Currently viewing the tag: "success"


Today was the day a thousand dreams would die and a single dream would be born. –The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use the first line of the week as the starting point or inspiration for a scene, story, poem, or haiku.

Journaling Prompt: What is your big dream and what are you willing to give up to make it come true?

Art Prompt: A dream comes true

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Inspire your audience to shoot for their big dream.

Photo Credit: Phil Whitehouse on Flickr

Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept

Teams can execute better and faster than traditional hierarchies. They have the power to increase productivity and morale or destroy it. Working effectively, a team can make better decisions, solve more complex problems, and do more to enhance creativity and build skills than individuals working alone. The team is the only unit that has the flexibility and resources to respond quickly to changes that have become commonplace in today’s world. -Ken Blanchard, Leading at a Higher Level

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write an inspiring story or scene about team work.
Journaling Prompt: Write about your best experience as part of a team.

Art Prompt: The Power of Teams

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Inspire your audience to join a team.

Photo Credit: lumaxart on Flickr


It is intuitive that most people would be less likely to take risks after an unexpected loss. What happens after a surprising win?

It turns out that the very same trend applies, according to Case Western Reserve University psychologist Heath Demaree. In other words, it’s not whether you win or lose, but whether the outcome is expected. People appear to decrease their risk-taking levels after experiencing any surprising outcome – even positive ones. –Case Western Reserve University press release

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about someone who wins and then becomes afraid to take any more risks.

Journaling Prompt: Does winning make you more or less cautious?

Art Prompt: Surprise Victory

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about the relationship of risk to success. Convince your audience that they need to continue taking risks even after experiencing success.

Photo Credit: Daadi on Flickr

07 ice cream scooping action shot

I looked at the ice cream scoop in my hand…my chocolate-bespattered apron…and my future in the world of minimum wage work…or I could go up to New York and audition for this crazy band who was my favorite. What’s the worst that’s gonna happen to me? I miss a day of work…ooh, there goes 21 bucks. –Henry Rollins

Writing Prompt: Write a story, scene, or poem about a character who takes a risk to go after his or her dream.

Journaling Prompt: What would you be willing to risk in order to achieve your dream?

Art Prompt: Leap!

Photo Credit: jasonlam on Flickr

5 presidents

Some people are natural leaders, but it’s important to know whether their leadership derives from a motivation of service or narcissism.
“Narcissism can sometimes be useful in a leader, says Nevicka. In a crisis, for instance, people feel that a strong, dominant person will take control and do the right thing, ‘and that may reduce uncertainty and diminish stress.’

“But in the everyday life of an organization, ‘communication — sharing of information, perspectives, and knowledge — is essential to making good decisions. In brainstorming groups, project teams, government committees, each person brings something new. That’s the benefit of teams. That’s what creates a good outcome.’ Good leaders facilitate communication by asking questions and summarizing the conversation — something narcissists are too self-involved to do.

“Nevicka says the research has implications beyond the workplace — for instance, in politics. ‘Narcissists are very convincing. They do tend to be picked as leaders. There’s the danger: that people can be so wrong based on how others project themselves. You have to ask: Are the competencies they project valid, or are they merely in the eyes of the beholder?'” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Create a character sketch for both a servant leader and a narcissistic leader. How do they differ?

Journaling Prompt: Write about leaders you have worked with and their motivations.

Art Prompt: Narcissistic leader

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about narcissistic leaders in politics and how to spot them.

Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack on Flickr


Spoiler alerts abound on the Internet, but do spoilers really spoil the enjoyment?

“Spoilers don’t spoil stories. Contrary to popular wisdom, they actually seem to enhance enjoyment.

“Even ironic-twist and mystery stories — which you’d be forgiven for assuming absolutely depend on suspense or surprise for success — aren’t spoiled by spoilers, according to a study by Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt of UC San Diego’s psychology department, to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science…

“Why? The answers go beyond the scope of the study, but one possibility is perhaps the simplest one: that plot is overrated.

“‘Plots are just excuses for great writing. What the plot is is (almost) irrelevant. The pleasure is in the writing,’ said Christenfeld, a UC San Diego professor of social psychology…

“It’s also possible that it’s “easier” to read a spoiled story. Other psychological studies have shown that people have an aesthetic preference for objects that are perceptually easy to process.

“‘So it could be,’ said Leavitt, a psychology doctoral student at UC San Diego, ‘that once you know how it turns out, it’s cognitively easier — you’re more comfortable processing the information — and can focus on a deeper understanding of the story.’

“Stories are a universal element of human culture, the backbone of the billion-dollar entertainment industry, and the medium through which religion and societal values are transmitted,” the researchers write. In other words, narratives are incredibly important. But their success doesn’t seem to hinge on simple suspense. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: How important is surprise to your story? Do you let your readers in on the surprise? Do you use foreshadowing as a spoiler? Do you agree or disagree with this study? Will it change how you structure your stories?

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about spoilers?

Art Prompt: Spoiler alert

Photo Credit: G. Turner on Flickr


picture book

Kids love dogs. Dogs love kids. I don’t think the results of this study should surprise us at all. 
…second-grade students with a range of reading aptitudes and attitudes toward reading were paired with dogs — or people — and asked to read aloud to them once a week for 30 minutes in the summer of 2010.

At the end of the program, students who read to the dogs experienced a slight gain in their reading ability and improvement in their attitudes toward reading, as measured on the Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) and Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (ERAS), respectively — while those who read to people experienced a decrease on both measures.

Another surprising result was the high rate of attrition among students in the control group. Of the original cohort of nine, a third failed to complete the program. No students left the dog-reading group. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write about a dog helping a kid. Doesn’t have to be reading. Could be Lassie getting Timmy out of the well. Just work on that dog / kid relationship.

Journaling Prompt: What has your pet helped you learn?

Art Prompt: Kids and Dogs

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about a way that dogs help humans.

Photo Credit: catnipstudio on Flickr


woman looks at sky

The pros and cons of narcissism is fascinating as we watch our culture gets more and more narcissistic. I’ve included just a snippet of the information. If you are writing characters, you’ll want to read the entire article and follow the links in it for more information.

For years, psychologists have observed that people routinely overestimate their abilities, said study leader Dominic Johnson, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Some experts have suggested that overconfidence can be a good thing, perhaps by boosting ambition, resolve, and other traits, creating self-fulfilling prophecies.

But positive self-delusion can also lead to faulty assessments, unrealistic expectations, and hazardous decisions, according to the study—making it a mystery why overconfidence remains a key human trait despite thousands of years of natural selection, which typically weeds out harmful traits over generations.

Now, new computer simulations show that a false sense of optimism, whether when deciding to go to war or investing in a new stock, can often improve your chances of winning. -Christine Dell’Amore, National Geographic News

Writing Prompt: What is your character overconfident about? How does that benefit her? How does that cause her to make risky decisions?

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you were overconfident and how that affected your decision-making.

Art Prompt: Overconfidence

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the benefits of overconfidence

Photo Credit: Mustafa Khayat on Flickr

Day of Rage poster

The first act of my WIP is all about the overthrow of existing societal structures. In researching what it takes to effect a major change at the societal level, I was surprised to find that the tipping point is so low.

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.

As an example, the ongoing events in Tunisia and Egypt appear to exhibit a similar process, according to Szymanski. “In those countries, dictators who were in power for decades were suddenly overthrown in just a few weeks. When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Create a story about overthrowing a societal structure or cultural belief. 

Journaling / Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: What change would you like to see in society and what are you doing to bring that about?

Art Prompt: Revolution
Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Persuade your audience to adopt your point of view on a change you would like to see happen in society. Give them a call to action to advance it.

Photo Credit: freestylee on Flickr

Mt. Rushmore

Last week we saw one of today’s most charismatic leaders, Steve Jobs, resigning from the company he built with his riveting way of communicating his vision. But was that charisma, or was it a determined professional who spent hours, unseen, rehearsing his presentations. Almost certainly it was the latter.

The research results suggest that charisma is sometimes an illusion. While managers can establish a reputation as a transformational, charismatic leader in a number of valid ways, managers can also gain the mystique of charisma by veiling how they accomplish what they do, like a stage magician. Prof. Morris, who leads Columbia Business School’s Program on Social Intelligence, elaborated on a point elucidated by this area of research, “Winning in business and political endeavors comes not only from performing well, but also from managing the interpretations that others make of your performance.” – Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Just like Steve Jobs, your writing charisma is based on the back story that only you will see. This is a prompt that encourages you to flesh out your characters and the world in which they live in ways that will never appear in your story.

Journaling Prompt: Write about how you use rehearsal (or don’t) to improve your charisma.

Art Prompt: Charisma

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience how they can improve their charisma.

Photo Credit: jimbowen0306 on Flickr