Spelling Revenge

Last weekend I did something daring. Something scary.

I participated in a spelling bee.

It was the first time since second grade I had entered one. Being a word nerd and having somewhat of a sixth sense with spelling, I  was so excited for my first spelling bee. I even wore my favorite shirt. And...I was out in the second round on minute. Not the measurement of time, the measurement of size.  Oh, the English language is vexing.
 
I never spelled in public again.

Or wore that shirt. Fearing it to be my spelling kryptonite, I threw it away. 
 
This weekend I jumped up on stage at an adult spelling bee and did something I swore I'd never do again. Submit myself to public humiliation by mis-spelling words.  It may have been liquid courage that I gained from that half glass of wine I drank before it. Or, that I had no idea why I was jumping on stage except that my friend Terry Cabeen, the MC, asked for 4 people to join him. Nonetheless, there I was in the limelight. Competing in a lightning round with the winner being crowned for spelling the most words correct in 90 seconds. And I won.

Now I get to have a delicious, decadent dinner at this place.

I'm not sure the reason for this post is much more than a big old victory lap for my second grade loss but since this is a blog, I feel compelled to have a moral. Here it is.

Let go of the past.

Be here now.

And? Always jump on stage whenever they ask for volunteers. You never know what you might win.

How to Have Hope When Things Aren't Working Out

My dad is an engineer which means he likes to make sure things are perfect. If he could take a side angle to my life to make sure it was perfectly aligned I'm sure he would. So of course, he loves to come up with tidy little aphorisms for his kids. I got this one recently in my birthday card:

 

It's always darkest before the dawn

While I'm sure he wasn't the originator of this saying, he did popularize it--at least for me. It's a great reminder that sometimes when things are at their breaking point it actually means a transformation is around the corner. Sometimes when things aren't working out as you planned something even better is in store. Like when clients aren't coming in as fast as you wanted but the bills are still due. Or when a situation is breaking down so rapidly that it's clear there isn't a way to save it. I used to dread these. Now I just remind myself that it can get really, really dark just before really good stuff happens.

 

 

Owning My Inbox

I'm generally a pretty organized person. A place for everything and everything in its place definitely describes my philosophy. Organized by sleeve length and then by color my closet looks like the stores I used to work in back in my retail days. And I de-clutter on a regular basis in part because organizing relaxes me.

My life was pretty simple but I longed for even more. It lead me to Leo Babauta's new book, The Power of Less. He advocates that you start to simplify one habit at a time.  I've already been doing many of the things on his list except for one glaring omission.

Process your inbox to zero.

This is a tough one for this never-want-to-miss-anything, information sponge connector. It's left me constantly fighting with my inbox. I selected it because it's the #1 tangible thing I complain about most and because it would have a BIG impact in simplifying my life. So I decided to take his 30 Day Power of Less Challenge which means I agreed to Process my inbox to zero daily. Yep, as in everyday.

I am gonna own you inbox!

I've done a few things already to help me win this battle.

  • Unnecessary email subscriptions about the latest sales, etc. have been canceled.
  • Using HighRise and BaseCamp on a couple of projects so that's definitely helping to keep my to dos and tasks in one place.
  • Serendipitously this post from Amber Naslund arrived in my inbox this morning. (It been read AND filed). She uses Gmail features extensively and it's something I'll check out.

How do you quickly and effectively manage YOUR inbox?

How SXSW is Like Visiting Morocco

I leave for my first SXSW Interactive experience on Friday. I've been madly RSVPing, organizing and making sure I have everything covered and planned. Then my dear friend and veteran SXSWer Tara pointed out what's obvious in hindsight.

You can't plan.

You can't see everything and meet every person there.

It's impossible.

Give it up sister.
 
This woman is seriously wise. It reminded me of a lesson I learned while in Marrakech.

 

You can't control chaos. The Medina where all the souks (shops) are located is a confusing mess of zig zag, crooked streets. A map is useless. I gave mine up on my first afternoon allowing myself to be thrust into the chaos, trusting that I'd get where I needed to go--wherever that was. I let go of control and let the Moroccan culture reveal what it wanted to me. One of these revelations was a young artist named Benjou who I spent several afternoons with learning Arabic and him practicing his English while sipping mint tea. One of my best memories ever on a trip, it wouldn't have happened with a map stuck in my face.

I try to remember this every time I try to over-plan, over-control, over anything in my world. As I embark on my first SXSW adventure here's what I'm keeping in mind.

There is chaos.

From the chaos arises exactly what I need.

Even if I don't know I need it.

I just have to trust it and...
 
Enjoy the ride.

That's my mantra for chaos that is a major event like SXSW. How do YOU handle uncontrollably chaotic situations where "maps" don't work?


Themes, Not Resolutions

Resolutions became extinct for me a number of years ago. I got tired of laying out sky high goals in a NYE champagne induced fever. That never worked out. Shocked right? Instead I started doing a Theme for the year. This set my intention and focused me without setting unattainable resolutions that only served to make me feel worse about myself when I didn't reach them. Please understand. I'm not criticizing you if you make resolutions. I know they work for some people. It's just that through my work as an Org/Biz Strategist and Executive Coach I've spent a lot of time helping people create intentions and set goals. I've watched lots (I mean crowds) of people fail at this. In order to reach your goals you need to follow the SMART rule: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-boxed. This is when resolutions are most effective. But what if you want to create a more encompassing transformation? This is where setting a Theme (or Word) for the year works far better.

How does setting a Theme work?

I think back about the previous year--what I've transformed and what I'm still longing for. I then come up with a few words that articulate the transformation I'm looking for in the coming year. Usually I start with a couple and then one emerges as the clear winner. Let me give you some examples to illustrate this a bit better. Here are a few of the words I chose for the past year.

2005: Money (self-explanatory)

2oo6: Grown-up (also pretty explanatory)

2007: Love (self and otherwise)

2008: Focus (how I used my energy, thoughts & time)

2009: Freedom

2010: Align

Photo Note: The sign in the photo was made by a dear friend who wanted to give me a reminder of my align theme last year. I highly recommend reminders of the visual and other sort.

Doing a Theme for the year has allowed me to create amazing experiences and growth. When I look back at each year I am amazing and all the transformation. It feels good.

Repeat after me. Themes, not Resolutions. Ready, Set...Transform!