Chair Life

I live in my Thinking Chair.

I don’t mean, obviously, that I am confined to or spend all my time in said chair. 

So, I just gooogled “live” in preparation for my next sentence after the crossed out one above. Funny how concentrating on semantics will lead you to a really neat insight. This. This is why I love to write.

Live

I remain alive in my Thinking Chair.

Nearly my whole life I have desired a space, a corner, a chair. It would be only mine and it would be a safe haven for those things that restored my heart. It would be uniquely me with purpose and obvious function and feeling. It would remind me of those great movie scenes where the self assured, self confident, successful woman wore her too large, off the shoulder knit sweater that still made her look amazing and not frumpy, with her piping hot coffee sending steam in front of a beautiful non makeuped face and impossibly put together bed head, as she settled in to her well deserved Sunday morning in her space. I don’t even know if that’s a real movie or one I created. I’ve played it so often in my head it’s hard to tell at this point.

In this, the last year of my 30’s, I got my space. I got my Thinking Chair.

The search for the chair started out as a hunt for a reading chair. I wanted something that would fit nicely in the empty bedroom corner and was designed for long periods of comfortable book snuggles. I had a decent budget. So I started sitting in chairs. My older children joined in the hunt. The giggles at mom as she sat, lounged, floundered, threw legs over chair arms in the middle of furniture stores were plenty.

“Mom, seriously?”
“She has to make sure it’s comfortable!”

I indeed did.

Let me tell you there are some beautiful reading chairs out there. Round ones that swivel. Super soft ones that recline. Convertible ones that turn into a bed. And I loved many of them.

But I couldn’t pick one. While they were all within the budget, they were the whole budget. And while they were all beautiful, they all felt manufactured. It’s weird trying to describe this inanimate object as lacking because I felt it had no heart, but that’s exactly what was going on. I couldn’t find a chair with personality. I have a hard time spending time with people without personality. I guess that spills over into my chair preference as well.

Declaring the search over for the day, we stopped by the mall on the way home so the girls could get some craft stuff. I rarely find myself at the mall, so I had no idea that a large, second hand shop had opened up there.

And there it was. My chair.

I sat, laid, lounged, curled. I asked the associate if it was new as it looked like it had never been touched. She said technically no as it had come from an estate sale. However, I pulled cushions and unzipped covers; the thing looked brand new.

“Momma! It’s the Thinking Chair!”

The Thinking Chair

Madison was absolutely right although I had not noticed originally. But her childhood nostalgia registered the similarity to the famous Blue’s Clues staple immediately.

And now, the Thinking Chair helps me put my clues together.

In this space I have my space. Just sitting in it suggests that I have made time for my soul and that is good. Being here gives encourages freedom from responsibility, permission to let my mind wander, safety to let my thoughts roam, comfort for the exercise of The Many.

I remain alive in my Thinking Chair.

Harper’s Rules: A Recruiter’s Guide to Finding a Dream Job and the Right Relationship

I have just read the hardback version of Danny Cahill’s new release, Harper’s Rules: A Recruiter’s Guide to Finding a Dream Job and the Right Relationship. The summary – read it. It’s not what you expect. At least it wasn’t what I expected. It is 156 pages that I will probably read again because I failed to recognize I would need a pencil to make notes in the margin.

Note: To Lamar Smith Signature Real Estate ~ I am not looking for another job. I have, however, had a great relationship with the folks over at Jane Wesman Public Relations, Inc., notably, Lauren Cirigliano. For some reason, they like to hear what I think about their books. They usually have pretty good books. It is a relationship that works. This just happened to be the book. Please do not take out an ad for my job. Thanks!

Some of the other details…

The book is pitched as an offering from a career expert who is going, through compelling prose, to teach you how to land the perfect job and the perfect mate. Hmmm…I am skeptical. I have a sneaky feeling I have read this before. But, what the hey. Husband is glued to the Atlanta Braves and as much as I love Chipper Jones, I cannot watch 162 games plus post season.

I go through the first few chapters a trying not to care for the book. Harper, the headhunter, is a bit…confident. Casey, the headhuntee (??) not so much at first. I am worried that Cahill is paragraphs away from having his superhero come in and rescue the damsel in distress. (Damsel rescuing is not bad – I just like it kept in romance novels and not my business literature.)

But, the text is intriguing. I can’t quite put my finger on it at first. I am not this book’s intended audience. I am a happily married, happily employed slice of life. Why am I digging on it so much?

Obviously the two mains, Harper and Casey are great. Smart, strong, determined and they care about the well-being of each other.

Then it hits me ~ they got the freaking cover WRONG! This is not simply a guide for those who are looking to become attached to a job or a person. I mean, it is good for that. But, at its core, Harper’s Rules is well tuned piece on the subject of SALES (and I am THAT intended audience).

Harper is a headhunter. He sells the idea of people to corporations and corporations to people. Casey is a six figure sales executive who has the heart of a salesman – she lives for the deal. Throughout the book, the relational objectives revealed mirror those needed by any sales professional. It was enlightening and motivating – two things needed like oxygen for a sales professional.

The story moves quickly. It has good dialog and enough personal to keep it interesting and enough professional to keep it informational.

It is full of tough decisions and professional confidence, illustrated best for me when Casey is exiting her big interview

Mr. Sabia, you and I will get along fine. You need someone who is not afraid to say something besides ‘yes’ to you, and you need someone who will occasionally call you out on your nonsense, which I will do cheerfully. But that’s not why I should be hired. You need me because I will obsess, I will drive revenue, and in so doing I will inspire a sales force and get you your investment back. You simply need to signify your understanding that I am right by getting that smug look off your face and telling me you are sorry.

And, it’s funny. Casey is jogging in the park to get geared up for her interview and date

…a car pulled up and a young kid rolled down the window. Here we go. Boys and their turbo-testosterone. What can you do?

“Excuse me ma’am,” he said politely, “do you know where the bakery is?”

“Are you crazy? You stop me while I’m running and not only don’t give me a ‘hey baby,’ but when you saw me from behind, you thought, ‘there’s someone who knows where the bakery is?'”

The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation

Just finished listening to the unabridged audio version of Jay Elliot’s new release, The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation. The summary – read it. It’s worth the 7 hours of audio or the 256 pages of text.

Some of the other details…

The hardest part about reading the book is the obvious man crush Elliot has on Steve Jobs. Elliot has drunk the Apple kool-aid with be a big shot of “Steve Jobs is akin to the second coming.”

Is that to say Apple isn’t great…of course not. They obviously are. I am a die-hard PC girl…but when I have the disposable income to totally change platforms, I will consider it. Not interested in being a hybrid – but I digress.

Is that to say Steve Jobs isn’t great…of course not. Steve Jobs is one of my favorite quote sources. His innovation, perseverance and vision are amazing.

But Elliot’s book verges on a love letter. In fact, it ends with just that. A love letter to Steve Jobs thinly disguised as professional appreciation and challenge.

However, the insight Elliot offers into the well-spring of examples to be gleaned from the technological icon are worth the bias. And to be fair, I guess if I had worked closely with an individual of Jobs’ status, I may gush a bit too.

The most interesting thing about the book is I believe each person will grab something different. Depending on background, industry, position ~ the book will read different to each reader. I think this because I hear it a few different ways myself. Because my background has spanned military to entrepreneur, the ideas offered sounded different and created interesting conversations with myself.

There are some really neat stories contained in the book. Things about Pixar, IBM, Sony, Cannon and Disney that I had never really heard about before. The nuggets of business and development history were kinda cool to hear about. I was appreciative of them. They will serve me well on Jeopardy or at the next dinner party where we play the “did ya know” game.

But at its root, the book is about the practical application of passion, boldness and relentless belief in the journey. That is where the magic is and that is what makes any other criticism moot.

Through the activity of Steve Jobs, we see a young man who never looks afraid – even if he is. We see an innovator who refuses to settle for mediocre in his product and in his people. He is passionate about his vision. He, as described by Elliot, is the ultimate consumer. His vision is to create the most amazing experience for himself as possible. In turn, he believes it will revolutionize the world.

Elliot’s recollections of some of Job’s game changing moments remind us that boldness goes a long way. Small change requires small action. But big change, that takes something else all together.  But it isn’t like this is something we don’t already know. However, it is something we get real funny about putting into place. And that is understandable. Those things can, and should, be a real gut check. It is a confidence booster to learn how someone else handled their bold moves. You can see that it can be done and one approach to doing it. You see that sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but status quo can’t always be Plan A.

And the “work” versus “doesn’t” is no doubt important. But it can’t be the most important. The most important must be the journey to “how do we make it work?” Not only that but, “does it matter if it works?” That journey cannot be about going through the motions and allowing whatever to just be whatever. Is it smart? Is it purposeful? Does it make life easier? Is it just clutter? Is it cool?

There’s other stuff in the book too – building and motivating a team, maintaining product and branding control, how to walk out of a company and reclaim it again, super cool “hey Ma, watch this!” kinda stuff. For sure not a waste of time.

[Jobs] believes that “half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.

“You put so much of your life into this thing. There are such rough moments in time that I think most people give up. I don’t blame them. It’s really tough and it consumes your life.”

You have to be “burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right.” If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.

 

The Leadership Challenge(4th ed.) by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

As I mentioned over at Making Life Work for You, this book is full of great nuggets.  I will post a regular review when I am finished.  Until then, I will post the article links here.

The Leadership Challenge

The Flip Side by Flip Flippen

Hold on a sec while I figure out where this fantastic recommendation came from.  This book was so good I have to make sure I get this right.

Found it!  Dewayne Melancon from Genuine Curosity (and fellow JJL contributor I might add) raved about this book back in July.  Now, I think Dewayne is a pretty smart fella and the different approach the book seemed to have intrigued me.

Unfortunately, I realized that I am a bit critical.  This came as no surprise to my husband.  So, now that I have learned this about myself, I will continue with the critique review.

Flip points out an idea that is so basic, I forehead slapped myself when I read it.  Strengths are great.  Know what they are, build on them, love them, give them cute little pet names (exaggeration mine).  But your constraints, or weakness, will stop you cold.

He goes through a list of what he calls “The Top Ten Killer Constraints.” Hold on to your ego, because one a few of these are yours.  No worries, he explains, everybody has ’em, most have a few, and you only need to work on one at a time.

There are a few key features that make this book great

  • He encourages the use of a friend.  Nobody knows us better than those we around everyday.  They see things about us we don’t see.  Pick somebody you trust and get real honest.
  • Questionnaires.  Not real sure if that’s you?  No problem.  The end of each constraint has  a check list.  Mark the items that are true and mark your score.
  • TrAction Plan. The first question my husband asked was, “Does he just tell you how messed up you are or does he actually help you fix it?” He actually helps.  TrAction Plans are a stroke of genius and madly helpful – see how uncritical I’m being 🙂
  • Writing Style.  This is more a statement about my preferences.  Flip feels like he is in the room.  You don’t feel a pretense or a judgement.  Just a real cool guy that happens to know a few things looking to help you out. 

I have made a promise to never write a review for a book I didn’t like.  I just don’t see the point.  Leave that up to others who get paid for it. However, I don’t just like this book.  I think it is a near critical read.  Don’t want to buy one? I’ll lend you mine – as long as you promise not to read the notes in the margins.

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

I will admit, I probably read this one long after everybody else had. These kinds of books make me skeptical and therefore do not tend to rank high on my “to do” list. However, after hearing The Secret mentioned what felt like a gazillion times in less than a week, I figured I had better at least know what everybody else was talking about.

I had seen clips from the movie and understand that some like to movie better than book for whatever reason. I am not one of those people. The idea was already close to over the top for me that the dramatic flair of the film shoved it right over the edge.

But, I still felt the need to read the book and I am very glad that I did.

It is not a complicated read. Actually it is very easy with a lot of repetition. But that’s the point as far as I saw it. We are so busy in our daily lives that we over complicate and overlook. The simplicity made it obvious and the repetition ensures we don’t miss the point.

If you are late on the list like I am, let me catch you up. The Secret focuses on the Law of Attraction. Basically it is power of intention, positive thinking, and harnessing the might that is in your brain. Seems quite typical until you realize that they are talking about more than just having a good attitude or a more positive day. They are talking about mind blowing, life altering occurrence.

Stories are recounted of money gained, ills healed, success realized. The claims are truly amazing.

I will say that I am not all in when it comes to this train of thought. There is an action step that, while implied, is not explicitly directed. I am a firm believer in positive thought and understand the role of intention (thanks to Kirsten). But my Craig Harper side insists that it is only half the battle.

However, I read The Secret not to obtain a full circle of ideas. I read it to hone my ability to train my mind to move in a positive direction. It accomplished that. I will read it again and would suggest that most people read it. I took valuable insight away from the read…the rest, I left for others who may find value in it.

Your Recommendations

Recommendations to the Reading Chair

I have said it so many times before…I know the coolest people. And you guys read the coolest stuff. I am really tired of finding great books to read and then forgetting who, what, and where.

So, if you all would be so kind as to let me know what you think here.

If you have a review on your site, please link back here.

If you are an affiliate of an organization, make sure to include your affiliate link (Amazon, for example). Once I read the book and review it myself, I will keep your affiliate link intact. This is my way of showing you that I appreciate your participation.