You might be familiar with The Shawshank Redemption. Remember the storyline? Andy Dufresne, innocent of any crime, is saddled with a life sentence in Shawshank Prison. The experience nearly kills him and his hope for freedom.
I filtered the movie through my own experience. Stuck in my day job, I felt imprisoned from my potential. Although I loved the people I served and worked with, I felt captive from my creativity. Slowly over the years, I accepted my own life sentence. I thought it was easier to let my dreams die than to keep hoping for freedom.
But that’s not what Andy did. He escaped. And eventually I did, too.
When we see what others have, is our basic reaction to notice what we’re missing or express gratitude for what we have?
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I’ve thought a lot about about this question over the years but came back to it recently when I found myself feeling a little jealous over all the vacation posts popping up on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
At some point the serene beaches, beautiful lakes, and mountaintop views started getting to me. I felt like I was missing out. Maybe you’ve felt this way too.
When it comes to work and life, most of us know what it feels like to be out of balance. But do we know what it feels like to be in balance? It’s not a trick question—even if it seems so at first.
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A few years ago I took my mentoring group on a ropes course. For one of the challenges, we walked a long stretch of rope that wound around several trees. We had to hold onto each other as we worked our way across the line.
Here’s what I remember most of all: When we were balanced, it never really felt like we were. Our legs constantly moved and wobbled, and we strained to grip each other and the nearest tree. But we stayed on that line a long time, making little corrections, adjusting our weight, and trying to stay upright. It didn’t feel like balance, but it was.
The weekend gives most of us the chance to downshift and recharge. But how often do we seize on it to catch up or get ahead on our work instead? Slow down and imagine what could happen if we resisted the temptation.
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If you’re driven like I am, you have more projects than time. It’s easy to think of downtime as simply another opportunity to get more things done. But downtime is crucial, and there’s more evidence every day that it’s essential to our productivity and wellbeing.
Have you ever found yourself in a hyper-productive period? You’re making progress on your goals, checking boxes on your list. It’s like music to your ears. But to everyone else in your life, it’s more like noise.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.com/Nick Helderman
When I first started in publishing I was determined to succeed. I would get to the office at 5:00 a.m. and stay till 6:00 p.m. I even came in on Saturdays. All told, I clocked about seventy hours a week.
I’ve since learned there’s a word for this kind of schedule: crazy.
Starting things is simple. It’s progress that’s hard. Nothing makes that truth come alive like looking back on your week and seeing what didn’t get finished.
When we begin a project there’s all kinds of enthusiasm. We’re energized by that surge of excitement that comes from novelty and our own creativity. But that surge is like starter fluid; it’s not the fuel that will see us through the journey.
I’ve been thinking a lot about sleep recently. Most research shows that we don’t get enough, and our deficit is seriously hurting our productivity, our physical health, even our mental well being.
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Leaders and business writers like Arianna Huffington and Tom Rath are devoting more time to the topic. Greg McKeown’s Essentialism, a book I’m very excited about right now, spends a whole chapter on it.
The line we’ve all heard is, if you snooze, you lose. But it turns out the opposite is true.
This is a guest post by Jonathan Milligan. He is a former executive recruiter turned professional blogger. He also enjoys coaching others on how to get more done and build better blogs. You can find and follow him on his personal blog
or on his Blogging Your Passion
Did you know many of your favorite Disney moments from the 1930-1970s were birthed from a mastermind group of animators? Walt Disney referred to them as “Nine Old Men.”
While still in their twenties and thirties, when Walt first coined the phrase, this mastermind group brought to the world such classics as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Peter Pan, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, and many others.
We live in a crazy noisy world. It’s like there’s a war on stillness. You can’t go anywhere without being subjected to an unrelenting stream of voices, music, sounds, and noise.
This is an assault on our soul. It robs us of our energy and our focus. We spend our days endlessly distracted by trivial things instead of paying attention to those things that matter most.
The key to regaining our sanity is to practice the ancient art of stillness.
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Success has many determining factors, including dumb luck. But I’ve been thinking of one lately that’s largely indispensable and totally learnable—persistence.
Photo Courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo
Have you ever felt like bailing on that one thing you know you’re supposed to do?
The desire to create lasting transformation in the world is what really drives us as leaders, right? Since the news of her death, I’ve been thinking a lot about Maya Angelou. Her legacy offers several valuable insights for living a life of true significance.
Maya Angelou speaking at Burns Library, Boston College. Creative Commons.
The odds were against Angelou in her early years. Her parents divorced when she was three, and she spent several years under the care of her grandparents.