1. Work with people who are smarter or more accomplished than you.
In the last month or so I’ve advised a mega-website/magazine that has the #1 community forum on the world wide web, a super savvy duo who are #1 in their industry and have one of the finest business plans I’ve seen; and a kick-ass forum of some of the most savvy marketers, motivators, and co
mmunicators in action. In every case I had to leap further to meet my intuition, dig deeper into the industry, and listen more actively. They made me sweat. I learned some new kung fu.
2. Solicit opinions from a diverse audience. Nothing like asking a twenty year old and a seventy year old what they think about your stuff.
3. Solicit opinions from experts. Ask a gifted writer what they really think of your material. Take your CEO to lunch for a preemptive performance review and some tips on how to sail up the ladder. Hire a stylist to eyeball your fashion fabulousness. It may sting, it may be a major gust of wind beneath your wings, but either way, an expert opinion will motivate you to get on top of your game.
4. Stand naked in front of the mirror, and don’t leave until you can say three deeply loving things about: your physique, the miracle of your health, and your qualities as good human being.
5. Fire your most annoying client, team member, or nasty friend. You’ll wished you’d done it a long time ago.
6. As the Dalai Lama says, “Love until it hurts.” For me that would mean volunteering at an old age home. I can hardly bear the wastage and scarcity of dignity that makes for most nursing homes. It slays me. I always leave a total wreck.
7. Choose silence. Turn off the TV. Commute without the car radio on or your i-Pod earphones in. The silence may unsettle you. With our addiction to noise and distraction held at bay, our anxiety, painful beauty and genius has room to surface.
8. Underachieve. This is especially for all the A Types and workaholics. Slack. Don’t finish the book. For one week, do not do a to-do list. (I know, your palms are sweating at the very thought.) Be late just because you wanted an extra five minutes in the hot shower.
9. Take an improv class. It could teach you more about innovation, relationships, success, and sexuality than any therapist or self help book.
10. Say no. Only offer the simple explanation that “it just doesn’t feel right.”
11. Say yes. Just for the hell of it. Whimsy is a direct route enlightenment…or peril. Either way, you’ll come out stronger.
Originally published December 2009.