Daily Buzz Video Clip

May 31, 2006

It has taken a while to get this online, but it is finally here…the video clip of my appearance on The Daily Buzz, a nationally syndicated show that runs on 150 stations around the country. Click here to watch the video.

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20 Ways to Encourage a Child’s Creativity

May 30, 2006

One of the individuals I interviewed for Goal-Free Living is Tina Nocera, the author of Because Kids Don’t Come With Manuals: Contemporary Advice for Parents and founder of parentalwisdom.com, a patented parenting website that recognizes parents as the real experts in knowing their own children best. As I recently I wrote an article on Goal-Free Parenting, it seemed appropriate to get Tina to chime in with her expert thoughts on how to encourage creativity in children. I call this “Tina’s Top Twenty Tips for Toddler (and Teenager) Tutelage.” Tina, take it away…

1. Give young children a tape recorder so they can capture their ideas.
2. Change your normal mode of transportation. If you usually drive, occasionally take a bus or train.
3. Grow a garden with your child. Even a windowsill garden can be fun.
4. Give older children an ‘idea journal’ which can be as inexpensive as a 59 cent composition notebook.
5. Take nature walks and see what your child sees; you’ll be amazed at his powers of observation.
6. Discuss new discoveries over dinner and ask your children how they would use them.
7. Toss out a problem and ask them how they would solve it; don’t limit the problems to those you think they could solve. They may surprise you.
8. Start a story and let the children finish it.
9. Limit noise, video games, and computer time.
10. Play games with your children and read to them.
11. Ask your children to explain what they have created; don’t assume you know what it is.
12. Let them do it for themselves; we know you can color.
13. Give your children supplies and materials you find around the house. Resist the urge to buy craft kits.
14. Let your children find their own ‘right way’ in art. Don’t insist that it is done your way.
15. Appreciate your child’s individuality. Resist temptations to compare children. It’s a subtle message to conform.
16. Encourage curiosity.
17. Answer their questions. If you don’t know the answer, tell them you need time before answering.
18. Give your child time to daydream, think, and play. This gives them the opportunity to come up with ideas of their own.
19. Have creativity be its own reward. When our children do something, we have to encourage them to simply enjoy doing it rather than the competition or the reward. We are too quick to give stickers, ribbons, and trophies for anything. All this does is promote the external value rather than instilling a pleasure for learning.
20. Encourage your children to try new things. This is the best way to learn. Resolve yourself to understanding that your child won’t always be successful, but we still have to try and even encourage mistakes and failures.

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Be Inspired to Ride a Bike

May 26, 2006

Here’s an email I received the other day:

I loved your book! It inspired me to (finally) get on the back of a Harley. Towards the end you mentioned going back to what you loved to do as a kid and I remembered that I LOVED riding motorcycles. Never owned one, but anytime someone would let me ride theirs, I was all over it!

My husband has wanted a Harley for quite some time. Every time he talked about it I cringed and made some snide remark that “he’d kill himself on it.” Funny how as a responsible, goalaholic adult, I’d made a conscious decision about how dangerous motorcycles are.

On a Sunday afternoon in March, as I was finishing up your book, my husband borrowed a friend’s Harley and went for a ride to visit my mom and step-dad. He came home about 6 PM and said “you ought to change your clothes and go with me to take Greg’s bike back.” I thought about it for a minute and said, “OK!” He was so stunned by my response that I thought I was going to have to pry his jaw off the floor!

At that moment, after reading your book, I made the choice to do something that was fun and by golly, I got on my red leather jacket, black spike heeled knee-boots and got on the back of that bike! It was simply exhilarating! So now, we’re saving to buy a Harley! Thank you Stephen for inspiring me to have fun and get out of a rut! Goal-Free Living has a life-time place on my bookshelf and I recommend it every chance I get.

Janet Anderton

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Good Advice from Kids

May 24, 2006

I, and others, like to “share” our advice with the world. But maybe the best advice comes from children. Here are some insightful and hilarious thoughts from kids. These were provided to me by Eolake Stobblehouse who translated them from Danish.

Making your bed is a waste of time.

Don’t ask your three-year-old brother to hold a tomato.

Don’t wear polka-dotted underpants under white shorts.

Don’t drink anything when you’re upside down.

Don’t tease your sister when she is holding a baseball bat.

A puppy has bad breath, even after a mint.

Don’t tell your mother her diet isn’t working.

Wear a hat when feeding seagulls.

Don’t eat prunes.

If you want to draw on the wall, do it behind the sofa.

If you want a cat, start by asking for a horse.

Listen to your brain; it has a lot of information.

You need to put your hand up, otherwise adults don’t listen to you.

Don’t sneeze when somebody is cutting your hair.

When your dad is angry and asks “do you think I’m stupid?” then don’t tell him what you think.

When mom is upset with Dad, don’t let her comb your hair.

Don’t let a dog stand guard over your food.

Keep asking “why” until you understand it.

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Quote on Finding Hidden Opportunities

May 23, 2006

“Only the most foolish of mice would hide in a cat’s ear, but only the wisest of cats would ever think to look there!” (attributed to both Andrew Mercer and Scott Love)

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Against the Grain

May 22, 2006

Here is an email I just received from a reader that I thought I would share with you…

Hi Steve,

I really enjoyed your book.

I just thought I would share my story in case it has the potential to help other people. Over the years, I’ve learned that if there’s one thing that will rob me of any enthusiasm and motivation for any endeavor, it’s coming up with a measurable goal to achieve a result. This self-knowledge hasn’t stopped me from hitting my head against this particular wall countless times. Don’t 95% of all self-help books suggest writing down goals? And I read a lot of books.

But eventually the time would come when I’d realize that I’m actually hindering attaining the goal by trying to adhere to the timetable too strictly, and I would end up ripping up the 3 by 5 card, the Word document or sticky note. Destroying the words that came to represent a vice to me. I always felt freer and more motivated after I “forgot” the goal, and sometimes later, a lot later, I’d realize I achieved it without even trying! And I had a better time doing it.

The Q&A section of your book gave me a valuable insight into why goals have never worked out for me quite like I wanted them to. Your section on personality types led me to look up a personality test I took years ago, and just as I thought, I’m not a Judger but a Perceiver. It’s quite pronounced actually. All these years, I’ve tried to fit myself into a box of what success was supposed to look like. I remember the Yale study distinctly (Note: In the book I point out that a frequently quoted study on goal setting at Yale was an urban ledgend). How many goals did I write down after reading that story for the umpteenth time!

Anyway, I’m very grateful for your book because among other things it reinforced what I already know, but what I continue to struggle with – goals really don’t work for me. So the next time I’m tempted to write down a goal, I will think twice about it, remembering that there are other more fulfilling ways to approach life. That I can kick this addiction once and for all!

Thank you,

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Goal-Free Parenting

May 18, 2006

Here in the United States, Mother’s Day was this past Sunday. In honor of our moms, today’s installment is about Goal-Free Parenting.

63% of adults say, “I encourage those that I care about to pursue goals that I think are best for them.” Whose life are your children living? One person I interviewed became wildly successful – and just recently emerged from rehab. His career was “chosen” by his parents, and destroyed his life. We are in an era plagued by the demise of imagination in children, squelching it to the detriment of emotional growth.

Kids today have quickly become the most over micromanaged population of our society. A tongue-in-cheek look into this potentially debilitating trend is the best-seller “The Nanny Diaries” where parents are enrolling not only unborn babies, but not yet conceived babies into “the best” pre-schools in Manhattan, French classes and art history courses. Thus ensuring their future place at Harvard and placement at Morgan Stanley.

The serious side of this parenting micromanagement is that children are being led through life, living someone else’s goals. Why is it that a 3 year old needs his/her own erasable easel with a weekly schedule that includes Yoga for tots and toddler therapy? At what point will they rebel? Are we not only stealing their innocence but also their creativity and potentially stifling their natural born gifts by forcibly directing them to activities that we as parents want them to engage in?

The remedy is a more malleable approach to parenting. It is documented that structure provides a great foundation for the development of children, but there must be unstructured time as well. Allowing kids to be kids. Encouraging them to use their own imagination, make their own choices and decisions (even if they are at times wrong) and handling the repercussions of those decisions.

[Read more]

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Goal-Free Living Mind Map

May 15, 2006

A book reader in Australia, Marie Farrugia, developed a mind map outline of the book for use as an easy reference guide. Click here to download her handiwork. Thanks Marie.

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Quote of the Day – Abraham Lincoln

May 15, 2006

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

– Abraham Lincoln

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Good Article in WSJ

May 15, 2006

There was an interesting article in last week’s Wall Street Journal. It discusses the concept of a mulligan — or “do-over” — in your career. Starting over fresh with something new. It addresses one of the big challenges: trusting that things will work out…however they work out.

Remember, Goal-Free Living is not about doing what you love. That’s a small part of it. You could easily pursue your dreams and turn those into goals, hence destroying the journey, stifling your creativity, and preventing true success.

Click here to read the article.

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