It’s Not Just Okay to Dream, It’s Required

I’ve always been a dreamer. Always.
As soon as I reach one goal or accomplishment, I am usually plotting three more.
My dreams are typically out of reach, far fetched, and unattainable. Still, I go after it, reminding myself even if I am off, I’ll be better for having tried. You know what? Sometimes I hit the mark.

I’m a big fan of dreamers too. I have always been fond of inventors and entrepreneurs who set their sights on big acccomplishments. Their epic-sized dreams impact the world and make a difference.

Currently, I am a big fan of Elon Musk. He’s this far-out thinking inventor-entrepreneur that created PayPal, the Tesla’s self-driving electric car, and rocket technology that lands itself on floating, moving barges, and he has been tapped by the United States government to assist on a Mars expedition. He’s a dreamer. His dreams have paid off. Why not mine?

Tesla has a big announcement for tomorrow: First of all, I want to declare that I am a dreamer and I am never, ever, ever correct about product releases. My track record is horrible. Now, with that being said, here is my prediction for tomorrow: a flying car.

Elon Musk is the closest thing we have to a Tony Stark. The guy has self-driving electric cars, has partnered with the USA to send people to Mars in his rockets, and has built self-landing, reusable rockets.

How difficult would it be for this genius to extrapolate our existing hobbyist, quadcopter technology (GPS guided drones Like the DJI Phantom 4), enlarge it, combine it with his existing technology, and show us a prototype tomorrow? My rationale: Musk does BIG things. He would want a flying car. He is not afraid of putting ideas out there.

While tomorrow the company will probably only deliver a software upgrade to the existing Tesla models… I will be dreaming tonight of flying cars.

Here’s your permission slip everyone: it’s okay to dream, so dream big.

6 Things Olympic Athletes Do That We Should Implement

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Image by David Schap

The Olympics are amazing, but while I am utterly amazed I think most of us still really have no clue to how incredible these athletes truly are.  I really like comedian Bill Murray’s recent tweet, “Every Olympic event should include one average person competing for reference.”

What makes these athletes so incredible? Well, I won’t argue that genetically they have a lot going for them, but you would be a fool to underestimate how much they do mentally and physically to help themselves stand out and excel.

Olympic athletes have amazing focus and discipline. What can we learn from these incredible athletes to help us live better lives?

Olympic athletes: 

1) Visualize Success: Olympic athletes don’t just think positively, the speak positively using affirmations and verbal mantras and goals. They try to involve all five senses in this visulaization. They do this regularly. They literally see and practice success. I write about this in my book.

2) Have great coaches: Maybe you can’t afford a coach, but you can afford a book, a CD, or conference attendance. What resource can you obtain now to help you advance?

3) Don’t Believe in Life Balance: Olympic athletes are ‘all in.’  They realize sacrifices must be made. This may not work for you and me on a regular basis, but from time to time we need to ‘fully commit’ to realize and accomplish a life goal. I’m sure you can recall a time you did this and it made the difference. What needs more attention in your life?

Conversations and a Gathering of Great Minds

Bag and hands by Alejandro Escamilla

Image by Alejandro Escamilla

I recently had breakfast with an old friend at a restaurant. He told me he meets there with a group of men regularly, and they talk about education, kids, curriculum, and the world. They even had a little brass plaque on wall with their initials engraved on it.  It was early, but the conversation put my mind in the right mode of thinking for the entire day. New perspectives were shared. I saw topics in a new light, and, well, I shared some of my ideas too.

Today, I was listening to a few minutes of a show titled GPS on CNN. I caught it just by chance. Just one of those moments where I was getting a snack when I shouldn’t have, and the TV was on in the kitchen.  What a great show! I’m not sure I am intelligent enough to grasp everything it covered, but I enjoyed the variety and richness of discussion. The show focused on solutions and big ideas.

I was inspired by the host’s guest too, “Homeless Billionaire” Nicolas Berggruen, who has recently  started a ‘think tank” where the top minds of the world will gather and well… think. He is building an institute that focuses on free speech, curiosity, and diversity. Nicholas calls this institute a “secular monestary” where scholars will live, work, host meetings, and talk about a range of topics from technology, philosophy to government, and more! He says he wants to give the world a place where people can have conversations.

These two events, my friend’s gathering at breakfast and the CNN story, are the same concept at different levels. Both groups, one big and one small, are focused on getting great minds together and having a conversation.

Are we doing this? Are we having discussions? This is more than liking pictures and status updates. These are face-to-face conversations in real time. This is setting aside a time to meet in person, spend time together, talk and then collaborate on solutions.

I was fortunate to have been invited to Berlin, Germany this summer to do just that with amazing educators from all around the world at the Apple Distinguished Educator Global Institute 2016. It was amazing and beneficial. This was thinking big on a big scale. This should happen often and so should smaller discussions too, at smaller levels.

How can we do more of this?  How can you or I get a group of thinkers together to talk and collaborate?

I challenge you this week to do just that. Start something. Join something. If you accomplish it online, well, I guess that is okay,  but if you can find a way to meet in person I think you will see many added benefits.

As an English teacher I am reminded of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G. K. Chester meeting at a pub regularly for a talk. They called themselves The Inlkings. What came from these “talks” is some of my favorite literature and essays.

On my podcast I recently interviewed two authors about a trip they took home after a conference. They rode together in a car and talked. From this conversation sprang forth the idea for a book which was recently published on a very important topic.

These ‘think tanks’ or conversations are important. While they of course can “just happen” from time to time, imagine the results if we actually planned a few.

Kelly Croy  • Speaker, Artist and Educator • Invite Kelly to speak at your event!  •  •  1-800-831-4825 

Weeding Your Daily Habits

Weed garden habit.I spend a few minutes each morning and evening in my garden. I find it relaxing. I’m not a great gardener, but it is fun for the whole family.

The other day my youngest questioned why I was pulling these little plants from the garden.

I told her they were weeds, and that if unattended they would overcome the garden and hurt our crops.

I think many of us, including myself, have a lot of weeds in our daily productivity. We could benefit from being a little more intentional about removing some bad habits that act like weeds and overcome the goals in life that would bring us the most happiness.

They are easy to spot, like the weeds in our gardens, and they are pretty easy to pull out when they are small. When they grow into daily habits, however, and have taken root in our lives, they are much more difficult to eliminate. It is hard to distinguish the diversion from the goal, just as it is difficult to distinguish the full grown weed from the crop.

There is no spray or tool in life that will do the work for you. That would be great! You must identify and yank those weeds out to be more productive. You must do it with intention and consistency. It isn’t painful and it doesn’t take any time. Rather, it is a reallocation of time, or making the next best choice with your time. It’s that simple.

Don’t beat yourself up about how the garden has been over run, just get in there and yank a few out today, then a couple more tomorrow.

Diversions, like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, video games, and our hobbies are important. We need them to make life fun and worth living, but too often we get lost in our diversions and give our true goals the minimum of our day, week, and sadly life.

If we want the gardens of our life to be plentiful and healthy we must put some daily intention to getting those results.

The greatest goals in life are not  met with a single, massive action, but rather small, daily habits.

Take a look at your day and ask yourself one very simple question: What negative habit have I developed, that if eliminated could free up some time for something I have always wanted to accomplish?

Leaders Promote Others!

WE Promote others; leaders promote othersWhether you are the owner of a business, a manager of a team, a parent, or just a good friend, know that leaders promote the work of others.

I had a wonderful neighbor years ago that I  loved to talk with while she tended her flower gardern.  One day she said to me, “Do you know what I like best about you? You speak so well of others. You talk so well of your wife. You share the joys of your work. You recommend your friends to others. That’s a wonderful quality.”  While I enjoyed the compliment, I also thought long and hard about her words, and I wondered why more people don’t do the same.

One of the greatest joys of being a leader comes when we have an opportunity to  recognize others for their hard work. Recognizing is important and something all leaders should do.  Recognizing and promoting are not, however, the same. Recognizing could be accomplished in private, but when we promote someone, well, that is the ultimate form of recognition because you are attaching yourself to it and sharing it publicly.

My mom would always compliment my artwork, but the greatest memories I remember were when she hung it on the fridge, or told her friends about it. I loved that.  I still do. So… hang someone’s work on the proverbial fridge and promote them.

Don’t promote others expecting something in return for yourself.  It very likely will happen, but that is the wrong reason to do it. Promote others because you are genuinely impressed with their work.  Make note, however, when you promote the work of others routinely it always benefits you down the road. It doesn’t benefit you occassionaly, it benefits you regularly, but again, that’s not why you do it, and you can’t do it occassionally. Your promotion of others needs to become a part of your leadership style.

And once you get a reputation for promoting the work of others, you won’t believe the work people do for you!   (Click “Read More”  to find out how to really apply this leadership skill.)

One Simple Change for a Lifetime of Results: The Kaizen Way

Kelly Croy Productivity Speaker Writer Artist kaizen

The Kaizen Way is a concept that I believe can dramatically impact your personal and professional life without stress, guilt, and anxiety. It’s simple and effective. It leap frogs fear and procrastination and gets results. 

I recently asked a friend if he had any resolutions for the new year and he replied, “Yes, I plan to do one push-up a day.”

I smiled, knowing there had to be more to the story, and I asked, “One? That’s a bit small isn’t it?”

My friend then introduced me to the concept of the Kaizen Way. He explained to me that when he gets down on the floor to complete his one push-up for the day that he always does a few more than just the one.  He doesn’t overthink what he has to do. He doesn’t worry about how he is going to fit three sets of forty pushups into his schedule, or anything like that.  He just gets down on the floor and does his one push up aiming for improvement.  It’s simple. It’s neat. It works.

This is a new area of focus for him. He doesn’t already have a massive amount of upper body strength, so doing some pushups every day of the year will be a big boost. The word “kaizen” is the Japanese word for improvement. It was once poorly applied in the workplace as forcibly making employees discover and apply constant improvement, all the way from the head of the company down to the newly hired, to a point of creating a work environment of stress and undue pressure. Kaizen, or constant improvement is a great concept, but I like my friend’s version better because it eliminates the stress and allows the participant to self-assess and reflect on how deeply to apply the improvement. This contemporary version of The Kaizen Way is personal and enchanting. In essence, the Kaizen Way asks you to take one small step each day to make an improvement in your life. 

I decided to try this concept of the Kaizen Way in my own life. You see I own a guitar, but I do not know how to play it. I have always wanted to learn. I have thought about lessons, and books, and YouTube videos, and other educational tools, but success always eluded me. 

Why haven’t I been able to learn anything on the guitar? Easy.  I haven’t really tried. The process itself stops me cold: get the guitar out of the closet, take it out of the case, use the tuning app on my iPhone to tune it, start the lesson, practice, put it all away, etc. No wonder I have never learned even a little bit of how to play the guitar. The key of course has been to simplify the process and redefine what I need to do.  Yes, this is a mind trick. 

This year I applied the Kaizen Way to my desire of learning to play the guitar. I decided I would learn to play just one chord a day. Just one chord. That’s it.  Guess what happened?  In a matter of a few weeks I have learned a couple of chords! They aren’t the greatest sounding chords in the world, but it is more than I have learned in my entire life of owning that guitar due entirely to my friend’s simple explanation of this Kaizen concept. 

Five Steps to Building Leadership in Your Organization

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Low productivity and morale can surface within any organization, and it’s really not that difficult to get everyone back on track. Every workplace is different, and there isn’t always a one-method-fixes-all solution. In this post I’m offering five great techniques to implement to get your organization from complaining to leading.

1) Show You Care: If you want to end morale issues in your organization and build leaders, then you need to build a rapport with your team. When you show your team kindness, that you care, and develop a genuine and consistent rapport, morale issues will fade. In its place, you will find team members looking out for one another, representing your agency with pride, and leadership at every transaction. Show you care.

2) Provide Leadership Opportunities: A lot of people read leadership books, watch clips on leadership, and talk about leadership, however, they don’t always put to action what they’ve read, heard, or discussed. If you want your organization to be full of solid leaders, you have to provide team members with leadership opportunities.  That’s right, you have to give them the authority to lead. You can’t expect a perfect outcome either, and I suppose that’s why a lot of people are afraid to let others take the lead on a project, but that is what it takes to build leaders, genuine opportunities and responsibilities. You can always sit a distant second-chair or check-in and let them know you can mentor and counsel, but you have to allow real opportunities with real consequences. You will be happy with the short term results, and you will be elated with the long-term impact on your organization. Provide leadership opportunities.

3) Take Action: The biggest morale buster in any organization is when committees are formed, meetings are held, and surveys are taken and then there is no follow-up or action.  It’s frustrating.  You might as well send a handwritten note to each member saying, “I don’t care what you think.”  Yep, it’s that bad.  If you ask for someone’s feedback, honor it.  Even if you can’t provide what they’ve requested, let them know that the feedback was important and it helped shape the outcome. Let them know they are important. When they offer feedback that you don’t like, don’t go to their supervisor trying to “get to the bottom of it” and smear some make-up over the blemish. Be thankful that they were honest and upfront. Don’t surround yourself with people who only tell you what you want to hear.  Leaders take action.

A List of The Most Influential Books to Read

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I love to read.  I’m one of those people that has more books than I have time, yet I always reserve a portion of my day for reading. Reading is my workout for my brain. 

I have a stack of books that I am looking forward to reading later, a list I am reading now, a wish-list of books to checkout and I am always adding to my “books to read” list in my journal from the recommendations of friends and people I admire.

I am thankful for my middle school English teacher, Mrs. Romick for providing me with a list of books that made me fall in love with reading. I am thankful for my mother for being a great model of the importance of reading. I am thankful for my father for surrounding me with good books. Books change lives.

I wanted to share with you a list of books that I believe are life-changers. I have read every one and recommended them to others many, many times. Perhaps you can add them to your list or order a copy as a gift for a friend. Books are wonderful.

Christmas Presentation for Your Organization: All Dates for 2015 Will Book Fast!

Kelly Croy Christmas Presentation Speed Art brought to life with computer animation best funny inspirational

Is your organization looking for a dynamic Christmas presentation?

My name is Kelly Croy and I am a speaker and speed artist. I would like to share a wonderful Christmas Chalk Art Presentation with you.

My presentation is powerful and fun. It combines the raw energy of a live performance, the astonishment of speed art, the beauty of an artistic masterpiece, a powerful musical score, the inspiration of a masterful storyteller and the magic of literally bringing the art to life with computer animation. Yes, the art will come to life right in front of your eyes. 

October is Bully Prevention Month: Here’s a Tool to Help

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October is bullying prevention month. In truth, as a educator, I know every month is, but this is the month that we try to bring national and global attention to solutions that help those impacted by bullying.

I am proud that schools invite me each year to speak and share my art to help students, educators, and families take action to reduce bullying.  I wish I could share my message to every school; I believe it makes a difference. I recently shared my art and words with 1400 students and staff at Perrysburg Middle School in Perrysburg, Ohio. It is always a joy talking with teachers and students about the importance of leadership.  In this particular presentation I was asked to kickoff the schools Owelus Bullying Program to help build leadership within the classes. It was a great day.