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Breathing Just a Little and Calling It a Life

Yesterday I rode my bike down to Laughing Planet on Belmont Avenue for a $4.85 burrito. The sun was out and all was well. On the ride down I replayed the classic “time/money/no object” game in my head. You know, the one where you ask: “If time and money were no object, what would I do today?” This is a fun game to play, and it's even better when you realize that you wouldn't change much about your plan. In my case, I had about $60 in my wallet—but the only thing I wanted to eat for lunch was the $4.85 burrito. I could have had a million dollars in my laptop bag, and I still would have taken my $35 "Craigslist special" bike down to the burrito place.

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An Interview With Yourself

From time to time, it's good to have a conversation with yourself—maybe even an interview. This is how you do it.

First, sit yourself down wherever you like to sit. Get coffee or your drink of choice. Turn off the distractions and take it seriously. (Wouldn't you take another interview seriously?)

Then you open the conversation like this:

Dear self, you are x years old. What do you have to show for it? Are you living the dream?

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The Small Man Builds Cages for Everyone

Every year I choose a personal theme, and in December I decided that 2010 would be the year of SCALE and REACH. Thus far, it's been an accurate prediction—some days it's all I can do just to try and keep up. Lately, though, I've been thinking more about EMPOWERMENT than anything else. Empowerment, as I think of it, is all about the beautiful principle of transferring knowledge and helping people consider possibilities that previously seemed out of reach.

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What You Don’t Do Doesn’t Matter

Coming home from a recent trip, I thought about bringing flowers. Wouldn’t that be nice, I thought. I imagined the flower buying, the flower delivery, the credit in the relationship account produced by my thoughtful action. When I finally made it off the last flight and the train ride to the transit center, I was tired. I remembered the flowers, but then decided: I’ll do that another time. Then the other day, I thought about something I had promised to do for someone else a while back. Several times I had thought about doing it; my intentions were good. But yet, nothing happened.

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Before and After

In 2004 I went to Liberia for the first of five visits. It was a pretty crazy place at the time, having just ended an 14-year series of civil wars a few months before I arrived with a small assessment team. The streets were patrolled by U.N. tanks, the only electricity was provided by private generators, and the non-functioning lampposts were covered in bullet holes ...

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Life in Sudan: Interview with an Anonymous Aid Worker

Greetings, friends and readers. Today I have a personal interview with one of our group who reads AONC from the Sudan. Christine (not her real name) is from the U.S. and works in the international development field for a charity that operates throughout Sudan. She has spent more than a year in the country thus far, and recently signed on for another commitment of indefinite length.

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Beware of Life

From January to September 2009, 21,833 people died in my home state of Oregon. Just like that, each one of them left the world—here one day and gone the next. Several weeks ago, three hikers also died on our nearby Mount Hood in a tragic accident. After their deaths, there was the usual pontification about what they could have done differently. Despite the fact that they were all experienced climbers, and despite leaving for the hike when weather conditions were good, some people blamed their “risky behavior” and suggested various reforms that wouldn’t have made any difference in their case.

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Feeling Stuck? Try This

If you're involved in any kind of creative work, you and inertia are probably well acquainted. I wish I were an exception, but no—inertia and I are mortal enemies. Every day I get up and fight a battle against that beast. Sometimes I win; sometimes I lose. Sometimes we get “stuck” in something and have a hard time figuring out what to do next. If you're feeling stuck, try one or more of these ideas ...

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Annual Review: 2009 Life Lessons

This is part of my end-of-year series while I’m away on vacation. Future posts will cover business lessons learned, a travel roundup, a list of every post from 2009, and the shape of things to come. Happy December! 2009 has been a truly amazing year for me personally and for AONC. It’s no exaggeration to say that my entire life has shifted dramatically from the place where it was a year ago ...

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