Tag Archive | opportunity

Can you find the perfect cheese?

I am still in the process of removing the stacks from my home office, but in so doing I found an insert from a book by Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese? In this quick read, Spencer spins his tale of two little mice that awaken one morning to find their cheese is missing. The cheese is an allegorical representation of those things we hold as a high priority for life like your job or perhaps an important relationship. Through their adventures to discover a new food supply, Spencer engagingly outlines the steps we all need to turn the challenge of change into the true opportunity it is. The insert contains 7 bullet points as a reminder of his key points. I think you’ll get the gist of the message. If not, you can get the book. The points are copied below:

  • Change happens – They keep moving the cheese
  • Anticipate change – Get ready for the cheese to move
  • Monitor change – Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old
  • Adapt to change quickly – The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese
  • Change – Move with the cheese
  • Enjoy change – Savor the adventure and the taste of new cheese!
  • Be ready to quickly change again and again – They keep moving the cheese

Spencer had a goldmine of an idea with this one. Today, not only is the original book still in demand, but he has created a specialized training curriculum for corporations using this material. Some of the more prominent companies use it with their employees. He’s also come up with specialized editions for teens and kids.

Now the book was very helpful as are the points listed above, but here’s the real question. Is it easier to learn from a story than it is from a list of points? It gets my vote because the bullet list triggered some detailed recollections of the tale, and I read it over 10 years ago. (Sometimes I cannot recall what I had for breakfast, so I’m thinking this is a stellar teaching tool.) Patrick Lencioni also uses this method of teaching business principles by illustrating them in a fictional format. Perhaps there are some who prefer Dragnet’s “Joe Friday” approach of “Just the facts, ma’am,” but the narrative accounts hold my interest and hence boost my retention.  If I understand the plan from the experience of two fictional mice and can remember it, I think I’ll be better able to adjust to change and find the perfect cheese.

What’s a six-letter word for …

What’s a six-letter word for vacation?

Before you think of Europe, Disney, or some other fantastic place to relax and unwind (Whoa … there are 6 letters in unwind.), think again. These may be applicable, but they’re not the right one. I’ll give you a hint. It begins with “C” and few people easily embrace it. Give up? The word is change.

Think about it. Whether you travel to an exotic resort, go to visit family or relax in the comfort of your own home, each vacation you are expected to change. You change location, direction and pace – all because you’re not going to work. And although it may take a day or two to sink in, you feel better all over. Even your face begins to sport a smile because you’ve reinvented who you are. You’re a vacationer.

And if you’re a writer, artist, musician, entrepreneur, or person with an imaginative bent, you’re going to begin to see and feel life differently. While there’s no pressure around you, ideas will begin to spring up that you’ll be able to transform into your creative genre. Problems will begin to resolve and answers will begin to form. Life will be good.

So why resist change? The end results will usually be good if you wait long enough. It often takes time, just like your vacation. Think about some of the adventures you’ve had in the past. Some events did not turn out the way you planned, but you still had a good time and maybe, just maybe, you benefited in unexpected ways. The Lord always works things together for good.

If you’re vacation has passed, I hope you had a great time and experienced some of these change benefits. If you’re still in the planning stages or ready to head out, ENJOY. Look for the opportunities that will unfold before you as you change your lifestyle for the week. When you return, you’ll be ready to embrace a new kind of change.

Moving out

Do you hate to move? I’m actually talking about changing your residence rather than a physical feat, but if you have ever transferred from one location to another, you know there’s plenty of exercise going on during the process.

According to Melissa Data and the US Census bureau, “out of a population of 282,556,000 people, 40,093,000 moved. That’s an overall percentage of 14.19 percent annually.” Were you one of them?

As an adult, I have had to move several times. Yes, adventure of a new beginning on the other side beckoned me, but the pre-requisite involved going through the mountains of things collected and stored in boxes in the basement and attic, stuffed into closets and cupboards or mounded on the shelves. Then I had to go through it all and discard, give away, sell or repack what was left, pack it into a truck, haul it to the new location and find a place to put it all. Here’s the strange part. When I went to move the next time, I found some of these same boxes still packed from the previous move. I guess the items in these containers weren’t useful after all, though they brought a measure of comfort. It may sound comical, yet isn’t this sometimes how we live our lives?

We get excited about a new job, new neighborhood, new relationship or some other new enterprise, and we prepare for the change. Our confidence is high. We lay aside the old routines and familiar traditions, a few unproductive habits and negative thought patterns. We’re making a fresh start.  We pack up the outstanding skills and characteristics that provided the opportunity and get ready to go. We make the move and transition into the new situation, but it appears something is holding us back. Alas, we discover those boxed up fears and past failures we had before. We did not get rid of them. We just packed them up and brought them along.

When we embark on a new situation or opportunity, we need to make sure that we don’t tote along any excess baggage. It adds no value, but it can certainly produce unnecessary weight that could hold us back.

Look around. Do you have any beat up old containers filled with bad memories, resentment or fears? Getting rid of them will be your biggest boost to making the move out of your Comfort Zone to the next successful phase of your life.

Creative types: Take heed

Do numbers scare you? Do they threaten to rob you of the joy you experience from the creative process? If you’re an entrepreneur, freelancer or involved in a home-based business, take heed.

One of the most important things you can do is accurately record your time and expenses on a regular basis. I know, I know. The creative juices need to have free reign so that ides will flow for your writing project and your eyes and ears need to be every ready when that perfect photo or paint-worthy subject comes into view. And of course you need to be unencumbered when the inspiration for a new musical score comes to mind. Believe me, I get that, but keep in mind, starving artists of any genre profit no one.

Consider these next few words of caution as a new opportunity for your innovative world. Taking the time to develop a workable plan to record your material, time and travel expenses can help put food on the table and provide the means for you to continue your work. I can’t say that I’ve arrived at the perfect method, yet I am well on my way to a system that works for me. You need to find one that will serve your needs and lends itself to your personality and field of artistic expression. Regardless of your creative outlet, you’ll have three key elements to consider, and they’re as easy as ABC.

A = Awareness

Look around you to see how you are spending your time and money. Are you traveling to the store to pick up supplies? If so, capture your mileage and time spent as well as the material expense on your phone, iPad, journal or some other recordable option. The key factor is to realize how you are expending your resources so that you can leverage them for your economic advantage at tax time. As I mentioned in a previous post, Ron Mueller’s book, Home Business Tax Savings Made Easy, is an excellent resource to open your eyes to the right items to track.

B = Buddy

I hate filing, but I understand and appreciate the value of keeping receipts, etc. and having them readily accessible should I need them to track a purchase, locate a vendor, or prepare my taxes. One of my buddies is my husband. We call him Mr. Clean because he is a master at keeping tings orderly. (I drive him crazy.) Nevertheless, I give him the important paperwork, and he files them away using an envelope system until he needs them. The envelopes, a Franklin Planner or other method can also be your buddy. The key is to find what’s right for you.

C = Consistency 

In order for your creativity to flourish, you need to be able to support your efforts as effortlessly as possible. Just as slow and steady won the race for the tortoise, so consistent tracking will provide what you need when you need it without stress and without monetary loss.

As you begin with these simple steps, you’ll see ways to tweak it to your needs and specific projects. The goal is to be proactive and eliminate the starving artist syndrome.

Winning combinations for freelancers

What’s the best thing about taking vacation? You might say it’s getting away from work, but if you have a home-based or freelancing business, you might find it advantageous to combine some work with your pleasure.

Last week we headed to the Adirondacks for a family graduation. Not only did we enjoy celebrating the occasion with family and friends we had not seen in quite awhile, but by spending a few extra days, we were able to spend quality time with some of our Takes3 Marketing clients as well as advance my sewing business. Besides both of these add-ons, I also obtained some fantastic ideas for my new e-zine (coming soon).  You can find ideas anywhere.

A summer visit to Speculator, NY provides a plethora of material for writers, artists and photographers. Besides the ambient splendor of the lakes and the mountains, you could explore the trails and mountain peaks, local eateries or merchant shops. Taking time to investigate the town might result in some interesting historical fact or personage. Ever hear of French Louie? He’s buried there. You could compare living in a tourist town to other places you have been or search out jewelry or other crafts prepared by local artisans. Getting to know their stories could provide even more leads for future stories. This summer there are a couple of new businesses to attract you. Pretty & Chic, a boutique featuring jewelry, handmade items as well as other items, is one that will be opening this weekend.

If you have a home-based business, you’ll want to make this extra effort to help your work because you may be able to make it pay at tax time too. Check out Ron Mueller’s book Home Business Tax Savings Made Easy.  If you keep good records and follow the rules, you may be very pleased.

Vacations are wonderful times to get away, and sometimes that extra rest or change of pace will trigger some fantastic benefits for your writing or other business. Vacation and work can be a winning combination for freelancers.

You can quote me

To quote or not to quote. That is the question.

In past blogs, we’ve talked about some uses of quotations to enhance your personal development, writing and/or presentations, but you may be asking if there are any legal limitations pertaining to quotes?

If you want to use someone else’s words for your own personal development to inspire or motivate you, you will not likely experience any resistance. You will, however, want to exercise caution especially when you are writing for publication. It is important that you not only credit the person’s words but also cite your source.

Generally speaking, if the person is someone like Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who lived and died thousands of years ago, there’s no problem. The issue arises when you desire to quote someone who is living or use a quote that has not yet been published. In these cases, you’ll need to get permission to use it. If it’s already in print or online, you can credit the site as much as the person.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the quote, it may or may not be a legal concern, but you definitely want to be sure in order to avoid a law suit. Even online legal sites like www.avvo.com suggest that you contact an attorney. If you have any doubt, don’t use the quote.

Quotes offer a fantastic opportunity to align your work with that of a more renowned person, but you want to make sure that you do it properly to avoid time in jail for plagiarism.

Warning for all high school graduates

Since the first days of September, you’ve been thinking about graduation day, but more, perhaps, as a closing, and rightly so. It’s the end of a phase of your education and life. Now things will change. These changes will be far from subtle as were the ones from grade to grade. They will be drastic in comparison, and they’ll come at you fast.

Remember the sing-songy mantra you used to chant at the beginning of summer vacation? “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks”? In one sense, your dreams have come true. Seriously. Even if you’re going on to college, those days are gone. Nothing will be the same. Sure, you’ll have classes with pencils (now replaced by technology) and books (now coming with huge price tags and little resale value), but the classroom will change. The teacher’s dirty looks will no longer come as a result of mischievous behavior. Instead, they will challenge your previous 18 years at the core and possibly the entire foundation of your life, especially if you are a Christian or hold traditional values. Are you ready?

Many college professors project a persona of having all of the answers and view you as an unenlightened blank page on which to write their agenda. Their goal is not to see you learn to think so that you can become the innovators of tomorrow; rather, they want you to join them as they espouse their theories of the way the world should be based not on lofty ideals or fact, but on failed programs from the past. Their goal? Land you like a fish – hook, line and sinker. Are you ready?

One thing you’ll learn in your history classes is history repeats itself because people ignore the results achieved the first time around. Sometimes they just rewrite it altogether. I achieved my degree a lot later in life and watched professors distort facts about some of the time periods I had already lived through as an adult. This coupled with the way they changed the events themselves helped me recognize what they could do to young people unless they were prepared. Some of the sources they quoted had fancy names, but no real quantitative results to substantiate their data. To be fair, some of these proponents are only repeating what they had been taught and likely had not done their own research. If I were just coming out of high school, however, I might not have been as well prepared to see through their views. Are you ready?

With today’s ready access to technology, you have resources available to challenge the best classroom orators. Don’t be so quick to toss out your core values. God does not change nor do His principles. If you want to know truth, go to the source. The Bible will not take you down the wrong path. Are you ready?

Just for fun, check out this video to see how things used to be, why they were that way and how things are changing. You or even your parents, just might be a part of making a real difference. BTW — CONGRATULATIONS!