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Work (58 posts)
This 1972 video of astronauts joking around on the moon has been making the rounds lately, and I don't know about you but I've watched it approximately 800 times. Hard to believe, but this was the last time Americans walked on the moon (and does it blow anyone else's mind that we could send people to the moon before there were even, like, iPhones?!). Anyway, here they are, Harrison 'Jack' Schmitt and Eugene Cernan, hard at work:
Listen to that sheer joy. Look at that light-footed skipping around! When was the last time you saw grown men singing and dancing and bopping like that? At work, no less? I know we're not all walking on the moon, but we can all embody a little bit of this playfulness. Go on, skip to the copier: "In the merry, merry month of...February!"
Rethink Your Career
Part of the reason is, actually, ironically, the deep satisfaction of crossing off finish tasks. As the article puts it, "It’s too easy to get that smaller thing crossed off first... When smaller things are too easy to get done, smaller, less important things are all you will get done." And then, horror of horrors, you're not controlling the list—the list is controlling you. That's a definite to-don't.
It makes sense when you think about it: When you're in the midst of a longer, more complicated project, it's easy to get lost and lose perspective, but a done list helps you to stay focused on the long view, and to celebrate your accomplishments as you go. Personally, I will still always need a to-do list just so I don't forgot what the heck I'm supposed to do next, but I love the idea of adding a done list to, and will be sure to add "make a done list" to my to do list. Read the article to find out more about how Done lists can help you to be more productive.
Getting Rid of Your Mental Lint
The Magic List That Gets You What You Want
Husband: "Sports-related thing!"
Husband (with feeling): "SPORTS-RELATED THING!"
Wife: "Yes, you're absolutely right. "
Husband: "No...Sports! Related! Thing!?!"
Lately though, he's been telling me about a story that really captured my imagination -- along with the rest of the world's. Jeremy Lin, as every sports fan knows (and every spouse of a sports fan has a vague awareness of), has in the past few weeks gone from being an unknown bench player who was sleeping on his brother's couch to being the subject of ecstatic, punning headlines on every sports page everywhere. (LINSANITY!) When several of the Knicks' main players had to sit out with injuries, recent Harvard grad Lin was called up to play. What resulted was a five-game (so far) winning streak, ecstatic fan freak-outs, an increased interest in the usually uninspiring New York Knicks, and a flurry of editorials on how Lin's emergence will change the world of race in sports.
I love what Jay Caspian Kang wrote for Grantland: "Then there's this very sappy reason for why Linsanity has taken off in New York: Basketball is at its best when five guys who love to play with one another outhustle and outplay a more talented opponent...The Linsanity Knicks run hard, play unselfishly, chest-bump, and play with a swagger that has nothing to do with the other team." In other words, here are people working hard, playing together, and having fun. Isn't that what sports should be all about? Or, for that matter, life? (Read Kang's whole piece for a cogent analysis of what makes this player great.)
What really inspires about the Lin story—uh, Linspires?—is the idea that someone's prodigious talents can be quietly overlooked for years, and that if he keeps working hard and doing what he loves, something good will come of it. He might just even school a group of sweaty millionaires in the true meaning of teamwork.
A Tiny Moment of Awe: The Women's World Cup
The Spirit of Olympics and Your Own Path to Victory
Why she went into the beauty business: We needed to buy a new engine for our van. I'd been making soap for our family and friends, so I decided to make some extra and sell it to raise money.
When she realized they'd be able to pay for the engine...and then some: We had so many orders that we were regularly eating dinner on the kitchen floor because the table was piled high with soap. Within several months, I told my husband either I'd have to scale back the business or he'd have to quit his job to help full-time. We decided to take the leap.
Rachel Chong has an interesting piece at co.EXIST about volunteerism, and the quandary of how to make it relevant to people. Chong points out that most volunteer opportunities involve things like painting houses and serving food, but these activities don't play to most American's professional skills. In other words, if you're an accountant, why not devote a few hours not to ladling soup but to offering pro bono accounting work for your local shelter? As Chong writes, "When volunteering doesn’t result in an impactful outcome, people volunteer halfheartedly or they don’t volunteer at all." Sharing your professional skills can not only be more helpful, will probably be more satisfying to you as well. Since MLK Day has been designated a national day of service, there's no time like now to start. Read Rachel Chong's piece to learn about how her organization, Catchafire, can help you to help others —their website can match you with pro bono opportunities that match your skill set in a manner of minutes.
Ways for Kids to Volunteer
How to Be a Hero in Hard Times
What Kind of Volunteer Are You?
Maybe we felt this way because we weren’t, exactly. When we
left the office building, we’d discuss work issues--and bring up off-topic ideas, trade workplace
gossip, wonder aloud about ideas that we were afraid were a little too
off-kilter to bring up in a company-wide meeting but that we wanted to bounce
off each other. According to Fast Company’s Kevin Purdy, we may just have been
doing some of our best work of all, there over our skim lattes.
Salon has a great user-generated series right now called “My Brilliant Second Career,” the latest installment of which is Katie McCaskey’s fascinating essay “We Never Thought We’d Be Grocers.” McCaskey tells the surprisingly suspenseful story of how she and her husband lost their jobs, left New York City, and, through many twists and turns, started a grocery store in small-town Virginia. Her story appeals to the “chucking it all” fantasy many of us harbor, while providing just enough realism – investor drama! No heat in the winter! – to avoid romanticizing the life of the small business owner. But in the end, McCaskey writes that starting the grocery store, which has become a kind of community center, "taught me a great deal about community. Specifically, how tightly connected we are, economically and emotionally." (Read McCaskey's essay to find out what feta cheese had to do with this life-changing adventure. )
For this couple, starting a small business not only revitalized their own careers, but also an entire town. As McCaskey put it, “George has taught me how much I value living in a walkable city where my economic efforts directly impact the health and happiness of my neighbors. It’s a role I didn’t imagine but have grown to love.” Maybe we won't really miss those retirement parties after all.
Check out the entire "My Brilliant Second Career" series -- they are as fascinating as they are hope-inspiring.
5 People Who Switched Careers
It's Never Too Late to Find Your Calling
That's why I'm glad to have come across these 17 Ways to Persuade People. The advice is meant for people in marketing, but I think it applies to the rest of us too, whether our intended audience is the PTA board or a group of coworkers or a toddler who doesn't believe in eating food.
The whole article offers some great ideas, but here were the tips I thought were most interesting:
"Emphasizing the positive can be more persuasive than pointing out the negative." This seems to apply to pretty much every arena of life. So less, "You putting on your shoes and then taking them off and them putting them on again is making us so late," and more, "I bet you could put on those shoes even faster!"
"Story beats data." Yes, I know this already. Cautionary tales about a little girl who refuses to bathe until trees start growing out of the dirt on her skin have been much more successful than saying, for example, "People have to bathe."
"If something happens often enough, you will eventually be persuaded." Which is why I keep putting those things called vegetables on my kid's dinner plate!
Whatever you plan to use your new found powers for, read the whole article for the secrets of persuasion, including the fascinating phenomenon called "The Sullivan Nod."
Read more on getting your point across:
Dr Phil's Rules for Talking and Listening
What Oprah knows for sure about communicating
Fear of failure is the theme of the Stockholm Berghs School of Communication's student work exhibition, and in honor of this some respected creative types have shared their thoughts on the value of failure. Brainpickings has a wonderful roundup of videos of these writers, artists, and designers talking about the nobility of failure and what they have learned from their own various failings. I love this one, in which designer Milton Glaser says, "Genius occurs very rarely. So the real embarrassing issue about failure is your own acknowledgement that you’re not a genius, that you’re not as good as you thought you were. [...] There’s only one solution: You must embrace failure. You must admit what is. You must find out what you’re capable of doing, and what you’re not capable of doing." When you're trying to be creative, when you're trying to do anything at all, it's easy to say, "Well, I'm just not good at that so I won't even try," but as we're always telling our kids, how do you know if you don't at least try?
(Watch the entire video, and many more, over at Brainpickings and the exhibition site.)
More on the upside of failure:
3 successes in life only failure can give you
Turn a failure into a success