LeBron James is Not Alone

Your Life as a Free Agent

Photo Credit: abardwell
Photo Credit: abardwell via Compfight cc

The story LeBron James seems to be weaving

When LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers this week, he described it as ‘bigger than basketball.’ And, he’s right.

This is a big deal. But, maybe not in the way that you think.

LeBron didn’t just exercise his power as a basketball legend. No, he exercised his power as a human being… to claim responsibility over his life.

What could it look like if more of us did the same?

Sure, his situation is amplified by the fact that he’s the most impressive basketball athlete alive. He’s also the lead free agent in an extraordinary year of free agency in the National Basketball Association. He’s all over Sports Center. He’s the only thing folks from Ohio have been talking about for a week. Maybe, for the last four years.

But, none of that is the point.

Despite the apparent pressure on his shoulders, LeBron James, the human being, made a hard decision and stood by it. I love how broadcaster and former NBA star Jalen Rose put it. For months, he’s been describing LeBron not as a “businessman” but as a “BUSINESS… (long pause) man!

But the truth is, we all have a chance to be the business… if only we had the guts.

The truth about free agency (hint: we’re all free agents)

We’re all in the business of creativity. We’re all free agents. In this way, King James isn’t so special.

Except he is. Why? Because he takes dominion over his life. He takes responsibility. He knows his signature strengths as well as his constraints and adapts his life as best he knows how in the moment he’s in.

When was the last time you stood up and owned your birthright?

Believe me, I’m asking myself the same question. This is perhaps indictment and invitation for all of us.

The truth about job security (hint: there isn’t any)

I was in a conversation yesterday morning with a client who was talking about how they were afraid to leave their secure job. He was offended when I laughed out loud.

Isn’t the one truth we all know about our circumstances that they will change? So, why would anyone reasonably expect that the appearance of job security would actually be secure?

There is no job security.

And yet, when living out of scarcity and fear, I’m tempted all the time to trade my life away in the hopes that I can feel secure.

Do you think LeBron feels secure? Well, ya, he probably does. He’s got job security, right?!

Only he doesn’t either. Just like you and me, he’s one car wreck… one injury… one bad decision away from radical circumstantial change.

I think that’s why he makes decisions the way he does (four years ago and now). Because he knows he’s always on the clock. Time is ticking and he genuinely seems all-in for making the most of his life.

The truth about pundits (hint: what they think doesn’t matter)

But what about the critics spending endless hours trying to predict the good and bad of your future, speaking as if they actually know them?

Fortune tellers. That’s all they are… except Jalen Rose – he’s pretty smart.

The point: LeBron ignores the critics. Why shouldn’t you?

The truth about what does matter (hint: it’s the story you’re committed to)

What I love most about LeBron’s decision this time around was how poetic it is. He’s Odysseus. He just wants to come home.

Where do you want to come home to? What have you been wanting to come home to for a while now? Don’t you think it might be time?

Your opportunity (and responsibility) to own your life

Here’s the thing: You and I have one shot at this life on earth. Same with LeBron James. He’s stepped up and made a decision. He’s living it out as a free agent.

How free are you living?

As you assess what’s most important to your life today, just for a second, give yourself permission to dream it bigger… to commit it bigger. Go.

If your life were a story you get to write, how will you weave it?

© Dane Sanders

It’s 10:31pm and I Can’t Find My Underwear

When it comes to upgrading your habits, timing is everything.

Why I love moving (and you should too)

Note: I didnt actually pack this truck.
Note: I didn’t actually pack this truck.

Moving Trucks.

I just spent the weekend moving our family from the home we lived in for half a decade to a new place on the other side of town. It wasn’t a little thing either. Nope. It was the whole enchilada. Here’s a synopsis of what I experienced…

  • Processed the idea of a move with my family for about a year
  • Found a place that made sense
  • Packed for weeks
  • Felt like an awful human consumer for having way too much stuff
  • Hid from garbage collectors, embarrassed because of how much we threw out
  • Bragged that because we purged so much that we’d be done moving in half a day
  • Freaked out that six humans and a dog can’t get moved anywhere in half a day
  • Hyperventilated when movers arrived late
  • Mad that I missed about a week’s worth of life because of this move
  • Discovered I am in the midst of life – all the time – even when I move
  • Laughed (a lot) with friends showing up to lend a hand
  • Wondered why the back of such a young man could hurt so much ;)
  • Noticed I walked 28,991 steps up 50+ flights in one day
  • Spent another full day just getting the resemblance of a home
  • Realizing it’ll be 90 days before I really feel in any sort of rhythm again

I can see some of you nodding. You can relate, right? The experience of moving is so common it can feel cliché. But, it was more than that.

It was also a golden moment. Or, at least it could be…

Why humans don’t change much.

Despite the fact that people rarely change very much (especially “balanced” people), the idea of habit change is remarkably popular these days.

That said, there is a rare but universally acknowledged exception to the rule-of-not-changing. It goes like this…

In times of significant life transition, we all have a window of opportunity to do life in a new way.

Think of the phenomenon like this: We all have problems we’re trying to solve in life. Everything from where to get groceries to how to stay active to which coffee shop you hit up on your way to work.

Once we find a basic routine to deal with these very human and often pedestrian dilemmas, many of us tend to settle in. In time, we can become old dogs doing our tricks. We stick with them because they work well enough (at least for the most part).

That all shifts though when we stumble into the unfamiliar.

When faced with the need to find new ways to solve old problems, we become willing to forge unfamiliar paths. And it just happens to turn out that the most predictable milestones that invite unfamiliar routines are things like…

  • Getting married
  • Having a kid (or)
  • Moving to a new part of town

When we change our context like that, we’re open to finding new rhythms, at least for a little while. Once the new rhythms get routine, they tend to harden up.

In case you’re wondering, this phenomenon isn’t lost on marketers. Why do you think you got bombarded with Lowe’s and Target coupons the last time you changed your address at the Post Office?

Companies can be so welcoming!
Companies can be so welcoming!

They’re looking to hit us up when the clay is squishy. And, they know there’s a window where things will be less flexible and folks like me will soon be more out of reach.

Fertile Ground.

What I love about this dynamic is it can work in the other direction too. Transitional moments aren’t just about what companies out there can do to me.

It’s also an opportunity for me to hit myself up in fresh and intentional ways.

  • Want to take on a new exercise regimen?
  • Eager to reset my eating habits?
  • Curious what a new daily method could look like if you could wave a magic wand?

Now’s your chance.

In my particular case, the problem is I’m exhausted. My hands feel swollen from lifting heavy boxes. I feel entitled to not do the extra stuff that make a difference for new habits to develop. I want to just kind of sleepwalk for a while… or just sleep.

The window is closing.

But, then I remember what I’m in the middle of. The window is closing. 90 days from now, my new normal will be, well, normal and I’ll be less apt to shift.

The irony is if I really want to change, going all-in right now is what will give me my best (and maybe only) shot.

When I really think about it though, “moving” itself might just be a construct. Can’t I take any 90 day window and decide “I just moved” or “had a baby” or “got married” and mix it up? If the window is closing, why can’t I just open up another new window and go again?

What it comes down to for me is whether I want this thing enough to turn my world upside down… right now. I wonder if this is the real gift of making a move.

© Dane Sanders

Why Jimmy Fallon is Best in Show

How the new Tonight Show host is reinventing late night while showing us all how to own our entrepreneurial space.

In his first week as the host of The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon did what he always does: He delivered the goods.

Many pundits believed that the entire genre of late night talk shows had run its course. The golden age of Johnny Carson and Jay Leno and David Letterman had come and gone. We were in a perpetual farewell tour.

Sure, there are some funny guys still going strong. Conan is hilarious. Kimmel kills. I remember in college when I would set my alarm every morning just to wake up to Jimmy doing the morning sports on KROQ. The new school of late night is amazing.

But, the reason why Jimmy Fallon is the Sidney Crosby of late night is because he’s taking an old game and making it his own.

Those other amazing entertainers are great. But, they’re playing the same old game. As the new host demonstrated in his inaugural week, he took his unique signature and tatooed it on late night.

We shouldn’t be comparing Fallon to Carson. We should be thanking Lorne Michaels! The Tonight Show is like watching Saturday Night Live, every night of the week. Why? Because that is what Fallon has been cultivating his entire career. The man is reaping what he’s sown.

And, my gut tells me he’s just getting started.

How did Jimmy do it?

Years before the changing of the guard at the Tonight show began (again), Fallon had been developing and honing his comedic style; the substance of which is reinventing the talk show genre before our very eyes.

But, he wasn’t just practiced in creating his amazing, often collaborative, content.

Fallon is way more entrepreneurial than that.

He’s been practicing for this moment. In fact, I say it was a pre-ordained set-up! This thing has been in the making for years. On his opening night monologue, Fallon mentions that he didn’t know how he got to his esteemed position. And, in a sense, I believe him.

He doesn’t need to know how he got there. He wasn’t concerning himself with that. Instead, he concerned himself with creating amazing stuff, every chance he got.

That’s what the new pre-ordained looks like:

  1. Make first.
  2. Refine until awesome.
  3. Make some more.
  4. Patiently trust the outcome to take care of itself.

What if it really was that simple?

The reason I’m so excited is because we’re witnessing the equivalent of what the iPhone did to our flip phones. Apple didn’t just create a better communication device. They offered a signature contribution that reinvented what a phone even meant.

But, beyond the innovator’s solution, I also don’t want to miss the good news for mere mortals like you and me.

Way beyond the disruption that Fallon is bringing to late night, he’s also demonstrating to all of us what’s possible when we make the habit of creating our best work our best primary offering to the world.

What Jimmy Fallon does best is he takes his body of work… and puts it to work! It’s what Brian Clark calls a media first mindset. By leading with his stuff, the form plays second fiddle to the content while he puts himself in the best possible position to rule his space. It’s not about clever sketches. Nobody can beat that signature content because he’s the only one who can sign his work that way.

And, the best news of all is you and I can do the same if we’re willing to do the work to put ourselves in a similar position.

Is it sustainable?

The only real concern anyone can lob on Fallon right now is more a query than grenade: Can he sustain this level of quality into the future?

It’s an understandable question. But, it fails to notice that this isn’t a new initiative he’s offering.

Look in the opposite direction and the answer becomes obvious.

Jimmy Fallon has been doing this for years! This is more culmination than inauguration. If he’s been doing it from SNL until now, why shouldn’t we expect him to keep on trucking?

What about you?

The big lesson to learn from Fallon is the same lesson friends like Seth Godin have been saying for years… If you want to reinvent, start yesterday.

Let’s pretend you are your habits for a second. Of course, you’re more than that, but let’s start there. If you have the habit of doing the hard work of becoming first, you will live into a legacy you didn’t think was possible.

That’s what Fallon is showing us. It’s an invitation for us to go and do likewise. And, if Fallon’s life so far is any indicator, being the real article looks pretty fun too.

© Dane Sanders


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Start in Front

Photo credit: Trey Ratcliff via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Trey Ratcliff

If you’re going for a new you for 2014, it’s too late.

It’s 7:59am on the west coast. With a fresh cup of coffee at arm’s reach (I’m at Starbucks), a quick text sent asking Tami if she wants a cup too, and my fingers typing away on this article, I’m honestly pretty happy with how my day, month and year have begun.

I’m also standing upright while I work (my new writing posture) and am completing Day One of my January writing challenge. I even took time before the coffee shop to fill my head with good ideas and pray.

With all these good habits rolling, I’m just a jog away from a new year’s day cliché.

And, it almost didn’t happen.

A little context

I was first up in my house this morning. Despite having ten warm bodies asleep at home (some of my son’s friends crashed after the ball dropped), I managed to slip out quietly and get my January 1st started the way I decided it would go, before I went to bed.

But, I really just got lucky.

What if my youngest had wandered in first with a bump on her elbow from falling out of bed? It’s not like that sort of thing happens all the time, but it has. What if my alarm clock failed? What if curiosity had caught me and I started with email instead of what I said I’d start with? What if, what if, what if? You get the point.

When unexpected interruptions to my method happen, my daily game plan get’s interrupted with it. It happens all the time. But not today… bullet dodged right?

What did happen – that could have had an even greater sabbotaging effect – took place when I was walking out of our bedroom. I found myself feeling all lovey dovey for Tami and glanced over at her while I was at the door.

Before you get concerned that this article is about to get racy, the affection I was feeling was less about me hoping to get some action and more about gratitude.

I am so thankful that Tami is supportive of this daily rhythm approach to my life and her kindness just hit me. Her willingness to take care of the household waking up most days is just amazing. She’s a remarkable person.

Anyway, when I had this mini-flood of good feelings well up, I noticed she was stirring just a bit and her eyes were beginning to open. I paused in my exit and went to her bedside to give a New Year kiss.

She received it, but I made the near fatal mistake of asking her if she was mad at me for getting up early and exiting, despite the fact that I told her my plans before we went to bed.

Sidenote about me: I have issues.

If you’re a newer reader, this might sound like an odd declaration but it’s an important thing to know if you’re going to show up here from time to time.

To the familiar, this is a profound statement of the obvious.

The reason I mention this here is if my past is an indicator, I have a tendency to do stupid things from time to time that get in my own way. This was one of them.

Any wannabe-Freud could tell you why: they’d likely say something about my obvious people pleasing tendencies that connect to my mom or my strivings for significance that connect to my dad… or something else. They’d probably be right too.

The psycho-insight wouldn’t mean much for this conversation though. What does matter is when my issues show, they often derail me. Can you relate?

Back to the story…

This is all backdrop to confess that when I asked Tami if she was mad, I really wasn’t asking for her sake.

It was more of a thinly veiled question about me. In fact, the more honest query would have been, “Regardless of how you feel about it, will my efforts in the next few hours tempt you to hold back on any of the other incredible things I get from you?”

Hi. My name is Dane and I’m a self-aholic.

The good news is she barely heard my question, or maybe it was just so familiar that she closed her eyes and nodded that all was well. That was her code for, “Do what you need to do, dude.

Did I mention how much I love her? That’s what my text was about. Asking if she wanted coffee wasn’t me being awesome. It was me saying thanks for her encouragement for me to be me, especially when it bugs her.

Here’s the thing

So, here I am feeling great about a solid start, right? What I’m more aware of though is how tomorrow (or some day soon after), circumstances won’t go my way.

Maybe Tami will wake up and get to have some issues of her own, and it’ll be my turn to let her do what she needs to do. Maybe I’ll get to cuddle with my daughter and her bruised elbow and daily method be damned.

But, what will it mean if I miss a day down the line? It will mean precisely what I decide it will mean. What I make up about missing a day really isn’t the point. Having a life is.

I’m not just committed to change. I’m committed to becoming something new.

New habits are useless anyway

What’s hilarious is just how useless new resolutions actually are. The only habits that really matter are the one’s that started weeks, months or years ago… the habits that I actually have today.

A great example of how big a deal this truth is, played out at a TED Conference a while back. Seth Godin (a particularly prolific author of best-sellers) was asked for advice by a first time author, on what they should do to have a successful book launch the following month.

Seth told him straight up, “You’re too late.” He should have asked his question a year earlier… or maybe two.

The good news

But what’s that poor author supposed to do with that?

If he’s wise, I think he takes it as the gift that it is and adjusts his expectations. Maybe he launches his book (now or later) but more importantly starts thinking immediately about how he wants his thing to end, not just begin.

It’s not that complicated. Everyone gets this when they slow down for a second.

In fact, just moments ago, the Barrista in front of me was asked by a patron what her new year’s resolution was for this year. She said she decided it was going to be the one she had last year… that she felt guilty about the year before… and wrote down the year before that.

She’s smart.

Making 2014 about anything other than what you’ll be telling yourself in 2015 is a sucker bet.

Want to make this year great? Be deliberate. Find your rhythm and method. Pause in the middle and be grateful for the interruptions. But, whatever you do, decide who you want to be a year from now and work backwards.

What actually happens will be way more interesting than wishful thinking.

An Open Letter to Humans in the Physical Universe

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen.

Dear listener, reader, watcher, hater, lover and friend,

I have a lot of personal goals for this coming year. I’m guessing you do too. A lot could be said about that. In fact, many of you are busy writing your lists and plans right now. And you should!

This time of year however, tends to generate a disproportionate amount of manifesto-like declarations. In fact, I’ve been getting a handful in my inbox most every day lately. I’m guessing you can relate. The same thing happened last year and for the past several.

They tend to arrive some time between Christmas and New Year’s. Some play off the cliché and cleverly write their resolutions closer to Canadian Thanksgiving or Valentine’s Day just to mix it up. I rarely see them in July.

As I read, I began to notice a consistent pattern. Most authors seem to be wanting increased personal honesty and earnestness and hope and possibility in the new year. The same was true when I considered my own declarations. What surprised me was that the experience left me with an odd sense of nostalgia.

Like the familiar tree in our living rooms (you get that it’s weird to kill and prop those things up inside by your couch, right?), it would feel odd not to do it, especially for the productivity-obsessed among us. But even for those who don’t remember what a Franklin-Covey Planner used to be, you can now join the utopian goal setting commune without even standing out.

Because it’s more socially acceptable this time of year, it makes it less threatening to make it public too. In truth, I’m guessing there are lots of July journal entries in people’s private diaries about good intentions for “next” month. They just don’t get published very often.

It’s probably true that most who are writing do tend to be public-facing folks or those who aspire to express themselves more honestly and earnestly, and with greater discipline in the new year coming.

When I’ve written them, I’ve tended to crave a fresh starting line, a renewed hope or some sort of unprecedented possibility. Nothing wrong with any of that by the way. Writing it down really is the smart thing to do.

This year though, I’ve found it useful to pause and wrestle with what I’m really needing, beyond just my hopes for behavior modification.

When I sat down to get my goals on this time around, I also began to notice how much it felt like I was talking exclusively to myself. Not that people wouldn’t read what I wrote or that it wouldn’t be meaningful or inspire others to create meaningful moments for themselves if they went and did likewise. Again, I hope all those things happen. But, on a profound level (at least for me), I am more ok than ever if they don’t.

Why end of year goal setting can remind us of just how lonely online life can be…

What I’m speaking to has more to do with the unintended side-effects of living life in two worlds. With the removal of space and time in the virtual space, it’s just easier to have the experience of a scaling connection with (several) others, when in fact no real connection has happened.

Please hear me: I’m not ignoring all the remarkable good that has come from extending our lives from physical to virtual. It’s incredible. Perhaps even intoxicating. I guess it’s the hangover I’m talking about.

It’s what Shimi Cohen has brilliantly identified as The Innovation of Loneliness. All this edited sharing to connect can leave me feeling more and more alone.

So, why am I writing all this?

Great question. I guess I’m witholding my public declaration of goals this year in exchange for a more personal request… of myself and of you, if you’re game.

Whether you are a listener, reader, watcher, hater, lover, friend or “friend”, would you do me this one favor? I’m personally committed to be more human with everyone I can. Might you be willing to join me? And if possible, can we do it in the real world?

Believe me, this will be as uncomfortable for me as it will be you. No need to be something we’re not. If we’re “friends” online, I won’t be hurt if others more real to you get priority time. But, if we both aspire to upgrade our relationship by losing the “air quotes”, let’s do that out in the open.

Same thing if you consume the content I make, will you reach out and tell me about how you experience it? I’ll be doing the same with those I read and watch and listen to. I can’t wait to make it more personal actually.

Hate me, mad at me or disagree with something I put out there or just what I represent to you? Let’s both be courageous and resist gossiping about it online (or even in private). Here’s a better idea… Call me up! Let me buy the coffee!! If I call you, I’ll let you buy. We can even have a real argument if you want. How much more gratifying would that be in person than by ourselves behind a blue lit screen.

Probably my favorite option on this is to be present proportionately with those I truly love. Enough being out of whack time wise with the wrong people. You know what I mean?

But here’s the deal: We all get to be engaged proportionately to our commitment to each other.

What do you think? Maybe, maybe?

I know I’m asking a lot. I also recognize it’s not going to be very efficient and in some cases, we just won’t have the chance to connect that way this year. If that’s the case, I hope we still take advantage of what the virtual world has to offer.

But if you and I do end up getting the chance to be together, let’s not waste it, ok?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, that actually is my primary commitment to myself this year. Apparently, I couldn’t resist a goal setting letter after all.