such thing as most perfect. The words simply felt right. See. There I go. I’m being a snob about word choice and rhythm, too.)

A good pen allows you to engage when you write. Really write.

Hear me again: Snobs are everywhere.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For those of us who adore painting,
“just any old brush” will NOT do.
Right?

And for those of us who create photographs as an art form,
“just any old camera” will NOT do.
Right?

And for those of us who play an instrument,
“just any old instrument” will NOT do.
Right?
(Don’t get me started on this one.)

There’s a message here.
When it comes to creativity and artistry,  each of us has preferences. But they’re not just preferences. They’re personal, comfortable habits of creativity that allow us to do our best.

We learn what works for us, and we refine the process over time. By using the best equipment, the best processes, and even the best coffee and pens, we slide into our creative sweet spot — getting to the artistry faster and with more excellence because we turned a creative preference into a habit that increased our artistry and productivity.

(That’s a mouthful. But a true mouthful, at that.)

What’s your sweet spot?
What tools, tricks, and processes help you to create at your highest levels of performance?
(Have you been attentive enough to know what helps you to create at a faster rate, in the zone with the brain, body, and soul working together at optimum speed and skill?)

Snobbery, if you will, in the form of your own special process —
where you tap into the creative —
where creativity takes hold of you and thrusts you into the ring —
where you flash the fists and fight and win —
emerging victorious, arm held high — and the winner is! —
held high by the audience, collective individuals experiencing your work, as the crowd roars —
Yes, this kind of snobbery benefits everyone involved.

(Application Button, please…)
Okay. Bottom Line.
Find the physical and mental tools that take you to creativity’s center.

Don’t let the tool become the focus, though. Fuse with the tools, to become the opponent who’s fully in the mental and physical game, to create at the highest pace and performance.

We’re all entering the ring to win,
right?

Find what pulls you to excellence, even in the small things.
Like the right pen. And a good cup of coffee.

* Thup
coffeeMay29-14
* This post is dedicated to my husband, who kindly offered me a coffee from McDonalds and got more of an answer to the why not? than he anticipated. No matter how nicely it’s explained, it just sounds…snobbish. *sigh

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