A brief introduction to what you’ll find here

You (or someone you know) might find my books helpful

Awakening: Inspirations & Motivations in Living Color is the first volume of the posts that combine my photographs with thoughts to inspire and motivate you as you begin your day on two categories. The first, People, focuses on the relationships we have that are usually the why of our motivation to grow. The Purpose and Process category, on the other hand, channels reflection on what our purpose is and what goals and habits we may need to propel us in living in alignment with that purpose.

More about Awakening

enCharge: Transform Your Life From Within Through Your Life Success Factors was released in 2020. Energy takes the path of least resistance, so it must be channeled to make the most of it. Similarly, by identifying your life success factors, you can identify, seize and create opportunities that will lead to a more fulfilling life.

More about enCharge

Proceeds from both books benefit the enCharge Purpose in Action Scholarship at the University of Wisconsin Law school. I founded the scholarship to assist law students with a demonstrated record of pursuing their purpose and whose purpose will be furthered by a legal education at the finest legal institution I know (and which is also my alma mater, so I might be biased). If you’d like to contribute to the scholarship fund, please contact me.

Bite sized thoughts

Sometimes we need a quick breath to slow down and think. The Instagram feed below features my own photos with a brief thought (and sometimes quotes from others) along with some comments that might give you something to think about. You can also check out the short SIP of the Day series on a separate page.

SIP of the Day #65 – Revisit boundaries as you grow

I frowned as I looked at this garden. I`ve struggled over the years from keeping the lawn from encroaching. But this picture shows what was happening — I hadn`t created a clear limit or boundary on the grass, which allowed it to move in.

I`ve now, with a lot of manual labor and a half moon edging tool, remedied the situation, but it reminded me of the value of setting boundaries in our life. As in the saying, "good fences make good neighbors," when we have clarity about boundaries and expectations, we are able to live in better alignment with our values and purpose. We spend less time arguing with others and weeding out things that are encroaching because those incursions are easier to identify.

Developing this clarity requires requires three actions:

1. Recognize that boundaries must be set.
2. When boundaries involve others, agree on them so there are no questions that lead to disagreements going forward.
3. Re-assess the boundaries set. Don`t let the grass or other factors get a toe hold to blur the boundary.

What boundaries do you need to set or review today? Have you agreed on them with others who they may impact?

#boundaries #alignment #clarity

Many things in life are beyond our control, which can be stressful. At the same time, many thing are absolutely within our control, yet we fail to exercise our control. To make the bed. To put the cap on the toothpaste. To take out the overflying recycling bin. To clean off your desk. Those little things that can sap some energy by engaging in avoidance.

I re-arranged my home office a couple months ago and decided I would keep a clean desk. Seems like a no brainer, but I had struggled in the past with clutter. The simple act of organizing for a minute or two at the end of the day has made "coming to work" each day so much easier and less stressful.

There are many things that take less than a minute but can have a positive impact on our mental state, sense of accomplishment and just feeling in control. When we habitually exercise that control, it creates the foundation to exercise control in larger things. That, in turn, allows us to focus our energy on things that really matter to us, rather than wasting energy avoiding disorder around us.

Do you want to have more control in life? Then what are one or two little things you can begin to exercise control over today to start that foundation?

#control #habits #startsmall #cleanyourdesk

The neighbors planted this maple tree last year and it did well. This spring, though, there are only two tufts of leaves. While they`re quite brilliant, it makes you wonder what`s going on with the rest of the tree.

In an organization, our goal as leaders is to help everyone perform at their best. It is tempting to direct our energy to those whose contributions stand out or who may seem the most talented. Doing so directs time and resources away from those who need opportunities or candid feedback to grow, causing them to feel less engaged, less of a part of the group, and less valued, which creates a cycle of decreasing performance. Worse, it puts additional pressure on the top performers that may exhaust them or cause them to leave.

How well do you know your team? Their aspirations? Their purpose? This knowledge is the first step in understanding how to help them on their growth journey and increase the entire team`s performance.

#teaming #growth #opportunity #belonging

We are all capable of amazing things, but our self talk often does not reflect that belief. We may call it our inner critic or our mental chatter, and who wants to be around a critic or subject to annoying chatter? Yet we keep a nice place in our mental bandwidth for them.

The good news is we can change the channel to focus on positive messaging. Just a minute two each morning to pause and remind ourselves of specific things we can do and are grateful for can make an enormous difference.

I have not always been a believer in this and thought it too touchy feely woo woo. Seems not unlike Stuart Smalley`s Daily Affirmations from SNL decades ago. So I rolled my eyes as I was going through the motions. But it works. And I started to hear my inner coach drown out that inner critic and the chatter quieted a bit so I could focus and think more. Huh. Who knew?

Don`t believe me? Give it a try for two weeks and see what happens.

#selftalk #innercritic #innercoach #positivity

I always enjoy the emergence of buttercups in the spring. They seem like such beautiful bursts of sunshine. They attract pollinators like bees and hummingbirds and are deer and rabbit resistant, so what`s not to like? Well, it turns out they`re actually considered poisonous and can cause dermatitis. I had no idea until a neighbor expressed concern with the abundance of them this year as she needs to keep her horses from them.

What may seem beautiful and wonderful to us, may cause harm to others, and we often may not even be aware of that. Every ray of sunshine may cast a shadow. So enjoy the sunshine in your life, but take time to remember that others may be in a more difficult place.

#teaming #perspective #appearances #shadows #sunshine

There was a bear literally outside my bedroom window last night. I expected a raccoon when the motion-sensing lights turned on. Nope. The bear proceeded to bend down this entire young tree to access the bird feeder.

I`d been concerned about squirrels stealing from the bird feeder, but not a bear. After all, while I know bears are in our area, I`d never seen one come so close to the house. And, being safe in the house, I wasn`t concerned about my personal safety (though I did check to make sure the cat was inside).

There are risks and dangers all around us in life. We cannot anticipate them all. We can take three approaches to them: 1) pretend they don`t exist, 2) live in constant fear, or 3) prepare as much as possible and deal with them when they arise. Pretending may alleviate anxiety, but leaves you entirely unprepared. Living in constant fear reduces your quality of life, decreases your mental and emotional capacity, and leaves one in a perpetual state of stress that decreases your ability to respond when the danger actually does present itself. So the best option, in my opinion, is to recognize that there are things beyond our control, take reasonable measures to keep them at bay or recognize them (like installing those motion sensing lights) and save your energy for when they arise to deal with them as expeditiously as possible.

What potential dangers are holding you back from thriving in the moment?

#danger #risk #plan #bears

Ocotillos are interesting trees, and I`ve likely mentioned them before. When water is scarce, they drop their leaves and appear to be dead. But when water returns, the leaves come right back.

The Desert Botanical Garden features this fence made out of ocotillo twigs. Some of them were apparently able to root themselves in the ground and continue to not only bear leaves and grow, but even blossom.

It may seem to others that we are stuck, not growing, have given up. They base that on what they see, but that`s not necessarily what`s going on inside of us. Perhaps we`re just resting and planning for the next big push. Only we can decide if we`re truly done, finished, or down for the count. Only we can summon the drive, energy and motivation to press on.

At the same time, we must be careful of making the same judgments of others. A better approach than judgment is conversation and care. A simple question like, "How are you, really?" and listening for the answer.

How can you help others flourish today?

#teaming #encouragement #judgment #appearances

I watched this window washer practicing his craft today, going from window to window seemingly effortlessly. While I probably would have been too anxious-ridden by dangling in that matter to actually clean anything, it was nothing to him. He exhibited the confidence that comes through action and practice.

We may be confident in life of the direction in which we want to travel. But the new starts we must make along the way can be full of anxiety because we do not yet have the confidence borne of experience and practice. The only way to achieve that confidence, though, is to take the first step and then the next.

How can you build your confidence in an area that may threaten to fill you with anxiety? Are you confident in where you want to go? Then take that first step towards your destination.

#confidence #anxiety #practice #experience #firststep

I don`t think I`ve ever seen an ugly butterfly, nor can I imagine such. They are such beautiful, graceful creatures that their flitting lifts my attitude.

In the butterfly pavilion, there were myriad butterflies, but this one caught my eye. It was beautiful not despite but because of whatever it has overcome with damage to one of its wings. Because with butterflies, you can`t help but see the beauty first. It is rare that we get to see them at rest.

Our friends, colleagues and family around us are beautiful in their own ways. Yet we focus on what we don`t like about them rather than what we do or the promise they exhibit. What if we expected beauty and potential instead? And recognized that their rougher edges were from skirmishes where they`d pressed through and come out stronger on the other side?

Beauty is beauty. It`s the eye of the beholder that requires focusing.

How can you focus on the beauty and potential of those around you this week?

#beauty #potential #perseverance #freshlook

The pomegranate trees are in bloom and are quite eye catching. When you look beyond the flower, though, you can see the beginning of the fruit developing.

It reminded me of the cycle of life we have. Often we focus on flowering in life — performing well, getting attention and credit for what we`re doing and achieving. Nothing wrong with that. And others enjoy seeing us grow as well.

As we grow a bit older, we may begin to realize that there`s more to life than that. Indeed, the fruit we bear is the legacy we leave behind, the seeds we plant in others, the environment we create for others to thrive long after we are gone. But only if the fruits are shared with others.

Whether you are flowering or producing fruit, focusing on sharing with others makes the experience better for all.

#growth #performance #legacy #teaming

Watching tree leaves unfurl is fascinating. For some larger varieties, what seems like a flower preparing to open is an outer shell that has been protecting the leaves while they are growing rapidly but will fall away once open. That safety is no longer needed and would take energy away from the leaves and limit their growth.

As we learn something new, we need a bit of safety to allow us to develop. But at a certain point, we have to generate the courage to let safety fall away so that we are better able to grow. To not let a help become a hindrance.

What things that have provided you safety so far may no longer be serving you? How can you find the courage to stand on your own? And how can you provide safe environments for others to grow?

#growth #safety #courage #letitgo

I watched this robin on my morning walk. It was hopping around on the ground, on parts of this fallen tree, and seemed in constant motion. Until it landed on this fence post and just stopped, seeming to soak up the beauty around it and the sun breaking through. And then it began singing.

There are many potential platforms for growth and sharing your mission and purpose with others (and not just social media platforms). This results in a lot of advice from others and a lot of "should" messages and pressure. But your purpose is unique to you, so it deserves an outlet or platform that is just as unique. That fits. That allows you to be authentic and courageous.

At the same time, don`t overthink this. Because the point is to get on a platform to share, not just thinking about it. Growth, as always, takes action.

What`s the purpose and message you want to share with the world? Have you found the platform that fits? And do you have the courage to step onto it?

#platform #growth #action #purpose #message

When we expose ourselves to new environments, cultures, locations, habits and more, we open ourselves up to new ideas that can be catalysts for growth. In my latest blog, I offer four quick ways to get out to accelerate growth. Link in bio.

#growth #perspective #nature #unplug

I was captivated by this art outside of a modern office building. Whether the intent was for me to ask questions, they certainly came. Are we climbing a ladder to nowhere? And who do we have supporting us on the climb so that we don`t fall spectacularly?

Motivation often comes from within and persistence and grit may as well, but it is rare that we accomplish something entirely on our own. We rely on the support of others in things large and small. And when we arrive at an achievement, it is sweeter when shared with others.

How are you holding others up today? Who is supporting you that you should recognize and thank?

#support #teaming #bettertogether #motivation

I created wood chip trails in our woods to create a path. I even put down some old (biodegradable) cardboard boxes beneath the chips in places as an additional weed barrier. But I was delighted to see these may apples bursting through. It`s their time. It`s what they do.

Barriers will always arise. That`s part of life. Just keep aligned with your goals and pushing where you know you need to go. Will progress slow at times? Yes. But the key is keeping it at "slowing" and not at "stopping."

Where are you letting up today on things that matter to the achievement of your goals? How can you push a little?

#push #growth #dailygrind #dontstop #progress

SIP of the Day #64 – Find the gateways to exploration and go through them

This hill may not look particularly big, but it feels huge as it comes at the very end of my run. One of the running programs I have been following refers to rate of perceived of exertion (RPE) and suggests simply shortening your stride to keep the RPE steady and keep progressing without pushing too hard.

As I was climbing the hill this morning, I thought of the pace of life. We often have one speed — faster. We push ourselves beyond what is healthy and the quality of our work, life and relationships often suffer. At some point, exhaustion forces us to stop and progress pauses.

We hear a lot about wellbeing these days, and to me it`s the same idea of taking shorter steps so that we can keep going forward in a sustainable way. We can slow down without stopping, and it sets us up for another sprint when we catch our breath.

Have you slowed down lately? Been forced to stop due to exhaustion? How can you adjust your pace to keep progressing sustainably?

#wellbeing #progress #exhaustion #balance

SIP of the Day #63 – Cycle of sun and storms in life

No matter the direction of your approach, you can immediately see that this corner store sells flowers. Simple. Clear. Visible.

Life is usually not like that. There is nuance. There are assumptions. There are hidden agendas. There are different perspectives. And on and on.

Once you have defined your purpose or created a goal, you cannot simply assume or hope that others will know that goal. And if they don`t know, they can`t support you in achieving it. You have to tell them and be as clear, direct, and consistent as this sign. And then others can help you bloom.

How are you sharing your purpose so that others can support you? Where could you be more clear?

#purpose #clarity #vision #maketheask #support

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