10 Powerful Ideas that Will Change the Way You Work

10 Powerful Ideas that Will Change the Way You Work

by Karl Staib

“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.”
―Austin Kleon

How are you managing your work?  What do you focus on?  Are you overly anxious?  Way too stressed out?  Or just in need of a little more mindfulness?

I’m here to tell you that a bracing dose of self-awareness could be just the trick.  To that end, I’ve culled together 10 powerful ideas that will help you tame your stress levels, persevere through uncertainty, boost your creativity, and get more of the right things done with a smile on your face.

1.  Dedicate time to playful exploration.

In 2006, students from Xavier High School were given an assignment to write to their favorite living authors – several students chose Kurt Vonnegut.  Vonnegut’s response, the only one the class received, encapsulates essential insight on the importance of playful exploration as it relates to doing great work:

“What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives.  Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her.  Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on.  Make a face in your mashed potatoes.  Pretend you’re Count Dracula.”

Although Vonnegut’s response was for young students to motivate them to start learning and exploring new ideas and skills, it’s easy for all of us to limit ourselves to one specific domain, like writing or coding or design.  We get comfortable and never stretch our creative and intellectual muscles.  We never become all that we can be. [Read more…]

7 Questions to End Your Week With

7 Questions You Should End Your Week With

Many of us go through our entire lives as total strangers to ourselves, simply because we never pause long enough for moments of self-inquiry.  We are so busy seeking answers to other people’s problems that we forget to ask questions for our own well-being.  Obviously, this isn’t wise.

Wisdom, after all, is not about knowing all the answers every minute; it’s about asking the right questions.  In the long run, the simple questions you ask yourself on a regular basis will determine the type of person you become.

At the very least, you need to set aside some dedicated “me time” at the end of each week – a personal timeout for self-reflection and self-inquiry – to ask yourself questions like these:

1.  What pleasant surprises did I discover this week?

Life’s dynamic nature continually renews the possibilities before you; you honestly never can be certain when the next gust of wind will arrive and what it will blow in your direction.  Open yourself to these surprises and pay attention.  Many of them will bring goodness you never knew you were missing.

Some of your best discoveries will likely come when you least expect them, in places you never even thought to look.  What you were not looking for can end up being more than you ever hoped to find.  So seek your goals and dreams diligently, but don’t be so unyielding that you develop tunnel vision.  Do not blind yourself from all the unpredictable wonders and opportunities passing in your periphery.

You are never too old, too young, too busy, or too educated to find value and joy in new, unexpected opportunities.  So stay on the lookout, and keep track of [Read more…]

3 Ways We Failed Our Way to Happiness

3 Ways We Failed Our Way to Happiness

Success is not final, failure is not fatal.
It is the courage to continue that counts.
-Winston Churchill

I.  Rejected from Seven Universities

When I was 18, I wanted to be a computer scientist.  So I applied to seven U.S. universities known for computer science.  MIT, Cal Berkley, Georgia Tech, etc.  But I got rejected by all of them.

Soon thereafter, a high school guidance counselor told me to apply to The University of Central Florida in Orlando, which had a rapidly growing computer science and engineering program.  Out of desperation, I did.  And I got accepted and received a scholarship.

And when I settled on Orlando, the move changed my life.

I met Angel there – my wife and the love of my life.  And I met a professor, Dr. Eaglan, who convinced me to switch from the school of computer science to the school of computer engineering, with a strong focus in web design and technical writing – two skills I use today to run the blog you are reading now (a website that makes me happy and financially supports my family).

If I hadn’t been rejected by those seven computer science schools, neither of [Read more…]

40 Quotes to Help You Follow Your Passion

40 Quotes to Help You Follow Your Passion

No matter what happens, no matter how far you seem to be away from where you want to be, never stop believing that you will somehow make it.  Have an unrelenting belief that things will work out, that the long road has a purpose, that the things that you desire may not happen today, but they will happen.  Persist and persevere, your desired path remains possible.

Here are 40 quotes to help you follow your passion and find meaningful work.

  1. The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.
  2. I have found that one thing that helps me to live peacefully and mindfully on this glorious planet is successful engagement in meaningful work, keeping my mind where my hands are.
  3. Your work is to discover your work and then, with all your heart, to give yourself to it.
  4. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.  This concept can be universally applied.
  5. Everything worthwhile in life is work.  But if it puts a smile on your face, it doesn’t feel like work.
  6. Hard work becomes easy when your work becomes your play.  Never underestimate the value of loving what you do.  Read The 4-Hour Workweek.
  7. Continue to work hard at what you love no matter what the odds are.  Eventually, someone will praise and appreciate what you do.
  8. It’s not how much money you make that ultimately makes you happy.  It’s whether or not your work fulfills you.
  9. The best feeling in the world is getting paid to do what you love.
  10. Don’t be normal.  Sadly, normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you financed, in order to [Read more…]

30 Books I’m Glad I Read Before 30

30 Books I Am Glad I Read Before 30

In various ways, these 30 books convey some of the philosophy of how Angel and I live our lives.  I honestly credit a fraction of who I am today to each title.  Thus, they have indirectly influenced much of what I write about on this site.  A medley of both fiction and nonfiction, these great reads challenged my internal status quo, opening my mind to new ideas and opportunities, and together they gave me a basic framework for living, loving, learning and working successfully.

If you haven’t read these books yet, I highly recommend doing so.  They will enrich your library and your life.

  1. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert – Gilbert, a Harvard professor of psychology has studied happiness for decades, and he shares scientific findings that just might change the way you look at the world.  His primary goal is to persuade you into accepting the fact that happiness is not really what or where you imagined it would be.  This is my favorite book on happiness by a long shot.
  2. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck – Pretty much the granddaddy of all self-improvement books, it’s easily one of the best nonfiction works I’ve ever read.  By melding love, science and spirituality into a primer for personal growth, Peck guides the reader through lessons on delaying gratification, accepting responsibility for decisions, dedicating oneself to truth and reality, and creating a balanced lifestyle.
  3. Getting Things Done by David Allen – The ultimate ‘organize your life’ book.  Allen’s ideas and processes are for all those people who are overwhelmed with too many things to do, too little time to do them, and a general sense of unease that something important is being missed.  The primary goal of this book is to teach you how to effectively get your ‘to-do inbox’ to empty.
  4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey – Covey presents a principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems by delivering a step-by-step guide for living with integrity and honesty and adapting to the inevitable change life brings us everyday.  It’s a must-read.
  5. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – This novel is an explanation of what has [Read more…]