The Unexpected Exceeds Expectations

January 30, 2006

I have been on the road for 3 weeks and am now back in Boston for 10 days before hitting the road again. The tour has been great fun so far! I want to share with you a recent experience from my travels.

On the morning of Friday, January 20th, I drove 9 hours from Virginia to Hilton Head, SC. Getting there was a 4 hour diversion from my original Washington DC to Atlanta travel plans. But my PR firm arranged for a 30 minute television interview with the local independent station there. The opportunity seemed to justify the extra travel. After the long drive, I arrived at the studios at 4:45PM; 15 minutes before the scheduled start. The studios were pitch black. No one was there. Did I have the wrong date? The wrong time? After a few phone calls, I discovered that the studio messed up. Although they could not pull together a camera crew before I had to leave the next day, they said that would try to pull something together after my Atlanta gigs – on my way back to Boston.

Instead of getting upset about the mix up, I chose to accept it as an opportunity for something new to show up.

For dinner that evening, I chose a restaurant where I might be able to meet some locals. I sat at the bar — a nice open space. I started speaking with the woman sitting next to me, Kerrie. We hit it off and went for a drink afterwards. We agreed to get together and paint the town red when (if) I returned for the TV shoot. Now I had a reason to return; I was glad for the mix-up with the TV studio.

Fast forward to Wednesday, the day I drove back to Hilton Head from Atlanta. As I made the 4 hour drive, I got a call from Kerrie. She needed to leave town unexpectedly; she became an aunt a month earlier than anticipated. We would not have a chance to get together.

Again, instead of getting upset, I decided to find other opportunity.

Kerrie & I talked about going to a piano bar that just opened up the month before. I decided to go there on my own. I had an amazing time. Scott, the piano play is incredibly talented. The people in the bar were so much fun. I hung out there until 2AM having the best time. As the bar was closing, Scott asked if I would be interested in golfing the next day. I was, and so we did. It was a spectacular day on an Arnold Palmer designed golf course, which we had to ourselves. Heavenly. That evening I returned to the piano bar to listen to wonderful music and hang out with my new friends.

If I were in Hilton Head solely for the goal of doing the TV show, I might have been disappointed (we did tape the show upon my return). Or, if I gone back with the expectation of getting together with Kerrie, I certainly would have been disappointed – we never did meet up. However, in spite of all of that, it turned out to be the most fun I have had in a long time! New opportunities appear when we are not too attached to our original goals.

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January 24th – the Most Depressing Day?

January 25, 2006

A British psychologist calculates January 24th to be the most depressing day of the year. One of the reasons has to do with failed resolutions. “The majority of people break their healthy resolutions six to seven days into the new year, and even the hangers-on have fallen off the wagon, torn off the nicotine patches and eaten the fridge empty by the third week. Any residual dregs of holiday cheer and family fun have kicked the bucket by January 24.”

Click here to read the full article

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Business Week featuring Goal-Free Living

January 23, 2006

BusinessWeek.com has a new quiz entitled, “Ready to Start a Business?” Depending on your score, you might find that Goal-Free Living is the solution.

Take this quiz and see if the time is right for you to start making your vision a reality

So you dream of quitting your job and building a business from scratch. Psychologists, business professionals, and other experts agree that you need resources — from money to emotional support — to make your fantasy a reality. And people with certain personalities tend to fare better than others. For instance, someone who can adapt quickly to the unexpected and remain calm in a crisis might be better suited to running the show than an introvert who tends to stress about challenges. In which category do you fall? To find out if you’re ready for your second act, click here to go to the BusinessWeek.com quiz.

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Funny Email

January 21, 2006

Here’s an email I received last night…

I just got your book yesterday and started reading it. My 7 year old 1st grader came over and slowly spelled out the title: goal-free-li-ving. He then remarked “I didn’t know there was a book about our soccer team!???” – his poor team hasn’t scored one single goal yet this season.

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Letters to the Editor — O Magazine

January 18, 2006

The response to the O, The Oprah Magazine article about Goal-Free Living (written by Dawn Raffel, Executive Articles Editor for the magazine) was overwhelming. Several of the letters to the editor were shared with me. All were incredibly inspiring. In this month’s O, they published one of those letters. Enjoy.

My love for O was sparked anew with “Are Your Goals Holding You Back?” by Dawn Raffel. A few years ago, I felt lost and frustrated. My life was the result of the goals I had laid out for myself according to what my parents (lovingly) wanted for me. When I realized that happiness is a choice and that fulfillment comes when we slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy each moment, I had an awakening. I do have certain things I want to accomplish. But the possibilities are endless. The novel of my life has no determined ending – and that knowledge has given me a sense of freedom that’s hard to describe. The checklist mentality can take us only so far, and, as the article mentions, arriving at that one moment can leave something to be desired.

Rachel Climer
Vero Beach, Florida

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Return of the Goalaholic

January 16, 2006

This past week was quite interesting. The Goal-Free Living book officially launched. I started the “Goal-Freedom” tour with several speeches and radio interviews in the New York City area. And we did an email blast to increase awareness of the book to a massive audience. Although I’d like to claim I was 100% goal-free during this period, I have to admit, my goalaholic tendencies made a guest appearance.

At around noon on January 10th, an email was sent to a large number of people letting them know about the book and a special offer. The book’s Amazon.com rankings at the start of the day were about #4,000. To put this in perspective, #1 is the best selling book. #14,000,000 (or so) is the worst.

After the email was sent out, I was sitting on my bed in a New York City hotel room. I didn’t leave that spot all day. I wanted to be there to see the change in the ranking and catch screen snapshots at each milestone. I was glued to my computer. I hit the refresh button on my internet browser more than 100 times between noon and 10:30PM. When I went to sleep, my eyes were ready to fall out of my head.

As the day progressed, I saw the rankings move from #4,000 to #2,000. Then to #1,000, #750, #250, #100, and #50. By the end of the evening we peaked at #37. #1 in “Business Inspiration” and #1 in “Business Motivation” (yes, they are separate categories). #8 in “Business & Finance” overall. We even reached #3 in “Management & Leadership”, right behind “Blink” and “Good to Great” – very good company We were the #4 “Mover & Shaker” with an over 10,000% increase in one-day book sales.

Although these are interesting statistics, therein lies the problem. Although I don’t like to admit it, in the back of my mind, I believe I really wanted to hit #1 overall. We weren’t successful in doing that. Worse, after months of preparation, it all felt like a bit of a let down. I couldn’t remember “why” I did this in the first place. Upon reflection, I realized that I did it because everyone said I should. This is what so many others before me have done. This is now the norm in the book business. Alas if it is the norm, then it is that much more difficult to be successful with it. And, I’m not sure I really “chose” to do it. I sort of got swept away with the tide.

However, upon reflection, I was indeed glad I made the investment. Not because of the ego boost of being able to say that Goal-Free Living was the #1 “Business Motivation” book on Amazon.com. Not because I sold a specific number of copies. But rather because it helped spread the word. My theme for 2006 is “impact” – making a difference in the world. Getting it into the hands of hundreds or thousands of people helps me do this. Or maybe the book is now in the hands of one influential person who wants to help me create a Goal-Free Living “movement.” Numbers don’t matter. When I refocused on my aspiration, rather than the specific goals, my enjoyment increased.

When you are doing something, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”

When you are on a date, are you doing it because you want to be in a relationship? Worrying about the next date can create unnecessary pressure. Instead, do it because you enjoy the other person’s company…for that moment. When you attend a business conference, do you go because you are looking to learn something specific? If so, you may be cutting yourself off to other, more powerful opportunities. Instead, just be there, meet new people, and allow it to unfold naturally. Incredible opportunities show up when you are not burdened and blinded by myopic goals.

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Goal-Free Partying

January 11, 2006

I’ve applied the goal-free concept to nearly every aspect of my life. Admittedly, I never thought to apply it to parties. But a friend of mine wrote me with her experience with a recent party she threw. Ah, it’s amazing how even when doing something that is supposed to be fun, we can turn it into a lot of work! Enjoy.

I suspect that at some time or another, you have thrown a party. And, by definition, parties are suppose to be “social gatherings especially for pleasure or amusement.” But somehow, for me, it never was quite like that. I would put undue pressure on myself by turning these “pleasurable” events into nothing more than a measure of my own self worth.
- How many people showed up = how many people liked me.
- How many people have fun = how good of a job I did at coordinating my party.

But I learned a pretty valuable lesson just the other day.

Every year, if our football team makes it to the playoffs, I throw a party. I painstakingly plan and coordinate, spend tons of money and agonize over every last detail. Well this year, our team once again made it to the post season. However, I was coming off of a deathly cold and had no interest in throwing such a soiree. So instead of the usual hemming and hawing, I simply invited a few close friends who, unlike in the past, had a passion for the sport. I didn’t care if 5 people or 500 showed up. I didn’t plan or spend a dime and I basically showed up as a participant at my own party. Well, much to my great surprise, the turnout was phenomenal. Every one brought food to eat and beverages to consume. The party was a huge success with friends showering me with thanks for an amazing time. And for the first time, I actually enjoyed myself as well! How could this be?! I didn’t have the gourmet food, the cute t-shirts, the party favors or decorations that so commonly accompany my gatherings. What made this a success? Simple…I was detached from the outcome. Instead of taking responsibility for everyone’s fun, I left it in the hands of those I should have always left it in…the participants! Instead of trying to artificially jam fun down people’s throats we just created it in the moment!

Now that is what I call a party!

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Video Clip of Fox TV Interview

January 8, 2006

On Friday December 30th, I was interviewed on Fox25′s Morning News (WFXT Boston).

To download the video, right-click on the desired file and “Save Target As.” Then play the video from the saved location.

Low resolution (4Meg)

Higher resolution (15Meg)

Enjoy!

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Goal-Free on TomPeters.com

January 4, 2006

Today, I am honoroed to become one of Tom Peters’s “cool friends. ” With this, Goal-Free Living is featured on TomPeters.com. You can read the interview by clicking here. Tom is one of the long-time gurus in the business world, known for numerous books fromIn Search of Excellence (1982) to Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age (2003)

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What’s Your Theme For the Next Year?

January 2, 2006

In an earlier blog post, I discussed setting aspiration-based themes rather than goal-based resolutions.

What is your theme for the next year? In 2006, mine was “impact” — making a difference in the world.

Friends of mine had generosity, partnership, grace, health, “me”, new beginnings, adventure, and unpredictability.

Please post your theme as a comment. Thank you for sharing your inspiring stories!

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