Investor’s Business Daily Quote

November 30, 2005

In my “other” life, I work with large corporations to create cultures of innovation. My first book, 24/7 Innovation, has been out for over 4 years. But it still gets quoted. The latest quotes are in Monday November, 28th’s Investors Business Daily.

Get workers to focus on outcomes instead of specific tasks, says Stephen Shapiro, author of “24/7 Innovation.”Often, employees need “a better understanding of how their work contributes to the whole,” Shapiro said. Get them to “focus on what adds value rather than ticking things off a checklist.”

(And) make workers proactive. Workers can’t be passive receivers of information, Shapiro says. They need to “manipulate information, analyze it and use it to add value — by helping customers, improving operations and exploiting new opportunities.”

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The True Story of Thanksgiving

November 23, 2005

One of the Goal-Free Living secrets is “Want What You Have.” Therefore it is timely to share with you the true story of Thanksgiving as told by Ben Franklin.

Mark Skousen granted me permission to reprint the following story from his new book, The Compleated Autobiography, by Benjamin Franklin, due to be released next month.

THE REAL STORY OF THE FIRST THANKSGIVING by Benjamin Franklin (1785)

“There is a tradition that in the planting of New England, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships, as is generally the case when a civiliz’d people attempt to establish themselves in a wilderness country. Being so piously dispos’d, they sought relief from heaven by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented, and like the children of Israel there were many dispos’d to return to the Egypt which persecution had induc’d them to abandon.

“At length, when it was proposed in the Assembly to proclaim another fast, a farmer of plain sense rose and remark’d that the inconveniences they suffer’d, and concerning which they had so often weary’d heaven with their complaints, were not so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony strengthen’d; that the earth began to reward their labour and furnish liberally for their subsistence; that their seas and rivers were full of fish, the air sweet, the climate healthy, and above all, they were in the full enjoyment of liberty, civil and religious.

“He therefore thought that reflecting and conversing on these subjects would be more comfortable and lead more to make them contented with their situation; and that it would be more becoming the gratitude they ow’d to the divine being, if instead of a fast they should proclaim a thanksgiving. His advice was taken, and from that day to this, they have in every year observ’d circumstances of public felicity sufficient to furnish employment for a Thanksgiving Day, which is therefore constantly ordered and religiously observed.”

–Benjamin Franklin, The Compleated Autobiography, compiled and edited by Mark Skousen (Regnery, 2006), pp. 331-333. Copyright 2006, by Mark Skousen. All rights reserved.

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The Secrets of Staying Young

November 22, 2005

Over Labor Day weekend I met a wonderful woman, Susan Silver, at a conference in California. Susan, a successful television writer for shows including the Mary Tyler Moore Show, the Bob Newhart Show, Maude, and many others, is now writing a column entitled “The Search for Mr. Adequate.” It is the entertaining chronicles of her search for the perfect – well, adequate – man. This week she talks about the secret to staying young. You may recognize one of the people mentioned in the article. Click here to enjoy this article.

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Salutation to the Dawn

November 18, 2005

Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:

The bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendour of beauty

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow only a vision
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore to this day!
Such is the salutation to the dawn.

- Kalidasa, Indian Poet

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Second Wind Dreams Video

November 17, 2005

During my travels two years ago, I met some amazing people at Second Wind Dreams. This organization grants dreams to people in nursing homes. In the book I tell of the dreams granted to Mae Bailey. She wowed CNN and most of the nation as her dream of riding all the rollercoasters at Six Flags Over Georgia came true. Although blind, in a wheelchair, and on dialysis, in her mind there was no reason why she couldn’t enjoy a day at the amusement park she had visited many years before. Click here to watch the video of her day at the amusement park.

Be sure to check out the Second Wind Dreams website. Their stories are inspiring. And maybe there is a dream You can help someone fulfill.

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Goal-Free Economics?

November 16, 2005

I found some of the dialogue around Ben Bernanke, the potential replacement of Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, quite interesting. It felt like a debate about goal-setting. According to a recent Associated Press article by Rachel Beck:

“If Bernanke is confirmed, the central bank could for the first time in its history adopt a specific target for the inflation rate and then make adjustments to interest rates as a way of trying to keep it in that range.”

Greenspan, on the other hand “has been against setting an actual ‘inflation target,’ whereby the Fed discloses its goal and its forecast for inflation. His view is that the Fed can control inflation without setting a specific rate that it must then chase, which he believes could hamper its flexibility to act in a time of need. That stance has proven successful time and again, including in the last year as energy prices have skyrocketed but the core inflation rate — as measured by the consumer price index excluding energy and food costs — has remained at only around 2 percent, low by most standards.”

They are both interested in low inflation. The question is the means of achieving that. Bernanke appears to be in favor of a goal-oriented approach, whereas Greenspan is more goal-free.

NOTE: I am not an economist. This is only an observation, not an endorsement of one perspective over the other.

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Great Article on Goal-Free Living

November 13, 2005

There is a new article on kansascity.com about Goal-Free Living entitled: “Without a goal, we don’t have to keep score.” I really enjoyed the perspective of the author, Cindy Hoedel . Click here to read the article (free registration may be required).

I particularly liked the story of Cindy’s challenge with her goal-oriented financial advisor.

P.S. December 12 — I had a great phone conversation with Cindy. She said that with the exception of one other story, her article on Goal-Free Living generated the most responses ever. She is going to be writing a follow-on piece later this month.

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Fake Busy

November 10, 2005

I could get into a deep philosophical rant about how our achievement oriented society has people brainwashed into believing that they need to appear busy at work if they want to be successful. Instead, I will let this entertaining television advertisement say it all. Click here to enjoy the video

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Quote of the Day — Harpo Marx

November 8, 2005

“I don’t know whether my life has been a success or a failure. But not having any anxiety about becoming one instead of the other, and just taking things as they come along, I’ve had a lot of extra time to enjoy life.” – Harpo Marx

I am told that Harpo’s autobiography is an excellent example of Goal-Free Living in action. I bought a copy today. You can find a snippet of it on positivesharing.com

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Riots at Conference During Goal Exercise

November 7, 2005

Ok, riot is a bit of a strong word. No tables were tossed and no fires were set. However, new ideas did spread like wildfire. And a rebellion of sorts did take place. Let me explain.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I spoke at a conference in Washington DC last weekend. After my presentation (which was completely improvised to demonstrate the power of “using a compass, not a map”), the tone of the conference changed. One person wrote me and said, “It really was remarkable how many people changed their viewpoint the day that you spoke. So many of them adjusted their language from using goals to using aspirations.”

This was evident from a brainstorming exercise we did the afternoon after my speech. All participants were asked to get into small groups and generate idea on how “1,000 organizations could be certified as democratic organizations by 2020.” On the surface, this sounds like a wonderful goal, especially if you are a strong proponent of democracy in business. However, there was an uprising; a widespread dissent against the idea of the activity. The concept of ditching the goal spread quickly from table to table. There was event a goal-free chant developed by one team. I think it was “Ditch the goal; give up control!” Or something like that.

Rather than a traditional goal, people latched on to more aspirational statements like “movement” and “open.” The ideas generated were about giving up control; borrowing ideas from other movements like “open source” in technology. Big and audacious ideas were generated. Ideas that far exceeded those that would have been generated had we focused only on certification.

Goals are not inherently bad. It’s when they blind you to bigger opportunities that the problems arise; when they have you play small, and you don’t even realize it. Have fun. Play big. And create a rebellion whenever the mood strikes.

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