Soar

What is rising from your ashes? Have you been hit with a series of unfortunate and unimaginable circumstances that have you reeling? Have you been given the opportunity to seek employment, relationship, fulfillment elsewhere? Has your world exploded? Did a relationship or project get consumed by flames?

phoenix

Take time, a few days or a couple weeks and recognize the reality, accept the finality, do some bargaining with yourself, feel hurt and angry and then come out the other side. The measure isn’t in what you lost but in what you learned and what you are doing to embrace and use your circumstances?

We all suffer tragedies and trauma and when we ruminate in it and then use the experience to flourish and bloom into something we never imagined.

If a long or short relationship has come to an end, embrace being single. Love yourself and the chance you now have to make decisions that are good for you. Start ticking off the list of things you wanted to do but the relationship prohibited. Spend time in the world in awkward situations. Go to places that you wouldn’t usually consider. Talk to people who aren’t in your ‘loop’. Learn something new every day. (curious.com has a wide menu of possibilities)

If you have been underemployed or unemployed for a while, take advantage of the time and develop new skills, volunteer with organizations, visit family and spend time outside enjoying the fresh air. Look for new ways to be seen and known. If you have been a geologist for years but are interested in food, take a class, visit a foodie event, reach out to the chef you most admire. Whether you are 30, 40 or 60, beginning anew isn’t a failure, it is courageous. We will all start and end numerous careers throughout our lives and many of us will continue to add value in some employment arrangement well past what was once considered retirement age.

For every pyre, there is a phoenix waiting to arise. As long as we don’t douse the embers with disappointment and defeat there is a new you waiting to be born. When the egg hatches, fly as high as you can and be okay if/when the next challenge settles you back on the ground with a thud. Starting over is an opportunity and a testament to your courage.

B

Live the Adventure

Are you living your adventure? We have an opportunity to lead an abundant and exciting journey. With about 675,000 hours, we have a chance and a responsibility to make the most of them. I have lived almost 550,000 hours ( I shouldn’t have done this calculation but that is 80% of my allotment). In the remaining 20% or whatever number you calculate, what am I going to try? where am I going to go? who am I going to meet? what am I going to learn? what will touch me? what will scare me? what will challenge me? what will make me laugh? cry? love?

I am feeling wistful and jealous as good friends set out on a two-month adventure. I look forward to hearing the tales of travel, food, drink, sites, problems and relationships. There is a side of me that wishes we were joining them but a deep realization that this is their trip and their test.

adventure
I/we need to make each day an adventure regardless of where we/I land. Living in one of the best countries in the world (Canada was again rated #2) in a city that gets the highest honours for liveability and opportunity(Calgary) , in a neighbourhood that has again been voted one of the coolest places to live (Inglewood), we/I shouldn’t need to go far to be showered with possibilities.

We have an average of 2396 hours of bright sun each year, spread over 333 days. Our weather is variable but for the next five months, it will be temperate. We/I live along the shore of two rivers and have hundreds of miles of walking/biking trails. We are within a fifteen-minute walk of two large urban parks and have urban excitement and a bird sanctuary within fifteen minutes on our bikes.

From early spring to late fall, there are festivals almost every weekend. Some are large multi-day events like Folk Festival, Opera in the Village and The Calgary International Children’s Festival. Some festivals are one-day and local to communities like Lilacfest, Sunfest and Chinatown Street Festival. There are events that celebrate ethnicity – Serbian Fest in May, Greek festival in June, Fiestaval Latino Festival in July and Carifest in August. Some featured food and beverage – Taste of Calgary, Circle the Wagons and Alberta Beer Festivals. There are celebrations of the arts, parties for local and national holidays and the amazing Beakerhead; a smashup of arts, culture, and science.
Even when there isn’t an organized party, there is still so much to see and do.

If we/I took in some of everything that I listed and a day at the Calgary Stampede, we could spend 200 hours laughing, learning, listening, lingering and letting go. Sounds like there are adventures waiting for us and we just need to step outside and breathe them in.

We/I are heading off to the Outdoor Show today, to be inspired and encouraged by what adventure awaits outside the boundaries of our great city.

Find your adventure for today and be ready for tomorrow’s,

B

Thankful

100 Reasons to be Thankful

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In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving on Monday October 10. I know all our friends south of the 49th are waiting until November 24th. My challenge to you is to make a list of 100 reasons you are thankful before the celebration where you live ends. The list can be in point form or an essay or a poem or song or whatever means you like. I am thinking that one of our regular readers will take her camera out a create a collage of thankfulness. Be courageous in your gratitude and brave in sharing your thanks with others. Feel free to paste your lit in comments or sent your creation to bob@remarkablepeople.com and I will post it on the blog.

My list, written spontaneously with this post. After the first 10, they are in no particular order.
1. My beloved Jan
2. My son Jon
3. My son Adam
4. My son Patrick
5. Three amazing daughter’s in-law Amber, Becca, Karla
6. Lidka and Craig
7. Eleven grandkids, Daniel, Josh, Austin, Andrew, Kaleb, Theo, Jack, Claire, Kennedy, Sam, Wyatt
8. My mom
9. My siblings Wendy, Teresa, Ken, Kevin
10. Pat and Phil
11. Fine Diner Gang
12. A large social circle
13. Work Nicer
14. changing seasons
15. liberty
16. hope
17. optimism
18. remarkable people
19. my neighbourhood
20. my city
21. my country
22. clean air
23. clean water
24. courage
25. vision
26. hot coffee on a snowy day
27. a home that is more than just a roof
28. access to fresh food
29. resources to acquire what I need
30. resources that I can share
31. time to write
32. time to love
33. time to run
34. time to think
35. creativity
36. artists and their art
37. singers and their songs
38. writers and their work
39. peace
40. generousity
41. people who care about the same things I do
42. people who care about different stuff
43. people who I disagree with
44. people and ideas that challenge me
45. tradition
46. As yet unimagined solutions
47. heroes
48. role models
49. mentors
50. coaches
51. a good night’s sleep
52. a comfortable bed
53. lights and heat
54. the routine of rising at 5am
55. the surprises that each day brings
56. old acquaintances
57. strangers
58. craft beer
59. the ritual of table
60. freedom to believe
61. freedom to question
62. laughter
63. tears
64. mental health
65. physical health
66. access to medical treatment
67. spiritual health
68. emotional health
69. libraries and great books
70. making those closest to me laugh
71. memories
72. travel with my beloved
73. adventures with friends and family
74. democracy with all it’s warts
75. abundance
76. new possibilities around each corner
77. commitment
78. silliness
79. 62 years of life and experiences
80. 40 years of marriage
81. anticipation of another 40 years
82. the gift of each day
83. the diversity of our city
84. the beauty and awe of creation
85. the mystery
86. knowledge
87. great thinkers from the past whose ideas still rattle me
88. the wisdom from the mouths of the children in my life
89. curiousity and zest for life
90. adversity that helps shape us
91. justice with all it’s bias
92. firefighters, police officers. emergency responders and all who put their life on the line to protect us
93. teachers and coaches
94. public servants and politicians who work for the greater good
95. the Blue Jays and Stampeders for giving us something to root for
96. pizza, perogies, pasta, tacos, fish and chips, hamburgers ..
97. challenges that inspire
98. gifts, skills, talents and strengths
99. people who can compensate for all my weaknesses
100. the heart and head to allow me to be thankful

What do you notice in your list? Are their themes? Was it difficult to create or could you have added another 100?

For Canadians take the almost 100 hours ahead of you and be as thankful as possible. Share your thankfulness wide and far – it can be infectious.

B

Flip the Page

A month that was and a month that will be. The flipping of a calendar page should offer pause to reflect on what challenges you faced in September and how you responded to them. Did you shrink away? Are you still researching possible solutions? Was some butt kicked and challenges overcome? Could you have done better? What inspired you in September? Did you try something new? Take on something different? Meet someone special? Were you inspired by a challenge?

I take these somewhat arbitrary but appropriate passages as an opportunity to move ahead. I reflect on what I did and what I could have done another way. I learn from my past experiences, I try not to beat myself up, and I move ahead.

October brings a new season, some celebrations and family gatherings, new opportunities with work, some planned challenges and a birthday. I set out to add some routine – 31 days in a row of writing, 31 consecutive days of working out, and an alcohol free month. I have mental and physical goals attached to these three commitments and a plan and schedule to remove barriers. I have set some expectations of myself and outcomes.

I am also leaving space for the unexpected, the anti-routine. I have a couple of events I am attending that aren’t my usual fare. Places and people that I wouldn’t encounter if I stayed the course. I have 3 books at the ready from authors I don’t know and whose subject matter is outside my comfortable niche. I have set a goal to meet someone new every day; not for any advantage or leverage but just to add their their space with mine for a moment in time. I don’t have any assumptions or predictions about what comes from venturing away from the safety of my shore but I approach October with hope.

What challenged you in September? What inspired? Have you charted a course for parts of October? Are there adventures you are planning?

Make October Remarkable,

B

100 Day Celebration

What are you celebrating this morning? The first breath after waking from a deep and delicious slumber? A dry roof and warm and comfortable home? A fresh cup of coffee or clean drinking water? Are you taking so many blessings for granted as to feel underprivileged?

I know I can miss the everyday when I am looking for something grand and elaborate. I disregard the lottery I have won being born in North America, receiving an education, in a democracy that allows if not encourages my dissent in favor of complaining about a difficult decision as to what I should eat for lunch. Complaining that there isn’t anything new to try or bemoaning the fact that there are too many choices on the menu.

This is first world whining but more tragically it is a lack of appreciation for the blessings in our lives. If we don’t recognize and acknowledge the worth of these gifts it is a waste and maybe we shouldn’t be the recipients. I know that habit isn’t heroic but I urge you to take 2 minutes every day (as early as possible in your day) to celebrate something that you are grateful for. Take one minute and reflect on your current situation and then take one minute and hold your own mini celebration by writing down one thing that you are grateful for today. Write something on the same page each day for 100 days or write on a small note and place it in a jar or post one word on social media with #celebrateblessings.

Reflect, celebrate, acknowledge. If you start tomorrow you will have celebrated 100 times on December 23, 2016. Will you join me? I will be writing on one and posting on Facebook and Twitter.

Make Today Remarkable, because it is,

Bob

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.

popeye

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.

B

 

Frames

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 …

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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.

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

Alertness

An immovable object meets a irresistible force and a big bang occurs. Inertia meets excitement, pessimism runs into optimism and neither remains the same. Change occurs even when , or especially when, we aren’t expecting it. I can be convinced, packed, loaded and heading down a certain path and find that the trail ends abruptly. I can detour around the fifteen foot wall, I can try knock it over, I can try climb over it or I can backtrack and try a different path or backtrack and give up. The only unacceptable option for me is to retreat and give up. As long as I am moving, I am making progress. When I drive, I am opportunistic and often make turns at lights or in congestion so I don’t reduce my momentum. When I am working on a project and hit a snag, I admit to feeling frustration seep in and my ambition seep out. If I am alert, I remind myself that the frustration is an opportunity to learn and that my motivation shouldn’t be hinged to progress but instead to effort. Easy to say, harder to do.
The road forward shouldn’t be a safe straight trajectory. I learn much more when I am disrupted and challenged by unexpected barriers and mysterious options. As a impatient imperfectionist with a serious destination bias, I struggle appreciating the journey. But all that I really have is the next stretch of trail before a turn or dip appears and focusing on a finish line that is out of sight reduces enjoyment, possibilities and growth. A finish line mentality also makes me single-minded and blind to other ways and it seems causes an increase in effort as I miss obvious and hidden signals and shortcuts.
In a race following someone who is slightly faster or more fit can lead to improved times and maybe a personal best but getting caught up in beating other runners creates the wrong focus. I am running on an unknown course this weekend and am reminding myself to be alert for hazards, pay attention to markers, enjoy the snot bubbling elevation changes and enjoy challenging myself in relation to the results I have accomplished in previous runs. It may not be perfect (for sure), it may not be pretty (likely) but it will be positive regardless of how or where I finish ( I recognize that there is a part of me that sees another first place as some other kind of validation and need to keep that ambition tempered.)

If I need a reminder this weekend of the immovable object and irresistible force, there is a great likelihood that we will encounter bears on the route. This past week black bears and grizzlies have been seen enjoying the sunshine in the open meadows and trudging up some of the logging roads. Knowing that there is something dangerous around the next corner or the next will be a strong prompt to stay in the moment and learn something from each step.

My training over the past couple of weeks has focused on proper for and good equipment. Even when I am experimenting with new shoes or an new idea, I need to think about the process and if my posture and carriage is getting the maximum results from all the effort. The difference between success and less than success can come down to a blister or a blistering start. It can be challenged by a desperate need or bias and the idea doesn’t gain roots because it was seeded haphazardly.

Like most of my work and my recreation having a strategic plan can be useless. Knowing my strategic position; some future preferred state and staying pointed in that general direction can allow the race or practice to be interesting, efficient and still leave room for leaps over logs and leaps of logic. In ideation and trail running, iteration is generative. One step builds on the next and attaches itself to the delta of previous changes. One step becomes 1000 becomes 10K and word becomes a phrase becomes a sentence becomes an idea that synthesises to another idea and creates something that has the same grit and dirt of both but smells and feels oddly different than might have been expected.
As I head out early tomorrow morning with some excitement and apprehension I will be reminding myself to be alert for changes, be ready with resources (bear spray and nutrition) and be ready for a lot of unexpected challenges and unexpected opportunities.

Make Today Remarkable by being alert,

B

Calculated Frenzy

One of the definitions of madness includes the idea state of frenzied or chaotic activity. I have some routines that serve me on the micro level. My mornings from 5am to 8am are all very similar. My dietary state , my physical and mental health are all better when  I stay close to a routine. I end most days with a consistent practice that, for the most part, ensures a restful sleep. In between I have moments of accidental madness and periods of calculated frenzy.

I try to shake things up where I have some measure of control. My travels are opportunistic rather than planned. I don’t take the same route two days in a row. If walking, I meander and try to be observant (even though I have a destination in mind). If biking, I take a different loop. If driving, my options are limited but still varied. This practice seems to step me out of the rut of sameness and leaves open the possibility for some madness.

As a procrastinator, I usually have a looming deadline that creates some calculated frenzy that I find  exhilarating. I do worry that my best work might not arise from the pressure but not enough to take a different approach.

The impact of working with others, especially those who have a different agenda or those who answer to a different authority means that unexpected accidental chaos can occur. I do get frustrated and can feel anxious by delayed responses and too much paralyzing collaboration. Strange that where someone sees collaboration as an organizing practice, I find it can be fruitless and mediocre.

I know my frenzy isn’t anything like yours. I understand that where I see beauty in change you may see chaos. It is likely that some of you live a heart pounding frenzy that I somehow have avoided. I would be interested in hearing how you handle or create madness in your life.

Make Today Remarkable, for someone you love,|

B

 

 

 

Challenge the Process

A continuation from yesterday’s post regarding  Kouzes and Posner Five Practices from ” Leadership Challenge”.

I begin by confessing that I am not really a process guy. I tend towards variation on a theme and so I try not walk home the same way twice in a row. I still get home but following Dr Seuss’s advice I get to say;”And that is a story that no one can beat And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.,

That said, challenging the process can still be daunting. The bounded rationality of success however limited fixes the path. Process is just the path that others have discovered that takes us from A to R  supposedly efficiently and effectively. But locking into ABCDEF…R reduces the possibility of discovery, excitement and improvement. Maybe ABDLR works and we create something valuable and unexpected along the way.

Go for a meandering walk today and see  if you come back with a story like;

seuss