Just as you think you have something going well and straight and regular, it’s time to shake it up! Really. How long can you keep the same straight, regular going – and have it be enjoyable to you or to your colleagues, your readers…?

It’s got to always have a lot of pizazz! A lot. And you may come up with ideas that don’t work, but you may come up with a lot that do! And you get into the habit of creating newness, creating life.

In the comments are some ways I’m thinking of playing with newness on the Positive Psychology News Daily site.


Hi, Welcome to Question Friday. I receive daily quotes by email, and below the quote, there is a brief summary of the person’s life.

It’s not easy to summarize our own bios from five sentences to one or two, and here, whole lives are summarized and in a wonderful way too! If you were writing the bio to appear underneath some of your quotes, what would you want the quote bio to say?

Q: How would you write your quote bio?

Here are some examples, and my italics of some great phrases in them:

About Richard Bach
Richard Bach, the American pilot and author, became hugely successful with the publication of the slim novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull a spiritual quest about a bird who loved to fly rather than seeing flight as a means to an end. He was born in Illinois in 1936, a descendant of composer Johann Sebastian Bach. He has been an Air Force Reserve pilot, a flight instructor, and a barnstormer; most of his books involve flight either directly or as a metaphor.

About Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams was the pen name of Thomas Lanier Williams, the multiple-award-winning Southern Gothic playwright best known for his plays Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie. He was born in 1911 in Mississippi, where he had a difficult childhood with an abusive father, a smothering mother, and a schizophrenic sister. His emotionally honest plays often feature sensitive souls who don’t fit into a confining culture. He spent most of his adult life in New York City. He died in 1983.

About Virginia Satir
American psychotherapist Virginia Satir played a central role in shaping family therapy. She was born in Wisconsin in 1916. While working as a teacher, she became deeply involved in the lives of her students and their parents. This led to graduate school and a career change. She took on the mission of inspiring therapists to work with families. She cofounded the Mental Health Research Institute in California, where she held the first-ever family-therapy training program. She died in 1988.

What’s your quote bio?!
BTW, do not be intimidated by the fact that these bios above are of well-known people. Write yours as just that – yours!
p.s. Brag! :)

Best,
Senia


  1. Have Fun.
  2. Be in the Moment.
  3. ASK!
  4. Take Risks.
  5. Go to the Panels you Want to Go To.
  6. Talk to Those People You Want to Talk To.
  7. Forget the Sales.
  8. INTRODUCE PEOPLE TO EACH OTHER!
  9. Send an Email Later that Night.
  10. HAVE FUN!!!!!!!

1) Have Fun. Everyone wants to be around someone who is having fun. Have fun – enjoy the people you are speaking to, enjoy the talks you are listening to.

2) Be in the Moment.
At conferences, it can be easy to be distracted and look around. But you’re not doing yourself any favors. If you’re speaking to someone and you’re looking around to see when the speakers from the last panel will come out so that you can say Hi to one of the speakers, the person you’re speaking to will not have a great experience, and you won’t have a great experience. In this case, the grass is not always greener. Solutions? Wait patiently if you’re waiting, and if you’re speaking to someone, give that person your full attention. It is much better to excuse yourself in advance, “Great to meet you, I’m going to go wait for someone right now,” than to be absentminded and preoccupied when speaking with someone.

3) ASK!
This is maybe the most important point. Ask questions. There is no such thing as a dumb question, or anaive question. Ask. You may be in a different field than another person. You may be used to different jargon. Ask. Have fun with asking questions. Be genuinely curious. Asking is fun.

4) Take Risks.
Do it! Just do it! If someone spoke on a panel, and you’d just love to say Hi, or ask something, JUST GO UP TO THAT PERSON. At a conference, everything is fair game. People are friendly. Take a social risk, and just do it. If you don’t tend to enjoy being extroverted, just act it for a few moments, and talk to whom you want to talk to. Remember The More, The More: the more you practice going up to people you want to speak to, the better you’ll be at this.

5) Go to the Panels you Want to Go To.
Every time you think, “let’s do this because I should,” you’re telling your brain, “I am willing to be bored, be exhausted, be broken but do this anyway.” Brains don’t like that – they like to learn, to play, to be ALIVE. Brains like you having fun. Go to a panel that seems the most fun to you in that time slot, the panel that seems most exciting. Any panel can be useful. Any. You can learn something anywhere. Go to the ones where you’ll have the most fun. Then you’ll get the most out of it.

6) Talk to Those People You Want to Talk To.
The points of (#1 Have Fun) and (#2 Be in the Moment) are that you are doing what you want to be doing. You are going to a conference for yourself usually. While at the conference, do what you want to be doing. Don’t go to speak to the technology folks or the finance folks because “it’s what you think you should be doing.” Do what you want to do. Your energy in doing what you want to do will make those interactions just that much more alive and engaging.

7) Forget the Sales.
You are not at the conference to sell. Every sales relationship is exactly that – a relationship. You’ve probably heard this, and it’s true – don’t ever think about closing a sale. Think about opening a relationship. The relationship may not ever lead to a sale. It doesn’t need to. Relationships are about energy, common interests, fun. The sales will happen as long as your product/service is great, and as long as you’re a real, ethical person. It’s too much stress at a large conference – and almost anytime really – to focus on “sell, sell, sell.” Change that to “enjoy, enjoy, ask questions.” After all, life is about living.

8) INTRODUCE PEOPLE TO EACH OTHER!
After (#3 ASK), this is my favorite. If you’ve met Jordan, who is launching a phone-info-online business, and then you meet Sarah, who has opened launched several related phone-info busiensses, suggest to Sarah, “Oh, if I see you and Jordan near each other, I’ll definitely introduce you. I think you’d enjoy meeting each other.” If you meet people who should be in touch with each other, ask the second person you meet whether you can put him in touch with the first person you met. Then ask the first person by email… “can I e-introduce you to so-and-so?”

9) Send an Email Later that Night.
If you meet someone you think you may want to keep in touch with, send an email later that night. Ideally, mention something specific that you and that person talked about – both for the person’s memory, and for yours! Business cards expire. If you don’t use a business card two weeks after you receive it, you might as well throw it away. Really. Business cards make sense if you’re in touch with that person, not to say, “Oh I once met such and such person at a conference.” Business cards make sense if you use them, not as collector art.

10) HAVE FUN!!!!!!!
And why do I emphasize having fun? Because everybody is stressed, everybody has an intense life. Let go, and things will come easily to you.*

* Why might things come easier once you let go and have fun more? Because of Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build emotion theory (that when you’re in a broad, good mood, you see more solutions and opportunities than when you’re in a closed lousy mood). Because of Seligman’s optimistic explanatory style (what you tell yourself about a situation affects how you react to that situation). Try it. It can’t hurt at one conference.

Enjoy the event!
If you see me with my nametag “Senia Maymin Positive Psychology,” come up to me and say Hi! Best,
Senia


Let’s talk about games.

That’s already an oxymoron on some levels! The point of games is to play them, not to talk about them. Still, why are games so hot? Why am I so big on games? You’ve seen me write about games. You’ve seen me talk about the feeling of being alive when you’re playing games.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT GAMES?

  • The Thrill
  • The Competition
  • The Speed
  • The Creativity Needed to Win
  • Winning
  • Possibility of Affecting the Outcome
  • Not Knowing Until the End
  • Knowledge of Possibly Improving Each Time

I can tell you all these above, and yet. And yet! Those are WORDS! As Hamlet says, “Words, words, words!” There’s no point for words. Games are about action!

You think you can smack-talk your opponent? Go ahead, but let’s see if your skill holds up to your smack-talk. Larry Bird was always known for his smack-talk, and maybe priming his opponents for failure was EXACTLY what he was going for because it may have worked (so suggests the latest research). But even better, Bird’s skill ALWAYS held up on the court. ALWAYS.

Games are about using our best self to beat the competition.

EVER USE A GAME AT WORK?

Have you? Sure you have! Everytime you’re on deadline and you need to make a specific time. Everytime you want to complete something faster than you did it last time. Everytime you want this quarter to be better than last quarter. Everytime you count how many clients your company has. You’re always playing games.

But sometimes they feel like work. What would make those same games that you are right now not calling games and are possibly not considering as fun – what would make those games fun and productive for you and improve business for the company?

Sure, I know that’s a leading, rhetorical question…

I refer you to my favorite Simpsons quote of all time:

Lisa: Dad, do you even know what “rhetorical” means?

Homer: Do *I* know what “rhetorical” means?

FUN, PRODUCTIVE, IMPROVES BUSINESS

Look, I’m not advocating going crazy with happiness juice, and just saying blindly, “Oh, let’s turn our work into fun.” I’m advocating asking yourself or your colleagues, “How can I get more of these components into my work?”

  • The Thrill
  • The Competition
  • The Speed
  • The Creativity Needed to Win
  • Winning
  • Possibility of Affecting the Outcome
  • Not Knowing Until the End
  • Knowledge of Possibly Improving Each Time

Remember, being wealthy is about having money and time. How can you enjoy your time at work more, leave more time for yourself outside of work, and show that “play” can get improved results? How can you put those elements in, and put them in in such a way that they improve the bottom line?

I know I’ve asked more questions above than I’ve answered. This week and next week, I’ll be writing a lot about GAMES and BUSINESS!

And today, I’m asking you: how do you think you could make work more like “play” and do so in a way that strengthens the bottom line?


This week, we talked about the exponential power of daily action and taking daily action steps to gain the 10,000 hours of expertise!

Question: When you’re working toward a goal, how do you celebrate the steps along the way to that goal?

celebrate

Here, on Positive Psychology News Daily, Nicholas Hall gives a summary of some ways to celebrate steps. He breaks out possible celebrations along two axes: body-mind-spirit and pleasure-engagement-meaning. Some suggestions:

  • Go dancing (Body and Engagement)
  • Learn something you’ve always wanted to (Mind and Meaning)
  • talk to a friend (Mind and Engagement)

What is your list of small celebrations?!
Thanks!
Great weekend!

I’d love to hear your answers. Feel free to leave anonymous comments. My answers are in the comments also.
Image: fireworks.


Here’s a great press release:

How to Bounce Back From ‘Google Slap Three’

First of all, I immediately ask “What on earth is Google Slap Three?” so they’ve already got me with a

  • TITLE THAT MAKES ME ASK “WHY? HOW? WHAT?”

Then the opening paragraph is:
IRVINE, Calif., March 13 /PRNewswire/ — Horror crossed your face this morning when you logged in to find your Google AdWords account “slapped” — with your best keywords deactivated and their minimum bids jacked up to $10.00 a click. What happened, and what can you do?

  • There’s an EMOTION (“horror”), there’s ACTION (“slapped,” “crossed your face,” “deactivated” (this is a bit boring of an action word), and “jacked up”), and there’s a QUESTION. Not bad.

Finally, the text has some strong points too:

  • It has USEABLE ADVICE (“Make your landing page ‘about’ your keywords,” “Post more unique pages”), is about something in the NEWS that recently happened, and it ADDRESSES CONCERNS about that recent news item.

In short, if you’re playing the game of writing a great press release that MATTERS TO PEOPLE, here are the three take-aways from this great press release:

  1. Make it timely to news of the day
  2. Make it address concerns readers might have
  3. Make it have concrete suggestions (actions people can take)

… And if you want this press release to also grow your business (which is the goal of most press releases IMHO)…

  • Make it link back to you effectively – for a reason
    For example, that you’re the authority on how to beat Google optimization… I’m not sure this company completely did this (see below).

BELOW SMALL COMMENT: This might be just me being picky… when I click back to www.entrepreneurpress.com, it’s their generic homepage, with no additional advice or details about the Google news release. I would imagine based on the press release that they have books that are relevant to SEO or to marketing online? And one of their pieces of advice, ironically, was to create more unique pages relevant to the keywords that people used to get to those pages. So where are their SEO advice books? As one singer would say, they don’t make ’em easy to find.


What is harder than rock, or softer than water? Yet soft water hollows out hard rock. Persevere.
~ Ovid

If there is one key to creating what you want in your life, it is daily practice. When you repeat again and again, you learn so much about the habit you’re building and about yourself. There are nuances that you do not learn from a how-to guide. Such as how to persevere.

Why daily? And why action?

  • DAILY! Daily moves you toward putting in hours to develop your expertise and toward repeating an activity to develop discipline and focus. Whatever your regularity is, you build your own daily practice. You can choose if your daily means 5 days a week (work week daily) or seven days a week (whole week daily) or three times a week (M-W-F regularly).
  • ACTION! Action is a form of commitment. A thought can be transitory, passing. An action is you saying to the world, “I am ready and I am doing it.” An action is more powerful than a thought – by definition, Action = Thought + Activity.

But why do it? Why take regular, structured, self-scheduled daily action as opposed to acting whenever you feel like it?

The Deep Math Example. As my very good friend and a former math professor says,

“It takes a while to get into the problem. You need to sit with it at your desk for several hours at a time just to start to focus deeply enough to be able to create any new conclusions.”

It takes time to get deep enough into a subject that you are no longer skirting the surface.

Math
The Ballroom Dancing Teacher Example. Have you found that some people who are excellent at what they do returrn to the basics from time to time? Like a yoga teacher taking a basic refresher course. Or an author going back to the structure of his characters? I know dance teachers who regularly take beginner classes. Why? Ballroom Dance
  • When you are at an advanced level, you get a lot more from beginner lessons. You start to see the nuanced distinctions that you didn’t notice at the beginning – “When I ask my students to ‘rock-step’ here, some are still thinking that they are rocking when the important distinction is that they are there-and-immediately back, on their toe and immediately forward… it’s more about the forward than it is about the rock-step back.” You start to see new ways of describing something, new ways of understanding and then being able to explain a concept.
  • You take the beginner class to come back to the beginner’s mind. To return to that joy that you loved about the activity to begin with, and to hear and see and feel and imagine what it is like to learn the steps for the first time. As Chip Heath and Dan Heath say in Made to Stick, we are sucked into the Curse of Knowledge: We are no longer able to often explain things to a five year old because we know too much detail. Avoid the Curse of Knowledge. Play as a beginner.
The Twyla Tharp Creativity Example. You make space for yourself – in your head and in your heart when you practice something regularly. You make space for yourself to be creative, to focus, to live in the moment. So much of life ends up being planning and rushing that unless you make the Creative Habit as Twyla Tharp says in her book, then you don’t ever create the discipline of creativity, the space for allowing yourself to do. That space is often only possible within the constraints of time allowed for that activity. Twyla Tharp
The Alaska Hiking Example. It is through action that you create a habit, and through habits that you create the life you want to live. According to Ann Graybiel, neural pathways – i.e. the pathways that create a new habit or new behavior pattern – form when you go over them again and again. Again and again. Like a hiking trail in Alaska worn by all the footsteps repeating over the ground again and again, so a new mental pathway forms when you repeat an activity. Best results are daily. Hiking
The Guitar Example. My guitar teacher years ago said, “The most important thing in learning guitar is daily practice. Even if you play 15 or 30 minutes a day, do just that. And if you have the choice to play once for 30 minutes or twice for 15 minutes, play twice for 15 minutes.” According to him and many other musicians, the mind learns when it starts a-new – when it comes to a project a-new. So scheduling that “new” regularly allows a habit to make that deep Alaskan hiking trail pathway. Guitar

And then, once you have taken the daily actions, keep track of them. Put a star on your wall calendar. Post about it on your blog. Write yourself an email accounting for that day. Track your progress. Roy Baumeister of Florida State University says (23-min interview) that one of the keys to creating a new habit is writing down those times when you have acted on that habit.

Is it really possible to achieve anything in life?
Let me ask that another way: what is harder than rock, or softer than water?

Lesson and Take-Away: 1) Take daily action and 2) write down your daily actions!

Images: math, dance, Twyla Tharp, hiking path, guitar.

Senia Maymin Senia Maymin, MBA, MAPP is an Executive Coach, and presents workshops to corporations about Positive Psychology. Senia is the Editor of Positive Psychology News Daily, and posts her latest ideas about positive psychology, business, and coaching at Senia.com. Senia’s bio.

“[S]atisfaction can arise only by the conscious decision to do something.”
Greogory Berns, Satisfaction

Excerpt from fuller sentence, “While you might find pleasure by happenstance–winning the lottery, possessing the genes for a sunny temperament, or having the luck not to live in poverty–satisfaction can arise only by the conscious decision to do something. And this makes all the difference in the world, because it is only your own actions for which you may take responsibility and credit,” as quoted in this Scientific American article (March 2007).

Furthermore, Gregory Burns says, “satisfaction comes less from the attainment of a goal and more in what you must do to get there.” (From Publishers Review quoted here.)

Gregory Berns’ attitude speaks to me a lot about expertise being trainable and about goals.


The February 23rd challenge!

I challenge you today to book yourself for an event in the next 30 days (by March 23, 2007) that is just a little more difficult than you are used to. An event where you need to perform just a little more than you are used to!

I challenge you to challenge yourself to play the Book Yourself game with a specific goal and time.

I do my BEST work when I put a goal in front of me – a goal that is just a little higher than I am used to, and then I strrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeetch.

Streeeeeeeeeeeeeetch A woman named Laurie that I know is an amazing volleyball player. She played competitively in college, and I played with her several times in grad school. When she played with us, she was many leagues better than our grad school intramural team, BUT…. but she played as if her life depended on it. She played as if every block, every serve, every hit was the one. Was the one that would make us win. Was the one that would count.

And the single best thing that she did when she played with us was that she would shout out just in time “streeeeeeeeetch” to the person at the net going for a spike. It didn’t matter that more than half of us didn’t jump up when we spiked – we spiked from the ground. It didn’t matter if it was the best player on the team or any player. Laurie yelled “streeeeeeeeetch,” and each of us stretched!

That’s what I’m talking about. Streeeeeeeeeetch yourself. Do that one thing that seems just a little bit above where you are! Streeeeeeeetch and GROW!

Some examples:

  • Exercising a certain number of times a day (that’s self-regulation), and doing a workout that’s just a little harder than is comfortable (that’s streeeeeeeeetching).
  • Booking yourself as a speaker at a conference before you have the full outline prepared (that’s streeeeeeetching). Then working regularly, repeatedly, deliberately on creating a superb presentation for that day (that’s self-regulation).
  • Expanded your business in a direction you’ve never tried before (streeeeeeeeetching), and preparing for each new milestone in the new direction by creating a process (self-regulation) that you can rely on in the future.

So, for the next 30 days, what can you book yourself to do that will challenge you?

(BTW, in case it EVER seems like I have all the answers, please don’t think that could be true. I have a whole bunch of fun questions. I’m changing things about my life and work while I’m writing this website. My answers in the comments. If I suggest something on this site, it’s because I’m thinking about it myself. Streeeeeeeeeeeeeeetch!) :)

Sometimes you need a challenge in order to move yourself into action.
What’s your challenge? :)

CONGRATS for doing this for yourself – for playing this Book Yourself game.