Help Me Spread a Positive Virus


I first want to wish you a great 2010. A year in which you set sights that are worthy of the gifts and abilities and dreams you possess. A year in which you take the plunge and engage to make a difference in your world. A year during which you don’t start just the year, but each day, each meeting, each moment, as though it’s new. Cuz guess what . . . it is! Contrary to what Crosby Stills Nash & Young sang, “we have NOT all been here before.”

I am intent on provoking a virus of goal-setting. I invite you to help! So I encourage you to look at the results of last week’s 3-question survey on goal-setting and talk about them with those around you – your team, spouse, special other, kids (if you’d like you can take the survey before seeing the results). Here’s some question-starters: Why don’t we set goals when we know they help? How can we help each other do it? And just as important – see question 3 on the survey – how do we build in the constructs that give us a chance to reach those goals? If you don’t like “goals,” call them delights or visions, hopes or wishes, things that would satisfy you or make you proud, results that matter. But don’t miss the chance to start with an end in mind. And if you’re a leader, you know that helping others find their way is a central part of

Leading with your best self!


p.s. I still have a few slots open for my “Make 2010 a 10” retreat this Thursday and Friday.

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  • Hi Dan and Everyone,

    My family had a “game night” around the dining room table on New Year’s Eve, and we all shared our goals. Let me share them with you now, and see if they have anything in common with your own goals.

    1. To re-commit to keeping my dialog (about anything) positive. I think that I normally remain positive in my discussions, but sometimes when the person I’m talking with in person or online becomes negative, I tend to respond in kind. Would Jesus, Ghandi, or Martin Luther King, Jr. respond that way? I think they’d try to remain positive… and I think that in general, a leader would try to remain positive.

    2. Talk up and otherwise support Michigan whenever I get a chance. Many of my co-workers and other contacts are on the East Coast, and I’ll redouble my efforts to share all of the positive things about Michigan. We all know that our state has had a tough time since the late 1960’s — and especially over the last 10 years, mainly due to the changing nature of the auto industry — but I really believe we can make a positive difference ourselves by being positive. I think the Michigan automakers are turning things around in a big way, and I think 2010 will be a good year for them. (And did I mention how glad I am that I invested in Ford Motor Company about a year ago?)

    3. On the physical health side, I’m going to run at least three races this year, including a half marathon, after not having run competitively in many years. I’ve put on more than a few pounds over the last 20 years, and I’m really starting to enjoy running again.

  • Tony,
    Thanks for sharing your AWESOME goals. I love them. At 52, I have a grid that I’m using this year. It has my vision and mission at the top. And I have included “style” at the top, because I want to be lighter and less self-serious (is that too serious a goal? to be less self-serious?).

    My goals begin with health, which I appreciate more every year. As more of my parts start to break down, I realize the billions of parts and functions that are working in this body and mind. Yes, I forget names, but I remembers tens of thousands of names. What a gift that is! Yes my ankle has been bothering me, but there are hundreds of parts and functions that allow me to play hoops with my son.

    My wife and kids follow right behind my health. It’s hard to quantify those in the July 1, 2010 and January 1, 2011 columns, but I try. If they are in words so important, then I have to think about measures and about the central activities that will get me there.

    This year will be strange as far as goals, because it is certain in a year that we will not be in the governor’s residence and we will not be in our primary work roles. Hmmm. So I have scaled back on the measurables of my other goals – writing and speaking, for instance. I am leaving in cushion room to do things that will come in. So, this will be an interesting year. Kind of like driving in ice and snow – fighting the urge to act like things aren’t slippery, fighting the instinct to push the pedal down all the way.

    Should be a year of learning.

    Thanks for encouraging the dialogue – at your home and here on this blog.

    p.s. I bought each of my kids 100 share of Ford at $1.67! And we’re sittin on it!

  • Since you’re following up on your posting of last week, Dan, I’ll do the same. I don’t SET goals so much as DISCERN them. Based on scientific fact and my observations and experience, I know that we’re all connected. Furthermore, I believe that there is a Universal Mind (or you might say God) that connects us on a supra-physical level. (Thoughts are things that affect matter and if you don’t believe that, study the branch of medicine called psychoneuroimmunology–the mind-body connection.) Lots of great thinkers over the ages have believed in a universal consciousness.

    Whenever I face a choice, I try to discern what Universal Mind wants of me in that moment. Obviously, as with any body / entity, this Mind wants abundance for the entire being, so I can trust guidance that comes from this Source. My chief strategy to connect with this Universal Mind is meditation. Nature is another, because I breathe easier when gazing at the sky or hugging a tree.

    I help others achieve their purpose in life by giving them permission to dream. I tell them, “Let’s pretend I have a magic wand that can create precisely the kind of job that you’d love doing so much that it wouldn’t even seem like work. Tell me about that job. What are you doing? Who are you doing it with? Lots of people? All alone? Inside or outside? Tell me about it so I can create it for you.” This helps them get out of the box of “I’m a construction worker. I’ve always been a construction worker. That’s all I know; it’s all I’ve ever done.” Sometimes, it turns out that they enjoy fixing cars as a hobby, or drawing pictures of buildings, or quilting. This helps us move them forward towards a new career of certified mechanic, or CAD designer, or fabric store owner or manager.

    I think we are called to abundance by these visions of the future, these dreams if you will.

    As for building constructs to support our visions, I have found that the resources are always there if I only have the eyes to see them. The problem is that too often, I’m inclined to keep on my old blinders, the ones that keep me in the box I was in. When I accept that if I am called to do something, the resources will be provided to get it done, my blinders come off. Then, suddenly or gradually, I notice things that I didn’t before. I see that they could help me achieve that vision. Or I serendipitously run into someone who can connect me to the exact resource I need. This is what so many people find when they face a time of crisis, where the road they were on turns out to be a dead end. When they have the determination to explore other options and do possibility thinking, they get to a better place. Think of Thomas Edison and all his failed experiments. When one didn’t work, he kept trying until he came up with the light bulb, phonograph, etc. We have to keep moving forward even if we don’t quite achieve the entire dream that, in all our human limitation, we perceived. It may be that our role in the interconnected body of the universe is to sow a seed so that others may bring in the sheaves.

    …or so I believe, for now…

    Thanks for asking good questions, Dan!

  • Dan,

    Thanks for the positive spin to help 2010 begin.

    The copper miners in the Keweenaw used to say, “Any day above ground is a good day!” They were referring to their sparse and cherished days off from the hard life in the dark hole of a copper mine. My take is a bit more direct, and references the long sleep.

    My daughter and her husband begin a Jubilee year in 2010, where they spend nothing on themselves, paying necessary bills, etc., and give the rest of their income away to those in need. It takes an inordinate amount of willpower to not eat out, not see a movie, not buy a new shirt, not spend an unnecessary cent on anything simply unnecessary, and a great deal of faith to believe this asceticism will help make the world a better place. I applaud their selfless goals.

    2009 was, for me, a year of selfishness and self-centered living. January 26, 2010 will be my anniversary of being without a job — the only time in a 44-year work history that I have been without a job. It will be the anniversary of a self-centered journey of discovery of what is really important in my life and the lives of those who depend on me for support. Unemployment benefits and the occasional work as a substitute teacher or payment for an article kept us afloat for the year, but those benefits end in less than four short weeks. I tell myself that the resulting worry is for my family, but really — the pain is mine, as is the discouragement and the internal bruising from hundreds of rejection messages.

    We have much to be thankful for, nonetheless: I have good friends, who offer support and reassurance. My wife and I have small pensions and health insurance, not enough to live on, but a cushion against hitting bottom too hard. We have understanding friends at our credit union, who are bending over backward to help us cope with debt that was light when I had a job, but heavy and growing heavier each month.

    So, what kind of goals do I have for 2010?

    1. To keep writing — in my journals, in my poems, and even when I do not get paid for it. Writing is like breathing to me — I just cannot help it, and it is best done in the crystal-clear, usually crisp and cold air of the Keweenaw.

    2. To stay healthy. I walked 4.5 miles in a snow storm yesterday (at 9 degrees F and 20 MPH winds). My wife and my body both complained about the exercise, but it is a challenge that costs only time and effort — no gym fees and fancy equipment.

    3. To stay positive about life — even when the world seems to be telling me to give up. I will be 60 years old in a few weeks, but I know that number means nothing (except discounted coffee atMcDonalds and Burger King). I feel as energetic and alive as I did at 45.

    4. To remember that life is a journey, not a destination. Change is expected and is part of the challenge — I learned that from 2009 and from you, Dan.

    Thanks for your good words. You should have a Yooper Retreat sometime — geared to those coping with unemployment and isolation from both the rest of Michigan AND the rest of the continental United States. I salute you from under 120 inches of cold, white snow!


  • This is it.

    The year I lose 25 pounds.

    I can taste it. Like a big juicy cheeseburger. With bacon. And onion crisps. And french fries with that bar cheese. Oh god that’s good.

    Yessir. It’s going to be the Best Year Ever.

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