Ignition + Vision = If You Complete the Mission – Lessons from July 2016

Starting small delivers big value

This month began as a mystery to me. “Starting small” is a general term. I mean different things to different people. This month, I engaged with that generality and got some interesting conclusions.

First, however, is what I knew coming into the month:

When preparing those ideas, I realized there were several aspects of “small” that which we have to deal.  Things, like the small chunks of time that happen between meetings, the little mistakes that we ignore, and a little context all affect us.

These things change us in ways we don’t imagine, both for better and for worse.   Taking the time to think about and prepare for these events don’t just make us feel better, but make us smarter for doing so.

We aren’t alone, nor are we robots. We get in our way. We don’t know everything.

But, through working on what we do, and taking things one day at a time, we can do great things.  All it takes is patience, and the ability to breathe. 

From there, much is possible. Two minutes is enough to start. 

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Don’t Forget to Breathe

You always have time.

When you watch an action movie, the hero always does one thing before going into that room filled with bad guys.

We see it help with their success, yet it is so easy to neglect. 

What is it?


Whenever something bad happens to someone I know, the first thing I do is tell them to breathe.

There are always questions, depending on the level of anger. All of the questions they ask eventually lead to “What does breathing do for the situation?”

Breathing doesn’t do anything “tactical.” It, alone, won’t save your life.

Breathing won’t:

  • Put money in your bank account.
  • Get your significant other to call you back.
  • Stop your boss from firing you.

It’s about your strategy moving forward. Strategy informs tactics, tactics inform emotion.  Breathing gives you the opportunity to improve the strategic mindset by doing several things all with one action.

Breathing helps:

  • Slow down the situation.
  • Take control from the reptilian brain (fight or flight).
  • Increase empathy for the other side.

By breathing, our hero makes the right call. Help yourself make the right call by taking a second to breathe.

Conversation, Energy, and Patience

Wait it out.

There is an urge to jump on the first thing someone says that you don’t agree with.


It is a form of control.

You start a power struggle where someone either fights back or gets discouraged.

Either way, you transform the energy from the conversation because you’ve switched the terms. Instead of flow and understanding, it’s war. 

When it happens to you, there is an urge to go back on offense to get it back or defensively protect yourself.


Let the conversation sit there for a second. Just listen.

Your patience will guide will the conversation back to flow.

You might even learn something.




When It Rains, It Pours…

“Flooding” is bad for your health and sanity.

In the book “Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well”the authors describe “flooding” as the psychological event that multiplies the impact of a negative feeling. For example, “flooding” is when you find that the printer isn’t working and somehow that feeling becomes everyone here at the office hates me.

Yes, I’ve seen that example happen. It also may have been me.

When I notice the oncoming “flood” happening there are three things that help me get out of it.

  • Breathe – watch your breath, let things settle. Exercise is good here too.
  • Get context – Write out everything that is happening to you and read it back. The printer broke, not you.
  • Get thankful – The fact that you zipped up your pants before you left the house? That’s a win.

Floods are going to happen based on your disposition. I know a lot of creatives are on the “open” side of that scale, meaning we tend to “flood” more often. It’s OK when it happens, it’s human, but the key is to not stay there.