Can You Build Fires?

 
Making FireI was a horrible Boy Scout. My troop was the Keystone Cops of the scouting world, the ones who came in last in our survival and wilderness skills competitions, the ones who didn’t capture the flag, build a fire, or navigate with a compass. In the navigation competition you had to follow a course using only a compass and to make things more difficult, you wore a paper bag over your head so you couldn’t see where you were going. Using only a map and a compass most teams made their way to the finish line, our team walked in circles.

But this post is not about navigation, it’s about fire. Another competition had us build a fire using only a few select items (none were matches unfortunately). The first item was flint to make a spark and that reminds me of this quote from What Next: “Inspiration on its own is like a flint without fuel, the spark is there but nothing catches fire.”

Of course we were given fuel in the form of tinder but it was a very limited supply. Now there was something to catch the spark but it wasn’t that easy. If the spark wasn’t strong enough or had to travel too far to reach the tinder, it wouldn’t catch. It’s the same with inspiration. If there is no one around to share your inspiration it might just remain an idea, a thought rather than action. If you can’t motivate yourself then the spark of inspiration will be exstinguished. Again from What Next this is summed up with this quote: “Motivation is the tinder for the spark of inspiration; it is the thing that catches fire.”

If the tinder did indeed catch the spark it would die without coaxing and that came in the form of oxygen. You would stoke the flame by gently blowing on the tinder; blow too hard and you put out the fire, too softly and it won’t spread. As we build the fire of our lives this last ingredient is drive. “Drive is the wind that spreads the fire of motivation sparked by inspiration,” I write at the end of What Next. Drive is the oxygen that sustains us as time, money, nay-sayers, or any other obstacle tries to exstinguish our fires.

As a Boy Scout I was horrible at building my fire but with practice and the right combination of inspiration, motivation, and drive, I’ve built plenty of fires that sustain me both mentally and financially. A leader will help others build their fires or give them one of the necessary ingredients. I hope I’ve given fuel to others so that they can build a fire of their own. What are you doing to build, sustain, or spread your fire, your passion?


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You Can Swim

Once again I find myself writing about a Tweetchat. Through these weekly chats I’ve met new people and gained friends. In the post I wrote about Twitter called The Fun of Discovery I mentioned my favorite chats but noted I was new to this and would probably find more. My latest favorite chat is called #inspirechat and it takes place every Thursday at 11am eastern time. Joanne (@JoanneCipressi) is the organizer and facilitator of these wonderful discussions. There is also a Facebook page for InspireChat.Inspirechat

Because there are a lot of people on these chats things can move quickly and you often don’t have time to think about your answers – that’s a good thing. It’s like a stream of consciousness, your unfiltered thoughts are allowed to flow and I’m often surprised by what I write. That’s exactly what happened in this week’s chat.

The topic of the chat was renewing yourself and a subtopic was letting go so you can move on. This is also a common theme in my book What Next. Someone who asks What Next is constantly moving on from one project, one business, one idea to another. They are also adept at letting go. When one idea doesn’t work they move on to the next one. This is often confused with being indecisive or flighty but I think it’s just the opposite. Once a decision is made that something isn’t working you have to let go and move on.

The eighth question asked by Joanne was “Why is it scary to let go sometimes and how can we find the courage to let go?” This is a great question because we all cling to things that we’d be better off without, things like falling stock, relationships, jobs, even businesses that aren’t doing well. I immediately thought of the image of a life preserver. Life PreserverIt’s very scary to admit failure or acknowledge that something isn’t working out as planned. Taking a What Next approach, an optimistic approach, will help you to realize that what some call failure is really a lesson, and the person who learns the lesson is stronger than the person who never tried.

My answer to question eight surprised me and was re-tweeted by several people (an honor among Twitter users). Here’s my response:

My tweet

It’s hard and scary to let go of something you think you need, something that has given you comfort in the past, but you are stronger than you know. You can succeed in spite of what other people tell you, in spite of your insecurities. Let go and take the first stroke and you’ll see that you can stay afloat without any help at all.

What are you holding onto that you think is helping but in reality isn’t allowing you to swim?

 


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Failure is Neither Bad Nor Good

 
I’m failing, floundering, becoming discouraged and I’m ready to give up. But I don’t.

What makes a person continue in spite of the odds, through setback after setback? Is it stupidity, passion, drive? Yup.

So many things that have become wildly successful have been called stupid. Everyone loves to make fun of the Snuggie The Snuggiebut I’d love to have that kind of revenue. Ted Turner was laughed at when he started CNN or as his detractors called it, The Chicken Noodle Network, but it was the first of its kind and pioneered an industry.

Passion can carry you far because passion is the fuel that keeps us going in spite of the obstacles. I believe in What Next, that the concept will inspire others to pursue their dreams. I’m willing to expend the effort to spread the word and share my message, even if I think no one is listening.

Drive is the product of inspiration and motivation. To succeed one must be driven to push past the failure. Achievement is the net value of all your successes and failures, if it’s positive you’ve won, and if it’s negative you’ve grown, learned from the experience. Failure is neither good nor bad, it’s what you get out of it that matters. Which is why you should never be afraid to fail; unwilling to fail, averse to failure, yes, but not afraid to fail.

My curiosity, and the massive amount of time I spend online, led to the discovery of The Failure Club. That doesn’t sound like a club I’d like to join but the fact is that I’m already a member and will earn my membership many more times. The concept of the failure club is to push yourself even though you know that the chances of success are slim, that you will probably fail. Failure Club is the expression “It is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried” put into practice.

I don’t watch much television but this is a web program I’m going to watch from beginning to end.

Are you willing to step out on the stage of life and declare that you believe in something so much that you are willing to fail? Then do it! Share your what next with us. Say it out loud and take action. Do not be afraid to fail because if you let your fear win, you’ve already failed.


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People Want Answers

While sales of What Next have not been stellar (see how honest I am), people seem to have a very positive reaction to the book when I tell them about it. I even wrote a post about that back in October. The trend continues and I’m encouraged by it. When I relate examples of the people in the book who have asked what next, the person I’m speaking with usually tells me their what next, the thing they would like to do but haven’t for whatever reason.

A related phenomenon is that people will also ask me for advice in achieving their what next. They want answers, they need, and want a push in the right direction. That is why self-help or motivational books do so well, why motivational speakers are booked at various events. The idea that a person can get answers that will lead to success is why life coaching is more popular every year.

I know my book is now part of this group (I wrote about the irony of this here). But looking to someone else for answers is the easy way out, dare I say the lazy way to success. No one has the answer to your success other than you!

It’s fine to read my book (I encourage it), or to listen to a motivational speech, but unless you add action to that feeling, on your own, the motivation is lost. In the book I say “Inspiration on its own is like a flint without fuel, the spark is there but nothing catches fire.” I go on to say “Motivation is the tinder for the spark of inspiration; it is the thing that catches fire.” The last ingredient is drive, “Drive is the wind that spreads the fire of motivation sparked by inspiration.”

No one, not a very skilled motivational speaker, not a best selling book, not even my book, can provide you with the drive to succeed. I hope I give you that spark and that there is some fuel to start the fire but you have to provide the wind to spread the fire yourself, and become successful on your own.

As 2011 ends resolve to motivate yourself , resolve to be driven, resolve to be curious enough to ask What Next, and resolve to find the answer on your own.


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