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Posts from the ‘career’ Category

Created and Erased

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” – John Burroughs

“A Sankara is an impression made on the mind by our experiences in the world. These impressions color the way we see reality and can cut us off from clear awareness. When we observe nature, we can see these impressions being created and erased. All is restored, refreshed, and made new when we practice.” – Matthew DeRubertis

We pray for knowing rather than patience;
To be understood rather than to understand;
The finish line rather than the start and middle;
Holding tight to our stories to define us and others;
The past and future rather than the present;
Certainty rather than mystery.

Nature pulls us out of ourselves to see the expanse, immensity and sheer beauty of place, the gift of creation. Get into nature to observe and absorb what is being created and erased, restored and refreshed. Journey within to follow suit, to clear a new path, to broaden perspective, to create and erase, restore and refresh. Deeper and longer.

Expand rather than contract;
Wait with joy;
Listen for understanding rather than response;
Be kind to self so you can extend it to others;
Create a new narrative;
Finish the story, rather than the story finishing you;
Paint colorful strokes on the blank canvas of the day;
Embrace the mystery of living fully in the present.

Created, erased, restored, refreshed. Made new.

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” – Lord Byron

Long and short, mostly short

“The days are long, but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin

In the past month, two colleagues and friends have passed away. One was 67 and on the brink of retirement after a tremendous career. An author, scholar, professor – authentic, big-heart, generous, brutally honest and funny as hell kind of guy. The other, a 36 year-old brilliant, positive, sweet young woman who I worked with for over 10 years. There’s a quip at work about “work wives’ – that person you can talk to, you have things in common with and she understands you. One of the greatest desires that each of us has is to be understood without having to explain things. She was my “work-wife.” Even though she worked remotely in Montana, we spoke every day, we could complete each other’s sentences and had the same geeky joy for data, learning and caring about the work and the outcome.

We need to grieve loss, to honor a people who have had an impact on us. Both of these individuals had tremendous impact in the world, well-beyond their immediate sphere. I saw each of them “give a damn,” get burned and yet they got back up and kept swinging, caring. They didn’t allow circumstances, small-minded negative people or challenges get in their way. They kept moving through life with vigor, humor and passion.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with our self-created busyness and chaos of daily life. To ride the surface and not go deep. You certainly don’t get burned that way. No one can catch you long enough to get burned. But when we do that we shortchange ourselves and the world. If others don’t give a damn, that’s precisely the time to care even more.

With my own busyness (non-stop meetings and ridiculous demands of work), I’ve been on the brink of joining the rest of the pack in not giving a damn. There’s even a book that’s a best-seller on “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.” I started reading it, but I didn’t get far. I want to give a “f*ck” and get burned. The opposite of love and joy is not hate but apathy.

As I reflect on my two professional colleagues who became friends over the years, I am reminded that often the days are long, but the years are short, too short to be sure.

Dig in, care, give your best without counting and fully grasp each day and the blessings that surround you. There are many gifts present right now in your life if you stop complaining and gossiping long enough to see them. Live the life that you were put here to do. Whether it’s staying where you are at or moving on.

Choose depth, awe and light. The rest of it is really a waste of very, very precious time. And when I forget, I can remember two role models who lived fully even though they were not granted the full time that they should have been. No guarantees for any of us really.

If we allow, loss fosters gratitude. Be grateful now and kind to others so when you’re gone like we all will be one day you will be greatly missed because you made a difference in other peoples lives.

Drop by Drop

“The rain begins with a single drop.” – Manal al-Sharif

We don’t finish where we start. And we won’t finish if we don’t start. A single drop joins another and another to create a stream and flow. We discard precious time over-thinking how to get where we want to go. Start. And drop by drop, step by step, momentum and time join to create reality of mere thoughts.


“Surrender to the flow.” – Mike Gordon

Brick upon brick soon reveals a building. One drop and suddenly the skies open to rain. The “secret” is there are no short cuts, the only way through and to is starting, believing and enjoying the road to the finish. If it’s in your heart, it’s meant to be. Start.

Authentic Leadership

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

I asked Jeanne to teach me how to do speed work so I could mix up my running routine, making it a little less routine. It’s easy to get into a rut even in good habits. Tonight, she taught me and made it fun. There are many more lessons I’ve learned from her through the years. She’s magnetic and draws people to her with who she is to the core.

Jeanne will often say she’s a follower not a leader. It could not be farther from the truth. Authentic leadership is unselfish, shining the spotlight on others. Authentic leadership shares knowledge with actions more than words, with genuine enthusiasm more than pontificating. Authentic leadership is ego-free and generous in spirit, actually making us believe that we know more than we do, building our confidence to keep trying.

So when I look for models of leadership, I am certainly not looking at those in politics, entertainment or most businesses. Real leadership is modeled by those in our daily lives who quietly, unassumingly and authentically live it out each day, reaching outward rather than calling attention to self.  Natural and real, building others rather than themselves.

Outstanding lesson in not only speed work, but authentic leadership in so many areas of life – thanks Jeanne, your grateful student.

Part-time Living

“We were born whole, and yet most of us are living as partial human beings. We each have the capacity to leave the world a better place than we found it. We are meant to discover our authentic nature – the state of being in which we are inspired by ourselves, turned on, lit up, and excited about who we are.” – Debbie Ford, The Shadow Effect

Whether in career or in relationships, transitions make us choose a path among many. During many transitions, I’ve often moved to get away from what’s behind rather than moving forward to what’s ahead. Instead of lunging head first into the future with anticipation and excitement, we drag our feet with one eye fixed in the rear view mirror with trepidation. Choosing the path of seemingly least resistance, we surrender to less than what we are called to do and be, in reality choosing more resistance.

We give up and away too much of ourselves to doubt, fueled by our own thoughts and others uninformed opinions. Instead of sabotaging ourselves, we can openly and confidently receive the plan that was written for us and get out of our own way. Not only fanning the flames, but stoking the fire. Burning every inch of the wick in the candle until the wax is melted completely. To cast our full light, with no apologies or apprehension.

Living to our full capacity is a full time job. So live each day with enthusiasm, hope and faith that we are moving deeper into ourselves when we move beyond the easy and obvious. We are becoming who we are meant to be step by step, transition to transition. No more part-time, half hearted living. Full time while we have the time.

Lesson Plan

“You can never regret anything you do in life. You kind of have to learn the lesson from whatever the experience is and take it with you on your journey forward.” – Aubrey O’Day

This month marks my 25 years in association management. I’ve been thinking about it the past few months – how the time has flown and moved slowly at the same time. Moments of success and failure that have culminated into a career that I am proud of. And I haven’t thrown in the towel  yet – I’ve got some good years in me still.

Today one of our new interns interviewed me on my career for her class project. Her questions made me hone in and reflect on lessons learned. She asked for advice that I would give to someone starting out in their career.

So here goes, the lessons I’ve learned, relearned and keep learning even after 25 years:

Stay positive and never let negative people make you stray off course. It’s only noise to distract, tune it out. Be patient and let time do its job. Work hard and be focused. Play hard so you can keep working hard. When you are at work, be at work. When you are at home, be at home. Laugh early and often, especially at yourself. Intensity is good at times, but not all of the time. Lighten up.

Trust yourself. Listen. Don’t let others criticism or praise define who you are – you only need to account for what you’ve contributed to this world while you are here so keep your eyes on your own paper. Take ownership for your professional and personal development. There will never be “free time” that suddenly opens up for learning. You need carve it out of your schedule each day and make it a priority. Be curious and ask questions. Always do your best – it develops character, strength and results.

Make time for art, music and literature to spark a continual flow of creativity which every profession can benefit from. True leadership is a quiet endeavor that always shines a light outward, not to self. Help others grow and you will grow yourself in the process. Enjoy the journey, it goes fast. Create, foster and build relationships – those are what will be remembered long after we pass by and through.

As in all lessons, I wish I would have learned them quicker than I did. The good news is that I am still a willing student ready to learn even more as the journey continues.


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