Monday, December 29, 2014

Relationships are all there is

This weeks sparkenation.

People are the solution to the problems that confront us. Technology is not the solution, although it can help. We are the solution -- we as generous, open-hearted people who want to use our creativity and caring on behalf of other human beings and all life.

Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals who can go it alone.

We humans want to be together. We only isolate ourselves when we're hurt by others, but alone is not our natural state. Today, we live in an unnatural state -- separating ourselves rather than being together.

We become hopeful when somebody tells the truth. I don't know why this is, but I experience it often. Truly connecting with another human gives us joy. The circumstances that create this connection don't matter. Even those who work side by side in the worst natural disaster or crisis recall that experience as memorable. They are surprised to feel joy in the midst of tragedy, but they always do.

We have to slow down. Nothing will change for the better until we do. We need time to think, to learn, to get to know each other. We are losing these great human capacities in the speed-up of modern life, and it is killing us.

The cure for despair is not hope. It is discovering what we want to do about something we care about.

From the book ‘Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future’ by Margaret Wheatley.

Be remarkable.

More sparkenations here where you can also download all 52 of this years sparkenations in the one ebook.

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's what we give every day that really matters

This weeks sparkenation.

The following words in Paul McGee's latest newsletter got me thinking

"Whatever your reason for the season it's worth remembering this:

True fulfilment in life comes from experiencing the most joys, not acquiring the most toys."

I admit to not being all that fond of Christmas. This stems in part from being born on Christmas Eve. The only thing worse would be being born on Christmas Day! Us Christmas children get over it of course when we get that it's not about us!

My annoyance is more about the focus on giving (or is it the focus on receiving) once a year.

To me it's what we give every day that really matters.

Whatever your reason for the season I wish you well. More I wish you the joy that comes from giving every day. 

And I wish that you will give to others every day in 2015 your greatest gift, that of living the best one-of-a-kind life that you can live.

Be remarkable.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Hedonist’s Guide To Getting Things Done: Goal Setting Made Easy

Most goal-setting programs are hard. The system might sound easy, but achieving the goals is difficult. It usually takes discipline, willpower, a strong mindset, hard work, sacrifice and struggle.

No wonder most people fail at their goals or New Year's Resolutions!

I've got a different approach to goal setting: This year, choose, plan and achieve goals that bring you joy, ease and happiness - not only when you achieve them, but along the way as well.

Now I know this flies in the face of many (most?) goal-setting programs! So be warned that what I'm going to share here might be controversial, confronting or conflicting with other advice you've seen. But hey - if you do embrace my advice, you will enjoy the next twelve months. So what have you got to lose?

The title of this article is tongue in cheek. A hedonist is purely motivated by pleasure, perhaps even selfish pleasure. I'm not suggesting that's appropriate as a way of life. But I do think we spend way too much time in our life doing things we don't want, that we're not good at, with people we don't like, and without getting any reward. Why not do something different this year?

Heck, there'll be plenty of times when life isn't perfect. Sure, you might get stuck in traffic, fight with your partner, struggle getting the kids to sleep, do work that you don't want to do just because it's in your job description, or force yourself to be more disciplined at work. But those things are going to happen anyway. Why would you deliberately schedule more of those things in your goal setting as well?

So do yourself a favour when you're setting your goals for the year: Don't create goals and activities that involve struggle, complication, hardship and sacrifice. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, especially if you've done other goal-setting programs. But hang in there - I'll explain ...

I've got ten guidelines here, broken down into three areas: Choosing the right goals (4 guidelines), planning (3) and taking action (3).


1. Do what you love

It's surprising how many people set a goal because they think they “should” do it, or they “need” to do it, or somebody else wants it for them. Those goals are the first to go when life gets in the way.

So only choose goals that you want to achieve. In fact, I'll go a step further and say you should only choose goals that you will love to achieve. This isn't about being selfish; it's about choosing wisely.

2. Love who you'll be

Think carefully: Are you going to be happy - truly happy - with the person you're going to become if you do achieve your goals?

If you get that big promotion, will you be OK spending more time away from your spouse and kids? If you go on that carrot juice diet and lose 20 kilos, can you tolerate having to gaze longingly and wistfully at chocolate cake from now until the end of your life? If you get all those business travel opportunities, can you cope with spending wasted hours in airports, taxi queues and hotel rooms?

Be sure you're willing to accept all the consequences of achieving your goal.

3. Think big

Most people don't fail because their goals are too big; they fail because their goals are too small. Those goals are easily forgotten or tossed aside when something bigger comes along. So make sure you set big - but achievable - goals.

As Jonathon Kozol says, “Pick battles big enough to matter; small enough to win”.

4. Know the reason why

It's not the “what” and “how” of a goal that motivates you; it's the “why”. Sometimes you'll end up with something that wasn't exactly what you imagined, but it still achieves the same result.


5. Love what you do

Plan to enjoy the journey. If it takes willpower, discipline or sacrifice to achieve your goal, it's harder to do and easier to slip up. Instead, make it fun!

It's no fun to crawling out of bed an hour early to exercise, but perhaps you can make it fun by exercising with a friend, so you make it a social event as well.

It's no fun to set aside 10% of your income for wealth creation, but what if you also set aside another 10% as “play money”, to be spent on fun and frivolity?

It's no fun to call past customers to bring them back into your fold, but what if you invited them to a cocktail party instead?

6. Hang out with people you like

Life's too short to spend with people you don't like, love, inspire or are inspired by.

Decide who you want to spend more time with this year, and make sure they're part of your journey. They don't have to be actively involved in helping you achieve your goals - although that's a bonus. But make sure they're around. And be especially sure you don't neglect them while achieving your goals.

7. Get help

Whatever your goals, there's a good chance somebody else has already achieved them. So find the right mentors and ask for their help. You might have to pay, or you might not. Either way, it's the best way to fast-track your success.


8. Start before you're ready

You won't have all your preparation complete. You won't know exactly what path to follow. There's always a reason not to start today. But if you're waiting for the perfect moment to get started, you'll be waiting a long time. The perfect moment is now.

9. Take a big step first

A rocket uses most of its fuel in escaping the Earth's atmosphere. After that, it takes very little energy to keep going.

Many of your goals - especially the biggest and most important goals - are similar. Don't start with baby steps; start with massive strides. The good news is that often just a few strides can make a big difference, and then everything else is easy.

Obviously I'm not suggesting you do dangerous things, like suddenly taking up squash if you're unfit. But if it's OK to start walking for 30 minutes a day, start walking. Don't “build up to it” with unnecessary little steps - e.g. buying new sneakers, starting a journal to record your progress, telling all your Facebook friends, shopping for a new T-shirt to celebrate the start of the journey, and plotting the optimal walking route for different weather conditions. Sure, these small steps are easy, but it's the first big step (literally in this case) that matters.

10. Do something every day

Do something towards at least one of your goals every day. After all, why wouldn't you? These activities are fun, not a burden or a chore. So, in addition to working towards your goals, you're adding some fun and enjoyment to every day of your life!

More importantly, at the end of the year, you will have taken 365 steps - enjoyable steps - towards achieving your goals. That's 365 more than the average person.

So that's it. Those are my ten guidelines for easy goal setting.

Good luck, and I wish you all the best for making 2012 the best year of your life.

Monday, December 15, 2014

What are you doing that's better, different, or more unique than anybody else?

This weeks sparkenation.

Remarkable is the new normal. Great is no longer good enough. Ordinary is your enemy.

In modern business in order to boom and never bust you must be remarkable in 7 areas:

Disrupting yourself.
Differentiation: what your people do that others do, just better, differently or more uniquely.
Discovery: ensuring your people know their gifts/talents and how you are helping them to enhance them.
Drive: helping your people achieve what is important to them and meeting their intrinsic motivators.
Delivery: how you create, capture and deliver value to all your stakeholders that they demand, desire, and feel that they deserve.
Distinction: the ways the experience of your customers/clients online and in-person makes you stand out from the rest.
Differencemaking: the human problems your business solves.

Often it's the little things that turn ordinary into remarkable.

This week I went for a coffee with a client of mine in Warrnambool in Western Victoria, Australia. We walked past several coffee shops to get to his favourite one.

No-one carries a card to be clipped and eventually get a free coffee here. All the customers know where their card is on the walls, point them out, and the Barista ticks them off. I actually felt the sense of belonging regular customers have. This is the significance of small, a little thing making a big difference. And the coffee and the service were exceptional too.

What are you doing that's better, different, or more unique than anybody else?

Differentiation is just one area you need to be remarkable in.
How remarkable are you in the seven areas?

Go to my website here and scroll down to the bottom of the page and you'll see the diagnostic below.

Follow the instructions on my web page and I'll be in touch with you to arrange a complimentary high value briefing. It's my gift to you to help you to ensure that 2015 is your best year yet.

Be remarkable.

More sparkenations here.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

To be or not to be? really is the question

This Sunday's sparkenation and also the seventh and final in a series this week on my personal blog. You can check out the previous six here.

My wife's passion for and involvement over many years in the theatre meant a pilgrimage some years back to the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

On our pilgrimage I bought a fridge magnet that holds pride of place on my office whiteboard.

“To be or not to be” really is the question.

And “This above all. To thine own self be true.” really is the answer.

Being there with you as you discover and decide what these profound statements mean for you and how you will act on them in your life and work is the reason I get up every morning.

I'm not for everyone of course. My candidness scares lots of people. Others find it like a burst of refreshing cold air on a muggy summers night. My best friend, who with his partner was with us when we bought the magnet above, died on the 25th May 2011. I promised him that I would never die wondering what might be.

Until midnight tonight Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time December 7th, I'm offering here a very special offer for individual membership of my Maverick Thinkers Studio.

To check out what's inside my studio join me for the final group tour of my studio for this year. It's on at 6.30 pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time today December 7th. Please email to get the link.

Be remarkable.

More sparkenations here.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How To Write the About Page For Your Web Site

How To Write the About Page For Your Web SiteThe "About Us" (or "About Me", or "Biography", or "The Team", or whatever you choose to call it) page of your Web site is important, because people want to know they are dealing with real people - not just a cold, unfriendly online presence. But many Web site owners struggle with this page, so it tends to end up as a bland list of qualifications or an uninteresting history of the team members.

If you're finding it a challenge to write this page, use my "Four E's" formula to help get your ideas in order.

(Note: If you have a team, you'll have to decide whether you should do this for each of your team members or for the team as a whole. Either option can work, and one will be better than the other for your organisation.)


You don’t choose an expert on price (If you require a heart transplant, you don’t say “Get me the cheapest heart surgeon”). Promoting yourself as an expert allows you to charge higher fees; focus on clients’ problems, not your services; and positions you as a trusted adviser, not a slick salesperson.

So don’t be shy about positioning yourself as an expert, and describing your expertise – right at the top of your profile.


Expertise is about what you know; experience is about numbers that add to your expertise. For example, you might talk about the number of years you've been in business, the number of clients you've worked with, the number of countries where you have clients, the number of projects you've done over the years, the number of audience members who have heard your presentations, and so on.

Focus on experience that's relevant to your site visitors. If you're a professional speaker, for example, the number of audience members you've reached might be significant, but the number of words in your book is not!


Describe your educational qualifications - both formal education and professional qualifications. Again, only include it if it’s relevant for clients.

A long list of qualifications doesn't automatically add credibility. So again, be careful to only include what's relevant.

Also be careful not too appear too qualified, because that can sometimes be a disadvantage. For example, saying you have a Ph.D. can sometimes work against you because you might be perceived (wrongly, of course!) as too formal and academic.


Finally, if you have some high-profile endorsements from respected authorities, industry or general publications, or other places, include them here. For example, when Forbes magazine listed me as its #5 social media influencer in the world in my area of expertise, I used that endorsement everywhere!

Use the Four E'S as a starting point.

I hope you'll find this formula useful for starting your About page. You don't necessarily have to follow this formula exactly, of course. But if you're stuck or struggling to get started, it's an easy way to write something first, and then you can work on refining it later.