Monday, October 30, 2006

Getting Out of Our Boxes

OK, I know we've all heard that phrase so much that it makes us want to get back into the box and close the cover, but I heard it again this weekend, and just wanted to share what opened up for me.

I attended a seminar this weekend and the presenter used that analogy, but he described it in such a way that I actually felt the walls of the box around me (consider jumping into a refrigerator box, and then adding your family members and your personal history, all the things you've learned over the years, and throw in a couple of close friends).

What all of us bring into that box with us, whether we know it or not, are all the experiences that make us who we are today. What the presenter talked about was how we might be able to start making our way out of our boxes by thinking about something different - trying a new restaurant, having an original thought, or thinking like an entrepreneur, for instance. What usually happens is that as soon as we talk about a new idea - or a new political candidate, or a new kind of automobile - those people we've got in our box with us become gunslingers, as the presenter called them: people with six shooters ready to shoot down that new idea.

If we're prisoners to our past and stuck in that box, we'll immediately pull back that new idea for fear of looking different and we'll perpetuate our lives in the box.

Now I'm not here to say that there's anything wrong with that box. Many of us have lived there so long we've got pictures on the walls and curtains in the windows. And the truth is, we've survived this long in that box that we're going to survive the rest of our lives that way. There's nothing wrong with the box.

But if the box is starting to feel kind of tight and the window is looking more appealing, there is always an opportunity to offer up another idea with a different intention. If the intention is to shoot down the gunslingers before they shoot you down, that might not yield the most positive results. But if the intention is to be true to yourself and to explore life beyond the box, you never know what you might find. If you're ready to get beyond mere survival, there might be an opportunity to thrive outside the box.

I'm reminded of another story I heard somewhere about a remote village which was many, many miles away from any other village. The people of the village shared a common well which provided water to all the people, and lived their lives there without any thoughts of venturing beyond their boundaries. But one young boy decided that he needed to see what else was out there, so ventured out.

While he was gone, a great plague overtook the village and tainted the water supply, and all who drank of it slowly went mad. But having no outside influence, they had no way of knowing the water was tainted.

The boy returned to his home village to teach all that he had seen and learned. But it soon became clear to the boy that something had happened in his village while he was gone. The people were much more closed and irritated than they had been when he lived there, and when he tried to tell them what he had learned, they were convinced that he had been poisoned by the outside influences.

The paradoxical question is: who is tainted, those who stay in the box or those who venture out?

I've read two books which have provided a lot of support as I ask myself those questions. The first is Paulo Coehlo's The Alchemist and the second is Andy Andrews' The Traveler's Gift. I'd love to hear from others about those books or about how you've gotten out of your box. Let's form a support system for others who are ready to venture out!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What Happened to Worthwhile?

Does anyone know what happened to my favorite magazine "Worthwhile"?

I haven't received an issue for a long time (I am a subscriber) and haven't heard anything from them, so I visited their website and learned that the magazine is now called MOTTO.

Any idea what's going on? Will I automatically get the new magazine since I'm a subscriber of the old one or do I need to resubscribe?

Worthwhile was such a great magazine ... I'm just glad they're still there in some form.

Starbucker Reviews "The 100% Factor"

My friend and fellow blogger Starbucker over at Ramblings From A Glass Half-Full has posted his review of my book The 100% Factor.

Thanks, Starbucker for your support! I just spoke at a Chamber event for 35 people this morning and sold 10 books there, so the word is getting out!

Thanks to everyone who is helping me create The 100% Factor buzz!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Can We Talk - About Communication?

Why is it that every single time I ask clients what they believe could be improved in their organizations the answer is “communication”?

It’s also interesting that very few of us seem to be able or willing to admit that the first place our communication skills need to be brushed up on is with those of us who recognize the disconnect. In other words, I need to be a better communicator myself before I can expect my organization to be better at it. We're all really good at recognizing our lack of communication skills, but how many of us are committed to doing something about that?

I’m also really interested in what it means to be an effective communicator. How would we define that?

Earlier this week I listened to Marianne Williamson talk on XM radio about a really controversial topic (so controversial I’m not even going to mention what it is) but the way she introduced it is to say that nearly everyone has his or her own opinion about it already, even before entering into any kind of dialogue about it. So what would be the purpose for having a conversation about a controversial topic? If people have very strong opinions about topics like politics or religion, and are not interested in learning anything other than the way they see it, we’re really not talking about a dialogue, but a discussion, which is more about getting someone else to agree with an already-established point of view.

What if everyone had as their first intention mutual respect, rather than that old familiar fear which keeps us stuck in our own viewpoint? What if we concentrated more on the many, many ways we as humans are alike than the few ways we are different? Might we find much more common ground, even over those topics we find the most controversial?

For me, that really has become my intention whenever I meet someone new. I’ve shared stories here about times I’ve found myself with preconceived ideas and opinions about people or situations and what I’ve learned by being open to what I can learn from them.

It really is true in my life that the more open I am, the more amazing situations I learn from and the more expanded my worldview becomes. I realize more and more that regarding my thoughts, I really am right about what I attract into my space: if I'm negative and crabby and believe the world is negative and crabby like me, I'll find that. If I'm positive and upbeat and believe that's the way the world is, I'll find that.

So let's see what we might be able to create by being more open-minded in our communication opportunities. It makes no sense to keep living a less-than-extraordinary life by remaining trapped in our old familiar worldviews, especially if they're not allowing us to see the possibilities.

Only YOU (and I) can prevent ineffective communication!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Why Do We Blog?

I'm giving a presentation in about nine hours to a group of professional communicators here in Fargo. The topic of the presentation is blogging. I thought I was ready, but I was awakened in the middle of the night with this question in my head: Why Do I Blog?

I know I'll be able to create an open dialogue with the group - I'll tell them what I know about blogging (which, as I do a little more research here, I find I still have a LOT to learn) and will welcome their questions and we'll learn a lot together.

But there is so much more out there I don't know. What are the advantages of using Blogger? What are the advantages of using TypePad (or any of the other blogging services)? When I met Vint Cerf (see a previous post about that), he wanted to know what I wanted Blogger to do for me (I didn't know until then that Google owned Blogger). I didn't even really know how to answer that question because there are so many things I don't even know I don't know. Help me understand more about Technorati tags and De.lic.i.ous and RSS feeds and all those other cool tools that exist to help bloggers make a bigger impact.

Can my little blog make a dent in the blogosphere without all the fancy bells and whistles?

I'd love to hear from others out there. Let's see how far we can reach. The sky doesn't have to be the limit. Forward these questions to others in your circle and let's start a huge dialogue.

1) Why do you blog?
2) How has blogging affected you personally?
3) How has it affected your business?
4) What service do you use for your blog and why?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The 100% Factor Enters Second Printing!

Just a quick note to let you know that my book has sold out of its first printing and is now in its second edition!

Click here to order your very own copy - I'll even send you an autographed book! If you have feedback, I'd welcome a review on Amazon, where the book is also available.

Thanks in advance for helping me create The 100% Factor BUZZ!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

You Just Never Know ...

It's so important to pay attention ... you never know when you might notice something important, or meet a fascinating new friend. I've had opportunities in the past two weeks to do both.

I've been busy with the International Sweet Adeline convention and competition in Vegas and am posting tonight from Scottsdale, AZ where I delivered 4 breakout sessions for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's Executive and Administrative Assistants Conference.

I've had a great 10 days, beginning with my flight out on Monday, October 9. My first flight was Fargo to Denver. A very sharp-dressed gentleman sat down next to me on that flight and we had a great chat.

It wasn't until we got to the career portion of our conversation that I realized my seatmate was the keynote speaker at the annual Upper Great Plains Technology Conference, Vinton Cerf. Mr. Cerf is Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, and is one of the founding fathers of THE INTERNET! How funny it was, in thinking back, to ask him what he did and hear him say, almost nonchalantly, "Oh, I invented the Internet!" OK, so now we had lots to talk about! He told me before too many others knew about Google's purchase of YouTube, and also told me all about his experience working on the Internet, teaching at Stanford, joining Google, and even about his family and travel experiences (and I couldn't resist asking him if Al Gore really was involved in the invention of the Internet. He confirmed Al's claim.). You can read more about Mr. Cerf from the Upper Great Plains Technology Conference website.

I'll tell you more about my travels and experiences over the next few days, so watch for updates.

And, in the meantime, notice what you notice. You just never know who you might meet or what you might learn!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Something You May NOT Already Know!

One thing some of you may not know about me is that I am mildly obsessed with barbershop harmony and compete with a chorus where I travel 7 hours round trip nearly every Monday to rehearse. Well, we will be competing at the International Convention next week in Las Vegas and I wanted you to know that the competition will be webcast in case you're interested!

My chorus, City of Lakes, is scheduled to be on stage at 5:54 p.m. (Vegas time) on Thursday, October 12, but the schedule is a bit flexible depending upon timing. We are contestant #27, so we'll be close to the end of the entire program.

Log on here if you'd like to see what I'm up to!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The 100% Factor Goes International!

I received this photo today from my blogging buddy Alexander Kjerulf in Copenhagen, Denmark. Watch for Alex's review on his blog, Positive Sharing.

Alex has some wonderful ideas about happiness at work. In fact, his title is Chief Happiness Officer!

Check him out - and let me know what you think about The 100% Factor!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Kevin Eikenberry Recommends The 100% Factor!

I received Kevin Eikenberry's newsletter this morning, and there in living color was Kevin's recommendation for The 100% Factor!

Here is what Kevin has to say:

The 100% Factor – Living Your Capacity
by Jodee Bock

The lead words on this book's back cover are: "Potential is Someday, Capacity is Today." Jodee Bock has written a short book filled with ideas and great questions to help you think about living to your current capacity, right now.

Jodee opens this book with a warning that starts with "You already know the stuff in this book. You just forgot." She takes this mental approach to the full book. Drawing on other authors as well as her experience, Jodee never talks down to you and keeps her focus clear. She wants to help us as her readers use the information she is sharing with us.

The book contains 16 short chapters that help us consider our current capacity and how to fulfill it. There are chapters on fear, accountability, decision making, communication, knowledge and many more. At the close of each chapter she lists several questions she calls "The Reality Checklist" that you can ask yourself at anytime. All of these are thought provoking questions and they alone are reason enough to own this book.

The 100% Factor is a quick read - at 135 pages it won't take you long. When you finish you may agree with the initial warning that you knew all the stuff you read. Even so, the reminders are valuable and they are presented in a way that spurs you to take action on what you have learned (or re-learned). The value of those reminders, if you take action, will last you a lifetime.

You can learn more and order a copy directly from Jodee Bock at

Check out Kevin's website and blog to learn all about unleashing your potential (which is basically what The 100% Factor is all about!).