Running

 

 

You know the song “Da Doo Ron Ron“? I always remembered it as being “Da Do Run Run.”

Inaccurate as a reference, but interesting as a motivational tool: Action inspires forward motion.

Do.

Then run and run.

🙂

 

Photo, “The Runner,” by Hamed Saber

 

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© 2008 Christine Taylor

Published in: on August 8, 2008 at 5:20 pm  Comments (7)  
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Able Was I, Ere I Saw…Oooh, Shiny

 

 

Distractions. You know what they are? A mar on a panorama.

A panorama of productivity, aglow with embers of ideas that are fanned into a flame by motivation. It can be a beautiful sight—unless our attention is diverted elsewhere. Then our motivation evaporates till there’s nothing left of it. No trace, not one carton.

As a matter of fact, even on my way to type this article, I got sidetracked. My mind was filling with clear ideas, which would soon become a cohesive blog post. I opened a browser, with Google Documents as my destination. I mentally rehearsed my phrasing while the home page loaded…making sure I remembered the exact wording I wanted to use, preparing to head to GoogleDocs…and…oh…what was that headline on the home page? *Click.*

Ooh, shiny.

“Able was I, ere I saw…[Fill in the blank].”

So what zaps your momentum? Often, we don’t even realize what does it to us, even when it happens. All we know is that a few minutes ago, we were raring to go—now, we’re listening to a symphony of crickets chirping in our empty storehouse of ideas.

Zeroing in on triggers can help. For example, try filling in the blank:

“I was able to do this before I…”

…Checked social networks? Made that phone call? Folded the laundry? Some men interpret nine memos. For me, it’s handling e-mail. It’s not always a matter of wasting time in worthless activities—every item on that list is a viable task. But some tasks, by their nature, are more mind-numbing than others.

So, are we doomed to distraction?

No, it never propagates if I set a gap or prevention.

The key is in recognizing which activities fuel our motivation, and which ones drain it. Take a few days to analyze your work and thought patterns. Notice what your most productive thought-times are, and what commonly sidetracks you from putting those thoughts into action. Then reschedule the lulling tasks for another time. For instance, if managing your inbox zombifies you, then save e-mail for the hours when you could use a mental break.

And when you determine the times that your idea storehouse tends to runneth over, use self-discipline to focus on that alone. Don’t nod. Say “no” to other requirements till later. And resist the shiny.

Then enjoy the spoils of productivity. Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?

I thought so.

 

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© 2008 Christine Taylor

Published in: on August 6, 2008 at 8:06 pm  Comments (9)  
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Going the Extra Mile

 

 

I was feeling a bit burned out one Sunday. On an impulse, I decided to visit a local nursery. I had never been there before, even though I had seen its gates from the road many times. I thought that maybe a little touch with nature would offer the renewal I needed.

At some point, we’ve all most likely been to a nursery in search of plants for our gardens, yards, or flower boxes. We’ve walked through those sliding doors at Wal-Mart or Home Depot, and entered the gardening section. It’s usually a space of concrete and chain link fencing, where the air smells heavily of chemicals. Racks of plants and flowers are interrupted by the occasional stack of terracotta pots. Maybe we also have an idea about decorating our garden with other touches, like a bench, a statue, or a fountain. Most of those accessories are lined up under the bright fluorescent lights inside. It’s nothing special; but you go there for plants, not ambiance, right? It’s functional. It works. You get what you need, and you leave.

That was what I expected when I walked through the iron gates to this nursery. But instead, I was transported to a wonderland.

I found myself in a courtyard, where paths meandered among charming vignettes–dozens of displays that incorporated plants and flowers along with sculptures, stands, and wrought iron furniture. And as if that wasn’t enough, beautiful music filtered through the yard from outdoor speakers.

I started wandering down those paths, finding each turn filled with surprising beauty. As I approached the building, I could see three other pathways, each one showing me intriguing glimpses between the overhanging leaves. Making a mental note to return to them, I went inside–and was blown away again.

Part home decor shop, part furniture store, the nursery was crammed with scene after scene of what can only be described as “outdoors coming in.” The floor was rough red brick, exactly the same as the patio outside. Lovely potted plants and decorative figurines were arranged among charming furniture. It’s been a while since I’ve seen something that took me so off my guard; it was so unlike what I had expected that it nearly dazzled me. Perhaps it was because my soul needed the renewal that nature and music could offer. Or because my creativity rejoiced in the beauty around me. Either way, I found myself wishing I could sit down on one of those comfy-looking couches, pick up a leather-bound notebook from a nearby desk, and stay for a while.

Just like the courtyard, the walkways in the shop led off in different directions. But I let my feet carry me outside again, suspecting that I would eventually see everything, if I kept walking. I passed through the wide open doors to a greenhouse that was filled to bursting with green. Whimsical garden gnomes and aged-looking statues were half-hidden among the leaves. I raised my eyes, and took a breath at the sight of iridescent glass orbs hanging from the roof–like pixie dust, or bubbles in a magical kingdom.

It was like being inside of a fairy tale.

Two things went through my mind as I strolled in wonder through that place. First, I was enthralled with how peaceful I felt–nature’s touch was all around me, and that, partnered with sweet music and enchanting details, caused my mind to reawaken to the beautiful, the fanciful, the mysterious in life.

The second thought sank in with a memory of a blog post by Chris Brogan. He very briefly said, “Be helpful.” In my mind, that had translated to the question, “How can I be helpful to my clients?”

After two months of dwelling in my Swiss-cheese memory, the statement somehow became “Do more.” (Sorry about that, Chris.)

Those words went through my mind as I stared up at iridescent bubbles. The nursery owners didn’t need the bubbles. They didn’t need the tiny doll houses arranged among miniature plants; or the white antique bookcase laden with aromatic bath products; or the butterfly that decorated the vines above a table that held Italian cookbooks. The only scents in that shop were of plants and potpourri, because the necessary chemicals and fertilizers were tucked away in a corner where hardly anyone would see them, unless they looked for them. The owners didn’t need to do that. But they did.

“Functional” gets the job done; but these store owners went the extra mile. Instead of leaving the garden to a customer’s imagination, they showed visitors what a garden haven could really look like–and even more than that, they gave an example of a daily life inspired by nature.

They did more.

How can I go the extra mile? In my business, my blogging, my personal life? How can I add that one extra, unnecessary, extravagant touch of beauty that makes another feel special—and blessed?

That’s a thought to ponder. And I think I know just the place to do it.

 

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© 2008 Christine Taylor

Published in: on July 20, 2008 at 8:33 pm  Comments (10)  
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Building a Castle of Dreams on a Strong Foundation

 

 

On a recent Sunday, I went for a walk on the beach with my family. We were happy to discover that a local artist–who is famous for his sand castles–had left yet another beautiful creation by the pier. He outdid himself with this one–towers decorated with hearts rose from a colorful mountaintop base. Careful details fired the imagination, making me think of the realm of possibilities in life, and the magic of believing in a dream.

Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, the incoming tide was starting to fill the moat. With each new wave, the water crept closer to the castle. Several children had taken on the noble task of saving the castle from the onslaught. They worked tirelessly to build walls of sand around the moat, in a futile effort to block the waves. They were trying to stop the force of the sea–which was pretty close to being impossible. A few adults shared wisdom with them, advising them to shore up the base of the castle itself, to strengthen it so that it would survive the tide–in part, if not intact.

I watched the scene play out for at least an hour, while thoughts drifted through my mind. How that castle resembled my own aspirations–beautiful, colorful, a joy to behold. And how very much the sea resembled the harder circumstances in life–powerful, destructive, and often unstoppable.

And I knew that, sometimes, I resemble a person who is standing on a beach with a bucket, a shovel, and a vision.

 

When ideas, opportunity, and resources all come together at the same time, it’s tempting to fire into a venture with the first rush of excitement. Taking the tools at hand, we begin building our dreams into reality. Enthusiasm is indeed necessary for success; but we need to make sure we take a look at the whole picture before we begin. We need to look at the long-term–what might come down the road? What will happen when the tide shifts in our field? Will we be able to move with the tide, or will we be overwhelmed? What can we do to prevent against the destruction of all that we have worked for?

In the case of a castle sculpture, that might mean creating it on a movable surface and blending a fixative in with the sand so that it will dry securely and hold together. Instead of having a fleeting existence, a castle like that could be displayed for many years.

So what’s the equivalent with our castle of dreams? What base will make it adaptable to change? What can we put into it at the start to insure its strength in the future?

When we answer as many of those questions as we can at the beginning, we prepare wisely, building a solid foundation for our dream that will be able to withstand the test of time and struggle. And in doing so, we create something that can remain beautiful for generations to come.

 

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© 2008 Christine Taylor

Published in: on July 11, 2008 at 4:54 pm  Comments (4)  
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