Friday, February 18, 2005

So Much Inspiration - So Much Time!

You really do get out of life what you look for - in addition to what you put in.

If I'm convinced that someone has done me wrong, I'll find all the evidence in the world to back up my belief. If I even suspect that someone might disagree with a thought I have, I find all kinds of excuses to avoid having to state my own opinion. And then I can blame that other someone for not allowing me to put in my two cents' worth.

Or I can find so many different and totally unique ways to be inspired that I'm spending a great deal of my time with my head up - looking for the next person to cross my path, or the next phone call to get me thinking about something new, or the next website recommended by a trusted colleague.

"Spending a great deal of time." Funny I would say it like that. Isn't it better to SPEND time in our lives rather than SAVE it? I know there will be differing opinions about this, but I'd rather SPEND my time doing things I love than SAVE my time for someday. I've heard it said that you will never FIND time for anything - if you want time you have to MAKE it.

Well, I do have that choice - to MAKE time for the things and the people I most cherish.

I can't remember where I heard this, so I apologize up front for not giving credit where it's due (funny, but the word "credit" came up in the context of money ... hmmmm... anyway ...).

If someone gave you $1,440 today and told you you had to spend it all within one 24-hour period, could you do it? If you love to shop like I do, you probably wouldn't have any trouble. And if someone gave you $1,440 tomorrow and told you you had to spend it within that 24-hour period, you'd probably be able to do that, too. You would spend every last dollar, I'll bet.

Well, we have 1,440 minutes available to us every single 24-hour period. How wisely do we spend those minutes? How many of us are more mindful of how we spend our money than how we spend our time? Yet there may also be those who use their time - perhaps like their money - socked away in a drawer somewhere, waiting for the "someday."

"You can eat your dessert after you finish your broccoli." "I'll put my bike away after this show is over." "We'll go to the baseball game after I finish this proposal for my boss." "We'll go to Europe after the kids graduate."

Remember the song "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin? Here's a refresher from the last verse:

I've long since retired, my son's moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
"I'd like to see you, if you dont mind."
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I could find the time.
You see my new job's a hassle and the kids have the flu,
But it's sure nice talkin' to you, Dad.
It's been sure nice talkin' to you."

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me,
He'd grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.

All we've really got is time. All the time in the world. 1,440 minutes every single day. And more inspiration than we can even imagine. You really do find what you're looking for. Looking for more justification? Here it is. Looking for reasons to believe things really are as bad as they seem? It's right here, too. Looking for a a red Dodge pickup? You'll see them on every corner. Mulling over a tough problem that you know has a positive response? Turn on the radio and listen to the next song.

It's as simple - and as complicated - as that. Inspiration is EVERYWHERE - we just need to be prepared to see or hear or feel or taste or smell it.

Here's to wise spending!

Saturday, February 12, 2005


As you know if you've read about me here, I'm a avid member and fan of the world of barbershop harmony. I, along with 7 others, am in the process of starting a prospective chapter of Sweet Adelines International here in Fargo, North Dakota to offer a competitive, entertaining, challenging, exciting, mix of harmony, camaraderie, heart, soul and fun for women of all ages.

As we struggle with a name for our new group, some words keep rising to the surface - words that imply a mixture, an amalgamation, a fusion - an alchemy.

As I think more about the words we've kicked around as we're developing this chorus, I'm thinking about other words with similar meanings. Here are a few:

AMALGAMATION: A consolidation or merger

FUSION: The merging of different elements into a union

BLEND: To combine (varieties or grades) to obtain a mixture of a particular character, quality, or consistency

CONVERGENCE: The process of coming together or the state of having come together toward a common point.

CONFLUENCE: A gathering, flowing, or meeting together at one juncture or point

SYNERGY: Cooperative interaction among groups, especially among the acquired subsidiaries or merged parts of a corporation, that creates an enhanced combined effect

ALCHEMY: A medieval chemical philosophy having as its asserted aims the transmutation of base metals into gold, the discovery of the panacea, and the preparation of the elixir of longevity.
A seemingly magical power or process of transforming (emphasis is mine)

I'm sure it's no coincidence that my friend Christopher Bailey's beautiful blog is called "The Alchemy of Soulful Work: Exploring the connections between work, creativity, and the spirit."

Chris understands the importance, and apparently appreciates the magic, of the concept of alchemy within organizations. And he's committed to supporting individuals in creating that opportunity within their workplaces. Don't miss his blog or his website (

Here's to Chris' and my coaching clients getting to experience that magic - and to our new chorus finding the magic formula for our own brand of success.

Friday, February 04, 2005

LOVE and WORK in the same sentence?

Are our companies focusing on their external as well as their internal customers (employees) with the spirit of love or holding them hostage by fear?

Think about a company run by the spirit of fear. Every day we would be worried that co-workers are talking about us, that competition will gobble us up, that we can't come up with a new idea because it might not work. To use a basketball analogy (I can't help it!), we're playing not to lose instead of playing to win.

Now think about a company run by the spirit of love. Wait a second ... that might be pushing the envelope.

Is there a place for love in the world of work?

Tim Sanders, chief solutions officer at Yahoo, thinks so. He wrote a book called Love Is The Killer App. It's not a new book, but that doesn't diminish its importance. For an overview, read this article in the February 2002 Fast Company magazine. Here's a preview:
The most powerful force in business isn't greed, fear, or even the raw energy of unbridled competition. The most powerful force in business is love. It's what will help your company grow and become stronger. It's what will propel your career forward. It's what will give you a sense of meaning and satisfaction in your work, which will help you do your best work.

Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, thinks so. Herb believed that a company can be run either by fear or by love, and it's obvious which he chose. Southwest Airlines was founded in 1971, beginning its operations from Love Field in Dallas. The stock ticker for Southwest Airlines isn't SWA, as you might expect, but LUV. The Southwest logo includes a heart with wings. The day they hold their corporate annual meeting is February 14 - Valentine's Day.

So who can argue with companies like Southwest Airlines and Yahoo? Then there's Wegman's, the 89-year-old grocery store chain based in Rochester, New York, last year's top company to work for, according to the Forbes Magazine Top 100 Companies to Work For list. A 19-year-old student and part-time Wegman's employee summed up her feelings about her job: "I love this place," she tells a visitor. "If teaching doesn't work out, I would so totally work at Wegmans."

So how, exactly, should we define LOVE as it pertains to work? Scott Peck, in The Road Less Traveled, defined love as "The will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's personal growth." In his book, On Caring , Milton Mayeroff defines love as "the selfless promotion of the growth of the other."

So, is it possible to utter the words "LOVE" and "WORK" in the same sentence? Can those two concepts co-exist?

I'm betting my career on it.