Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Changing Seasons Post

I'm over at Changing Seasons today, sharing what I learned from THAT NIECE and this fun creature.

Friday, May 25, 2012

On Finding My Universal Intention...at a Business Seminar

Last night I attended an event for entrepreneurs.  It was sponsored by a local group that champions promising startups, and featured Bill Warner, an angel investor who shared his thoughts on what makes for successful investor-founder relationships.

This might sound like an odd place for an author to hang out, but it was so interesting.  The publishing industry is in utter chaos right now, and here was a room filled with smart, boundary pushing, business-minded people sharing ideas that could (from my vantage point) be pieces of solutions and suggest new possibilities.  I loved it.  (Plus the attendees had job titles like "Master of Awesomeness" and "Ninja in Residence."  If they came to your town, you'd go too!)

I was struck by Bill Warner's unique approach to picking investments.  "I don't invest in products," he said. "I invest in people."  He went on to describe the extensive exercises he does with his founders to uncover the intention behind what they're doing.  "All our lives, we're taught to use our heads," he said.  "I want to push you to use your heart."

It sounded a little too fuzzy/feel-good at first, until he had some of his founders share what this process had uncovered for them and how it changed their approach to their businesses.  They each shared an "Intention statement" they'd drilled down to:

"We help people feel superhuman."  (Urban Hero Sports)
"We help people feel important." (Libboo)
"We help people understand that they're creative & use that creativity." (delightful.ly)
"We help people extend their reach and be curious." (Leapmotion)
"I help people follow their heart and feel closer together." (Bill Warner)

I wasn't clear how ANY of this connected to their products until Bill pointed out that intention has to come before your product.  If the intention is universal -- meaning, someone 100 or 1000 years ago would have understood it -- you're onto something with serious power to connect.  From there, he said, you can come up with a product that delivers joy, rather than just providing pain relief.

I've been thinking about this ever since. Moving beyond what I want to do (for authors the answer is write, publish & sell books!) to consider, what is the universal urge this speaks to?

I went into the event with an internal mission statement that was something like, "To write books that entertain, encourage & inspire."  But I left with a simpler understanding that applies to every area of my life:  I help people stay encouraged.  

A subtle, meaningful adjustment to the lens through which I view life.

You should give it a try!

Consider: what your universal intention?  It doesn't even have to be altruistic (indeed, "I help people accumulate vast amounts of wealth" is something even the cavemen would have understood). You'll know you've found it when it makes you smile :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Quick litmus test for fear & love

Thoughts from something I read earlier this morning:

The easiest way to tell if you're operating out of fear is to look at your question:  If you're wondering, "What will happen to me?" (my plan, goal, mission, job, dream for the future), fear has you buy the tail.  It will swing you around for days as you wrestle fruitlessly, and it won't put you down until you're dizzy, exhausted, and hopeless.

To switch your focus to love, change the question.  Ask:
"What will happen to the person or people my plan, goal, mission, job, or dream for the future is for?"
This might not get us to easy answers.  But it puts our thoughts in the right place and directs our eyes to look through the right lens.  Then we see things differently and notice options we miss when fear has hold of us.

To change the options, change the question.

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment." - 1 John 4:18
Encouraging stuff :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Navigating Change by looking for the Bright Spots

You'll be delighted to hear that I found an outfit for today's event.  Thank you for your support :)

Admittedly, it was a bland ensemble - black "trousers" (to maintain Stacy & Clinton's love), and a sweater that's best described as, well, sufficient.  But it was fine, as I wasn't at this event to be noticed - I was there to hear Dan Heath, co-author of Made to Stick and Switch (two of my all-time favorite nonfiction books) talk about navigating change.

At the end of the session, I had the chance to ask him how being immersed in the principles as he wrote has influenced his own life.  His response was great.  He said that the best thing he's internalized since writing this book is a commitment to "looking for the bright spots." 

As he describes in Switch, we're psychologically wired to focus on bad over good.  We'll notice things that are ugly, unfortunate, and problematic much more quickly than those that are lovely, pure, or working splendidly.  (As he put it, "When was the last time you & one of your friends got together and said, I really want to talk about the things in my job/family/relationship that are going well so I can figure out what's working & replicated it!?)'

So one of the things he discovered in his research is that, when you're facing a huge problem or set of circumstances, one way to get passed feeling overwhelmed & helpless is to focus on whatever is going well.  Ask yourself: What's working? What doesn't need to be fixed?  Where are expectations being met or exceeded?  He calls this focusing on the bright spots.  Hidden in there are often clues to things we're doing right that might apply to other areas where things aren't going so well.  So it's not just "Don't worry/Be happy."  It's making smart choices about where we focus so we're more likely to see solutions.

I like that :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

On "Wardrobing"

I am DELIGHTED to report that posting some great reads for summer had the desired affect (effect? I can't seem to get that right) and convinced God of my true desperation for SUNSHINE this weekend.  THAT DOG, THAT HUSBAND and I went to the beach on Saturday for some vitamin D reloading.  It was glorious.

Today, it's cloudy again, but I'm not even bothered.  Because today I'm on a MISSION (and I've had quite a bit of coffee, which is why I'm typing so quickly and leaning on the ALL CAPS button for ADDED EMPHASIS!)  I'll be attending an event tomorrow where the dress code calls for neither jeans nor flip flops.  Which puts me at a loss, as jeans & flip flops are my go-to attire for pretty much anything that happens between the months of May and October.  

What's a girl to do?
I would LOVE to be the type of person who is so dedicated to the themes of FREE TO BE YOU AND ME that I show up in my super-casual attire (a la Woody Harrelson) no matter what the event, trusting that no one really cares what I wear.  But I'm not.  I was a lawyer at one point; I know how to put on a suit.  I sold real-estate, so I can do business casual.  I understand appropriate clothing and how much it helps people to hear what you have to say if you're dressed like someone they'd want to hear from.

So today...I'm shopping.  Pray for me, friends.  I've gone down this road before, only to return home with new jeans and 3 additional pairs of flip flops.  But this time, I'm determined to do better!  I'm going to pretend that Stacy & Clinton are tracking me with their spy-cam, lamenting denim's magnetic pull over me, squealing with delight as I consider the merits of a "trouser."

We'll see what happens :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fending off the rain with summer reading recs

It's raining here again.  I'm pretending that it's going to get sunny ANY MINUTE NOW, flat-out fibbing to myself that this is just one of those brief showers, you know, of the sort one finds in tropical places while on vacation...like the 4pm thunderstorm in Puerto Rico that blows through in about twenty minutes and reminds you of how much you love the sun.

Clearly, I'm going to great lengths to deny my weather-related reality.

In the spirit of this denial, let me tell you about some amazing books I've read recently.  I started my "summer reading" ahead of time this year.  In February.  It's been fabulous.  And even though there's no sand in any of my books (just a few crumbs from goldfish crackers and my Mom's homemade oatmeal cookies) I am confident that any of these stories will bring you as much joy on the beach in July as they did to me on my couch this winter.

Here are a few worth checking out:

How do you make choices about what you cling to and what you let go?  A surprising and funny story of a woman trying to organize her way through the chaos of love, pain, and life.

A really interesting book about friendship - it's unlikely beginnings, ups and downs, and how we decide how much to share and what to keep to ourselves.  Loved it!

THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME by Allison Winn Scotch
A woman loses her memory in a plane crash...then has to decide how much of her old self to chase down, and which parts of her life she'd rather create anew.  This one will have you thinking, long after the last page.

This was a re-read for me.  An incredibly fun story of four writers who meet at a conference and support each other through the strange world that is the publishing industry.  This book makes me smile.

What books are you looking forward to?
(And, more importantly, what do you do to see past all the rain???)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What Would You Do With a Do-Over?

I'm over at the Changing Seasons blog today, sharing how Allison Winn Scotch's latest novel has me wondering what I'd do with a do-over... Come by and check it out!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Aaaaand we're back!

It's good to be home :)

As some of you know, I took a bit of a blog adventure a few months back, packing up my deep thoughts and silly stories and heading over to join Patheos.com, a site featuring blogs about all different approaches to faith.

It was fun, and I'm really grateful for the experience. It gave me a chance -- and a push -- to blog more openly about how Jesus informs the choices I make in everyday life, from praying for seemingly impossible things to being a big fan of Santa Claus.

But as those of you who are writers know, this is a business. Which means sometimes we have to make decisions based on that side of things.  For a variety of reasons, I decided that having my own blog was a better fit for me right now.

And as I said, it's good to be back!

Here's what will happen next:  Over the coming week or so, I'll post material from my season with Patheos that was especially conversation provoking or helpful, including the posts from the Encouragement Project we did on praying for a husband.  Then I'll dive into new material as I can.

I'm working on a couple of new writing projects right now, so my blogging will be spontaneous, rather than scheduled.  But I'm excited to be back here to connect with you.  Thanks for being here :)