The Road Less Traveled

September 30, 2005

I was saddened to learn that M. Scott Peck, the psychiatrist and author of “The Road Less Traveled”, passed away this past week. I remember reading the book many years ago when I was at a cross-roads in my life. The book was insightful and packed with content. Certainly no fluff!

And that no fluff approach was consistent with his message. The book focused on Dr. Peck’s core belief that, as he stated in its opening sentence, “Life is difficult,” and that its problems can be addressed only through self-discipline.

As I have traveled my road less traveled, I have found a different path through life. I believe that the way in which you view the world is how you live. And I believe that life is easy; we only find ways to make it difficult. As per an earlier post of mine, “Discipline is not always the answer. Sometimes you need to find a passion that will pull you off of the sofa.”

I have tremendous respect for Dr. Peck’s work. I whole-heartedly recommend his book. And I hope he would agree that each person has their own path through life. For many, discipline, plans, and goals are that path. For others, like myself, the path of experiential living and joy is the road to travel.

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Not-To-Do-Lists

September 29, 2005

In Goal-Free Living, you will read about an alternative approach to the “to-do” list: the “could do” list.

Here is a link to another interesting alternative: the “not to do” list.

Following just a few of these may save you lots of time — allowing you to pursue endeavors of even greater pleasure. Admittedly, I am guilty of doing many of the items on the “not to do” list. In fact in writing this entry, I violated one: “Do not post to your blog.”

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Quote of the Day

September 26, 2005

From a button I purchased in a store in California — “I used to DREAM of making the salary I’m now STARVING on.”

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Creativity: Combining Two Ideas into One

September 24, 2005

My corporate work focuses on creativity and innovation. Goal-Free Living is the personal manifestation of that work — creative living. From time to time I will post interesting tidbits on creative thinking in general.

As background, my perspective on creativity is very simple. It is not about invention. Rather it is about collecting and connecting dots — bringing together two (or more) ideas to create an altogether new idea.

What do you get when you combine a camcorder with an iPod? The JVC Everio G series. A digital camcorder that uses a hard drive rather than tape. Up to 7 hours of video on one hard drive. Plus you can do simple edits on the camera – like deleting scenes, even if they are in the middle of your “tape.” You can set up playlists (like on the iPod). Plus downloading to your computer is as simple as using iTunes. No need for the tape, which slows data transfer significantly.

As I think through the possibilities, I can see future generations of this product morphing into a video iPod-like player. Record not just your vacations, but potentially download your favorite videos or TV shows (a la TiVo To-Go) on this device. It is already portable enough to carry around. And, if they can separate the playback system from the lens and recording device, you might have the best of all worlds. A small detachable video player that can connect to a larger recorder.

Another interesting (yet less practical) combination of two things: a fork and a pizza cutter.

In your business (or life) how can you combine two ideas together to create something new? Stuck for ideas? Read magazines and rip out pictures or words that you find interesting. This is a great source of new ideas. Force yourself to make combinations.

In doing this, you may get an idea for a new product, a new service, or a new career.

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Today, Feed the Ducks

September 23, 2005

Yesterday for lunch I did something I haven’t done in a while. I went to the local park, brought along a book, and watched people feed the ducks on the pond. One guy had several loaves of chopped up bread that he threw to the ducks and birds. I assume he bought week (or month) old bread at a steep discount. It was a spectacular way to unwind and appreciate life. I overheard comments of one couple saying, “We should do this more often.” Someone else said, “This is my favorite thing to do.” This park is only a few miles away from me, and yet I have not been there in years. Sometimes the best things in life are right there in front of our noses….and free. And yet we are moving so fast that we don’t think to take advantage of these opportunities. Look around your neighborhood. Read the local newspaper. What are the simple pleasures you have overlooked? The ones that either you have forgotten or are too busy to do. Or maybe you are waiting for a friend to visit from out of town, because that is when you do the fun stuff. Don’t wait. Make time…today.

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Attractive = Money?

September 22, 2005

A Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis study found that good looking people make more money – 5% more than their less attractive counterparts. Economists also say that taller white men have a 1.8-percent increase in wages for every additional inch of height over the national median.

The reasons? There are many theories. Some say it is due to discrimination. Plain and simple. And that may be part of the reason. However, I believe that “confidence” is another key factor. Their looks have been positively reinforced over the years, giving them a stronger sense of self.

I recently met a powerful and beautiful woman who is a bit overweight. She writes books to help people deal with eating disorders. As she likes to say, “Life does not start when you lose 5 more pounds.” Enjoy life now. Embrace your humanness.

I had my own experience with the impact — or perceived impact — of looks. Be sure to check out my earlier blog entry on this topic.

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Quote of the Day

September 22, 2005

“I dread success. To have succeeded is to have finished one’s business on earth, like the male spider, who is killed by the female the moment he has succeeded in courtship. I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind.” – George Bernard Shaw

Although he says he likes to have a “goal” in front, his description is totally goal-free!

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How Bali Made Me Rich

September 21, 2005

Here is an email I recently received from Jana Stanfield — a talented musician and keynote speaker.

It was December, the summer of 2003 in Bali. My beloved friend Holly Steil and I went to Bali because we’d always heard how spiritual and special it is.

Trading our money for local currency, we discovered that about $100 U.S. gave us about $1 million Bali dollars. This is when my lessons about wealth began.

1. Carrying $1 million in your fanny pack every day helps you answer important questions like: Do I feel different now that I’m a millionaire? Do I have less problems now that I’m a millionaire? Why not? Am I happier? Why not?

2. Holly and I were treated like the Hilton Sisters, Paris and Nikki. There we were, walking around with millions, able to buy anything we wanted on this beautiful island, but instead of wanting to buy everything, I found myself wanting to give. I noticed that I felt uncomfortable being a millionaire with so many good people around me living happily with so much less.

3. One day I told Guna, our guide, that I was afraid I’d accidentally paid $70,000 for a call to my husband instead of $7,000. I thought the grey-haired Balinese man at the phone shop had taken advantage of me. Guna assured me that it was unlikely. “In the Hindu culture, greed is an enemy of the spirit. Having a pure spirit means everything to the Balinese.” I felt ashamed for wrongly accusing the man of cheating me, when I had more in my pocket than he would make all year.

4. Greed, an enemy of the spirit. In our country, greed is glorified. Those with the most money are admired and even envied, like the Joneses we’re always trying to keep up with. Guess what? In Bali, envy is an enemy of the spirit, too.

5. If I were rich . . . I’d spend more time on endeavors that nourish my spirit. I’d give more to charity without worrying about myself. I’d trust that I’ll always have more than enough. I’d stop postponing all those adventures I plan to enjoy “when I get ahead.”

I’ve never been the same. I stopped being so financially-driven and so career-driven. I stopped being financially afraid and became financially free. The trip increased my faith in so many ways. That’s why I’m going back for the third time, and why I hope you’ll go with me.

If you would like to find out about Jana’s Bali trip, go to http://www.janastanfield.com/bali/

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Never Too Old to Dream

September 20, 2005

In yesterday’s blog entry, I talked about being too old to dream. Well, guess what…we are never too old.

During my travels, I met Paula Kay “P.K.” Beville, Ph.D., and her team from Second Wind Dreams. Second Wind Dreams is a non-profit organization that grants dreams to people in nursing homes. The dreams are vast and varied — from finding long lost friends, to swimming with the dolphins, to a trip to a favorite restaurant or something as mundane as reading glasses. P.K. and her team use a simple set of questions to uncover people’s hidden dreams:

  • What do you wish you would have done?
  • If you could, what would you still like to do?
  • If you could have one thing, what would that be?
  • What are you known for being good at?
  • Who would you like to see again?
  • What dreams do you feel you have had to leave behind?
  • What do you want to do before you die?
  • What is something you would like to do or have that you don’t think will ever happen?

By asking these questions, and with the input of the nursing home staff, Second Wind Dreams has helped people find what is most important to them. Over the years P.K. has discovered that dreams for the elderly are vast and varied, but mainly fall into five categories:

  • Relationship Based Dreams: These dreams reunite people with friends and family members that they may not have seen in many years. One resident had not seen his brother in over 40 years! Seeing him again was the most important dream to this individual. Approximately 12% of the dreams are this kind.
  • Life Long Dreams: For some, learning to play the piano, swimming with the dolphins, or going to Graceland are powerful dreams. These are dreams people have had their entire life and never had a chance to fulfill. Approximately 6% of dreams fall into this category.
  • Dreams to Relive Past Experiences: Some people like to relive the past, such as a simple trip to a favorite restaurant. Or paint supplies so that they can go back to creating paintings. These are 14% of the dreams.
  • Dreams for Fun: An unbelievable 46% of the dreams fulfilled are just for fun. Residents want to go to the Price Is Right, ride a go-cart and ride all the roller coasters at an amusement park. As P.K. once told me, “This blows the preconceived notion that people give up as they age.”
  • Need Based Dreams: Imagine needing something as simple as a cup holder for your wheelchair or a dress so that you can attend church again and no matter what you do you will never be able to get it. This is a humbling 22% of the dreams.

You are never too old (too young, too poor, or too busy) to dream. It is just a matter of doing it…now. Too often we make sacrifices in the hope that things will be better some day. But no one looks back on their life and thinks, “Gee, I wished I spent more time at the office.” Use P.K.’s questions and inspiration to help you discover your dreams. And if you are so inspired by the stories on her website, be sure to make a donation. I am.

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Quote of the day

September 19, 2005

“Giving up the pursuit of retirement has a great many practical and psychological advantages. But it also has an added spiritual bonus: by eliminating the finish line, life stops being a race. With all of us on our own path, there’s no way your progress can be compared to anyone else’s. No one–not your parents, your friends or Money magazine–can look at your life and say you’re not as far along as you should be. More important, you can stop measuring yourself against an arbitrary standard and feeling inadequate for not meeting the grade. You’re on your own unique self-charted journey. Where it ends only God knows, so until then all you can do is keep rowing.” Stephen Pollan from Die Broke

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