Category Archives: Motivation

What do you tell yourself?

I’m not handy.

I’m bad with numbers.

I can’t draw.

We become used to saying these things. But when you were a kid you improvised, you knew your flash cards and you drew whatever you wanted. What happened? Maybe you decided it was easier to be bad at things. Not everything, just something.

Buy a house and you’ll become handy because things will need to be fixed.

Put yourself in charge of a budget and your numbers skills will improve.

Get a notebook and start doodling and you’ll see your ideas take shape.

Enough people will tell you what you’re not good at, why add to the noise?


In this video, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill audition for their roles as Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Essentially it’s a video of a job interview. The interesting thing is that when this was being filmed, their roles were not yet iconic, Star Wars didn’t yet exist, and there was no guarantee the movie would work. You can sense the skepticism an observer might have watching them at the time…What IS this? What are they talking about? Would I really want to see it? The grainy reality of the audition is a contrast from the polished, edited dialogue delivered by the costumed characters we know from the movie.

If you’re interviewing for a job you might find Harrison and Mark here easy to relate to. They’re not widely known, they’re taking a chance on a position that they might fail at, and they need to demonstrate in a convincing way that they are right for the roles.

While we can’t picture anyone else as Han Solo, Ford mentions in another interview that there were hundreds of other candidates trying out for the Captain Solo job as well. Hundreds of people going for an obscure position in a venture with long odds for success. But a space pirate welcomes those odds, and as we pursue our careers perhaps we all should, too.

The waiting place

“I can’t wait until my vacation.” The person in the store said.

“Is it Friday, yet?” The delivery guy asked.

“Only three weeks until Daylight saving time.” Another pointed out.

They mean well, but unfortunately they’re all in “The Waiting Place”, which of course you know from Oh, the Places You’ll Go! It’s perhaps the worst of the many pitfalls one can face in one’s life and career. Dr. Seuss portrays this a a sort of self-imposed Pergatory where everyone just waits for something to happen. It’s an easy place to visit, and it’s easy to linger there. After all something has to happen sometime right?

Except when it doesn’t.

Find a door to open and get out of there.

Game over

Around 15 players in the NFL get the lion’s share of endorsement deals and lottery-style paychecks. The other 1,600 players score six figure salaries, but their average career is only three years.

That means most NFL players need to adapt and learn how to do something different when the time comes. They need to be prepared for uncertainty as fate can knock them out of the game at any time. They need to have a financial plan for when the paycheck stops.

Wow, just like you.


In The Hobbit the protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, has a number of good reasons to not join the dwarves on a grand adventure.

His home is warm, comfortable and well stocked with food and drink.

The quest sounds dangerous, and staying home is safer.

He would have to learn new things that he never planned on having to learn, such as wielding a sword and riding a pony.

As a Hobbit, he’s not expected to go adventuring.

There’s a fire breathing dragon involved.

If he makes it back alive, he won’t be the same person he was when he left.

These are all sensible reasons to not look for treasure mountain, but Bilbo doesn’t stay home. And a marvelous adventure unfolds.

What are your reasons?

How are you doing?

New York City Mayor Ed Koch died today at age 88. Like any politician his legacy will be debated and written about by historians. While others dwell on his policy decisions a simple habit Koch had stands out.

Koch would famously ask constituents, “How am I doing?” Not just when running for office, not just when he thought the answer would be one of gushing admiration, but a question borne of genuine interest.

How am I doing?

It’s a simple question anyone can employ. Rather than waiting for feedback from others, take a bit of initiative. Now and then, ask colleagues, subordinates and superiors this simple question. Ask your clients. Query your friends and family. Run it past a significant other. It can start conversations. It can make sure you’re on track and provide an early warning sign of something that might need correcting. You might learn something.

Why not try it?

Thanks, man

Tired of negative noise?

Maybe it’s time to wage a campaign of the positive.

Send notes, emails or tweets to companies you like and praise products you use.

Patronize local stores that you want to stay around.

Take a minute and inform a supervisor or business owner about a good service experience.

Send a note to a colleague’s boss sharing how that person helped you get a job done right.

When something is done well be the person who notices and encourages more.

Watch as it comes back to you.


Forty miles from the nearest Scottish inhabitants lies the remote island of Borelay, one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. Ringed by a treacherous coastline and pounded by furious seas it was always clear to experts why Borelay was devoid of settlements.

Except it wasn’t. Archaeologists have found evidence that prehistoric people once lived on the island. How did they get there? How did they survive? The answer may be lost in the mists of time.

Or maybe they went there because no one told them they couldn’t.

What’s your Monday vibe?

Volkswagen’s Super Bowl 2013 Game Day Commercial “Get in, get happy,” is a fun start-of-the-week pick me up. While you may not have an enthusiastic Minnesotan with a Caribbean accent in your office, you probably have some of the negative-minded folks depicted. Hey, complaining is easy to do.

So what vibe will you bring to work?

Why hate Mondays?