Tag Archives: motivation

Collaborate More, Create Better

I have been obsessed with the website TED lately, and wanted to share a speech with you. Steve Johnson talked about how great ideas are born, and what factors are the most conducive to the “aha” moment. That moment we all sit and scratch our brains to try to find, but really can’t get there no matter how hard we scratch. Where is that lightbulb over my head?!

Mr. Johnson figured it out though. It’s not one mind thinking really really hard and suddenly getting a “big idea”–it’s diverse collaboration. I watched the speech one morning right about the time as I was planning the Halloween party for my office. When I got in to work, rather than sitting alone racking my brain for fun ideas, I pulled two other people into a room with me for a brainstorm. The result? Greater ideas than I could’ve thought up on my own. Sometimes it takes reminding that teamwork rules.

Last week I had the opportuntiy to attend the ad:tech conference at the Javitz Center in NYC, and low and behold, Mr. Johson gave this speech the morning of day two. I looked around and snickered.. because I already knew (thanks TED). Now for every project I have I want to get unlimited amounts of coffee and great people in a room and say, “ok… go!”.

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The Lost Potential of A Little Bit Good

Sometimes, I get home from work, think about all of the things I’ve once done beyond the 9-5, and wonder why I’m not doing them anymore. Why am I not writing songs like the voracious animal I was a year ago? Why am I no longer a freelance writer? Why did I stop posting on this blog frequently?

And that’s just the beginning of it. There’s also:

  • the book I never finished (it would’ve been great, I still believe)
  • the pictures I stopped taking
  • the race training that faded
  • the drawings I stopped creating
  • the startup business that didn’t start..

unfinished book

There are cliche sayings that I can apply to all of these shortcomings. I’m a quitter. I don’t want it bad enough. I don’t follow through. Sometimes I think to myself: I wish I was really good, really, really, talented, at just one thing. Because then it would be easy. That’s what I would do, there would be no questions about doing anything else. I wouldn’t start a in new direction. I would simply excel in my one niche and never look back. I would be the BEST potato farmer you ever met, or the GREATEST songwriter you’ve ever imagined.

But that’s just not how it is. I’ve classified myself as “a little bit good” at a range of things (I think I’ve been telling myself that since junior high school I think). So I try them all, and then when I think I’ve reached my “little bit” full potential, I stop. And what a pity, isn’t it? If we all thought that our potential at a new endeavor was “just a little good”, we’d be living in a world with only half-planted potato farms (potato famine?…nah), unfinished songs, very very short books… and 5,090,230,122,426,999,999,999 “eh” ideas that just stayed locked up in people’s heads.

The next question I should ask myself is, how do I measure this “little bit of potential”? And how have I determined once I’ve filled it? It must be an external comparison. Because compared to myself, each stride and each creation is like nothing I’ve ever done before. I should break my “little bit” mindset, and find a new scale by which to measure. And then maybe the passions will keep burning.

People Helping People

There was a summer morning last year that I woke up in a bad mood. A mood that meant it would be “one of those days”. Do I normally remember a bad mood morning a year after I have one? Definitely not. But this one morning ended up kind of cool.

I decided to go for a run, and headed out of my Brooklyn apartment determined to get in at least four miles. I convinced myself that four miles was what I NEEDED to achieve if I was going to turn my day around. It’s funny that I gave myself that ultimatum. It was a really hot morning that day.  Four miles or bust? Why? It was that tendency that people have–when something is going wrong, you look for other things that are going wrong, so you can beat yourself up and complain all day that nothing is going right. Horrible idea, mel.

tragic

So, creating my own unnecessary downward spiral for the day, I set out on the four mile run. I remember the heat was getting to me, and around mile 2 I was huffing, with my head leaning to right in exhaustion. That’s a weird thing I do when I’m running to the point of “oh man, I can’t go any further” (my high school track coach used to yell “left! left! left!” when I ran past her in races to try to correct my head lean; didn’t work.). At this point, I was on Marcy Avenue, running parallel to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The two mile mark meant I was at the midway point to turn around and rack up the 2 miles back for my grand finale of 4. But I was hurting. I was ready to call it quits and walk home. Run fail. Day fail. And my day hadn’t even really started.

With my head cocked to the side, I struggled to continue running down the street, passing by people who were walking to the train, walking to work, walking their dog. I thought to myself, I must look like an idiot. I kept pushing though. Looking ahead of me, there was another person coming up; a kid with a backpack on his way to school. As I approached him to pass, eyes straight (no eye contact when you’re running and hurting!), he stuck his hand out for a high five. And I stuck out mine.

CLAP!

HIGH FIVE!

A huge grin came over my face. Right on, dude! Thank you! I stopped at the corner and looked back, but he didn’t turn around. I’m not sure why I thought he would, this wasn’t a love story scene. But I’ll tell you, that small gesture, that high five, changed the rest of my day. I chilled out. I walked for a little, then finished a slow run home feeling happy. That kid pulled me out of my little run or die microcosm. My day was going to be great.

I love when the smallest things mean something big.

Simple Morning Motivation

  1. kickass music of choice
  2. coffee
  3. determination

My morning: Percussion Gun by White Rabbits, homemade cup of coffee (still proud of this), and mental fuel to burn off from an intense week. I WILL prevail. Go.

Making the Gym Work For Me

My downfall in working out is that if it’s not running, I have no idea what I’m doing. Lifting weights? Yeah I know bicep curls. That’s it. Compound cardio moves? I got lunges.. that’s about it there. What I love so much about workout DVD’s is that the instructor tells you what to do, and you get your butt kicked simply by following directions.

When instructional workout DVD’s are not possible in your own home due to whatever circumstances–not enough space, too many people around, anal neighbors, you don’t have any DVD’s, you don’t even like workout DVD’s–the gym is a great option. Not the whole treadmill free-weight machine part of it, but the classes.

I realized that my gym is doing all the work for me. The way their morning class schedules are set up, all I need to do is show up at 6:30 or 6:45 everyday and have someone kick my ass for an hour. How did I never realize this before? Just show up! And someone will tell me what to do! Glory!

Here’s the available classes:

I need the classes to start before 9am if I’m going to get to work on time, so the ones in green circles are what works for me. This week I did Total Body Conditioning on Tuesday and Ultimate Conditioning on Thursday (Wednesday was spinning fail, and my realization happened on Monday :)).

On a side note, I know a lot of people don’t like group exercise because it can be embarrassing if you feel insecure about what you’re doing. Trust me, I always look like an idiot. I also make weird faces when they make me do shoulder exercises. It’s like my lip is attached to my shoulder, and whenever I lift it I snarl like Elvis. This is not attractive. Not at all. But I don’t know anyone in the class and therefore I don’t care. I will be Elvis, and I will get buff.

I Can’t Do Real Push Ups

Small fact about Mel: I am the weakest female I know.

I’d say I know maybe about 500-600 females. If I were to arm wrestle all of them, I would lose every single time. I would probably injure myself in the process. I might also cry a little on the inside while laughing it off on the outside. How does one wipe away inner tears? It’s very difficult.

I don’t know how I evolved to be such a physical pansy, but somehow it happened. The way I recall it, when I was 12 or 13 I used to be able to do 10 pull ups on a pull up bar no problem. Then what happened? Did my upper body strength melt and drip in a breadcrumb trail behind me Hansel and Gretel style? Did my ass grow faster than my arm muscles? Is my ass that big?

Whenever I think about strength training I usually imagine a nice little bubble in which I start going to the gym and lifting weights three times a week while my body physically changes before my eyes. Yeah, bullshit. While musing about all of the possible ways I fail to maintain my strength, I decided I would just start doing push ups and see what happened.

First discovery: I can’t actually do push ups. I get in position, lower myself down, and sort of struggle for a minute to push back up before my stomach hits the floor completely.

Solution: I started with modified push ups. Or as I call them: girl push ups.

I don't look nearly as serene when I do it.

Every day for the past five days I’ve been doing two sets of ten pushups. The first day I was hurting right away. I’m a little unsure if my form is right (are my hands in the right place relative to my shoulders, etc.), but it’s amazing how much stronger I already feel–they are getting easier!

Soon I will try to do a real push up again and see how I fair. Big things.

My Body is Rebelling. Stop it, Body.

New York City has finally been getting some beautiful weather with its first inklings of Spring, and I’ve been trying to take full advantage of it and run, run, run (run). Usually when I’m getting back into it, it’s hard to get out there mentally, but the run itself feels great and I’m pumped up.

This is not the current situation. I feel like this:

inner mel.

For some reason my past 3 runs have felt really weird. As in it doesn’t feel like my body is made for running. Like the past 10 years haven’t existed. I’ve taken long interval breaks in the past, but it never really had this effect. My stride doesn’t feel natural and my breathing doesn’t really find a rythm. This is all very strange to me… it’s never happened before.

I tried thinking of reasons why, but came up empty. I mean, 2 weekends ago I ran a 4 mile race in Central Park and felt great. What could’ve happened in the past 2 weeks? I don’t really know.. but I decided I’m going to stick through it and re-acclimate my body to this stress.

Today and yesterday I completed this loop here. Perhaps 2.6 miles 3 days in a row is too much, too soon? My plan is to take tomorrow off to let my knee chill out and avoid runner’s knee. Maybe I need a day off to let my body recover and get it’s shit together.

C’mon bod, what is the deal. Let’s be friends.