Bits & Pieces?
Ahh yesss… the time of year is upon us when we list our New Year’s resolutions and promise ourselves we’ll do our very best to stick to every single one of them. ‘Tis the season of self-improvement, fresh starts and clean slates.
I recently came across a blog post that listed 30 things to stop doing to yourself. Stop being scared to make a mistake. Stop thinking you’re not ready. Stop being ungrateful.
Hmm. Stop doing things. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?
I’ve picked out a few favorites from the list that resonated with me most. Some are definitely easier said than done, but empowering reminders, nonetheless. I’ve definitely added a few or more of these onto my own list of goals for the New Year, and hope the list inspires you to make positive changes in your life as well.
Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing. Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success. You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.
Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things. The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.
Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Don’t take the easy way out. Do something extraordinary.
Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy. One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years?” If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs. Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.
What are some of your resolutions for 2012?
Looking back, I think I will remember 2011 as the year when everyone and his dog decided to launch a social platform of sorts: Google+, Quora, Empire Avenue, Path, Unthink, etc. Even before the newness of each network could wear off, another Facebook wannabe platform was launched. Of course, amid all launches and constant releases of growth numbers, there were a few social platforms that actually added value to users’ lives instead of just adding features. For me those few platforms are Percolate, Storify and Cowbird.
Percolate is a content-discovery/content-curation tool that is a great filter for everyone who complains how difficult and overwhelming it is to keep up with everything shared online. Percolate surfaces interesting and relevant content from a user’s online networks and presents it in an easy to use dashboard and a daily e-mail with just the most relevant links. Not only is Percolate a great tool for everyday users, but it can be a powerful social platform for brands as well. We keep telling brands to participate in communities, join conversations and share relevant content and Percolate makes it extremely easy to find what the communities with which a brand wants to engage are interested in. Counterparties (by Reuters) and Healthymagination (by GE) are two examples of how brands can use Percolate.
While Percolate is a great content-discovery tool, Storify (technically launched in 2010) is a great curation tool. The platform operates under the belief that real news unfolds on the web and Storify gives us the tools to capture, share and remember these stories. It allows users and brands to turn curated social content (tweets, photos, videos, links) into coherent stories and share these stories with a single link or embed them on a site. First to adopt the platform have been media outlets like The Guardian, but even the White House has joined.
The last platform that has the potential to change how we create, curate and consume content online is Cowbird, a collaborative storytelling platform launched earlier this month by Jonathan Harris (the artist who created We Feel Fine in 2006). Its purpose is to empower all of us to document the overarching “sagas” that shape the world today (think the London riots, Occupy Wall Street, etc.), or just create a beautiful audio-visual diary of your life. As explained on Cowbird’s site:
“Our short-term goal is to pioneer a new form of participatory journalism, grounded in the simple human stories behind major news events and universal themes. Our long-term goal is to build a public library of human experience, so the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate as individuals may live on as part of the commons, available for this and future generations to look to for guidance.”
Powerful stuff from a platform that could easily win the award for the strangest name of 2011.
What makes these social platforms incredible is that they add value to our lives and allow us to collaborate and share with people with similar interests and passions. They make creating, curating, documenting and sharing an enjoyable participatory experience for both users and brands.
What were your favorite social platforms in 2011?
It’s beginning to seem that winning three in a row is cursed in our photo showdowns. Many have come close, but never have they been able to complete the endeavor. I guess that says something about the competition though. This week Jen takes the win with her portrait shot below.
Next week, Jen will set out for her 2nd consecutive win in our Work themed showdown. Check back after the New Year.
‘Tis the season for holiday advertising. Most of the advertising is retail. Most of it is fairly predictable. How many biggest sales of the season can there be?
A friend sent a link to this ad created by St Matthews-in-the-City Church in New Zealand. Its honest portrayal of real emotions was refreshing after seeing too many contrived jewelry store commercials. (Who has money for a diamond necklace the day of signing on a new house? People who shop at Tiffany? Maybe. But Kay? Come on.)
One of the things that makes this ad remarkable is it takes something familiar and makes you see it in a slightly different, deeper way – a hallmark of great advertising.
No one really knows a lot about Mary. Many of us have heard her story what feels like a million times. But in all the telling and retelling, it still doesn’t feel like we have any sense of what she was like as a person. What we do know makes her seem different and distant. She lived over 2,000 years ago in a country many of us have never even visited. Where’s the common ground?
This ad succeeds because it overcomes differences and finds a common link that connects women throughout the world and history. Any woman who sees this ad, especially those who have experienced a Clearblue Easy moment, can imagine what she’s thinking and empathize with her. I’m going to be someone’s mom? It’s freaky. It’s overwhelming. It totally rocks your world. And we see all that in her expression.
The use of the pregnancy test in this ad doesn’t so much make her seem modern as it makes her emotions feel timeless and universal. The years, cultural differences, distance and unknowns melt away, and we are in that moment with her.
The outdoor board has no copy. It doesn’t need it. It’s just a simple visual solution that, in mere moments, makes an emotional connection with the viewer. And that’s what great ads do. They uncover a universal
human truth. They find common ground. They make us feel something real and true.
Now, if only someone could tell that to Kay…
I have to admit, I am a bit of a scrooge [hold the commentary Jigsawians]. I find that the pressures of work, the added stress of all the holiday activities and the fact that both tend to keep me from doing the things I already don’t have the time to do makes me not the cheeriest guy during this time of year. But that doesn’t mean I get to ditch sending out a Jigsaw holiday message once a year.
Searching for an idea, I did some thinking, mumbled “Humbug” a few times, and even wrote a post that got rejected [too dark... go figure]. And then, poof, it came to me. Or rather Matt O’Donnell came to me and stuck a half-finished holiday card under my nose. It was our client holiday card. “We need a line for this,” he said. A moment later I wrote, “It’s the time of year we count our blessings—we consider you to be one of them.” Poof. Holiday card. And hey, maybe, a holiday post.
Now, while I do truly count our clients as blessings, it should be no surprise to you that I don’t count all the blessings in my own life. I tend to focus on all the things that I find wrong, that are burdensome to me. So I had to search for information on counting one’s blessings. What I stumbled upon was what I needed—some proof in the pudding, to be cliché. It was a research study that tracked psychological well-being as measured against different control groups—most interesting to me was that one of the groups was asked to count their blessings and another counted their burdens.
This was not a survey in a magazine or random web-sourced study, this was serious research. You can read the results of Robert Emmons’ and Michael McCullough’s study, but of significance is that it is one of the only studies on the topic and it was conclusive that focusing on the gratitude found in your life did correlate to higher indicies of positive feelings in life. Hmmmmm… really? Just by focusing on the blessings and not the burdens?
After discovering their findings, I did an experiment of my own. I started by counting my burdens, as I seem to do in daily life. Hassles at work, paying the bills, struggles with raising kids, finding time to keep a marriage alive and well. I will spare the details, but I found enough burdens to count on my hands and a couple toes. And then it was hard to continue.
Then I counted my blessings. Inspiration at work, being able to pay the bills, the amazing gifts of children growing into adults, having a patient and kind wife. But when counting my blessings it is so easy to find more. And to find blessings in smaller things that mean so much more. A new day, our health, parents who are still well, brothers and sisters in-law who I care for, friends, pets we have known, places we have discovered together. Sorry, but I also find joy in Sharpies, mechanical pencils and Zebra pens among other things [like Costco, where your can buy the aforementioned at great prices and large quantities].
Suddenly, I ran out of fingers and toes to count on. Where would I put Friday night ferry rides to Washington Island, that where made possible by all the blessed jobs I have been fortunate to keep in my career? And where can I count every one of the attributes that my wife and my children have that I take for granted, but are so much more important than the criticisms I share that cause our relationships not to be their fullest? Where do I count all the events, occurrences, people, talents and opportunities that have been given to me in the past seven plus years since Jigsaw was born? Suddenly, I felt better. And I was only starting.
The point of my experiment was not scientific. Nor do I have the data to prove my results. But I bet you, if you are counting your burdens, you’d be happier and more settled if you sat down and took inventory of your blessings. Starting out by finding the blessings in what you consider burdens. Then, think about all the things that bring the most joy. And I bet, that without trying, you will continue to list the smallest things that bring you even a little bit of joy. And you will feel better about your life.
The secret would be to do the same thing, all year round. Personally, I like the way I have felt the past few days after I did my experiment and spent time with my family this weekend. I believe it’s the start of a happier holiday and fresh new year.
So, happier holidays everyone—I leave you with this:
Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
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