The Longing for More


I wrote a post a few weeks back and it reflects a significant shift for me. I have a clarity that, quite frankly, has eluded me for some time. Much that hasn’t made sense, does in the current frame. I feel an elation and clarity  that’s pitch perfect.

Take a look at the following lyrics to a familiar song:

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high there’s a land I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow why oh why can’t I?

Those lyrics used to confound me. I now get what the lyricist was trying to communicate. Obviously, I can’t know for sure, so leave me a little latitude. The lyrics communicate the longing, found in most people I know and have met. Some would say it’s a longing felt by the majority of people around the globe. A longing to know and believe that there is something more to life than what we find in the daily living under the sun.

There was a time many years ago where I was arrogant enough to believe that I could speak to certain areas of life without having the experience. I relied on my head and book knowledge to make my conclusions. I discovered the heart doesn’t really make a true appearance until it is broken. My broken heart, in the area of meaning, loss, empathy, and much more, brought a level of understanding that only those experiences could produce. Now I know about the longing.

I am humbled.

I see modern men and women pursuing much on this planet and inside of them is eternity. Some are drawn and some feel driven mad. Either way, there is something more, there is epic living. I’ve spent more than 7 years living what was appointed for me. My appointments were out in front. for a purpose. Maybe not unlike Lewis and Clark, who prepared a way.

I expect in the coming days, weeks and months to introduce tangible experiences for you and I to engage in a deeper way. We’ll start slow, experiment a little and find some openings to live over the sun.

The Changing Face of Work

In December of last year I caught this article on creativity. Specifically, how creativity is viewed in the work place. I found it rather ironic because of the changing face of work today. In a work world where so much is being turned upside-down, you’d think the creative would be more valued. I carry a bias toward the creative. I belong to that tribe, with great energy and vibe.

Between coaching clients, conversations with decision makers (small and large companies) and the written word, I get a strong sense of how work is changing. The following is not based in theory, and gives a sense of what is here and what’s to come:

  • Employees will soon (1-3 years for the individual and the mid-market) be buying their own health insurance. The employer will contribute an annual dollar amount, but the buying part will be up to you
  • Engagement in the work place will continue to drop until workers feel they have an equal say in what’s going to happen in their specific work function. The millennials are the catalyst here
  • Fear will be a driver of innovation
  • Knowledge transfer is a bigger deal than many think
  • People who are looking for a job should pay attention to disruptive technology. It will either eliminate your job or create a new one. This is good advice for the employed as well
  • For obvious reasons people will need, and maybe forced, to truly manage their lives with an “on-purpose” approach

The bullets above are sobering. Don’t lose you soul navigating the waters.

All or Nothing

(photo courtesy of

Typically, when you read the words all or nothing, thoughts of bravado and persistence come to mind. I would agree with that. All or nothing has a clear ring of commitment. Who wouldn’t be for that. In my case, the all or nothing thing has been a blessing and a curse. More than a few times in my journey I should have accepted half, instead of holding out for the all. I pray and work diligently to stay on the blessing side for obvious reasons.

The tricky part is found in the riddle life can be. Often our lives are not big moments where we stare down the big obstacle. Most of life is found in the small and the daily. Maybe the film industry has sucked us in. Too many epic stories of heroics and near-calamity events.

When you look around, where are the greatest challenges? I suspect they can be found here:

  • Relationships in the personal and business
  • Negative thinking
  • Deep insecurities
  • Fear
  • The longing for love

I could add many more to the above list, and certainly, an all or nothing stand might be needed in some of those. However, it’s the moments of wrestling with, fighting with and embracing with that are where we need more art.

I’m down with the all or nothing of life. I’m even more down with the daily management of the small things that are really quite big too. If we don’t get the small and daily things right, we won’t be ready when an all or nothing stand is required.

5 Reasons to Be Creative


I overheard a conversation with an adult family member yesterday. He was lamenting the sad reality of a creative’s existence. You’ve probably heard it before:

“They’re starving, and all artists starve.”

Funny how those who complain about the creative’s plight, often are big admirers of art (life, parenting, music, painting, cinema, etc.). So what gives? Is it really about starving and doing without? Is it really a dance with insanity to do what only seems to make sense to you?

As someone who tried to close and lock the door to my creative wiring, the wiring never goes away. I finally accepted it and learned to celebrate it. That was a crucial awakening.

For those who say retirement, promotions and prestige are the keys to a fulfilling life, that game is already been called.

Here are my 5 reasons to be creative:

  1. The age of the doer is over. Just like many types of change, an age ends before the mass knows and feels it.
  2. You were created to be creative. Not everyone will be a Miles Davis or Daniel Day-Lewis, but everyone has it in them if they are courageous enough to act on it.
  3. Our collective wellbeing is calling out for this-desperately.
  4. The status quo won’t seem so appealing.
  5. Living over the sun will make a lot more sense.

What are some of your reasons for being creative?

Over the Sun


“Consider for example, and thou wilt find that almost all of the transactions in the time of Vespasian differed little from those of the present day. Thou there findest marrying and giving in marriage, educating children, sickness, death, war, joyous holidays, traffic, agriculture, flatterers, insolent pride, suspicions, laying of plots, longing for the death of others, newsmongers, lovers, misers, men canvassing for the consulship and for the kingdom;—yet all these passed away, and are nowhere.” – Marcus Aurrelius

I’ve spent a good deal of my life operating under the sun, sometimes even exclusively. Can you relate? The pursuit of things that you think have never been pursued before. When I was thirty-five I believed I ruled the world. I thought I was breaking new ground. The truth was others had been there before me, and there were younger men who were waiting to take my place. It wasn’t until I made my daily focus about living over the sun that true living began. I don’t consider what happened before to be a waste. It was learning and it didn’t happen overnight.

The quote from Marcus Aurellius was written somewhere around 170 AD. Interestingly, many of us are still trying to prove him wrong. See Sheryl Sandberg, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson, Will Smith, and the list goes on. My post is not an indictment of those people or their human achievement. My post is really about achievement, but with a different motivation. It’s the motivation of living over the sun.

I have been greatly influenced by Solomon and the biblical accounts of his life. Most specifically, the accounts found in the Book of Ecclesiastes. You can read his journal there for yourself. On some quiet nights I am haunted by his words found there. Solomon had more and tried more than most men ever will, including the vaunted list above. Yet we (mankind) press on, and on. We’re a culture that believes in the exception. The arrogance that somehow sees itself above history. Solomon was right when he said:

“God has placed in the heart of men, eternity.”

That is what I’m trying to convey here; the idea of eternity, the idea of over the sun. Over the sun takes you to a place where what you do matters here and in eternity. Eternity is in heaven and it is on earth. Eternity will record my apology to my son today. It will go into his future and the future being recorded for my ears ahead. In short, what I do matters. Now, before we get too sentimental, eternity will also record all of my stressing over what I have no control over. Gulp. Fortunately, there is a cross powerful enough to deal with my good, my bad and my ugly.

The following are some reasons why you and I should operate over the sun, along with some reasons why we shouldn’t operate under it. Keep in mind this is about your thinking and your actions. It’s worth considering, even if my words make me a madman in your book.

  • Operating over the sun puts other people first. This is a sweet reality for mankind. I hear a beautiful melody in my ear and head as I write this. Putting people first always results in something that lasts forever.
  • Operating under the sun is all about you. Your career, your money, who you can manipulate, who you can control, and all the other agendas a lifetime can hold.
  • Operating over the sun is where we find sustainable happiness. The actions are those rooted in the simple and the beautiful. It’s a place of where you are surprised by what each day brings, and you don’t mind it, happy or sad.
  • Operating under the sun is about deceit. The implication here is self-deceit. Under the sun we convince ourselves that one more drink, one more deal, or one more relationship will satisfy. And as Marcus and Solomon found, it won’t deliver the promised outcome.
  • Operating over the sun is where we find the personhood of God.

5 Questions with Dr. Art Markman, Author of Smart Change

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Art Markman regarding his new book Smart Change. Some great insights on how to craft meaningful behavior change.


In the first chapter of your book, you note the success of the Cleveland Clinic in the area of behavior change. What would you say to those C-level executives who’ve tried some concepts to address wellness and behavior change, but have not met with great success?

The central problem with behavior change is that the motivational system is so efficient at promoting the habits people have already developed.  The Cleveland Clinic succeeded, because it instituted a comprehensive program of wellness aimed to help people develop healthier daily behaviors.  When companies institute wellness plans in a piecemeal fashion, they do not attack all of the pressure points on the motivational system that support change.  This approach is likely to fail.  The lesson from the Cleveland Clinic is that a comprehensive program that supports healthy living ultimately succeeds and that the initial investment leads to long-term cost savings as well as healthier employees.

Is the brain a friend or foe in our efforts to change our personal behaviors?

The brain is remarkably efficient at promoting the habits you have already developed, particularly when those habits lead to outcomes that feel good in the short-term.  As a result, your initial attempts to change your behavior make your brain the enemy.  Like a Jujitsu master, though, you have to learn to use the brain’s momentum to your advantage.  Change your environment to make desirable behaviors easy, and you will naturally start to act in accordance with your new goals.  Spend time with people who engage in the behaviors you want for yourself, and you will start to mimic their patterns.  Create specific plans for how you will achieve your long-term goals, and you will begin to create new habits that will ultimately make your brain your friend.

Can changing a person’s environment (work, school, community, etc.) be a catalyst for better behavior?

The environment has several influences on better behavior.  When your environment is littered with temptations, then you are prone to return to our past patterns of behavior.  So, disrupt your environment in ways that make it impossible for you to engage your previous habits.  If you are concerned about the amount of time you spend mindlessly browsing the web, then download a new browser that has an interface that differs from the one you are using.  Now, you have the opportunity to rethink your internet behavior until you develop a new set of behaviors.  People want to minimize the effort they put into many tasks, so making desirable behaviors easy to perform and undesirable behaviors hard to perform has an immediate influence on the way people act.

Explain the difference between a “process goal” versus an “outcome goal.”

When we set goals, we often focus on outcomes–the things we want to achieve.  For example, you might decide this New Years Day that you want to lose 40 pounds.  There are two problems wit these kinds of outcome goals.  First, they do not tell you how to achieve the goal.  Second, once you do achieve the goal, it is not clear what you should do next.  Rather than focusing on the desired outcome, create a process for living your life that generates the desired outcome as a side-effect of the way you live your life.  Focus on cooking new foods, adding exercise to your daily routine, and crocheting while you watch TV rather than mindlessly eating chips.  These process goals can be sustained long after you have reached your desired weight, and so you achieve your desired outcome without making it the focus of your efforts.

What’s been your toughest habit to break and what did you learn from the experience?

I had a few tough habits to break.  Until I was in my early 20s, I bit my nails.  It was an unattractive habit.  It was hard to break, though, because it requires *not* doing something.  You cannot create a habit that involves not doing a behavior, and so after a few weeks I would always start biting my nails again.  In order to break that habit, I had to figure out when I was actually biting my nails.  I discovered that I most of the time when I bit my nails, I was sitting around either reading or watching TV.  So, I worked to replace the bad habit with new habits.  I started buying a lot of desk toys and playing with them at the times that I would normally bite my nails.  Eventually, I replaced the bad habit with these new routines.  Of course, now my graduate students make fun of me for playing with a slinky while we are meeting…

Art Markman, Ph.D., is Annabel Irion Worsham Centennial Professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, and director of the Masters Program in the Human Dimensions of Organizations. He received his Sc.B. in Cognitive Science from Brown University and his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Illinois. He has published over 150 scholarly works on topics in higher-level thinking, including the effects of motivation on learning and performance, analogical reasoning, categorization, decision making and creativity. He is currently executive editor of the journal Cognitive Science and a member of the editorial board of Cognitive Psychology. His previous book, Smart Thinking (Perigee Books) was a bestseller.  Art is co-host of a new radio show Two Guys on Your Head produced by KUT radio in Austin. He is on the advisory boards of the Dr. Phil Show and Dr. Oz Show.


5 Questions with Dirk Knemeyer of Facio

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to chat with Dirk Knemeyer, founder of Facio. Always love the conversations I have with Dirk. So happy to finally share one of those with you. Enjoy!


What trends are you seeing in how organizations and employees are engaging via mobile and desktop technology?

The shift from “company phones” to allowing employees to use their personal phones for company business has been a big one. That was largely driven by the iPhone, where executives sort of strong-armed IT into allowing it and has trickled down through companies in the years since. Also, the rapid adoption of iPads and other tablets has been a bit of a surprise. The result of both these things is a surprisingly rapid shift toward major enterprise apps behaving with mobiles and tablets either in a truly native way or with experiences that are “as-if” native. This opens up rich possibilities for people to work differently. So many of us, for decades now, have sat behind a desk at a computer. Now that it is no longer structurally necessary we are also learning about how bad sitting all day is on our bodies, especially our hearts. So this is a moment where technology enables companies to re-think how knowledge workers actually work at a time where the physical damage our work does to us is being scientifically understood. So I think the workplace proliferation of alternative computing technologies will accelerate a trend toward non-traditional work environments such as from home and shared spaces. It should be fun to see.

 Can an individual, inside or outside of work, use your technology to measure and track their personal growth?

Yes. We designed Facio for both personal and professional use. On the personal side, each day you can record your happiness, effectiveness, and how well you are getting on with others. It is like a “quantified self for behavior”. Professionally, we have a wider range of 360 tools where both yourself and those you work with can report on your behaviors, skills and natural preferences. Viewing your data over time is an important part of the story, to help you understand yourself and those important to you. It is all web-based so, unlike other similar tools you may have taken now-and-then, this lets you and anyone you give permission to view really nice graphics showing a slice of who you are.

 What’s the biggest obstacle in using technology to improve performance in life and work?

Commitment. Using software to improve performance shares a lot psychologically in common with things such as a workout regiment or diet. If it becomes a habit and you are committed to that it is fantastic. But it is easy for people to forget, or miss some time, and just not get back fully into it. For those that do, though, the impact on their lives is profound.

What inspired you to start Facio?

I’ve never fit in. I was a high school drop out, sent to reform school. I became an entrepreneur because after a couple of years at a company I simply didn’t fit any more, quitting or getting fired out of restlessness, essentially. I was married at 18 and divorced at 25. All of this happened because I didn’t understand who I was. The culture, the education system…forget that it is not designed for someone like me. It did not even give me knowledge as to who I was, why I didn’t fit in, and where perhaps I could fit.

I’m an extreme example, but look at the work world. More than 70% of people are not engaged in their jobs. That is real research, from Gallup. Engaged employees work harder, work better, and are generally happier in their personal lives as well. The fact that less than 30% of us are engaged is literally a tragedy. It is lives that could and should be happier. It is companies that are getting far less from the people they are paying. This is not rocket science; it is solvable. I want to solve it.

You’re an entrepreneur who has succeeded on more than one venture, what’s been your greatest lesson learned?

“Greatest” is always a hard one. I think it is the importance and value of business partners. I’ve had at least one co-founder in every venture I’ve ever done. The ones that have been least successful are those where one of the principals is less involved. The times I’ve had my greatest success is when it is two or three people who are “all in” and working together as a team toward the shared goal. For me, at least, it is simply essential.


Beginning with his university training and culminating in 18 months of extensive research building up to the launch Facio, founder Dirk Knemeyer is certified in the MBTI®, Hogan Assessments®, Everything DiSC® and the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument®, and has made understanding the human condition his personal passion. In addition, Dirk has worked at the vanguard of the software industry. He is the co-founder of Involution Studios, which has carved out a reputation as a best-of-breed choice for companies who aspire to offer the best apps in the world.