Sometimes I run around, chasing urgent matters, forgetting my life’s most important goals and priorities. You would think I’d be immune: Stephen R. Covey was a college professor of mine. I was learning and applying the 7 Habits before they were numbered. So maybe that’s why seeing Dr. Covey again brings me back to my senses. Or maybe he does that for everyone. Here, he’s focusing on what it takes for teams to execute their goals. I can also apply these points to my team of one.
Writing goals are easy to postpone. (That’s why I’m an expert!) Unless you have a publishing contract or a class deadline, nobody notices if you bump that project to the end of the bottomless To Do list again. Dr. Covey would call our writing goals the Important but not Urgent; he teaches us to schedule time for those projects and keep them high on the list, because that’s where the best things in life are found.
“This is the photo that launched a thousand ships, the photo that inspired VoiceThread. It might be the greatest photo ever taken.” (An unidentified founder of VoiceThread)
You might agree! You can see this striking photo here: http://voicethread.com/#q.b409.i3129. I find it hilarious, and it becomes even more so as its subjects attempt to explain their interesting facial expressions. VoiceThread might inspire you to create similar conversations. And maybe you’ll find your own writing inspiration in a photo.
About a month ago, Mimi Meredith shared her mother’s advice for cold Montana mornings: “Darlin’ girl, just put one foot on the ground.” I’ve been smiling over that ever since.
And I’ve begun noticing how often I begin projects that feel huge, day after day: creating a proposal for a workshop, reading a book manuscript for a consultation, grading a flood of student papers. (I’m sure you have your own version of this.) Once I’m in the flow, I don’t want to stop. But there’s that moment that can feel like a winter draft: do I really know how to do this? do I have enough time set aside? Am I up to this one? Will I know what to do with whatever I’m in for?
I’ve been noticing those moments and thanking Mimi as I just put one foot on the ground and realize I’m up and running.
If you want to write a book, maybe you could put one word on a page.
My favorite book designers had a brainstorm. They said, “For many people, 2011 was not such a good year in so many ways . . . . But to be fair, 2011 was never marketed very well. People tend to see what they expect, and expectations have not been very high for a while. Perhaps a good brand identity would have helped. That is why for 2012 we thought we would start the year off right with a selection of possible branding options, things that some of us could be looking forward to, and which may help us all have better expectations.” (That’s John Wollinka and Dan van Loon of Design Corps, who obviously design other wonders in addition to books.)
Filmmaker Rick Stevenson vividly recalls certain observations he had in his childhood. (I LOVED his brilliant and candid introduction.) He was ambitious enough to follow over 60 children through 5000 days of their lives. This first documentary begins with six- and eight-year-old brothers. We watch as they outgrow their sibling upsets, become best friends, and grow into men. You have to suspect that being interviewed helps them live an examined, more fulfilling life.
This first one is dear to my heart because I’ve raised my sons in the same traditions, and because I’m raising sons in general, but I can’t wait to see the rest of these revealing and developing self-portraits. Storytelling means understanding our common humanity and our fascinating differences. It means being inspired by each other.
It’s a brilliant idea to borrow: capture your own growth and that of your young ones with a series of video interviews, perhaps as a birthday tradition. And it turns out that there’s even a private version of 5000 Days where you can upload video diaries as a time capsule, and later choose whether to submit them to the project.
The film will be available online for a little while here:
How will those you love be remembered? Even a couple of pages can convey the personality, values, and contributions of someone whose legacy matters to you.
You could go multi-media, like Apple’s memorial event (if you want to keep making the technology transfers), but remember Steve’s advice: “Simple can be harder than complex. . . . but it’s worth it when you get there because then you can move mountains.”