The Blog

I’m always in search of the perfect conversation. Perfect, but elusive. A topic that will enchant even the most unintentional listener, flawless execution, the works. But the shows we most often put in the win column go off the rails at least once.

“I can’t tell you how many memories I have,” Katie told me recently, “of you making a mistake on the show, and then hearing your laughter and Dad’s laughter and your guest’s laughter. You always fall so gracefully.”

Is there a better gift to bestow on a child? To hear Kate tell it, not necessarily. You don’t have to be perfect. Perfect, as Anna Quindlen might say, is as likely to annoy as anything.

But throwing yourself into a conversation with abandon? Now we’re talking.

Seth GodinWas it Seth Godin who inspired this experiment with Katie? I think it was. “Raise your right hand as far as you can,” I suggested. She did. “Now raise it a little higher,” I told her. Which she did. “What’s with that?” I teased her. Oh, the giggles. I love those giggles!

That’s what I’ve been thinking about since a certain someone subscribed to my blog. I’d assumed I was already doing my best. Now I know I can do better.

Since I learned this gentleman was reading I’ve scrapped a few posts I didn’t think packed enough of a point, and I’ve trimmed a lot of unnecessary words.

Imagining my new subscriber reading any particular post has inspired a new devotion to the business of writing.

Whatever it takes!

Do you hoard ideas?
February 7, 2018

Have you noticed what I’ve noticed? That the people who are the most generous with ideas seem to have a limitless supply of them?

Makes you wonder which came first. Did a limitless supply inspire the sharing? Or did the sharing send a cosmic signal that this was the right person to rain ideas on?

My money’s on the latter. Generosity works. Hoarding? Not so much. Not for long.

Get up when you said you will. Don’t hit the snooze button on your alarm. Then make your bed. You’ll start the day with a couple of wins, and that won’t hurt your chances of making bigger things happen as the day goes on.

Maybe you’ve heard that advice elsewhere. I certainly have. And I’ve found it to be eerily predictive.

Which reminds me how often a plane will be late taking off, only to have a pilot reassure us we’d “make it up in the air” and arrive on time if not early. That’s one reason I build margin into the day. Yes, I’d like to be doing this or that by such and such a time -- but if I miss one deadline I can make it up by spending less time on something less important.

I used to cram my schedule so full the odds of getting everything in approached zero, so by the time I hit the pillow I was always disappointed with myself. The only thing that varied was the reason.

That isn’t a very good way to go through life, is it? 

Lower your expectations. Not too much, but some. You might be surprised by how good you feel for having met those. Which might inspire you to raise them again!

Life’s a dance, isn’t it?

I’ll never understand how people who work in big companies get any work done. Offices, after all, are interruption factories. I know this because even with only one other person in my office, we can burn up a lot of time shooting the proverbial breeze.

That’s one reason I stopped saying “bless you” when Darrell sneezes. I felt vaguely guilty about it, even though I’d noticed he’d already stopped blessing me once in a while. Finally I just asked: “Have you noticed I no longer bless you?” Indeed he had. And you know what? It was a relief!

Here’s why. I’m a serial sneezer. Rarely is it just one. Usually it’s three or four, and I’ve gone up to twenty -- maybe even thirty -- at once. No kidding. It’s a gift.

The last one is the best. It’s as if the others are just warmups. I hadn’t realized what a predicament that posed for Darrell. Does he bless me after the first sneeze? No way. There are almost certainly more. But after how many should he step up? How can he decide? Does he wait for a long enough pause, a high enough decibel? You’ve sneezed. You know how it feels when something happens to thwart one. There’s at least a momentary, “Damn.”

Not saying anything at all keeps Darrell from worrying he’ll mess up the sequence.

What about you? Is there some little source of anxiety you could dispense with?

Why do you what you do?
February 1, 2018

Many years ago a friend stopped by to see the progress on our home renovation. Darrell had just wired stereo speakers in opposite corners of the living room ceiling. I told my pal what a project it had been to make sure they were perfectly lined up.

“Why does it matter?” my friend asked, not taking pains to soften the question.

“Because I have a defect in my brain,” I told her, jumping at the chance to flog myself.

Flogging myself is no longer a hobby, and I’d answer the question differently if someone posed it today. I’d say I have a flair for design, and even small details matter.

Right? Everyone’s picky about something. Sometimes many things. I generally gravitate toward people who are fussy about getting things right. Pilots, dermatologists, mechanics. Some work is life or death. Even when it isn’t, there’s a lot to be said for fine craftsmanship.

UnacknowledgedMaybe I should be embarrassed to admit this, but until recently I equated “UFO” and “ET” with “crazy.” Everything changed when I interviewed Dr. Steven Greer, founder of The Disclosure Project. Two days later I watched his film, Unacknowledged, which was the number one documentary on iTunes in 2017.

It was quite the one-two punch of, “Much of what I thought I knew is…wrong.”

Have you seen it? I’d love to hear what you think.

JorshYou learn a lot when you marry someone named Darrell. Namely (so to speak) that correct spelling doesn’t seem to be a project for people. They use the standard Daryl, of course -- and it goes downward (sideways?) from there.

Which reminds me of checking, double-checking, and triple-checking the manuscript for my first book so carefully I thought I’d never recover. It was exhausting. There couldn’t be anything left to verify. Could there? Oh, wait. Some guy named Dennis. Surely it was “Dennis,” right? Wrong. “Denis.”

Yes, I caught it in time. No, I never trusted my assumptions on anything from that point forward. Yes, it’s a hassle to forever be checking the spelling of even so-called common names. Yes, it’s worth it.

There’s nothing sweeter, as the saying goes, than the sound of one’s own name. It makes me wonder if there’s anything more distracting than not spelling it correctly.