Listening to the Rain (And Other Gifts of Being Present)

The most precious gift we can offer another is our presence.
— Thich Nhat Hanh.

Happy New Year! Last week we entered the hope and promise of another year. I write this first blog post of 2016 from my room at New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California where I am on silent retreat for several days. Every year, I take several days to sit in silence, leave the electronics behind, take a break from social media and reset my hard-drive mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally. But 2015 was such a busy year, that I missed doing one of the things that […]

January 8th, 2016|

Do You Seek Happiness or Meaning in Your Life and Career?

I’m back from my last round of travels and am taking time out this week for some much needed rest and reflection. What’s captivated my attention since I got home a few days ago is the difference between meaning and happiness. One of the questions I’ve been asked several times on my book tour is, “Do you have to be happy in order to thrive?” It’s an interesting question I’ve been pondering.

I define thriving as our capacity to unleash our power to grow, flourish, and experience a sense of trust and well-being in ourselves, our work, and our lives so […]

August 17th, 2015|

With Deep Gratitude to the Gardeners in My Life

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
— William Arthur Ward
A soft, sweet rain is falling outside the windows of the cabin in the Trinity Mountains in Northern California where we’ve been for almost a week, resting and relaxing after three of the busiest months of my life. Over the course of ten weeks, I traveled to New York three times, to Dallas twice, and to Philadelphia, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. I had my book launch party in mid-May and then embarked on an eight-city book tour, while […]

July 10th, 2015|

When Striving Trumps Thriving

Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.―Zhuangzi

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the delicate balance between striving and thriving.  In a culture where we measure success by how much money we make, by how many twitter followers we have, or by the status of our title or position, it’s easy to lose perspective about what’s most important.  Then one day, we wake up and realize that our striving is what’s gotten in the way of our thriving.  We keep looking for the next mountain to ascend, and believe when we finally get there, then everything will be […]

October 28th, 2014|

Being Present

Wherever you are, be there. If you can be fully present now, you’ll know what it means to live.” 
― Steve Goodie

I’ve been on a recharge vacation for the past five days. Every summer, we go to a ranch in the mountains for a week with our dogs. We stay in a sweet little cabin that looks out on a seven acre lake. We swim, hike, read fiction, cook delicious meals, sleep in and take naps every day. In a word, this place is paradise. It’s an oasis from the busyness that fills so much of the rest of the year. It […]

July 6th, 2014|

Learning to Bloom Where We’re Planted

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of.  You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.  — Albert Camus

Last weekend we worked in our garden in our annual outdoor spring cleaning ritual.  Call me crazy, but I always love that first foray into spring―pulling weeds, preparing flower beds, pruning trees, cleaning the deck for summer barbecues―because it always represents that life begins anew after the long winter’s rest.

One of the things I noticed as I pulled weeds from the garden was how the flowers always reappear in the […]

April 9th, 2014|

Climbing Off the Hamster Wheel

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than it be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. – Jack London

This morning I read about a live art installation called “The Orbit” that’s being staged in Brooklyn, NY.1 It consists of a 60-foot human hamster wheel and the two men […]

March 6th, 2014|

How Great Leaders Create Engagement

Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the […]

February 13th, 2014|

Being a Gardener of People

A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them. -Liberty Hyde Bailey

Though thriving requires personal effort, it doesn’t occur without the care and attention of others.  We all need leaders and allies willing to nurture and help us optimize our talents, while providing constructive feedback that helps us make course corrections.  We all need people who demonstrate their belief in our capabilities and value our contributions.  These are things that great leaders do well.  They are gardeners of people.

Several years ago, I […]

February 8th, 2014|

I was Blind, but Now I See

It’s so easy to sleepwalk without realizing that’s what we’ve been doing.  Sometimes we experience situations in our work and lives that rock our world and help us see that we’ve been caught in a trance, that our ideas about the world are not necessarily the way things are.  Often it takes a jolting event to wake us up.

These wake-up calls often occur through an unexpected loss of something we hold dear―the death of a loved one, losing a job our family is dependent on for support, not receiving a promotion we expected, a betrayal by a spouse.  It can […]

January 17th, 2014|