Wednesday, November 24, 2010


You will lose.  Everyone does at some point.

Read that again, and sit with it a minute.

No matter how amazing, how perfect, how many times you've done something before.  At some point, you will lose.  The question is, what do you do then?

Do you focus on loss, on how bad or evil or wrong it was?  Do you spend time creating animosity and plotting revenge against some outside evil (real or imagined)?  Or, perhaps worse, do you internalize how awful you are?

Or, on losing, do you focus on your strengths, seek to discover what went wrong, learn from it and move on?  If you can find a way to do that, you will emerge stronger, better and healthier.  You will be future-focused, looking to what you can do better and how you can adjust to win next time.

So, what will you do next time you lose?

PS: This is part of a series of blogs about Seth Godin's Linchpin that I'm doing in conjunction with a Twitter-friend, Chett.  Check our her blog for more insights!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lunch with the Mayor

If you live in Calgary, or possibly a great number of other places where the Calgary municipal election has been a big story, you may have noticed that our city recently elected a new Mayor, Naheed Nenshi.

You may have read any one of a number of articles about Nenshi, examining and dissecting every part of his campaignreligious beliefs, social media use and even family traditions.

It seems to me that a great deal of hope and optimism has been placed on Mayor Nenshi.  He's got big expectations to live up to, and a lot of work to do to implement the ideas he campaigned on.  So, on the one month anniversary of Mayor Nenshi's election, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce hosted a lunch with the Mayor event, providing an opportunity for the Mayor to address guests in what would certainly be one of the first of many such events.

The event sold out, over 300 tickets, in just a few short days.  I was fortunate enough that a good friend, Bob McInnis, had a ticket he couldn't use and generously offered it to me.  And so, off I went to have lunch with the Mayor (well, and 300 others).

So, what did His Worship have to say?


He talked a lot about getting used to the new role - did you know that the Mayor gets 125 requests to speak each day?!?

Here are some of the other highlights of Nenshi's speech:
  • emphasized a desire to fundamentally transform the way City Hall operates
  • declared a focus on making Calgary the best place to do business by making our city a great place to live - thus attracting new businesses and encouraging growth
  • spoke about the upcoming budget, and the cuts being recommended to ensure a 6.5% property tax hike, as well as further potential cuts and cost savings to reduce that increase
  • spoke about a desire to change the municipal tax structure to one no longer based on property values
  • talked about legalizing secondary suites throughout Calgary (with stipulations)
  • in answer to a question, emphasized focusing on "getting Southwest Calgary moving" whether by way of the southwest ring road or some other means
In the end, Nenshi left guests with a couple of calls to action, which I would paraphrase as this: get engaged and involved in your community and city, and stay that way.  Volunteer with a local nonprofit, get to know your neighbours, participate in your community association, vote at every opportunity.  Offer your opinions on the current budget recommendations (seriously, do it now - the City of Calgary has set up lots of ways for all of us to take part, and they are inviting comments).  Become part of the conversation about the issues happening around you, and about the city you want to live in.

So, those are the facts (at least, my version of the facts!).

Now on to my opinions...

Mayor Nenshi is brilliant.  He's spent lots of time developing theories, ideas and strategies for improving cities in general, and Calgary in particular; ideas to make it a better place to live and do business.  It may be tough to turn all these good ideas in to reality, though - and there will no doubt be some mis-steps along the way.  And, as already mentioned, there's lots of hope and pressure riding on this Mayor... as citizens, we have a responsibility to not abandon him at the first sign of trouble.

Overall, I believe Mayor Nenshi will be good for our city, bringing positive change, new energy and a wealth of new ideas and strategies.  Our job, as Calgarians, is to do our part in helping build the city we want to live in.

Bob, thanks for the ticket - I appreciate the opportunity to be part of building our city, and to report back on the event!

Now... where can I get a title as awesome as His Worship?

Full disclosure: I was a student of Naheed Nenshi's at Mount Royal College (when it was still a College) fora few classes.  I also chose to vote for him in this election.

Monday, November 15, 2010

National Philanthropy Day

Today, November 15th 2010, marks National Philanthropy Day - a day when, throughout North America, celebrations take place in honour of all the amazing people who give of themselves to make the world better.

Philanthropy may conjure up for you images of really wealthy people giving away tons of money - perhaps the challenge many billionaires have taken up alongside Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

However, the actual meaning of philanthropy - according to The Free Dictionary - is simply "Love of humankind in general".

It sounds so simple, really - love.  Everyone can love.  Of course, it's not always that easy, but we can all choose it.  And, at some point, we have all offered love - a hug for a friend, a favour offered without expectation of return, smiling at a stranger.  These little acts of love - of philanthropy - are ones we can choose every day.

In celebration of National Philanthropy Day, celebrate the love in your life.  Celebrate your moments of philanthropy - the big ones and little ones, the times you can offer love and those you receive it.

What is your favourite story of philanthropy?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Defining Art

Confession: I am a terrible artist.  All the colours blend together, lines are never straight and everything looks "modern" and "free-style"... to put it nicely.  : )  I don't even know if my Mom could name a piece of art that I did of which she may have been proud (beyond the "my child is perfect in every way" sort of proud).

But in Linchpin, Seth Godin has redefined art for me, in a way that makes me see myself as an artist.

Art, says Godin, is a unique expression of each person; something one individual can do that can not be replicated by anyone else.

There are traditional arts, yes - sculpting, painting, acting, dancing.

But there are other kinds of art as well.  The art of caring, of giving, of interacting.  The art of writing a letter, serving coffee, talking with a customer.  Interviewing an employee, meeting someone for the first time, working with a team - each of us performs art, in our own way, each day.

Art involves labour, and it equals change - change in the person who is creating it as much as the change in the environment or what is being created.

No matter what our art is, we will almost certainly be happiest, most fulfilled, when we are using it often - including at work, home and wherever else we spend time.

The process of figuring out what you are uniquely talented to do is a life-long one, but it's worth searching out and putting in to practice.

What's your art?


PS: This is part of a series of blogs about Seth Godin's Linchpin that I'm doing in conjunction with a Twitter-friend, Chett.  Check our her blog for more insights!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Saying No

Sometimes, I say yes when I should say no - and I say no when I should say yes.

In Seth Godin's Linchpin, he describes two possible reasons for respones when asked for something.

There are those who never say no.  They say yes and they find a way to get it done.  These people are problem solvers, trouble shooters.  They see issues as opportunities to change things, to make someone else happy.  This is the gift they can give the world.

There are also Linchpins who say no all the time.  They say no because they are so focused on their goals, their purpose, that anything outside of that is easy to say no to.

Of course, there are responses that Godin doesn't describe (ones that he would not consider Linchpin responses).

One such response is to say no all the time for the wrong reasons - lack of motivation, laziness, etc.

Another possible response is to say yes all the time and not follow through, becoming overwhelmed and failing responsibilities.

The most balanced response, I suggest, is to say yes within areas of priority and talent.  Say yes to solving the right problems, to delivering the most good; and say no to what doesn't fit.

The best each of us can do is to mean what we say, and say it for the right reasons.  When saying yes, mean it; when saying no, mean it.  Prioritize and commit to what matters and do it well.


PS: This is part of a series of blogs about Seth Godin's Linchpin that I'm doing in conjunction with a Twitter-friend, Chett.  Check our her blog for more insights!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why push?

Why do we push so hard to reach certain goals?  Staying up all night to finish a paper for school.  Cancelling plans with friends to go to the gym every day.  Working late and missing family to finish some elusive project.

What's the use?

Motivation can be fleeting.  But there was a reason you started on this path; something that, at one point, seemed important enough to strive and work for.

I go back to the goal.  What's the point?  Will this effort help me get there?  Is the goal still worth it?  If yes, it's worth staying the course - the journey and end result will be worth it.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Back to blogging... and fear

This week, a friend commented that I haven't blogged in a little while.  He's right, of course... it's been a few weeks.  The reason for this that I've been telling myself is that I'm busy - which is true.  There have been many days in the last few weeks that have been stacked end-to-end with work, volunteering, friends, family and too many good things to list; many nights where I've come home just in time to answer a few emails and fall in to bed.

However, I also know that I've been wrestling a little bit with the purpose of this blog, and also with the idea of putting my ideas "out there".  What if people disagree?  What if you, the few people who visit this space, think I'm scattered or disorganized?  What if I put ideas down here, in the never-forgetting internet, and then in a few years even I disagree with them?  By blogging, I began to fear that I am making statements about myself, my beliefs and my ideas that I would be held to forever and ever... and that was a terrifying thought!

And then, as often happens, I came upon something that spoke exactly to that situation.

You may know that I've been reading Linchpin by Seth Godin, and blogging about various parts and passages (along with Chett, a twitter-friend who's been doing the same and had a great post this week about goals).  There's a section in Chapter 4 in which Godin asks "Where do you put the fear?".  The idea here is that each of us is fearful about something, but that those who are successful are able to move beyond their fear and act anyway.

I have lots of fears, of course, as we all do.  One of my beliefs about fear is that it's healthy, and that it signals something - fear tells us that what we are scared of (losing a friend, making a call, choosing a path) has meaning and importance.  The fact that I'm scared of blogging about some topics means that I care about the opinions that I'm sharing.  If you're scared to choose, that means the decisions matter, and that you care about the consequences and results.

Of course, fear can also be paralyzing.  It can lead us to hide or run from that which scares us.  It can lead us to lash out in anger, or with reactions that don't fit the situation.  If we let it, fear will defeat us by telling us we can't, we shouldn't, we won't be able to.

But, if everyone feels fear about something, then the question becomes: how do those who are successful deal with it?  Or, as Godin says, where do you put the fear?  Where does a lawyer put the fear that they will lose the case?  Where does a hockey star put his fear of not making the perfect shot?  Where does a public speaker put the fear that they will be judged as boring?

Ultimately, does your fear motivate you or chase you away?  Does it inspire you or cause you to cower?

Everyone has fear... lots of fears, in fact.  So where do you put it?

My commitment to myself is to feel the fear - all of it.  To feel it, accept it, and act anyway.  To decide which fears are meant to be moved in to, and which ones aren't (obviously, a fear of running in to traffic is one that should be listened to).  To realize that it's normal, healthy even, to feel fear.

My commitment to myself is to blog, and to know that I will get it wrong sometimes, and to do it anyway.  To speak in front of groups of people, to share what matters, despite fear of judgement.  To step in to the fear of what will come, and let it motivate me to be a better version of the person I can be.

What about you?  Where will you put your fear?

Thanks, Bob, for the reminder to get back to blogging : )