They are Listening

A while ago, I posted Amy Cuddy’s Ted talk about our body language and the impact it can have on us.

Shortly after watching this talk, I mentioned this to our younger kids and had them stand up straighter, and even lift up their hands in a “V” pose with their hands overhead and spread out. This came to be known as the “victory” pose around our house when frustrations such as homework, or other issues caused frustration or anxiety. But as time passed, these moments became infrequent, or dismissed from my perspective as “Dad being Dad.”

Flash forward more than two years.

We were on a long road trip. An important trip where missing the waypoints, or hitting delays have large consequences.

Car trouble.

Frantic search for a dealer.

Work that will most likely result in a delay.


Shuttle to a local mall.

Waiting. Wandering. Waiting.

Then it came.


Small simple words.

A reminder to hold our hands high.

A reminder to walk in the “victory” pose.

A reminder that we were safe, and that it was going to be okay.


The words and reminders were not from me, but from our kids.

The world slowed. (And so did my breathing)

I took their advice, and I raised my hands high and walked around that little mall.

My perspective and emotional state shifted.

We all smiled, laughed, and joked.

Our world shifted for the better that day.

I suddenly realized the impact we have around us, in our circle, and in the lives of others.

I also realized something else, perhaps even more important.

They are listening.

New Experiences and Bucket Lists

During a recent dinner conversation, the topic moved to bucket lists. Not everyone (me included) has a bucket list. Bucket lists are about trying new experiences. Experiences that are important enough to try in our lifetime.

Sometimes we don’t want to make a list. (Just one more thing that feels like work or the potential to fail when we don’t accomplish something.)

Sometimes it is scary to write down these items. (What if I cannot do it, what if it requires me to overcome fear?)

Sometimes we think we are too [insert your own self-limiting description here] to make a list. (We are too old, scared, busy, etc.)

Sometimes we live through other people’s lists. (I can join them or not, but not create or plan for my own.)

Sometimes we think about these new experiences, but the distance between thinking and doing can be a very long journey. (Dreaming is great, but doing is so much work.)

One of my favorite bloggers/bucket list enthusiast is Christine Barba. I have enjoyed reading her list and it provided the right inspiration for my own list.

I have started my list. One of my goals this year is to finish the list.

One bucket list item has been to attend a TED and TEDx event.


Looks like I can cross this off my bucket list.

Bucket lists require risk. Bucket lists require us to stretch ourselves.

Do you have a bucket list? Maybe it is worth spending a few moments to write down a few today. Don’t wait. Feel free to share your top three items with us in the comments section?

An Online Game to Change Your Life

I had the privilege of watching Jane McGonical speak at a conference.  She is a game designer who is on a quest to make our reality more like a game, with quests and “epic wins” that are celebrated together.  When I saw her name on’s front page yesterday, I was compelled to watch her again.  This time a much more vulnerable Jane gave a moving talk about her own struggle dealing with a severe concussion that left her bedridden and suicidal.

True to her belief that games can be harnessed to change our world, she created a game to help herself, and all of us with the things we struggle with, or need to overcome.  The game is called Superbetter, and can be found at  We have discussed here a few times the power of setting goals, and Jane takes this to a whole new level by making it more like a heroic quest, that harnesses our allies, encourages us daily and finds very creative ways to assist us in our journey.

Take the first step.  Watch Jane’s talk, or if nothing else, watch the intro video on her website at Superbetter.  You goal may not be a dramatic as Jane’s was, and may be about losing weight, becoming more healthy, or lowering your stress level.  Whatever the goal, the site has tools to help you accomplish this and create resilience to help you in your life.  I was moved and signed up for my own quest right away.

To Jane, thanks for being vulnerable and for creating a tool to help us find our way out of whatever we struggle with…whatever holds us back.  Maybe together we really can change the world.

What is YOUR Number?

Earlier this year we talked about yearly goal setting as a way to bring focus to our lives, and give us something to aim our lives toward.

As part of our collective journey, I set my goals for 2012 as well.  One of these goals was to run a few races.  I had been talking about running races again for a few years and not actually racing.

I was falling into a trap as described by Derek Sivers on where talking about your goals may not always help  you achieve them.

I did go against that advice a little and shared the race goal with a friend.  I decided to share it because this person is a runner as well and I knew they would encourage me, and hold me accountable for my periodic whining.  For other goals, I did take his advice because I have a tendency to talk about goals more than actually achieve them…

The Friday before the race, this person checked in with me with one simple question.

“What is YOUR Number?”

For all non-runners out there, here is what this question means:

“What is your total time goal for the race?”

Setting a time goal (or having a number) is a way to quantify the goal.  Having a number helped me stay on task to accomplish this goal well, and it made me train harder to make sure I could actually run that fast.  That number made ordinary runs (either outside or on the treadmill) mean something.  Each run was part of a larger goal.

Whatever your goals are for 2012, I hope the process of goal setting has helped.  For the more broad goals, are there ways to set specific accomplishments to help you achieve them?  In other words, What is YOUR Number?  You can decide whether or not to share it, but establishing that number may make the difference.

Collective Challenge Day 7 (Week 1 Recap)

Week 1, done.  Just three weeks and three days left.  Today seemed a bit harder than normal to stay away from the news.  I had gotten into the habit of spending Saturday mornings getting caught up on the news and happenings in the world.

During this week I found myself spending more time in silence, especially in the car.  When the particular podcast I listened to was complete, I couldn’t switch to the radio or news. Instead, I just shut it off.  It was strange at first, but as the days wore on, I found comfort in the absence of noise.

Silence is important.  It gave me time to think, process, and just let go of a few things.  As I was reflecting in silence, I remembered a book that I read by A. J. Jacobs, “The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment.”  A.J. takes on different experiments with his life and one that came to mind was when he decided to “unitask” (only doing one thing at a time) because in his words:

“I’m trying to do this because I realize I have a problem focusing.  My brain is all over the place.”  Chapter 8 – The Unitasker

I related to his words and the need to be less scattered and more focused.  And this challenge has helped bring some of that.  In my attempt to also be healthier this year, I have been trying to bring my lunch to work each day, and take 15 minutes or so to actually eat it.  This “lunch-time” has also been a great time to either watch a video on or just read.  Coincidentally,  A.J Jacobs was on the front page this week and I watched his talk and he spoke about the importance of silence.  His talk appears below.

So far this week has felt less stressful, and the large sense of impending doom around the world seems to be slowly lifting away.  It is January and here in New Hampshire it is going to be sunny and 50 degrees today.  Let’s see what week two brings.