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It’s past Memorial Day, so in these parts it means that summer is officially in session. I know that many people have a reading list for the summer. I have not been one of those people. I don’t tend to read books as a “start here, finish book, start the next” type of reader. I tend to pick up about four or five books and read them spottily and sometime finish them, sometimes not.
My bookshelf has been crammed with books that I thought would be great to read, but I’ve never gotten to them. In the quest to be more intentional and to actually do things that I say I want to do, I’ve decided to publish my summer reading list and write a review of each book after I’m finished. I don’t tend to read fiction and as you’ll see most of them have something to do with spiritual, career, or productivity matters (or all three at once!) I wish I liked to read fiction, but as you see they are all non-fiction
Here are the books that I’ve decided I want to try to finish this summer:
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield: This book has been suggested to me more times that I can imagine from so many people, and I understand this is about how we can be with our creative selves.
Transitions by William Bridges: Career development is all about changes, and this is the standard book in my field. I’ve never read it before, so this is sort of my “good medicine” that I really need to experience.
- Embracing Your Inner Critic by Hal Stone & Sidra Stone: I, like so many, have some internal issues to work though, and this book was recommended by my friend Elsa (a mental health counselor) as a good resource for looking at this issue.
- Planets in Work by Jamie Binder: Another recommendation from Elsa. I have been researching archetypes, and I’ve been looking at how those show up in astrological readings. This looks at how astrology could be used in career development decisions.
- A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle: This book was given to me by Casey Miller and he read this many times on his cross country bike trip. I’ve seen videos of Tolle speaking, but never read any of his works. It’s about time.
- Awakening in Time by Pamela Kristan: I was at a presentation Pam gave at the Theosophical Society of Boston, and Pam’s work has to do with the intersection of productivity and spirituality. As you can imagine, this is right up my alley. I had to see how I can incorporate her ideas into my work.
- Living & Loving Well by Joseph Stuczynski: Joe presented at Easton Mountain a few years ago, and his work focuses on getting clear with our values in order to make good decisions in our lives, especially about our personal relationships. This is more of a workbook to clarify your goals, so this should be a quick win in getting it done!
- Mastering Respectful Confrontation by Joe Weston: Joe is an amazing human being and presenter, and I have been to numerous workshops that he has done, and this book puts done in words what he preaches. Joe’s main concept is that the concept of power in our culture has gotten to be connected more with physical strength and power over others, and he bases his alternative vision on Easter philosophy as the power within and with other people, and how we can have conversations that empower everyone and don’t deny our own needs. This is great stuff!
- Making It All Work by David Allen: I have been a “Getting Things Done” (GTD) fan for a number of years, as David Allen’s philosophy about personal productivity is all about how to free yourself from the stress of life and having a “mind like water” so that you can easily accomplish things in your life without fretting about them. I was lucky enough to attend a seminar last year that David personally taught, and Making It All Work is the continuation of those theories.
- How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy! by Paul Chek: In 2008, I was part of an online weight loss challenge through RealJock.com (which I won!) and DIAKADI Body was the exercise consultants on this. Though continuing to follow their great advice, I found out about Paul Chek’s work, which integrates the concepts of health, exercise, and nutrition with a more holistic & spiritual sense that really attracted me. I don’t know it so well, but have liked what I’ve seen.
- Mindfulness by Ellen Langer: This book was given to me by my boss back in the early 1990′s, and while I’m obviously interested in it, I never finished this book that was one of the first on the subject. It’s time. Thanks Dave!
- Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert: Dan’s research into what makes us really happy (as opposed to what we say makes us happy) has been really enlightening to me, as I work with people to get at the core of their happiness.
- Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep Weight Off for Good by Manuel Villacorta: In the aforementioned weight loss challenge, Manuel’s crew at MV Nutrition in San Francisco was invaluable to giving me the knowledge to eat better and lose weight. This is a new book that just came out last month, and again, I need to read it to remind myself of all the knowledge that I’ve learned (and maybe forgotten!) I highly, highly recommend that you pick up this book!
I might not get them all finished by Labor Day but it’s an intention (not at goal!).
So, what are you reading? Do you have any comments or experiences with any of these books?
I started this blog (almost two years ago now) because I wanted to get out my ideas on the intersection of where people feel their passion and souls live and what they do in their lives to create meaning and support themselves. I’ve seen too many of my clients who are just blindly going through their professional careers who then 5, 10, 20 or even more years into it discover that they are completely unfulfilled and feel like they have been wasting their lives. It’s my goal to get as many people as possible to consider what’s important to them first before taking these steps. They might take the same actions, but this time with confidence.
I’ve also been doing a kit of personal reflection and study in my life and tried to share my learnings with all of you. Probably the greatest insight that I’ve had is one that I’ve read and heard for years, but I finally “got it”. As is probably apparent from my posts and my professional position, I’m a great proponent of planning and working your plan. I’m always looking for ways to be in control of what’s needed to be done (just look at all the posts that I have with the tags GTD, actions, goals, and the like). That’s my natural way of being and I can easily teach this to others. I’ve had to be a student of the other side, namely allowing things to happen.
I’ve been so driven to get things done that I’ve been impatient to allow things to happen. I’ve come to realize in a visceral sense (and not just intellectually) that there are too many variables in the world that I have no control over, and I have to learn how to just “be” in order to effectively deal with life’s challenges. As the saying goes “Life happens while you’re making other plans”. If I’ve been working so hard to get everything right, I’m not able to deal with what’s in front of me effectively.
In reviewing some of the data that I’ve seen from this blog, the #1 search term that brings people to my site is “human being versus human doing”. My first post on this is subject is one of my most read posts. I think that people have a great longing wondering if what they do has meaning and if there are other ways of being. As you can probably tell, it’s my work to answer that question with a resounding “Yes!”.
The first step is to practice “being”. It sounds cliche, but you have to work at slowing your mind down and just be present to the current moment. Our fast paced culture does all it can to keep us from bring present. This is not something I can just give you; it takes practice. You will screw it up a lot at the beginning. Keep trying. There are lots of different ways (yoga, meditation, prayer, serving others, etc.). Find the way that works for you and keep trying to do it and stay present.
Once you get that down, it will be much easier to actually take the action steps you need to make your dreams happen. You’ll have a focused goal and won’t have a lot if other things crowding your mind to keep you from the action steps to get them done.
So, how are you being today?
This post marks my 100th blog post. I started in December 2009, and wanted to get myself into the practice of writing (I’ve joked that I’m writing my book a blog post at a time). I’ve written about a lot of things, but the themes, as best as I’ve been able to keep to them, is the listening to one’s own authentic self and then seeing how that can be manifested in the world. As my professional area is career development, I’ve also shared my philosophies about how one can best identify what is mist precious and to state your best case about doing that for others. I’ve gotten a few comments here, and many more in person or other venues, that people have appreciated what I’ve had to say and it’s helped them in their professional journey.
After having written so much, I’ve learned some things about myself and the process, and how people have reacted to my words. Some of my learnings are:
- You’d be surprised at what gets the most comments. Topics that I thought were the most benign can sometimes get the most heated debate.
- There’s always something to write about. Even if it’s what you had for lunch, if it makes you think about something bigger in life, it can be a blog post.
- You’d be surprised who is most interested in your writing. Someone random will tell me that they follow my blog every post and have gotten a lot out of it, and I didn’t think they even knew about it!
- Writing a blog is fine, but you have to get people to read it. There’s a lot of things to read, and the struggle is getting eyes on your words.
- Forcing yourself to write is a good practice, like doing many other things that you know are good for you but take effort.
- Writing about events in your life can be cathartic, in that it forces you to think through things and present them in a way that shows your reflected on things and how you want to be seen.
- Practice makes perfect. Keep doing things and you’ll get better at them.
So, what have you learned from doing something 100 times?
I was fortunate enough this past Friday to participate in the Making It All Work seminar instructed by Mr. GTD himself, David Allen. As many of you who read this blog know, GTD (Getting Things Done) is a productivity philosophy first explained in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity. The main goal of the process is to get ideas out of your head so that there’s room to think of more creative ideas and to live in the very zen-like state of “mind like water”.
I’ve been studying GTD for about two years and seeing how I can integrate it into my life. While I’ve read books, participated in online forums and study groups, this seminar was great in filling in the gaps and bringing things together for me.
Here are some of the tidbits that I picked up in this session, and I can say that they are applicable to just about every area of one’s life:
- The optimal state is being in control, relaxed, and focused.
- Concentration minus distractions = Power
- Getting something off your mind frees up a lot of energy, so figure out where to put ideas so that you’ll find them again. That’s why we put the trash next to the door so we’ll remember to take it out in the morning.
- What frazzled us most is when we don’t know what to do with something, put it down, and pick it up again not knowing what to do with it.
- People blow fuses because they don’t know where to start.
- “Trust in Allah but tie up your camel.”
- Fear = Fantasized Experience Appearing Real
- We have a stasis with what we are comfortable. The only way to change is to make ourselves uncomfortable where we are. Until then, we won’t move.
While there were lots of other things I got out of the seminar, that’s all I can process now. If you’re interested in learning more about freeing up your mind, here are some resources I’ve found helpful.
- David Allen Company
- GTD Starter Kit
- GTD Virtual Study Group (A great podcast by Tara Rodden Robinson. You can also here the episode where I was a guest speaker talking about using GTD in your Career Development.)
- 45 minute presentation by David Allen on GTD at Google
- All of my blog posts relating to GTD
So, what are you doing to stop the voices in your head?
I’ve been lucky enough to be interviewed on three different shows over the past year where I can share my thoughts about career development and how it interacts with the other aspects of people lives, and I thought that many of you might not have heard these and would like to get a better sense of my approach. Take a listen to these and let me know if anything resonates with you!
- In March 2010, I was the guest speaker on the Getting Things Done Virtual Study Group (GTD-VSG) Podcast where I talked about “Utilizing GTD in Career Development“. It was a great time with some great questions from the audience. If you don’t know anything about GTD, it’s a productivity philosophy developed by David Allen and I highly recommend it to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed and wants to get control of your life (or at least feel less anxious about it.) Listen to it directly.
- In December 2010, I was interviewed by Harry Faddis on “The Quest of Life” radio show out of WRPI-FM in Troy, NY, where I discussed “Connecting Your Spirit & Your Work“. Harry asked me question about how people make decisions about where their careers are going and how you can make choices that serve you better.
- In January 2011, I was again a guest on The Quest of Life, and here I discussed “I Could Do Anything I Wanted If I Only Knew What It Was“. A big part of my work is helping clients with career exploration and assessments, so this was to clarify what people can do to help them get more clarity on what it is that makes them happy and how they can increase their chances of working in areas that make them happy.
Note: The workshop that I mention in the last two interviews (Finding Your Calling: Making Connection Between Spirit and Work) has been rescheduled to March 18-20, 2011, so you still have a chance to register!
I have a great time doing these interviews and am considering doing a podcast/audio/video blog to answer questions that people would have.
So, what questions would you like to ask me?
In the past day, I’ve seen two very inventive videos of people who are doing the things they love and sharing them. The first is a video by Emerson College students where they are doing a lip psyching video to a compilation of Lady Gaga songs. It involves over 400 students and was basically a campus tour as the showed all the facilities but also demonstrated the skill sets that they were developing in their studies (namely performance, video production, editing, event coordination, etc.). I’ve worked with a number of students that I see in this video and it’s amazing to see what they’ve accomplished. It’s also starting to go viral around the world too.
The second one was a music video of musician performing jazzed-up Christmas carols, but only using different iPhone and iPod apps. They replicate hand bells, guitars, conga drums, and numerous other instruments. The performance is great, and really shows off their technical skills.
This reminds me a lot of the video of the band Atomic Tom that performed and recorded a music video on the subway using just iPhones for both the performing and recording.
What do these all have in common? These people are demonstrating to the works what they have to offer others professionally. You don’t have to wonder what they can do, as they are showing it off. You don’t have to go and ask these people of their value; it’s right in front of you.
What does this have you do with your career? Everything!
Most people I work with hide what they have to offer the world, or at least make it so difficult to find out this information that people never see it. It’s either so cryptically written in a resume or an interviewer needs to ask so many questions to find the answer that the news of your value never gets out to be seen.
If you’re going to be happy in what you do in your career, it needs to cone from the capabilities that you have that you love to do (and are skilled at!). Are you a good writer? Write things that people can actually see (instead of keeping it all locked away on your computer or journal. Really good at organizing? Organize something that people in the world will experience. And mist importantly, after you’ve done it, let other people know about it! Your reputation is built on your works, and other people will be able to say good things about you to others (like hiring managers) in the future.
So, what beautiful, creative things about yourself are you keeping from the world?
Warmer weather has finally hit New England. I’ve got the shorts and short sleeve shirts out from storage, the windows are opened more than they are closed, and I’ll be buying plants for my balcony on Saturday at the gardening center. We’ve been waiting for this a long time.
Additionally, it’s the time of year when students end their studies and start taking action to all the plans they’ve been dreaming of over the winter. I too am starting to take action for my summer plans. I’ve got a trip next month with my Dad to Newfoundland to see the place where my great-grandparents emigrated from. I’m also planning more workshops, teleworkshops, and some professional development tasks. I’ve recently been researching all the different social media platforms and how I can utilize them to engage you in my ideas and let other people know that this is where you come to if you want information about developing your creative career, bringing your whole self into a career (spiritually, emotionally, etc.) and also if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender and you’re trying to work through there issues. Expect to see a bunch of new changes to the site by the end of the summer.
So, what are you creating this summer? How are you moving into action? Are you doing what you want?
I am starting a new series of teleworkshops, where people can call in to a group call and I’ll be discussing an aspect of career development that will hopefully get people clearer and moving onto actions. The first one will be on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 9 p.m. EDT. The workshop is free (except that you will need to handle the long distance charges to call into the conference line). This is the first in a monthly series, and I hope that many of you will be able to join me.
Free Teleworkshop: Goal Setting for When You Don’t Know What You Want
Everyone is always recommending that you set goals, but how can you do that when you are so lost that you don’t know where to start? This free (except for your long distance charges) teleworkshop will help us to start investigating steps that we can take to start seeing where you can start to get control when you feel like you have too many ideas spinning around you.
To register, send an email to email@example.com with “Free Teleworkshop 4/14/10″ in the subject line, and you will receive the information on how to call in.