Self Improvement

Tomorrow’s Breakfast

I heard Suzanne West from Imagena Energy speak yesterday at an event called #BecauseCalgary. She was part of a panel on business innovation and the changing landscape ahead of us. They all had a lesson to share and as always Suzanne was passionate and inspirational. She said that ” we shouldn’t back down. In fact we should joyfully eat problems for breakfast because that is how we move the needle.” I have written about tackling something big first thing in the day and agree that we need to embrace the opportunity that challenges bring. There is something exciting and frightening (in a good way) about facing a new problem with my Cheerios.

I have been reading a lot of spiritual practice writing and there is some suggestion that if we spend ten minutes at the end of the day reflecting on the day that was and imagining the day to come that in sleep, a new possibility arises. When you awake, before you dive into the day, take another ten minutes and reflect on how the shape of the problem has changed and record your ideas for change and the newly imagined path to a solution.

Keep the solution in view all day, either as a post-it or a screen grab. When you have another ten minutes begin a reflect and refine process. Keeping the solution on the proximate periphery allows you to use it as part of your day and use your day to improve the solution.

Try the ten minute routine tonight and tomorrow morning and at least once throughout tomorrow and then rinse and repeat.

Make Tomorrow Remarkable, by eating a problem for breakfast,


Self Improvement

Popeye Arms

Are you exercising regularly but focusing on the same routine? Like Popeye the Sailor Man you may end up with huge forearms and tiny ineffective muscles everywhere else.


I worry that many of us are exercising our brains but the routine is so predictable that we are growing giant frontal lobes ( not a physical representation but a metaphor for what I see happening). I spent time with three different groups over the past week and discovered that they were well read and well versed in a narrow band that gave them agreement comfort. If we don’t stretch away from the echoes bouncing around in our heads, we end up with a distorted image, likely uni-dimensional of the world that we live in.

I was with 1300 bright, interested, motivated people last week who were okay being pushed within a very small bandwidth. They felt thinking out of the box required that they keep their bodies inside and maybe let their nose sneak out and smell the air. There was an opportunity to be challenged, checked, changed and choices were waiting to be made but there was a lot of escape hatches offered and most people retreated to the same thoughts they were having when they walked in.

I wonder if Trumpamania and Brexit are manifestations of getting to the edge and ‘remembering that the world is really flat’ and pulling back, out of fear, into something that sounds vaguely familiar (and safe). Most troubling is the polarity that single-minded opinions, confirmation conversations, and willfully blind tribal loyalty encourage. The more you focus on bicep curls, the bigger your biceps get but now those tiny calves don’t give you a leg to stand on.

Enter into open and curious conversations with people, books and ideas that you don’t understand and/or disagree with.



Self Improvement

Scribbling Meaning

It is a struggle to stay motivated, to keep plowing ahead, to continue typing words … if no one is ever going to read them or care that they were written. It is like scribbling on a balloon and releasing it to the wind. You know it is being carried aloft and maybe afar but when it bursts and scatters fragments over the hills, it will just be scribbles without context or meaning. It feels like signing in the shower or having a good dream. It sounds good and feels good inside your head but when the water stops or something stirs you, it is gone without appreciation; gone forever.

So if the squiggles that form letters are transformed into words and then sentences don’y find a receptive audience, do they evaporate? Do they sit waiting for someone, anyone, to find them and read them and give them purpose? Or do they have meaning because they are articulated in a semi permanent script and not floating between synapses as unformed imaginations?

Do the ideas shaped by the written words need to find a reader’s voice (inside or outside) and provoke a conversation (inside or outside) or spur an idea or create a dissonance to reach its purpose? I am not sure where meaning resides or when it is created so I continue to play one of the 1000 monkeys hoping that somewhere a story is be created and retold.


Self Improvement


What if every question prompted a reversal question? Why doesn’t 100% of eligible voters exercise their franchise? Could become Why do 56% of eligible voters vote? Or How can eligible voters be discouraged from exercising their franchise? Or …



The way we frame the inquiry or the solution dictates what we see in the picture. I served on a committee for 5 years called “The Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative” and we developed recommendations that were approved by the governing authority. The ideas were variations on actions that were already being taken in Calgary or elsewhere. What if we substituted Prosperity Creation for Poverty Reduction? The recommendations wouldn’t resemble the list that was created and execution would certainly have been significantly different. It isn’t just semantics and framing speaks as much to our bias as to our optimism. Even when the outcomes might have a similar intention we can imagine what the ‘might have been’ of the path not taken.

It is worth the effort to pause when creating the boundaries and ask some what if questions. What if we positioned this inquiry in an open ended fashion? What if we focused on what we don’t want to create? What if we ignored the current state and asked from a preferred future position? We might struggle with the ambiguity of a floating iterative question but it seems that the possibility to find something unexpected in the journey and maybe even end up in Paris rather than Cleveland.

Every day we begin our ‘research’ inside a tight thesis but we also have an opportunity to tilt the frame, build it from different stuff, or break the shape completely and put the pieces together and then build the frame.


Make Today Remarkable, by knocking a picture off the wall,


Why Wouldn’t We Try?

Five minutes, five ideas, five hours…. What if we took a moment (5 actually) and came up with five ideas that could change our situation, our relationships, our community and then spent a longer time ( five hours) figuring out if any or all were feasible (wildly and widely useful) and viable ( remarkably challenging but remarkably doable)? What could arise? An as yet unimagined solution? A new challenge? An innovative insight?

Are you interested? Would you be up to trying a Blab and inviting 3 others to join the experiment? Could Blab or some other online video platform be a venue for generative discussion? If I scheduled something, would you join in? Would you come with a problem to solve and allow the laboratory to test and observe and offer a conclusion?

If you are open to the idea, leave a comment here or send an email to with your coordinates.


Make Today Remarkable, for the person sitting beside you right now,


Self Improvement

In the Game

Sitting on the sidelines or on your hands or with your hand over your mouth is the only real failure in life. Choosing not to join in, contribute or speak up is the ruination of a purposeful and remarkable life. Remarkable people use their strengths to strengthen others.Every moment in every day, you have the opportunity to choose remarkable.

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So what drags us to the grandstand or the couch rather than playing the game? There are external forces at play. The single perfect model of reality TV says ” Go Home, You are Cut, You are Voted Off, You are Not Good Enough.” As ridiculous as it seems having 4 judges, or chefs, or pseudo celebrities deciding what talent or personality is, it is even crazier that this craze is still growing. Millions tune in every week to live vicariously through the small lives of characters on a screen being rated and chastised by people whose opinion should have very little value. But the popularity of watching network spectacles rather than living life and the premise that someone you don’t know or care about should have a meaningful opinion about you, creates a barrier to us raising our hand and saying ” put me in coach”. If there isn’t a coach or even if there is, get off the bench and join in. Have fun doing it and the more you try, the more proficient you will become (if that is important to you).

There are numerous times every day that an opportunity arises for you to share the load or take the lead. That’s when you drag your mitts our from under your butt and say ” I can do that”, and then you go about getting it done. Whether it is something smaller like writing a note, making a call, checking out some sources or something bigger like organizing the team, collecting relevant data or guiding a decision making process – you are capable and if your are willing and ready then the opportunity will come your way.
The key to seeking permission is completing the assignment to the very best of your abilities and following up to see if there is anything that you missed or anything else arising from your efforts. Taking the extra step rather than the bare minimum sets you apart but more importantly it gives you confidence and a sense of accomplishment.

Sometimes the immediate, relevant and concrete action that is needed is for you to speak up and support, modify or challenge an idea or premise. Even if your thoughts aren’t fully formed, they can contribute to the active iteration and help generate a new pathway for discussion. Speak up to add value to the debate, discussion or conversation rather than to win the day. Ask probing questions in order to understand not defeat or belittle. So often I observe passive/aggressive behavior in gatherings that derails the flow and stifles the open dialogue. When someone asks a clarifying question or asks someone to “say more”, it leads to more diverse and ranging possibilities.

Success lies in the doing of one or all; getting in the game, taking your turn and speaking up. Right or wrong, brilliant or naive, true or imagined isn’t relevant. Playing with others with respect and interest leads to respect and interest being the norm and it will gradually be reciprocated. It won’t be immediately accepted because we have so many cannibalistic group encounters that leave us exhausted and without fresh fruit.
But I/we can start the change today. If you spend more than a couple of hours in the company of others, there will be dozens of chances to shift tone by simply becoming an active participant or agreeing to use your skills to make sure something gets done. Either or both will reduce any tension in the group and leave others with a sense of relief and maybe a bit surprised.

Take time today to measure the quality of your interactions. Am I asking to hear more or asking to trap her? Did I want to understand better or embarrass him? What did I learn? How will that change something for me/us? Am I better for having spoken up? Are others better? Will this move the discussion closer or farther awy from some resolution?

We all have choices and all our choices create consequences so if we are mindful of what we choose we can be confident that the results will carry that same care and respect.

Make Today Remarkable with remarkable choices,


Pee Pee Dance

Originally posted on

Have you ever found yourself walking, riding or even driving between two points and an imperative biological urge arises? Is the expression ” hold the phone and get a stone” familiar? I am not sure but it seems that as I get older the pressure and urgency and frequency has increased. I know that when I am with young children, the impulse seems to arrive out of nowhere and they “NEED TO GO, NOW”.

In many great cities that we have visited, public facilities are┬ánever more than 500 meters apart. They are well maintained, relatively clean and serve as a ‘port in the storm’ for the immediate and compelling ‘perfectly human’ need. Great cities know that when you have to go the pressing need is preoccupying. When you are supposed to be focused on the remarkable scenery, amazing architecture, beautiful landscape and thinking about how much you love this place – the charm is tarnished by unbearable forces bearing down on your urethra.

I know all the available private facilities in a 2 mile radius of the core and am confident enough to enter and relieve myself without feeling additional purchase pressure (McPee) but not everyone has a map app running in their head. Mothers with children, seniors exploring their city, visitors need facilities and waymaking to feel confident in their urban adventure.

Calgary wants to be a great city, in the list of other great cities. We are growing up and out. At 1.2 million residents we are learning together about diversity, walkability, shared resources, diverse economic engines, arts and culture and the importance of design in justice issues but we don’t talk about this important infrastructure. I am not sure if it is willful blindness or a bodily function paranoia but the loo is woefully absent in our planning and design. With nearly 800 kms of shared pathways, we should be planning for more than 800 facilities that are clean, safe and welcoming. In future posts I am going to explore a two pronged approach creating at great city that can say ” When you come here, we have a place for you to go”.






Bad Shit

Bad shit happens to good people, not because they are good or because they are bad but because shit happens. I am not being a fatalist or claiming to be a realist but recognize that there are evil forces in the world that create space and time for very bad things to arise.
I am not a believer in a supernatural devil, satan or Lucipher or whatever we call it. I think that ‘evil lurks in the hearts of men’ and when we don’t pour enough goodness on the world, it grows from a pebble to a stone. It can turn our hearts to rock and we become uncaring and then vengeful. The counter to this bad shit is an abundance of good shit.

When faced with negative, rain down positive. When challenged by hate, dish out love. When slapped and beaten, extend a hand of forgiveness. The radical teachings of Jesus are the remedy- not a magic elixir or silver bullet that will solve the crap immediately but when darkness is challenged by the light it retreats a tiny bit. When more and more light shines, we can cause the bad to disappear and as long as we are intentionally bursting forth in joy, caring, goodness evil doesn’t have space.

There is lots of talk about guns, gun control, more guns in light of the most recent shooting in Orlando. Much of the rhetoric is based in fear ( a tactic of the evil). Trump is playing his own fear game by piling hatred on the suspicion and unknown of immigrants, Muslims and anyone who isn’t like his people. We need to resist falling for his trap or lowering our position to be as vengeful and hateful towards him and his as he is espousing against the ‘others’.

We can fight fire with water. We can cool and disperse the hatred with love and kindness and yes there is a likelihood that some will get spat on and slapped or worse for their kindness. If we devolve and slide into fighting fire with fire, the return to humanity will be longer and harder for all of us. It could be generations before ‘unity’ grabs a foothold.

Evil has power, the power we surrender and the power we create. In giving up and hiding we surrender to the fear and will become unnoticed victims eventually. In joining the forces, we add power regardless of the side we choose. An eye for an eye becomes a life for a life and we burn our cities and communities to the ground.

Making an individual difference in our world is the only way to make a collective difference. It takes each of us saying ‘ I will not surrender and I will not join”. I choose peace. I choose love. I choose caring, sharing, kindness, joy, abundance, opportunity ..

I write a lot about easy to say and harder to do and this is no exception. But this can be done in small relentless incremental steps. Today, when I feel angry, I will respond with an act of kindness. Tomorrow when I feel fear, I will demonstrate an act of courage. And the next day and the next. I will invite others to join me in finding a way to love rather than hate, to care rather than despair, to be involved rather than absolved. Just as I am encouraging you now, I will ask each one to join or create a movement of peaceful reconciliation and appreciation. When I hear yes, I will celebrate and when I hear no I will be sad but accept that answer for the moment and reach out to someone else. As others ask the same thing, we can create a movement; one to one. and the ripples of kindness can become a tidal wave of hope and a tsunami of hope. The decision to act isn’t easy and will be challenged but if we choose not to change ourselves, we become part of the bad shit happening to good people system. Be on the lookout for goodness and loudly acknowledge it and be ready to call out evil and show it the power of hope.

Tomorrow will be a better place, a better day, and where the light shines and changes the world, I can’t speculate but know as the Light shines there is an impact somewhere. The Light of each of us is the wings of a butterfly and if millions shine together the shadows will be overwhelmed.


Blind Alleys

As we constantly reinvent ourselves, our surroundings and our mission we can find ourselves off course. The problem is that we aren’t aware when we enter a blind alley that is going to lead to a disappointing destination. Does that mean that we should stand still and wait for the world to change around us? To the contrary, I would suggest that we head down alleys expecting them to lead to unimagined opportunities but as we feel the walls closing in, we should reboot and take another path. There may be a treasure hidden down the lane but if the risk of a dead end is great then mitigate it and check out an adjacent road.

I am impatient by nature so that advice is in the category (that I have lots of advice in) of ” Easy to Say, Harder to Do”. I don’t always exhibit the discretion and subtlety to recognize I am in a dark rut and my stubbornness filters obvious signs that I should see.

As you are in the world today and over the coming tomorrows, ask yourself ” Am I down a blind alley and how much longer am I going to push and when should I admit my folly and reboot in a slightly different direction.

Make Today Remarkable, by rebooting when necessary,





Am I insensitive? Do I miss signals from others that I am intruding into their space? Do I ignore contributions or ideas from other people? Do I make snide comments or cutting remarks? Can I be hurtful? Yes,yes,yes, yes, yes and I apologize for all of it. But apologies can be like excuses; not of much value. If I don’t learn and change my behaviour what value does seeking atonement bring to me or others?

I heard yesterday, or overheard, that much of the meeting I was in ignored women and their opinions. The facilitator apparently favored stale, pale men over women. I wasn’t the facilitator and didn’t notice the favoritism. Maybe I was blind because my opinions were heard and considered. I forget that part of the reason I can influence is my privilege; male, older, caucasian, educated, outspoken. I wrestled this morning with my participation and could conclude that I wasn’t overbearing or dismissive so it isn’t my problem. But I now see that the dynamic of the engagement did offer people with strong opinions and extroverted personalities a higher dais. Again, not my doing but I was willfully blind to the circumstances because they served me and my agenda.

I have replayed the table conversations and see that there were participants (mostly female) who were silent or said very little. They had obviously made the effort to attend and were curious about the subject so it wasn’t disinterest that quieted their voices. In the heat of the discussion, I did step on someone’s voice and stepped back and gave them space but there was some roughshod power plays happening and I didn’t ask ” what do you think?”

I talk and write a lot about personal responsibility so I don’t have much room to squirm on this. It was my obligation to pay close attention, observe, notice and attempt to remedy any injustice or unfairness or insensitivity. Last night I didn’t do any of them. I paid attention to the arguments being put forward, but not out of curiousity but rather to find a window to pounce through. I was focused on me and my desire so wasn’t observing the reactions and reflections of others. I didn’t notice any body language or posture changes that would have signaled some distress and I didn’t therefore see a reason or an opportunity to level the field and ensure that all interested voices were being heard.

My perspective was limited because the process gave me influence and I was satisfied with that.

In the future, I will be sure to open my toolkit and remind myself that others may not be satisfied. If I add some questions to my toolkit, I can still make a contribution and invite others to make theirs.” We haven’t heard much from you tonight, what do you think?”
” How does that idea sit with you?” ” If you were in their situation what would you do or recommend?” ” Have we heard from all sides?” ” Did everyone have a chance to add to the discussion?” Some of the questions are internal and some would need to be expressed out loud.

As I write this I wonder what we missed last night. How many people had a contribution that was stifled or spoken but not listened to? Did we miss the ‘great big idea’ that we were looking for? As a fan of generative thinking and a synthesizer of ideas I am pretty sure that the pathway that we took was a creation of he who spoke first as more than the quality or usefulness of the opinion. A different pathway would have created a different route and likely a different destination.
It is sad that some voices weren’t heard. Sad that I didn’t notice the inequity. Sad that we were insensitive. It is really sad that we will never know what opportunities and possibilities we missed in our zealousness.

Today is a new day. I can’t fix or recreate yesterday. I can learn from the stumbles and the leaps. I can reflect, adapt and change. I can make a commitment to taking different action in the next opportunity ( 3 today and numerous over the next 2 weeks). I can write and post and hopefully provoke some thoughtful reflection by others. I can be optimistic that a few words jotted down and published have whatever meaning others may attribute them and that in the exercise I have become a bit more aware, sensitive and committed.