Monday, December 14, 2009

Hooray for Steve Williams

Steve Williams is Tiger Woods' caddie. In recent interviews aimed at getting more dirt on the beleaguered golfer, Williams declined to play the bashing game. He essentially said: I worked for the guy, he was always gracious to me, I know nothing about these allegations. . .he's my friend.

What a stand-up guy, and how rare. A microphone in the face is unbearingly alluring with its opportunity for instant, if brief, fame for joining the spread-the-dirt crowd.

How does Steve Williams relate to you? You have constant opportunities at work to bash a co-worker going through a bad time or who's made big mistakes, and it's tempting to join the cubicle crowd in it. Resist the temptation (because you feel a little scummy about yourself when you do make another person the butt of cruel jokes). Be the one who doesn't. Be the one to stand beside someone going through hell. They will never forget the gift of your loyalty and support. And you'll feel better about yourself.

Make Steve Williams your example for how to be a friend.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Be an External Believer

The point of this blog is the importance of having an "external believer." It's the most important work I do with clients. Once you benefit from this believer, you have an obligation to be one for someone else.

In the film "Precious," one of the messages is the power of the "external believer," someone whose belief in you makes you willing to stretch for your possibilties. Its critics have struggled and generally failed to find the right posture about "Precious" because they have no frame of reference for a life so desperately lived. You'd think, though, they'd remember the hands that helped them find their way.

My dissertation was on how survivors of extreme trauma come through coping to resilience. Studies show: (a) traumatized children benefit from surrogate love from a positive adult model; (b) the effects of trauma are less if the child can recruit others' regard and attention; (c) the efforts to help a child overcome effects of abuse will not be successful unless he also works at it; and finally, (d) it is important not to let the individual stay a victim. He or she must do the work of recovery.

There. You've just attended the movie.

The genius of director Lee Daniels was that he so perfectly captured the despair of living in that environment. It recalled his early life. . .mine, too. My family was that poor and our life that ugly. I spent eight years in a children's home and am absolutely the product of people who believed in me. They were mostly the nuns in the orphanage and my high school. They saw and fostered my best qualities and threw open the windows of learning and a stable life to me. Sandwiched between my years at the home were also nuns in my small steel mill town who saw me through indifferent eyes. They were brutal and uncaring, doing their jobs without hope or light. I might have tipped over that razor's edge into poverty's darkness had they been my sole guides.

It was probably predictable that my life's passion would be to help others out of the holes that get punched into their lives, whether it's a career disaster or a struggle to find out "who I am, exactly." I am their "external believer." I see their possibilities with brilliant clarity and point them in that direction. I push and demand accountable action from them, but I know they can realize their dreams because their possibility path is usually so clear to me. There is no point, I believe, in squatting in today's mess.

Clients are grateful after they've done their work and found themselves in a new place, and when I shamelessly enroll them to help current strugglers, I tell them their obligation is to the universe to help someone else, not to me. After all, in working with them, I was really saying "thank you" to Sister Vita, Sister Englebert, Sister Miriam John, Sister Peter Fournier, Sister Alma, Sister Ann Dominic and Sister Isabel. It's a pretty big roster and I have a ways to go in living my gratitude to them.

Be an external believer of others. "Possibility" is the best gift you can give them.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Phone Interview: What It Means, How to Do It

You have an appointment for a telephone interview with a potential employer. What does that interview mean to the company? What are they looking for? What can you do to make the interview go great for YOU?

What It Means

Your interviewer could be the hiring manager, a young HR rep, an executive recruiter. The quality of the interview will vary widely. It could be a crisp 20-minute conversation, an unfocused 30 minutes, or an hour-long behavioral interview. They should tell you about time and type, but be sure to ask. Here's what the call for a pre-screen interview means:

1. You could be one of 5 or 25 they're telephoning. Depends on the job and the extent of the search.

2. You've made it past the first stack of resumes. You have the essential qualifications they'd arrayed in a grid. They have a few questions.

3. They want to see how you tell your story. Do you communicate well? How do you answer the questions they had about you? (an element of your experience; why you left a promising position; the depth of your technical/functional knowledge). Do they like what they hear about you (a subjective but important piece of information about you)?

4. The main question: Should we take you to the next level in our hiring process? For an executive or search position, that could be the in-depth behavioral interview, which is a phone interview with a scalpel. . .and you're the patient. For other positions, the "next level" is an in-person interview.

How to Do a Phone Interview Well

Your very best has to come across in these few minutes.

Note: If this is to be a Skype or video interview, some of the following won't apply. Pacing, for example, would be bad. You must prepare as if this were an in-person interview.

1. Be prepared. In general, you won't be given a chance to ask questions about the company or the job, but learn about the company anyway. It'll INFORM your responses.

2. Be prepared. Ask how long the interview will be.

3. Be prepared. Know your story. Imagine what they're looking for and how you should convey your possession of those qualities in those few minutes. The night before the interview, have someone "mock interview" you. Practice giving a chronology of your work experience (in 10 or 15 minutes). Answer the question you hope they don't ask. The role of the interviewer is ONLY to ask you those two things, and at its end to ask YOU how you felt you did. Most people don't know what interviewers are looking for and will give you bad advice. THE POINT OF THIS IS FOR YOU TO GET COMFORTABLE TELLING YOUR STORY. If they have SPHR behind their name (a professional HR designation) AND they've interviewed a zillion candidates, it might be okay to hear their counsel. Trust me, your mom won't know.

4. Be prepared. Set up a private interview space. You cannot be ON if children have access to you; if someone's playing Wi next to you; if "Dancing with the Stars" is competing for your attention. Stay away from your computer, too. It's a distraction (and I promise your distraction will be experienced by the interviewer, not in a good way). Go to your bedroom or basement. Have only things around you that make you feel great (you might have to make your bed). You are NOT to be disturbed unless aliens have landed and figured out your garage door code.

5. Be prepared. Your voice is your primary instrument here. Give it its best chance. A couple of hours before the interview, go for a run or brisk walk or workout, exercise that will get your heart pumping and lungs swelling. This energy will jump through the phone. Take a shower. Sing your favorite songs at the top of your lungs. You want to feel alive and fine. . .and to convey that.

6. Be prepared. Put on business casual clothes so you FEEL business-like. The subtle comes across 'way stronger than you might imagine.

7. Be prepared. Interview while standing, if you can. . .THAT energy also comes across. Or have a chair that requires you to sit up. Have eyes shut if it gets you more focused on the other. Pace, if that helps (but no stomping or heavy breathing!) Do whatever makes you feel THERE with the interviewer. When I do phone coaching with clients, I have to be seated at a desk with pen and paper at hand, and I take notes. They get my best attention that way. What works for you?

8. Be prepared. Respect the time given to you. You will NOT charm the interviewer if you go on and on. You could be cut off in the midst of your favorite story about yourself. Let the driver decide if s/he wants to stretch out the time.

9. Be prepared. At the end of the interview, ask what the next step is. Will they be contacting you? Should you check in with them? Thank the interviewer, by name, and express your appreciation for the opportunity.

10. Oh, and. . .be prepared. Your level of understanding and preparation will get you into that company's office faster than the next smart phone upgrade.

Good luck!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How Are Your Kids Creating Your Legend?

You are in adversity: You've lost your job or your business. . .or worse. You're living on the floor of your soul right now, and it's furnished with despair. You're afraid and depressed. Just getting out of bed is an ordeal; never mind putting on your peppy face to go get what's next for you. And let's not even talk about your flailing marriage to a spouse who's afraid, angry, resentful, punishing. . .all out of understanding.

You have been so busy with your demons that you've forgotten about the little eyes that are forever focused on you, pencils poised, always ready to work on your legend and its lessons. Twenty years from now your children will be living what you're teaching them today about how we deal when savage luck strikes us. They will recount the grandparental legend - yours - the anecdotes about you that will live past your time on the earth.

You may strike grand postures and pontificate, but your kids will work off of the behaviors they daily see in you, not those words. What material are you giving them? What story are you shaping for them to tell THEIR children?

"When hard times hit our family, Grandpa(ma). . .

". . .got up early every day to go for a long walk and pray for guidance,
then headed out the door with a determined step and a smile."

". . .had a dream but only ever talked about it. What's the use of dreaming?"

". . .Never stop trying, child. That's what your granddad always did. He
never gave up."

". . .stayed in the basement and never came out. It's when our family started to fall apart. She was never the same; neither were we."

". . .took any job he could get. It was a terrible year, but we made it. That's when I learned how much he loved us."

Isn't that how you learned the most about character. . .the way your parents lived THEIR lives? What story legacy do you want to leave about this time of struggle? What words do you hope the budding authors are choosing? Determination, courage, persistence, hope. How are you putting them into action today?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fit - Do You Have It?

"Fit" is the main reason you get the job or you don't. "Qualifications" is the first half of the hiring equation, but everyone who walks into an interview has those; it's how they got past the initial screen. "Fit" is the second and, I could argue, the most important. You feel at home when you walk in the door. The hiring manager would love to take you out for a beer with the rest of the team. You love what the company is about, and can't wait to get at the projects you would have. You can do the technical as well as the elusive but critical social aspects of the job. You are a fit.

You can get hired if you're not a fit: you're a wickedly shy analyst who flubs presentations but your assessments are brilliant; you're a rogue marketer who never follows the rules but you bring in millions; you're a pediatric neurologist who abuses OR nurses but are a genius at saving lives. You can work there; you may, however, be lonely or loathed. It's the unbeatable superiority of your qualification that keeps you there. It's a fragile existence.

Diversity can be a naive drum beating in the background here, but those issues are not part of the "fit" argument, unless the culture is so hidebound AGAINST anything except "like me". . .and that goes for minority organizations that never hire whites as well as radio stations that don't hire over 30 or faith-based companies that keep out "others."

"Fit" means we have roughly the same values and aspirations, and therefore have a basic understanding of each other. We like talking about the same thing, whether sports or mathematical problems or the growth of the Latin American market. We may not have the same native language but we appreciate where the company is headed and how we're going to help take it there.

Before I understood the importance of "fit," I failed in a hiring experiment. I was a corporate recruiting manager during a product expansion, hiring dozens of new sales reps each year. The district managers sent me cookie cutter candidates from campus recruiting: blonde ag econ majors from land grant universities, and they did fine.

An idealist, I wanted to change the white bread mix and began selecting odd ducks to enrich our agri-business pool: an MBA from Cleveland, a finance major from New York, a secretary who had gotten a management degree. The big city guy was miserable in Louisiana, the secretary hated being the "little gal" in Lubbock. I learned eventually that, man or woman, green or purple, from an alien planet or Austin — you succeeded if you fit the organization. I didn't change back to the cookie cutter, but I definitely began going for "fit."

When the company says, "We hired the best qualified interviewee," it means, "S/he can do the job AND is a good fit."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

See What the Kid Can Do

He is 30, shrewd and handsome, a smart guy. He’s made millions by his wits, and he just lost everything. This time next week he’ll be sleeping on the floor of a friend’s house. The economy is bad. No opportunities are visible. Rock bottom. Back where he started and out of hope. I meet similar dire predicaments several times a month, and my sympathy lies lukewarm between my client and me. I know what this is, and any nice noises will only hurt him. I’m not being cruel; I’m waiting to see what he’s made of.

Suspend for a moment any belief you have about destiny, God(s), self-will, or how the universe works. Indulge my fantasy. Imagine we all have about a half dozen people somewhere out there watching over us. They are like us but older, been-there-done-that, no-nonsense. (You see them all the time at breakfast places, waving unlit cigars, kibitzing. Who knew these were really celestial power brokers?)

Say this group of smart guys, none of them under 60, is the guardian group of my smart guy, and they’re watching his tragedy unfold.

“Oomph,” they all groan as he takes his body blows. They have similar memories and scars, but no one reaches out to lift him up. They sit there, intent, tight in the shoulders, silent. The head smart guy takes out his cigar, leans forward, and gruffs, “Let’s see what the kid can do.” And they watch.

We can have lucky lives. Jobs appear out of nowhere. An unexpected raise lifts our noses from the want ads. Even a downsizing can net us the capital to start that home business. But every single life has moments that lay us down for the count. Suddenly, you can’t find any job. Or, you’ve screwed up and you’re afraid you’ll get fired. Or, you can’t seem to get back on the yummy side of the organizational scorecard. All your best-faith efforts turn to dust in your hands. You are not — as some people wonder — being singled out and punished for some past-life deed. You have not used up your luck. But this is a test, I firmly believe, to see what you’re made of. How do you handle adversity? What actions will you take when you see no way out? How will you crawl out of this hole?

The smart guys watching you want you to succeed, but they realize the strengthening nature of scar tissue on the knees. They understand the character that can be developed when you shove fear, anger, self-righteousness, and hopelessness aside. They know that, at the end of the day, no matter how many resources you have, it’s up to you and nobody else to make “better” happen. Old smart guys know they learned the most from their failures and recoveries.

What do you do to get going again?

1. Set your “get-over-it” clock. These truly were body blows. Check your spirit in the morning. If you’re full of your misfortune, then set a timer for how long you’ll let yourself feel bad today. When the bell dings, put on your can-do cloak and head out into the day. You might as well take a positive attitude with you.

2. Look around for any hope that might be lying around. You might see a goal you’ve overlooked. “Why not now?” could be your response this time when the ideas pop up that you have said “No way” to before.

3. If you have no goals, go ask smart guys you know. See if their ideas link up with who you are.

4. If you don’t know smart guys, try a coach or counselor. Your ideas may be buried deeper than you thought; and these folks can help you feel better about yourself and more confident on your journey.

5. Pray. Now is the time to seek help from the highest places. Don’t overlook this resource. But don’t just wait to see what the deity will do. You have to get moving.

6. If you still have nowhere to turn, then start anywhere. Get out of your house. Drive around. Have coffee. Go to the library. If you’re truly a smart guy, you’ll be like a dowser who takes a forked twig and wanders till he feels a pull toward the earth, a sign that water is below. Smart guys and dowsers have a lot in common. They don’t know where the opportunity lies, but getting out and wandering around gets the job begun. When you look for what’s you and eliminate what’s not, you begin to feel pulled. Do not, however, consider this your major strategy. Goals and thoughtful action work better every time.

7. Get up. Whatever you decide to do, just get up. And get up every day, even if it feels like you’re flapping on the bottom of the ocean. Be determined not to let this define you or beat you. Countless others before you have experienced this same lousy deal, and they all learned that the fighting they did built their core, taught them valuable lessons and, curiously, gave them gifts. They certainly learned what they were made of .

The path lies long and rocky ahead of you, but I’ve seen hundreds of people rise up out of despair. I know you have what it takes to do what you have to do. My client did. He had only to look behind and see the mountains he had already climbed and test out his calloused hands to realize he had the necessary energy, courage, character, resilience, toughness and ability, and no other options. It took him a year to make real progress, but he got back in the game and started climbing. That’s what smart guys (who are also women) do. So can you. Show the other smart guys what this kid can do.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Get the Big Picture

You’re sitting at a meeting, perky and straight-backed, notepad ready. As the agenda whips along, you feel like a caged canary watching a tennis game. Something whizzes back and forth but you’re not sure what it means. You study the other birds’ behavior — the shrugs, knowing glances, restless feet. Wha’? Huh? What’s going on in the aviary?

One of the scarred blue jays next to you takes pity and whispers what the true agenda is and what you’re really here to do. Oh. It’s your first lesson in getting the bigger picture. . .not in the strategic sense, but in what's really going on. In other words, the STATED reason for the meeting was THIS, but the TRUE agenda taking place is THAT. You have to learn the playbook of organizational behavior, and you learn it by watching, asking scarred blue jays, testing ideas/possibilities, getting it wrong, and in other ways expanding your understanding of how things work. It requires most of your pores and all of your senses. Don’t go to Amazon for the how-to book; this text will never be written.

The more you understand the big picture, the more you get to play big. The less you get it, the longer you stay in a lower place, where you will be consumed by the minutia and rigid procedures that are so appreciated on the lowest swing in the cage. The saddest fact is that the good-job-doers bitterly wonder why their exceptional performance lost out to the just-okay gladhanders who got the promotions. It's because the movers GOT IT and were willing to jump in and play the game by its rules.

Yes, you should do your job well; yes, God is in the details, but getting ahead requires you to open that big picture reality book ever wider and pick up your tennis racket.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Name that resume!

When you're emailing resumes to friends, colleagues or potential employers, PLEASE keep in mind how lazy the recipients are, no matter how much we want to help you or see your talents. Give it your name, i.e., RoseJonasResume.doc. I have on my desktop resumes that say:


If busy recruiters are overwhelmed with resumes in this lousy economy, you can bet they want to move as quickly as they can through this onerous sorting task. Tell them who you are, or they might pass you by!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Knitting a life or stepping into the future

How do you decide, among all the pressures from home, work, or personal needs, which tasks or areas will get your attention when you wake up in the morning? Taking a broader perspective, how do you decide what to do in your life? Shall you paint portraits or get an MBA, live on a beach or in a quandary?

You could say that school or work or family demands dictate what you do on a particular day, but most of us actually have some ability to choose our activities, even if it's just our attitude toward those activities. People seem to structure their days and lives in one of two ways. They either knit them or step into the future and look back.

People who knit their lives construct them moment by moment, as if knitting, stitch by stitch. They make decisions as they go, doing what feels right in the moment. The advantage is that they're living life as it occurs; they're following their instincts, neither shunning nor putting off the unpleasant. The disadvantages are that they change direction and task as life demands, and that, unless their original goal was to make a big old blanket, who knows what kind of garment will result and how happy they'll be with it in the end?

Others create their life's decision list by stepping into the future, and they look back to the now, mentally constructing the actions that brought them to this tomorrow place. For example, today they have a job they don't like. They step into the future where they're living in a happier state because they had changed careers after putting it off so long. To reach this possible future, they had to get training they had avoided, they had to drop one of their community activities and rearrange some family responsibilities. But they made it! They got a new job. All the sacrifices were worth it.

Using this technique not only helps define a visionary goal, it also lays out the steps of the plan necessary to attain it. People who achieve great things have this ability and an unswerving refusal to take their eyes off the goal. Those who can ignore life's pressures and focus only on what they want are rare. This technique also has a disadvantage. If you concentrate only on the future, the present moment contains little sweetness, and you will live a life chasing happiness instead of tasting it now.

I think it's a good idea to use both approaches. Find a goal that's important to you, get a vision of the garment you want to knit, visualize its completion, describe the steps needed to get there, and make them your action plan, the backdrop for the life you live today. As you do, follow your instincts, do what feels right, and don't let a moment pass by that holds the potential for joy or sweetness.

Imagine what a remarkable life you can construct if you have both vision and flying fingers that knit a well-woven now.

Monday, August 24, 2009

How loyal should I be to my employer?

You should be exactly as loyal as you see people being rewarded for loyalty. There are three kinds of companies: those that value it and compensate with loyalty and security; those that feel employees are as expendable as nose tissues and blow them off, no matter how loyal and hard working; and those that ask for the employees' loyalty but don't keep their end of the contract, essentially flushing them.

Ten years ago, my advice would have been that loyalty pays. Companies then placed a value on loyalty. They worked people hard, but they rewarded loyalty. Now we're in a cycle that's 180 degrees different. Companies see employees as short term plugs in a socket, and new upgrades will replace them in several years. They aren't valuing the long-term, valuable employee. The employee isn't loyal in return. Pity. Ten years from now, someone will have the new idea of finding ways to achieve loyalty, and it will happen when that behavior gets rewarded. Pretty simple.

Employees feel uncomfortable attaching themselves to the organization with removable tape instead of Velcro. Most of us like belonging, being part of something we like and respect, and behaving in loyal Boy Scout ways. We like throwing ourselves into it, giving our all, waving flags and putting hand over heart as the company band marches by. We like being loyal and feel almost like it's cheating when we aren't. The tune bitterly changes, however, when we find ourselves and our loyalty unceremoniously dumped in this week's downsizing.

Bosses hate it when I talk about loyalty in my television appearaances. They tell me they face a buzzsaw of angry employees who have also seen the TV segment and realize they aren't getting the rewards of loyalty.

Here's the contract that employer and employee must have: You be effective and loyal and give your all, maybe even passing up opportunities, and the boss rewards it with money, benefits, security. If the contract is one-sided, i.e., you're doing all the giving, then you're also a fool if you're loyal. Looking at this a little closer, the ticket that needs to get punched for your loyalty is the boss' fair treatment and provision of security. Otherwise, do your job, but don't give your heart away.

The employer is paying for your performance. Do your best. But if giving up other parts of your life doesn't net you anything, then don't go in that loyalty sphere. Just do your good job and look for a company where loyalty matters.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Don't count on lightning

Stop looking at the sky and get off your horse. There was only one Saul on the road to Tarsus, struck from his horse by lightning, who afterwards knew his job was to spread the word about the new religion, Christianity.

We often think of ourselves as a St. Paul-in-Training, galloping down a pointless road doing meaningless things. We want someone to jump from the bushes, grab the reins, and point the horse in a new direction. We fear the celestial Ka-BOOM! but feel so hopeless doing what we're doing. We would take lightning over our daily drudgery.

Guess what? The sky is clear and the road is empty. You have to create and place everything on your career map: the destination, the scenery, the path, even the damn horse. Oh, there are people like me lurking in the bushes, happy to take the reins for a moment and point out a pass in your life's mountain range, but the journey is mostly all yours.

Saul was one of the lucky ones, along with the children who issue from the womb knowing what they want: the baby lawyer with her baby briefcase dangling from the umbilical cord; the will-be doctor with a stethoscope in his waving fist; the tiny artist already gripping a dripping brush. The rest of us squeezed out looking sheepish that we didn’t already have it worked out, and both the look and confusion have remained.

The map is created as you walk it. Stop a minute and look back at the way you've come. That's your lived life. Is it what you wanted to do, or what someone else thought you should do? If you see how much is there but you don't like it, you probably did the latter.

The best way to create your life map is to stumble toward what feels good for you. Contrary to what other counselors might tell you, it's not a question of what you can do well or enjoy doing. It’s what feels right for you RIGHT NOW, and that's a significant difference. If you begin to stumble (and I do mean stumble) in that direction, the right path will open for you. And your over-the-shoulder life/path reviews will give you joy, not regret. The way doesn't come immediately, but it comes sooner than later.

Day-by-day trudging is less interesting than being bounced onto our keisters by lightning. The stories are certainly less exotic, but the trudging leads to meaningfulness. I promise.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Take Your Job Search Medicine!

I am the most non-compliant person I know. I sit before any doctor, confident of my Good Housekeeping-formed medical knowledge with a Google kicker. I am ready to say why I know better than this guy who’s surely in the clutches of the drug companies. It’s clear that echinacea tea, not an antibiotic, is indicated here. About half of the people who get prescriptions fail to fill them. I am the president of that group.

I hate it when my clients don’t do what I tell them to do. The process and the timeline are fairly predictable, with the told age/skills/economy as a variable. Finding a job is a numbers game. Make this many real contracts and you’ll have a job. Do this with your resume. Give yourself a daily structure. Be with people who’ll keep you on an accountability trail. Do whatever it takes to keep your spirit up because attitude is everything. Be specific about what you’re pursuing. Be honest with yourself: are you going after your dream job, your Plan B, or just-a-job? Talk with your family, but before you count on them as cheerleaders, understand whether they’re your loudest critic. Don’t hide under the rock of Internet resume submissions or a call to a recruiter and call it a job search.

Finding a job is not the tidy, push-button console in a "Star Trek" movie. It feels like the day job it is, bloody hand-to-hand combat on a daily basis, and you’re the wounded combatant who has to walk and talk like a hero, while sewing up the hole in your self-esteem, with no anesthetic, at day's end.

I know better than most how difficult it can be to hard and follow advice. I pray daily to remain teachable.

You now this thing is not rocket science, so you shrug on your self-confidence suit and tie your self-reliance shoes and head into the joblessness swamp. What too often happens is that you're faking the confidence thing, you’ve worn the wrong shoes, and you’re ignoring the guide holding the light at its edge.

If you have a guide — an outplacement counselor, a career strategist, a friend who’s agreed to be your helper in your job search, take that as a gift. If you develop goals together, take the good advice you get, and check in on a regular basis. You'll find you have punched the accelerator button on your job-finding boat.

Let’s make a deal. You take the advice of your guide and I’ll buy the antibiotic; we’ll both be better for it.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Many motivational types would argue that our behaviors are our expressions of what we truly want. ("I know you said you wanted X, but you did Y, ergo, the life you're looking at is the life you wanted to create.") I don't agree. Your behaviors, the sum of which is your life, represent your decisions, not your desires. I would love to tell you to bound out of bed in the morning eager to create the abundant life you want, but if you're like most grown-ups, "what I want" winds up at the end of our daily to-do list, the list we never complete. Because we so tightly embrace our responsibilities, we live "gotta" lives, not "wanna."

It's easy to live a "gotta" life. Kids. Job. Faith. Partner. We don't have to think; those responsibilities must be attended to, and we're right to give it our quality attention. But life can slip into bitterness and fatigue if we don't put a little "wanna" in there. It takes courage to consider what you really want from today. A courageous choice is where we grow, where we live our truths, where we exercise our talent. It could be as simple as buying yourself a pound of the coffee you want, or as challenging as getting up an hour earlier to write the story that's hammering at your brain. Courageous choice takes you a step closer to being an athlete, an expert, a crafter, a project manager.

It's time to put in the effort to create a better you. What a great choice to make each day! What do you want for you today?