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July 2020

Ready to Make My Move

On June 16th, I blogged about my desire - need - to take on a big challenge. And I wrote that I'd be focusing on my physical fitness for this challenge.

Because I want to - there are adventures I want to experience!

Because I need to - my health has been iffy and in overal decline.

But I'm capable. And I don't have limitations that would get in the way of trying. Actually, I do have barriers - all internal, all self-imposed, all learned and reinforced.

I need more skin in the game - because I'm too weak to rely on discipline or motivation. I'm thinking:

  • Commit to a trip/outing/event that will require X level of fitness. Like hiking in New Mexico in the Fall.
  • Sign up for some kind of virtual personal training, using the equipment I have (or can get for home use). Something that will force an accountability structure but fit my current circumstances and the covid restrictions. Maybe add some boxing? Not sure where I'd put the bag/dummy...
  • Re-align the kitchen to reinforce my best and healthy food options.
  • Clear the to-do list and my commitments so that a fly on the wall would guess that THIS endeavor is among my most important. 

Will update again soon with progress notes.


And now for some ridiculousness...

This pandemic has been soooo draining, don't you agree? Since I can't go anywhere - physical, out there - I decided to have a wee misadventure in my fragmented mind with some silly writing. This has not been edited, so you'll find lots wrong with it if you look. 

But don't look for typos! I hope you enjoy reading this warped, stream-of-consciousness, piece of play on the page. Perhaps my story will give you an idea or two for how to make your 2020 holiday letter more entertaining. Hehehe...

 

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Holiday Letter

Daggar and Bernice Marks here. This is our annual holiday letter.

Health Status: Daggar’s total cholesterol level is 213. Bernice’s total cholesterol level is 234. Daggar weighs 195. Bernice weighs 162. Daggar still has all his teeth. Bernice recently got a bridge with three fake teeth on account of a high consumption of Cadbury Eggs and gummy bears. Daggar credits daily shots of rye for his vigorous health.

Financial Status: Daggar and Bernice are happy to report a sudden and unexpected upswing in finances on account of a fake dog named Barney. Bernice wanted a dog but Daggar had put his foot down because they pee and poop all over the place. In the house, on the porch, around the yard, and inside the car. Daggar called dogs filthy beasts and set a criterion that any pet needed to meet which was a guarantee that it wouldn’t pee and poop all over the place. Not in the house, not on the porch, not around the yard, and never inside the car.  Daggar believed his criterion would guarantee they’d be pet free, but then Bernice found a robot dog named Barney on Craigslist. She bought the robot dog – Daggar told Bernice she could call it a robot dog or a thing, but not just a dog because it was inanimate – from two college kids who said they’d built it for a robot competition. Bernice should have known that the robot dog would be trouble because it did not win or place in the robot competition and cost her only fifty bucks, less than a real live mutt dog from the city pound. Given that it was a one-off creation, the robot dog did not come with an owner’s manual, remote control, or mobile app. The college kids told Bernice they thought its battery would last about five years.

Bernice was happy and felt Barney looked pretty similar to a real dog because it was covered in polyester brown fur and had a pink felt tongue and belly. Daggar thought it looked like a cross between a beaver and an alarm clock. On command, the robot dog sat, shook hands, rolled over, and slept on Bernice’s lap. Daggar hoped that it would satisfy her need to cuddle during the evening news with Lester Holt.

Two days after Bernice brought Barney home, Daggar woke to an unwelcome surprise. The contraption had peed and pooped all over the place. In the house, on the porch, around the yard, and even inside Daggar’s car. Daggar was very mad. And even though Daggar was not a dumb person, having risen to the rank of corporal in the army and scored forth best at the shooting range, he could not figure out where the robot dog was getting the product to pee and poop. Daggar then asked Bernice if she had fed Barney. Bernice said yes, she had, and it preferred canned over dry, so that’s what she gave it. Daggar asked Bernice if she gave it water and Bernice said yes, all dogs need water. Daggar told her robot dogs are made of metal and plastic and do not need food or water. Daggar told Bernice the thing had to go as it no longer met his criterion. Bernice cried.

But something unforeseen happened before Daggar and Bernice could determine how to dispose of the robot dog. The next-door neighbor, an unusual man named Spaz Romano who was rumored to be a drug dealer, claimed that Barney got his two dogs pregnant after it dug under the fence and raped them. Spaz also said Barney ate six cushions from his patio set that needed to be replaced. Something which, if true, somewhat explained the high volume of pee and poo the robot dog deposited in the house, on the porch, around the yard, and in Daggar’s car. Daggar asked Bernice if the robot dog had dug into the neighbor’s yard. Bernice said that yes, it had and that she enticed Barney back into our yard with a pound of raw bacon and then filled the hole.

Daggar reminded Bernice that Barney was a robot and could not have fathered puppies, even if the neighbor’s dogs were virgin Pomeranian twins and therefore highly attractive. Bernice then called Barney and told him to roll over, which he did. Bernice pointed at his boy dog robot parts. Daggar was surprised to see evidence of seepage from its pinkish walnut-sized plastic sacks. Daggar could not figure out where it was getting the product to impregnate the neighbor’s dogs but agreed that this was likely what had happened. Bernice said it might be nice to have puppies. Daggar told Bernice to call them robot puppies, not just puppies, because they would be at least half inanimate.

Not a dumb person, Daggar saw a business opportunity to sell Barney’s robot sperm and its interspecies offspring. Daggar offered to pay for the patio cushions and half of the neighbor’s vet bills in exchange for half of the half-breed puppies. As of this writing, no one is sure when the puppy robots will be born, or power up we’re not quite sure, given the difference in production rates of real dogs and robots.  If you’d like to get on the waiting list, Daggar and Bernice will let you know when you can buy a robot puppy. The cost will be two thousand dollars each. Daggar and Bernice have put Barney out to stud and will be renting its services for ten thousand dollars per night with no reimbursement for damaged or consumed furniture. You can book a stud night with Barney by going online to Daggar and Bernice’s new website DogRobotSperm.com. Advanced payment is required, and the next three months are sold out.

Entertainment Status: Daggar went fly fishing up the Black River with four army buddies this summer. Daggar broke last year’s record of thirty-seven trout caught and released in three hours. Bernice cooked up a batch of poisonous forest mushrooms with stew meat for the fishermen that tasted good but was not, in fact, good at all. All five men recovered and Ruben Smith reports that his dreams are more interesting since eating the toxic stew. Although he ate two helpings, Daggar’s dreams have not improved.

New Year’s Resolutions: Daggar plans to take up whittling life-sized venomous snake statues in his newly renovated office in between processing payments from the DogRobotSperm website. Bernice has started taking computer programming classes at Greendale Community College and hopes to learn robotics before Barney’s batteries die. Barney does not have a New Year’s Resolution because he is inanimate.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from the Marks.

Daggar and Bernice

Written by Daggar Cook


Knowing Your NOTs

I find that knowing

what is NOT right

what we DON'T want

what is NOT interesting

where we DON'T what to go

what we DON'T want to spend time doing

the actions that WON'T lead to success

and what we can't do

is really, really helpful when trying to determine how to best live. And if we want to experience more adventure and misadventure, then it is doubly important that we acknowledge what we should not allow to get in our way.

What should not be on your list? 

Identifying our NOTs can be painful because we've invested time in energy in them - sometimes a lot of time and energy. Maybe our persona is wrapped up in this thing that is no longer fueling our energy or interest.

  • I'm an athlete
  • I'm a best-selling author
  • I'm an inventor
  • I'm a community leader
  • I'm female comic of the year
  • I'm teaching

Uncommit - decommit - not sure what the right word would be - from a something (or someone?) that is no longer a good use of time and is getting in the way of your progress and opportunity.


What "In the Middle of Greatness" Feels Like

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I was thinking about what it must feel like to be in the midst of doing something epoch - a grand accomplishment.

And here's the odd thing. It feels like ordinary living with healthy progress. I suppose there are big adventures that start off and remain larger than life, but most are big ideas executed with quiet daily perseverance. It's something to consider if you are, like me, drawn to the idea of epoch adventures and misadventures.

Instead of asking, what's next, maybe we should notice what's now, because our adventure is unfolding and we would hate to miss it.

This might also be why many of us give up on things too soon - because the reality of getting it done does not match our romantic notions of what we thought manifesting the endeavor would feel like.


UNDOing so I Have More Time and Space for Adventure.

It doesn't seem possible, but after a full week of aggressively unsubscribing and unfollowing, there's still so much more I can do. Today I unsubscribed from another dozen e-newsletters. And I'm unfollowing on FB and IG - at least 10 per day.
 
It's AWESOME.
 
Twitter is another matter, would love to unfollow 1/2 or more of the 4,000 I follow, but it seems like a lot of work to find the ones I'd let go. Ideas or hacks welcome. I know, I could just shut Twitter off. Might do...I keep Twitter primarily to support others, I get no real joy or value from it.
 
Related but different - I'm also discarding and/or donating items. Silly stuff, like a garbage bag full of shipping peanuts. Why was I keeping these wormy magnetic things? And I have stupid stuff - like cases for phones and keyboards I no longer own. 
 
I'll tackle the books another time and tell you about it. That could be super painful but needs to happen. It's like staring at hundreds of balls of yarn that you know you'll never turn into scarves. I have some yarn, too. 
 
I'm not becoming a minimalist. I'm a less-crap-in-my-way-ist. How will I concoct new misadventures if I'm checking my email every twelve seconds? I'd be a piss-poor attempt if I did.

Make Unreasonable Requests that Aren’t

This is an excerpt from my book, Two Weeks to a Breakthrough, except that I’ve added a few annotations to it. Making unreasonable requests, is still among the more effective suggestions I have used and shared. It’s an important part of my regimen to have a more misadventurous life.

Making Unreasonable Requests

Ask and ye shall receive, right? Making unreasonable requests is not as unreasonable as it may seem. I use the term unreasonable here to mean big. Unreasonable requests are big requests that you are generally too chicken to make. Chapter Four offers several examples and techniques for making unreasonable requests.

Lisa: I will not leave you hanging - I’ve included that excerpt from Ch 4 below in this post.

Outrageous requests make magnificent things happen. And talk about a bridge? A well-formulated request, when accepted by the person you ask, can reroute your progress and enable you to zoom to success. Unreasonable requests that are turned down can also serve as important catalysts because often a compromise solution is offered that is still higher than you would have expected. Making great requests is perhaps the easiest and fastest way to produce breakthroughs.

Lisa: The bridge is a metaphor for a catalyst. When breakthroughs happen, the misadventure amps up.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get it,” and I believe this is true. I have a weekly routine that has proven very successful. Each week I make several unreasonable requests designed to move various goals and projects forward. I have had some amazing things happen because of my requests. Most people want to help if they can and get a charge out of granting the request. Sometimes my requests are catalysts that enable the other person to experience a breakthrough! A granted request creates an immediate shift in circumstances and bolsters your goals and direction. Even if only one in ten unreasonable requests get granted, it will catalyze a new reality.

Lisa: I can’t say I still do this weekly. But you can bet that I return to this practice anytime I need to get out of a slump or to create something new. Now here’s the information referenced above from Chapter 4.

Making Requests

The types of requests I find make the biggest difference are not the “give me” kind, although sometimes you should ask for something you need. Most of the time, you will be requesting someone’s time, ideas, connections, counsel, projects, accommodations, mentoring, or participation. Here are a few examples of these requests:

  • Time: I am working on a project and would like to bounce a few ideas off you. May I buy you coffee one day this week so we can chat (or may I ask for thirty minutes of your time over the phone)?
  • Ideas or information: I would like to help improve the workplace and would like your ideas. I’m inviting a few people for a brown bag lunch brainstorming session. Can you attend?
  • Connections: I would like to build my online business. Can you suggest a few people I should get to know in this field?
  • Counseling and mentoring: You are one of the best in your field. Would you be willing to mentor me? Perhaps we could start with a thirty-minute phone conversation or chat over coffee?
  • Projects: I want to develop my skills in this area and would like to participate on the XYZ project because I think it would help me and I could contribute to the group’s success. I would lead the group if that’s preferable. Can you help me get on this project?
  • Accommodations: I am working on a goal important to me and that will make a big difference. Over the next month, I would like to change my schedule so the project will fit in. I have worked it out, so this change does not affect my other projects. Can I get your approval to: _____________?
  • Participation: I am working on a book called ________. I have attached the book proposal for your review. I have great respect for your work and would love to have you write the foreword.

Lisa: I realize your options and techniques might be different now as we go through this pandemic. Also, now that I’m older and more likely to be asked to mentor, I’d like to change my suggestion above. I don’t think that asking someone to be your mentor is the way to go because for the receiver it could feel LARGE. Yes, we’re talking about making big requests, but many people feel that being a mentor requires a lot of time. Start with a request to discuss something specific that the other person knows about and then see if you have chemistry and an interest in having another discussion.

The best requests are win-win. I have created new jobs for myself several times throughout my career and my employers accepted the ideas because I could explain how the changes would benefit the company. Requests are powerful and few people make enough of them. Two Weeks to a Breakthrough program participants often have trouble coming up with requests. But once they get started, their creative floodgates open and they never look back.

A request is a question. Questions elicit responses. Are you afraid of making requests because you might not like the answer? Do you feel uncomfortable responding to rejection? How you respond to yes, no, and maybe is important. Try this:

Request:… can I buy you coffee and pick your brain?

Their response: Yes.

Your response: Fabulous, thanks so much. What day and time work best for you?

 

Request:… can I buy you coffee and pick your brain?

Their response: No, I am sorry I don’t have the time.

Your response: No problem, thanks for considering. Is there a book or trade magazine that you would recommend I read to learn more about the field?

Their response: Sure, pick up…

Your response: Fabulous, thanks so much. I will check it out.

 

Request:… can I buy you coffee and pick your brain?

Their response: No, but I am speaking at the university next week if you want to check me out there.

Your response: That sounds perfect. How can I register?

Yes, no, and maybe are all good responses to requests. The better you respond to rejection, the more those rejections will morph into different possibilities! If they accept your request, show genuine appreciation and excitement. This will make people feel great about helping you. If someone does not accept your request, do not be disappointed and do not make them feel guilty. This keeps us from making future requests. Instead, thank the person for their consideration, and if appropriate, ask for an alternative suggestion. Your demeanor should be matter of fact and open.

Requests are not always successful. In fact, expect most requests to be rejected. But it makes an enormous difference when people agree to your request. Email questions to your favorite authors or business leaders. Attend author readings in your area. Attend free webinars that get your creative juices flowing. Get out there and get to know the people who can help you move your goal forward.

When I make unreasonable requests, I will often start with the following sentence: “Feel free to say no to this request. It’s no problem at all; I know you are very busy. That said, I would be thrilled if you said yes.” I mean every word of this. I do not expect people to agree to my requests, but they often do. I flap, they flap, and next thing you know, the forecast has changed.

Lisa: The flapping, here, is referring to the butterfly effect—that small directionally correct actions can make big things happen. I hope you make at least one unreasonable request this week.


Misadventure: Al Jarreau, No Money, Needing a Ride Home

This is a true story of a misadventure from 35 years ago that has impacted how I think about success today (in good and bad ways). In 2005, I attended an Al Jarreau concert. As I soaked in every word he sang, I remembered the night I was first introduced to his music. I was about 20 years old and in a pickle caused by my drunk roommate.

I was living in Florida at the time. My roommate and I went to a club to dance. We were both broke and nursed our drinks for hours. The drinking age was eighteen at that time. We went our separate ways in the club after a couple of hours. I preferred to be on my own and she was more of an extrovert. I got alarmed, however, when it I couldn’t find my roommate thirty minutes before closing time. I circled through the club several times, checked the lady’s room, and looked for her in the parking lot. She’d left - probably with the cutest-guy-in-the-world-du-jour.

The bad thing about this situation was that she had driven us to the club. And I didn’t have enough money for a cab. Ft. Myers didn’t have public transportation at this time, either. I was stranded well beyond walking distance to my apartment.

After brainstorming options, I knew I’d have to ask someone—a stranger, because I didn’t know anyone left at the club—for a ride home. I didn’t want to make a request that seemed like it was more than I intended (no quid pro quo, if you know what I mean).

I observed a well-dressed middle-aged man at the bar. He seemed poised, pleasant, and not yet drunk. My nerves made my face go flush as I walked up to him. He smiled, but it was a reserved smile like perhaps he was surprised I was approaching him (maybe he thought I was a prostitute?). I explained my situation as humbly as possible—party-animal roommate, no money, apartment across town—and told him I needed a ride. He was gracious, sweet, and agreed to help me out.

I worried that he might not be as nice as he seemed—people are often no what they seem—but didn’t have a Plan B. This happened before people had cell phones, so there was no way to call or text a friend or family member for help.

Unimaginable, I know!

We left the bar and walked through the thinning parking lot. The man pointed toward the passenger side of his car, which was a Mercedes two-seater convertible. He got in, unlocked the doors to let me in, started the car, and put down the top.

Remember, I was twenty. I was thinking what I now know are highly illogical thoughts like how even if this guy was a perv, it might be worth some trouble to get to hang out at the riverfront mansion I imagined he owned. The car was cherry, so it was reasonable to assume he owned an enormous house and boat. And maybe a helicopter.

As we got onto the parkway, he turned on the built-in cassette player (cassettes were hot then, having just replaced the 8-track player in cars). What did the man play?

Al Jarreau.

“Mornin'” and “Boogie Down” filled the air and my head with their complex and upbeat vibes. Fast car, cool breeze, and jazzy tunes. It was unlike anything I’d done or heard, and I was hooked.

The man didn’t say a word during the drive, although he smiled a few times when he noticed I was enjoying the music. I leaned back in the passenger's seat and soaked in the experience.

This was success.

As he reached my apartment parking lot, I thanked him, and we parted ways. I never knew his name, just that he was a gracious man who had impeccable taste.

Fast forward to today. When I need to feel successful or nudge myself out of a mental funk, I play jazzy tunes in my car, windows down, and let the breeze carry my hopes and intentions through my breath and body. And if I’m in a tough spot, I turn up the Al Jarreau. It works every time.

We all have metaphors for success—things, places, or situations emblematic of how we want to live. It’s helpful to reconnect with these experiences and explore why they resonate. I mentioned that this experience affected how I’ve thought about success in good and bad ways.

The good is obvious, I think. That music is evocative and can lift our moods and energy. The right song can make us smile.

The bad is likely obvious, too. That having a Mercedes and lots of money equals success. While this might be true for some, it depends on how we define success (an important topic for another day!).

At twenty, getting stuck at a bar because I didn’t have a car or enough money to call a cab shaped my view of the man’s success. He seemed to have it all, and I wanted a life like I imagined he lived. That’s the kicker, right? My imagination. All I saw was the outfit, the car, and the cassette tape. For all I knew, he might’ve been unhappy or lost. He was drinking alone. Or he might’ve been in town to close a lucrative new deal and was heading back to his blissful life on his private island.

I’ve written a lot about the power of small actions (the Butterfly Effect) and this is an excellent example of how a particular moment can reverberate in ways that change who we are, how we define success, and how we live.

We all play the role of Lisa-at-twenty at some point.

And we’re also the-man and have the privilege to transform how another person perceives their world.

I’m glad I experienced this mini-misadventure. Al Jarreau died in 2017, but he remains one of my favorite singers. “Mornin'” and “Boogie Down” are magical songs.


When to Sunset Goals and When to Expand Them

When should you let a goal go_

Last week, I asked my LinkedIn and Facebook connections to answer the following question:

When do you know (what are the signs) that a long-held life or career goal is obsolete (no longer relevant or possible or desired) and may, in-fact be what's holding you back?

Confession: While my intent was to get a variety of perspectives so that I could share them with you, I was also on a mission to understand this for myself because I'm at a crossroad in my career and life.

The responses were thought-provoking! Here are a few key themes:

  • Does the goal/project/desired outcome energize or drain you? If drain and if you find yourself resisting doing the work that supports the goal, it might be time to question its relevance.
  • The energy shifts – what people pull into or push away from changes (think working from home post-covid).
  • When your purpose shifts and a higher calling reveals itself to you.
  • When I get an even bigger idea!
  • Life is trial and error. We try a lot of approaches before we find what works best. When something is working, we might need to let other, less aligned goals go.
  • Sometimes after doing something for a while, you may feel like you’re done and ready to move on.
  • Sometimes stuff happens to force us to move on and create new goals – work changes, health changes, family changes.
  • We realize the reason we set a goal was hollow – based on what we thought we should do versus what we really wanted to do.
  • When we realize that the time or opportunity window has closed, or that we’ve not demonstrated real/true/visible/tangible commitment for completing the goal

That's a meaty list of considerations and I'm thankful for the input I received. Which of these resonate for you?

I’ve decided to put everything I’m currently working toward through the energy question:

Does thinking about it or working on it drain or energize me?

It’s a tough one because, if I’m honest, over half of my current goals will fail this test. I shouldn't say fail, because that's not accurate. Most would end up in the column headed, DRAINS ME.

And then if use some of these other considerations, I should get a pretty good idea of the goals I should sunset and which I should expand.

Such a useful tool!  And important work if we want to live a more misadventurous life, don’t you agree?


Celebrate Well

Have a fun and safe July 4th

There's a lot going on and much to consider. Safeness and the covid-19 pandemic, our role in community activism, 4th of July celebrations with restrictions (and maybe frightened pets and wildlife), and the upcoming elections. Let's play full out safely with kindness and compassion to make this a better world for everyone.