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Description

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Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds this day in the sight of heaven and earth.

Bleak House, Chapter 1

One of my favorite descriptive sentences. Anywhere. It’s so damn descriptive. Words fail me.

 

10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer

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When I started in the copywriting and marketing business several years ago, Copyblogger was one of the first sites I found. Their articles helped me make sense of the role of writing in online marketing. I quickly grasped (and loved) the importance of great content that meets the reader at various stages of the buying cycle. And developed a love of long(er) form articles that educate and subtly persuade.

Turns out, the role of writing in my new profession wasn’t all that different from it’s role in my old profession as a litigator. Everything great lawyers do has a basis in persuasive writing. The most convincing legal briefs and arguments are clear, succinct, and simple. The advocate figures out what the hook is and builds the case around it, emphasizing important facts and underscoring the arbitrator, judge and jury’s role in the process by engaging them in story.

What a boon (and a bit of a relief) to find that marketing (well, marketing the way I wanted to do it anyway) had so many similarities, the core of which is writing.

So it cracked me up, a few years back, to click on a post from Copyblogger called 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer, and find nothing more than a simple list. 10 numbers. 10 lines. I laughed so hard because it was so right on. 

Copyblogger later created a poster from that original post.

ENJOY!

10 Steps Writer

 

“Just Do It.” Really?

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Women leading lv picture

“It’s only impossible because you haven’t done it yet. Just do it.”

Um . . . . really?

Simplistic much?

Saw this quote on Facebook a few days ago and it got under my skin. The annoyance I felt was intense. Grating. Palpable.

It’s one thing to make a complex idea simple.

It’s quite another to gloss over something complex as you’re trying for a catchy sound bite.

Which is this?

I attended an event last night called Women Leading Las Vegas. The panel had one host and four guests, all women who have achieved extraordinary things in their careers and lives.

Did they “just do it?”

Hardly.

As the dialogue got deep and these women opened up, a few themes were stunningly clear:

  • Each woman worked her ass off to get where she is
  • Each had a clear vision of what she wanted to achieve, and didn’t waver from it (made adjustments along the way, but didn’t waver)
  • Each women experienced multiple “come to Jesus moments” during her life and got through them. We’re talking crises, professional and personal
  • Each woman has surrounded herself with people who have her back
  • Each woman is doing what she loves AND is good at

The insight these successful leaders offered was illuminating and profound.  Proof that we can all have success at what we really want to do – and if we’re smart we’ll play to our strengths, spending most of our time doing what we’re really really great at.

But did they “just do it?”

Perhaps.

Though this exact subject didn’t come up, I got the feeling that the success of each of these women lies in their ability to live in the moment for a good portion of the time. How else can you get through the pressure, the stress and the grind if you can’t, at least some of the time, narrow your focus and existence down to one simple moment. After moment. After moment.

I’ve done it. I do it. It’s a practice. The closest I’ve come to living this on a life changing level was during Silverman. A race that should have taken between 7-8 hours took nearly 11. Flat tire, after flat tire, after flat tire . . . for a total of five, turned my carefully laid out race plans upside down, shook them out, and blew them away.

After nearly six years, this is still the best I’ve come up with to describe it:

I’ve talked before about how Silverman is much more than a race to me. The overwhelming feeling of POSSIBILITY that I had while volunteering on the run course in 2006 is as strong now as it was then. . . .

These feelings about Silverman built up over two years and came with me on November 9, 2008. I underestimated their power, as, for ten hours, forty eight minutes, and thirty three seconds, my mind went on autopilot and overrode all but a couple of fleeting negative thoughts.

Every mental status check revealed an inner calm, focus, and complete confidence that I would finish. No matter what happened, I could rely on my mind and body to move me forward – even when things turned out differently than planned.

You can read the entire Reflections on Silverman post here.

I never knew the power of living in the moment until that day.

  • In the moment, time slows down. Focus comes easily.
  • In the moment, you’re fully there. Anxiety about the past, worry about the future aren’t possible.
  • In the moment, support is there when you need it. Concern about what’s going to happen next doesn’t exist.

In the context of the moment, “just do it” makes sense. Because it’s all you can do.

As an inspirational slogan, “just do it” misses the mark

It’s too simplistic.

It implies “doing it” is easy.

It negates the hard work required to achieve meaningful goals.

It completely ignores Resistance.

In my experience “Just start” or “Just act” is better. That’s how you achieve the impossible. 

What do YOU think? Did I over analyze this? Read too much into a quote that’s mean to inspire? Or did I nail it? 

Many thanks to Alicia Mejia for the picture of the Women Leading Las Vegas event.

 

 

All Will Be Well

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This is one of those songs that struck me right in the heart – in a good way

Couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard it before. I “discovered” it the way I’ve discovered quite a few of the songs on my playlist: on a TV show. Was watching Parks & Recreation and it came on during a montage that showed some characters moving forward in a significant way. The montage paired with the song made me cry.

I did NOT like Parks & Recreation for the first season and a half. Mostly because IT SUCKED. Really wanted a “new” comedy to watch though – and the write ups online said it got better over time. It did. It got much better. They retooled the writing.

The storylines got better. The characters got deeper. And when the episode with this song in it came on . . . well I was open enough to see a lot of myself in these words, after coming through some difficulties the past couple of years. Thank goodness for support. No matter what.

I’ve bolded the parts that particularly strike me

The new day dawns
And I am practicing my purpose once again
It is fresh and it is fruitful if I win
But if I lose

Ooh, I don’t know
I’ll be tired but I will turn and I will go
Only guessing till I get there then I’ll know
Oh, I will know

And all the children walking home past the factories
Can see the light that’s shining in my window as I write this song to you
And all the cars running fast along the interstate
Can feel that love that radiates, illuminating what I know is true

All will be well
Even after all the promises you’ve broken to yourself
All will be well
You can ask me how but only time will tell

The winter’s cold
But the snow still lightly settles on the trees
And a mess is still a moment I can seize
Until I know

That all will be well
Even though sometimes this is hard to tell
And the fight is just as frustrating as hell
All will be well

And all the children walking home past the factories
Can see the light that’s shining in my window as I write this song to you
All the cars running fast along the interstate
Can feel that love that radiates, illuminating what I know is true

All will be well
Even after all the promises you’ve broken to yourself
All will be well
You can ask me how but only time will tell

You got to keep it up and don’t give up
And chase your dreams and you will find
All in time

And all the children walking home past the factories
Can see the light that’s shining in my window as I write this song to you
And all the cars running fast along the interstate
Can feel that love that radiates, illuminating what I know is true

That all will be well
Even after all the promises you’ve broken to yourself
All will be well
You can ask me how but only time will tell

All will be well
Even after all the promises you’ve broken to yourself
All will be well
You can ask me how but only time will tell
You can ask me how but only time will tell

Read more: The Gabe Dixon Band – All Will Be Well Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

And here’s the video if you’d like to listen. It’s a beautiful song

 

Be the Hero Of Your Own Life

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I really REALLY love this quote from the beginning of David Copperfield:

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will belong to anybody else, these pages must show.”

What is Copperfield talking about here?

Is being the hero of your own life easier said than done?

It’s been a long time since I read David Copperfield. Since I can’t transport myself back to college, when I got to know this character (along with Esther Summerson, from my favorite Dickens novel, Bleak House), I’ll have to offer up my take on it in the here and now.

Since I’ve been reading a lot of material on leadership and success, I’ll do an off the cuff take on it from what I’ve read and from my own experience.

Being the hero of your own life means:

  • You recognize you always have a choice. You’ve overcome (or you never bought into it in the first place) that false mode of thinking you don’t have a choice in certain circumstances. You always have a choice. Always. You may not have control over some circumstances, but you can always choose how you respond to them.
  • You take personal responsibility for everything in your life. You recognize the role you’ve played in getting you where you are today — whether you love where you are or hate it. This doesn’t mean taking responsibility for other adults, enduring bad behavior, or letting people take advantage of you. It means you have a handle on your own “stuff.” You don’t blame others for your misfortunes — you recognize your role in them and take necessary (sometimes hard) steps to have things unfold differently next time.
  • You are grateful for everything you have. Your health, your home, your spouse, your pets, your clients, your job . . . this doesn’t mean you have no problems (everyone has problems). It also doesn’t mean that you don’t have big(ger) goals, or that you’re not seeking to improve in some areas. Quite the contrary in fact. When you genuinely appreciate what you have NOW, you build a strong foundation for moving forward, solving problems more quickly, and getting more of what you want — gratitude is like a magnet.
  • Surrounding yourself with people you admire and respect. You have a choice about who you spend your time with. Who you live with, who you marry, who you work with, who you take on as a client . . . when you assess the relationships in your life and realize that most of them are with people you admire, respect, and want to emulate in some way, you know you’ve made some damn good choices.
  • You ask for support more often than you ever dreamed – and get it. This was hardest for me to grasp. I was raised to be independent and self sufficient. I spent my first career in an environment where support was not readily given — and I felt asking for it would make me look weak — and weaken my character. It took me years to learn the fallacy of this way of thinking. Getting support in this context means that you’re already doing the above four things to the best of your ability (not perfectly — no one does them perfectly), and that you ask for support from a place of strength, not neediness, inadequacy or weakness. You find that, way more often than not, people are glad to support you.

What do you think?

Have I nailed this? Missed the mark? Would you add anything?

Let’s have a conversation in the comments.