Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Good Idea, Now What?

Today, I am pleased to share a review of a book recently published by my good friend Charles Lee. It’s called Good Idea, Now What? and it is one of the best books I have read on the subject of bringing ideas to implementation and execution. The first time I met Charles, he was sharing with individuals at West Virginia University and in the city of Morgantown, WV as part of a week of events called “Another World Is Possible.”  Charles spent an afternoon talking about how to take an idea from the starting block to implementation, and gave some fantastic examples. The same evening, he gave a presentation on the subject of slavery and human trafficking and gave people tangible steps to take toward eradicating modern day slavery and the trafficking of human beings. The next morning, while I was taking him to the Pittsburgh airport, he told me about a small conference he was hosting two weeks later for idea makers that was called Idea Camp. After talking it over with other members of our team at Nuru, I made it a point to go. Everything I’ve seen Charles produce or implement, has been done with thoughtful excellence and quality and with an end result of helping others to do better at doing good in the world.

As I picked up the book, I must admit,  I wondered if the world needed another book on getting things done or idea making. Books like ReWork, Making Ideas Happen, and The War of Art all seemed to hone in on the subject—what more could possibly be said?  Charles’ book is actually quite remarkable. It is a series of ├ętudes within a book. He has put the book together so that individual chapters are short, and easy to draw out applications. He uses real world examples from both his own life and the experiences of other idea makers to drive home his points, and he talks about subjects that can be challenging for creatives and ideamakers to talk about, things like team chemistry, implementation, and maintaining a family life and boundaries for work.

With each new section, I was thoroughly impressed with both the quality of content, the brevity of words to communicate the content, and the practical next steps offered to individuals to take ideas to reality. I believe this book could be helpful for individuals involved in start-ups as well as for teams.  This book is perfect for creative folks who have a hard time staying grounded to push their ideas into implementation as well. The chapters are short enough that anyone can pick up and read and think through application points for individual concepts. For folks who chronically start books and cant finish, the book is set up to be read as a whole, or read as chapters in isolation.

If you know, have heard, or are in other ways familiar with Charles’ work, you know that this book is a must read. If not, and you have an entrepreneurial bent, you should give this book a read and add it to your short list of books that are motivating, informative, and practical for converting ideas into reality.  Buy it today,  and, if you have time to insert it into your calendar, you should make it a point to participate in a conference Charles’ consultancy created, called !deation in Chicago this May.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

A Little Encouragement For Your Health And Wellness Goals: Twenty Three And A Half Hours

My good friends Luke & Diane Harriman recommended this video to me while I was in Florida as an extra incentive to pursue some of my health and wellness goals for 2012. I was just able to watch the video for the first time this weekend, and I did so with my wife and her parents, and we all found it insightful, engaging and inspiring for pursuing improved health and fitness.

What I love most about this video is the different tact taken to describe how to pursue a fitness goal. We’ve heard that 20-30 minutes of exercise(walking, cardio, hiking, biking) per day can do the body a world of good, but to ‘couch’ it in a different way is pure brilliance.

Dr Mike Evans encourages us to limit our sitting and lying down to 23.5 hours per day to enjoy some pretty amazing health benefits. There’s something about looking at it in this way that I find extremely motivating.

I hope you enjoy the video as much as we did, and that it can provide additional motivation toward your own health and wellness goals this year.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The War of Art

I was first exposed to this book during the summer of 2003. I was working in Orlando, FL to help facilitate a leadership development program for college students and at the same time participating in a separate staff leadership program with Great Commission Ministries.  During my summer stays in Orlando, I had managed to find two incredible book stores in the area. One was a used book store called Leedy’s, and the other was a book store in Northland Community Church in Longwood, FL.

While I was at the church book store, the book store manager recommended The War of Art by Steven Pressfield to me. It wasn’t a faith-based book, but rather a book about the creative process and persevering from idea to action. It sounded like a great read, so I picked it up and added it to my list for the summer.

Just this past summer, it was mentioned again on a list of recommended reads at a java developers conference. So, of course, I picked it up to re-read it. What I found in it was a series of short essays on resistance.

Resistance is that internal invisible force that distracts us, shoves us away, and prevents us from doing our work particularly when that work derives from our higher nature rather than our lower (painting, writing, music, dance, or any creative art, any form of spiritual advancement, education, and more).  We all experience it, and our inability to overcome resistance is what leads to lapsed diets, exercise programs, creative endeavors, and other forms of personal development and self-improvement. And the crazy thing about resistance is that it comes from within.

I don’t want to share too much of the book here. Rather, I would say that particularly at this time of year when so many of us are in the process of setting goals, making new commitments, and pursuing new physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, financial, or creative endeavors, this book makes an incredible read.

The book can be an incredible tool for identifying resistance and pushing through to the realization of our goals. Once one knows their enemy, then they know how to combat their enemy.

If you are looking for a good read to give you a kick-start to achieving your goals, I highly recommend The War of Art.  I also highly recommend taking time to recognize how resistance rears its head in your own life, and determine creative ways to stop it before it stops you in 2012.

Monday, February 06, 2012

My 2012 Goals

After taking tome time to look over my goals from 2011, I decided to post a list of goals for 2012. I feel like there is something powerful that happens when goals go from the mind to being written down—I feel like the act makes me more committed. Studies have shown that it’s not a reality that is unique to me, so I highly recommend that you write down and share your 2012 goals with someone as well.

So here are my top ten for 2012.

Practice Sabbath, Solitude, Silence, and Fasting—This was once a strength for me, but I’ve allowed this discipline to slip in recent years.  I think part of the challenge comes from living in a world in which people are expected to be ‘always on’. As a partial remedy to this, I’ve decided to start sleeping with my phone in another room (no temptation to check/respond to emails, Facebook, or Twitter).  I believe that reintroducing these practices of Solitude, Silence, Sabbath, and Fasting will be a point of refreshment and revitalization in 2012.

Blog More Consistently—Maybe my 2011 goal of 3-5 posts per week was a bit high. Last year I had 83 blog posts. This year, I would like to have at least 105 posts (2 per week).

Exercise—I’m proud of the habit of exercise I cultivated in 2011. This year, I would like to at least walk 30 minutes per day for a minimum of 3-5 days per week. Separate from this I recently started jumping rope—it’s a fairly inexpensive and intense form of exercise I highly recommend. Again, I am hoping to work on fitness rather than fatness in 2012.

Lose Weight—Continuing to build on the successes of 2011, I would like to lose weight during 2012. My weight at this writing is 197 pounds. I would like to lose at least 18 pounds during 2012, and maintain that lighter weight.

Parkersburg Half-Marathon—It eluded me in 2011, but there is time for training for this event in August.

Steward Resources More Wisely—In 2011, Jamie and I took a few steps to lower our footprint, shrink our spending, and be more earth friendly. In 2012, we would like to continue this trend.

Get Outdoors—In a world that is becoming more and more connected to technology, it has been refreshing to spend time enjoying the great outdoors. Whether walking in Cooper’s Rock or around Lake Floyd, my goal is to get outside for at least 30 minutes a day. Hopefully that time will be tied to some of my fitness goals.

Connect—I want to continue the trend of visiting with friends both near and far. One of the best gifts I have been given in this life are the incredible friends who I have met along life’s journey. As often as I have opportunity, I would love to reach out and connect with friends. These times of connecting are a refreshment to my soul.

Plant a Garden—Of course this is a goal every year. I’d love for us to grow more of our food this year, and this time with our hands in the soil will also help us spend time outdoors.

Leave Margins—This is separate from the idea of Sabbath. I tend to stay on the go most of the time. I think it would be good to leave some ‘wiggle-room’ in my schedule, and in so doing, it will probably afford me more opportunities to connect and enjoy spontaneity in the rhythm of life.

What about you? What are your goals for 2012? What habits would you like to make or break in the coming year?