You Can Make it Your Problem

You can make a difference in your world. You are capable of influencing, assisiting, changing and improving your surroundings and those around you. The world can be a better place for all of us. You can do great things. But none of this happens when you are too busy, too tired, too insignificant, too depressed or whatever excuse you chose to use. You can make it your problem (miyp) by taking action, small and large.

The practice of miyp isn’t ad hoc it is cultural and ubiquitous. Your first reaction should be to act. When you see an injustice, a tragedy, a concern, someone needing assistance, a situation that is causing problems – make it your problem and do what you can. We are all more capable than we give ourselves credit for. Putting into place a new miyp mantra and beginning to act will change your life and make the world a better place.

Begin where you are; call a friend who needs encouragement, shovel a walk, write a letter, talk to a stranger or a politician or both. Make a lunch, sing a song, read a book and share it with someone. Recycle, pick up trash, make a donation, join a cause. Volunteer with a group or just take action yourself.

If something has been bothering you, if you have had an inkling that something isn’t right, if you were worried you couldn’t help – just do what you can today, tomorrow and until there isn’t anything that needs your assistance.

Make Today Remarkable, for yourself,



What Shadow are you Casting?

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Abraham Lincoln

What shadow are you casting? Is the tree providing amazing fruit to others? Does it have strong roots in values? Is it still growing or has it been stilted by circumstances?

It is time, it is always time, to consider your character and reputation. What legacy will you leave? If you understand your values, live them every day, you are on your way to authenticity, one of the elements needed for character. If you live your values, even when they aren’t popular, even if they aren’t expedient, even when those around you are going a different way( the tree) then you are seen as authentic (the shadow).

There are many character traits that remarkable people living remarkable lives exemplify. The character sets are likely different for every person you know or know about but there may be as many as fifty traits that many of those that fit the remarkable category share. Every Tuesday for the next while I am going to tackle two or three with examples from the world around us.


Like most character traits, curiosity is learned and cultivated. The nurturing of an inquisitive mind at home, with family, in play, and encouraged by reading, games, experiments, and challenges fosters curiosity. Most formal education systems stifle curiosity in favor of conformity, rules, models and theories but a young inquisitive mind can survive with a little prompting. Children, before attending school, ask “why” and adults that question should be celebrated. If you need some encouragement to be curious, Don Latumahina’s post offers 6 tips.

The inventors and activists share this trait. They are able to see new ways for old ideas to fit together and imagine new ideas that may lead to something interesting and/or useful. Most are risk embracers and seem to see mistakes/failures as new doors to the next path. Edison may have failed more than 2000 times before he found a working lightbulb and said “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Wayne Gretsky, Marie Currie, Mother Teresa all failed before their first successes but continued to be inquisitive, persistent and optimistic that their efforts would lead to a different opportunity.


Initiative is often paired with curiousity. In the face of a problem and the possibility of failure, the power to begin or to follow through with a plan or task turns a challenge into an opportunity.

Muhammad Yunus saw the same poverty that millions witnessed throughout the sub continent, he felt compassion just as hundreds of thousands did, he said “this is unacceptable” as thousands had but he stepped forward, put his own skin in the game and took the first step. He loaned $27 from his own pocket, received repayment and took step two, three and four that has lead to Grameen Bank providing necessary financing in the order of $7Billion with a more than 94% repayment rate.

Curiousity and initiative seem to fit together – build, fix, build, fix, build again.


What is Meaning?

“Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.”

— From a speech John W. Gardner delivered to the Hawaii Executive Conference in Kona, Hawaii, in April 1993


One of the Great Lies of the 90’s

If you are not up to a challenge, don’t read this post.

During the self centered 1990’s we constructed and then believed 11 Great Liies. We told them to ourselves to justify a lack of commitment, a lack of caring, a lack of curiousity. We tried to feel better about ourselves and our decisions.

One Great Lie was/is that you can substitute quality time with quantity time in your relationships. You might get away with this for a short period but without enough time spent together there isn’t enough time for genuine quality to manifest.

With close friends, meeting every second Tuesday, once a month, a Saturday afternoon every quarter turns into , well rarely and then well nearly never.  With a partner, two hours at a movie on Friday, a date on the last Wednesday of the month, breakfast in bed on an anniversary turns into well ships passing in the night.

With kids, a day at the park, an afternoon playing, a weekend away twice a year turns into well a strained relationship.

You do need to create/plan quality experiences but you also need to spend enough time together to allow spontaneous conversations to turn into special confiding. Enough time face to face with some intent eases any tension and opens possibilities for difficult subjects to be broached. Children need to know you are there so they can initiate questions and build trust.

Time allows for comfort. Intentional, dedicated time allows curiousity. Quantity and quality time together build the realtionship.

Ensure enough quantity time so that the quality time isn’t a manufactured effort but a natural extension of doing life together.

Arbitrarily I suggest friends require 52 hours a year, partners 750 hours a year, kids at least 1000 intentional quantity hours. Try finding an hour this week for a friend (the one whose name came to mind just now), two unplugged hours with your partner each day for the next 3, and a whole afternoon at a park with your child. It is a great start- they will be better for it, you will be better for it and your relationship will be better for it.

Make Today Remarkable, for someone else,



Why are you Wearing Blinders?

Apparently humans have a range of vision of 200 degrees.  That means that we can see slightly behind us and everything in front of us. So why do we become so narrow focused in out pursuit of innovation, solutions to social issues, or better ways of doing things?

It is easier to just trod down a familiar path unaware of the hints our eyes are collecting. Familiarity breeds complacency and they have a child named Mediocrity. Try looking in unusual places – buy/borrow magazine subscriptions for topics that would never interest you, peruse blogs on subjects that don’t seem to connect, sit quietly in a garden or go to a noisy club, get some exercise or meditate or both, do something (anything) that you wouldn’t normally do. And then heighten your observations by writing about the experience. Capture way too much detail, be overly analytical and poetic at the same time. Ask why five times. Then expect something new to come to you in the next 48 hours. The newly imagined may not be plausible and certainly not perfect but you are accessing a place where a new offspring might be conceived. What  would you name her?

Make Today Remarkable, by extending your vision,



A Well Deserved Shift

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Henry David Thoreau

Efficiency and effectiveness, scaling and productivity, return on investment and leverage –  the vernacular of all our days. Take today, do what you can and don’t fret about what doesn’t get completed. March to a different drum this Thursday (every Thursday?).

Make Today Remarkable, by listening to your rhythm,



Health is more than Being Healthy

My training schedule for this week seems a stretch.

40 min x-train
50 min run with 8 * 1min hard 2 min rest in the middle
35 min x-train
65 min run with 6*20 second uphill strides
40 min run or 70 min x-train
Even after today’s cross training, the workload seems like A LOT.
It isn’t that the amount of time or energy seems. It is my head getting in the way saying ” this is too hard, you can’t do. You should just quit”. It is the ‘lizard brain’ according to Seth Godin that is getting in my way.
It happens often. When I am starting a new project, trying to eat healthier, making a commitment the voice in my head says ” Give up”.
That is why I need to focus, at the start,  on getting through the first 6 minutes of running, the first 500 words, the first veggie snack (rather than chocolate) not the destination.  Finishing a hard run or 3000 words is the impetus for the voice and until I make some early strides it can sound like a shrieking child. But if I focus and push forward to a marker, it becomes quiet, until tomorrow. I have never got to a place where the  complaining, nagging, negativity is gone but I have crested a mental divide where the lizard brain gives up more quickly.
Focus today on finding a marker for your mental health.
Make Today Remarkable, by quieting the voice, for a little while.

Only the Dead Have Seen the End of War.

Attributed to Plato in 4th C, used by McCarthur in 20th C, used in “Black Hawk Down” in 21st C, this quote causes a shudder and goosebumps. I think it troubles me because it seems so true in the history of man. One war ends where another begins. One conflict leads to peace in one area but spurs warfare and atrocities somewhere else. We never seem to be at peace or feeling peaceful. Jealousy, inequity, greed, fear, reprisals, fear of reprisals, and tribalism don’t get hidden away for long. It seems that the smaller the world gets, the less we appreciate each other and any difference we have. Maybe we are banging into each other and not apologizing.

The more diverse we become, the more divisively we react to big things and to straw. Nothing is too small to fight about or at least that is what the authorities in society seem to believe. National governments, tribal councils, religious affiliations  hold their positions to be sacred and are willing to demonstrate their strength with force. Does acting as the instrument of force justify the enormous role authorities are playing? If they weren’t causing trouble with our neighbour or defending a slight, would they be able to convince us of their value?

I would give them more credit if they could come together and create/embrace a lasting peace – a time of agreement where possible and accommodation where it isn’t.  Liberty doesn’t exist because of conflict, it exists in spite of conflict. I try to imagine the freedom that would rise up if we weren’t in a perpetual state of war.


Will you do Enough to Fail This Week.

“Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

Being an impatient imperfectionist, I get to ‘fail’ often For me it is the measure of how much I am avoiding the monotony of status quo. The abundant life I have been promised (and am living) exists because my eyes and ears are open to the possibilities not the sureties in front of me. When I march with my eyes up and my heart open, adventure arises. If I trudge along head down the scarcity of my feet’s perspective, while certain, isn’t very interesting.

When uncertainity is embraced and mystery is involved I become confident in making unimagined decisions. They are easy to make but not necessarily perfect. But I do get the opportunity to evaluate, adjust and retry. If I sit on my hands planning and waiting, all I get is cramped hands.

Make Today’s Adventure a Remarkable Failure,



Reboot, Recommit, Reorient

The beginning of a new month, a new season often stirs the promise of change in certain elements of our lives. “This is a good time to eat better and get more exercise”, ” I am going to get up an hour earlier every day and read a good book and make my lunch”, I need to listen to him/her more – things could be so much better”, ” I am going to volunteer”, “I am going to find love”, ” I am going to change things” First, let me tell you that you are remarkable, or at least remarkable is waiting to bloom in your life. Remarkable people live remarkable lives by recognizing their strengths and using them to strengthen themselves and others. That stirring that you are feeling is the remarkable you trying to break out of the mediocrity that the world tries to convince us is the best we can be. Every day we hear messages from big government, big business, big media, big charity that tell us “don’t worry your silly little head about that, we will take care of it.” In most cases the Big can’t, won’t and shouldn’t be responsible for actions, tasks, services that we are able to look after ourselves. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, ” I believe every person, given the opportunity and circumstances will take care of herself, his family and her community. But we need to let the remarkable you out, into the world where your small actions can make a big difference (in your life and those around you). Today’s challenge is to take a risk – take a small step or better yet a series of small steps towards the change you are seeking (even if it isn’t fully formed or understood yet). Taking action is always better than doing nothing. If the first step is a misstep or doesn’t quite hit the mark, we can adjust, amend, reverse but if we sit on our couch waiting for amazing to arrive – it will be a long wait and we won’t learn what the next step in the journey should be. I urge you accept the challenge and tell others how you did by jotting a comment. Next post will be about how you can fuel the journey with your passion. Make Today Remarkable and tell us how you did.