Tuesday, December 29, 2009

#122 - A "Worm" Welcome to the New Year

How the worm does turn. First, I apologize for my 10-day absence. I am writing, thankfully, from a friend's computer following a minor computer disaster. Upon my return from a hectic 5-days in South Florida, an overflowing email inbox demanded some immediate attention. In my haste, I opened a file sent by an old classmate - or so I thought. I fleetingly recall thinking that it was very sweet that the young man had thought of me over his holiday break, and wasn't it so thoughtful that he sent me a video link. And so, without proper forethought, I clicked on that YouTube link. Big mistake.

Alas! Not only was the message not valid (my classmate's Facebook account had been hacked), but once I opened his file it downloaded a massive attack on my computer complete with Trojans, worms and other sundry viruses. Even worse, it sent the same link out under my name to all my Facebook friends, something I found more than a bit embarrassing. Making a long story short, I've battled these technology gremlins all week. While the problem is not yet fully resolved, I am prepared to begin rebuilding next week. I find this all a fitting start to the New Year and my ongoing journey. It's New Year's Eve and the perfect time to reflect, plan and consider the year past and the one to come.

A common theme among blogs this week has been rededicating ourselves to a healthy (or healthier) lifestyle in 2010. Many people are setting all kinds of goals - not resolutions necessarily (that tends to stand for things we wish we would do but never follow through on), but truly attainable goals. Perhaps it's just "arguing semantics" (sorry, I'm in communications), but if setting goals works, then go for it!

Attainable Goals and Plans That Will Make Them Happen
One of my goals for the New Year is to foster a greater sense of community here at the blog site. Please remember that you have someone ready and willing to offer support and celebrate your successes. My comments section is for engaging in dialog. May 2010 be our year to make progress and form meaningful connections.

Another personal goal in 2010 is to stop taking things so personally. As a blogger, I realize many of my readers don’t really know me. They know a tiny part of my work. If someone dislikes me or something I've written, that's OK. I am getting better at being responsible (for myself and not everyone else) and understanding that I cannot please everyone. This year, the focus is on what really matters: growing the site and bringing people together.

Reflecting on 2009
The first decade of the new millennium has come to an end. For me, I'm thinking, here I am at 50, and the second half is still stretching before me. I am ready for success on the heels of achieving one of my life goals when I completed my master's degree. What did you accomplish in the last year, the 10, and are you on track for the next decade?

On a micro-level, the last 10 years was a decade of missed opportunity. The Internet transformed all of our lives forever. Opportunities were created (and a few were taken advantage of). But, like every decade, just about everyone missed out. Most people just hunkered down and did their jobs (while they still had them) or did what they were told or did what they thought they were supposed to, and just about everyone got very little as a result.

Ten years from now, what will you or I have to show for what we're doing right now? It's worth thinking about.

How about what we have each accomplished over this past decade. What is your biggest regret? I sure know what mine was, and I'm ready to move on from that and let go of the regret that was holding me back. Do you wish that you had started, joined, invested in, or built something in recent years? Are you left wishing that you'd at least had the courage to try something new? In hindsight, the 1990s may seem like the good old days.

So many of us missed out. Why? Because it's always possible to find a reason to stay put, to skip an opportunity, or to decline an offer. And yet, in retrospect, it's hard to remember why we said no and it's easy to wish that we had said yes.

Motivate, activate, engage

The thing is, we still live in this world and it's still filled with opportunities. In fact, we have more than opportunity -- we have an obligation -- an obligation to spend our time doing great things. To find ideas that matter and share them. To push ourselves and the people around us to demonstrate gratitude, insight and inspiration. To take risks and make the world better by being amazing.

Are these crazy times? You bet. But so were the days when we were doing duck-and-cover air-raid drills in elementary school, or dealing with the aftermath of 9/11. These will always be crazy times from someone's perspective.

So let's make a pact here and now as we start the New Year. Let's stop thinking about how crazy times are, and start thinking about what these times demand of us. There has never been a worse time for "business as usual," personally or professionally. Business as usual is sure to fail, sure to disappoint, sure to numb your dreams. There has never been a better time for "new." Competitors are too afraid to spend money. Bankers have no idea where to safely invest. Potential employees are desperately looking for something exciting, something they might feel passionate about, something they can genuinely engage with.

You are responsible. YOU get to make the choices. You can remake your choices every day, in fact. It's never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence. It only takes a moment -- just one second -- to decide.

Before you finish reading this paragraph, you have the power to change everything to come. And you can do so by asking yourself the one question that every organization and every individual needs to ask today: Why not be great?

Happy New Year to you! May 2010 bring each of us closer to our dreams. And, most important, may we always remember that the journey is an end unto itself.

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