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.

This cactus was encircled in mesh no doubt designed to protect it from nibbling creatures. But despite its confinement, it bloomed inside the cage and even found a way to bloom right through the mesh.

People and circumstances may seem to try to define and confine us. To limit us from growing. But the beautiful thing is that your thoughts and dreams are wholly your own and entirely free. You can work on them in spare seconds or hours. Whenever you want.

True, you might not be able to act on them as quickly as you`d like because of some of those circumstances. Yet those thoughts and dreams, when combined with visualizing your desired state, can help create the motivation and energy necessary to help you move beyond the limitations of life.

How are you building your future from within? How are you igniting your inner fire to conquer more? How might you be limiting yourself?

#limitless #innerstrength #dreams #visualization

Walking in the rain this morning, I saw several near-collisions of people as their umbrellas or hoods obscured their view of others. Their focus on avoiding large puddles and keeping dry was important, but limited their awareness of surroundings.

We all have to hunker down at times, but picking our heads up periodically is important so we can see where we are and whether we are on the right path to achieve our goals. It also helps us see who is with us on the journey of life and whether they are moving us forward or holding us back.

What might be limiting your view today? How can you check your progress on growth? Who`s with you?

#limitations #perspective #clarity #view #progress

We are in the midst of a snowstorm and the snow on the trees is just stunning, even as those trees bow under the weight of the snow. What I noticed was how even though everything is covered in white, certain trees and structures stand out even in the storm, like the branches in this photo. And it is because of the unique structure of each of them.

We sometimes struggle to stand out. To be seen. To be heard. As with the trees, the key is often to just be your authentic self. There is no one like you with your skillset and mindset. You have a unique perspective to add. You need to own that uniqueness, find your voice, and use it. It may not be easy and you may feel pressure in your environment just as the trees feel the weight of the snow, but you can shake off the pressure and stand up to stand out.

Where can you take a step towards greater authenticity today? What are the pressures you need to shake off to move forward?

#authenticity #pressure #storms

Learned so much from virtually attending Morgan Stanley`s event, "Carla Beyond the Pearls: The Power of the Voice." @carlaannharris is a fountain of practical wisdom and inspiration. I will definitely be checking out her latest book, Lead to Win.

#carlaspearls #blackhistorymonth
#leadtowin #inspired #useyourvoice

This sign caught my eye because it included "new" but was already looking quite old with some of the lights out.

Newness fades, and usually more quickly than we think. That new car smell disappears. That new pair of shoes moves to the back of the closet. The new hit movie starts streaming. And on and on. So we start looking for the next new thing because we love newness and novelty.

I`m not aware of ways of extending newness. But I`ve found something that keeps newness rolling into my life — the mindset of curiosity. When you`re genuinely curious, it spills out into all aspects of your life and spawns even more questions. Why did that client ask for something entirely different? What would happen if we change this process? I wonder who might know how to do X? What would happen if we took a vacation off the grid? Why is that hummingbird climbing and then diving? Are jet streams causing this storm?

In other words, adopt a slightly more adult version of the Terrible Twos and ask "Why?" a bit more.

Today, what if you made a point to ask five questions? Write them down, see what you learned. And repeat tomorrow to keep bringing newness into your life.

#curiosity #newness #questions #novelty

The fog was thick this morning, shrouding many of the skyscrapers in the area. But at ground level, everything was still clear.

It`s easy to get caught up in the big things in life and not see the fog rolling in that reduces clarity. We lose sight of what matters, where we are going and who`s on the journey with us. We become confused. When that confusion sets in, it`s time to get back to the basics of what grounds us. Our values. Our purpose. Our mission.

What`s gotten foggy in your life? How can you go to ground to gain clarity?

#grounding #clarity #mission #purpose

I ordered a ponytail palm. Just one. I`d received one as a gift while living in El Salvador, so I knew what they looked like. This wasn`t exactly it. Upon closer inspection, one can see that it wasn`t one but 17 (!!) planted closely together. While it looked pretty at the time, it was clear they needed to be separated so that any of them had the chance to thrive. So I carefully pulled them apart before their roots became too intertwined and repotted.

There are so many amazing benefits of being together with colleagues, friends, family and community. We support and learn from each other that helps us on our respective growth journeys. But we can also hide behind the group, become too dependent on it and fail to develop our individual talents and skills that benefit the collective.

What are the groups to which you belong? Are you developing yourself to benefit the group (and to grow individually)? If not, what`s a step you can take today?

And if you leave near NJ, let me know if you`d like a ponytail palm for your home. 🙂

#growth #community #contribution #selfwork

SIP of the Day #70. People are watching. Is your life worth watching? And when you watch others, are you catching them doing great things? If so, tell them!

And yes, that sound in the background is the very cat mentioned in the video.

#watch #inspire #bestlife

We had a big storm last night so I hopped onto the treadmill while I waited for the sun to rise so I could check for damage. The trainer for the interval running workout I was doing asked a question that made me pause and think. "Why did you press Start today?" With the inference that we take action to improve, not to stay where we are. Interval training stresses the body in different ways so that it can take on increased challenges later. Doing the same workout every day, on the other hand, only leads to a plateau of fitness.

Same in nature and in life, as I saw this beautiful scene outside as nature also was preparing to get back to the new normal after the storm. A steady state may be fine for slogging through a project, one step at a time, but it is not a recipe for long-term growth. It leads to a rut that grows deeper and deeper and harder to get out of. We can`t really adapt when there is no change. So as much as we may not enjoy change at the beginning (that workout was not fun this morning), the growth the comes later is worth the effort.

Is there a place in your life where you`ve settled into a steady state rather than seeking to grow? How can you push yourself out of your comfort zone?

#steadystate #adapt #flexibility #growth #training #comfortzone

We have a heated bird bath so the birds have access to fresh water throughout winter. I noticed recently that it was dirtier than usual and saw why this morning — a squirrel also enjoys the water and walks right in. Not what I intended, but not causing any harm other than more frequent cleaning.

We have just come out of a season of gift giving. There`s something great about finding what we think is the perfect gift and seeing someone then open it in surprise. It`s all good. Unless we focus on what comes later. Do they ever wear the sweater, read the book, display the piece of decor, et cetera? At that point, we have lost the point of gifting — to show someone we care. Few people reject a gift but their needs and desires may be different than what we think they are. It doesn`t mean they appreciate our sentiment in giving the gift any less.

I`m talking less about actual wrapped presents here than the gifts of time, attention, advice, mentoring and more. What matters for both sides is the connection and knowing someone cares. They may totally ignore our advice, perhaps to their own detriment. But perhaps not. What if the way they interpret your gift can create a bigger, but different, impact than you intended, like the bird batch becoming a community watering hole?

Never stop giving. But recognize that you can stop worrying about how the gift is used.

#gifts #intention #presence #mentoring #advice

SIP of the Day #69. Storms come. They always will. what matters is the preparation and mindset with which we meet them.

You may need to zoom in a bit on this picture to see that at the base of this evergreen tree is a small palm plant. This is not uncommon in a desert landscape where a plant shelters underneath a larger plant or tree. This palm is in a particularly smart place as there is also an irrigation line visible so there will be water. But what is also not uncommon is for the little plant to soak up some of the resources the larger tree needs and eventually overtakes the larger tree.

I don`t think this evergreen is endangered by the palm, but it`s a good reminder to think about how our efforts to protect others can often backfire, despite our best intentions. We want to help them grow, so for a short time, protection may be helpful. But life requires overcoming adversity and challenge. If we don`t step back, those we are trying to protect do not have the opportunity to flex their own muscles and grow and, worse, they become dependent in the longer term rather than independent. Overcoming adversity also helps build confidence to take on new challenges. Freedom to fail is essential to real growth.

The next time you find yourself protecting someone, ask yourself if that protection is needed whether you`re providing freedom for the other person to grow.

#protection #growth #freedom #freetofail #adversity

I rarely take selfies and I`m not sure I`ve ever taken a shadow selfie. But I did so yesterday when it appeared that I was wearing a bucket cap on the golf course. Nope, just a regular cap but hair sticking out enough to look like a bucket cap. The shadows created the confusion even for me.

Shadows obscure and distort reality, both on the golf course and in our interactions and our internal mental chatter. We look at a shadow and convince ourselves that it is real. Or we try to fill in the blanks. Or we just fear what isn`t known or is a bit fuzzy.

When we re-orient ourselves towards sunlight or transparency, we see what is real and can put the shadows behind us. Clarity emerges and we can decide what our next best shot or opportunity is.

Is there a shadow standing in the way of your growth? How can you shed some sunshine on the matter?

#perspective #shadows #clarity

SIP of the Day #68 – Give in instead of giving up. asking someone in to help may solve the problem AND strengthen the relationship.

#bettertogether #justask #connection #givein

When I took the dog out last night, I happened to see bright stars in the distance. Wait, were those three stars the belt of Orion? What about all those others? I stared up in the air in amazement, turning around as I took it all in.

Then I tried to capture the moment. My phone has an astrophotography setting, but the neighbor`s had lights on that caused challenges and I didn`t have a tripod. But I took this picture anyway. It`s not great, but it helps me remember that night.

Many times, we use lack of tools, connection, status, money or other resources as an excuse for not discovering the world, including new opportunities. But opening our eyes, our minds and hearts is free. Maybe we need help to go further, but if we remain closed, we settle in for status quo.

How can you make yourself more open?

#openness #discover #explore #growth

The sun was setting on a recent flight and it was gorgeous. Most people were paying attention to their devices, but I enjoyed seeing this passenger in the seat ahead seeing the beauty and capturing it to remember it or share with others.

There is a lot of junk in the world, but there is also a lot of beauty. You can see either, but awareness is key. It`s easier to get sucked into swiping on a screen than it is to pick your head up and see what`s going on around you. But the latter is usually much more interesting and less negative.

Will you choose to look at something or for something today?

#intention #positivity #beauty #choice

I grabbed the extendable ice scraper to start working on the truck`s windshield. And you can see how well that went. The blade was not smooth, but rippled, creating small paths in the frost but not the wide swath that was intended and needed. Ugh.

Without the right tools, it is hard to move forward. But too often we rely on tools that may not work as well as we think, but we`re just used to how they work. This slows us down even more.

To make the most progress, review and maintain your tools and replace them when necessary. Those tools could be habits, nutrition, relationships or other things.

What broken tool are you holding on to?

#tools #progress #movefaster

SIP of the Day #67. We bear more fruit and create a legacy when we work together.

Experimenting with a drone and still working out the kinks, so you may not see how pretty these holly berries are!

Last night, my wife lined up these wood vases on our fireplace mantel. She creates these and many other beautiful things on her lathe. But she had brought them to the fireplace to throw them in and burn them up.

WHAT? I was shocked. I questioned why she was doing that. She said some were damaged or she didn`t like them anymore and they hadn`t sold at recent shows, so she was making room for newer creations.

It is hard to give up things we have. The endowment effect causes us to value things more simply because we possess them than we would be willing to pay to buy them now. So we hold on.

When we do muster the courage to let go, those around us may try to helpfully intervene, as I did before the vases were chucked into the fire. "But you spent so much time on X." Or "It would be such a waste to Y." When we do that to others, no matter our intentions, our efforts try to keep them where they are now, rather than supporting them in growing and making room for something new.

The next time you are tempted to say, "But…." when a friend or colleague is stopping something, try asking about the new thing they`re pursuing. Let them know they have your support. Reward them for their courage to let go.

[I can`t wait to see what my wife creates next, but will confess that I rescued the vase on the right and it`s now here in my office.]

#letgo #growth #moveon #support

Like many Americans, I find it difficult to really go on vacation and often leave vacation days unused. But I went on vacation last week and thought a bit more about why I don`t take vacation. And it comes down to being afraid to give up control because something might go wrong at work while I am away.

But you know what? None of us are in control of everything and things will go wrong whether we`re on vacation or not. And clinging to that fear creates even more fears. More "what ifs." We imagine the worst rather than hoping for the best. And staying glued to devices while friends and family enjoy the sites, sounds and scents of vacation will not help. In fact it will just increase that other popular fear — FOMO.

This photo of the vineyards of Switzerland, taken from a fast moving car, shows two ways of looking at life — focusing on the blurry parts and trying to control them, or relaxing and looking at life as a whole and being present in the moment.

As long as we have devices, there is the temptation to not let go. But clinging tighter to try to control life will not improve the situation. Take some deep breaths, and enjoy the scenery, whether at home or wherever your day takes you.

#control #letgo #perspective #breathe #fear