After the death of Colorado Free University founder John Hand, his sister Helen stepped in determined to continue the program he had founded twenty-five years earlier. When I was there last weekend, I picked up their latest catalog and was intrigued by Helen’s essay. She wrote:

John Hand based the school on the principle that communities have within them the resources to solve their own problems. For every person with a problem or need, there is someone with a solution or an answer. CFU is the place where those people meet.

What Helen points out is that CFU is a business which created a habitat with a special purpose. She goes on to say, “Clearly, unemployment is a huge problem today. Being stuck in jobs that are not gratifying is also a problem for many people.

CFU’s Un-Job Fair is an opportunity for people with those issues to meet with real-world entrepreneurs who have ideas and solutions.”

While it could be argued that even the most ordinary of enterprises may involve designing a habitat to house it, (i.e. restaurants, gift shops, car dealerships), there are numerous unconventional businesses that don’t fit the old bricks-and-mortar model.

These businesses often come into being to serve a neglected or overlooked niche. Consider, for example, Sober Cruises.

As anyone who has tackled alcohol addiction learns, travel poses some special challenges since partying is closely associated with vacationing for many people. For the recovering alcoholic, determined not to relapse, travel may seem a thing of the past.

Enter Sober Cruises, a company offering travel experiences for those wanting to travel without jeopardizing their hard won sobriety. They’re not the only such company. One of the oldest companies in the business, Sober Vacations International, takes over an entire Club Med resort once a year.

One of the purposes of my business is to inspire people in beautiful places. Should you be attendiing the upcoming Inspired Livelihood seminar in Sedona, AZ, you’ll be entering a habitat with the specific purpose of doing just that. 

Looking for ideas? Keep asking yourself, “Who’s got a problem I know how to solve?”

Begin answering that and you’ll discover endless possibilities for adding a habitat where people with a problem can connect with a solution.

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If you’re in the Denver area, check out the new CFU catalog which announces our upcoming special event, The Un-Job Fair happening on May 1. (You can also find information at www.freeu.com by going to the Special Events page.) It will be a day of exploration and information on becoming your own boss. Would love to see you there.

In 1883 Claude Monet moved his family to Giverny. It remained his home for forty-three years until his death. This place became a daily source of inspiration for his life and his painting.

No detail was too insignificant for Monet. Besides overseeing the planning and installation of the gardens, he was equally involved in creating a beautiful home for his family, insisting that meals be a regular source of pleasure along with the visual delights of the indoor and outdoor spaces.

Not only did Monet’s talent grow in this beautiful environment, he also became a skillful entrepreneur marketing his work with the same imagination which he applied to his painting and his personal life.

Would Monet have become such a successful artist without GIverny? We can only guess at the answer.

One thing is certain, however: he became a more prolific painter after finding inspiration right outside of his door.

It isn’t just artists, of course, who are fueled by that mysterious force called inspiration. It’s a power that’s available to anyone willing to allow it to flourish in their life. It arrives when we create a welcoming environment for it.

Do you know what inspires you? What music? What books? What people leave you feeling happier and more confident? What movies make your spirits soar? Wise words? A favorite spot? Gardens? Babies? Needlework? 

Do you consciously create an environment that inspires you?

You can’t be inspired living on the spiritual equivalent of Big Macs. Inspiration requires grander material than that.

Inspiration isn’t vaccination, after all. We don’t get it once and expect it to last.
Like Monet, we need to set up our lives in such a way that inspiration is a daily event.

We must be brave enough to surround ourselves with those things, thoughts and people that lift us up. And we need to do it over and over again. 

People wo go beyond the ordinary have all made the commitment to bringing as much inspiration as possible into their lives. So can you.

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If you’d like to know more about inspiration and, especially, what others find inspiring, pay a visit to the Get Inspired Project where you can listen to interviews with dozens of people who share their thoughts on the subject.

And if you’re serious about integrating the power of inspiration into your business, join us for Inspired Livelihood in Sedona, AZ on April 15 & 16.

 

 

A few months ago, NPR reported that traffic is a mess in Buenos Aires thanks to on-going protests that are clogging the streets. The cause of this civil unrest is a declining economy and various types of businesses are organizing to speak out, including nightclub owners who are unhappy about the law forcing them to shut their doors at 5:30 AM.

 

While the protests are causing a lot of commotion, they’re also inflicting a great deal of harm as shoppers are unable to get to stores due to the flood of people in the streets. Consequently, many businesses that were doing just fine are now struggling because of the protests.

 

What’s happening in Buenos Aires goes on everyday on a much smaller scale. Quite simply, actions are out of alignment with goals. 

 

Here’s a case in point. I’m not sure how I began following Peter (not his real name) on Twitter, but I thought I’d like to hear what he had to say about his specialty, building confidence. As time went on, I noticed that Peter had little to say about confidence and a great deal to report on his drinking escapades.

 

This guy sounds like he’s in trouble, I thought, so I sent him an e-mail expressing my concern. I gently pointed out that nobody was going to listen to what he had to say about building confidence if all he wrote about was how much alcohol he consumed. 

 

Peter didn’t reply and he didn’t show up on Twitter for several weeks. When he reappeared, he had a link to a new blog post. I clicked on link and was genuinely moved by his piece confessing to his readers that he’d received an e-mail from someone (that would be me) pointing out a problem he knew he had, but had failed to confront. It appears that Peter’s behavior is back in alignment with his goals.

 

When people are disappointed by the financial results in their lives, there’s often a disconnect between what they want and what they are doing. In The Little Money Book, Stuart Wilde talks about closing the gap between where you are and where you want to be. He says:

 

Certain industries are located in certain places in the world. If you’re a long way from where the action is, you may want to consider closing the gap. For example, if you want to make it big in movies, you’ve got to more or less be in New York or Los Angeles.

 

Closing the physical distance is a matter of showing up in the marketplace, becoming a face that people know, demonstrating your expertise, and getting into the loop where the movers and shakers are.

 

People who could bestow great opportunities on you aren’t scouring the distant hills for talent. They’re in the flow.

 

Closing the gap may require changing behavior, changing attitude, changing habitat. It almost never happens if we are devoted to protecting the status quo.

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Note: If you’ve never been to magical Sedona, there’s still time to join Terri Belford, Alice Barry and me for Inspired Livelihood...and even make your trip a tax deduction. Early Bird deadline closes at midnight on Monday, March 15.

It happens every time I announce a new special event. Almost immediately, I begin getting messages that say, “Someday I’d love to attend your Storytelling seminar.” Or “When will you be doing your Inspired Livelihood event in Alaska?”

These questions come from folks who don’t understand effective goalsetting. They’ve got it backwards. Sadly, that is a recipe for frustration.

Several years ago when Valerie Young announced our upcoming Making Dreams Happen event, she was deluged with e-mails from people saying they’d like to attend but couldn’t afford the enrollment fee.

She called me to see if I had any ideas about how to handle this onslaught. I pointed out that since this event was about bringing dreams into reality, getting there was the first exercise. 

The ever-creative Valerie issued a challenge to her readers asking them to share what they were doing to fund the conference. We got wonderful stories about the creative ways that participants found to be involved. 

A year earlier, two friends and I decided we wanted to take a little vacation. My cash flow was good so I had the funds;  they had  both spent the previous months working on writing projects that had yet to pay off so their cash flow was squeaky. 

Once we set the goal for the trip, however, they  swung into action. They  had each built a nice little portfolio of cash flow options that included things like selling on eBay, doing market research, spending a Sunday as a flea market vendor. In less than two weeks, they both had the money  they  needed for the trip.

Last year, another entrepreneurial friend was experiencing a cash flow slowdown and decided to get creative. She wanted something that wouldn’t distract too much from other projects she was working on, so she put an ad on her local Craigslist offering her services as a pet sitter in her home. Not long after, I  was talking to her and she proudly announced, “I just passed the $1000 mark with pet sitting.” 

In his blog post Pennies and Dollars, Seth Godin writes, “In fact, too much worrying about cash is the work of the lizard brain, it’s a symptom of someone self-sabotaging the work. The thing to do is invest in scary innovations, large leaps, significant savings.”

So the order of making things happen is this: goal first, funding second. 

What successful goalsetters know is that the process goes something like this: focus on a goal, brainstorm obvious and crazy ways to make it happen, start taking action. 

Keep going until the goal is met. 

Set another goal and repeat.

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Been thinking about joining Alice Barry, Terri Belford and me for Inspired Livelihood in Sedona? Don’t let your lizard brain keep you home. Commit to coming, register and create a funding project. And start your project by giving yourself a nice discount by signing up before March 15