4 Goals For The Next 12 Weeks

This morning during my meditation, I was forced to confront the fact that my project has slowed down. (Who am I kidding? It has come to a halt. Not a screeching halt. Just a quiet, rubbery thud of a halt. Which is the worst kind: a thud can go unnoticed, but a screech gets your attention.

Ever since I took those 12 people through the exercises in the book to see if they really worked, I never got back to it.

I let the fire go out. Okay, not entirely. There is still a soft bed of glowing ash that could easily be coaxed back to a roaring blaze with a few pumps of a bellows, but I need to blow on that sucker!  I need to get back to it and finish it, and SHIP IT

It is all sitting in Scrivener but it is a holy mess. I keep wondering if I should take the time and go back to the LearnScrivenerFast videos and figure out how to bring this beast of a manuscript into some kind of order? Or is that just a procrastination project?

Am I just using Scrivener to distract myself from the discomfort of having to deal with an unwieldy piece of writing?

Or,  would time spent reacquainting myself with some of the features of Scrivener be time well invested because I would then have mastery over this amazing piece of writing software for the duration of my writing career? (i.e. the rest of my life.)

So I sat on my chair with my Insight Timer on my lap, and quote, unquote “meditated.”

I watched the panic surge up. I watched my confusion. I focused on the sound of the space heater’s fan, my own breathing, and the high-pitched tone of my tinnitis.

When the gong sounded, I slowly opened my eyes and the first thing I noticed was the pile of Pick 4 books on the bed.

I had gotten them out thinking I would send one to my new health coaching client, but as it turns out, I am not going to be working with her after all.

This Pick 4 book is a “goal setting” tool. I bought these for myself, but also to give to my clients at the recommendation of Seth Godin, who re-packaged this Zig Ziglar piece of magic, and wrote a new introductory  “reframe” for it. I tried it myself way back when, and although I had high hopes, I never kept up with it.

Today though, it gave me a mega-jolt of inspiration.

So I sat down and recommitted to 4 new goals for the next 12 weeks:

Number 1: Finish and Ship this book.

Number 2: Become an expert in Scrivener.

Number 3: Get really, really, really strong. 

Number 4: Express gratitude daily.

Every morning, Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 9 AM: Work on the book.

I will work on Scrivener on the weekends.

I will talk to Vince on Tuesday and we will set some SMART goals for the next 12 weeks of strength training.

And I have hatched a Thank-you note scheme for my loyal yoga students to fulfill the Gratitude goal.

I worked a long time in Scrivener today, and now it is time for bed because my 12 week plan starts tomorrow.

Wish me luck.

Rich in Friends

Right after I posted last night, G sat me down and said,” Look. Nobody is paid what they’re worth. Nobody. Who could afford to pay either of us what we are truly worth?  We are Linchpins.  We don’t work for money anyway. We express ourselves authentically in the world. We never look at the “job description” and keep ourselves in line with that. We serve. We have a work ethic that says, in effect, “Do the best work you possibly can.” So don’t worry about money, Kath. Just keep doing what you are doing, because what else CAN you do?”

And she was right. And she made me feel so much better.

Right before I shut down for the night, I saw that an email had come in from my dear friend Zee with the subject line: “About Money.”

Here’s what she wrote:

Sweet friend, it really is NOT about money! For this lifetime you have been given the gift of love, of adoration, by people who value YOU and don’t put a price tag on your contributions, which are too numerous to even mention. It’s like having sponsors, benefactors…. You are the one who makes life an art, so you are the sponsored artist. Michelangelo? Embrace the gifts dear friend. You deserve them. You don’t have to earn them.
Love, zee

My heart broke open.

I am rich in my friends. I am rich in my relationships. I am rich beyond bank accounts and bottom lines.

How do I let myself get so turned around about all this money stuff? Sheesh.

Today we finished up my taxes and now I am ready for the accountant.

It’s all good.

It really is.

To Sit Down, Think Clearly, And Execute Your Ideas

Quote from novelist Ayn Rand.

Image via Wikipedia

Today there was this thing by The Onion called “The Last American Who Knew What The Fuck He Was Doing Dies.”  

Although The Onion is devoted to satire, this little piece wasn’t really satiric. It was supposed to be, I’m sure, but it sounded like hard reality.

What it said that resonated for me was that Jobs was the last American who was able to 1. Sit down. 2. Think clearly and 3. Execute his ideas.

At the beginning of the summer I made this rather ambitious reading list, and wound up reading virtually nothing on it. Instead, for some reason, I decided to read Ayn Rand,. (Even though I was  a Lit major in college, I had never read Rand.)

I started with Atlas Shrugged and then went immediately into The Fountainhead.  Everyone I know was appalled that I was wasting my time reading Rand in the first place, and then doubly appalled that that I was actually enjoying her.

Nobody, and I mean none of my peers approved of Rand. But I loved her. (And I still do.) I know I probably shouldn’t love her, because I am a flaming liberal who doesn’t believe that (gravity notwithstanding), nothing really trickles down from the pockets of the rich.

What I do not understand is how Rand became the darling of the Tea Partiers and all the political groups that I find totally repugnant.  I think a lot of people misinterpret her.

The whole time I was reading Atlas, all I could think of was Steve Jobs as the present day embodiment of the Randian hero.

Steve Jobs is Dagny Taggart, Hank Reardon, John Galt and Howard Roark all wrapped into one. Steve Jobs is to Apple computers what Dagny Taggart was to Taggart Transcontinental, what Hank Reardon was to Reardon Metal, and what Howard Roark was to the whole field of architecture.

What Jobs had in common with all of Rand’s heros is that he was passionate about, and lived and breathed his work. His work was who he was, his identity. He wasn’t in it just for the money (but he made a lot of it). He didn’t give his money away, either, nor did he apologize for making a lot of it (And this is where a lot of liberals part ways with Rand, and where Jobs, too, finds his critics.)

USA Today, in its first piece on Jobs’ death, called him “mercurial” and said he could be merciless on people he didn’t think were doing their jobs, not simply firing them, but railing and ranting at them, cursing them out. My guess is he probably could not bear to see incompetence or laziness in any form.

He worked for what he earned. And his work was pure and noble and innovative. He did it for its own sake. His work and his life were the same thing. That’s what it means to live in integrity: think, feel, say, do–all the same thing.  The creative process drove him. It was his prime motivator. In that, he was just like Dagny Taggart and and Hank Reardon and Howard Roark.

He was clean. He wasn’t a fake or a hack. He earned it.  He wasn’t a second-hander. He wasn’t a parasite.  He never had his hand out, but offered the fruits of his work for the betterment of his consumers.  Without him we would still, to this day, be playing with sticks and abacuses and adjusting the vertical holds on our tv antennas instead of storing our music in the Cloud.

So when I read that Onion piece, it really reminded me of the three things I admire and strive for in my own work.  First, the ability to sit down.  Sitting  down in this context implies clearing the slate for creative work.  Jobs was a Buddhist. He probably knew something about the power of “taking one’s seat” and being quiet, and letting the mind settle into its innate freedom.

He also knew how to “think clearly.”  A unique skill in itself.  A skill that needs to be cultivated and honed over years and decades.  Mostly in silence. Like practicing any art.

And finally, and most importantly for me, he knew how to execute. Or as Seth Godin would say, he knew how to “Ship.”  Unless your ideas can be birthed into the world, they lie stillborn inside you, rotting, and putrifying your system.

I wanted Steve Jobs to live for a long time because I wanted to watch and learn from him.  I wanted to see what kind of rabbit he would pull out of his hat next. It is sad that one of the only true innovators of our time had to die so young.

As another quote I read today said: “Heaven just got a little more sleek, well-designed and profitable.”

Indeed.

RIP, Steve Jobs.  I, and the world, will miss you.

And It’s All Seth Godin’s Fault

I had a “customer service moment” in Wegman’s today.

I love Wegman’s, I really do (I can see Catherine waving and jumping up and down, yelling “Me too!” all the way from Iowa. Hi Catherine!)

Love the produce, the fish, the beer aisle(s) !!

Love the magazine section, love Nature’s Marketplace.  Love the cafe.  I even love the bathroom where there is usually a vase of fresh flowers near the sinks.

But the coffee kiosk???  Not such a fan.

My standing order is: soy latte, hold the foam.  Not a complicated order, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve gotten half a cup of foam.

Sometimes, when the baristas –I even hesitate to call them by that honorific since they don’t have much, if any, “skillzzzz” but are merely java jockeys), are being slammed, I just take my half cup of foam and walk off  and sulk in the broccoli aisle.

But today, today was different.  Today the store was quiet (10 AM on a Thursday) and there was no line.  I was “it,” the only customer for miles.

I was happy, in a good mood. I asked her to hold back the foam, and when she started to pour the pitcher of soy milk into the shot with no hold-back, I stopped her and reminded her, “Please hold back the foam.”  She gave me a look and a sneer and said, “That’s how we make them here!”

I picked up the cup, and yup, it was light. Half foam.

Me: “Could you just take a spoon and scoop off the foam and give me what’s left of the soymilk in the pitcher?”

“Fine!” she huffed, and proceeded to make me another drink.  She slammed the fridge door closed, sloshed the soy milk into the pitcher, shoved it under the wand, and then proceeded to hold back the raging river of foam with a teaspoon, which was completely ineffectual.

Result?  Same drink, except this one had a lot of added venom (on the house).

(Nice.)

She plopped it down as if to say, “Here.  You happy now, bitch?”

I said nothing, but craned to look at her name tag which was attached to her hat. She saw me and pointed to it and said, “Yeah, it’s Roxanna!”

(All righty then.)

I talked to a manager on my way out.  Told him the whole sad story of Roxanna and her snippy attitude and her inability and unwillingness to hold back foam.

I told him she didn’t fit in with the whole Wegman’s experience of the happy fish guy and the woman who goes out of her way to find me the goji berries. She doesn’t fit in with the flowers in the bathroom and Cathy, the checker who can pack a bag so expertly that it looks like Rubic’s cube of geometric symmetry. And on top of that, she always smiles and talks to me like I’m a person. (Amazing.)

Ever since I’ve been reading Seth Godin and Chris Brogan and all the other gurus of the new business paradigm, I am less tolerant of businesses that have mediocre or, (godforbid) downright bad customer service.

Businesses like Amazon and Zappos and L.LBean and a host of others have spoiled me (and a lot of other “me-like” people out there) and we know we don’t have to put up with the likes of Roxanna any more.

I told the manager at Wegman’s that I will just get my no-foam soy latte at The Soulful Cup next time so as not to have to have my perfect Wegman’s shopping experience sullied by the likes of the Evil Roxanna.  (I didn’t call her that.)

He said he was really sorry.  He asked me to wait a few weeks and then try the kiosk again, and if I still had a problem to come see him (his name is Steve).  He gave me a $7 gift card to treat myself to a coffee on the store.

Now that’s the Wegman’s I know and love.

And PS.

Roxanna? Honey? I think you might be going back to the stock room.  Where you belong.

Watching Bodies at the Beach

Today it’s 100 degrees at the beach and there are thousands of bodies parading around in front of me wearing next to nothing.  It’s a good day to watch bodies.

I read a stat recently that said that 60% of Americans are overweight.  From my beach chair vantage, I’d say that’s about right.

The people who stand out, the ones who are “remarkable” (see Seth Godin on this), are the ones who are NOT overweight.  And among this subset of the population, I’ve been making a further distinction between “thin” and “fit.”  (That’s because I’ve been working out with Tim, so I’m newly attuned to the concept of “fit.”)

Fit bodies are ones that are clearly being “used.”  They do work. They lift things and work their musculoskeletal systems and this makes their muscles clearly visible, clearly defined.

Here is a “thin” body:

skinny notfit

Here are some “fit” ones:

skinny fit3

See what I mean?

So from my vantage point on the beach I am now just looking for the fit ones because there are very few of those!  When they do walk by I have this irresistible urge to follow them and watch what they do, and how they live, and learn their habits, and what they eat, and how they manage to fit exercise into their day, because clearly they do fit it in.

There are very few fit bodies here today (including mine).

So, if you want to be remarkable, become fit.