Big Fat Loser Confession: The ‘I’ll Try’ Enemy

I’ve said it at work while training sales consultants: “I’ll try” is a disease.After teaching, coaching, and seeing an employee experience a eureka light-bulb moment, I’ll sometimes hear two dreaded words: “I’ll try.” I honestly wish they’d just say “I won’t and I can’t.” No commitment, no change, no results. Just be honest with your life.

Now the confession: I’m sitting on my can, watching NBC’s The Biggest Loser. I often feel a bit guilty watching this show. Shouldn’t I be burning some calories, learning something, working on that project, I’ll think. Heck, at least I’m not downing chocolate and pizza… yet. Anyway, there are a couple big losers on the show and I’m not talking about their weight; I’m talking diseased minds.
My blood boils when I hear one of them say “I’ll try.” As in:
  • I’ll try to do the workout.
  • I’ll try to finish.
  • I’ll try to eat better.
  • I’ll try to make a change.

One of the participants just ate 37 mini doughnuts. Thirty. Seven. Doughnuts. That’s where the “I’ll try” willpower gets us–nowhere.

As creatives, let’s harpoon the “I’ll try” from our vocabulary and our mindset.

I’ve had a number of readers mention the encouragement they get from these posts. Fine folks who’ve hung up the paintbrushes, the pen and paper, the auditions etc. As they say in High School Musical, “We’re All in this Together.” I’m so sorry I just wrote that last sentence. My apologies.

If I’m honest with myself, I have to spear the “I’ll try” every time I seek to ideate and create. That’s why I’m writing this right now. I will write. I will contribute. I will inspire.

No more “I’ll try.”

I will. I can. I have something to share. I can bring a change. My work comes to good.

A heck of a lot different than “I’ll try.”

Why do you think we like to say “I’ll try?” What’s your new mantra to replace your “I’ll try?”

Give Life to Ideas and Creativity by Killing the ADD/OCD Demons

I sometimes get distracted easily.

To write, create, or ideate I’ll often need to get away. Do you ever feel this way?

So, off to the coffee shop I go. My favorite writing nook vacant, I now inhabit this space:

Now I can write. Finally no distractions. Fast forward about an hour. Here’s the rundown…
  • Checked the four other posts I’m working on and added a scant thought or two to each.
  • Texted my wife twice.
  • Consumed some soup.
  • Watched a youtube video.
  • Sipped the coffee.
  • Talked with some friends who sat down and surprised me.
  • Posted on said friend’s Facebook wall.
  • Checked Facebook . . . a lot.
  • Looked around aimlessly to try and avoid completing this blog post. 
I’m for serious on that list. Those things actually just happened. To make matters more unproductive, I just wrote it all out and am still yet to (actually) begin this post.

Luckily I’d already started a blog post about short attention span disorder (SASD). I don’t know if it exists in the medical books, but I know it exists whenever my creative juices get flowing. It’s as if our subconscious doesn’t want us to contribute and share our gifts and talents. Could this be true?

Not for us it’s not. Relinquish Your ADD/OCDemon. Say ‘yes’ to focus and ‘no’ to distraction.

What are we looking for in the distractions and false accomplishments anyway? The main reason we run from our ideas is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of risk.

A challenge:

1. Take ten minutes to write out that idea you’ve been working on for work, home, or school. Turn the iPhone off. No distractions.

Example: I want to think of a new way to start the meeting at work, the class at school, or the decorating project at home.

2. Write out at least three entirely different ways you could accomplish your idea. Write out the really dumb ideas too. Nothing is off limits.

3. Pick one from the three, do it, and drop me a note to tell me how it went!

What ideas do you have that you need to share today?

The Writer’s Toolbox, an Exercise in Creative Bravery

My wife, ever the cheerleader (thanks babies!), bought me a wonderful gift that I didn’t bother to even open. How rude. Yes, but the time had to be right. Tonight’s the night!The gift, The Writer’s Toolbox, by Jamie Cat Callan, is both a book(let) and several simple inspiring exercises to get the brain jogging into the land of twists, turns, conflicts, descriptions, and plots.

Today’s exercise: using the sticks!

1. Draw a “First Sentence” stick.” Write for a few minutes.
2. Draw a “Non-Sequitur” stick. Write a bit longer.
3. Draw a “Last Straw” stick.

Here’s what came out… my ‘sticks’ sentences are underlined.


On Tuesday, Margaret told me she liked the little oranges with the seeds better than the ones I bought.I hated her for that.

Her distaste for anything ‘unnatural’ drove me to commit mind murder, the likes of which I’d not experienced since grade school. Kenny Malich, not Margaret, was the object of my half-rage then, but it felt the same now as is did back at Glen Heights Elementary in Canton.

We were celebrating Thanksgiving. My parents made me a pilgrim-like collar out of four sheets of thick black construction paper cut to form a circle around my neck. Sticking out awkwardly from my shoulders, the collar looked like a umbrella missing a few strands in it’s DNA. I pulled my socks over my pant cuffs and half way up my calf to further compliment my colonial-ness. There’s a shadowy memory of a hat and an odd belt buckle, but I can’t be certain at present. My costume, though complete, was anything but authentic, real, and natural.

Kenny was an indian. Oh yes, he got it all. He had the moccasins, the war paint, and even a hatchet. So cool. They were all the read deal too. Even the hatchet.

So why did I hate him and why did Margaret’s comment about the seeded clementines set me reeling back to childhood?

“You could make a living doing that kind of thing.” I suppose I could, but I had never thought about it, until then.

Produce aisle. Frozen for who knows how long. Holding oranges. I didn’t even know if I was blinking. It could’ve been five seconds or ten minutes. From the looks of my meager audience, my journey to elementary school and back to my seeded clementine selection had transformed me into a stick-figured mime.

I should’ve passed a hat and collected a few bucks.

“Yeah, well, woulda coulda shoulda ya know.” It was the first thing that came to mind. I would’ve felt more comfortable walking out of the grocery store half naked.

Maybe she felt that way because of the oranges, maybe she just didn’t like me because I forgot to pay her back for one too many lattes. Perhaps she even felt the same way I did about Kenny.

The past seems to be sinking down on all of us Margaret.

Got the creative juices going!
Try it. I dare you.

Lady Gaga + Warren Buffett = Tips for Business Artists

She is hanging from a chandelier, covered in stage blood, dressed in. . . what is that?Welcome to my brain when I first saw Lady Gaga perform on an awards show several years ago. I looked over at my wife, who’s also a business artist like myself, and noticed her jaw in a similarly dropped state.Warren Buffett. Ever heard of him? Well, apparently he’s a big-wig businessman, although he doesn’t consider himself one. “I am not a businessman. I am an artist,” Buffett once confessed. A wealthy artist at that: he’s worth over $47 billion according to Forbes. Some say his net worth is over $60 billion. That’s a lot or ‘illions’ either way.

We may not all be aiming to net illions with an ‘m’ or a ‘b,’ but I think we can all agree that creativity must thrive and breathe in everything we do. That said, here’s some tips brought about by inspirations of Gaga and Buffett, the unlikely dynamic duo.

Tips for Business Artists:

  • Be passionate and sell what you’re selling unapologeticly. Whether products, services, or consultative information.
  • Be confident and convey your love for what you do. Your prospect will only buy it if you do first.
  • Grab attention and don’t let up.
  • No limits. Pandora’s box what? There is no box. Let ‘er fly kiddo.
  • Keep creating, reinventing, and work. I could rant on this, but I already did: creativity might be painful work. That’s why it’s called ‘work.’ Get to work, and then don’t stop. Ever.
  • Don’t be afraid of what people think of your beliefs.

Now go. Do. Create. Enjoy. Share.

Why Ideas and Ideation Give Me a High

I’m hooked.

I’ve always loved ideas, brainstorming, coming up with a plan, thinking abstractly, imagining ‘what if’ and the like.

Case in point (let’s see where this takes us):

What if . . . we all didn’t use air conditioning for an entire day during the heat of summer. We could donate all the money saved–just for having one relatively uncomfortable day. Hmmm. If each home cost an average of $3-5/day to cool…. if 1,000 people jumped on my what-if bandwagon, we could contribute around $4,000 to a good cause. If I doubled my energy-saving crusade, $8,000 saved and given. And let’s just say I got (now I feel like I’m hatching a pyramid scheme) 10,000 people to do this next summer and collected the $4-$5 saved from each of those people. Around $50,000. Maybe I WILL do that. Would you join?
But here’s the thing: coming up with that instantaneous idea came about by asking ‘what if’ and man, it gives me a slight high to see those ideas start to germinate, take form, and possibly grow. Even more, when those ideas are shared with other ideators (see post on ideation if you need clarity on that word–I did) the ideas take a new shape. Ever-new!
My joy is to string those mini-eureka moments together to form a lovely, creative life for years and years to come. Sarah, my wife and lovely ideator partner, inspires me daily to do just that.
What if….
What if . . . we weren’t afraid to think in new ways. To come up with solutions to things that we DON’T think need to be fixed–just to make it better. 
What if . . . ideas are God’s gift to us and our gift back to God is to share the idea, enjoy it, ruminate on it and see what it becomes.
What if. . . your spark of ideation changed your city, your country, or your world.

What. If.