Saturday, September 03, 2011

Saturday Night Classic Music Video

One of my favs...

Fort Wayne Site of the Day-Trolley Tour

September 22nd is the date for the annual Fort Wayne Museum of Art Trolley Tour.

Every day leading up to the event, I am featuring an organization associated with this years tour.

Get details by going here, and to visit today's site click on pic.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Another Reason to Blog

My daughter Rachael used to keep a journal.

Lots of them.

She's a writer.

She introduced me to the world of blogging back in 2003 or 4.

I decided last night to take a trip down memory lane and see what I was doing 5 years ago.

I recorded it right here on this blog.

Have you started blogging yet?

Fort Wayne Site of the Day-Trolley Tour

September 22nd is the date for the annual Fort Wayne Museum of Art Trolley Tour.

Every day leading up to the event, I am featuring an organization associated with this years tour.

Get details by going here, and to visit today's site click on pic.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Can I have your Attention?

All of us could do a better job of listening.

Here's a few tips on being less of a jerk.

From DLM:

7 Powerful Tips To Becoming a Better Listener

Posted: 22 Aug 2011 08:18 AM PDT

When people speak, do you listen? How much of what's communicated do you internalize?

Recently, I was talking to someone who was not very present in the conversation. Even though she would nod and say "Yeah" the whole time we communicated, her follow-up comments would reveal she wasn't listening 100%.

For example, there was a point when I talking about A, but she kept replying to me as if I was saying B. I thought it was really strange, so I repeated what I said in a slower, more precise manner. But the same thing happened - while she would nod and say "Yeah" while I was speaking, her reply suggested she did not get the gist of what I was trying to say.

At that point, I was entirely baffled. After engaging in a few more conversations with her, I realized it was a norm with her. She often nodded and looked like she was following the conversation, but her comments were often off tangent. It would seem that even though she exhibited "signs" that she was listening, she was never really listening.

Listening is an important skill - more so than one may realize. We use it all the time - at work with our managers and co-workers, in presentations, in relationships, in social settings, with our families. Believe it or not, we even use it when watching TV and films!

In my work, listening is especially important. When I'm coaching my clients, it's important I listen and understand their underlying problems (that may even elude them), so I could ask the appropriate coaching questions to forward them. When I'm communicating with the readers at my blog, it's important I read between the lines and "listen" to what they're trying to say, because words alone may not convey their intended messages.

I've learned that being a good listener takes more than just hearing what the person has to say - it requires conscious desire, conscientiousness, and practice. In this article, I share my 7 personal tips on how to be a better listener:
  1. Remove All Distractions
    In this day and age, in our quest to get as much done as we can, we multi-task the whole time - from web browsing, checking emails, replying emails, working, talking on the phone, fiddling with our phones, writing in our notebooks, etc. So when people approach us to talk, it's natural we add that to the list of things we're doing at the moment, vs. giving them our full attention.

    To be honest, I do this myself, especially if it's just a short or casual conversation. I think it's fine if you're able to attend to the other party's request. However, if the person is trying to tell you something important, or share something personal, you should ideally stop what you are doing and give him/her your full attention. What I do is I close the lid of my laptop (hence eliminating all distractions), turn myself towards the person and give him/her my full focus. Doing so is a sign of respecting him/her.

  2. Be Present
    Are you present when you're around other people? Or are you lost in your own thoughts?

    In the example I shared in the opening, it was apparent my friend was not present during the conversations. Even though she would nod as a sign of acknowledgement while others were speaking, her mind was lost in her thoughts. Hence, when it was her turn to speak, her comments would be off tangent to what was being communicated.

    To be a good listener, you have to be present. Being present means (a) not being preoccupied physically (b) not being preoccupied mentally. The former means to remove distractions, as I mentioned in Tip #1. The latter requires you to clear your mind of other thoughts and focus on the person speaking. This means to stop thinking about the argument you had at work with your co-worker in the morning, the report you've yet to finish, or where you're going to have your dinner, and to pay attention to what's being communicated now.

    How does one become more present? I see it as an ongoing path, rather than one end goal. One activity that never fails me is this 15 minute brain dumping exercise, whereby I clear out mental clutter instantly. Meditation is another useful habit that helps me to be more present - instead of thinking about the past or the future, I'll be in the current moment, which is the moment we are living in anyway.

  3. Wait for the Person to Finish Speaking (in the start)
    It's good etiquette to let the other party finish what he/she wants to say, before you butt in with your comments. I know there are times you feel you get what the person is trying to say and you can't wait to share your comments, but hold it off in the beginning of the conversation. Because the person may have other things to share but can't because you are speaking.

    I find that often times when I just sit and wait, the person will often have something to add on - which I would never have known if I had interjected or stepped in to speak. Once I get a hang of what the person has to say and where the person is coming from, I'll be more open in interjecting, while being conscious of the person's needs and letting him/her go ahead if there's anything he/she wants to say.

  4. Don't Assume Anything
    An important part of listening is not to assume. When you assume, you automatically layer over what the person says with your presumptions, which makes it near impossible to have any meaningful conversation. While the person may say A, ultimately you can only hear B, simply because your mind is not open to receiving new information in the first place.

    When it comes to communication, err on the side of safety and assume you know nothing. In this regard, questions are your best friends (see #7).

  5. Look at the Sub-Text
    Powerful listening requires you to understand that the words articulated in a conversation do not always represent the person's intentions. Many times, we are not 100% clear about what we're trying to say, and talking is really our way of processing our thoughts.

    In this regard, don't rely too much on the words communicated, per se. Instead, look at the sub-text - such as the facial expressions of the person, the tone of the voice, the body language, the choice of words, and so on. What is the person trying to say? What do you think he/she is feeling? What is he/she thinking behind his/her words? Combine this with what he/she is saying to you and you'll get a lot more out of the conversation.

  6. Clarify to ensure you got what the person is saying
    At every stage of the conversation, clarify to ensure you got the message right. This can be done by simply paraphrasing what he/she just said, in your own words. Sometimes we may take away one message when it's really something else, and it's not good to assume without clarifying first (see #4).

    What I do is I'd interject every now and then and make 1-2 clarifying statements, such as "Ok, so what you're saying is that ..........., right?", in which the person simply needs to say "Yes" or "No". This helps ensure everyone is on the same page before any more new information is shared.

  7. Ask Questions
    Questions are highly important in any conversation. Firstly, there are things which the person does not share (either because he/she thinks you already know them or because he/she thinks they are irrelevant) that you can only uncover by asking questions. Secondly, questions lets you get more information about specific areas you are unclear about, such that you get a better picture of what the person is saying.

    My conversing style involves a lot of questions, especially at the beginning of the conversation. This is because because I see this as the "understanding" or "information gathering" phase. Rather than overshare at the start, I prefer to understand the person and get a good grasp of who he/she is, then share my point of view. This has worked very well in my communications with others, as others quickly ease into their natural persona and open up about what they want to talk about. Because of this, it has allowed me to easily connect with others and develop meaningful relationships - which is what we want to achieve at the end of the day.
Remember that listening is one part of what it takes to build meaningful connections with others. Check out my related posts at Dumb Little Man which will help you build stronger relationships with people around you:
Written on 8/22/2011 by Celestine Chua. Celestine writes at The Personal Excellence Blog, where she shares her best advice on how to achieve personal excellence and live your best life. Get her RSS feed directly and add her on Twitter @celestinechua. If you like this article, you will enjoy one of her top articles: 101 Things To Do Before You Die.Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon

Fort Wayne Site of the Day-Trolley Tour

September 22nd is the date for the annual Fort Wayne Museum of Art Trolley Tour.

Every day leading up to the event, I am featuring an organization associated with this years tour.

Get details by going here, and to visit today's site click on pic.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another Approach to Productivity

from DLM:

Not Getting Enough Work Done? Try Taking More Breaks

Posted: 16 Aug 2011 08:20 AM PDT

It’s five pm on Friday, but you’re staring at a stack of work that you really need to get finished.

You’ll be working over the weekend ... again.

And you promise yourself that next week, you’re going to be more organized. You’re going to work harder. You’re going to focus.

Except, somehow, that never seems to work.

You’re wondering what the heck you’re doing wrong.

Well... You’re Not Taking Enough Breaks!

I’d guess that your typical day looks something like this: you’re sat at a desk for hours, stopping only to grab a sandwich (which you might well scoff down in front of your computer).

No-one can stay focused for hours on end, so you find yourself getting tired and demotivated as the day wears on. You end up on Facebook, or texting your friends, or watching a funny clip on YouTube.

At the end of the day, you feel frustrated and fed up.

You might start thinking all sorts of negative things: I’m so stupid, why did I waste time on Facebook?

And you’ll try to come up with solutions: I just need to be more self-disciplined.

But the truth is, no-one – however productive they are – works solidly for eight hours. Chances are, your work requires a fair amount of mental energy, and you need some down time to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.

So how do you do that?

You plan, and take, regular breaks.

How Taking More Breaks Works
I’m trying out a new system right now. It’s designed to solve a couple of problems:
  • Problem #1: I sometimes get pulled off-task by emails, Facebook, Twitter, the news...
  • Problem #2: I work from home (I’m a writer and writing coach) so I don’t have any sort of physical activity built into my day.
So, now, during the mornings – my peak writing hours – I work for 22 minutes at a time, then take a break and exercise on my elliptical trainer for 5 minutes. (I’m allowing 3 minutes for transition time.) That means I’m only working 44 minutes out of every hour. Surely I’m getting less done?

Actually, no. I’m able to concentrate much better – if I know that I’ve only got ten minutes before a break, I write faster! And because I’m getting up and moving during the day, my energy levels are higher too.

Try It Yourself
If you work in a traditional office environment, you might not be able to adopt a system like mine. But you can still take regular breaks – which will help you stay on task.

How about:
  • Every hour, take a few minutes to have a quick walk around the building and grab a glass of water from the water cooler.
  • Set an alarm on your computer to pop up every 45 minutes to tell you to take a five minute break from what you’re doing. Check Facebook, tidy your desk, grab a snack – whatever you like.

The crucial thing is that you get straight back to work when your break is over. Otherwise, you’ll just slip back into old habits of wasting time.

You might still be a bit skeptical about whether taking more breaks could work for you. All I can say is ... try it! And let us know how you get on: the comments are open.

Written on 8/16/2011 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.Photo Credit: Brian O'Donovan

Fort Wayne Site of the Day-Trolley Tour

September 22nd is the date for the annual Fort Wayne Museum of Art Trolley Tour.

Every day leading up to the event, I am featuring an organization associated with this years tour.

Get details by going here, and to visit today's site click on pic.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

7 Steps to Happy

from DLM:

7 Steps That May Dramatically Boost Your Happiness

Posted: 07 Aug 2011 11:14 AM PDT

You’ve probably read countless articles that promise you better happiness, only to be disappointed. I know what it’s like to not get exactly what you’re looking for from an article.

When I was reading a lot of personal development articles and books, I was looking for a magic bullet that would somehow infuse my life with happiness. However, it wasn’t until I realized that I alone had to take responsibility that I started seeing dramatic results from the simplest of tips.

The tips in this article are common-sense, practical, and simple. They won’t magically do anything, because the magic lies within you. When you take responsibility, the tips and tools you have don’t matter, because it is you who decide how they impact your life.
  1. Be Here, Now
    Most people are stuck in either the past or the future; recalling bad memories, or imagining bad things happening in the future. The good news about the past is that it's over. And the future? Well, it isn't here yet, is it?

    By being in the here and now, you will be more aware of what's going on (obviously), and you will be feeling much happier as you return your awareness to your body. And yes, that means even when you’re feeling bad. It’s crucial to stay aware when you’re feeling bad. What most people try to do is drown their feelings by eating, drinking, smoking, and so on.

    It doesn’t help.

  2. Cherish Your Relationships
    Imagine going to the end of your life. If you somehow could imagine the last 24 hours of your life, think about what would be important to you at that point in time. Is it money? Is it appreciating the fact you worked 30 years at a job you despised? Or is it the people around you, and the experiences you’ve had?

    When I did this, I realized that what was important were the relationships and connections I have with the people around me. What you do and accomplish is fine, but that too shall pass.

    Remember to keep your priorities in check. Discover what is truly important in your life, and it will dramatically increase your happiness, because you will have what most people lack—focus.

  3. Kindness
    Remember an experience when either you gave something to someone or received something. It feels good, doesn’t it? It feels good to give, and it feels good to receive.

    Kindness can be tough at first if you haven’t practiced giving, but as you become more comfortable with giving and helping, you’ll come to like it.

    There are a lot of different sources that say that what you give comes back to you. The more you give, the more you receive. I’ve certainly found that to be true in my life. Whether or not it’s true for you is up to you to discover.

  4. Personal Growth
    I began my personal growth journey at the young age of 16. I started with lucid dreaming, and followed the clues from there.

    You've probably bumped into personal growth books, audios, and even videos. Some of them have been tremendous, while others have been let downs. The real secret is to keep going until you find something that resonates with you, because when you do that, your life will begin to change. The only problem is that sometimes it may take a while, and you might run into frustrations, and begin to wonder if all of his personal growth stuff is really worth bothering with.

    And believe me, it is.

  5. See Through Goals
    The goals you set should keep you flexible, and not give you tunnel vision. You see, when you set goals, it's good to be specific, but you also want to be open to all the possibilities around you. You never know where you will have a breakthrough, or where that one idea will come from that changes everything.

    You just never know.

    And when you're not as attached to your goals, you will feel freer, and naturally this will lead to more happiness, which in turn will increase chances of your success.

  6. Embrace Death
    You can die at any moment.

    A scary thought, isn’t it?

    It helps you stay focused on what is important. It also has the tendency to completely melt away your fears. What is it that you really want to do with your life? What are some of the excuses, fears, and obstacles that are stopping you from doing that? And how do you think you can overcome those and start moving toward what it is that your heart truly wants?

    If you answer the above questions seriously, you may just find yourself strangely motivated to start taking action. There's nothing like following your heart when it comes to feeling happy and joyful.

  7. Follow Your Heart
    And that brings us to the last point. Most people are out of touch with their emotions and particularly with their hearts. We've been conditioned to be logical and to have everything make perfect sense. The only problem is that life doesn't really make sense all the time (or most of the time?)

    And some of the greatest opportunities and adventures of life are not discovered by logic, but by following your gut and your intuition.

    When you consider deep down what it is that brings you happiness, and go after that, you will notice that your life changes in accordance.

    Now, you don't have to change your whole life all at once, because if you begin with only one step today, you will be surprised at how far you can go, and how happy you will feel.

    What are you waiting for?

    You’re not supposed to have an answer to that question, you know?

Written on 8/07/2011 by Henri Junttila. Henri writes at Wake Up Cloud, where he shares his personal tips on how you can live the life you know you deserve. When you feel ready to take action, get his free course: Find Your Passion in 5 Days or Less. And if you liked this article, you will enjoy one of his top articles: 77 Great Quotes That Will Change Your Life.Photo Credit: goaliej54

Fort Wayne Site of the Day-Trolley Tour

September 22nd is the date for the annual Fort Wayne Museum of Art Trolley Tour.

Every day leading up to the event, I am featuring an organization associated with this years tour.

Get details by going here, and to visit today's site click on pic.

Monday, August 29, 2011

You Are More Than Your Career

Powerful words from Harvey:

If you want life's best, see that life gets your best

By Harvey Mackay

It all started with an innocent question at a conference where I was speaking. After I was introduced to one of the organizers, I asked her, "And what do you do for a living?"

"Wrong question, Harvey!" she replied. "It's what I do for a life that matters!"

Her 10-second answer was enlightening: She loved and cared for her family and friends, worked as a systems analyst for a small start-up, took harp lessons, volunteered at the history center, and took her faith very seriously.

This was a woman who had her priorities in order. She valued every minute of every day. She was determined to live the best life she could.

I realized a long time ago that you have to grab hold of life. You can't sit there and let life pass you by. You have to make things happen, not just wait for things to happen to you. But we all know that's easier said than done!

Philosophers through the ages have tried to define the meaning of life, and I'm not about to try to pick up where they left off. But I've heard some creative comparisons, simplistic to be sure, but clever nonetheless:
  • Life is like a canvas. You fill in the picture.
  • Life is like a mirror. We get the best results when we smile at it.
  • Life is like a bank. You get out what you put into it with interest.
  • Life is like a cafeteria. You must help yourself.
  • Life is like a garden. Plant good seeds and tend them, and the bounty is plentiful.
  • Life is like a chocolate chip cookie. It's best enjoyed hot and fresh.
Let's face it, it is a lot easier to create analogies about life than it is to explain life.

Maybe we should adopt one of Benjamin Franklin's habits. Every day of his adult life, he set aside time to examine two questions. In the morning he asked himself, "What good shall I do today?" Later in the day his question changed to, "What good have I done today?" This process is sure to produce more than philosophy.

Or we can practice the thinking of Charlie Brown of Peanuts fame, who said, "I've developed a new philosophy. I only dread life one day at a time."

I love Charlie Brown, but I feel sorry for the kid. With such a glum outlook, he's missing all the good stuff.

What makes for a good life? Most people would say it would include people who love you and whom you love, work that you find rewarding and productive, comfortable surroundings, adequate food, good health, and for many, faith.

Because you are often defined by the work you do, and you depend on that work to provide many of the things you need, I think it's absolutely essential that you find a job or volunteer opportunity that aligns with your values and ethics. And always remember, you have to give before you get! Put your heart into it!

My friend, the late Norman Vincent Peale, agreed with my thoughts: "By the good life, I mean one that is intensely interesting, even exciting. It is a life that is full of meaning and rich in satisfaction. Such a life is not free of difficulties or problems; victorious levels of experience. The good life is based on a definitive value system in which job and enthusiasm serve as both cause and effect."

Today, I'm offering a Mackay's Moral bonanza -- some gems that you can learn from and carry with you when life seems to be handing you the proverbial lemons:
  • Life is ten percent how you make it and ninety percent how you take it.
  • Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most people don't use enough of their gears.
  • One of the greatest truths in life is that "No" is a complete sentence.
  • The stumbling blocks in life are nothing more than stepping stones.
  • The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.
  • Every day is a gift! That's why it's called the present!
Mackay's Moral: It's never too late to become what you could have been.

Fort Wayne Site of the Day-Trolley Tour

September 22nd is the date for the annual Fort Wayne Museum of Art Trolley Tour.

Every day leading up to the event, I am featuring an organization associated with this years tour.

Get details by going here, and to visit today's site click on pic.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Speak Up

from DLM:

How to Get Exactly What You Want, Right Now

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 10:27 AM PDT

Some people say it’s OK to not get exactly what you want in life. Some say you should settle for good enough because you wouldn’t want to get disappointed. I couldn’t disagree more. You can get everything you want, and you can get it now. In this article I’ll show you exactly how to do that.

As you keep reading, you will be pleasantly surprised at what you discover. You see, most people don’t know about this, which is why they are chasing something they don’t have to chase.

You can stop looking for the answer, because it’s already here.
  • What Do YOU Want?
    The first thing you have to get clear about is exactly what you want. Do you want to have a dream life and live someplace warm? Do you want to find your soul mate, or find work that makes you amazingly fulfilled and happy?

    Ask these questions of yourself right now and pick something that you really think would make a big difference in your life if you had it today.

  • The Truth About Middlemen
    We've been told that when we get stuff, we will be happy. And, you probably think that when you have something, when you are a certain way, or when you're with a special person, you will be happy.

    We've all been there, and I'm still there from time to time. We are human, so we will feel these feelings now and then. But the truth of the matter is that every one of these “things” are middlemen to what we really want.

  • Thinking Makes It So
    When you really think about it, haven't you felt good, at peace, and fulfilled without having all the things that you thought would make you happy? And haven’t you gotten what you wanted and not felt how you thought you would feel? It is not the external things and events that make us happy, but what is inside of us.

    We've all been happy at one point or another, which means that you can be happy whenever you want. The things that we are truly after are good feelings. It’s all on the inside.

    We want to feel good, and we want to avoid feeling bad. All our fears are just about us being afraid of feeling bad in the future. However, when you think and worry about your fears, you feel bad instantly, so in essence you are replaying the event you’re afraid of over and over in your head, which makes it happen now.

  • Feeling, Then Getting
    There's an easier way to get exactly what you want, which is to feel good now and then go after the things that you prefer to have, be or do.

    So how do you get to these feelings underneath the things?

    That's a great question, and the answer is very simple. Actually, the answer is a question. Let's say you want the perfect relationship. In order to get to the bottom of that and discover the feeling, all you have to do is ask yourself the following question: What would that give me that I wouldn't otherwise have?

    When you get the first answer, keep asking that question until you get to the end of the line. And when you get there, notice where in your body you're feeling the feelings and how they move around, if they move.

    This will instantly give you the feeling that you're after. You don't have to use the middleman to get there, because you can feel it now.

  • What Would Happen If?
    What would happen if you felt good right now? As you read this, you may doubt what I'm saying, because after all, we have to work hard to feel good, or at least that's what we've been told.

    Who knows if this is true?

    And why wouldn't you want to feel good all the while you're working towards what you want to get from life? Isn't it easier to feel good while making tremendous progress? Obviously, sometimes you'll get stuck in a negative thought pattern, but you can always return to feeling good if you really want to.

    Remember, you can get exactly what you want. You can feel amazing right now.
Written on 8/18/2011 by Henri Junttila. Henri writes at Wake Up Cloud, where he shares his personal tips on how you can live the life you know you deserve. When you feel ready to take action, get his free course: Find Your Passion in 5 Days or Less. And if you liked this article, you will enjoy one of his top articles: 77 Great Quotes That Will Change Your Life.Photo Credit: magnetbox

Fort Wayne Site of the Day-Trolley Tour


September 22nd is the date for the annual Fort Wayne Museum of Art Trolley Tour.

Every day leading up to the event, I am featuring an organization associated with this years tour.

Get details by going here, and to visit today's site click on pic.