Original Thought · Uncategorized

Icons and Bull’s Eyes

What are we chasing? False gods, idols icons? Or are we on target to hit a bull’s eye that defines our raison d’etre? Is there any meaning found in a new car with a shiny hood ornament or a new Apple with a bite taken out or shoes with someone else’s initials? Are we defined by how many square feet we occupy – withe more being better not worse? Are there objects or possessions that you fill with uncritical adoration, at least in the shortest of terms?

All generalizations are false. including this one” ~ Mark Twain

That being said ” we are always better if we are pursuing meaning rather than materialism. It is weird that the word material means relevant, important and significant but materialism is none of those things. The stuff we hold and horde and lust after are immaterial and their shine fades within ticks and tocks of the capture.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain (again) (showing my literary biases again).

I come to this troubling conclusion by looking at the accumulation of 11 years. When we moved last, we did a major purge and now closets and book shelves and storage spaces are jammed. We have added a second property and soon a third and stuff is piling up there too. I have hundreds of books and every year I donate a couple of boxes to a local literacy charity. I borrow ~ 100 from our library every year and still somehow I find another shiny cover that lures me in. I now own about a dozen pairs of shoes (and can somehow justify needing another pair), I have 6 pairs of snowshoes – snowshoes, really. There are so many technical running shirts and race t’s that they take a full drawer, 20+ colored shirts, socks and socks and socks. You see where I am going – too much stuff and I confess too much attachment to meaningless stuff.

The books and shoes and shirts and jackets were once supposed to make me better at something – health, running, writing, coaching, networking, a better dad, a better man, someone who could be loved. The hole I/we are trying to fill can’t be plugged with meaningless objects. Only meaning making will fit the hole and make us whole.

Find your mission and make it so.


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.



Are you Open to Fulfillment?

Do we even understand what living a fulfilled life might look like? What are the things that you would need to be fulfilled? Love, time, money. security, purpose, a new car, friends, family, relationships, health, clothes, fame …? What would be in your list? Take 5 minutes right now and list all the things (material and immaterial, worldly and spiritual, big and small) that you believe would bring you ‘happiness’. Your list will be different than mine, different from your brother’s, your partner’s or your children’s.

What are the barriers? What do you need less of to gain fulfillment? Are you physically limited in achieving or striving for those things on your list? Have you thought about why those things are/should be important? Are stress, conflict, timidity, uncertainty, lack of confidence, lack of wisdom, limited understanding, damaged relationships, poor health on the list?

Are  you interested and committed to seeing how much of the two lists you can change? Are you ready to shake things up and trust that the Universe has a plan for you and that you need to seek it? Do you want to make meaning for your life?

The next three weeks, I commit to sharing this journey with you, as I undertake it. I will write something here that I observe, learn, discover – good and bad. Are you willing to join me?


Make Today the Beginning,




Are we measuring the right things? Last night I attended a d.talks event on suburbs and tomorrow. One of the presenters posited that we shouldn’t measure units per acre to calculate density. ” We should be calculating based on people per acre and then we would see that lower income areas have truly higher ratios. Another panelist suggested that we consider density, as Teddy Cruz challenges, as a function of human interactions.  Isn’t the metric, number ?/area attempting to measure community? The proxy is easy to calculate by official because it is just arithmetic.

Understanding that community flourishes in the conversations and informal understanding of our neighbours, we should begin an exercise in sociological urbanism and tactical urbanism. In East Village in Calgary, the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation is counting mothers with strollers as a proxy for perceived safety. This makes contextual sense because EV has a history and the redevelopment has been bumpy. As moms come from across the region to walk the pathways and take in St Patrick’s Island they change the brand, the culture and the ecology. If we are already observing (really just counting) mothers couldn’t we create a behaviour crib sheet where observers select from a list , talking, walking, sitting, alone, in group (2,3,4), jogging, playing, reading..? The list would measure interaction with the built environment and interaction with others. The value to planners and developers is in the unexpected interactions and the aha’s of place use.


The data could present new opportunities and save significant time and expense trying to stubbornly create conformity.

Maybe CMLC is already doing this but as in all things there are lessons that can transfer to other area of our life. What am I measuring and what relevance does it have to my mission? Is scale needed? Is the interplay between people more important? Can we solve a problem together? How do we move this forward?

As always, more questions than answers.


Make Today Remarkable, by observing how you and others interact in a public space,




For me this is the hardest thin g to let go of; control. Control of the timing. Control of the people. Control of the outcome. Control of the process…. And I really have very limited control.

Even in those times when I had 100’s of people reporting to me, I had limited control. They had roles and responsibilities but most often imperfect metrics were used to measure productivity, quality, initiative. Some succeeded, wildly succeeded playing a different game. Some failed, dramatically failed trying to game me and the system. Most fell into mediocrity because of the struggle between my trying to control and their inability to march to their own drum.

Daniel Pink says people are motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose after they are receiving sufficient income to cover their needs and some of their desires (about $75k). I don’t know what order they need the three things (I suspect purpose is first) but I have witnessed remarkable changes when I have stepped aside and let coworkers, direct reports, colleagues, family, friends figure out how they wish to proceed after they understand the parameters and expectations.

In the grand scheme of the universe, I only have control of my actions and I am often skeptical about how much control I really have. In my personal life I get to make hundreds of choices and take hundreds of actions every day, most of my own design. In collegial or relational situations I now understand I have way less sway than I once thought. Knowing doesn’t make it easier to let go but I am continuing to figure out ways to make it less stressful.

Make Today Remarkable, by giving away some control,





Are Some Goals Unachievable?

Generally I would say all reasonable goals are achievable but just like the serenity prayer I have a discernment problem.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,The courage to change the things I can,And the wisdom to know the difference.  My problem is that haven’t mastered the wisdom part.im possible

I have been chasing some goals, that I still believe are reasonable but progress towards them has slowed or ceased. For example, I set a goal of running a sub 25 minute 5k. Seems possible even though 2 years ago I was running around 35 minutes and that I am not 61 years old. In the first few months my time fell and my pace went up. I plateaued at 30 minutes for a while and took up some coaching to break the next barrier. I can run under 29 most days and ran 27:35 in an October race but haven’t broke 28 minutes since.

I understand that there are so many circumstances at play – rest, nutrition, elevation, motivation, injury but I am disappointed that the progression hasn’t been on my schedule.

Should I let the disappointment deter me from chasing the goal – I don’t think so because the happiness is actually in the pursuit of stretch goals. (there is another circumstance – should I stretch before or after or both). Maybe what I am learning is that my other goals that I easily achieved were too easy.

How about you? Are you chasing goals that exceed your immediate grasp?

Make Today Remarkable, in the happiness of pursuit,




Meaning Making

I said it again yesterday ” I have 168 hours every week, I sleep less than 68 so I have 100 hours every week to fill with meaning making stuff.” What does that look like? Well I hope that the 7-10 hours a week maintaining this blog counts. The 10-20 hours a week of other writing, 10-20 hours reading and researching, 10-20 responding to inquiries, 30 hours coaching clients, 5 – 10 hours volunteering, 10 hours on personal fitness, 5 hours on spiritual refreshing, 40 hours caring for family and friends, 20 hours exploring my world all are meaning making.

We create meaning by being intentional in how we approach the day-to-day, how we celebrate the extraordinary and how we curiously seek new relationships and ongoing learning. Once I figure out what meaning I am making in a given situation; coaching – helping clients solve their problems, cleaning – making our world safer and more pleasant, reading – expanding my perspective … then I should (should because I don’t always) ask “how can I do this better/differently so that meaning is magnifies. Meaning making is a productivity practice. Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski’s research indicates that “people with callings ( meaning making) are different. They see their work as a positive end in itself. They feel good about what they’re doing. They give more to their work. They get more from it. And here’s a secret about people with callings: Not only are they happy and fulfilled, they’re often very successful, sometimes bringing financial rewards.”


Creating meaning requires that we look for meaning in our lives, not life in general. Writing a journal of  your activities can be helpful, if you go back and reflect on how … made meaning for you and/or someone/something else. The reflection is also helpful because it will show you where your time is spent not being meaningful. You can then choose to do nothing or do something else.

We make the most meaning, have the most impact and find the most enjoyment doing those things that we are perfectly suited for (where we are skilled and passionate). Contrary to some thought, being well rounded doesn’t make us better. I have long since dismissed the idea that I should work on my weaknesses. I focus on my strengths, acknowledge that certain details elude me and appreciate the forest. That in itself has helped me become more effective, more energized and happier.

What charges your batteries? What meaning making makes you buzz? How can you do more/better? A coach or ally might be able to help you get the meaning motor running.

Make Today Remarkable and full of meaning,



I received this post from Awaken the morning after this post.

“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

What matters is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment. One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”

— Victor Frankl, “Man’s Search For Meaning