Two words
float, fly, and flit around,
overused:
“authenticity” and “passion.”

It’s a shame. Because their meaning and their expression in reality
is intensely, truly, most surely needed,
to be alive in the highest sense.

To be true, honest, and open in how we interact, with all that is in us. Our best effort. The open heart. No pretenses, no agendas.

Only moving in the honesty of our minds and soul-nature —
melted together to, without manipulation or self-levied protection,
putting ourselves out there…regardless of our endogenous fables and flaws.

Doing. For all to see. For all to embrace.
For all to take shots at.
(Ouch.)

Being authentic and passionate, honest and kind,
invites criticism.

(And it will come.)

Those who are truly brave are those who know the potential criticism and,
regardless of the fear of exposure, step into the unknown
with the gift of themselves riding on hope
that, somehow and someday,
those who need your love-gift most will open their palms,
letting their fingers relax and fall, to grasp, envelop, and own it.

And if they don’t. Well. That’s okay.
Because you did your part.

Writer, write.
Photographer, photograph.
Musician, play.
Dancer, dance.
Sculptor, sculpt.
Thinker, think.

Entrepreneur, create.

Regardless.
(I dare you.)

* Thup
coffeeApril9-15

Ah, Easter. The day of newness.
The reminder of redemption, rebirth, regrowth, re-working, and re-doing.

New comes. No matter what moments have passed, again, the sun rises.
And with each new day, the same question sits rocking in a boat on the water, back and forth,
with the same curious, innocent head cock and twinkling eyes, and says,

What will you do with today?

With innocence, beauty holds the answer in its fingertips ever-so gently and says,
No matter the season in your life, today is the gift to spend wisely.

Some of you blogosphere friends have noticed:
I’ve been curiously silent here.
It’s because of newness.
Because of the best of times and the worst of times.

***********************
“See you soon,” I said, Easter’s Resurrection in mind and heart.
And on whispers of “I love you,” Mom breathed out gently one more time, moving toward heaven.

Mom painting 2 Nov 22-13 copy

If you’ve lost someone close, you know it:
the worst of times.

And, then.

***************************

“You can do it,” i said.
On whispers of “I love you,” my youngest son, Ben, stepped onto the stage, moving into a new chapter.

(The moment is held in time, now, at the one-minute mark. Since they posted the promo, I’m sharing with you all :D)

If you’ve an open door of opportunity, you know it:
The best of times.
(All I can say is, watch the show!)

***********************

And it’s all good, all a measure of this wonderful gift of life we’ve been given.

We don’t know what each day will bring, what will be new in our lives. How we choose to respond — the meaning we ascribe to a situation, in Faith, and what we do with it — now that’s the one thing that can keep the keel steady.

Entrepreneurs, here’s a special note for us all, for our venture-making.

What will you do with today? is your daily question, from the first open eyes to their closing.

It’s about your internal and external response —
the management of emotional anguish and joy, toward the physical trials, while creating trust moments.
Every thought, every decision, moves us into, around, and past the conflict of that question.

What will you do with today?

No matter if you’re facing the mourning or the morning moments,
keep focused.

*********************

Writers, here’s a special note for us all, for our story-making.

What will you do with today? is your hero’s question, from the beginning of your story to the end.

It’s all about your hero’s internal and external response —
the emotional anguish and joy, the physical trials and trust moments. Every scene, every chapter, moves us into, around, and past the conflict of that question.

What will you do with today?

No matter if it’s the mourning or the morning moments,
keep your hero focused.

Make her feel.
Make him respond.
Make it the best of times and the worst of times.

That’s story we follow to the end.
(That’s the life we live fully, to the end.)

* Thup

CoffeeApril5-15

Writer.
Entrepreneur.
Artist of any kind.

hey. bend an ear this way, if you will.
(let’s pow-wow for a second)

You’ve talked unabashedly about following the dream. Passionate, skilled, and encouraging — you are the master of (or mastering) your craft, and you’ve inspired and illuminated others on different levels. Would you like your passion to financially bless your family and your future? Of course.

Let’s talk straight. Money is part of the equation of living, giving, and being able to share your passion with others. Let’s not be shy.

Here’s the thing: If you find a need, people will pay for it. If you have a skill that others want, people will also pay for that. If you are able to give, connect, and care (isn’t that what it’s all about?), why does it have to be that you’re struggling financially?

It doesn’t.

The “starving artist” mentality keeps slithering among entrepreneurial reeds: the idea that it’s a challenge to make a living at idea-making and passion-chasing.

I challenge that idea.

Think about your skill — what you have to share with others.

Someone else wants that, too. And making a living is something we all have to do. It’s fair, good, and positive to be a part of the economy, in all ways — intellectually, spiritually, relationally, physically, personally, and monetarily.

Do this:
1. Write down your passion. Spell it out. What is it that you do that you love? And what is the benefit of what you have — the cool and amazing thing that you can do, with the knowledge that others want?

We all have skills and knowledge. Quite simply, some walking on the life road haven’t been to the town of our knowledge, yet. They want to get there. But they don’t know how.

You can be the one to take someone’s hand and help. Your passion — and you — can be the key to their growth, their enjoyment, their happiness.

2. Write down all the little pieces and parts of your skill. What are the little skills that make up your big skill? What are the little bits of knowledge attached to each part — how your passion works, why it works, the conditions needed to make it work? 

Take your time. Brainstorm it. Keep writing. You might not realize it at first, but what you know — and how you know to do it — is a long list.

Now save this.

Because these scribbles are the seeds to share what you know. And I want to show you how. Like I said, if people want to get to where you are, people will pay for it.

More on this in the next post. Stay tuned.

* Thup

coffeeFeb7-15

 

You might be sleeping. Right now.

I’m not talking about in-the-darkness sleeping. Or mid-day naps.
This is about sleeping with your eyes open.

Because we can be awake but not. Conscious, yet asleep to the vibrancy, the joy, and the exquisiteness of life.

I know, I know. This sounds woo-woo, let’s-all-hum-with-the-monks. But it’s not. It’s about that elusive thing called peace.

It’s true: We want peace, love, joy, and goodness. But we don’t want to slow down enough to think in healthy ways, to focus on truth, to take the steps to appreciate, and to embody candid, authentic, correct, reliable, and sincere thoughts. Somehow, there are too many storms within us…too little faith…too much struggle within ourselves.

Who me?

*Sigh. All of us. We all fall into inattentiveness. Sleeping while awake, the lifeboat drifting and rocking and swaying on lapping water, back and forth into the habit of not being present, the habit that takes away the most precious moments of our lives, simply because we’re not paying attention. Subdued into tranquilized numbness.

Fully awake means breathing in life in loving, caring moments, free from angst.

The question isn’t so much do we want to wake, up, it’s
will we wake up. 

And because we’re meant to live fully awake, wake-ups have a way of coming to our door and knocking. Tapping. Rapping. Banging.
I hope the wake-up alarm isn’t through tragedy.
I hope the voice of refocus doesn’t come from pain-filled catastrophe.
I hope the cold water splash of awareness doesn’t come from calamity.
(Because, unfortunately, the bad shakes us and makes us appreciate the good.)

I hope waking up comes from choosing.
Because we can choose to open the door and take a breath of fresh awakening every second. It’s that primal, that integral, that elemental. That simple. (Almost too simple.)

To be intentional.
To listen.
To consider.
To feel. And deal.
To be at peace — and make peace.
To seek to understand, to give, to love.
(I want to be fully awake, don’t you?)

It’s good for characters in a book to struggle to be awake, to sleepwalk through what’s most important in life, to have flaws that keep the hero from being fully present, fully enjoying life. The storyline is the slow-grow wake-up process of the hero from flaw to freedom, and the long, slow unfolding makes for good story.

But in real life, waking up sooner is better. 

* Thup

This post part of a series called “Don’t Do This” — posts so you can avoid bad writing habits, identify and steer clear of the pitfalls of poor writing, and become the writer-communicator people want to follow.

(Because no one has arrived.)

Get every word,
catch the take-away,
apply.
(Enjoy)
________________________________________

aloof and amok.

“I don’t need it.”
“I already know this.”
“I’m beyond what you’re talking about.”
“I learned that years ago.”

These are the phrases of people who believe they’ve arrived.
Or, at the very least, they’re nearing the station, so learning/growing/becoming doesn’t apply “in their area of expertise” as much.

Gah.
None of us have arrived.
All of us are still learning.
All of us can grow.
All of us need to become better versions of who we are and what we do.

None. Of. Us. Have. Arrived.
train tracks
*sigh.
(sorry for the drama)
(This. Is. Important.)

Most of us will say, I know this. I’m not prideful or anything awful like that. I just know my stuff, and I’m confident.

But. oh. think.
What does your (and my) life say?
Are we listening more than we talk?
Are we present, fully present, giving each person equal attention?
Are we paying attention to what that person can give to our life?

And.
What does your (and my) body language say?
wooden bodies
Does the face reflect honest attention?
Are your feet pointing toward the person, not toward the door?
Are your eyes looking, really looking, in order to see and understand?

And.
What does your (and my) time say?
timepiece
Are we taking the exact moment at hand, to honor the person we’re with?

Warning —
Expert-ism brings along with it a dangerous characteristic: 
Aloofness.

All of us have knowledge.
We’re all skilled in our different areas.

But.

It’s not about being an expert.
Because experts are not perfect.
Experts are not infallible.
Experts do not understand every angle, every possible positive that can make better.

Experts have gaps in their thinking, too.
Experts have gaps in their understanding, too.
I know, this is duh. But how are we acting? really?

(Come on. Time to put it out on the table.)
We all can be better.

_________________________________________

Dont’ Do This:
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that as a leader in your field, you’re close to the station. If you’re human, the train has a long way to go.

Do This:
Be open.
Step back.
Think truthfully.
Be present with every single person you’re with.

Take off the expert hat. Put on the learner hat.
Put yourself in learning situations. Grow.

Get immersed in honesty, openness, and listening for what’s in that moment for you, for me, for our lives.

Don’t let your train run amok. Toss the aloofness.
It’s much more becoming
and will take your train to stations way beyond the one just up ahead.

You can’t become the better writer-communicator that people want to know
without constant growth in understanding, self-awareness, and perpetual action toward growth.

Successful people are constant learners.

* Thup
coffee 1-15-15

This post part of a series called “Don’t Do This” aimed at helping you avoid bad writing habits, identify and steer clear of the pitfalls of poor writing, and become the writer-communicator that people want to follow. (Because no one has arrived. And all of us can use platinum ideas, to be better at the craft of writing.)

It’s like a book online. Free. Bite sized, motivating, practical bits. You’ll like it because it’s all about what works, the how-to for an immediate increase in your writing effectiveness.

Get every word, catch the take-away to apply, and become a sharper writer, right now…
________________________________________

“drive safe” and reasons.

It’s wintertime in Michigan. That means instead of saying, Have a great day! with a saccharine lilt, we say, Drive safe, with sober sincerity.

Michigan winters bring dangerous roads. Especially with the 193-car pile up yesterday on I-94 that killed people — a horrific event on both sides of the highway involving 76 semis, 117 cars, and a truck full of exploding fireworks. The phrase, drive safe, echoes everywhere.

Here’s the truth: Powerful moments motivate us. The crash-crazy event is on everyone’s mind. The reverberating WHOA, THAT WAS AWFUL skitters across social media.

Think writing, now.

Here’s the truth: Powerful moments motivate even the smallest phrases on the page. Everything you write must have a reason, a motivation, and a core to why it’s there. 

Because all quality, powerful, emotion-evoking and mind-changing words must exist for meaning’s sake. We simply cannot afford to use words for words’ sake. I know this sounds Duh! but we’re all guilty.

We’re in love with our own words. But we simply can’t be. You and I must Happily. Let. Go. No, I’m not going to burst into the Disney song, but I am going to say this:

For nonfiction writing,
the words you choose 
must
echo your
key intentions.
And…
For fiction writing,
the words you choose 
must
be saturated with
your characters’
 motivations.

Think about it.
____________________

For anything nonfiction.
emails to blogs to books…
(Get this.)
Your goal is to write the most dynamic — and, yes, succinct — piece, with words chosen to equal the diamond of your idea. Forget the frills, the fluff, the foo — we need clear, purpose-filled words. Unless the words drive the reader to your point, you have to let them go (cue music). Edit. A lot. (Keep asking yourself, Do I really need this?) 

Wordsmith your ideas to get them to the bright, powerful meaning they deserve. Wordsmithing is a cool word, don’t you agree? Tell someone, I’m wordsmithing, and watch his or her face. Your wordsmithed ideas are the ones that  burn onto the page — and into the reader’s heart.

_____________________

For all forms of fiction.
short stories to screenplays to epics…
(Get this.)

In every scene — every paragraph — your character’s motivation is at work. Her reasons surface in her words, her movements, her choices. If it’s not surely tied into her reasons, her internal drives, then rewrite. Edit. A lot.

Wordsmith your ideas to get your story to the enticing, powerful movement with meaning —  burning onto the page and into the reader’s heart.
_______________

Don’t do this:
Don’t fall in love with your words.
Be willing to toss words, lines, paragraphs, entire chapters with gusto.

Do this:
Be flexible — even joyous — at slicing, tossing, and shifting. Expect to reform your page with everything you write. Rarely — if ever — will you get the diamond the first time. Pros take heavy-duty machetes to the page.

______________

Don’t do this:
Don’t start writing without thinking deeply. 
As in jumping into an idea prematurely. He who fails to plan plans to fail. And he who swims in the idea pool with shallow waters doesn’t swim far.

Do this:
Write out your motivation.
* In nonfiction writing,
what response do you want the reader to have, after reading your work? You need a powerful phrase that nails the reader’s reason to read your work. In marketing terms, that’s your reader’s benefit. Have a driving benefit in mind before you write.

But how do you get to the on-fire benefit? 

Here’s how: Before you start, write a guiding phrase that states WHY someone would read what you write. Then write the action that you want your reader to take, at the end of reading your piece. Use that guiding phrase in all that you write. Keep it in front of you. For every paragraph. Every word. Seriously. Everything you write must be tied into that phrase.

* In fiction writing, every living creature in your story must have a clear and guiding motivation. So before you start, write them down — what drives every person to feel what he or she feels, to do what he or she does. Use motivations to guide all that you write. A.L.L. Keep the motivation in front of you. For every page. Seriously. Everything that your character does must be tied into that motivation.

You know, I was supposed to be on I-94 yesterday. Yes, at that exact time, in the exact place where the 193-car pile-up happened. Because of the poor weather, I changed my plans. I took drive safe as a serious, action-inducing motivation — a motivation that changed my behavior. And, boy, am I’m glad that I did.

Find your motivations. Use them.

Oh. And drive safe. Please.
Life is precious.

* Thup
coffee-oct2-14

This post part of a series, “Don’t Do This” – posts aimed at helping you avoid bad writing habits, identify and steer clear of the pitfalls of poor writing, and become the writer-communicator that people want to follow.

It’s like a book online. Free. Bite sized, motivating, practical bits. You’ll like it because it’s all about what works, the how-to for an immediate increase in your writing effectiveness.

Get every word, catch the take-away to apply, and become a sharper writer, right now…
***********************************************************************

the end in mind.

Answer this: What do the following have in common…

smaug
1. The second Hobbit movie.
2. A blog post.
3. A Christmas card.
(?)

Answer: Each has an incomplete ending.
(The movie and post were incomplete for many, I presume; the card, that was incomplete just for me. But more on that in a sec…)

Get this:
Incomplete is not good.
(Okay. You know that.)

Think about it, though.
Your writing, with a “bad ending,” is empty.
Hollow. Hanging. Not memorable, and left with negative emotion.
Incomplete writing is a piece that shouts, “Wait for it!”… but nothing happens. Zip. Nada.

It’s pretty obvious:
The ending with a disconnect to your audience’s needs is silence that’s not golden.

_______________________

critical
Endings are critical.

And in order to have a great ending to whatever we write,
we must 
begin with the end in mind.
__________________________

Because an incomplete ending is more than silence. An incomplete ending is like hoards of crickets, all sitting around with blank looks on their little faces, rubbing their skinny legs in absentminded la-la-land endlessness…

Another analogy: Writing without a solid ending leaves the reader listening to the pointless drone of an orchestra warming up before its concert. (The orchestral warm-up exists for the players, not for the audience.)

Your unfinished, unfocused, no-ending writing leaves the reader in blank-look endlessness, in warm-up droniness (new word).

The warm up goes on and on, and the concert (the connection with the audience) never begins. Bad news for the readers — I mean, concertgoers.

Sorry. I like crickets. And orchestras. Really.
But I digress.

_________________

Your writing needs to satisfy the reader.
gold nugget

And you satisfy the reader
by identifying ONE SOLID NUGGET
to communicate at the end.

_________________

No matter what you write — a card, a note, an email, a web page, a marketing piece, a book, a script — you must find the nugget that will satisfy the reader’s expectations and needs.

>>Take the Hobbit movie #2.
When Smaug flew across the water toward the town and the screen went black (an abrupt ending), the entire audience in our theater groaned. Shame on you, Peter Jackson. Peter cheated — leaving us unsatisfied. A cheap shot, since he knew we’d go back to see the last movie. (Tsk, Tsk)

What was the audience’s expectation? We wanted at least one interaction with Smaug and the city, before closing off the storyline for another year. The ending was Cliffhangeritis. The director needed to give the viewers what they wanted.

>>Take the blog post that I read last week.
The author wove a wonderful analogy, a story with a point moving the reader forward. I held eager anticipation for the ending. (How she was going to wrap it up? What would be the clear moral of the story to resonate with, to feel good about, and to apply to my life?) But the great ending never came. Instead, the writer said, what do you think the moral of this story is? (Gah! No! You need to tell me! You wrote the piece!) And just like in the movie theater with The Hobbit, I left, empty.

What was the blog reader’s expectation? We wanted the moral of the story. I wanted to be able to ponder the ideas, before moving on with my day. The blog ending was Open-Endeditis. The writer needed to finish the thought, to see it through to the end, to spell out the key idea in its entirety.

>>Take the Christmas card I received.
The card giver and I have an elephant-in-the-room relationship. The card was an excellent opportunity to acknowledge the elephant, express meaningful words, and move forward. But what was inside the card? Nothing but a signature. (Yikes! Move the elephant out of the way, please!) And, as with The Hobbit and the blog post, I left the card feeling empty.

What was my expectation? I wanted the I-care-about-you words at the bottom of the card. This card had Lack-of-Meaningitis. The writer needed to fully express emotions and ideas — going deeper into the meaning between the writer and the reader (me). In most situations, you and I can’t afford to write fluff. You and I have to write something powerful and memorable.

Ahem.

Now excuse me while I raise my voice quite impolitely, emotionally, and every other adverbially-strong kitchen-sink -ly emphasis that I can grab onto:

___________

People!
When you write —
in whatever you write — 

CREATE a STRONG, WORTHY ENDING.
______________

A strong, worthy ending contains ONE point. ONE feeling. ONE action step. It’s the bottom line for the reader’s sake.
(News Flash: My writing is not about me; your writing is not about you.)

Strong, worthy writing gives an answer for the reader’s sake:
* What one thing do you want me, the reader, to understand?
* What one feeling do you want me, the reader,  to feel?

Your best ending has a core, a center, a crux, the essence of what you want — no NEED — to get across to the reader. You absolutely have to come up with the fundamental hold this in your hand thought.

In order to be great writers, you and I must spell out exactly what we want the reader to walk away with. Our perfect ending meets all of the reader’s expectations.
(Pardon my repetition, circling the answer over and over with eagle eyes. I think I’ve said it enough, now. Let’s end this baby.)

___________________________________

In order to write strong endings:

Don’t do this: Don’t give a bazillion ideas in your email, post, web page, or nonfiction chapter. And don’t let your fiction characters wander all over the place.
Do this: Focus on one bottom line idea for your blog post. Focus on one key take-away in your email or your web page. Zero in on one piece of conflict on the fiction page or chapter that the reader can mull over and get emotionally tied into.

KISSS: Keep it simple, streamlined, strong.

Don’t do this: In your post, web page, article, and email…Don’t write about your feelings, your experiences, your amazing aha! moments with flashes of personal brilliance.
Do this: Focus on the reader. Only write experiences and aha!s making a point that clearly benefits your reader. Fully place the limelight on your reader’s needs. Your reader’s experience. Your reader’s benefit. Your reader’s outcome.

TRNR: The Reader’s Needs Rule.

Don’t Do This: Don’t start writing and “see where it goes.”
Do This: Write (or, at least, plan) your end first. Then begin.

Such end clarity brings readers back for more.

* Thup
coffeeOct1-14

This is the first in a series, “Don’t Do This” — posts aimed at helping you avoid bad writing habits, identify and steer clear of the pitfalls of poor writing, and become the writer-communicator that people want to follow.

It’s like a book online. Free. Bite sized, motivating, practical bits. I believe you’ll like it — because it’s all about what works, the how-to for an immediate increase in your writing effectiveness. 

This first post is an easy read, every bit worth its tad-bit-longer length. Subsequent series posts will be pointed, brief, direct — with a strong take-away to apply right then and there. So you become a sharper writer, right now.

Get every word in this first post, so that you’re in the know for what’s to come.
(It’s worth it.)

**************************************************

When we hear the words, don’t do this, we sit up and listen — because we know that something important is coming: knowledge with the palpating power to save us from heartache and pain.

Entrepreneur. CEO. Leader. Forward thinker…
Creative. Writer. Artist. Musician. Passionate expresser of life…
Above-average thinker who cares…

Because you matter — your passion, your ideas — and because you want to make a difference…this is for you.

To communicate effectively with words, the how-to skill must be in place. For no matter how much heart or passion we feel and exude — get this — without the vital how-to help that your writing needs, the heart of your communication will collapse.

Seriously. Your ideas, passions, and hopes go into cardiac arrest and threaten to die.

But they don’t have to. When it comes to effectively getting your ideas to others, there are external defibrillators (AEDs) that can save you from some heartache and pain. AEDs analyze the heart’s electrical activity and give life-saving electric shocks to the chest of a person who has collapsed from cardiac arrest. Even if your writing is in cardiac arrest (if you know it…or can admit it…or are willing to do something with it because you get it), the info here gives the life-saving shocks needed, to breathe and fully live.

Because deep down, you know that your words matter,
and because you have a message that people need
and a skill to share…

Read on.
__________________________

Fact 1: Every word you write has a purpose. You know this.

Making a list, writing an article or post, writing a book — each has a reason for its existence.

You know the adage:
* Know the target, know the direction to shoot the arrow.
(It applies here.)
* Know the purpose of your writing, and you’ll understand what kinds of words, phrases, tone, style, length of sentence (and other tools) to use.

Because purpose directs and informs everything we write. Everything.
(Really.)

Here’s the super-simple action I want you to do…
(Trust me on this one.)

Ask the questions:
Who’s going to read this, and why?
What does he or she expect?

In the entire piece.
On this particular page.
In this paragraph.
In this sentence.

And, yes, keep asking yourself the questions — while you’re smack-dab in the center of your click-press-pop-clack fingers on the keys or press-flow-move pen on the page.

(Any and every time you write.)

These questions should be soaring, swooping, circling in your brain above the target, like a mighty falcon with gleaming-sun-feather brilliance. The questions are ever present — ever casting shadows on the red-and-white circled target of your writing.

We want powerful writing — zinging and smacking into the target. So we’d better understand our writing’s purpose.
_________________________

Fact 2: Your writing has a goal: to express, to inform, or to persuade. 

Expression is just for you and me so, hey, we can put anything we want on the page. But information and persuasion, ah, now we’re in different territory. Information and persuasion are for others.

So. We’re stuck.

Because when we write for others, we have to do it their way. We have to follow the guidelines that meet the reader’s needs. If we don’t, then we end up with no one reading what we wrote. Ugh.

Hm. In order to satisfy the reader, we’d better understand the goal of each little scrap that we write.

Ask the questions:
What benefit is my reader looking for?
What does he/she want to feel and experience?
What do they want to know, to walk away with?
Am I giving the reader exactly what’s wanted?

In the entire piece.
On this particular page.
In this paragraph.
In this sentence.

We want satisfied readers — full of good feelings toward what we wrote, full of good memories and understandings that bring them back for more. So we’d better understand the goal of each little bit that we write.
_________________________

Fact 3: Engagement rules. Gone are the days of readers hanging around to read writing that doesn’t engage.

Most of us cringe at the volume of words bombarding our inbox, crowding into our web searches, bumping across our Facebook pages, and even ambling across the bottom of our television programs with the ad for the next-up program.

We’re way beyond information overload. We’re in information repel mode.

Engagement is critical.

Failure to follow the rules of engagement makes readers push away in disappointment, apathy, or even upset mode. Disappointed, apathetic, upset readers leave, let alone even begin to engage (as in, let’s click away in three seconds flat).

That simply won’t do.

Ask the questions:
Where are the repetitive words to axe and toss down the hill?
How can I change up words, to make the writing concise, pointed, powerful?
What am I doing in my writing that repels the reader?

In the entire piece.
On this particular page.
In this paragraph.
In this sentence.

We want readers to stay. So we’d better understand the rules of engagement for writing. (This series is all about helping you identify exactly what you’re doing…so stay with me.)
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Fact 4: Rules of engagement are blood red critical. Writing lives or dies on the rules of engagement.

But we have a serious problem. We don’t know what we don’t know. (Ignorance is not bliss. It’s deadly.)

No lie: I believe that most bad writing is for lack of knowledge. Cluelessness. Not intentional, mind you — it’s simply the I-just-never-learned-this-stuff ignorance.

And without knowing it’s even happening, you’re sending the reader away apathetic or screaming.

Oy.

At the turn of the New Year, ask questions:
Am I keeping myself back by simply living in a closed-door mentality, a self-focus?
Am I willing to open myself up to learning?
Am I humble enough to listen?
Am I willing to be thirsty for understanding, so that I can move forward?

It’s time:
Get better at the craft of written communication.
Don’t mess up due to ignorance.

<<Make what you write matter.>>

Have nothing stand in the way of your clear, vibrating, resonating, connecting communication.

Be willing. Willing to cultivate an open, listening, seeking heart. Willing to listen. Willing to absorb.

Willing to work.

Next time, we’ll get practical. We’ll talk about how not to end your piece. (How to give your reader something to hold onto, a smooth stone in the hand — a promise. It’s good.)

See you then.
(I can’t wait.)

* Thup
coffeeDec26-14

Writers:
Write despite life.

Despite the challenges.
Despite the changes.
Despite the problems.
Write.

Creators:
Create amidst life.

Despite the schedule.
Despite the work.
Despite the day-to-day must-dos.
Create.

Entrepreneurs:
Act and press through to the end.

Despite the pull on your time.
Despite the emotions that push against the day.
Despite the challenges of the idea that drives you.

And dancers. Photographers. Artists of all kinds.
Do, despite all the things that pull you away.

Even if it’s a small amount of time. 

*Thup
coffeeDec6-14
PS. This is my season of “write despite”:

(he inspires me, too)

Entrepreneurs need to know how to lead.
Creatives need to know how to lead.
(Okay, everyone needs to know how to lead.)

Seriously.
Leadership skills are critical.

(This is a longer post. Stick with it.
I believe you’ll find something here that you’ll like… and use.)
____________________________________________________

You might have heard it before: “To lead is to serve others.”

The phrase is true, but not entirely. You see, many in leadership have a heart, a desire, to lead in service … but they don’t really know how to make it happen.

The desire to lead isn’t enough. And position (simply being appointed to stand in the spot) isn’t enough.

(Leadership is so much more.)

I was part of an event today. The event was fairly big — with lots of excitement and fun. Yet, there was a dynamic of preparing for the event that struggled. (uugh. my heart felt it.)

Let me clarify.

The “end event” was a fabulous success. So much was accomplished! So many were helped! So much good happened! Brilliant! Woo-hoo! (I am completely honored to be part.)

But there’s something that could have happened — a dynamic and result — that could have made the final event even more brilliant. Some some of the lead-up to the event (having to do with leading volunteers) had struggles that simply didn’t need to happen.

And that breaks my heart. As in agh. I can’t sleep. (I take it as a sign of caring so deeply, so hey, Sleepless in Kalamazoo will endeavor to turn this into something positive.)

Did the job get done? Yes. But at times, I felt terrible — for both the leader and the people she endeavored to lead.

The leader simply didn’t know what she didn’t know.

(Again. It breaks my heart to see struggles.)

Some of you might not know: I was honored to teach leadership at the college level for many years.

It was a learning experience; each time I taught the course, I walked away feeling more humbled, more thirsty for understanding, and more in awe of the skills of truly great leaders.

Leadership secrets also invaded my growing up years. My dad worked with Warren Bennis, Ken Blanchard, and other leadership gurus breaking ground for much of what we understand in leadership theory and practice today.

(By the way, dinner conversations taught me more about leadership than any class could. Go Dad.)

But today, once again, I learned the critical truth of how important it is to know how to lead others effectively. 

At some point, you and I are going to lead. How will you and I do?
________________________________________________________

Read these 10 critical have-to’s of leadership. It will make you a better person, whether you lead one or many.
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1. An effective leader physically mobilizes others. That means getting people organized to move and do.

“Mobilizing” sees the task at hand and parses out the job — knowing what tasks to attack first, second, and third…then doing it.

Mobilizing also means having an above-the-crowd view — able to assess the group’s needs before they happen.

Your mind whirrs and whizzes as to what could be — running the scenarios through in succession, playing them out far enough into their crazy possibilities.

Only then — after firing the brain into the future and back — do effective leaders choose the best actions.

By the way, if a person isn’t mobilized, he or she feels badly.

At best, the non-mobilized person sits around bored; at the worst, the non-mobilized person feels that their precious time was wasted. Ouch.

We want each person to feel valued — that he or she played an integral part in the success of the task. Mobilizing plays a key part in perceived value.

2. Effective leaders appoint others over sections of the task. Leadership happens in strata: layers of leaders.

You can’t do it alone. You shouldn’t do it alone. You shouldn’t even do most of it.

Sectioning off tasks with second-level leaders is critical. Train the person to do the task well. And then let the people on the second level go for it.

3. Effective leaders change direction quickly. Without blinking an eye, and without emotional attachment, leaders say, “That’s not working. Let’s go this way instead.”

And there’s no angst about it. We simply change. Every movement back on track is good.

Effective leaders don’t waste energy on what could have been; effective leaders are in the now — and feel good about it.

4. Effective leaders vigilantly keeps a finger on the pulse of the group, to be a support to whomever needs it. I’m not talking about micromanaging; I’m talking about knowing when to step in and guide, and then step out again.

Imagine six men moving a large beam together. A seventh man (the leader) walks alongside, vigilant and alert to the six men’s needs and motions. The leader trusts the six men to carry the beam. But if one of the six starts to falter, the alert leader moves in, gives support, and then, once the beam is righted, steps back out again.

That’s how a leader supports his team. Always there. Moving in when needed. And stepping out when the task is steady.

5. Effective leaders communicate. Clearly. And often.

Before the event, tell the people what will happen. Give details. During the event, tell them they’re doing a good job, and everything is on schedule and running smoothly. Give updates. If anything changes, communicate quickly and clearly. And when the job is complete, tell them what was accomplished.

Talk. And talk often.

Ask questions. Find out what’s working and what’s not.

And use a microphone, so you can talk to everyone at the same time. When you talk to everyone as a group, we experience the event together. We are a group. A team. One.

That builds an intangible: connection.

6. Effective leaders use enthusiasm. I don’t care if you’re not a boisterous person. Whether you consider yourself quiet or loud, your inner spark — your inner passion — needs to come through.

If your passion doesn’t come through, then maybe you’re not the right person for the position.

Find a way to communicate how great it is to be working together. Really.

7. Effective leaders smile. With their whole face, in their eyes, and with their bodies.

You have to reach out — to be vulnerable by risking others to see who you really are. That means showing joy in what you do.

The smile is the fastest way to connect between two people. Effective leaders connect.

8. Effective leaders thank their people. Specifically. Often. Up close — with sincerity, a look in the eye, and a pat on the back.

When the job’s done, it’s not enough to say to the group, “Okay, thanks! See you tomorrow!”

Effective leaders walk around to each person, making sure that the connection is made on a deeper level. Honestly. With deep gratitude.

Flippancy has no part in leadership.

9. Effective leaders are personal. They ask for your name — and use your name. They look you in the eye and remember something special about you. They ask you questions about your thoughts, your feelings, and your experiences.

Effective leaders are interested in the persons involved, not just the job at hand.

10. Effective leaders want to give their people an experience. Getting a job done is not the experience.

The experience is about building relationships and community.

Especially with volunteers, people work together for the connection. Connection only happens when all get involved, with side-by-side action AND heart-by-heart connection.

Leadership is learned. I believe with my whole being that the best way to raise up leaders is to mentor.

Side-by-side, the less experienced leaders work with the experienced — and both grow.

Only when we grow do we become leaders who truly make a mark — creating an experience and outcome greater than first imagined.

* Thup

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