Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Value of Random Thoughts

We all know what random thoughts are—the ones that pop into your head and you think, Wow… that’s a really cool idea. These are the thoughts that have you puffing up with pride at the notion that you could come up with something so good on your own, or delighting you with your own ability to solve a problem. They make you feel brilliant… and then they’re gone... like stars at sunrise.

Everything that exists in our world started out as a flash of an idea in someone’s mind. Not all of those minds belonged to geniuses either. They belonged to people who grabbed hold of their thoughts, and didn’t let go until they turned them into a reality.

If you want to write a book, but are having trouble getting started, here are a few things you can start doing right now.

Write your flashes of brilliance down! Books aren’t written all at once. They’re written word by word (and not necessarily in order). Get a notebook. It can be a fancy notebook or not, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, or how many pages it has. What matters is that it’s one and only purpose is for you to record your thoughts and ideas. No to-do lists! No journaling!

I have a couple of books like this; small ones from the Dollar Store, each with its own designated subject. Then, whenever I have an idea, thought, or flash, I have a place to write it down.

Embrace the power of post-its! Funny little things—post-its, but powerful little things to have handy because brilliance rarely checks to see if one of your notebooks is nearby before gracing you with its presence. With a post-it, you can capture your idea with words before it fades away.

What I really like about post-its (besides the fact that you can write something down and then add it to your notebook later) is that they come in all kinds of shapes and colors. You can choose colors that match your mood, or even color code your thoughts if you want.

Most Importantly! When you do write down your thoughts, ideas, flashes of brilliance, etc., make sure to write down enough of the thought so you’ll know exactly what you were thinking when you came up with it. I can’t even imagine how many wonderful thoughts and ideas have been lost through the ages because someone wrote a four word sentence and thought, I’ll remember what it means. Don’t let that happen to you. Make sure that what you write is as complete as it can be.

Don’t share! I know that sounds like a bad thing to say, but ideas can be fragile things. Treat them like the newborns they are. Don’t give them over to strangers. And, as we’re not really talking about babies here, my advice is not to share them with loved ones or trusted friends either—at least not at first. Write them down, and then let them settle long enough for the inspiration that sparked their existence to take root. If you work with a coach or mentor, those are the people you can share them with because your best interest is their top priority.

Respect your own process! People create at their own pace, so cut yourself some slack if your book isn’t taking shape as quickly as you’d like it to. If you’d like some guidance understanding and defining your process, let’s chat.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Grit Part 7

Growing Grit from the Outside Continued
       So, what’s another way us parents can build more grit in ourselves and our children? Simple. Join a gritty team. Join a winning team. Join a team where it’s normal to get up early, work hard, and stay late. When we reside in a culture that is gritty, then acting gritty just seems normal. It’s just what we do. After all, the concept of conformity is a very powerful one. Most of us will conform to the culture that we’re living in, whether we know it or not.
            The Finnish people even have a word for the culture of toughness that they live in and acclimate to. That word is sisu. They believer that just by being Finnish it makes the people in Finland grittier, tougher, or sisu, whether they know it or not. Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks professional football team calls it competing. If you’re part of the Seahawks culture you’re always competing. And in Coach Carroll’s culture, the word compete doesn’t mean one wins and one loses. Instead, it means to bring forth the best in all of them.
Which, leads me to my next point. If you don’t have a winning gritty culture or team to join, then create one of your own where your own grit will rub off onto your teammates, co-workers, or even your own children. Hey, it’s sort of like the great John Wooden of UCLA basketball fame would say, “Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” So, choose to have that courage and build that grit in yourself. Then pass it around so others too can get a little more cultured.
What we accomplish in the marathon of life depends a lot on our grit, passion and perseverance for long term goals. Sadly, an obsession with talent distracts us all from this simple truth. And makes no mistake about it, most of us are distracted. We love the mystique of what someone becomes, we’re not very interested in what it took, or the becoming part that was required for them to reach their full potential and mastery.
            The good thing is that we can all choose to work on our own grit and becoming grittier. We can grow our grit from the inside out through some exploration and perseverance and we can also employ others to our cause and grow grit from the outside in.
            Becoming grittier is excellent for all of us because becoming grittier makes us emotionally healthier. Considering all the crazy stuff we have seen seeing in the news lately, I think you would agree with me that our society being a little more emotionally healthy would be a good thing that could benefit all of us.

            In conclusion, I say stay curious my friend. Curiosity usually has an undercurrent of optimism that accompanies a growth-mindset. Curiosity, in the end, may be the best companion to true grit. Get your gritty self out there and somehow get your hands on Dr. Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit. You’ll be happier that you did. It will improve your outlook on life like it has for me. Grit reminds us that we don’t have to go down that road of learned helplessness. Given enough time and grit, we can make our dreams come true by becoming even grittier.
 Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. You can learn more about him at: