What is the science behind motivation, novelty, follow-through, collaboration, or project completion? How do we facilitate wonder and wander?

Story Architecture Meets Tracking Wonder

treehouseWhen Jonah Berger was a teenager,

his grandmother gave him a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point (2000). The book tells the story about how ideas become influential. The young Berger relished the intellectual journey Gladwell took him on. He was hooked.

Haven’t you read a book and thought, “How did he do that? How did he cast that spell on me? I want to do that!”  Read more

No easy promises to write a brave new story


“Write your novel in 60 days.” “Write from your passion, and the money will follow.” “Get a blueprint for your best-seller.”

Do those promises make you cringe? Their simplistic nature is actually destructive. Easy promises are destructive in two key ways. Read more

Buzzing stories versus your Brave Story

“It would be no exaggeration to call it a state of disorientation.” – Carl Jung


“What is your myth – the myth in which you live?”

That’s the question that rattled inside Carl Jung at age 37, months after breaking away from his mentor, Freud. He writes that when he examined the hero stories and myths he had amassed, he held them up like mirrors and wondered about his own life. He wasn’t, as far as he could see, the hero of his own story.

When that voice calls and says, “Look at how you’re living your life. How are you walking the talk?,” most of us reply with, “You’ve got the wrong number,” hang up, and turn up the volume on Downton Abby.

But when Jung got challenged on his own soul stuff, he didn’t hang up. He kept the line open. Listening to that profound doubt prompted Jung to muster the courage to create the Story he knew he must write into and live out.

So let’s consider this: A consultant has a book to write. A father has a memoir to write. A journalist has her first young adult novel to write.

Behind every book is a Story. A Story burns inside a writer. And that Story is not the stories that buzz inside her head.

How does she listen to the true voice of doubt beyond the buzz, and how does she muster the courage to create because of that voice?

Those are questions I invite you to live with me.

Read more

Be Brave – A Poem-Film for Authors & Business Artists

Dear Business Artist & Creative Quester, Writer & Thought Leader ~

You may have a Story burning inside you. It’s a Story about a new way of living. A Story about a girl who gets whisked into another world. A Story about a new way of leading or of investing in what matters. A Story about a young man who loses everything but his hope. A Story that only your business, your brand, your imagination, your life unfolds.

It’s a Story that needs to rise above the World of Buzz and a Story that someone out here needs to hear.

We know the names of the 5 Mutes ~

Fear of Offending & Rocking the Boat. 

Fear of Selfishness & Foolishness. 

Fear of Standing Up & Being Heard. 

Fear of No More Excuses & Taking Action. 

Fear of Shaping Time & Succeeding.  Read more

The talent every expert & creative needs every day


Open Mind

Open Mind

Would you really want to experience wonder every single day?

An interviewer posed that question. It’s a fair one. I rephrased it for her:

Would you want to experience challenges with more openness and curiosity than constriction? Would you want to experience good surprises, moments of true connection?

What if you could approach your work, your family, and yourself with more open intelligence? Would you want that? 

Every single day?

To me, those questions are variations of the first.

If the answer to the latter questions is “Yes,” then so is the answer to the first.

What does wonder have to do with openness? 

A key talent to tracking wonder relates to openness, and that talent very well may be the talent that every creative professional – especially the experienced one, the expert, the accomplished one – needs to practice every day. Read more

Shape time to write.


In Search of Lost Time by bogenfreud, Flickr

What if you could relate to time like art to sculpt instead of as a force to curse?

I’ll make this quick because I know your clock time is finite.

Many of my clients have learned to shape time to create what matters – like books.

They are executives, business artists, service providers, scholars, creatives, and writers who want to author books – their first, their fifth, their twentieth (seriously).

They are disciplined, accomplished, hard-working, and still they’re challenged to keep momentum with their book project.

Problem: Life circumstances are in perpetual flux. The Greeks had a name for the force that causes computer crashes, unexpected illnesses, broken ankles, and economic swings – Eris, the goddess of Chaos. Writer William Styron called it the “the fleas of life” – what he called every writer’s greatest obstacle. What to do?  Read more

Renew Your Vows to Wonder

 Moon_tvNote: Since so many new readers have come on board during the past year, I thought it important to put this Tracking Wonder project into full perspective again. This essay aims to do so. (1,434 words – no apologies)

The other day, my little girl – exhausted from hours of exploring,

kite-flying, and tree-climbing with her papa – was crumbling into evening whines with her mother. With little to eat but chocolate snagged in Woodstock earlier that day, I was disintegrating, too.

The first warm evening of the year approaching, something in my primal spring body said, “You need the hammock.” Guided by my gut, I headed for the farmhouse basement. The hammock was stored in a bag somewhere in the dank barracks. I thought.

“Have you seen the hammock? Has anyone seen the hammock?” I barked. I’m fairly certain I barked. No one had seen it. No one being namely my wife since the little girl did not keep up with such things, and the new born babe’s eyes couldn’t yet compute a face let alone a hammock’s whereabouts. I could hear my little girl’s whines up a notch.

I stomped to the screened porch. No hammock. Back to the basement to flip through every storage bag and box. No hammock. My wife was negotiating but readying for battle with the child.  Read more

Myths About Writing Talent vs. The Writer’s Inner Game


Myth #1: Successful, gratified writers mostly have talent.

Myth #2: Marketing & platform-building are the most important qualities for any writer to have a long-term career these days.

A few years ago, a question troubled me. Among the many creatives and professionals, especially writers or aspiring writers, I noticed that some writers prevailed over the long run and others didn’t. Read more

Loners and Lovers: Advice for Creatives


In college, I ogled over a smoky black-and-white photograph of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. In their book-flooded study, Jean-Paul sits at his desk on one end of the room, and on the other side Simone sits at hers.

The photo of the French philosophical duo—however pent-up their appearance and however strained their relationship—promised that I could find a partner who would arouse my intellect as well as my body and vice-versa. Our tongues would rap about mortality and the human condition, we would make riotous love, and then we would each pursue our respective endeavors.

Ah, youth. I viewed myself a loner doomed to romance.

I relished being alone for hours or days on end, immersed in writing and in the woods. But I also savored the idea of being absorbed with and by a beloved—I say the idea of since, truth is, I did not have many, if any, lovers. I wanted it all: time to myself and an adoring and adorable partner. I remain an idealist.

“You are in relationship,” the Indian thinker J. Krishnamurti says. Who you are, in essence, manifests and emerges through how you relate to others. Those words, read several years ago, tore at what I had grown up believing: that I am I, and I am most “I” when alone! A good relationship would be an accessory, a tweed vest to a suit otherwise fine on its own but admittedly much richer with the vest.

That Thoreau-inspired staunch individualist had numerous rude awakenings in his thirties and is happy to report—after growing up about six times since he was 19 years old through a few relationships and a divorce—that Krishnamurti was spot on.

At 43, I adore my wife. I clean the house; she cooks. We practice yoga together most mornings these days. When she comes home from work, I ask her how her day went. Sheesh, I even like to talk about how our relationship is going.

I am in relationship to my wife, Hillary.

I can be moody and curmudgeonly, petty and judgmental, if I do not dose up on spiritual and creative solitude. And as my first wife would tell you, I am far from being a relationship expert.

I would like to say a few things, however, to the various lovers in the world—the immersed lovers and saturated lovers, the aspiring lovers, the broken lovers.

My years of experience and hindsight have, I hope, borne a few worthy bits of advice regarding how to negotiate our ideals of love, the need for solitude in relationship, and mutual support for creative passions when we, as psychologist Rollo May wrote, “stand in love.”  Read more

You only get one 2014. Make it your “Why not?” year.


Photo Credit: Danka Peter

The Idea

The idea started to congeal this past summer: In the past few years, I had offered a creative work flow series, an author’s mentorship program that sold out, and a live author’s intensive that sold out – all of which were met with great fanfare.

But last summer, I yearned to offer something more cohesive throughout the year. I wanted to offer continuity in guiding the arc of an intelligent creative’s quest and career. In short, I wanted to design a series of experiences that would take creatives, authors, business artists, coaches, and thought leaders on a life-shaping, skill-building quest – from “good enough” to thriving. Each experience would build on the next. Throughout the year. And we’ve done it.

We’ve created a series of 5 incomparable learning expeditions – three online and two live – designed to help you truly live your quest and live the “What if?” or “Why not?” question that burns inside you this year. Collectively, we call the expeditions Live the Quest 2014 – with Rainer Rilke as our spokesperson and inspiration, no less.

We’ve completely revamped the original creative work flow course, the mentorship program, and the author’s intensive. Plus, we’ve integrated two new experiences – one live on Paradise Island, Bahamas, and one online that starts this Friday.

Adventurous and curious creatives. Quiet business artists. Accomplished authors and coaches and teachers and thought leaders ready for a fresh start. The makers of the world. You’re whom we’re calling. Read more