the axe & nail scenario.

You would never take a sledgehammer to a tree, just like you would never take an ax to a nail. 

These tools are exceptional when they’re used for their intended purposes –– but little to no use when they’re not. 

People are the same way. 

Generally speaking, people are not unsuccessful because they aren’t capable. But rather, they’re unsuccessful because they’re being utilized in the wrong ways. 

If someone on your team is performing poorly, don’t be so quick to chalk her up as a loss. First, decide if she’s an ax you’ve been forcing to do a hammer’s job. 

Give her a tree and watch what she can do. 

By Cole Schafer. 


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


Duck. Duck. Goose.

We used to sit around in circles and wait all recess long for someone to tap us on the head and say “goose”. It was a fun game when you got picked. Not so fun when you didn’t. 

In many ways, it wasn’t any different from the political fight club that is Corporate America or the golden ticket that is social media fame–– you wait around long enough and hope that fate will eventually show up, tap you on the head and say… 

“goose”

“your turn”

“you’re promoted”

“you’ve finally won”

It’s the same game that’s a whole lot of fun when you get picked –– but not so fun when you don’t. 

I don’t know about you, but I think I’m going to play another game. 

By Cole Schafer.


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


The | | Gap

The gap feels a lot bigger than it actually is –– it’s the small space between what we want and what we currently have. The gap is the fear. 

Sometimes it’s divorce. Other times it’s commitment. Sometimes it’s starting the business. Other times it’s doubling down on the career. Sometimes it’s having the tough conversation. Other times it’s keeping the tough conversation to one’s self. 

The gap is small. No bigger than a foot wide. One step and we can stand on the other side. 

But, when most of us approach the gap, we look down. And, when we look down we see that it falls for miles and miles and miles. 

Or, perhaps that’s just the story we’ve been telling ourselves. 

By Cole Schafer. 


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


Sunday scaries.

For most of the week they lurk deep in the abyss of my mind –– only creeping to the forefront when the world slows down and it’s distractions become non-existent. 

Staying busy keeps unhappy folks like myself from thinking about how unhappy we are. It’s the busyness that keeps the unhappiness at bay. 

Covered up, quieted and disguised behind the drapes of ambition –– momentarily out of sight but never out of mind. 

When the world slows, the make-up begins to crack as the bells and whistles of emails and life’s demands aren’t scare-crowing the thoughts away. 

This is when the mind begins to race. Slowly at first then quickly then chaotically then unbearably –– ever-faster with godspeed. 

Godspeed. 

Godspeed. 

God, speed me into Monday. 

Please. 

By Cole Schafer. 


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


Sriracha.

I throughly enjoy Sriracha. I put it on everything. I put it on grilled chicken. I put on vegetable stir-fry. I put it on pizza.

The other night I was eating three fried eggs soaked in Sriracha. When I forked into one of the yolks, it shot a tiny splatter of Sriracha into my right eye and I was overcome by an intense burning sensation. 

I sprinted to the bathroom, frantically splashed water into my eyes for a minute or so, until the pain died down a bit. 

I then sat back down to my eggs and Sriracha and continued eating them while my right eye stung lightly. 

This is a metaphor for our life’s passions. Just because we love something doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt us. And, just because it hurts us doesn’t mean it’s not worth loving. 

Don’t throw the eggs and Sriracha away the minute you get stung –– the same can be said for our passions, interests, careers and people. 

By Cole Schafer. 


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


A first hand account with my muse.

She only shows up when she wants to. But, I’ve found that she shows up more often when I go to the same place at the same time every day. 

Generally, I wont see her coming. I’ll be writing away, painfully at first then less so and from there things begin to fade. 

My fingers move faster and faster –– but not as fast as my mind. And, I begin to wonder if it’s my own thoughts I am thinking or if they are someone else’s. 

Or, perhaps, something else’s. 

When the fade begins to set in and forced words become controlled chaos, the lights in my brain begin to flicker on and off. In and out of consciousness. And, before I know it, I’m no longer working but playing. Playing in a far away but familiar place –– my subconscious. 

This is when she shows up. I sit down at a swing next to the weeping Japanese cherry blossom, my laptop in hand –– and I swing and swing and swing. And she swings next to me. Sometimes she’s drinking a glass of red wine and smoking a cigarette, other times she is reading a good book, and many times she is doing all three. 

She glances at me from time to time, not elluding to how much shes knows –– keeping ever-quiet about her universal intelligence. I look to her for answers and she gives them to me. Not by word of course, but simply by presence. 

She is there. I am writing. She is swinging. And sometimes, when we’re swinging in sync, the two of us stumble on something that won’t change the world –– but perhaps change a few people in it. 

When we discover this change, her swing begins to slow to a subtle lull and then she stands up, winks at me and is then gone. 

She’s a bad companion but a brilliant lover. 

By Cole Schafer.


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


Fre|Q|uency

You, myself, your dog and that big Oak Tree out back give off frequency. 

Some beings give off a higher frequency than others. 

For example, if you sit in a room with a house cat and then sit in a room with a lion, you become very aware of the animal that gives off the higher frequency. 

I believe people are the same way. There are some people we spend an afternoon with who leave us feeling dull, unmotivated, pessimistic and completely underwhelmed. 

Then, there are others we spend just minutes with and we immediately feel sharp, inspired, ultra optimistic and overwhelmed with a sense of urgency and energy. 

Some people reading this might think it to be “woo-woo” –– those are the people who give off low frequencies. 

If I can give you one piece of advice –– live at a higher frequency and surround yourself with people who do too. 

By Cole Schafer. 


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


Lemon-22.

The old saying goes –– when life gives you lemons, make lemonade

But, in reality, you have an array of choices you can make when life hands you lemons. 

You can freeze them, hunt down the person that gave them to you (because it’s never just life) and you can throw them at their face.

But, while revenge is sweet… this will just result in more lemons. 

You can run yourself a hot bath, fix up a strong drink and work on accepting the lemons for what they are –– sour and mostly awful.

But, while acceptance is better than revenge… you still have a bag of lemons to face after your hangover. 

You can pick up a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia and weep about how unfair it is that you were dealt a big bag of lemons.

But, while everyone loves Cherry Garcia nobody loves a weeper, and cherries won’t make the lemons go away. 

Or, finally, you can walk out back behind your house, throw the bag of lemons in the trash-bin and then work your ass off to find some oranges, apples, bananas or [fill in the blank fruit] that actually taste good to eat and don’t take so much damn work. 

I bolded the latter because the latter is the last route most people take (but the first they should) –– when life hands you a shitty game, refuse to play it. Go find a game that tastes better and is easier to win.

When life gives you lemons, pitch them and then track down some oranges. 

By Cole Schafer.


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


The fan club dilemma.

Having your very own fan club feels nice. And, in some ways, it is. Your fan club defends you. They love you. They buy from you. They take your word as gospel. 

But, there is also a dilemma that comes with having a fan club. When you have thousands of people rubbing your shoulders at all hours of the day, telling you how great you are, a bubble begins to form. 

You start living in a reality of your own making –– not the reality everyone else is living in. 

In your reality, you’re better, smarter, prettier and more important. It’s a fantasy that’s pleasant for the ego but detrimental for self-awareness –– and ultimately growth. 

Enjoy your fan club but understand their sugar-coated perspective of you is not indicative of the greater world’s. 

By Cole Schafer. 


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


Why decisions hurt (like hell).

Decisions hurt –– they hurt because they’re only necessary when we want two of something but can only have one.

The word decision stems from the latin word decidere –– which literally mean to cut off. 

When you’re deciding, you’re not just gaining something, you’re also taking something away. You’re removing it. You’re eliminating it. You’re cutting it off. 

Decisions hurt like hell because perhaps you lose a part of yourself when you make them –– and perhaps that’s why none of us are whole. 

By Cole Schafer. 


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


It's a numbers game.

How cheap can we make this? 

How much can we sell it for? 

How much is the lifetime value of one customer? 

How much has revenue increased this year? 

How much did we beat analyst expectations? 

For the past century, doing business has been a numbers game, a question of “how much?”

Quantity, sales and the bottom line have been the key areas of focus, while quality, the customer and societal impact have been pushed to the sidelines. 

For a long time, this has worked and corporations have made a lot of money being selfish. But now, with technology giving anyone and everyone the opportunity to start a business, things are about to change in a beautiful way. 

Folks like your one neighbor, the one who has been shoveling your elderly neighbor’s driveway for the past decade, will be tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and business owners. 

And, I can tell you, folks who shovel driveways don’t care too much about the bottom line –– they want to make good stuff for good people at a fair price. 

It’s been a numbers game, until now. 

By Cole Schafer.


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


destination |1|.

Very rarely [if ever] would you commit to packing up your car and driving 20 hours without a destination in mind. Gas is too expensive. Time is too valuable. And, when spending hundreds of dollars on vacation, you like to know where you’re going. 

You would never pack up the car and drive 20 hours without a destination in mind –– so stop doing it with your life. 

I don’t care what you call them. Objectives. Goals. Ambitions. Visions. 

You can pick the terminology. All I ask is that you choose your destination. Make it big and hard to get to. Write it down. Then, fill up the tank. 

Life’s too damn short to be driving around in circles.

By Cole Schafer. 


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


Probably.

When you feel something nasty well up inside of you and you’re on the brink of exploding, step outside for a few minutes. It can be hot or cold or neither. Freezing your ass off, sweating your ass off or simply breathing in something other than the situation making you see red has a way of sorting things out. Ultimately, it helps the rational side of your brain pose the question –– if I slapped my boss with my laptop, would I regret it in the morning? 

Probably. 

By Cole Schafer.


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


Nobody expects anything from the victim.

Everyone (including myself) likes to play the victim card. We like to write and sing and talk about how we were dealt a bad hand or treated unfairly in some situation or another. 

In many ways, being the victim is easy. Once you announce to the world that you are the victim... the world lowers its expectations. 

Pressure is off.

Being the hero, on the other hand, is much harder. When you fail, the world knows about it. When you mess up, the world writes about it. When you hurt someone (which all of us do), the world talks about it. 

Heroes are held to a higher standard than victims. And, since being a hero is much harder than being a victim, we see more victims than heroes. 

In fact, we are seeing so many victims that simply being a victim is no longer enough. It’s now a competition between victims, a never-ending battle for the “Who Got It Worse” trophy. 

By Cole Schafer. 


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


Was she just born to be a writer?

I suppose you could smoke some marijuana to get the words flowing. But, then you’d have to worry about getting too high. 

And, of course, you could drink some whiskey and wine to loosen up your tongue. But, there’s a fine line between writing freely and writing like a drunk bastard.

Then, there is the option to write when you feel inspired. But, like most things in life, inspiration comes at the least convenient times –– like when you’re in the car on a long drive without a laptop or a pen anywhere in sight. 

And, finally, you could just write because you were born to write and that’s what God put you here on Earth to do. But, I think that sounds a bit pompous –– I imagine God had other obligations when creating man and woman than to make you the next Stephen King. Plus, he was probably pretty preoccupied making Stephen king. 

So, here is the truth of the matter. The drugs won’t help. The whisky and wine won’t help (much). Inspiration comes and goes (but mostly goes). And, there will never be another Stephen King. 

So, if you want to be a writer and a damn good one at that, I would start by sitting down everyday at the same time in the same spot for the same number of minutes or hours. And, I would write. 

I would write about what I know. I would write about what I didn’t know. I would reread what I wrote the day before and cross out the shit and circle the gems –– and then I would try to write more of the gems you circle. 

By Cole Schafer.


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


Chasing Prolific.

I caught up to her yesterday. Only for a moment. She was taking a break by the small pond on the other side of town –– right where the grass grows long and the trees begin to climb. 

She was naked and she was beautiful –– green eyes –– blue when the setting sun hit them at the right angle. 

I had never been this close to her before. Yet, an arms reach felt so far away. Crouching like a lurking lion I readied my legs to pounce –– and as I did a fallen branch beneath my left foot snapped –– letting loose a whiplash through the silent landscape. 

She turned. We held stares for a moment’s time. Then, she was gone. 

I was chasing prolific yeterday. 

I was an arms reach away. 

I never caught her though. 

She’s to smart and to wise and to quick and to aware. 

Maybe tomorrow. 

Or, perhaps, the day after that. 

By Cole Schafer.


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


Am I a drug dealer or a freelancer?

A lot of people think I deal drugs. I don’t, of course. I deal words. But, the idea that someone can make money on their laptop writing anything other than “books” is a foreign concept to most. Here is a slightly over-dramatized version of the conversation I am used to having with strangers. 

Stranger: “The names Lana… what’s your name?”

Me: “Cole.”

Lana: “What do you do for a living.”

Cole: “I am a writer.”

Lana: “Cool. What books have you written?”

Cole: “I’m not really that kind of writer…”

Lana: “What kind of writer are you then…?”

Cole: “I'm like a freelance writer.”

Lana: “Oh. My uncle is a freelancer. He’s 55-years-old and still lives in my grandma’s basement.”

Cole: “Wow, hold on. I actually make a living as a freelancer. Like, I’m not really even a freelancer. More of an entrepreneur.”

Lana: “Don’t call yourself an entrepreneur. That’s so arrogant.”

Cole: “God. You’re right. I’m sorry…”

Lana: “It's okay. But, seriously. What do you do?”

Cole: “I told you. I am a freelance writer. Well, I guess a copywriter to be more specific.”

Lana: “Oh. So you do like Law-stuff? That’s kind of boring.”

Cole: “No. Actually, not at all. That’s not what a copywriter is. I basically write pretty words and sell things for a living.”

Lana: “That doesn’t make much sense.”

Cole: “I know.”

Lana: “You’re lying.”

Cole: “No I am not." 

Lana: “What do you really do?”

Cole: “I already told––never mind–– I’m basically in marketing.”

Lana: “Liar. You’re a drug dealer. Aren’t you?”

Cole: “What––how the f*** did you get that out of everything I just said?”

Lana: “What are you selling? I’ll take three.”

Cole: “I’m not a drug dealer, Lana."

Lana: “I don’t believe you.”

Cole: “I’m not.”

Lana: “Well, could you give me some marketing tips on how to sell more of my drugs then? Freelancer.“

Cole: "Absolutely not. And, don't say "freelancer" in such a snide tone."

Lana: "Sorry... I'm just gonna join your email list and get all your marketing tips for free."

Cole: "Go ahead."

Lana: "Ha. Jokes on you. Since I will be applying your marketing tactics to selling drugs. You're kind of a drug dealer now." 

Cole: "Dammit." 

~End~

By Cole Schafer.


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.


It takes one person.

It takes one person. 

It takes one person to walk away from a fight.

It takes one person to start one.

It takes one person to believe in somebody else. 

It takes one person to tear somebody else down. 

It takes one person to start a business. 

It takes one person to completely derail one.

It takes one person to start a war. 

It takes one person to start a movement. 

It takes one person. 

One person. 

Person.

Which Person.

Which person will you be? 

It takes one person. 

By Cole Schafer. 


P.S. If you liked this post, you can get more like it straight to your inbox by subscribing for free on the other side of this pretty red link.