“Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise.”

“Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise.”

—Frank Ocean, American singer/songwriter

Image from Unsplash by Glenn Carstens-Peters

I hope you love your life. I hope all your personal and professional efforts are rewarding in themselves, and that there is no need to brag or boast to call attention to your successes. After all, tooting your own horn can often backfire in our world of considerable judgement.

Ask yourself the following questions regarding your current work efforts:

  • How much impact, influence, and say do I have in my work?
  • How much am I learning, growing, and bettering myself through my work?
  • What difference, contribution, and purpose does my work provide to others in my various communities?

EXERCISE:

Take one minute tonight after you brush your teeth to look in a mirror and reflect on all your silent successes. You may notice how others in your world often toot your horn for you.

“Ask yourself: Does the job touch my heart and feed my soul?”

“Ask yourself: Does the job touch my heart and feed my soul? You will never be what you were meant to be if you aren’t having fun.”

—Suzy Welch, American Author, television commentator, and business journalist

Image from Unsplash by Atlas Green

If you light up on Friday and dread Monday, today’s quote is meant for you. Take heart in that 65-75% of the working world is in the same boat.

For dramatic purposes, that form of regret or stress can represent about 25 years of life, if you include a bit of traffic on your daily commute.

To what degree is this way too high a price to pay?

Beyond family and friends, how we spend our days and who we spend them with makes up far too much of our lives to have it not touch our hearts and feed our souls.

EXERCISE:

What significant, courageous, and of course, fun changes can and will you take to more fully realize that time is the coin of life?

Tweak the balance between your dance and your march

“Tweak the balance between your dance and your march.”

—Michael Bungay Stainer, Founder of BoxofCrayons

Image from Unspash by Sarah X Sharp

What comes to mind when you consider the word dance? For me, it’s playful, fun-loving, and self-expressed.

Now what about the word march? Perhaps thoughts of the military, or simply disciplined work not necessarily of your choice come to mind.

As a young boy in grade school, the though that I could or should not play until all the work was done was prominent.

EXERCISE:

Given that for most of us the work never seems to be done, where would tweaking your own dance/march ratios make the biggest difference?

How might you bring more play to your work, or dance into a more enjoyable and productive life?

Work is Better Than Whiskey

“As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey.”

—Thomas Edison

Image from lichtstudiohelden

Someone once told me that worry is like running on a treadmill. You get all worked up but don’t actually get anywhere.

With that in mind, consider the thought, “Action eliminates fear.”

Unfortunately, in these challenging days, all too many people are turning to the “whiskeys” of our times for temporary relief or escape from their difficulties, often with considerable consequences.

Using the treadmill metaphor, we can still improve our mood and lighten our loads by shedding a few pounds to lead a happier and healthier life.

EXERCISE:

What other forms of work, professionally or personally, could be just the tonic you need to reduce or eliminate your current worries?

Elbow Grease is the Best Polish

“Elbow grease is the best polish.”

—English Proverb

Image of "elbow Grease" tins

When I was a boy, Vaseline was always in our medicine cabinet. This magical goo is simply a brand of petroleum jelly used for cosmetic purposes like removing makeup or soothing dry skin.

We also found that a little dab of Vaseline could put quite a shine on our shoes, and provide a bit of waterproofing as a bonus!

For us Baby Boomers, the term “elbow grease” simply means hard work and doing what it takes to make something good even better.

EXERCISE:

Which current personal or professional project would shine a bit brighter with a bit more elbow grease from you or others?

The Big Art is Our Life

“All the arts are apprenticeship. The big art is our life.”

—Mary Caroline Richards, 19th Century American Poet & Potter

Image of a potters wheel

Image from Flickr by pax-h2o

Do you live to work or work to live? Regardless of how you answer the question, it is clear that we spend a pretty high percentage of our lives engaged in our work.

How many different jobs have you had so far in your life? Many of my coaching clients have multi-page resumes, often including five, ten, or more positions. Quite often, one reason they hire me is to support a transition in their professional life.

They almost always simultaneously seek to live more artfully and include a high degree of focus and effort in their personal lives.

EXERCISE:

What artistic efforts are most appropriate at this point in your life? What would make it a more beautiful masterpiece?

Never hope for it more than you work for it

“Never hope for it more than you work for it.”

—Sonya Teclai, Musical Artist

Image from providinghopenj.org

Image from providinghopenj.org

Though hope may seem like a soft concept, it has hard edges and bottom line implications in the world of professional and personal achievement. Shane Lopez Ph.D., a professor at The University of Kansas School of Business, and a Gallup Senior Scientist, points to the following “Bottom Line” benefits of hope:

    • Hope is the basis of all positive change.
    • Hopefulness can be learned and taught.
    • Hope is different from wishing due to its active quality. Wishing is passive and undermines the chances of success.
    • People work harder, and greater resources are put behind hopeful endeavors.
    • Hopeful organizational cultures dramatically enhance employee engagement and productivity.

EXERCISE:

What are the personal or professional projects you are working on that require a booster shot of hope to help them become realized?

Consider checking out Shane Lopez’s Book Making Hope Happen if you would like to learn more.

“Do More Great Work!”

“Do More Great Work!”

—Michael Bungay Stainer, Sr. Partner at Box of Crayons

Do-More-Great-Work-3d

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I am currently reading the book Mastery by Robert Greene, with great fascination. The subject of mastery has intrigued me all my life. This brilliant analysis includes stories of a wide variety of historic and current masters, and how their life journeys evolved.

Fundamental to the majority of these stories is a clear and authentic passion for the type of work or activity the subjects pursued. Each person tapped into their own gifts and unique abilities, and combined them with an unstoppable drive to pursue, develop, and contribute their talents to the world.

EXERCISE:

What does doing more great work mean to you? How can you do less bad work, or stop both the bad and even some good work, to make room for more great work in the year ahead?

Consider making the book Mastery a must read for 2016.

Another favorite I am sure you will enjoy is Do More Great Work by Michael Bungay Stainer, author of today’s quote.

“Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat.”

“Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat.”

—Ann Landers, Chicago Sun-Times Advice Columnist

Photo from Flickr by Venture Minimalists

Photo from Flickr by Venture Minimalists

The “Fountain of Youth” is a spring that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters. The legend became particularly prominent in the 16th century, attached to the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon’s travels in what is now Florida.

In an April 2014 Time Magazine article titled, “9 Secrets to Living Longer,” author Alexandra Sifferlin points out that good, old-fashioned work plays a critical role in not only the quantity but also the quality of life.

EXERCISE:

Consider working up a bit of a sweat and adding to the length of your life by…

  • Working out and doing some form of exercise daily
  • Working on your diet – you are what you eat
  • Working on your relationships
  • Engaging fully in vocation and avocational activities that you enjoy and that will make a difference in the world
  • Working on your mind by participating in life-long learning

Please reply to this post with some of your own sweat-inducing activities that make your life more rewarding.

“The highest reward for a person’s toil… “

“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.”

– John Ruskin, 19th century English artist and philanthropist

PROGRESS 1
I am a work in progress. How about you? With the wide variety of daily experiences we all have, I believe that we are constantly evolving and becoming a fuller expression of ourselves.

We all work each day to earn the compensation that allows us to care for ourselves and others. Ruskin’s quote, however, points to the less recognized and often subtle developments that accompany such experiences.

Exercise:

Explore how your daily efforts further your journey toward more fulfilling relationships, enhance creativity, expand greater self-esteem, support vibrant health, and extend your pursuit of wisdom.

How are you going beyond your basic psychological and physiological needs to pursue your own self-actualization? Consider Googling Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to explore this concept in more depth.