Mask down

The final prompt for Quest 2016 is offered by Srinivas Rao:

“What will you do in 2016 to assure you and your best work are unmistakable?”

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Colleen (& Bear) on New Year Eve 2015

 

 

Mask down.
Bear up.

 

 

***

Srinivas Rao is the host and founder of The Unmistakable Creative podcast where he has conducted over 500 interviews with thought leaders and people from all walks of life. This has given him an incredibly distinctive view into branding, storytelling, and marketing. He’s also written multiple books including the WSJ Best Seller The Art of Being Unmistakable (2013); created, planned, and executed a 60-person conference called The Instigator Experience; and recently signed an offer with Penguin Portfolio to write 2 books. Somewhere along the way his compass led him in the direction of an economics degree from UC-Berkeley and an MBA from Pepperdine University. Extracting unmistakable stories out of people is his superpower. And in his spare time he’s usually chasing waves.

 

 

 

Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution (with Dancing Bear)

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Would you open this box?

I have always been a rule follower.  Are you one , too?

Here’s a partial list of rules I’ve quietly and consistently placed on myself:

  • No junk food during the day (only while watching television, in the dark, when no one is watching (except your husband, lucky him)
  • No deep-fried foods eaten or ordered in public
  • No loaded baked potatoes – just plain, no butter with salt and pepper
  • No mayo on turkey sandwiches (“she likes her bird dry” a former boyfriend once remarked drolly to a deli clerk off some upstate New York parkway)
  • No farting in public (or in front of anyone for that matter)
  • No talking (writing) about private, ugly things that would embarrass or draw attention to or cause pain (shame) to someone I love.  Or to the town I live in.  Or to people who have suffered enough and do not deserve to have scabs re-opened.

Nice box I’ve built, huh?
Very predictable.  Very controlled.  Very safe.

So here comes  our second-to-last Quest 2016 prompt  – tromping down the lane carried in its pretty basket  and gifted to us by visionary Jen Louden (whom I adore):

“What is the story you most desire to bring to life in 2016?
Duh.  The one in the “Do Not Open until Mother’s Day 2016” box.

“What is the story your just-right clients most desire to bring to life in 2016?” Their own story (the one they hide from, shutter away, pretend isn’t there)

Where do your stories OVERLAP?
In that magic space where darkness meets light
And bears dance.

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Naughty Bear 

This afternoon, on an intuitive leap, in the midst of writing this reflection, I went into my daughter Katie’s room, and asked if I could please have her stuffed bear.

“I guess so,” she says, accompanied by her my-parents are so-weird teen look.

In 1996, this Bear entered my life  – “adopted”  from the Blue Lantern Inn at Dana Point Harbor, CA.  My  first husband Jay & I stayed there on a second honeymoon of sorts.   It was spring and such a sweet beginning time for us – before kids, and just after my leap from corporate america to the land of sole proprietorship (owning my own wedding consulting business).  Possibilities were endless and hope was as high as the moon.

There on the king-size bed, in the pretty suite overlooking the bluffs and the Pacific ocean, was this same stuffed bear.  First he was there, sitting all prim upon the shams, and then , after housekeeping’s turn-down service,  he was caught mid-cartwheel on the pillow.  Obviously, this bear was a mischievous one, one who liked to romp and play when no one was watching. I adored him!   And needed to have him.

So I purchased him at check-out (I didn’t buy “the new one, just-like-this one”bear, the desk clerk tried to sell me from the Inn gift shop, but the one who played and danced in our beautiful room with the view)

For the rest of the trip, I held onto this Bear and looked down at him closely  for many, many precipitous miles, heading south to San Diego along the western-most rim of California on Route 1 (yes, I was on the side closest to the cliffs.)  In years to come, this same Bear would accompany me to our hospital’s  labor & delivery room (twice) and be cuddled every now and then by both my children.

Guess it only makes sense for this same Bear to re-join me now – 20-years later – at the start of this grand adventure  – a kind of falling into the beginning of this StoryBox – with you.

[By the way – I’m calling him Dancing Bear now.   I think it suits him.]

***

Rounding out WEEK 4 of Quest 2016 on “Doing Your Best Work, Not Someone Else’s” is JEN LOUDEN.

Jen Louden helped launch the self-care movement with her first book The Woman’s Comfort Book (HarperOne 2005). She’s the author of 7 additional books on well-being and whole living, including her most recent book, A Year of Daily Joy (National Geographic 2014). She believes self-love + world-love = wholeness for all.

Be still and know . . .

I am  being still.

I am slowing down.

I am running my own race (not someone else’s)

I am being brave.

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Quest 2016.

Theme:  Doing your best work, not someone else’s
Visionary:  Todd Henry
Prompt:  “It takes bravery to know your strengths and operate diligently within them.  Are you running your race, or someone else’s?”

  TODD HENRY is a foremost voice and authority on how teams and individuals can execute brilliant ideas every day.   CEO of Accidental Creative and author of the books Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice(Portfolio 2011), Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day (Portfolio 2015), and Louder Than Words:Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice(Portfolio 2015), Todd travels the globe like a creative arms dealer to equip people and companies with the right systems and habits that lead to everyday brilliance

(Do not)open until . . .

Last May, I packed all my writing in a tall moving box.  It is taped up and buried behind all our luggage in the closet in my office/guest room.

The closet is stuffed with plastic-packed toilet paper rolls, outdated over the counter drugs,  random Band Aids, all the family towels (even all the beach ones shoved in a giant blue Ikea bag), a clothes steamer I’ve never used, which my mother gave me, the ironing board, a scale we bought for our German exchange student last year to weigh his luggage.  There is every manual to every appliance we own (except for the washer and drier, which I searched for last week, without any luck).  On the shelf, there is an unrolled sleeping bag and Katie’s old comforter, Mike’s hard hat and bright-blue safety suit for when he strolling through refineries. The closet also has (temporarily) all the Christmas presents I’ve bought, and have yet to wrap, stacked up against the luggage and the toilet paper packages.

This is no place for my best work.

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In response to the second prompt for Week 4 of Quest 2016

Theme:  Doing your best work, Not Someone Else’s
Visionary:  Charlie Gilkey
Prompt:  “Which element of your best work do you most want to amplify this year?”

On January 1, 2016, I reveal The Story Box.

I rescue my writing.  I set out short imperfect, fragmented pieces, one by one, in no particular order, for readers who are guided to them.

(At least in the light,  there is some chance of growing.)

In doing so (in my being brave):

  • I risk opening my own Pandora’s Box
  • I risk being truly seen
  • I let go of the Story that’s haunted me for more than a decade
  • I protect my family from the horrifying task of “what should we do with your mother’s writing?” should I delay any further

This writing is my best work (not someone else’s), and it is my responsibility alone to release it, amplifying its rise out into the open, into the light . . .

“p.s.  You can’t stand out and fit in at the same time.”

[Thank you, for that PS, Charlie Gilkey.]

***

Charlie is a champion of and catalyst for Creative Giants – talented Renaissance souls with a compassion-fueled bias towards action. He’s the brain and heart behindProductive Flourishing, best-selling author of The Small Business Life Cycle (JETLAUNCH 2014), Ph.D. candidate in philosophy, and a former Army Logistics Officer. He’s driven to figure out how to help Creative Giants be their best selves in the world.

 

how to clarify

 

8450830_sTo clarify butter, you need to start with the unsalted kind and then heat on a low simmer, patiently skimming off foam until milk solids and water separate from it.

The golden liquid, which emerges, has a pure, clean flavor which won’t burn at high temperatures like regular butter.

(Thank you, Rachel Ray.)

So these are the early-morning wanderings of my mind avoiding the Quest 2016 question posed to us over the weekend . . .

Theme:  Prioritize your Value
Visionary:  Seth Brogan

Prompt:  How will you better clarify whom you serve and what you do for them in 2016#Serve

I remember that, for me last year, this was the toughest time with Quest 2016 – it became one of many shiny ribbons amid packages and cards and year-end work.  And while I looked over and admired it often from afar (oh yes, I need to do that, too), I tended not to go as deep in my reflections as earlier prompts.

Yet, it is important that I better understand whom I serve and what I offer.  At my workplace, this is clear.  In my creative life, not so much.  How will I clarify this in the new year?

What gentle, yet steady heat is necessary?

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Be present.

Listen.

Write.

Stand and share.
Heal.
Heal others.

* * *

CHRIS BROGAN explores how people use content and community to build marketplaces around areas of belonging. He is CEO of Owner Media Group , providing simple plans and projects for business success. He is also a highly sought after professional speaker and the New York Times bestselling author of eight books and counting, including his forthcoming book, Insider: Strategies and Secrets for Business Growth in the Age of Distractions.

Work (what is it good for?)

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Oh Quest 2016.

Not sure what this question (or this image!)  has to do with anything, but here you go.

Theme:  Prioritize your value
Visionary:  Sally Hogshead
Prompt:  Of these 3 options, which one is most important in your work right now:   (a) Quality of life (b) Quality of work (c)  Quality of compensation 

First thing I did was go to the on-line Merriam Webster dictionary to define the word “work”.   (I often approached college papers the same way – going deep, getting super clear on the topic, checking out its etymology)

work
noun \ˈwərk\
1:  activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something:  a:  sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result b:  the labor, task, or duty that is one’s accustomed means of livelihood  c:  a specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being a part or phase of some larger activity
Old English weorc, worc “something done, discreet act performed by someone, action (whether voluntary or required), proceeding, business;” also “military fortification,” from Proto-Germanic *werkan (cognates: Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch werk, Old Norse verk, Middle Dutch warc, Old High German werah, German Werk, Gothic gawaurki), from PIE *werg-o-, from root *werg- “to do”

_____________________________________________________

So next thing I know, that song “War” (good God) by Edwin Starr is in my head.  (If you don’t remember or know the song, here is a link to it.

Go ahead and click it.  Seriously.  It’s a great song.

And my brain (being so clever) is substituting the word “War” with “Work”

WORK , huh good God
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, say it again . . .”
(Read more: Edwin Starr – War Lyrics | MetroLyrics)

Truth is, I work full-time in (big bad) Corporate America.  There are a lot of good reasons why, but the most important one is compensation.

So guess that’s my answer: Option (c.) Quality of Compensation

_____________________________________________________

But then, my husband Mike walks in to my office (*just as I am writing this)

I say “Listen to this” And then I play this  Work song  (uh, good God) and let him read Sally Hogshead’s prompt.

“Quality of work” he says.  No hesitation.

I rally back “Quality of Compensation”

“Oh really?”  (he is smiling that amused Mike smile).   “So that’s your focus, huh?   That’s why you’re up here working so late?  For a better raise?”

I’m nodding to myself.  Oh yea.  He’s right again.

“Okay, so it’s Quality of Work for me, too”

How about you?

***

SALLY HOGSHEAD is well-versed in understanding and leveraging your value by the way you captivate and influence those around you.

Sally is a Hall of Fame speaker, best-selling author, and a leading expert on fascination. Her clients have included Intel, Cisco, Million Dollar Round Table, GE, and Intuit. Her recent book How the World Sees You (#2 NYT, #1 WSJ) applies her research in the science of fascination to leaders and change-makers who want to be more of their best.

A shimmering web of wind

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A piece of poetry emerged tonight – not my intended response to the Quest 2016 prompt offered today, but there you go.

The wind made me do it.

No apologies.

Theme:  Prioritize your value
Visionary:  JOHN JANTSCH

Prompt:  What can you stop doing in 2016 such that it would allow you to focus on higher payoff activities?

In 2016, I will stop apologizing for things that need no apology.

I will stop diminishing myself.

I will stop living in the land of intentions.

I will stop postponing action.

I will stop holding back.

How about you?  What can you stop doing next year?

***

I see the wind changing.
Pushing back on the river’s flow forward,
quickening its surface like poorly-ironed silk.

I hear the wind changing.
Threading itself through clusters of chimes, sounding like sea air, teasing and circling and rising before waves.  

I feel the wind changing.
Entering like a swirling potion of ether – wooing me, pricking tears at my eyes, sending my heart all-a-swoon.

Change comes.

***

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author ofDuct Tape Marketing (Thomas Nelson 2011), Duct Tape Selling (Portfolio 2014), The Commitment Engine(Portfolio 2012), and The Referral Engine (Portfolio 2010) and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. Twitter: @ducttape

Drawing by:  Nataliia Kozlova
(beautiful woman with birds in her hair (series C)