Inspire Yourself with Skill


image“Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman

There are simple ways to spice up your day.

This is a simple, but powerful loop that you can practice everyday as part of what you already do.

It will add zest and light your fire while you make things happen as you go about your day.

Change Your Ordinary Events Into Extraordinary Events

This is actually a follow up to Change Your Why or Change Your How, but makes it more actionable and takes it a bit deeper.   I met with one of my mentees yesterday, a developer at Microsoft, and after taking her through a simple loop on how to add juice to her day, she suggested I share the approach more broadly with others.

It connects a lot of dots and puts positive psychology into action.

By using simple stories, connecting to values, and changing your language, you can turn an ordinary day into extraordinary results.

Your Thoughts Create Your Feelings

The first thing you need to know is that your thoughts create your feelings.  Note that it’s not a one-way trip though, your feelings can inspire your thoughts too. However, if you know that your thoughts change your feelings, then the empowering part is knowing that if you change your thoughts, you change how you feel.

Of course, then the trick becomes how do you change your thoughts?  To change your thoughts, you change your focus.

How do you change your focus?  … You change the question.  It’s as simple as asking yourself, “What’s the favorite part of my day?” or “What’s great about this?” or “What can I enjoy about this?”

Change Your Words to Change the Feelings

The next thing you need to know is that your words have “feelings.”  They mean something to you.

Some words “feel” differently than others.

If you change your language, you change how you feel.  For example, words like productivity or time management or mission might be boring, dry, or corporate speak for you.  On the other hand, words like effective or success or adventure might lift you up.

or me, results is a powerful word.  I prefer to do things that get results.  I’m a believer that results talk while B.S. walks.  You can’t argue with results.

Another word I like is adventure.  Adventure juices me for a key reason: It’s one of my values.

Connect to Your Values

Connect to your values. Of course, first you need to find your values.  When you know what your top values are, you can find simple ways to connect to your values.

For example, I’m a fan of adventure, so at the start of one of my projects I asked the team to create a movie poster for the project to help envision the end in mind.

Who’s the villain? … who’s the hero? …  What will be a memorable scene?  It was a quick exercise, but it  inspired everybody to imagine an epic adventure before we even started the project.

You can connect to your values each day in a simple way.  For example, first identify your three outcomes for the day or your three key results.  For example, today my three key results are:

  1. Have a draft of a key document in hand for an upcoming review.
  2. Take away three insights from my training.
  3. Share a distilled set of insights on being a PM at Microsoft with a colleague.

Those are really the key results I need to accomplish today.  They are a bit different today because I’m going to be in all day training, and then I meet with a colleague for a brain dump.

Turn Your Results into Simple Stories

Now it’s time for the juice part.  I need to connect these results to my values.  I can do so with one-liner stories:

  1. Create the ultimate collection of baseline scenarios for customer success.
  2. Take away three insights that change my game.
  3. Empower my colleague with new insights to get her best results for work and life.

What I’ve done is connected my three outcomes to a few of my values (achievement, results, helpfulness) using very simple stories.  I’ll use these stories to drive my day.

If I find myself nodding off during training, I’ll challenge myself whether I have three new ways to change my game that I can apply to my work.

Conquer Your Day and Pave Your Way a Story at a Time

I love the fact that this approach puts you in control.  You write the story of your life, one story at at time, one day at a time.

And you use the words and the metaphors that empower your for your best results.

A way to remember this is that one-liner stories can save your day.

It’s a simple way to go from victim to victory or from zombie to zest.

May you conquer whatever the day throws your way!


  1. Yet another empowering post here J.D. I really enjoy the message of this post, as it resonates well with me. We do become our thoughts, but those thoughts lead to the feelings we have which is all a vibrational energy. In this energy based world it isn’t so much the thought but vibrational energy we give off that attracts things our way which is at the core of creating our own reality and being in the drivers seat of life.

  2. I love this post. Thanks for presenting it so well. I agree that it is simple and very actionable and gets immediate results. I love the example on the 3 outcomes.

  3. Hi, J.D. –

    I am also a believer in the idea that thoughts power our emotions and our overall life experiences. Sometimes, the result from thought to manifestation can be quick . . . other times, it is more like shifting the direction of a huge ship . . . a small turn of the rudder causes a slow, but huge shift in direction.

    Thanks for sharing!

    – Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

  4. @ Baker — Thank you. It does seem like some people give off better vibes than others … and it does seem to reflect the thought pattnerns and intentions.

    @ Shobana — Thank you. I can see how the more specific example help light up the idea.

    @ Marie — I like your boat analogy and I have seen how some small shifts lead to big changes.

  5. I love the idea of connecting all this to values; a value driven life puts a bigger spin on things.

  6. @ Sandra — Values really are the juice in our day. Driving by experiences and values is a way to light up life a scene or a day at a time.

  7. JD,
    This is really great stuff!! I’m currently working with a life coach, and we are really honing in on values right now. Connecting that in with language really seems like the next step in really living this!! Awesome!

  8. This is the power of intention at it’s best. If we think positive and resilient thoughts we will be positive and resilient. There are times that it’s tough, but worth the effort. I know working on my positive reframing has helped out my happiness and success more than any other practice.

  9. @ Lance — It sounds like you’re on a great path. Connecting to your values is one of the simplest ways to light up your life. In fact, I think the key is values + strengths + purpose. That little formula right there is a recipe for getting our groove on.

    @ Karl — Reframing is powerful. Changing how we look at it, changes how we feel about it. If a frame isn’t working, we can swap it out in favor of a more effective lens.

  10. Every time I read one of your posts I admire your discipline. This post is no exception.

  11. Hi JD.
    I love what you’ve said here about changing your words to change the feelings. It is SO true that words evoke different feelings. And we can shuffle them around and combine different ones to ‘season’ things up a bit.

  12. Hi J.D.,

    What a powerful post, with such truth. It’s a great reminder we don’t have to get hung up on a thought just because it appeared. In the blink of an eye, we can think of something more pleasant and like you said, turn our day around completely. I like that!

  13. Hi JD .. I seem to write my best stuff in my head, often at night, I think I must get myself organised with a tape recorder or equivalent and just speak .. the night the thoughts are quieter less interruptions .. and I rattle and roll sometimes – fortunately not always! I do get some sleep.

    Focus for me is essential .. but your idea of avoiding nodding off .. is great – I always have pen and paper and make notes and then I have to concentrate .. I can type them up afterwards, which usually means a lot more has gone in .. than others’ have absorbed – this I often find.

    Your three stories again .. always reworking .. and I like the concept of always getting a result, even if just a step on the path to greater results ..

    Thanks – really helpful .. Hilary

  14. JD –

    I like your feedback loop immensely – its pretty much at the heart of everything I do and teach. Start by living your values and your thoughts and feelings will follow naturally. The stories are a great twist to add some zest to the day – make every thought and action meaningful and purposeful. Great stuff, sir!


  15. @ Vered — Discipline is a funny thing. It always works better with drive 😉

    @ Davina — It’s funny what a dash of adventure or a twist of elegance can do for things.

    @ Barbara — I constantly find myself finding ways to change my challenges into opportunities. It’s a game I don’t always want to play, but when I do, I get my best results.

    @ Hilary — One trick I like to use is distill the full body of an idea, down into just a memorable one-liner. It’s easier to write down or remember, and it makes easier to invoke the full idea again.

    @ Amit — Thank you! I like the phrase “simple wisdom.” Simple is sticky 😉

    @ Phil — Leading with my why and leading with my values is such a reliable way to connect to passion. It’s like the short-cut that was always there, but I just needed the map. Thank you!

  16. Another powerful post, I so enjoyed reading it and thinking it through.

    What makes me come alive – good conversation/connections/ comments!

    Thank you JD

  17. @ Patricia — Thank you. Some conversations are real fire starters. I try to meet with several of my friends on a regular basis to catalyze me and inspire ideas. It’s a pretty reliable formula.

Comments are closed.