Something magical happened on November 10th, 1969.
The Children's Television Workshop launched a provocative new program geared toward educating children. There were two significant phenomena driving the launch.
First, Americans were watching television in alarming clips. One estimate that I read indicated upwards of 50 hours per week, per household. Geez Louise.
Second, there was a dramatic shortage of preschools. Local communities could not meet the rising demands.
So a diverse cast of humans and a colorful cast of lovable muppets stepped in to save the day. Sesame Street was born.
This morning in my Toastmasters meeting, someone asked me what I make of the phrase ... What if? This was the informal motto of the Sesame Street cast and production crew.
I'm pretty sure I know what the team was thinking when they adopted this motto ... What if we make a difference? Based on what they've done for the past 52 years, it's clear they believe they are making a difference. You don't take on...
What if you could upgrade your mindset by adding three little letters to your vocabulary? You can, and we'll get to that in a minute. But first, let's take a step back. Let me start with a different question...
What beliefs do you hold about yourself that are limiting your potential?
It's a difficult question to answer. But why? We all hold limiting beliefs, so why is it so hard to name them?
It's because we don't often notice our beliefs. They're like the software that is running on your phone or computer. You only notice it when something goes wrong. We only notice our beliefs when life puts them to test.
Limiting beliefs are the worst. They're like a built-in security system that our mind uses to keep us out of danger. See if any of these sound familiar...
You're not very outgoing, so you tend to keep to yourself in social situations.
You're not very confident, so you don't approach that attractive stranger.
You're not good with technology, so you don't try...
This week I've been thinking about a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower ... "Plans are nothing, but planning is everything."
In many ways, this quote captures the essence of Life Design. But what does it mean?
There's another Eisenhower quote that might shed some light on things ... "No plan ever survives contact with the enemy."
Here's the thing. When it comes to designing your life, your plans will never work out the way you think. There are too many unknown and unknowable variables. On top of that, every variable is ever-changing, including you.
Your values change. Your goals change. Your perspective changes.
Everything changes, so your plan must also change.
But Mike, if my plans are definitely going to change, then why bother planning in the first place?
That, my friend, is an excellent question.
There is value in the planning process itself. The act of planning is akin to imagining an alternate future. A plan is a prediction for how certain events will occur.
A good plan helps...
I recently recommitted myself to my meditation practice. That is to say, I've committed to doing it every single day, rather than only doing it on the days I want to do it. So far, I've got a nice little streak going!
I've heard it said that meditation is about seeking the gaps between one's thoughts. This definition resonates with me. The default condition for my mind appears to be eight thousand RPMs. Not exactly a calm, idle. My sitting practice brings this fact to my attention. But also offers a few minutes each day where I can throttle back and simply rest.
My practice is to meditate first thing in the morning, before I begin my work for the day. I find the days when I most resist doing my practice are the days when it feels like I don't have time. Of course, this feeling is an illusion. I know this because lately I've been forcing myself to do the meditation and I haven't suffered for it.
To the contrary, in fact. The benefits are clear to me. It's not that I feel calmer...
What can we all learn from a four-year old?
I once had the pleasure of riding 90 minutes in the car with my little buddy William. He'd turned four the week prior and wasn't afraid to tell you about it.
But there was something William loved to do more than telling, and showing, his age. He loved asking questions. At first, it seemed normal. Then it was cute. Then it was a bit annoying. Then it was driving me batshit crazy.
How could this kid have so many questions? Everything I say receives the same response ... why? It some point, I began asking myself the same question. Unwilling to meet defeat at the hands of a toddler, I resorted to the wildcard that every adult has in their pocket ... just because.
Okay Mike, that's a nice story, but what's the point?
Suppose you see a negative post on social media about a politician that you dislike. What is your immediate reaction? In a perfect world, you'd analyze the information to test. Does this make sense? Is this source credible? If so,...
How big is the gap between who you are and what you do?
Most of us have a gap between the person we know ourselves to be, and the person who shows up every day in the world. I call it the Authenticity Gap.
If your Authenticity Gap is small, like a crack in the sidewalk, there's a good chance you won't even realize it. You might notice the gap from time to time, but it won't be top of mind. You won't be in pain.
If your gap is large, like grand canyon large, you'll know it. It will be an endless source of suffering for you. The feeling of inauthenticity will haunt you. It will keep you up at night.
Chance are, you're somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
But here's the problem.
The gap tends to widen over time.
Why is that?
Because life is dynamic, but we treat life as though it's a static system. We are in a constant state of change, growing and evolving. The world around us is in a constant state of change.
Even though we appreciate these facts, part of us wants to stay...
Are you a New Year's resolution person?
I'm not. At least I have not been for 15 years. For me, resolutions didn't stick. I'd go strong for a week or even a month, then I'd drop back into my old habits and routines.
I love the concept. The idea of making a commitment to myself to become a better person feels right to me.
How can we follow through on the commitments we make to ourselves? I have three ideas for you.
Idea #1 - Instead of making a resolution, choose a theme.
I didn't invent this concept. I've heard many gurus recommend this over the years. There's a reason why this idea has endured. It works.
The idea is simple. Pick one area of your life where you want to make progress. Then turn that into a punchy tag-line. I like to boil it down to a single word. For example, the year I started dating my wife, my word was ... Bold. Last year, my word was Connection.
Once you've identified your theme for the new year, give some thought about how you'll go about it. Identify...
Does it matter? It might. Depending on your answer, it might be the most important question you should be asking right now. Your overall sense of happiness and satisfaction is tightly correlated to your answer.
Before we get too deep, let’s explore what we mean by Job, Career, and Calling.
You have to do it. It’s a matter of survival. Your job is a means to an end. You do the job to make money. To make ends meet. A job is mostly about you.
Of course, as part of your job you provide service to someone else. Every job is a service to someone. But with a job you feel distanced from that service. A job feels like “work" because there’s a disconnect between the what and the why.
Chances are, you are pretty good at your job. After all, that’s what allows you to keep it. However, in this job, you are probably...