Category Archives: Thriving

How to write a book – A Play

I’m listening to an interview of author Janice Day who wrote about her breast cancer experience. I like her style and her struggle to find a story format to suit her story.  You can listen to the podcast at  Creative Breakthrough Podcast 1 with Jurgen Wolff.

Janice talks about studying screen writing and being interested in Aristotle’s analysis of the three act play into pity, fear and catharsis.

It’s is a great description of this year’s book writing course and explains my different bouts of writer’s block.

How to Write a Book – A Play
Act I: Pity.
Scene: A desk, a computer, an empty chair.
A woman walks into the room, looks at the computer and wails “oh woe is me, I can’t write a book. I’m doomed.”
Act II: Fear.
Scene: The woman sits on the chair and starts typing, then stops and screeches “oh no, I can write a book… oooh, but it won’t be good enough and people will snigger behind my back. I’m doomed if I do and doomed if I dont.”
Act III: Catharsis.
Scene: The woman sits in the chair, typing on the keyboard. The screen comes into focus and we see the words  “the end”. She leans back takes a deep breath, exhales audibly, smiles and says: “wow, so that’s how you write a book.  I’ll be damned.”

 

Why we must celebrate the small wins

A great way to start the week listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast with Chase Jarvis.

I especially love his comments about the really important reason for celebrating the small wins.

As Tim explains it: we want to be creative because we want to do great work and we want to do great work to feel good about ourselves and if we give ourselves small doses of feeling successful throughout the creative process, rather than just at the end, we get better at celebrating the big wins too.

So true.

Sending good intentions to the universe doesn’t give us what we want… we achieve what we wish at a speed determined by our cultural beliefs and by the strength of the actions we take that confirm our intrinsic worth.
The MindBody Code, Dr Mario Martinez

Five Questions to help Get Unstuck

I’m participating in an online course with lots of assignments and some of our group have gotten behind and are feeling stuck. It seems overwhelming if not impossible to catch up on the outstanding work and get back on track. So what to do?

I was was feeling like this recently and found that asking the question “what should I to do first?” seemed logical but it was the wrong question.  I couldn’t make a decision because I had no way to decide what were the necessary assignments and what I could skip.

Luckily, one of my colleagues reminded me “you know why you are you doing this – let that  be your decider”, which alerted me to the fact that I had not revisited my “why” in a while.  So here are the five questions that helped me get unstuck and moving again.

1. Why am I doing this? 

I revisited my “why”.  I wanted to do this course because I am keen to learn how to run online communities and to connect with people who work in social & environmental justice. That hasn’t changed but I have lots of choices about what sort of community and I sometimes get lost in the options, so I need a way to remind myself of what I want.  I like the idea of the minimum viable product that I can build – something that will produce value for my community members come launch day on Septemer 10th.

Lesson: We need to make our “Why” memorable, so we can think about it on a daily basis.
Suggestions include: Make a poster to look at, a story to tell, or a dance move to reflect your “why”.  A rough prototype of the website is relevant for my particular project.

2. Who am I doing this for and 3. What is their problem?

In the early days of hte program we spent time talking about and describing our audience, what they say their problems are. I think I need to keep them in mind daily.

Lesson: How can we find someone who represents our potential audience / clients and has the typica problems they have, then make them memorable via a screenshot or image, or a typical phrase for their problem, or a pose that they get into when they’re down.  Google images are great – for serious and cartoon images.

4. How can I help them?

I keep imagining my audience / clients with their problem and then imagine giving them a meaningful message and imagine how I will connect with them.  Is it a product or a service, in my case will it be synchronous or asynchronous contact or a bit of both?  What is the minimum I can create to start to get my message out there and draw potential network members to me?  The answers to these questions helped point me in the direction of where to start. Blogs are easy.  For others, a tangible example of your message / solution might look like a mock up of a workshop marketing page, or a book book cover and outline, or typical answers to frequently asked questions in a podcast, or  a short video demonstrating what we can do.

5. What will my impact be?

Finally, what impact do I intend to have? When I imagine my audience / network with their problem and then they join my community – I create a ‘before and after’ comparison, or a mini movie in my head.  What will they and their life be like after they have joined this community?  I’m still working on this one – trying to create a satisfied network member image, a mock testimonial, or a ‘happy power pose” (see Amy Cuddy for more on powerful poses).

If you haven’t worked out your “Why”, or if you are still stuck after asking these questions, send me an email to sharon (at) apassion.com.au and you can join our “proto” community. My motto is a riff on Barbara Sher’s “isolation is the dream killer” … “Connection is the Dream Fulfiller”.

The “cost” of joining the proto community is that you give me full and frank feedback on what does and doesn’t appeal.

Guilt is Good

Have a look at a great video clip from NLP master trainer Steve Andreas about guilt.

He gives us some really good reframing: If I’m feeling  guilty about something rude I said, I can ask myself “in the moment what was more important – speaking up or being nice?  If I acknowledge that I’ve chosen speaking up for myself as more important, then I must be a person who lives my values.”

So I’ve reframed the thought of violating a value in order to satisfy another value to mean I am a person who lives my values.  Nice.   It’s counterintuitive – an interesting benefit of guilt.

If I”m feeling really guilty about not “being nice” then that means that value is also really important to me.  So a values clash can help to clarify what’s important to me. Another benefit of guilt.

Maybe I haven’t learned how to achieve both together yet, but by knowing that both values are important, I can choose to make amends, to show that I’m also ‘nice’.  And using ‘intelligent regret’, I can reflect on my behaviour and choose to do something different in the future that combines both values.  This gives me problem to solve rather than wallowing in embarrassment. That’s a third benefit of guilt.

In conclusion, guilt is good.  Especially if you do something different as a result of it.

Thanks Steve – very helpful.

Appreciating the Good

For most of us it’s natural to presume the worst.  As Rick Hanson explains, we are hard wired to focus on the negative – our ancestors who survived learned to do that best. And while we may think its still a dangerous world out there, many of the dangers are now ego-threatening rather than life-threatening.

Even if it’s natural to presume the worst, we can still to learn how to appreciate the good in our lives and in order to do that we need a compelling “why”, a useful “how” and a provocative “who” – “anyone can learn it – even pessimists like you or me”.

I like Rick’s Hanson’s explanation of three parts of our brain that need support, even if Dr Sarah McKay says it’s not strictly true:
• Reptile – Brainstem, focused on avoiding harm.  Rick suggests we practice “petting the lizard” – we can learn to tell ourselves “it’s OK, you’re scared and it’s normal to focus on what might go wrong – but it probably won’t”.
• Mammal – Limbic system, focused on approaching rewards.  Rick suggests we can learn to “feed the mouse” – “eg. let’s break this big goal down into little sub-goals and reward ourselves for achieving each of the little goals”.
• Primate – Cortex, focused on attaching to “people like us”.  My favourite – Rick promotes daily  “hugging the monkey” – this means having people or pets we can hug daily and who will hug us back. A good hug releases oxytocin and looking into a dog’s eyes does too.

But “why” we may ask?  Well for the answer to that question we need to talk with Barbara Fredrickson and find out about her Broaden and Build research and the positivity ratio.  More next post.