Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another Coach's Ideas on Curing Procrastination

I've written a number of posts that list ways to control procrastination. You can find them easily by clicking "procrastination" in this blog's tag cloud.

The following list was written by someone else, Kathleen Nadeau. It contains some different ideas, which make sense to me. To read her list, click HERE.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Having a Long-Term Vision

I invite you to take an hour to write a long-term vision: what you'd like your life to look like decades from now.

I did that yesterday. In deciding whether you want to do that, it might be helpful if I shared what I learned from doing it:
  • I'm getting a little tired of trying to make a difference. I think back especially on the work I've done with the "at-risk," and the money I've donated to charity, and while perhaps I made a difference, it feels too insignificant or impalpable for altruism to motivate me as much in the future. Similarly, I've made efforts to further unpopular causes I believe in: men's and boy's issues, that higher education is overrated, and a truly honest conversation about race. All I've derived has been opprobrium.
The insignificance of my altruistic efforts is amplified when I remind myself that in 2011, I will be but one of seven billion people on the planet, our lifetime is but a blink in time's procession from the Big Bang to the infinite future, and Earth is but one planet in a universe of infinite size and thus likely containing other civilized planets.

When I've written such thoughts in the past, readers responded by encouraging me to believe in God but I cannot believe in a God who would not stop billions of people, including infants, from dying of excruciating diseases.

So in the future, in deciding whether to take on an altruistic task, I may give greater weight to how pleasant the task will be. For example, I enjoy writing, and coaching smart, kind, willing learners on things practical: for example, career, interpersonal communication, public speaking, investments, parenting, romantic relationships, acting, and getting a good deal on purchases.
  • I'm tired of trying to fit in. I am a misfit: too intense, too goal-oriented rather than relationship-oriented, and I too often anger people. Except for brief, kind conversations--especially those in which I can solve someone's problem--I'm probably best off doing solo activities: writing, talking on the radio, and taking walks with my dog Einstein. (His name is false advertising: He's dumb as dirt but as sweet as they come.) UPDATE: A day after writing this, I'm finding myself wanting to reach out to people. Hmm. The results of doing the long-term vision exercise may not be so obvious nor so immediate.
  • If I get too old to live in my own home even with an in-home caretaker (hopefully that won't be for another two or even three decades,) I won't insist on living there until I die. I'll gratefully move to a modest but humane assisted-living facility and, if necessary, a nursing home.
Despite this narrative's soberness, if you'd like to know the procedure I used in writing my long-term vision, here it is:

1. I wrote a description of my present life: career, relationships, money, health, and spirituality (secular humanism.)

2. In each of those areas, I asked myself what I'd like to be different 20 years from now. I wrote quite-feasible-to-achieve goals but you may wish to aim for loftier ones. Many people are more motivated by ambitious goals and enjoy the process of trying to achieve those goals, even if they never get accomplished.

3. I asked myself, "What do I want to do differently today in light of my long-term vision? The answers are the first two bulleted items above.

Note: I wrote my statement of present life and vision for the future quite quickly, then went back to edit it. Then I put it aside for a couple of hours and re-edited.

If you write your long-term vision, feel free, on this blog, to post a comment describing what you learned from the exercise.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"The Sexiest Man Alive:" A play about a couple with mismatched sex drives

I've just completed writing a play, The Sexiest Man Alive, which explores a couple's attempt to deal with mismatched sex drives and other compatibilities.

Your feedback is welcome. Read it by clicking HERE. Or if you prefer to read a fully formatted version, email me and I'll send it to you as a Microsoft Word attachment. My email address is

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Job Stimulus Plan: How to Grow a New Army of Ethical Entrepreneurs

With unemployment and underemployment so high, there's a temptation to provide quick fixes for creating jobs. And those may indeed be necessary for political as well as practical reasons, but the most potent approach requires time.

If President Obama were to ask me for recommendations on how to create jobs, #1 on my list would be to grow a new army of ethical entrepreneurs. In this article, I present the blueprint for doing so.

First, the definition:What is an ethical entrepreneur?An ethical entrepreneur:
  • has the antennae to smell out opportunities for ethical, valuable new products and services that could be provided by a company.
  • the power to persuade the boss, investors, the government, or a nonprofit to invest in the creation and dissemination of the product or service.
  • will only start a business that's profitable when considering the triple bottom line of profits, people, and planet. Additionally, it must be a business that will be profitable even though salespeople are ordered to be scrupulously honest: fully disclosing product weaknesses, delivery dates, and extent of post-sales support, and in which salespeople are required to discourage potential customers from buying if the product is inappropriate for that customer.
Why Creating More Entrepreneurs is Crucial
Only entrepreneurs can create permanent jobs because government can only create jobs to the extent of tax revenues, and those come from businesses. Without entrepreneurs, there are no start-ups. Without intrepreneurs (entrepreneurs who work within a company,) large businesses can, at best, grow slowly: selling more of their product as population increases or as the result of marketing efforts.

Increasing the number of ethical entrepreneurs would increase the chances of millions more Americans making a good living, especially those not academically oriented. Today, so many such people struggle to pay the rent, spend so much time looking for their next job and after landing one, living in fear of getting laid off because of a personality dispute, because it's a project job with a built-in end date, or that their job will be shipped to a low-cost country. Instead, a new army of entrepreneurs will be hiring themselves as their own business's CEO or as intrepreneurs within a company, nonprofit, or the government.

Of course, beyond creating jobs, entrepreneurs benefit us all by creating new services and products: from soap to the steam engine, glass to google, anesthetic to automobiles, the icebox to the iPhone, housekeepers to hospice.

Entrepreneurship can foster not only commercial products and services but help us achieve our larger societal goals. The Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship's core goal is "to unleash young people's ideas around the issues that matter most to society, from poverty reduction to climate change, and to foster a global culture that recognizes entrepreneurs as drivers of economic and social prosperity. "

How do we encourage the development of a new army ethical entrepreneurs?

Primarily by suffusing the K-16 curriculum with ethical entrepreneurship education. From kindergarten through college, the curriculum would include hands-on opportunities to learn ethical entrepreneurship. They would apply principles of budget, finance, persuasion, ethics (See above,) etc., to create small enterprises, guided not only by the teacher, but by inspiring, ethical entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs. (The latter are people who use sound business methods to create non-profit ventures aimed at improving society.

How could entrepreneurship education be fit into an already packed school day? Lengthen the school day and school year, which brings the additional advantage of ameliorating the nation's child care problem. Also, pare elements of the existing curriculum that are less important than entrepreneurship. Could anyone reasonably argue that it's more important that all students know geometric theorems than learn ethical entrepreneurship? Than deciphering Shakespeare's arcane allusions and vocabulary? The intricacies of the periodic table of chemical elements? All those wars from the Peloponnesian to the War of the Roses? The celebration of multiculturalism to which so much time is devoted in today's curriculum?

The K-16 inclusion of ethical entrepreneurship education should be supplemented by out-of-school activities. In that regard, the U.S. could learn some lessons from abroad. For example, a recent issue of The Economist , reports that "According to the British Enterprise Week’s website, Britain has nearly 3,000 events designed to inspire and educate young and aspiring entrepreneurs, from a workshop on “Growing Your Business” in Ipswich to a “Could You Be A Million Maker?” contest in Blackpool, in which school and college students create their own mini-enterprises."

What about adults? Certainly courses in entrepreneurship, already offered by the Small Business Administration, state employment departments, colleges, and by the private sector should be more publicized and expanded as needed. SCORE, an SBA-program that matches aspiring entrepreneurs with retired executives should be expanded. Ethics are too small a component within most such courses. Ethics, as defined earlier, must be made central.

I believe no initiative has greater potential to create jobs, innovation, and, in turn, improve the world than to grow an army of ethical entrepreneurs, and I believe the above model could make it happen.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One Resolution You Should Make...And Might Actually Keep

One of my clients, "Adam Michaels," has, for years, fought to be more responsible: set goals, not procrastinate, see tasks through to completion. He's had years of therapy, read a libraryful of self-help books, and had a few sessions with me, a career and life coach. Nothing has worked.

So today, I asked Adam, "Moving forward, do you think it's wiser to keep trying to become more responsible or to accept that this is who you are, just as I must accept that I will never be a professional artist." He cried...and voted for self-acceptance.

If he keeps to that decision, that may ensure he'll never accomplish what he'd hope to accomplish, professionally and personally. But continuing to try to morph himself into something he's not won't likely help him accomplish more. It will mainly just torture him, just as forcing me to continually take art classes would torture me without increasing my chances of becoming a professional artist.

Remember the story of the scorpion that asked a frog to
carry him across the river. The frog is afraid of being stung but the scorpion reassures him that if it stung the frog, both of them would drown. The frog then agrees. Yet in mid-river, the scorpion stings him, dooming the two of them. When asked why, the scorpion explains, "I'm a scorpion; it's my nature."

So as we enter 2010, Adam's story may be a useful reminder that New Year's resolutions are generally a waste of time. We haul out the same old vows, the triumph of hope over experience, that this time will be different: We will stay on our diet. We will find a better job. We will be nicer to our spouse. We will stop using our treadmill as a clothes rack. And by January 10, nearly all of us will slink back from our resolutions, reminded yet again of our formidable resistance to change.

Sure, if you have a new, achievable goal, something that doesn't require a personality transplant, it may help to make it a New Year's resolution. Doing so can keep that goal top-of-mind. But if you have a musty old collection of never-kept resolutions, you might, this year, keep them in the closet and instead, make just one new one: "I will accept myself, flaws and all."