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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, March 24, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesMARCH 2004 BRAINSTORM


Here we are in March, looking hopefully for those signs of spring. It's a good time to do some mental and well as physical spring cleaning. To that end, I hope you'll find these ideas useful:
Use the power of visualization — instantly
On my "Power Trances" CD, there are a number of longer visualizations, but here is a short one you can use anytime you're stressed. It takes only about a minute, and here are the four steps:
1. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Make a mental image of whatever is causing you stress. It can be a metaphorical image; for example, if you feel stuck, imagine yourself in a tar pit, struggling to move out of it.
2. Now make another image that represents how things will be once the problem is solved or dealt with in the best way possible. In the example above, the second image might be yourself lightly walking through a meadow.
3. Keeping the second image in mind, think of three specific tangible things you can do in the short term to move things closer to this image.
4. Open your eyes, take another deep breath, and do the first step or at least one part of the first step. For example, if you need to make a telephone call but can't do it right then, schedule the call on your calendar or to-do list.
Action: This is a great exercise for the start of what you fear may be a tough day. Pick the No. 1 thing worrying you, do the exercise and move into action.
Tips for creative travelers
If you've traveled lately, you know that it can be more stressful than ever. Here are my own Top 3 tips to keeping calm. (I'd love to hear some of yours, e-mailed to Brainstorm.
1. Carry a pair of earplugs. You never know when you'll end up sitting near noisy kids, or sleeping in a hotel room where there's a party going on in the next room. The wax ear plugs that you knead and then push into position tend to be the most comfortable.
2. Carry a little alarm clock set to the time of your destination. This is a good backup to hotel wake-up calls.
3. Carry a travel sheet that has on it all the key travel information for your trip. This includes flight numbers, reservation numbers, departure and arrival times, your frequent flyer numbers, hotel information, and your contacts at your destination. Make two copies in addition to the original. Keep the original on your person, place one copy in your carry-on luggage, and give the other copy to the person most likely to need to reach you and whom you can reach in case of an emergency.
Action: Keep a set of the above and other travel essentials (toiletries, travel insurance documents, passport, etc.) handy so if you ever need to travel on short notice, you won't have to rush around getting everything together.
Learning from the circus
Maybe you've been to one of the wonderful Cirque de Soleil shows, or maybe you've just read about them or seen excerpts on television. It has become a big business, netting more than $100 million per year on a gross income of over $500 million. It has successfully married the creative side and the business side.
So what can we learn from it? Well, one thing is to spend enough on research and development. The Cirque company spends 40 percent of its profits on developing new ideas and new effects, and on finding new talent.
If you're working for yourself, you may not have thought too much about R & D. But in this era when we are all essentially working for ourselves (even if we are employed), it's essential to invest in ourselves as well. This could take the form of workshops and classes to learn new skills; subscriptions to magazines related to what you do; trips to see how people in other places do what you do; and new equipment or supplies that help you do your job more effectively.
Action: Estimate how much you're investing in yourself. Is it enough? What kind of R & D investment in yourself has the potential for the biggest payoff? What's the first step you could take to make sure that you're not only keeping up, but staying ahead in your field?
Get lucky
There's an old saying, "The harder I work, the luckier I get." In a recent essay, marketing expert Seth Godin came up with a new twist on this idea. Writing in Business 2.0 magazine, he says: "We live in a world of fashion, not rational computation. A world where everything from brake linings and ball bearings to clothes and airlines is chosen for unpredictable reasons. The way to grow in the future is to acknowledge how important luck is and diversify your risk. Do that with lots of products, not just one or two. Cut your overhead, so you have plenty of chips, ready for another spin of the roulette wheel."
Action: Consider whether you are being diversified enough in what you're offering the world, and how many different approaches you are using to make the world aware of your product or service. It could be useful to diversify further and do some quick and inexpensive trials to see what might work better than what you're doing now.
According to Godin, "Every time you launch a product or service, every time you apply for a job or start a non-profit, you're either going to hit or not. If you get lucky, you're entitled to deny that luck had anything to do with it. But if you fail — and you probably will — understanding the role of the L factor will keep you sane. And if you've planned for it, it will keep you solvent as well. Solvent enough to try again and again, until you make it (and take all the credit)."
Say those three little words…
What are three of the most powerful words you can say? No, not those! In this case, I mean "I am sorry." A recent study by a law professor at the University of Missouri, Columbia, showed that wronged parties are more likely to settle out of court for lower amounts if the other person apologized. But there's a twist.
The subjects were asked to imagine that they had been injured in a collision with a bicyclist (whose fault it was) and had been offered a settlement that covered only their medical expenses. There were three different test groups. In one, the bicyclist apologized fully; in another the bicyclist didn't apologize; and in the third, the bicyclist offered a partial apology.
When a full apology was offered, 73 percent said they would take the settlement. When no apology was offered, 52 percent said they would. And, interestingly, when a partial apology was offered, even fewer — 35 percent — said they would take the settlement rather than sue for damages as well.
The implications of this latter figure may be that if you are going to apologize, do so fully. My own theory is that perhaps if the other person doesn't apologize, we can still imagine he or she feels bad, but if they offer only a partial apology, we realize they feel that we were partly to blame, and that upsets us.
Action: Time and again, our politicians and other public figures (hello Bill, hello Martha) fail to realize that a speedy admission of guilt works better than denials or cover-ups. The next time you make a mistake, as we all do from time to time, consider saying those three little words…
And a few words of inspiration
Richard Saul Wurman calls himself an information architect. He has published over 50 books, and he follows his curiosity wherever it leads him. Here's what he said about that: "I attempt to indulge myself, and the choice of each project is an indulgent choice. I'm proud of that. I know we're told to indulge yourself is bad, it is a characteristic that is not a Christian characteristic. But what else would you want to do but indulge in the things you find creative and enjoyable? When possible, you should do what you want to do every day."
Until next time,
P.S. — "Derrick," the animated feature film I co-wrote, opens
in Germany on April 1. It has been presold to a number of other countries as well, and I'll keep you posted as to additional openings.
You also might enjoy checking out our Brainstorm Web site and seeing my most recent book, "Do Something Different."

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