To Anyone Who Feels They Don’t Fit In

here's to the crazy ones

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them; disagree with them; glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do…”  -Apple, Inc.

Hello Means So Much (We Are All In This Together)

Antonio Fidalgo

In South Africa, people greet one another as they pass by even if they don’t know each other. When passing, one person says, “Sikhona,” meaning “I am here to be seen,” and the other responds, “Sawubona,” meaning “I see you.”

Think about that:

“I am here to be seen.”

“I see you.”

How many people do we go by every day that we never really see?

I used to think that this type of fleeting small talk was superficial. I didn’t see the value in “Hi, how are you?” and “I’m good, thanks. And you?” And the weather, I never understood why people felt the need to say “beautiful day out” or “gosh, this rain sure can stop anytime.”

The Zulu believe the formal exchange of a greeting invokes a person’s spirit to fully inhabit the moment. “I am here to be seen” means “this is who I am and I will speak honestly, without deception.” “I see you,” is an affirmation that the person responding will let go of any preconceptions or judgements and see that person just as they are.

Yesterday morning, when I was out walking the dogs, a man walked past me and said hello. I said good morning back. He stopped walking, turned to me and said “what a beautiful day today.” It was pretty dreary and wet outside and that’s what I had thought about when I stepped outside with dogs. But this man was on to something–the air was crisp and cool but not too cold, the orange and red leaves of the turning trees glistened from a night of heavy rain.

I responded to the man “you’re right, we are lucky to have such a lovely morning.” He said he had just moved from New York City to take care of his aging mother and that back in the city, he missed seeing such a lovely fall. In all, our conversation lasted less than a minute. I couldn’t help but feel more aware; more alive, as I walked back to the house with the dogs.

When we greet another person; when we say hello, ask how they are doing and even comment on the weather, we are acknowledging that we see one another. It doesn’t matter that we know nothing about the person we’re speaking to and even that we will possibly never see or interact with them again. At that moment, we are affirming that we both exist, we are both equal, and we will give each other the mutual respect we should always give others.

The Zulu would say that greetings “bring each other into existence.” They are a reminder that in the unpredictable of often painful struggles of life and of death, none of us is in this alone.

Sawubona, my friends–welcome to this important day, I see you.

Photo Cred: Antonio Fidalgo

Be Aware Of The Things You Do That Hold You Back

Not To Do

Most of us have sat in a training session or retreat meant to revive and inspire us. These meetings often focus on the things we should be doing in order to be successful. We look at how to do more of the good stuff and we tend to put emphasis on the positive things that get the job done and move us forward in our fast-paced environments.

For everything you’ve been read or taught that outlines the things to do to achieve success, how often have you looked at the things not to do in order to achieve that same success?

It’s easy to look at the success we have had and determine that our qualities and traits–the things we’ve been doing, are directly attributed to that success. In large that’s accurate. Our successes can be attributed to the work we’ve put in and the qualities we possess. On the other hand, some of our successes are in spite of some of the things we do.

We’re trained to look more closely at positive actions because in most cases, the good gets rewarded. But what if we looked more closely at all of our traits and determined which ones were actually holding us back? Perhaps, in addition to our daily “To Do” list, we should also create a “To Stop Doing” list. Consider how much more valuable our lives could be if we were more conscious of the effects all of our actions have on others and our success.



How To Stop Standing In Your Own Way

MTS Creates

To find our own way we have to get out of our own way. We’ve got to let go of “the way things are”. We’ve got to just do despite our fear of judgment, failure or uncertainty. We’ve got to stick it out, stand up for it, bleed for it and push through the minutia on the way there.

And when we’re in the thick of things, when we feel most vulnerable and begin to listen to our inner critics, when it feels like we’re making a mess of everything, possibly the most important thing to remember is that we’re doing just fine. It’ll be okay. We’re doing the tough stuff. We’ve got grit. We’re learning. We’re getting closer by making mistakes. We’re better today than we were yesterday–we’re doing just fine.


Illustration Courtesy of MTSCreates


Be Willing To Fail Like Steve Jobs

Apple Store
Do you ever get caught up in your own perceptions so much that it stops you from moving forward?

Have you ever worked incredibly hard on a project, when 3/4 of the way through it, you realize you’ve been seeing the problem wrong and there’s a better solution than the one you’ve been working towards, yet you didn’t want to take the loss and start over?

What about the time you made a mistake but instead of owning up to it and moving forward, you pushed it under the rug or directed the attention elsewhere?

We stumble on decisions like these when our focus is intensely on ourselves: “How will I look?”  “What will people think?” “I’ll never recover.”At the same time, we lose perspective on reality–we let the ego take over and stop us from doing amazing things.

Max De Pree wrote that great leaders are able to “define reality.” But removing ego from our own lives can prove challenging. It takes never-ending practice and the full-on embracing of vulnerability….and lots of mistakes and the willingness to make them.

Ron Johnson, Apple’s former Senior VP of Retail Operations, in an interview for the Stanford Business School, recounted an experience with Steve Jobs that exemplifies what it means to truly remove ego to do what is remarkable.

One day, before Apple opened its first store in May 2001, Johnson was riding with Steve Jobs to a weekly planning meeting about the store Johnson was charged with designing. Johnson told his boss, “Steve, I’ve been thinking. I think the store’s organized all wrong. We’ve organized it like a retail store around products, but if Apple’s going to organize around activities like music and movies, well, the store should be organized around music, and movies, and things you do,’” Johnson recalls. “And he looked at me and he said, ‘Do you know how big a change that is? I don’t have time to redesign the store.’ Then 10 minutes later, Jobs walked into the meeting and said, “Well, Ron thinks our store is all wrong. And he’s right, so I’m going to leave now. And Ron, you work with the team and design the store.” 

Most people haven’t had to pull an emergency stop on something as extreme as the launch of the first Apple Store, but it’s an great example of what it means to remove the ego in order to do truly great things. Jobs was able to admit he was wrong, recognize that even though he was set to launch, there was a better way and it would, in the long run, benefit the company to delay the store opening and start all over.

There is tremendous power in the ability to see what’s going on around us, to accept reality and to make changes–to remove ego from the way we work, live and lead.

Laugh When You Can, Apologize When You Should & Let Go Of What You Cannot Change


We spend a lot of time and energy trying to change things that are out of our control. It’s a major cause of frustration, anxiety and self-deflation. We can’t change our pasts, mistakes we’ve made, another person’s thoughts or beliefs (unless they choose to change them), who we are related to, the weather, sexual preferences, what others say and do, and all of the things we don’t acknowledge. Yet it’s natural to want to change these things when they affect us emotionally.

While there are many external things we cannot change, we all have the ability to control how we let those things affect us personally. We can change our own reactions to life.

10 Ways To Remain Positively In Control Of Our Own Lives

1) I focus my energy on what I am able to do and what is in my control.

2) I  learn from my past failures and while I won’t let them control me, I will use those lesson to be better in the future.

3) I never, ever see failure as permanent.

4) I will not hold grudges–they only affect my future, not resolve my past.

5) I  remember that everything that happens is for a reason–and it’s up to me to find the positive and grow.

6) I know that there are many wAys to view the world and I’ll respect that even though I don’t agree with someone, they have a right to their opinions and feelings.

7) I do not let criticism or failure stop me from doing anything.

8) I am a life-long learner and will remain open to changing my mind. I will forever seek new information and ways to see the world.

9) I surround myself with positivity. I will look for solutions and the bright spots in situations.

10) I am too busy thinking of the possibilities of the future to dwell on things in the past.

The control is in our own hands. We can cannot change someone else–what can can change is how we let them affect us, our opinions and judgements of them, and how we react to them.  We cannot change what is in our past–but we can change how much it will control our future, whether or not we will grow, forgive, apologize, let go or move on.

We will always be faced with challenges, change, criticism and adversity. Those things can stop us, hold us back and weigh us down or they can be catalysts for our own growth and remarkability. View the world with as much positivity as possible and do amazing things–on any scale.

Be strong, imperfect, courageous and willing to make mistakes. Don’t just go with the masses because that’s where the masses are going–the best things come from individual thought.

Keep looking forward. Everything counts. Everyone matters. Create the version of the world you want to see.

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