Book Foreword by Richard Sheridan CEO, Chief Storyteller at Menlo Innovations
“Keep your fire burning”
It was a typical Thursday morning as I was checking email and enjoying my second cup of coffee. Then the telltale alert sound bleeped from my phone, announcing that another video of my granddaughter had been shared to the family album. The video was a delightful capture of that morning’s spontaneous, reckless-abandon dance routine of just-turned-three-year-old Hayden. She danced to Katy Perry’s Roar, singing as many words as she could muster, and roaring right along with Katy. Pure, unashamed happiness radiated in every step and wild swing of her tiny arms. In the background, her one-and-a-half-year-old twin sisters watched while gleefully laughing from their breakfast perch high chairs.
How did you start your day today? Did you live with this much possibility minutes after getting out of bed?
When do we lose this? How does it happen? Why do we so comfortably settle into the typical routines of life that rob us of our unadulterated joy? Is it when we’re four years old, five, six … sixteen? Somewhere along the way, these moments become rare to non-existent.
We see this in other parts of our life as well. You may have heard the story that nearly all kindergarteners will enthusiastically thrust their hands in the air when asked, “How many of you are artists?”
However, when the same question is put to high schoolers or adults, only a few will cautiously raise their hands. The story serves as a good metaphor for how many of us increasingly limit our own perception of ourselves (and the potential we think we have) as we grow older.
We all have a flame that burns inside. Our life flame. It is the most precious resource we own, and it is all ours to kindle, tend to, and protect. Yet, we get busy, we chase what we believe are the right things, and we forget about this flame. It wanes, it flickers, it gets close to going out altogether.
I met Darrin Tulley when he was an executive at MassMutual Corporation. I had just given a talk to 300 leaders at MassMutual on an unusual topic … the business value of joy. Joy had become my life’s journey and pursuit. Not just any joy; specifically joy in the context of work. For most, the workplace is the last place we go looking for joy. Darrin sought me out at the conference’s meal break to talk about a dream that he had been considering for a while and that my talk had reminded him of its importance. I am privileged to have held many of these kinds of conversations with people. Sadly, the pursuit of such dreams fizzles for most shortly after my talk. Darrin was different. I could tell his pursuit came from a place of deep personal conviction. He wasn’t going to let this go.
We kept in touch. He started a venture while keeping his day job. The venture would be called Ignite Happy. The logo came from the underside of an Italian ice lid, inspired by a conversation with his daughter. He ran one of his first workshops at my company, Menlo Innovations. In that workshop, I learned that Darrin had a rough start in life and overcame it in wonderful ways. Darrin is a storyteller, and his real-life stories connect to the heart.
Darrin later called me to tell me how excited he was to write a book to help others foster his dream of re-engaging our very happy selves and unleash the possibilities that live within us.
Darrin looked to me to write the foreword for this ambitious effort. This was a full-circle moment for me, as my joyful pursuits encouraged Darrin, and now his pursuits were reminding me to seek out happiness. I now look for his Watermelon Guy (you’ll learn about this), and my version of that in most of my days.
In other words, Darrin reintroduced the joy guy to happiness.
Crack into this book, try out its very practical lessons, and he will do the same for you.
In my Boy Scout days, I pursued a special program called The Order of The Arrow. This involved quite a bit of serious outdoor skills building. The one part that stuck with me was the potentially life-saving skill of building a fire. The trick was you were allotted exactly two matches to get a full fire burning. I failed this exercise several times before eventually succeeding. There was a fairly certain path to success. Finding dry “tinder” and using that easily-burning fuel to ignite kindling is then used to get larger sticks and eventually logs burning bright. The delight was the warmth and visual wonder of the roaring flames on a cold fall day, and the heat needed to cook hot meals for you and your fellow scouts. I am reminded of these lessons each time I try to build a fire, usually the ones on my outdoor patio where my wife and I will enjoy a lovely evening with one or more of our daughters and their guys.
Secretly, I relive The Order of The Arrow experience and try to light the fire with two matches. I don’t always succeed; I do always try.
The life flame inside of us needs the same tender skills to keep it burning for a lifetime. We were born with these skills built right in (recall little Hayden and the twins in the aforementioned video). We don’t need to be taught to Ignite Happy and Live Your Possible; it’s right there inside of us. However, these skills wane over time, and we forget to tend our fire. The flame can go out and stay out. Our hearts can grow cold and indifferent. We start to see less wonder in the world and in others, and we stop looking for the good around us. In short, we become unhappy and happy moments become few and far between.
Live Your Possible isn’t a feel-good book, rather a feel-good guide for those who wish to relearn the art of Ignite Happy. It has practical lessons to help you build a small fire inside yourself every day and ROAR. It is a book you can come back to again and again to see exactly how to use the two matches you were given today to start your flame of possibilities burning bright each and every morning. You will change. The people around you will see it. They will also change simply by your presence.
That’s the funny thing about fire … once it’s lit inside of you, you can be the flame that lights a fire in those around you … people you love, people you work with, your neighbors, your community, our world.
Dive in, re-ignite your happy and Live Your Possible. Nothing else matters more.
CEO, Chief Storyteller, Menlo Innovations