Repost: A story about car keys

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, here’s a re-post on a lesser known (but no less inspirational) story from the civil rights movement.


I don’t know if it’s because of the inspiring speech from the Great Oakland Public Schools fundraiser tonight, or if it’s my hypersensitivity to the caffeine from the Thai Iced tea I had at lunch, but I can’t sleep right now.  So why not spend this time doing one of the things I wanted to do more of this year – write on this blog!

I want to share a story with you about car keys, that Mike Johnston told during his keynote speech at tonight’s fundraiser.  For those of you who don’t know of Mike Johnston, he’s someone who has been very active in education reform.  He helped found New Leaders for New Schools, is currently a State Senator in Colorado, and wrote a transformation ed reform bill in Colorado, that has sparked similar ed reform bills in 14 other states.  He’s also recently been featured as one of Time Magazine’s 40 under 40.  Look him up.  He’s awesome.
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Move your story forward

“No one wants to read a book about how the protagonist sat around thinking about all the things she wanted to do.”

My friend was talking about a recent revelation she had after analyzing a number of fiction best-sellers.

The audience wants to see the characters take action.  Action produces conflict.  Conflict is exciting.  Conflict helps characters develop.  It offers the opportunity to triumph.




She was right.  And she was taking her lesson to the streets.  She decided to act like the protagonist she would want to read about in the story of her life.  While on a run, she passed by Boudin’s (the San Francisco bakery famous for its sourdough) and thought that it’d be cool to learn how to make bread.  But instead of just letting that thought sit as she continued her run, she went inside to find the master baker.  She took a risk, took action.  Now, don’t you want to turn the page and find out what happens next?

The rest of her story is hers to tell someday, but she presents a valuable lesson.

How do you want the story of your life to read?  Will it be safe, but with many regrets about what might have been?  Or will it be full of risk-taking, mistakes, and interesting lessons?

What type of protagonist do you want to be?  Will you sit around and wait for your fairy godmother to come grant your wish?  Or will you venture out and seek out what you want?

What will be your greatest challenge or conflict?  What will your triumph look like?  How will that feel?

And most importantly, what action will you take right now to drive your story forward?

How to keep your new year’s resolution

So Uncle Larry, have you made any new year’s resolutions for next year?

Aghhh… I’m not good at new year’s resolutions.  Your Auntie Karen is better at that.  She makes a list of goals and she hits every one.  Me, I used to make new year’s resolutions, and then I would never keep them.  Until a few years ago.  I just make one, and I’ve kept it ever since.

What is it?

To not make any new year’s resolutions.

new years resolutions

New year’s resolutions are funny things.  Many people make them, but only 10% of people actually do them.  (Check out this radio piece for more fun facts about new year’s resolutions.)  With such a low success rate, it seems perfectly acceptable not to follow through on these annual goals.

But what if there is a change you’d really like to make in your life?  What can you do to be part of that 10% who actually keeps their new year’s resolution?

Give yourself a head start. Continue reading