What “do’s” do.

Want in on the current lesson I’m learning?

Focusing my attention on the things I don’t want, need, or like is keeping me solidly there. By saying, “I don’t want that,” I just direct my attention right back to it. It’s an endless loop. Or, more true to my experience, a downward spiral.

All the while what I do want is begging for attention. It’s so-so-close. It almost comes up. It’s nearly right there in the “don’t. It’s just a bit buried. Just beneath the surface.

But instead of crouching down to look it, I just keep pacing over it with worry, thinking about how I’ll not do the “don’t” and kicking up dust.

I stopped pacing for a minute though (it was tiring) and since “do’s” are shiny it caught my eye. When I crouched down I had to do a little work to unearth the thing, but it came up fairly easily.

When I stopped pacing over Steve Job’s “Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drowned out your own inner voice.” This shiny nugget came up: “Listen to your inner voice. When other’s opinions get noisy, get quiet. Hone your hearing. Create practices to dialogue with your inner voice. Give it permission to speak up. Give gratitude when it does and act in ways that honor what it’s told you.”

I’m not sure if “do’s” are always longer, but my sense is that they are because there are a multitude of them contained within a single “don’t.” Possibilities. Many different avenues to stroll upon to get you moving toward the wanted thing rather than walking aimlessly away from the unwanted thing. Ya know like, “Don’t worry. Be happy,” which could also say “and content and calm and trusting and faithful, and smiley, and grateful…”

“Do’s” pro-create like rabbits. They are, by their very nature, e x p a n s i v e. They want to build you up, so they just keep offering and offering and offering.

Compare that with “don’ts” which, no doubt, mean well but end up tearing down an idea and leaving you a heap of rubble. Sure, you have the opportunity to rebuild, but “do’s” are natural builders. Let ‘em loose and they’ll build you a castle while you stand by in your Sunday best and watch with delight.

“Do’s” are deeper than “don’ts” too. Like when mom says, “Don’t pester your sister.” And you just stand there frozen wondering, “Why?” and “What do I do instead?” But you know that’s all mom and the “don’t” have to say.

But “do’s” love the question “why?”

(Do) get quiet when other’s opinions get noisy.
So you can listen to your inner voice.
Because when you can hear it, you can dialogue with it. (Just like this!)
And why would I want that?
Because it’s totally life enhancing and you’ll feel such relief and you’ll feel a power behind your actions because you’ll be clear in your intentions and…

And you could keep going on and on like this because “do’s” are eager and enthusiastic, but usually a few skeptical or confused “why’s?” are sufficient to clear things up and pep you up.

When you look for the do’s within the don’ts it’s like a coach with a deep belief in your abilities comes to life to cheer you on.

When I heard “Don’t settle,” and started to ponder the do, my coach came to life and started cheering:


Push the boundaries.

The sky stratosphere’s the limit! Wait, there are no limits. It’s limitless!

You deserve more and you can have more.

You’re capable.

You’re courageous.

You’ll figure it out as you go.

The possibilities are endless.

♪ Do you believe in magic? ♪

And once he started singing that tune, I was like “Okay, okay. I get it.”

I’m working now with putting my “do” lens on everything. It doesn’t quite feel natural yet, but it’s getting easier bit by bit. The coach was sitting solemnly but hopefully on the sidelines for years, but now that I’ve let him in the game a few times he starts waving his arms frantically to get my attention just seconds after I put a “don’t” in play in my mind.

And pretty soon he’s singing.

And I have to laugh because he’s just so darn sincere and peppy and hopeful (and cheesy).

I breathe a sigh of relief. I find my stride, again, too, walking confidently in the direction of that which is wanted.


Strengths, X-ray vision, and a Happier You

What do you rock at?

Now tell me: what’s beneath that? (Tricky, eh?)

Say you rock at rockin’ out. You’re an entertaining and skilled musician, and—no surprise—you love it. What’s at the essence of your musicality? How can you bring this into other areas of your life?

Your strengths pinpoint this essence.

The strengths underlying musicality might be creativity or curiosity (perhaps you’re deeply interested in how music works) or even self-control (you keep a disciplined practice schedule).

Knowing your strengths is like having X-ray vision. It allows you to see what’s beneath your skill sets and talents. Once you know your top strengths, you can start to use them more often and in new ways.

The more you use your top strengths, the more likely you’ll create “flow” (i.e. the high you feel when you’re really into something), and the happier and more engaged you’ll feel.

Sign me up.

You can find out what your strengths are here ( Choose “VIA Survey of Character Strengths” and settle in to answer the 240 questions. It doesn’t cost a penny and it’s legit—run by psychologists at UPenn).

Then try this exercise*:

1. Look at the Top 5 strengths and ask, “Is this a signature strength?”

  • Signature Strengths are the ones that really feel like us (“This is so me”), things we can’t help but do (“Try to stop me”), and that are energy or bliss inducing.

2. Choose one of your signature strengths and designate a time and place (or activity) in which you will consciously use it this week.

  • You might bring use your strength in a situation you wouldn’t normally (e.g. bringing the creativity that underlies music into your dinner preparation by crafting a beautiful salad).
  • You might designate time to use a strength in a way you already enjoy, but don’t currently set aside time for (e.g. Taking 30 minutes to write a poem to exercise your strength of creativity. Or, taking a photo tour of your city to exercise your strength of appreciation for beauty and excellence.)

3. Write about how you felt before, during and after the activity that engaged your strength. Did you find flow? Do you feel more invigorated?

4. Repeat!

*This exercise is adapted from the “Signature Strengths Exercise” in the book Flourish by Martin Seligman. He has a lot of awesome things to say, backed up by loads of research, about how to create a happier life.

Introducing The IMAGINATOR

xray goggles by photobunny

 Quick review from my last post:

In the Human-Centered Resume, WHO, WHY and HOW are the 3 KINGS.

The message is:
WHO I am as a person, WHY I chose my past experiences, and HOW I went about doing them drives WHAT I’ve done, WHERE I did it and WHEN I did it. Therefore WHO, WHY and HOW are the best indicators of my ability to succeed in the job I’m applying for.

Then I left you hanging with this suspenseful phrase: The resume itself looks like:

Drum roll please…..

Short (one line)
Story based
Tie in with previous employment AND non-employment experiences

The first construct/superpower I’ve developed for my personal resume is “The Imaginator.”


Never content to do something the conventional way if a better way is possible, the Imaginator always has an eye to possibilities.

When empowered in my workplace, I also have the efficacy to make improvements and experiment to help already awesome organizations spiral toward even more greatness.

As the Imaginator, I improved the line for more efficient and ergonomic short order cooking for two seasons at Stanley Baking Company. Ask the manager Becky about this; she was game to try nearly every suggestion I put forth. I also executed a number of wild lesson plans as a Teaching Assistant in the Sociology department at UMass Amherst to increase student engagement. Imagining a brave new life, I’ve lived in a new location every six months for the past 5 years.

Woah, Woah, Woah. What Just Happened There, Mary?!

Notice how I gave some job history/experience information, a tie in to a reference, and demonstrated how this superpower works in two vastly different work situations.

One reason I wanted to create this kind of resume is because I’m transitioning out of my “career” as a seasonal line-cook and into any kind of work that nourishes my mind, body, and soul.

Housing my variety of experiences under a construct/superpower is so empowering for me because I’m a Meaning Maker (it’s another superpower). I see continuity in my life where others see chaos and skills-based resumes represent my life as disjointed and confusing to employers.

Wait she was a Teaching and Research Assistant for two years at a top university and then she worked for free at a Buddhist center and then became a line cook working in a town I’ve never heard of in the-middle-of-nowhere Idaho?

Actually, yes. That’s my life. And it may well be yours, too. Bold folks do weird things, ya know?

Keep In Mind

This is what I wrote off-the-cuff without a specific job posting/position in mind.

My vision for the Human-Centered Resume is to tell relevant, short, simple stories that illustrate things at the intersection of:
· Deep personal resonance in terms of illustrating who we are as gifted and capable humans
· Deep resonance for employers in terms of our ability to rock their world by meeting eligibility requirements and then some

Value-added at every turn and completely in the realm of “show not tell.”

I am from The Show Me State after all.

As I play with this more I also want to make it visual. For example, “The Imaginator” would be represented with a symbol (e.g. imaginator x-ray goggles). I’ve just begun exploring how the visual element can be incorporated, but I love the idea of images and words dancing together on a page.

My ask:
I’d love your feedback on the concept I’ve presented here. What, if anything, gave you an “aha” moment? What, if anything, made your brow furrow in skepticism? How can I make this better or present the idea better?

Compassion-fueled feedback is welcome; be aware this is rough and I am tender.

Contact me here.

Photo Credit: photobunny