If there’s ever a day to be introspective, this is it. The Super Bowl for the spiritually inclined and the ultra-organized.
It’s resolution day.
And I fully intend to get busy, not setting resolutions but establishing goals.
But before I do that, I wanted to post an email I received from Chris Brogan yesterday. Chris is pretty much a rockstar in the marketing and blogging world, and like thousands of others, if Chris talks I listen. I loved this email, because Chris really doesn’t gain much by writing it to me. It’s his New Year wishes for the people who care enough to follow his work, and it shows his heart for people.
I’m not sharing this to drive you all to Chris Brogan’s site, although if you are interested in content marketing and small business ownership, his blog is certainly a must-read. I’m sharing it because I love seeing someone who isn’t afraid of combining their business with their heart. He isn’t afraid to let his business followers see who he is. He is transparent.
It’s really hard to be transparent out in the business world. We have clients to reassure, prospects to impress, competitors to stay ahead of. It’s hard to risk transparency. When we write our business blog, it’s hard to maintain a commitment to authenticity. But I think Chris’s New Year’s letter inspires me to greater transparency in 2015.
So I guess I have started my contemplation after all!
This email to you is full of wishes. I mean every single one of them, and I hope to be able to help in some small way. I hope this email finds you in that moment of contemplation and mild guilt we all slip into this time of year. Because I want to help with what’s to come.
I’ve got a mug of mulled cider because, you know, holidays and winter and stuff. You?
My Wish for You
My wish in this coming year is that people know more about you, that they understand what you’re about. My wish for the coming year is that people get as excited about what you’re doing as you yourself do.
My wish for 2015 is that you find within yourself the commitment and discipline to keep your passions alive and share them with all those people who need what you’re doing and providing. And if, for reasons of fate and circumstance, you’re not working on something you feel strongly about, I wish that this coming year is your breakaway year, and that you find a way to be where you belong, instead of trying to fit in.
I hope that you find the misfits and world dominators, the instigators and crazies, the people who freak out over what you bring to the picnic. I hope that you dare to dye your hair blue or get that tattoo, or tell that person you’ve loved forever but never told that you love them. I hope you shave your head, grow your hair long, buy that purple hat, use that purple crayon.
My wish is that you crave more but be so grateful for what you have. Make the “more” be about your capabilities and your ability to serve. Make the “what you have” serve you well, but never look for anchors when success comes from sails.
Wealth comes from serving others. Find those you can help and help them. Don’t worry about the details at first. Be helpful. All my money came from two places: failure, and helping others. And remember that money isn’t the definition of wealth. It’s a byproduct.
My wish for you is that you face the fears that need facing, and that you banish those fears that were silly to begin with but have somehow held residence in your soul for far too long. The fears that need facing can be trained for, prepared for, practiced for, and then you go to war. The silly fears? Well, those just have to go.
My wish for you is that you know those around you. I’m just a fire you’ve gathered around. But if you sought out the monchu (Heck, tweet something with the word #monchu and see who tweets back), you’d have so much more than what I alone can offer. That’s been my dream since I started. So far, no one ever goes far enough to make it true. You’re the star. I’m just the fire.
Finally, remember that my annual “My 3 Words” experience starts on January 1st. Just go to my blog (on the 1st, not sooner!) to see how to do it, and then dive in. I can’t WAIT to hear yours.
And thank you for all you’ve done this year. It’s been a great ride so far. I’m here to help you own your 2015.
Last year David and I found ourselves at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World all by ourselves. We’d stopped for the day on our way from south to north Florida, and we felt a little bit like two kids playing hooky from school. It was the middle of the week during a busy season and there we were eating Mickey ice cream ears and watching a parade.
Sometimes when you are ditching school, it catches up to you. On this day, David had just taken a conference call that needed to happen, so he stepped into a quiet corner to chat while I watched the rocking street parade coming down Main Street. Now this was the Disney street party, and they were ready for the crowd to dance along in a long conga line.
I don’t dance. Never have, and probably never will unless I’m compelled. But for just a brief moment in time, I realized I could dance. I was all alone and could choose to be the kind of person who dances in the street. I pictured myself doing the twist with Goofy when David came back from his conference call. It was exhilarating.
I didn’t do it. I didn’t leave myself behind and dance in the street. But that shot of adrenalin was enough to put my mind in a different place. I could think new thoughts. That’s the value of stepping outside yourself once in awhile. New thoughts. It’s the power of putting yourself into a story, into someone else’s world.
I need that dose of creativity on a regular basis. I am pretty sure that’s the fuel that kept Walt going. I’m heading to Disney later today, and my work day has been focused around the power of Walt’s storytelling. If you want to give yourself a little jolt of that pixie dust, read this post from the Disney Institute. Follow the bunny trail of links embedded and let the inspiration wash over you.
I came across this speech by John W. Gardner today. I don’t often get stopped in my tracks by speeches from nearly 25 years ago, but when Harvard Business Review posted an article on lifelong learning, my curiosity was piqued. I was rewarded by this beautiful speech that inspired me to live with purpose, meaning and interest. The quote below is just a snippet of the full speech, which is worth the time you will spend reading it and digesting its meaning.
“Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.”
I read a great article on Agency Post today about seeing yourself as a partner in your client’s business, rather than as a vendor. Partners are fully vested in the business, will put in the extra hours needed to let it succeed, and will allow their minds to dwell on creative options to solve everyday challenges. Partners will have “Eureka!” moments in the shower. Vendors, on the other hand, do not. They provide a service or an engagement and walk away.
Our companies have always approached clients as partners without actually using those terms. That focus on learning a new business and truly wanting what is right for our client makes doing this worthwhile. It’s been said so many times that it is almost a cliche, but we fire bad clients. We really do. If we can’t fully endorse and evangelize for a brand, we let them go. We lose a little money in the short term, but the end result is a roster of clients we’d be happy to sit down to dinner with, in a manner of speaking.
The Agency Post article is worth taking the time to read. It has some good prompts of ways to engage with your client’s business and how to view yourself as a partner. While I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think that the principle holds true for a lot of things in life, too.
I’m at the point in life where I don’t have time to engage in activities or relationships that are counter-productive or meaningless. I want to invest my life in the things that matter, in deep relationships and creative passions. I want to take my faith seriously and not settle for a surface engagement with the people and places that prod me to do better and to rest in God more each day. I want to jump into creative pursuits that bring let me breathe and fly. I want to steward my health so that I have the depth of energy and physical ability to travel the world and see the sights that reduce me to tears. Most of all, I want the people I’m with day in and day out to know that they are integrally wound into my life, and I would go to the wall for them.
The vendor side of the equation holds true as well. There are moments in life when a client relationship or a personal one seems to be merely transactional. They are less than fulfilling, and barely register on the blip of my life screen. Choosing to view every engagement as a potential partnership, however, helps me reframe even those small moments in time as important and meaningful. Many of my relationships in life have started off as transactional moments, but they develop into a rich engagement over time.
Some quotes from the Agency Post Article
- “Those that treat their customers with respect also treat their service providers with respect. They’re the most successful. They’re the brands that people aspire to own, work for, and work with.”
- “Beyond respect comes the ability to take your client’s business personally. How their business does should matter to you personally. It should matter on a human level, not just on a financial level.”
- See the full article here