Wednesday, August 31, 2016

King Henry VIII, Bowling, and Carpe Diem Life

Bowling season started the other night.  Though not a “serious” bowler in terms of competition, I do try to at least hold my own. 

Bowling is a striking example of Carpe Diem Life.

Once a person has CHOOSEN to take up bowling or any sport there is a need to focus on specific objectives / ACTION LISTS.  RESOURCES include research (books, articles, videos, coaching) and equipment.  Next comes PERSISTENT ACTION / PRACTICE.

Bowing, like most skills, requires a series of very specific steps and, as a consequence, specific adjustments to achieve specific results.  Some adjustments are mechanical, while others are based on lane conditions and equipment used.  For example, moving your feet just one inch or rolling the ball just 1 inch to the left or right can make a huge difference by the time the ball reaches its final destination -- the pins. The difference can result in a strike or an awful split.  So, it really takes constant EVALUATION and changing DIRECTION to IMPROVE.   Of course, it’s fun (ENJOY THE PROCESS).

The final piece of the puzzle is MY RESPONSIBILITY/LIFE.  No one can  approach the line and roll the ball for you.  No one is going to practice for you.  In the beginning, don’t be too concerned with how well you score.  With commitment, research, and practice, the means will come.

And now, for some trivia according to the all-knowing WikiPedia:
In 1511 English King Henry VIII (an avid bowler) banned bowling for the lower classes, imposing a levy for private lanes to limit them to the wealthy. Another English law passed in 1541 (repealed in 1845) prohibited workers from bowling except on Christmas, and only in their master's home and in his presence. In 1530 he acquired Whitehall Palace in central London as his new residence, having it extensively rebuilt complete with outdoor bowling lanes, indoor tennis court, jousting tiltyard, and cockfighting pit.

Carpe Diem Life!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Listing is defined as:  The angle of list is the degree to which a vessel heels (leans, or tilts) to either port or starboard. A listing vessel is stable and at equilibrium, but the distribution of weight aboard (often caused by uneven loading or flooding) causes it to heel to one side.

I’m very good at listing.  Only in my case it’s the degree to which I make list upon list of things I want to do, usually without getting any of them actually done. In fact, I can show you lists going back to 1980s with items' “complete box” still not filled in.  I guess I get overloaded to one side or something.  And that’s the main catalyst for this blog, to motivate myself from being “listing and adrift” to traveling full steam ahead toward my destinations.

It’s been said countless times that goals are dreams without dates attached.  I’m learning that is one important distinction between items on a to-do list and actual goals. Bill FitzPatrick in his book The Action Principles, writes:

"Unless you shape your life, circumstances will shape it for you.  You have to work, sacrifice, invest, and persist to get the results you want.  Choose then well.  You can’t start your planning until you know where you want to go.”

Some other tried and true principles include:

Start where you are and CHOOSE
Write down your goals with a deadline and create an ACTION LIST
Study others who have succeeded -- RESOURCES
Have the self-confidence to EVALUATE the reality of your progress
Move a different DIRECTION when needed
Continue to IMPROVE
Recognize that it’s “MY LIFE”

Believe in yourself and your abilities!

Carpe Diem Life!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Ready, Fire, Aim?

I Spent part of the weekend shooting muzzleloading rifles with my Pre-1840 Living History Club.
Here is a slo-motion shot of Jim creating spark, fire, and smoke with his flintlock.

This got me thinking about goals and hitting targets.  Muzzleloaders are different from modern guns in many ways; There are certain procedures you must take if you’re to have any chance at success.

There’s a functioning gun, the right black powder and amount, the right size patch and ball, ramming the ball down to the charge, priming the gun, taking careful aim, proper form, etc.  And, like most difficult things in life, you will only become better by trial and error, research with the help of all your RESOURCES, PERSISTENT ACTION in the form of proper practice, EVALUATION of the results, and going different DIRECTIONS when need-be.

The most important thing is ENJOYING THE PROCESS.  After all, if you don't ENJOY the entire process -- including a lot of targets -- you’ll just give up.  One thing is for sure, you’ll never hit the target that way.

Now, I’m average at best when it comes to hitting targets with my muzzleloader.  However, I guarantee I could beat our best every time — IF I blindfold him. 

If our club’s best can’t hit a target that he can’t see, how can you hit a target you don’t have.  That’s why the C in Carpe Diem Life is CHOOSE. 

Unless you have definite, precise, clearly set goals with deadlines, you don’t have a chance of hitting your target.   There is not guarantee of complete success, of course.  But, you are guaranteed to have a shooting chance if you take off your blindfold.

To paraphrase the great advertising icon Leo Burnett, When you shoot for the stars you may not hit one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.

Shoot for the starts and take the Carpe Diem Life Map on your journey!

Saturday, August 27, 2016


"Responsibility is the most important ability a person can possess."
      -- John C. Maxwell

CHOOSING to take responsibility for MY LIFE is the foundation of the Carpe Diem Life philosophy. 

Author Eric Plasker's "I Choose Life." from The 100 Year Lifestyle, offers a whole list of life choices.  I'll share just a couple here:

I choose to die.  I choose to live.
I choose to hate.  I choose to love.
I choose to work.  I choose to play.
I choose to despair.  I choose to hope.
I choose my choice.  I choose my Life.

When you CHOOSE to take responsibility for "MY LIFE," you take responsibility for
CHOOSING you dreams and goals.
Creating your own ACTION LIST
Learning from your RESOURCES
EVALUATING the reality of the situation
Having the courage to take a different DIRECTION as needed
Dedicating yourself to continual IMPROVEMENT
Knowing that your future depends on many things -- mostly YOU!

"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are.  The people who get on in the world are they who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them." -- George Bernard Shaw

The Carpe Diem Life mantra for today:  I will seize the day by taking responsibility for MY LIFE!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Joy: An Olympic Sport?

My wife and I were watching America's Got Talent the other night.  Out on stage comes Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time.  Asked if he had any any advice for the contestants, he basically said that they've put in all their hard work to get to this point so ENJOY THE PROCESS.

Olympic athletes seam to be telling the same story:
They CHOOSE the dream of gold, craft an ACTION LIST, utilize RESOURCES,  are PERSISTENT in their practice, EVALUATE their progress along the way and adjust DIRECTION if need-be, striving for continual IMPROVEMENT, and...

It seems that elite athletes have not only mastered the art of pursuing gold, they have mastered the art of ENJOYING THE PROCESS!

According to Caroline Miller, author and psychologist,  in a an article on Olympians and Happiness in Live Happy magazine (September 2016), "It used to be thought people become happy by having success.  But pinning your happiness on a gold medal isn't how it works.  People succeed by being happy first."

The pursuit of happiness is so critical, that you'll find the language in our U.S. founding documents -- with one important Carpe Diem Life catch:

"The U.S. Constitution doesn't guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it.  You have to catch up with it yourself." -- Benjamin Franklin 

As you move along on your Carpe Diem Life journey, be grateful for all that you've accomplished and remember to ENJOY THE PROCESS.  After all, it's critical to pursuing and winning your gold medal.

Carpe diem!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Carpe Kaizen Diem?

I’m not an expert on anything — especially the topic of success.  I CHOSE to start this blog as a way to encourage myself to get into the habit of continuous IMPROVEMENT.  Hopefully we’ll help each other along the way and we will become valuable RESOURCES for each other.

Which beings me to Kaizen.  Kaizen is a tool that surfaced during the effort to rebuild Japan after World War II.  Kai (IMPROVEMENT) and Zen (good)).  It’s now more commonly knows as Continuous Improvement.  Used more in manufacturing applications, Kaizen is a valuable lesson for all of us:  Focus applying small, daily, changes that result in major changes over time. 

I recognize that life is one wild ride, and if I want to IMPROVE any area of my life — family, career, hobbies, etc. — I have to IMPROVE myself.  I’m a work in progress.  So, I offer a motto from John C. Maxwell from his book Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn:

I’m not where I’m supposed to be.
I’m not what I want to be.
But I’m not what I used to be.
I haven’t learned how to arrive:
I’ve just learned how to keep going.

And, may I add, IMPROVING.

Carpe Kaizen Diem!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Directions on the Box

Some dude named  Lao Tzu is credited with saying, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

Which is okay, if that's the direction you want to be heading.  Question is, how do you know?
That’s why it’s so important to consciously stop and take the time to EVALUATE where you are and where you want to be.  Often, you’ll see that you’re heading off course and need to recalculate -- steering yourself in the right DIRECTION.

Changing DIRECTION doesn’t mean we’ve failed.  On the contrary: Change means growth.  In fact, without change there is no growth.

One of my hobbies is woodworking.  Although primitive at best, I gain great satisfaction from creating and crafting something that I can use around the house or campsite.  Each project is a Carpe Diem Life lesson.  Why?  I can honestly say that no matter how detailed my planned and how carefully I work, some conditions arise that forces me to stop and EVALUATE my progress. 

For example:  My last “simple” project was a camp seat / storage box.  I CHOOSE a plan, created my ACTION LIST, gathered my RESOURCES (materials), and started with PERSISTENT ACTION.  It was when I stopped half way the build and EVALUATED my progress that I realized I wasn’t pleased with where I was going with this.   I didn’t care for the dimensions, the hinges, the way the lid didn’t stay open, even the stain I made for it.

Time for a new DIRECTION.  I had a lot of choices, everything from creating a beautiful bonfire out of it to tweaking bits and pieces.  I opted for tweaking (recalculating).  Goals are a continual circling back to CHOICE, ACTION LIST, RESOURCES, PERSISTENT ACTION, EVALUATION, DIRECTION, IMPROVEMENT — all with the understanding that it is MY RESPONSIBILITY.

So, here it is.  Primitive, but perfect for my primitive camping.  

And, in Carpe Diem Life fashion, by recognizing that taking a different DIRECTION is necessary sometimes, I learn and grow.

Carpe diem.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


You’ve CHOSEN your goal, crafted your ACTION LIST, vetted you RESOURCES, started your journey taking PERSISTENT ACTION and hopefully the journey will go exactly as planned.  They always do, right?

Unfortunately, sometimes we encounter detours, wrong turns, and even a complete breakdowns.  And sometimes we’re distracted just enough to get off course without even realizing it.  Either way, it’s critical that we pull over from time to time and EVALUATE the reality of the situation -- not forgetting to enjoy the view.

If, after EVALUATING your progress, you confirm everything is right on track, then you can continue on down the path with renewed confidence.  If, on the other other hand, you find that you’re off course, you will have discovered it in plenty of time to make the proper adjustments.  True, you may even have to completely circle back and create new CHOICES, ACTION LISTS, RESOURCES, and start again with PERSISTENT ACTION, but isn't it worth it if you believe in your destiny?

Successful people’s attitude is never sometimes you win and sometime you lose.  According to John C. Maxwell, “Instead they think, Sometimes you win sometimes you learn.  They understand that life’s greatest lessons are gained from our losses — if we approach them the right way.”  (A must-read:  Sometimes You Win Sometimes you Learn by John C. Maxwell

On thing is for sure, you’ll have a much harder time identifying that there is a problem if you don’t stop and take the time to EVALUATE the reality of the situation and look for new strategies.

“Either you deal with what is the reality, or you can be sure that reality is going to deal with you.” — Alex Haley

Carpe diem.

Monday, August 22, 2016

FREE: A $400,000 IDEA

So, you have CHOSEN your goal, crafted an ACTION PLAN/LIST, researched with the help of RESOURCES.  You’re on the right track.

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” — Will Rogers.

In other words, if you want to do something, do it!

A short story about long results:

In the early 20th Century, Charles M. Schwab was one of the richest men in the world.

Schwab was the president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, the largest shipbuilder and the second-largest steel producer in America,

So, as the story goes, one day in 1918, in his PERSISTENT quest to increase the efficiency of his team and discover better ways to get things done, Schwab arranged a meeting with a highly-respected RESOURCE -- a productivity consultant named Ivy Lee.

Schwab brought Lee into his office and said, “Show me a way to get more things done.”
Lee said that it would cost nothing for his counsel. “Unless it works. After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel it’s worth to you.” 

Lee spent as little as 15 minutes with each executive,  His method:

    ▪    At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.

    •    Prioritize them in order of their true importance.

    •    At the start of each day, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.

    •    Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.

    •    Repeat this process every working day.

Sound too simple?  I imagine that it did to all the executives as well. But, after just three months of PERSISTENT ACTION Schwab was so delighted with the progress his company had made that he called Lee into his office and wrote him a check for $25,000 (A $25,000 check written in 1918 is the equivalent of something like $400,000 today).

If you're thinking, What about interruptions and emergencies and rushes and…?
That’s where the EVALUATION and DIRECTION part of Carpe Diem Life comes in.  We’ll discuss those in another blog. 

For now, why don’t you try The Ivy Lee Method and see how it goes for you.  This $400,000 idea is free (But, if you feel obligate, my contact information is on the site).

“I know the price of success:  dedication, hard work and unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen”  — Frank Lloyd Wright

Carpe diem!

Saturday, August 20, 2016


So,you’ve CHOSEN your goal and crafted your ACTION LIST based on your own knowledge and experience.

Now it’s time to expand that knowledge by working with all your RESOURCES.

I remember when I was younger watching an episode of the TV series Black Sheep Squadron where Major Greg ‘Pappy” Boynton preaches to Marine Attack Squadron 214, AKA The Black Sheep Squadron, “Maximum utilization of available resources.”

That's also something my father taught me throughout his life.

The “Maximum utilization of available resources” principle has made such an impression on me that I’ve made it part of Carpe Diem Life:  RESOURCES

Your greatest resource?  YOU!

“The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm!”
      Swedish Proverb

But sometimes, as the Beatles sing, you need to get by with a little help from your friends.

Today, more than any time in history, we have more resources available to us – literally at the end of our arms and the end of our hand -- at our fingertips:

  • Family and Friends are just a phone call, text, or email away
  • Web Sites and YouTube videos
  • And public libraries offer books, magazines, and a world of services

You either find a way or your make a way.  Hopefully the Carpe Diem Life Map is a resource that helps.

Carpe diem!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Backwards Thinking?

It’s been said that you can’t move forward if you're always thinking backwards.  True!
But, having said that, I do believe that there can be value in backwards thinking.

So, you’ve CHOSEN where you want to be — the goal that you want to achieve.  What’s next?

Identifying all the ACTION STEPS, sequences, and deadlines along your path (realizing, of course, that it's an on-going process of EVALUATION and adjusting DIRECTION).

In many cases — especially if you’re dealing with a specific deadline — it helps to apply some backwards thinking.  The idea is that you start at the end.  Imagine your final destination and travel backwards step by step, setting deadlines for each milestone along the path.

This backwards thinking approach may just be the best direction to take to start moving forward.
Try it on your next project and let us know how it works for you.

“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.”
                                                                                                        Earl Nightingale

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Why the dash in

Why the dash in

I would love to offer some profound explanation as to why carpediem-life has a dash in address.  Truth be told, my first choice of was already taken.  So, in true Carpe Diem Life fashion, I EVALUATED the reality of the situation, was PERSISTENT in seeking IMPROVED alternatives, then CHOSE a different DIRECTION.

What immediately came to mind was my tombstone.  More precisely, a poem The Dash written by Linda Ellis.  According to her web site, the poem has been enjoyed by millions around the world -- and changed their lives!

It’s a beautiful poem about the dash between the date of our birth and the date of our death.  The dash is the between years.

Every day that you CHOOSE to consciously seize the day,  you may not be adding more days to your lifelong dash, but you’ll certainly be adding more life to your days.

How will you seize your dash today?

Linda Ellis’ The Dash:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Carpe Diem Life Map

“Opening a map was like opening a door into an amazing new world .”
     — Jamie Todd Ruben

I’ve always loved maps.  Even with access to a GPS, I still use maps.
There is something about transfixing on a map and identifying “you are here” and working to figure out how to traverse to “X” marks the treasure.

In a way , that’s what Carpe Diem Life is:  A map to get you from “you are here” to accomplishing your dreams.

Carpe Diem Life is an acronym that maps out the goals we CHOOSE and guides us on our journey.

Again, I’m not writing this blog because I’m an expert on the subject of goal setting and achieving all my dreams — though I believe I have scored my share of audacious dreams.  I’m writing this to tell the universe (you) that I know I need help; I suspect some of you do as well.  Perhaps we can help each other?

C = Choose
A = Action List
R = Resources
P = Persistent Action
E = Evaluation

D = Direction
I = Improvement
E = Enjoyment
M = My Life

Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, says, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”

“Taking responsibility for your life, your actions, your mistakes, and your growth puts you in a place where you are always able to learn and often able to win.” — John C. Maxwell

I invite you along for the journey.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

CARPE DIEM — What’s in a phrase?

The quest:  How to make the phrase carpe diem come to life.

While seize the day is a perfectly fine mantra, it’s too vague for me.  What am I seizing and how do I do it?

I’m now going to say something that few males ever admit:  I need a map!

What I’ve created (a work in progress, actually) is a Carpe Diem Life map to help me achieve any goals.

C = Choose
A = Action List
R = Resources
P = Persistent Action
E = Evaluation

D = Direction
I = Improvement
E = Enjoyment
M = My Life

First, you have to choose your goal.  Simple, right?

C = Choice. 


A = Action List
Breaking down that big goal into smaller steps is critical to your success. 

R = Resources
Knowledge helps negate fear.  Resources include books, internet, family, friends, mentors, etc.

P = Persistent Action
Take a look at your map?  Unless the “You are here” arrow and the “X” marking the treasure are in the exact same spot, you’re going to have to take action to achieve your goal.  As the old saying goes, you can’t plow a field by turning it over in your mind.

E = Evaluation
It’s good to stop from time to time to evaluate where you are on the journey.  Are you on the right path? DO you still even want to work to achieve that particular goal?

D = Direction
It’s easy to get lost along the way.  After an evaluation, decide which direction you’ll need to now travel to find your treasure (the goal).

I = Improvement
Let’s face it, everything can be improved.  The trick is to look at everything on the list — the goal, the action steps, how you’re performing, the resources, etc — and find ways the process can be improved. 

E = Enjoyment
This is one that I know I really need to work on.  But, it’s important to have fun along the way. 

M = My Life
Finally, you must take responsibility for your own journey.  As a general rule, no one is as invested in your dreams and goals as you are.

So, there you have my version of the Carpe Diem Life map.  I invite you to use it as it is or, because it is your own life,  I encourage you to make changes and craft your own. Be brave!

    “Whatever course you decide upon there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires....courage.”
— Rajph Waldo Emerson.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The 2000 Year Old Blog

I guess it's safe to say that this blog was started nearly 2000 years ago by a man named Quintus Horatius Flaccus, better known as Horace.
Carpe diem is Latin and usually translated "seize the day", taken from book 1 of the Roman poet's work Odes (23 BC).

Carpe translates "pick or pluck" used by our blogger friend Horace to mean "enjoy, seize, use, make use of".  Diem means "day".

Now, let's turn the page to 1989 when I was first introduced to Carpe diem.  It was in a darkened movie theater watching Dead Poet's Society (written by Tom Schulman).  It's about English teacher John Keating (played by Robin Williams) who inspires his students at the fictional elite conservative boarding school Welton Academy to look at poetry with a different perspective.

On the first day of school he invites his students out of the classroom and to an unorthodox place -- the trophy cases in the halls.  After reading from a few selected poems, he has the boys peer into the cases and make eye contact with the photos of past students long gone.

John Keating: They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

"Carpe diem" echoed in my soul for weeks.  I bought the movie poster, a "Carpe diem" coffee mug, I even bought a "Carpe diem" ring.

Unfortunately, like many mountain top experiences and echos, it faded away.

Where do echos go?  Every once in awhile, mine would whisper to me again, "Carpe diem."  Perhaps it was always there and I just wasn't listening.  Or perhaps I wasn't using the phrase and taking action.

Which brings me to today.

I've always found acronyms to be a terrific tool for remembering more complex thoughts and ideas.  What about an acronym for CARPE DIEM?  What about a tool for seizing the day and turning whispers into extraordinary experiences?

I invite you along for the journey, to listen to your whispers, to share, to be encouraged, and to encourage others, to Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day, make your lives extraordinary. 

David Kuhn