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Sam Davidson's blog

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Posts tagged dreams
Freedom From Worry

"If I had just a little bit more money..." "If I win the lottery..."

"If I get the promotion..."

"If I get into that school..."

"If my idea hits..."

Complete those sentences however you like. At the heart of each is the notion that with a little (or a lot of) cash, the right opportunities, the stars aligning, or things going in our favor, we'll be set.

But what is "set"? Is there a certain amount of money we can have and then want no more? A certain pedigree, title, or recognition?

In my experience, each is ever-changing. Get a million bucks and then you'll be restless until you get a million more. Rise to run the company and then you'll itch to start your own and grow it bigger.

What we're all chasing is freedom from worry. We believe - for some reason - that if our bank account is big enough or our house is in the right city or if we meet the right person that we'll never worry again. Each night we'll lay down and while darkness settles in, our minds won't race with "what if?" questions about our lives. Certainly, at some point, worry will leave us and we'll be blissfully at peace with the world and our place in it.

Oh how I wish that were the case!

Get as much money as you want; it won't prevent any nasty disease from creeping in and ruining you. Find the right person; they don't come with an iron-clad guarantee and that they'll be around forever. Land your dream job; any company can go bust.

Does that cloud have a silver lining or is that its gray underbelly, waiting to burst and drench my parade?

None of us can live without worry. There's always something. The best we can hope to do is manage it, keep it at bay enough to enjoy our picnic in the sun. Sure, rain is possible, and if it falls, we'll pack up and dance barefoot while getting soaked, creating a memory that can't be duplicated or taken from us, captured in our hearts to draw upon when we're lonely or sad or bored so that we can remember the day when we laughed and did the Charleston, drenched, making the most of a bummer of a circumstance.

We can't truly ever live without worry, but perhaps we can find joy in its midst. The fragility of human relationships exists to remind us that these things aren't to be taken for granted, ensconced, buffed, and fit for a mantle to only be gazed upon when things are going well. The reality that any of our connections can fall to the floor should spur us to take care of each, to nurture and cradle them so that we can understand and appreciate what it is we're holding. And while it can still fall and shatter, it may be less likely to do so if we're careful, courteous, and conscious with what it is we have and cognizant of how beautiful and delicate these treasures of people are.

Worry is like a brake, then, there not to keep us idle, but to help us go as fast as we can, knowing that we will be able to slow or stop when our speed has reached a point that it can be dangerous. With time and wisdom, we can tap the pedal to call our attention to the proper guardrails and lanes so that we don't veer off aimlessly into a direction we shouldn't be headed.

No amount of anything will free you from worry. But the right amount of life will have you living fully despite worry's troublesome presence. Worry wasn't meant to drag you down. It was meant keep you grounded so you could flap your wings with rapturous joy when you get the chance to fly.

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8 Things That Do Not Exist

In addition to unicorns and Big Foot (maybe), here are eight things that don't exist. So, stop hoping you'll find them:

  • Getting rich quick

  • An overnight success

  • Something that is easy to do and worth doing

  • "It's not personal, it's just business."

  • That which is valuable or meaningful that came about effortlessly

  • A life without regret

  • The perfect man/woman/child

  • Having it all

What else doesn't exist?

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What Does Your 10-Year Vision Look Like?

Recently, I've spoken to a handful of people about what they want their company to have done 10 years from now. In most cases, they start to rattle off business principles and bullet points:

  • Be profitable
  • Expand to at least five new markets
  • Be the largest company in their industry
  • Sell more products than ever before
  • Gain national exposure through earned media
  • Have a customer base over 1,000,000 strong

And so on. Each of these is nice to have, for sure. But each misses the mark.

If the 10-year vision we have for ourselves and our company is only about ourselves and our company, we've dreamed too small. We need to have a vision of what the world will be like 10 years from now because of our work.

If, 10 years from now, our work has made no change on culture, our clients, or our employees, then all we did was make money. While earning income is fine, cash without purpose is empty.

What will the world look like 10 years from now if your company is successful?

  • People will be able to spend more time doing what matters
  • Certain prejudices will be eliminated
  • The planet will be healthier
  • Couples and families will have better relationships with each other
  • Communities will be stronger and neighborhoods will be safer
  • Two common diseases will have better treatments

This is where our work begins. We imagine the type of world we'd like to see and then we can determine how we can get there. If we can picture a better world, then our organizations can start to develop products and services to make that dream come true.

It is this kind of vision that also captivates and inspires others. No one cares about your company; everyone wants to live in a better world.

The chief aim of your work isn't to make money; it's to create a better future. When you do the latter, the former always happens.

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Clutter is Holding You Back

The reason you're not happy or able to nimbly chase down that big dream of yours may be right in front of you. Take a look around your living room, office, or bedroom. How much crap do you have? Are you offended that I called your stuff crap? Are your things not junk? If you're labeling a general mass of objects as stuff, things, junk, or crap, then it probably doesn't mean that much to you. And if it doesn't mean much, why do you have it?

Watch any episode of "House Hunters" (they're all the same). Every person hunting for a home wants the same thing (other than an open floorplan and space to entertain): plenty of storage.

Is this what it's come to? Our quest for a place to live now includes a place to put our crap as a chief priority?

But don't worry; if your new house doesn't have room for your stuff, junk, or crap, just rent a storage unit. It's perfect for all the crap you still want, but don't want to look at.

Clearly, we need to do something about all of our clutter. In my mind, the answer is simple:

Get rid of it.

It's time. Your clutter is holding you back. Here's why:

It gives me something else to do before I start.

Sometimes, I feel motivated to sit and write for hours or begin that project idea that's been brewing in my head. And just when I'm ready to start typing or dreaming, my crap calls to me and begs me to organize it, move it around, or rifle through it. As long as I have clutter, I have a distraction. There willl always be something to look at, something to take my mind off of what matters. Eliminating clutter will keep me focused.

I waste time looking for stuff.

The bane of our modern existence is that we all own six pairs of scissors but never know where any are when we need them. Are they in the junk drawer? What about the shelf with all the stuff? No? In that other drawer? Having places full of clutter means that we're spending valuable time looking instead of quickly getting what we need to do what we must. Organization won't just make your house look like a catalog; it'll save you time.

Stress increases as it feels like the walls are closing in around me.

Didn't your house seem so much bigger before you put all your stuff in it? The easiest way to junk up a room is to put a bunch of crap in it. And when you do that, the room feels smaller, which could even lead to increased anxiety for you, as you get the impression that the walls are closing in around you. Tear down those walls by eliminating what you don't need.

Crap is worthless unless I sell it.

If $500 is all that's standing in the way of you and a dream, I'm willing to bet that you can find that $500 as soon as you start selling your crap. Whether you plan a yard sale or do it online, your crap can quickly become someone else's treasure. Remember: we have to sacrifice what can be sold in order to earn what can't be bought.

What about you?

How do you deal with clutter so you don't put off accomplishing something big?

And, as a shameless promotion, my book Simplify Your Life has many practical ways to clear clutter out of your life. Best of all it's only $3.99 on the Kindle (which won't add to your already overflowing bookshelf)!

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Feeling Trapped

I was waiting to board my flight out of Fort Lauderdale, talking on the phone with my friend Adrian and pacing as we caught up, told stories, gave advice, and offered encouragement. And as I walked and talked waiting for boarding time, I heard a bird nearby. Sure enough, two small birds had found their way into the terminal and were chasing each other, flitting about rapidly, resting on a ledge near a big tall window.

I wonder if they looked out the window in between bursts of indoor flight. I wonder if they saw the planes making their way from the gates, revving up, racing down the runway and quickly climbing high above.

And if they did, I wonder if their heart longed to do what they were best at: fly freely.

We find ourselves in similar situations, I’m guessing. We have natural talents or skills we've honed over the years. We each have something we enjoy doing so much that it makes our heart sing. But sometimes, all we can do is look out our window at everyone else who looks like they're making it, taking off toward their dream of doing something great.

And where does it leave us? We feel trapped. We feel misguided by the advice someone once told us to do what we love and what makes us happy. We tried and it just got us stuck somewhere near the Internet and every time we stopped for just a moment it looked like everyone else was taking off while we were stranded, flightless and nearly hopeless.

Take heart. Just because you’re not soaring right now like everyone else doesn't mean you’re ultimately incapable of flying. You know how to increase speed, create lift, and climb higher.

You just need to get out of the terminal and onto the runway.

That’s the hardest advice to come by, truthfully, and I wish I could conclude this blog post with a handful of easy ways to do that. I wish there were a book to read, a video to watch, or a guru to consult to make sure that you’d be at cruising altitude by lunchtime.

But all I can tell you (and tell myself) is to keep trying. Keep flying where you are, even if big windows and a ceiling have you feeling like you can’t escape. Because I really believe (for you and me) that very soon, the door or window will open up and we’ll be free.

We may even find a crack in the wall we can slip through. Our job in the meantime is to make sure we’re ready for flight when the conditions become favorable.

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The Power of Place

Sometimes, all it takes to take you back is a building. Stacks of steel and concrete or the way the fairway looks in that sunlight can transport you back a decade or more. Looking out a bedroom window or down a hallway that doesn't seem so big anymore brings back memories and milestones you'd forgotten still lived inside of you. I was in south Florida, keynoting a business conference. After the speech and a round of golf with my dad, we decided to go for dinner. As we turned off the main drag and into the complex full of restaurants and shops, I got that scary happy feeling like I'd been there before. And then I knew why it was familiar and foreign to me. I had been there once, almost ten years earlier when I spoke nearby. I was a different person then, on a different errand, but the power of place overcame me and there I was, younger and unwed with more answers than questions.

It's the feeling of a Friday night football game when you're 30 but suddenly feel 16. Or when you look at the counters in your parents' house and recall a time when you could barely see the cookies that you could smell cooling above. It's the way your grandfather looked in his recliner or the way Christmas sounded when everyone was together under the same roof of that very old house.

Our homes are more than where we live. Our offices and schools are more than bricks and drywall. Parks are more than trees and open fields and roads do more than get us from A to B. Everywhere we go and move is a memory waiting to happen, eager to sneak up on us when we're busy doing everything else.

Places can be sacred. Churches and bars can equally have special meaning for those of us who darken either doorway to meet with friends and commiserate with strangers.

The only way to recognize the power of place is to succumb to its alluring pull. Let it wash over you. Let your mind wander back to a time when you were and where you were. And understand that the next memory could happen anywhere. The conditions never have to be right or perfect. The creation of the moment will make everything right by it.

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How to do a 1080 on a Skateboard

It looks like the first person to ever land a 1080 on a skateboard is 12-year-old Tom Schaar. Here's the video:

As you'll notice, most of the video is of him falling. That's what success looks like - lots of falling down and getting back up.

Two things also made the impossible possible (as noted in the video description here):

  1. The right tools - Tom needed a ramp that was long enough to get the speed he needed without being so tall as to lose the momentum created. Most ramps aren't built for 1080s. He needed the perfect platform to do something great.
  2. The right team - To get the ramp (and some added confidence that someone believed in him, I'm sure), he needed someone else to believe in his dream and help. Red Bull came through and helped him get the tools.

If you want to succeed at something, then, you'll need to fail a lot. You'll also need the right tools and the right team. As long as you're doing one of those three (failing or assembling your tools or your team), then you're on your way.

Keep moving.

The Beauty of Human Resiliency

There's a great, redemptive article in this month's Fortune. It tells the story of Leigh Steinberg, upon whom the movie "Jerry Maguire" was (sort of) based. Steinberg was once on top of the sports world and then it all came crashing down, largely due to alcohol addiction.

What I love about the piece is that it doesn't end with Steinberg back on top, counting his millions. He's not allowed (yet) to be an agent again in the NFL. He owes creditors a lot of money. He must submit regular urine tests. His office and apartment are small.

But he's trying.

And this is the beauty of human resiliency. He is trying again.

He is bruised, but not crushed. He is still trying to get up.

We can each do this. The crescendo of our story is that we can keep moving forward, not that we always end up on top. The point isn't to win, although it's nice when it happens. The point is that we can keep playing as long as we can. 

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Passion is Really About Engagement

Penelope Trunk has an excellent post about passion and work. She nails it when she says:

When you say you want to do something you’re passionate about, you really mean, when you think about it, that you want to do something that is right for you. Something that is fulfilling and feels like the thing you should be doing with your life.

She goes on to briefly detail why it is schools teach us the opposite of this.

As usual, this post is well thought-out, well researched, and well written. So, if you're curious about what it really means to be passionate about a job, read her post and then think about what engages you most.

What skill do you possess that you're great at doing? That you can do well almost without thinking? When do you have control over your work? When can you see your work making a difference?

As Penelope concludes:

Figure out what you need in your life to be fulfilled. Find that work. Then, as long as you have control over your hours and you can see how you help people, you will feel good about your work. And you know what happens when people feel good in their work? They stop asking themselves bullshit questions about what they are passionate about.

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A Manifesto for the Rest of Us

I have no desire to be location independent. I may like to travel or go on vacation, but using my laptop on the beach doesn't sound fun. I don't want to work just four hours a week. I don't mind work if I enjoy it, use my talents, and am appreciated.

I want a job I love.

I want my kids to admire, appreciate, and adore me.

I want to be around to do fun things with my parents, my siblings, my friends, and my family.

I want to settle down, plant roots, and watch my legacy grow for a while.

Instead of being wealthy, sexy, or hip, I really just want to be happy.

And if I go to the ends of the earth looking for happiness and it turns out that it was right in front of me all along - in the form of stability, family, and simplicity - then that's on me.

What I need then is to find a place where I can use my talents and gifts and be rightly rooted in community.

I don't want to miss out on a great life because the one someone else was living looked more alluring through the rose-colored glasses of the Internet.

Beaches and independence don't have a monopoly on fun, meaning, belonging, happiness, or impact.

Being the master of my fate and the captain of my soul may mean that I decide to leave the vessel in port for a while. Parties happen there, too, you know.

I don't want to miss out on where I am because I'm always thinking about where I should be.

Community can happen in lots of ways, but it happens best when you show up, shut off your phone, and create memories together.

The real journey I'm on is the quest to be me. That's the one I'm chasing; not the one someone else is after.

Here's to the rest of us, the ones who are learning to be our best selves, to be happy where we are, to dream bigger than ever before, understanding that dreams can move us without moving us.

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Is $500 All That Stands in the Way of You and a Dream?

As I meet more and more people who want to chase a dream in order to start a company or live their lives more fully, I also met more and more excuses as to why people don't take the risky leap and chase their passion. Here are some of the excuses that people seem to have on why they can't follow after something:

  • Not enough time
  • Don't know how
  • Don't know enough people
  • No passport
  • Little experience
  • No one will trust them
  • Too much competition
  • Lacking confidence
  • Fear of failure
  • Need money

Most of the things on the list above can be quickly overcome, especially the last one. Many ideas we have for new companies or ways to live a more passionate life don't require millions of dollars, but rather can be started with just an extra $500. And if you think you can't find that kind of cash, then stop complaining and start looking around your house.

To find $500, you could:

Don't think you can do it? Then you may as well admit that your passion isn't as important as TV or clothes. Maybe once you say that out loud, you'll be willing to make the hard decisions to sacrifice what can be sold so you can earn what can't be bought.

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You're Still Fighting

A few weeks ago, while listening to sports radio in my car, a basketball coach was being interviewed. His team did not make the NCAA Tournament and was instead invited to the less prestigious NIT Tournament. When asked if he was disappointed and whether or not his players would respond positively and play hard, he said:

We're still playing, and that's important. Whether you're in the middle of the ring in Madison Square Garden fighting for the heavyweight boxing championship or you're caught in a street fight in a back alley, you're still fighting. You have to size up your opponent and go to battle. The location doesn't matter. Either way, you're still flighting.

In our life and work, we clamor for the big stage. We yearn for recognition and accolades and can easily assume that if it's not well known, it's not worth it. Why play on the small stage? Shouldn't we just risk it all and work hard and only worry about landing big clients, big PR opportunities, or big money?

Nope. You need to do what it takes to keep fighting.

The interview with the local weekly newspaper is just as important as the one with USA Today.

Guest blogging on a small niche site can reap rewards just like getting mentioned on the large tech site can.

Selling something one at a time may not give you the same rush as selling 1,000 at once, but hey - you're still selling.

Whether you're managing one employee or 100, it's important that you work together as a team.

Every fight matters. Concern yourself less with the stage and the audience and get to work.

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