Friday, July 06, 2012

Is there a downside to being inspirational?

This morning, I read an interview in Inc. Magazine with leadership expert/Stanford professor Bob Sutton. His answer to one question stood out to me so much that I highlighted it:

Q:  Is there ever a downside to being inspirational?

A:  That can get you in trouble, because happiness is a function of what you expect versus what      you get.  It can be better to have people focused on tiny things that keep them enthusiastic about what they're doing minute to minute than to always talk about the grand vision.  Most of what gets us to that grand vision is ordinary work.  Doing boring things well might be the key to success.

Interesting, right? What do you think?

Monday, July 02, 2012

Project Relaxation: on alcohol lyrics & starting where you are

So my month of intentional relaxation has come to a close, dumping me right into July (which is quite possibly the best month in which to have enhanced ones relaxation skills!)  Here's what I learned:

I'm not naturally relaxed.  I can chill, but it's not my default setting.  It takes a bit of effort, which seems counter-intuitive.  But I can fight off the nagging taunt of my to-do list by reminding myself, "But I AM doing something...I'm relaxing!"

I first suspected there might be different ways in which each of us are programmed to relax (or not) back in law school, when my friend Jon spent our exam prep week watching pro golf on TV and napping.  I spent the week drowning in outlines & sample tests, not sleeping or eating anything that didn't come from a chip bag or soda can... Our GPAs for that semester were two one-hundredths of a point apart.

This idea of having different set points for relaxation popped up again a few months ago at a Ryanhood concert, as I listened to Owen Plant, who opened for them.  He's a fabulous musician, with lots of happy tunes about life on the beach. His lyrics made me think of surfing, rum & fruity drinks.

At one point I thought, "Hmm...If I wrote songs, I don't think they'd be about rum.  They'd be about wine, maybe, or vodka...something a little more intense." My starting point is more go after life than take life as it comes.  And even if I sometimes wish this were different, it isn't. In my imaginary songs, I'm goal oriented, worried about my outfit, trying to figure out what will happen next.  You, not fruity drinks.

(Can you see a songwriting continuum from Owen, writing about relaxing me, with my imaginary lyrics about wine/vodka...then out on the other extreme, angry tunes about cheap beer & moonshine? I entertained myself with this for the better part of half an hour).

I don't write songs, but I'd guess that when you do, you write from where you are.  And I think relaxation isn't all that different: you start from where you are.

God made each of us unique...which is great, except when we look at other people's lives hoping to find some sort of owner's manual for our own.  We have to find our own relaxation level...and our own drink metaphor lyrics...and the manual that will tell us how we're built to work the best.

We're made to search, and if we let him, God will help us find.
That's a good thing.

I'm off to add "Relax!" to my to do list :)