Tag Archives: Sound of Music

LSS: New songs to sing

When I was growing up and playing the piano for at least 30 minutes every day, I had one book of classical music issued by my piano teacher — and that was what I played. Every. Single. Day.

When I was in the 6th grade, my teacher asked if I’d like a book with all the music to The Sound of Music.

Can you say joy?

For a girl largely focused on words, playing something with lyrics was like a dream come true. Of all the songs in that book, my favorite to play and sing started off with raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up with string. These are a few of my favorite things.

Taking my cue from Julie Andrews in a dress made of drapes, I proceeded (and continue) to live my life based on the philosophy of focusing on favorite things.

These days, if I were singing that song honestly, I’d have to add finding people or writers who challenge me and make me think — especially in new and different ways to the list of my favorite things.

Last summer I discovered a non-fiction writer to add to my ever-growing list. His name is Seth Godin, a best-selling author who Business Week called “the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age.” His daily blog posts are inspiring and sometimes transformative. About a month ago, I opened his blog to see that he was having a two-day workshop in New York City. Just like that, I thought, “Why not go? It’s bound to be interesting.” I knew it was a place I was supposed to be.

I went and it was.

He talked about many of the themes of his books, but he also answered a lot of specific questions from workshop participants. So, while I’ll encourage you to go if it’s something that suits you, I’ll also share the major tidbits I walked away with:

– Share as much as you’re able.

– Lots of people say, “Do what you love.” Seth recommends, “Loving what you do.” And there’s a big difference. In my opinion, the ability to love what you do is often the difference in living a happy life.

– Stop waiting for other people to pick you. Pick yourself. The Internet allows the possibility to do that in a way that’s never been available to a society before. Even though we are hardwired to want to be picked, in today’s world, there’s not an advantage to getting picked.

– For something to be great and worth of people loving it, someone’s got to hate it too. Implicit in connecting to an individual’s worldview is that you can’t talk to everyone.

– Resist the temptation to persuade the haters who don’t get it.

– Almost no one wants to admit they’re wrong, but they can allow new information to change their minds.

– Leaders change the stories people tell themselves.

– The industrialist mindset doesn’t work anymore.

– We all need to find more opportunities to say, “This might not work.”

– Ideas aren’t scarce. What’s scarce is getting difficult work done.

– Secrecy is a false promise that makes you feel secure until it doesn’t.

– Deep is way higher yielding than wide.

– Most people feel like a fraud. The alternative to feeling like a fraud is to do nothing. The real question is, “Is your story authentic?”

– The way you take something out of the pricing of commodities is to sell it to people who care. Find people who care more about what you do than they care about their money.

– It’s easier to change you than change the marketplace.

– Be vulnerable.

Another of my favorite things is jolting my system to get geared up and moving. Seth’s workshop was just the thing for that. And, as great as he was, the new people I met and exchanged ideas with were equally inspiring. Surrounded by creative, hard-working people on a mission provided me new motivation and information to get my ducks in a row.

Just what I needed.

LSS: Take October Back

Long sigh.
Deep breath.
October, the month I have loved best since age 9, has barely started and it’s wearing me down already. I have been loyal to this month for too long to continue to allow it to be taken hostage by too much.
October, with its winsome leaves, falling and crunching so satisfyingly under bicycle tires on the road.
October, with its dazzling cooler air, drifting through doors flung wide.
Somehow October has become the fall’s May (or even the winter’s December)—too much packed in too tight to appreciate any of it properly.
I don’t like it.
While I know people who have come to believe that being over-scheduled is medal-worthy behavior, I am not one of them.
I suppose what May and October have in common is that everyone who lives anywhere near these parts knows that the unbearable heat is coming. We have to cram it all in before it gets too hot to do anything outside. And now, we have October on the other end of that mindset—the first time since May that it’s cool enough to want to be outside.
Oh, but being outside in October is grand.
Surely, the cooler temps make me sing. And dance. And play tennis. And run around with a ridiculous grin on my face.
The trouble is that the powers that be have scheduled so many other mandatory activities that instead of being the month that allows the majority of us to catch our breath and take it in, October is wearing us down.
As of right now, I’m starting the Take October Back campaign. Join me if you will. Let’s not schedule one more event/appointment/rehearsal/deadline/meeting/class for October—and I’m going to remember this for next year. I hope to see just how little I can schedule for next October.
As Steve Jobs reminded us, life is too short to live someone else’s dreams—or schedules for that matter.
“Your time is limited. So don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Follow your heart and intuition, they somehow know what you’re meant to become. Everything else is secondary,” he wisely said.
Another Jobs line that has been widely repeated this week is one he borrowed from a short-lived 1970s publication called Whole Earth Catalog. He said, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
And that brings me back to the trouble with October.
As things are, October leaves us no time to be foolish.
Having time and energy to be foolish—and using both to do just that—is an essential ingredient in having a great life. Those moments when we take chances in ways we never have before are the very moments that become the stuff of dreams—the moments that we look back upon and recognize as the split seconds that changed everything. Those are the moments that create memories and usually a considerable amount of joy—not to be confused with staged silliness. I’m talking about unchoreographed, spur of the moment notions that require imagination, courage and faith.
That’s what October is supposed to be about.
Heck, that’s what every day is supposed to be about.

Jan Risher’s column, Long Story Short, runs on Sundays. Email her at jan@janrisher.com.