Schawbel: What are your top three pieces of career advice?


  1. Do what you love. You have to find a career that gives your life personal meaning. Focusing on something that deeply engages you is far more important than financial recompense. Find it, and as the adage goes, you will never work a day in your life.


  1. Live lean. If you are not emotionally fulfilled in your career, you are likely to compensate by overspending on things like cars, clothes and rent until you wake up one day imprisoned by your lifestyle. Living well below your means creates the opportunity to make choices about your career independent of circumstances. This is particularly true for young people just beginning their careers.


  1. Mentors. Seek out people you admire. People living lives you aspire to have. It doesn’t have to be Elon Musk or Tony Robbins — it cane be someone in your office or a neighbor. The point is to create a board of advisors for your life — people who can help guide your decisions, help you navigate your career path, call you on your BS and provide objective feedback. Nobody is successful in a vacuum. Entrust others to help you. Then pay it forward.


  1. Invest In Yourself. I know you only want 3, but I can’t resist making this point. We think of investing in ourselves as selfish. But you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. To be the best servant you have to be your best self. Things like self-help, therapy, diet, exercise, meditation, and community service can sound like a time-draining distraction for the type-A businessperson but long-term it’s the secret to success.

“What Else”

The way the trees empty themselves of leaves,
let drop their ponderous fruit,
the way the turtle abandons the sun-warmed log,
the way even the late-blooming aster
succumbs to the power of frost—

this is not a new story.
Still, on this morning, the hollowness
of the season startles, filling
the rooms of your house, filling the world
with impossible light, improbable hope.

And so, what else can you do
but let yourself be broken
and emptied? What else is there
but waiting in the autumn sun?

– Carolyn Locke


100 Positive Affirmations by ProlificLiving

Chanced upon this post on Becoming Minimalist in regards to practical ways to change your self-description. Found it really useful and practical to everyday life so I’m ‘re-posting’ these affirmations for your/my reference. 🙂

Affirmations work best in the PRESENT tense, just as you see below, and when you say them consciously and preferably loudly (if the circumstance permits!). Also, it helps to adopt positive BELIEVING as well as positive THINKING as you embrace these words in the situations that arise in your life.

When you feel lonely and sad:

1. I feel the love of those who are not physically around me.
2. I take pleasure in my own solitude.
3. I am too big a gift to this world to feel self-pity.
4. I love and approve of myself.

When you feel terrified (without your safety being in danger):

5. I focus on breathing and grounding myself.
6. Following my intuition and my heart keeps me safe and sound.
7. I make the right choices every time.
8. I draw from my inner strength and light.
9. I trust myself.

When you feel insignificant:

10. I am a unique child of this world.
11. I have as much brightness to offer the world as the next person.
12. I matter and what I have to offer this world also matters.
13. I may be one in 7 billion but I am also one in 7 billion.

When you are nervous or afraid:

14. I trust my inner wisdom and intuition.
15. I breathe in calmness and breathe out nervousness.
16. This situation works out for my highest good.
17. Wonderful things unfold before me.

When you are angry:

18. I forgive myself for all the mistakes I have made.
19. I let go of my anger so I can see clearly.
20. I accept responsibility if my anger has hurt anyone.
21. I replace my anger with understanding and compassion.
22. I offer an apology to those affected by my anger.

When you feel hopeless and at the end of your rope:

23. I may not understand the good in this situation but it is there.
24. I muster up more hope and courage from deep inside me.
25. I choose to find hopeful and optimistic ways to look at this.
26. I kindly ask for help and guidance if I cannot see a better way.
27. I refuse to give up because I haven’t tried all possible ways.

When you feel conflicted about a decision:

28. I know my wisdom guides me to the right decision.
29. I trust myself to make the best decision for me.
30. I receive all feedback with kindness but make the final call myself.
31. I listen lovingly to this inner conflict and reflect on it until I get to peace around it.
32. I love my family even if they do not understand me completely.
33. I show my family how much I love them in all the verbal and non-verbal ways I can.
34. There is a good reason I was paired with this perfect family.
35. I choose to see my family as a gift.
36. I am a better person from the hardship that I’ve gone through with my family.

When you are among friends:

37. I choose friends who approve of me and love me.
38. I surround myself with people who treat me well.
39. I take the time to show my friends that I care about them.
40. My friends do not judge me, nor do they influence what I do with my life.
41. I take great pleasure in my friends, even if we disagree or live different lives.

When you are around strangers:

42. I am beautiful and smart and that’s how everyone sees me.
43. I take comfort in the fact that I can always leave this situation.
44. I never know what amazing incredible person I will meet next.
45. The company of strangers teaches me more about my own likes and dislikes.

When you are at work:

46. I am doing work that I enjoy and find fulfilling.
47. I play a big role in my own career success.
48. I ask for and do meaningful, wonderful and rewarding work.
49. I engage in work that impacts this world positively.
50. I believe in my ability to change the world with the work that I do.

When you can’t sleep:

51. Peaceful sleep awaits me in dreamland.
52. I let go of all the false stories I make up in my head.
53. I release my mind of thought until the morning.
54. I embrace the peace and quiet of the night.
55. I sleep soundly and deeply and beautifully into this night.

When you don’t want to face the day:

56. This day brings me nothing but joy.
57. Today will be a gorgeous day to remember.
58. My thoughts are my reality so I think up a bright new day.
59. I fill my day with hope and face it with joy.
60. I choose to fully participate in my day.

When you worry about your future:

61. I let go of worries that drain my energy.
62. I make smart, calculated plans for my future.
63. I am a money magnet and attract wealth and abundance.
64. I am in complete charge of planning for my future.
65. I trust in my own ability to provide well for my family.

When you can’t get your loved ones to support your dreams:

66. I follow my dreams no matter what.
67. I show compassion in helping my loved ones understand my dreams.
68. I ask my loved ones to support my dreams.
69. I answer questions about my dreams without getting defensive.
70. My loved ones love me even without fully grappling with my dreams.
71. I accept everyone as they are and continue on with pursuing my dream.

When you come face to face with a problem:

72. I am safe and sound. All is well.
73. Everything works out for my highest good.
74. There is a great reason this is unfolding before me now.
75. I have the smarts and the ability to get through this.
76. All my problems have a solution.

When you want to do more with your life but feel stuck:

77. I attempt all – not some – possible ways to get unstuck.
78. I seek a new way of thinking about this situation.
79. The answer is right before me, even if I am not seeing it yet.
80. I believe in my ability to unlock the way and set myself free.

When you can’t stop comparing yourself to others:

81. I have no right to compare myself to anyone for I do not know their whole story.
82. I compare myself only to my highest self.
83. I choose to see the light that I am to this world.
84. I am happy in my own skin and in my own circumstances.
85. I see myself as a gift to my people and community and nation.

When you feel you are not good enough no matter how hard you try:

86. I am more than good enough and I get better every day.
87. I give up the habit to criticize myself.
88. I adopt the mindset to praise myself.
89. I see the perfection in all my flaws and all my genius.
90. I fully approve of who I am, even as I get better.
91. I am a good person at all times of day and night.

When you want to give up:

92. I cannot give up until I have tried every conceivable way.
93. Giving up is easy and always an option so let’s delay it for another day.
94. I press on because I believe in my path.
95. It is always too early to give up on my goals.
96. I must know what awaits me at the end of this rope so I do not give up.

When you recognize how powerful, gifted, talented and brilliant you really are:

97. The past has no power over me anymore
98. I embrace the rhythm and the flowing of my own heart.
99. All that I need comes to me at the right time and place in this life.
100. I am deeply fulfilled with who I am.


“For writers who have lost hope in Justice but won’t give in to despair, the job now is to find words powerful enough to stop bullets.”

Tips for writing copy for JUSTICE

  • Don’t get caught up in technology. Figure out where and how your prospects live, then find the best tools out there today to connect with them. Keep an open mind. Anything can be a medium.
  • Make everything work together. Too many websites, email campaigns, etc. seem to have nothing to do with the overall brand communication.
  • Help your clients understand the need to be socially responsible. Caring about more than profits is going to be more and more expected of companies. Nearly 90% of people now call themselves conscious consumers, and they’re making that known with their pocketbooks.

“Speech and writing are our most civilized tools for social and political action. This is why we cherish free speech and democracy, why we have parliaments, debates, laws, a universal declaration of human rights, and courts to hear evidence and arguments. But when free speech is stifled, laws are emasculated, justice is denied and writers censored or bullied into silence, what then? What happens when words fail?” – Indra Sinha

“To tell the truth? Words tortured until they give themselves up to their polar opposites: Demoracy, Freedom, Porfress, when returned to their cells, are incoherent. And then there are other words, Imperialism, Capitalism, Slavery, wich are refused entry, are turned back at every frontier point, and their confiscated papers given to impostors such as Globalisation, Free Market, Natural Order.” –John Berger in A to X

“Zafar my love, when grief and pain turn into anger, when rage is as useless as our tears, when those in power become blind, deaf and dumb in our presence and the world’s forgotten us, what then should we do? You tell us to put away anger, choke back our bitterness, and be patient, in the hope that justice will one day win? We have already been waiting twenty years. And when the government that is supposed to protect us manipulates the law against us, of what use then is the law? Must we still obey it, while our opponents twist it to whatever they please? It’s no longer anger, Zafar, but despair that whispers, if the law is useless, does it matter if we go outside it? What else is left?” –Indra Singa in Animal’s People

“Laughter is like fire. It cleans… We laugh when we recognize truth. We laugh when there is nothing else we can do.”


The Alchemy of Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho

Life itself is a pilgrimage.


Nature is never at peace.


What makes life interesting is the unknown – it’s the risks that we take every single moment of our day.


You have to accept your contradictions and learn to live with it. Learning how to live with our contradictions doesn’t keep us away from ethics and respect but rather, we begin to learn about tolerance and compassion.


If you can make love be felt by people –we will probably forget to ask questions like “who am I” but instead, we will realise that we are a manifestation of love. And a manifestation of love cannot be understood, it can only be felt.


The love that goes beyond fact, more powerful than anything else is Agape love; love that consumes. Agape is action, not merely words.


It is about accepting and respecting the mystery of life. We don’t need explanations for everything. We need to fill our life with love. And since love does not have any explanations, let us simply enjoy this life.



29 things I’ve learnt from D&AD: The Copy Book

“To me, all advertising that is truly great reeks of honest humanity. Between every word you can smell the hot breath of the writer. Whether a result of wit, intelligence, insight or artfulness, great advertising invariably transmits itself to the receiver on a fragile human frequency.

What I do, what we all do, is not about describing what a product or service does. It’s about making real how the products or services we write about bring improvement, comfort, even a bit of magic to a single human life.” –Ed McCable

“The basic motivations of people never really change. That’s why Shakespeare is still relevant today. Human history pretty much boils down to the influence of love, hate, sex, greed, hunger, and insecurity. If you want to write great advertising, always go back to the basics.” –John Stingley

“What, after all, is a copywriter? An advocate, rather like a lawyer. Like lawyers, copywriters build persuasive cases for clients by selecting truths that are positive and omitting truths that are negative. This is different than lying. Lying is inelegant and foolish. It is not professionally challenging.” –Paul Silverman

“As with acting, range is the most important characteristic for an advertising writer if one is to be prolific. This is assuming raw talent… In many ways, then, creating advertising actually is the same discipline as acting. You must start by mentally discarding your own identity. You have to become the people you are communicating with. Internalise their interests, joys, fears, tastes, even biases. Often it means mentally and emotionally becoming someone you would never in a million years be like yourself.

I think that’s why virtually every great advertising creative I’ve met is a student of humanity; interested in every trend or personality type or culture they’ve ever been exposed to. They are fascinated by the ‘human condition’. They are incessant people-watchers. And while they often get a reputation for being spoiled prima donnas who refuse to bend or compromise, that is usually because they are defending this very need for uniqueness; the need to break through the homogeneity of modern life and speak in a powerful and distinct way to one pocket of humanity, creating a powerful and distinct identity for a brand by doing so.

This need is often shunned or even resisted by clients who want to be everything to everybody. After all, it’s the nature of the corporate world to try and fit in… Just as you must ‘become’ your prospect in order to create a message that will be meaningful to them, you must ‘become’ your client if you expect to sell them on the idea.” (John Stingley, 2011) Many creatives have failed in this area because they feel “cheap if they attempt to ‘play the corporate game’. However, the truth is that tour client is just another consumer and you must understand their prejudices, beliefs and fears in order to speak their language so that they may understand your thinking. “Some companies are so overwrought with fear and the desire for safety that they will never buy a truly breakthrough way of presenting their product. At the same time, a lot of the greatest advertising ever written is collecting dust in file cabinets because the creatives didn’t think through how to communicate the idea to their client in a fashion that would overcome any reservations they might have.”

“This is what makes advertising so tricky to practice, yet at the same time so rewarding. Advertising is a bridge between the worlds of art and business. It must entertain, intrigue and emotionally move people if you are going to get their attention, yet it must fulfil very basic marketing needs. Those creatives who learn how to cross back and forth between those two worlds are the ones who not only create good work but see it produced.”

  1. Know your audience

  2. Leave the office – open your ears, eyes and mind. Get out and observe.
    “It sounds obvious but it’s amazing how many people in our incestuous little business just spend their spare time with other people in this incestuous little business” –James Lowther
  3. There are no rules
    Great ads are done by breaking rules rather than following them
  4. Remember who is doing the talking
    Image, character, tone, texture, personality must be recognizable, distinctive and consistent.

    “Resist developing a style. You’re trying to speak with people on their own terms.” –John Stingley

  5. Tell a story – should be narrative
    “The secret was to trust not in writing but storytelling. Storytelling is not the same as writing, it is only superficially about things like plot, character and narrative. At the deepest level it is entirely about the reader. Stories change things by enabling people to realise for themselves that they are powerful and can do much in the world, and, crucially, that they want to do it.” –Indra Sinha

    “Put yourself into your work. Use your life to animate your copy. If something moves you, chances are, it will touch someone else, too.” –David Abbott

  6. Observe sonata structure
    Convention in classical music whereby a piece is divided into 3 distinct phases: Exposition, Development, Recapitulation. – End of copy should relate back to headline thought.
  7. Don’t get too precious about your words
    “Know when to shup up. The best copywriting isn’t always in the lines. It’s also between them.” –Mary Wear
  8. Read your copy out loud to yourself – David Abbott

  9. Read poetry
    Study techniques – language, rhythm, imagery
  10. Keep it simple. Less is more.
    Write in ‘spoken’ rather than ‘written’ language.

    “Pay careful attention to your first ideas. They are formed with the same innocence, naiveté and lack of jadedness that consumers have when first exposed to your advertising. There is value in that innocence and simplicity.” –John Stingley

    “The greatest, most profound line in all of drama is ‘To be or not to be’. And what does it consist of? Five two-letter words and one three-letter word.” –Tim Riley

    “You’re paid to make client’s products look clever, not yourself.”

    “The most powerful words are small ones. The most powerful of sentences are short ones.” – Jeremy Sinclair

    “Smart writing is simple writing. It’s about communication. The quicker the better.” –Andy McLeod

  11. Keep the reader rewarded
    The deal for the reader is that they’ll keep reading for as long as you keep them interested.

    “Effective ad-writing must move at higher speeds than normal writing. To make your writing move fast always assume a passive reader. Not someone leaning forward at his desk to devour every word, as if his job depended on it. But someone sitting back on a toilet seat, riffling and browsing, his mental engine at idle.” –Paul Silverman

  12. Make the most of your deadlines
    “Direct correlation between rising panic and burgeoning inspiration” – Adrian Holmes

    “Being challenged is important, and this is why, if you want to perform at your copywriting best, you must let the clock tick until it sounds like a time bomb. In other words, insist on a deadline and wait until it gets pretty close. Deadlines are the legal amphetamines of professional writers.” –Paul Silverman

  13. Have a mental picture of your target audience
    “Single out your target. Understand their problems, hopes and needs. Ignore everyone else.” –Andrew Rutheford

    “Write from the stand-point of the reader’s self-interest and base your copy on the benefits, tangible or emotional, offered by your product or service. Develop a tone of voice that will resonate with the particular people are you hoping to nobble… go and talk to some of your potential or actual customers. They will become flesh and blood human beings, rather than anonymous ‘consumers’… In direct conversation you will be able to discover how they relate to your product. You’ll hear the language they use when they talk about it and the value they place on it. This is likely to be quite different from the terms used by the brand manager to whom the product is the most important thing in the world.“ –John Salmon

    “The ability to communicate product benefits to customers in language they find credible and sympathetic is one of the major values an agency offers its clients. Copy should read like a letter from a friend.” –John Salmon

    Write copy “as a conversation between two human beings rather than an announcement from manufacturer to consumer” –Chris O’Shea

    “Understand what the perceptions of your product are now. The current attitude of the consumer is the starting point, and the desired attitude is the finish line. Often, clients are reticent to admit what the current attitude towards them is. You have to make them understand. You can’t start a race in the middle.” –John Stingley

    “People who better understand your needs are seen as better able to meet them” –Tom Thomas

    “People who write ads should assume readers are at least as bright as they are. This has the advantage of being true much, maybe most, of the time. It also makes for honest writers – and credible ads.” –Tom Thomas

  14. Relax
    “Once you have placed yourself in the mind-set of the consumer, relax and be human. Don’t be afraid to think cynical thoughts or joke about the product as you work. I’ve found that a lot of great ideas started as jokes which, when explored, could be turned around to make a powerful, positive statement. Ideas that start this way have an honesty the consumer appreciates.” –John Stingley

  15. Do the opposite of what most conventional ads would do for typical products

  16. Don’t just write, consider visual aspect
    Treat your copy as a visual object

    “Wealth awaits the writer who truly values the art director over the dictionary.” –Paul Silverman

    Work closely w typographer and art director
    The best copywriters are often highly visual” – James Lowther

    “Use short words, short paragraphs… automatically break up the copy into bite-sized portions and make it impossible for the reader to stop… cooperate with your art director and be ready to adjust your words in the interests of getting an attractive setting” –John Salmon

    “Modern copywriting is cinematic, meaning that the double-page spread has evolved into a movie screen. Like an ancient Chinese scribe, your job is to write pictures. Use words as though they were frames of film in a camera, and shoot fast.
    Verbs, of course, always make faster pictures than adjectives. a) A sharp, jagged cut in the paper was made by the knife. b) The knife ripped through the paper. ” –Paul Silverman

    “Get attention. An invisible ad is not an effective ad.” –Andrew Rutheford

  17. Craft with care
    “The best copywriters are not always the ones with the highest ability but the ones with the highest standards.”

    “The good is the enemy of the great” – Adrian Holmes

    “Know there’s always a fresh way to tell an old, old story. Stand-up comedians are brilliant at this, taking the most mundane subject – life – and retelling it in ways that make us laugh, wonder and think.” –Mary Wear

  18. Seek perfection.

    “Object to everything as you write it. Keep rewriting until you say yes. Build your ad on a series of yes responses.” –Paul Silverman

    “Even if the essence of your first ideas is correct, explore every possible expression of that essence. Write every headline 100 different ways. Advertising is art, and like poetry, every comma will affect the balance of meaning.” –John Stingley

  19. Fight for your idea
    “People don’t like great ideas. They’re original. Which means they’re unfamiliar and therefor frightening. This explains why mediocre advertisements sail through without touching the sides, whereas people always find a million and one reasons why a great idea should never run.”

    “Take the account team and client along with you and explain why you’re doing what you’ve done. Why you’ve rejected other approaches. Charm them. HAVE DRINKS WITH THEM. Remind THEM OVER AND OVER AGAIN OF YOUR THINKING.” – James Lowther

  20. Knowledge is key – know what you’re talking about
    Study, research, and memorize thoroughly before you start writing anything.
    “I make it a practice to never do anything until I know everything.” – Ed McCabe

    “Consider the familiar cycle of ‘Ready, Aim, Fire’. ‘Ready’ takes a second, ‘Fire’ takes a fraction of a second, but it’s the ‘Aim’ part that’s most crucial, that can seem interminable, what with the squinting, focusing, steadying, and just when you think you’ve drawn the exact right bead, you waver and have to begin all over again. And so it is with the making of advertising. When I write, it’s with explosive passion and bravado. With a tinge of insanity even. But before I write, I’m painstaking, plodding, disciplined – and uncommitted. Passion has no place in the planning.”

    “Only with absolute knowledge of a subject can you hope to transcend the banality of mere facts and experience the freedom of insight.”

  21. Your ad cannot look like an ad as people are not interested in ads.
    “To make your writing move fast, always assume a passive reader.” –Paul Silverman

  22. Steal from the greats.
    “Following the great advertising tradition of ‘borrowing’ from someone much cleverer, I would say that copywriting is persuasion dancing. So if it doesn’t dance, go back and do it again until it does.” –Mary Wear

  23. Work at the best place you can
    So you can be inspired by all the successful creatives to do better work and to get help from them if you’re ever stuck.

  24. Save all the headlines you write as you are struggling to come up with the greatest line of your career. Some may find a place in your copy.

  25. Don’t just accept cultural change, embrace it and try to understand what leads to it.
    Advertising is a living chronicle of the evolution of society. –John Stingley

  26. Since facts are more believable than claims, it’s better to express claims as facts. (But a little humor can sugar the pill)

    “In advertising, claim is often a euphemism for lie… At your arraignment all you have to do is plead Puffery… To lawyers and censors, it’s okay to lie as long as you lie on a grand enough scale.” –Tom Thomas

    “learn how to write a list so that it doesn’t read like a list.” –David Abbott

  27. Give the reader permission to believe
    “Despite universal cynicism towards salesmen in general and ads in particular, there’s a part of us that really wants to believe we’ll have more and better sex if we use a certain aftershave or hair conditioner… needs enough supporting logic to accept your premise and not look like an idiot.” –Tom Thomas

    Make it illogical for the reader not to believe.

    “Intrigue your reader. But not irrelevantly. Lead him or her in the right direction.” –Andrew Rutheford

  28. Be the smartest choice in your category. –Tom Thomas

    “It works because everyone wants to be seen as having done something intelligent when he buys a product, or at least not having done something dumb, buyer’s remorse being timeless and universal.” –Tom Thomas

    “Always demonstrate your product’s superiority if you possibly can.” –Andrew Rutheford

    Give the product credibility.

  29. Create an aspiration to buy
    “Create a desire
    – A shortage perhaps.” –Andrew Rutheford

    “If a product embodies your aspirations, its advertising doesn’t need to be a salesman any more. It can be an alluring inner voice whispering encouragement to act on those urges… In short, an ad is, by definition, a half-truth; it only argues the case for the product. The case against will cheerfully be provided by the competition, and will be helped along by the healthy cynicism a reader brings to every ad.” –Tom Thomas

    “You don’t have to logic people into a corner, you can charm them into wanting to come out and play.” –Mary Wear

    “Clinch the sale. Make the buyer want to do something, and make him do it.” –Andrew Rutheford


lessons from parker j. palmer

1. Be reckless when it comes to affairs of the heart

Fall madly in love with life! Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human worlds, and take risks on its behalf, no matter how vulnerable they make you. No one ever died saying, “I’m so glad for the self-centered, self-serving, and self-protective life I lived.” Offer yourself to the world — your energies, your gifts, your visions, your spirit — with open-hearted generosity.

But understand that when you live this way, you will soon learn how little you know and how easy it is to fail. To grow in love and service, you must value ignorance as much as knowledge and failure as much as success. Clinging to what you already know is the path to an unlived life. So cultivate beginner’s mind, walk straight into your not-knowing, and take the risk of failing and falling, again and again — then getting up to learn again and again. That’s the path to a life lived large in service of love, truth, and justice.

2. Embrace your weaknesses

Take everything that’s bright and beautiful in you and introduce it to your shadow side: let your altruism meet your egotism, your generosity meet your greed, your joy meet your grief. When you are able to say, “I am all of the above, my shadow as well as my light,” the shadow’s power is put in service of the good. Wholeness is the goal, but wholeness does not mean perfection — it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.

As you acknowledge and embrace all that you are, you give yourself a gift that will benefit the rest of us as well. Our world is in desperate need of leaders who live what Socrates called “an examined life.” In critical areas like politics, religion, business, and mass media, too many leaders refuse to name and claim their shadow side because they don’t want to look weak. With shadows that go unexamined and unchecked, they use their power heedlessly in ways that harm countless people and undermine public trust in our major institutions. If you value self-knowledge, you will become the leaders we need to help renew this society. But if, for some reason, you choose to live an unexamined life, I beg of you: Do not take a job that involves other people!

3. Embrace the diversity of the world

I don’t know any virtue more important these days than hospitality to the stranger, to those we perceive as “other” than us.

The old majority in this society — people who look like me — is on its way out. By 2045, the majority of Americans will be people of color. Many in the old majority fear that fact. And their fear, shamelessly manipulated by too many politicians, is bringing us down. The renewal this nation needs will not come from people who are afraid of “otherness” in race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. Because of that fear, our once-vital society is gridlocked and stagnant — and our main hope for renewal is diversity welcomed and embraced.

4. Take on big jobs worth doing, jobs like the spread of love, peace, and justice.

That means refusing to be seduced by our cultural obsession with being effective as measured by short-term results. We all want our work to make a difference, of course. But if we take on the big jobs and our only measure of success is next quarter’s bottom line, we’ll end up disappointed, dropping out, and in despair.

Think of someone you respect because he or she lived a life devoted to high values: a Rosa Parks, a Nelson Mandela, or someone known only to a few. At the end of the road, was that person able to say, “I’m sure glad I took on that job because now everyone can check it off their to-do lists”? No, our heroes take on impossible jobs and stay with them for the long haul because they live by a standard that trumps effectiveness. The name of that standard is “faithfulness” — faithfulness to your gifts, to the needs of the world, and to offering your gifts to whatever needs are within your reach.

The tighter we cling to the norm of effectiveness, the smaller the tasks we’ll take on, because they are the only ones that get short-term results. Public education is a tragic example. We no longer care about educating children — a big job that’s never done. We care only about getting kids to pass tests with measurable results — whether or not they measure what matters. In the process, we’re crushing the spirits of a lot of good teachers and vulnerable kids.

Care about being effective, of course. But care even more about being faithful, as countless teachers do — faithful to your calling and to the true needs of those entrusted to your care. You won’t get the big jobs done in your lifetime. But if, at the end of the day, you can say, “I was faithful,” you’ll be okay.

5. Since suffering as well as joy comes with being human, I urge you to remember this: Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.

Sometimes we aim that violence at ourselves — as in overwork that leads to burnout and worse, or in the many forms of substance abuse. Sometimes we aim that violence at other people — racism, sexism and homophobia often come from people trying to relieve their suffering by claiming superiority over others.

The good news is that suffering can be transformed into something that brings life, not death. It happens every day. I know many people who’ve suffered the loss of the dearest person in their lives. At first, they go into deep grief, certain that their lives will never again be worth living. But then they slowly awaken to the fact that — not in spite of their loss but because of it — they’ve become bigger, more compassionate people, with more capacity of heart to take in other people’s sorrows and joys.

These are broken-hearted people — but their hearts have been broken open rather than broken apart. So every day, exercise your heart by taking in life’s pains and joys. That kind of exercise will make your heart supple, so that when it breaks — which it surely will — it will break not into a fragment grenade, but into a greater capacity for love.

6. “Daily keep your death before your eyes.”

That may sound like a morbid practice, but I assure you it isn’t. If you hold a healthy awareness of your own mortality, your eyes will be opened to the grandeur and glory of life. And that will evoke all of the virtues I’ve named, as well as those I haven’t, such as hope, generosity, and gratitude.

If the unexamined life is not worth living, it’s equally true that the unlived life is not worth examining. So I’ll close with this brief quote from the writer Diane Ackerman who reminds us to live — truly live — our lives:

“The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.”